When I am Grateful, I Find My Grace

Monday I began the Free 21 Day Meditation with Oprah and Deepak that was all over the internet.  Thus far, it has been great, and I would definitely suggest it to anyone interested in getting back into their meditation habits or newly trying meditation.  I find it totally amusing that I am even suggesting this to anyone when six months ago I shuddered at the thought of sitting still and becoming in touch with my inner self and being, but as I have said before and will say again, what a difference time makes!

I know it is Wednesday, however, Monday, I had the opportunity to journal about the meditation we did. The centering thought was, “When I am grateful, I find my grace.” Deepak instructed us to think of one thing for which we were grateful, and the first thing I thought of was my family.

I concentrated on that thought the entire 20 minutes we meditated, and when we were done, there were journal questions you could answer, the first one of which was, “What does grace mean to you?” My answer was simple. Grace means forgiveness and freedom through forgiveness of others and forgiveness of self.  Grace, to me, always meant something light and airy, like a ballerina. And although for the past 43 years I was Mikhail Baryshnikov’s worst nightmare with two lead feet, I now see that I can be that ballerina in a sense by forgiving others and forgiving myself, thus lightening the burden and load I have been carrying for 43 years.  Anger and grudges weigh us all down so much and over the last six months, they have worn me out and made me tired and depressed. Not anymore. I am unloading those burdens like a farmer bailing hay, and the feeling is truly amazing. The sense of calm that is restored by doing this is something I have never known, and I am so grateful to have been introduced to a different way.

In order to find grace however, one must first be grateful and as such, the journal questions proceeded to ask you to name the people in your life you are most grateful for and list one specific thing about each person for which you are thankful. The names of “my people” came to mind immediately: John, Kaylee, Ian, James, my Mom, Tiffany, Aimee and Laura. These are the people I consider closest and most important to me and who have been there even when I felt I didn’t deserve them to be.

John not only loves me at my best and wants my best for me, but he loves me at my worst as well. He has seen me through the darkest time in my life and never gave up on me.  Some would say that is what a husband is supposed to do, and maybe it is, but many out there would not have been so patient and steadfast, and I will be forever thankful that he is my husband, my best friend and my soul mate.

Kaylee reminds me every day that despite extreme adversity, you still have the ability to go on if you make your mind up to do so. My soon to be 19 year old daughter is an inspiration to me every day and I hope she knows just how much she makes me want to be a better person.

I am grateful for my son Ian, because he is a truly kind and gentle being, a genuinely good soul, and despite my difficulties, is a daily reminder that I did something right as I was raising him.

I am thankful for my youngest son, James because he reminds me daily to hold onto my youth, my curiosity and joy and to always find happiness and delight by stopping and looking at the world through the eyes of a child.

I am thankful for my Mom because she has never given up on me and through her actions I’ve learned to be a better Mom to my children.

Tiffany, one of my oldest and dearest friends, gave me the gift of faith again when I never thought I would possess it. Her relentlessness, persistence and prayer will never be forgotten.

Aimee, another one of my oldest and dearest friends, was, has always been and always will be the calming voice I needed during the greatest storm in my life. Her calm ways and patience with me gave me the courage to seek the help I needed.

I am also thankful for my dear friend, Laura who has always loved me at my best and my worst and has always been there to listen when I needed her and when it was time for her to be brutally honest, she loved me enough to do so.

I have to say, though, all in all, I am grateful for my place in life today. Had none of the other things happened over the course of my life, I would never be in this place that I am today; a good place, a happy place, a place of calm and serenity. I would never have become this person who can let things go and who is aware that there are only very few things over which we have control. I am truly blessed with wonderful, loving and supportive people around me and I thank God everyday for them. (Yes, I said, I thank God. If you are not sure why that is such a big deal, please refer to my previous post “Thanks for the Kindling, Jehovahs!”) As I continue on this 21 day journey toward gratefulness, I hope to find an even deeper sense of appreciation of my past for making me the person all of these wonderful people chose to love, and the woman I choose to love everyday for the rest of my life. Namaste.

If anyone is interested, here is the link for the Free 21 Day Meditation:

https://chopracentermeditation.com/

The Last Dance…I Don’t Think So!

How many of us truly understand the final dance scene in Silver Linings Playbook? How many of us realize that it is an interpretation of Bipolar? That it symbolizes the dance we all do on a daily basis? How many people actually believe that “normal” people understood that part of the movie? Personally, I believe that everyone without a mental illness thought the final dance scene was disconnected, sporadic and made no sense. Hahahahahaha. Typical.

How many people in America actually understand the illness Bipolar? How many people think we are like the ocean with low and high tides, no in between? It kind of makes me laugh, but at the same time, it makes me sad. If people cannot truly understand what this illness is about, how can anyone that is not conflicted with it, know how to help us?

The answer is, they can’t. The only people that can help us is us, ourselves, our individual selves. We need to learn to be in touch with ourselves. We need to know how to “read the signs” as Tiffany says. I am learning, each and every day. Are you? Do you realize this is the only way for self preservation? We need to stop giving the power to the doctors, the shrinks, etc., and stand up for ourselves, know ourselves and be willing to accept that we are not like everyone else.  You know, in a sense, I have to say I am happy I am not like everyone else.  In some ways, I see my illness as a gift.

I feel deeper than most, and although some may see this as a disability, I see this as a gift. I can love like no one else. I can hurt like no one else, and although that part may suck, it also sparks a creative genius in me.  I fought my diagnosis like a mad woman, no pun intended, for years, but I have decided to embrace it because it makes me, ME. I am learning to love me, and I am thankful for all of those who loved me when I couldn’t love myself.  They looked on when I did my crazy dance with life and parlayed with death, and they prayed and they cheered me on when I couldn’t even hear them. If judges scored me, I’m sure I never would have earned a 5/10 like Tiffany and Pat did. I’d have been lucky to earn a 3 back in January of 2015.

Six months later, though, I still watch that movie and love each and every scene. I still have the utmost respect for the choreographer who picked the music and created that dance because it mirrors the emotional ups and downs, the internal struggles and the angst anyone who deals with Bipolar knows.  I beckon you all to embrace your own soundtrack and dance moves. Love yourselves like no one else can, and feel blessed that we know a side of life “normal” people will never understand.  Xoxoxoxo.

Three Months is a Lifetime

If you asked me three months ago if I could be still with myself, the answer would have been a strong, harsh no.  Three months ago today I was sent home from Princeton House Inpatient facility after spending forty three days there.  I was scared, unsure and still depressed, but no longer a danger to myself, as was the requirement for discharge.

I barely remember coming home or beginning my DBT program the following day.  Three months, however is a long time and in that time, I have learned a tremendous amount of skills, most importantly, the ability to sit silently, with myself without fidgeting, without overloading my brain with constant thoughts, without self doubt and with self compassion, key word being, WITH self compassion.  I am learning to love myself a little more each day.

Three months ago I honestly didn’t know how I was going to survive one day, let alone figure out I was capable of being loved by myself.   The concept was completely foreign to me. The depression still lurked within me and haunted me with its negative thoughts.

To some, three months may just be a quarter of the year, a season, a ninety day probationary period, but to me, three months has been a lifetime.  Today, after three months,  I am thankful for everything that has brought me to the present day, including the horrific things, because honestly, without all of the hellacious events I have been through, I would never have realized my ability to persevere.  Somewhere deep down inside of me, I was able to muster up the strength and the courage to summon help so I could conquer my demons and reintroduce myself to me.

Through it all, I have realized I am not so bad and I am deserving of love and respect, not just from my family and friends, but from myself.  Depression is bad. Bipolar illness is bad. Anxiety is bad. PTSD is bad. But Lydia, no Lydia is not bad because in the end, Lydia is Lydia, she is not her illnesses. And that my friends, is knowledge that is life changing and for which I will forever be grateful.

Missing: 43 Y.O. Blonde Woman Who Loved to Smile

Today I decided to take a trip down memory lane in a self torturing kind of way.   Why, you ask? I have absolutely no idea, but I did it. I scrolled back through a year’s worth of Face Book posts and pictures and sat on my couch fighting back tears, missing the woman I saw in those pictures.  I mourned the loss my daughter suffered as I viewed the pictures of the day we moved her into college and how happy and proud she was, only to have that ripped away from her by utterly evil people at her school. My heart was already heavy today, and I just made it worse.  I am so damn good at that.  I just love to torture myself.

Currently I am involved in an Outpatient Program that focuses on DBT and one of the key steps is Radical Acceptance of your current situation, diagnosis, etc.  I am stuck on this step. I am fighting the Radical Acceptance. I just can’t manage to say that everything that has happened since October is okay and this is where I am today and it is what it is and it is okay.  After 43 days of hospitalization, multiple medication regimens, ECT and hours of therapy, I still want to scream out in anger and pain.  I still want to hide away from the world and sit in my own bubble of sadness and despair.

radical acceptance 2

My family is thrilled that I am home, but it is really just the shell of me. Today, I am actually home from the hospital 42 days, almost as long as I was in there, and to be perfectly honest, I am only slightly better.  I am so numbed out by the meds that I am no longer agitated and irritable and yelling out loud, but instead, holding it all inside, unable to release any real emotion.  These medications seem to rob me of my authentic feelings, as they do many people. I hate them with a passion. I really want to stop taking them, but am scared to death that I will end up back in the hospital.

I was just talking to my husband tonight and told him that although I am not suicidal any longer, part of me thinks I am even worse. The friends I used to reach out to prior to my hospitalization three to four times per day, I no longer call.  Why? Because I am tired, sick and tired of feeling like shit and I hate to burst their bubble that the hospitalization and the medications have not cured me.  I no longer want to take them on this roller coaster ride from hell with me.

Some may say I am in the infancy stage of medications, considering I have really only been trying meds since December, but to me, it feels like forever.  I don’t know anymore. The ball and chains have been reattached to my ankles and again, I feel the depression slowly pulling me down as I try like crazy to tread water.  Is it too much to ask to find my smile and laughter? Would an exorcism rid this awful demon from my body and return the old me to my family and friends? I know I sound like a broken record, but I just want to find me again. I miss me and looking at old pictures does nothing but remind me that person no longer exists right now.  Lydia is MIA. And who knows when she will return if she ever does?

HELP!!!!!! Seroquel Induced Writer’s Block

I need some help, desperately! I have been on Seroquel for over 1 month now and I am suffering from severe writer’s block, so I thought of an idea. I was hoping some of my readers would challenge me and give me a subject or idea on which to write. It is killing me that I cannot just sit down as I have in the past and just start typing away, but think that if someone challenges me, it will be the big kick in the ass I need! Comment below with your idea and I will do my best to come up with something (hopefully to the idea giver’s satisfaction) and get rid of this block.

I was also thinking of starting an idea box and throwing the ideas, including mine, into the box and pulling them out randomly when I am stumped.  Looking forward to seeing your challenges and ditching this block once and for all.

ACCEPTANCE IS NOT EASY

Acceptance in human psychology is a person’s assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it, protest (https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=acceptance). I’m having a difficult time with the acceptance part of my disease.  I actually feel as if I need to be transcribing a eulogy to my former self, because that woman I loved is long gone and despite all my hard work over the past two months, I realized, she is still missing.

Last night was a blaring reminder that I am not who I used to be. I used to love crowds, talking to everyone and being funny and entertaining. I liked that me, actually, I loved that me.  Don’t get me wrong, at times there were parts I despised, I LOVED ME.  And I feel that as soon as I sought help for my inability to manage my life this fall, following yet, another trauma, I am condemned for life to a diagnosis which requires me to be on medications that prevent that me (the old me) to exist any longer.  I am even finding I am having a harder time trying to compose my blog or come up with funny topics. I don’t want to be a slow, kind, polite form of me. I want the one who would speak her mind, even if it was too rapid for some to keep up. I loved the rebellious side that would say to hell with it and do shots at the bar. I was a diehard flirt with everyone (including my husband), and one hell of a pool player. And when I laughed, that genuine laughter carried through a room, sometimes so much so that my husband would shoot me a look, but everyone loved me, so as far as his “quiet down” look would go, I would just dust it off.

Now, I roam my hallways and look at all my family pictures. (I am addicted to pictures.) Could that Lydia that was smiling have been this sad and screwed up? At the time it did not feel that way.  Maybe the doctor needs to interview my friends and family who may have more insight into my behaviors and history, because my mind or perhaps, my illness keeps telling me I was so much better the old way.

I want me back. I really, really want me back. I feel as if I am out somewhere in orbit and one morning I am going to wake to find some cruel joke has been played on me.  I took my medications again this morning, but here I am again, questioning their necessity. Maybe I will talk to my doctor tomorrow when I see her about finding meds that help me feel like my old self as much as possible. I also question if there is not some other underlying issue as to why I can’t be happy. Does my marriage need work? Do I not feel accepted? God knows, I haven’t been shown enough love from my daddy (strong sarcasm noted here)! I don’t know. I just feel very frustrated. I expected the answers with all the hospital time I did and I am still coming up empty.

I want my friends to treat me like Lydia. I don’t want people pussy footing around me, or sheltering me. I am a big girl. I don’t need a bubble around me, and I certainly don’t need babysitters. I know it all comes from care and compassion, but it makes me feel worse. It makes me feel incapable.

Again, I revert back to Silver Linings Playbook. I feel like Tiffany in the diner with Pat when she flips out because he said he was not in the same category as she was.  That moment when it dawns on her as to what he is really saying is one of my favorites!  “Oh wait, so you think I am crazier than you…ahahahahahahaha” I believe that every person on earth suffers from some form of mental illness, it just depends on the severity and how badly it affects your life, and if it’s not mental illness, it’s addiction.  Each and every one of us whom has come out and admitted that we have a mental illness does not deserve to be shunned, treated differently or handled with “kid gloves.”  I am still me and I just want to be treated as such.  I am ME, dammit! I am ME, aren’t I? I AM ME, STILL ME, lost in this mess somewhere. Don’t tip toe around me. Fight alongside me and help reel me back in from wherever it is that I have gone.

I Survived Tricky Tray: Tickets and Clappers and Beer, Oh My!

Tonight was my first “official” night out amongst tons of people I know. My husband and I went out to support our school’s local PTO Tricky Tray. If you have not ever had the luxury of attending such a festival, let me try to recreate the picture for you.

First of all, every year ours is held in the local fire hall. As you enter, directly across the room, over the vast array of folded tables, you see the bar, which is a somewhat makeshift wood paneled bar, manned by two of the volunteer firefighters. Above your head is a drop ceiling with some old water stains and old light covers that were once clear but now due to age, are dulled and frosted. On the right and left you are greeted by volunteer ladies from the PTO handing out tickets for you to enter into the drawings, and then have more expensive tickets for sale for the higher tier prizes. To the back of the room, fold up tables covered with that cut up table cloth you can get in a 100 yard roll at Party City line the room which are adorned with those old fold up metal chairs upon which your ass is commandeered for the evening as numbers (most times not yours) are called out as winners, and a buffet of food awaits the very end of the room, which is first come first serve, so you can only imagine the scavengers that have fasted all day in preparation.

People come from surrounding towns for this function, like they were giving away a million dollars or something. Doors open at 6pm, but people are already parked and waiting for entry at 5:30, no doubt.  I cannot deny that in my enthusiasm to just get out, I was in line by 5:45, and now I question why! I suppose I really do lack a bit of sanity.

Our friends met us there with the bag of clappers.  You CANNOT, and I repeat, CANNOT, attend this function without your own clappers or you will indeed find yourself in a fight by the end of the night.  The obnoxious clanking of the clappers every time someone wins is comparable to fingernails on a chalk board or even worse, a fart on a wet inner tube.  And the winners just relish in their noise makers. Personally, I think they need to find a better hobby, but I suppose to each, his own.

Tricky Tray 3

I enlighten your life with this story as a Public Service Announcement.  See, as someone who has been cooped up in a hospital for 43 days, then basically has remained reclusive since I have gotten home, this was a big leap.  I thought I was prepared though. I took 2 ½ Xanax 30 minutes before arriving and just waited for it to kick in, which it never did.  The noise level was through the roof and very agitating, and the clappers hadn’t even started banging yet when I arrived.  Just trying find baskets into which to place my raffle tickets was a problem and very overwhelming. My biggest goal was to get my tickets into the baskets, and get back to my seat.  Thankfully, that mission was accomplished quickly, and the night was about to really begin.

There was a list of over 150 baskets to be raffled off. It was 7:00 and I knew damn well that Xanax should have been working at this point but it wasn’t. My knees were bouncing, I was fidgeting and now people were greeting me to tell me how wonderful it was to see me…blah, blah, blah.  All I could think was I needed a shot of something STAT, but I knew that was supposedly a no-no. I called a lifeline from outside and was told one shot was not going to hurt me but most likely just take the edge off.  If you only knew who I had resorted to take advice from you’d cringe, but I trust the person.

Tricky Tray 2

The drum roll began and the announcers took the stage. Don’t get me wrong they are lovely people and do the announcing every year, but the gentleman that does it practically makes out with the microphone and I feel like Charlie Brown in the audience trying to decipher what the fuck the teacher is saying.  First item raffled off, “Werngownaown howmmanod 2881903.” The room was filled with screams of excitement, clappers and horns tooting for what? Pizza and two bowling passes? Seriously people? Here’s $20 bucks for the same thing! Now shut up and sit the hell down!

I needed a cigarette.  Charlie Brown’s teacher kept raffling prizes off and I was in and out for several cigarettes in between. I was trying to have fun. Screw the Xanax as it was not doing a thing. I caved and had one shot of Sambuca and I swear it was my saving grace. I calmed down just enough to enjoy myself.

I even won two baskets I didn’t even know I put tickets into, but that was a nice surprise and by the end of the night, Charlie Brown’s teacher was almost coherent. I know the event is for a wonderful cause, but honestly, if I had to do it all again, I think I would have passed this year.  I’m proud to say I survived, and even convinced my husband to go to the pub next door to the firehouse to listen to a band for a bit after the Tricky Tray. To quote the announcer, “Weroamfneoagh ahoduan faowhtnchgn wpamdpepan, ” which means, “Thank God Tricky Tray happens once a year!” Amen to that, my friend. Now someone please sanitize that microphone!

Tricky Tray