Tag Archive: Mood


 

 

the cargo

the cargo (Photo credit: fallsroad)

 

I started this blog as an inspirational site. However there are times when I just don’t feel positive or even spiritual. Because of that I have not been posting much here. That may sound silly, but I do not want to bring people down. On the other hand, I am human and perhaps my pain can also serve a purpose in helping others. So today I do not feel “enlightened” Today I don’t feel God. Today I do not see myself as a”being of Light and Love” (as we all are). Today I feel like crap and I guess that is okay. I wrote this poem today:

Walls

The walls fall down

And it is just me

Naked

And screaming at the sky

Can she hear me?

I can’t get rid

Of the ugly image

Of me

The unwanted

The undeserving

She may hate me

But if you praise me too much

I hate it

Don’t want it

Can’t accept it

You don’t know me

And I won’t let you know me

I think I’ll ruin your life

I can’t bear the responsibility

I can’t bear the rejection

I think I am doing you a favor

By keeping to myself

What good am I?

Thank God I have no children

Thank God I have no husband

There is just me

And she is not good enough

Never good enough

Run away from me

Run away…

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I have found a nice mental health recovery-oriented website that sells inspirational posters. Here are a few samples I want to share with you. Enjoy! 😉

See more at www.recoverresources.com

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Photograph of California Poppies, scientifical...

Photograph of California Poppies, scientifically referred to as a Eschscholzia californica, that was captured using the digital macro mode, in the neighborhood called Capitol Hill, Denver, Colorado USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I want to share with my readers a post I wrote a while back.  It is really important to recognize when we are depressed that there are good things in the world.  I have to admit that I haven’t always followed my own advice though. So reposting this is also a reminder to me to appreciate the good in my life. It is very hard at times when I have to deal with both bipolar disorder plus fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.  However the good is still out there, whether I see it or not. And nowhere is it most evident than in nature. Appreciating nature can be very healing.

Here is the article:

The Art of Appreciation

The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.

Henry Ward Beecher

Being happy does not always depend on getting what we want, but appreciating what we have. Do this exercise in appreciation: read more here

Galaxy Cluster Abell 520 (NASA, Chandra, Hubbl...

Galaxy Cluster Abell 520 (NASA, Chandra, Hubble, 03/07/12) (Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center)

Hi ya’ll! I don’t know about you but I have trouble letting go of the past. I have found this article on www.beliefnet.com to be very helpful.

 8 Reasons to Let Go of the Past

posted byAlex Blackwell

“Letting go gives us freedom and freedom is the only condition for happiness.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Letting go of the past might be one of the hardest things you do. It’s hard to do because the need to hold on is rooted in fear.

The thought of not having control over your circumstances – past, present or future – can be terrifying. Even when the warning signs are clear, you continue to think that if you try harder to do everything right; and hold on as tightly as you can, then you will have what you want.

But, by dwelling in the past where these mistakes live, you don’t see the beauty of the present moment.

Letting go makes you stronger and more peaceful. It allows you to focus on what you need to do to live in the here and now. In addition to strengthening your faith, there are some other important life-changing reasons to let go of the past and embrace the beauty of the present moment – the miracle of today.

1. Never alone again

When you surrender your life, you are asking God to be an active part of it. Even though He is always there, it is your acknowledgment of the relationship that makes it real and tangible.

2. You might just find what you are seeking

If what you are doing is not yielding desired results, try surrendering it. You might find what you have been looking for has been hiding in plain sight all along.

3. Certainty of purpose

When you surrender you are telling God that you want to live the life He has in mind for you. Although you may not know exactly what that life looks like when surrendering, you can be certain it is a life created just for you. Your purpose will be clearer when the clutter is removed.

4. Deeper appreciation of the ordinary moments

Your determination to get whatever you think you need could gloss over the life that is unfolding right around you. Surrender offers freedom, not defeat. Letting go frees you to see the special gifts that are already a part of your life.

5. Live a want to life, not a have to life.

Letting go gives you the ability to live a life you want to live; not a life you have to live. Your want to life can be full of joy and fulfillment because it is better connected to your heart’s desire.

6. Learning from the experience

Full surrendering takes practice. To gain experience, try surrendering small things, first. You can start by surrendering some bad habits like biting your fingernails, having one drink too many or constant engagement with your Smartphone.

7. Trade shame for grace

Asking for grace can be difficult. You may have learned from an early age that you are not worthy of love or compassion. You may have allowed shame to cover you until it has built up such a presence you begin to think it is a natural part of you. Letting go of shame allows grace to be restored to your conscious mind.

8. Finding peace

There is no right way to let go. Faith isn’t tangible and it really isn’t measureable. Faith catches you when you are open to change. A leap of faith happens when you let go and allow your plan to unfold. It may feel like chaos at first, but soon a soothing peace will begin to swell when your inner voice tells you that you are going in the right direction.

About Alex Blackwell

Alex Blackwell is a father, husband and writer. He writes about inspiring things at The BridgeMaker.

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/everydayinspiration/2013/07/8-reasons-to-let-go-of-the-past.html#ixzz2Ya42mVW2

Bipolars: Are We Victims?

Original logo of FIP, later adopted by the FACIM

Original logo of FIP, later adopted by the FACIM (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I am not the victim of the world I see.

A Course in Miracles, Lesson 31

 

I am a student of A Course in Miracles. Sort of. Actually a relapsed student. While I agree with many of its points I still find that some are hard to take in.  Fortunately there is no requirement that I have to accept everything verbatim.  The Course is really about trying on new ideas and new ways of interacting with ourselves and others. It is a kind of spiritual psychotherapy.

The central theme of the book is summed up as follows:

“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.”

So what does that mean? It means that the only thing that is real is God’s love.  Period. Anything that does not come from God is a form of attack upon ourselves and others. The aim of A Course in Miracles is to learn how to get rid of our psychological blocks to God’s love and to release ourselves and others through forgiveness. Forgiveness of others is defined as learning to recognize their innate innocence as Sons and Daughters of God. Whatever “evil” they have done is due to their psychological separation from God and His love. This applies to us as well.

Although I find the Course intriguing, I will confess that I find it hard to understand because of its’ very intellectual format.  However there are many books and websites commentaries that I have found very helpful as far as understanding the concepts and how to apply them to my life.

One of them is ACIM Mentor. Here he answers a question about victimhood:

The personal thought system (ego) in your mind has a story for you. A Course in Miracles refers to this as your individual or personal past…This is your “personal story” and it is not an obstacle to peace in itself but functions as one when you identify with and are attached to it because it is not reality.”

What better way to describe my turbulent emotions I experience with my depressive disorder?  And also the fact that I frequently flash back to the emotional abuse that I experienced as a child? And what about the pervasive guilt that tells me that I am no good, that I am a mistake and no one would want to be around me?

“You know that you identify with and are attached to a personal story when you feel that it defines you and that you have to defend it.”

Yes I do identify with my bipolar disorder. It is a part of my story. However I am not sure that all of my problems are due to this insidious disease. It is too simplistic to say that every problem I experience is completely out of my control and that I cannot make changes to make my journey easier.  Plus there is more to me than just having bipolar disorder. I am not a disease. I am a child of God.

“When you identify with it you feel under attack by others, the world, and sometimes even your own “nature”. In other words, you are an innocent “victim” surrounded by cruelty and you are powerless. You are hurt easily and you take everything personally. You see everything that happens around you, like neutral events and other people’s actions and words, as being about you.”

Guilty as charged.

Some roles, like “victim”, are interpretations that always function as obstacles to peace because they are the result of you projecting your own thoughts onto others. The personal thought system projects from its personal story into the present to perpetuate the roles that it has assigned to you. For example, let’s say that your personal story is that your father left your family when you were a child, leaving your mother to struggle to support you and your siblings. You have grown up thinking of yourself as a victim of abandonment. You view your relationships with others through this filter. You expect abandonment and interpret others’ actions through this expectation. You may also be attracted to others who are likely to abandon you so that you can perpetuate the victim role.”

In my own life the story has been about feeling abandoned by my mother because of her harsh judgments on me. I have been reenacting that scenario with my sister and brother-in-law for years.

“Inner peace is the result of being aware of the Truth (God) within you. When you first invite Truth into your awareness you experience a magnificent peace, but you soon find that it is hard for you to maintain an awareness of Truth and to stay at peace. The reason is your belief in and attachment to your personal story for yourself.”

Perhaps this is one reason why I have been sporadic in my studies of A Course in Miracles. It seems too hard for me to change.  However, the Course is not about instant change. It is about gradually learning to see ouselves in a different way.

“So when your peace is disturbed you must look at this story and all of your conscious and unconscious beliefs in and attachment to it so that you can recognize how this affects you now. As the Truth becomes more real to you, you will find that you can let go of this story because you have Something with which to replace it. In time you will simply rest in Truth within and let the personal story unfold in front of you, without judgment on it or attachment to it. You will recognize that it is not you, but only an idea in your mind.”

Read the entire post here.

 

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coming out of the fog

coming out of the fog (Photo credit: theloushe)

In my last two posts I have talked about my difficulties with my sister and her husband, and how I have come to the conclusion that it is best to cut off contact, at least for now. It is not my desire to do this but their behavior has become so toxic to me that I feel like I have to back off for my own mental well-being. What has complicated our problems for so many years is that I have at times been out of control with my bipolar behavior and so they did have some legitimate grievances with me. But as I have worked on improving my behavior I have found that to my surprise they have become more angry with me, not less. There is another dynamic going on, something that I haven’t wanted to acknowledge until recently. They have serious behavioral problems themselves and often take it out on me.

I am not completely ignorant of what constitutes abusive behavior, however it is difficult at times for me to recognize it simply because I am used to having blame placed on me because of how I have acted when I have been out of control with my bipolar disorder.  But things are becoming much clearer to me now because while I have changed my behavior towards them, they have not changed their behavior towards me at all.  Well, that is not entirely true. Their behavior has gotten much worse towards me.

Anyway here is a list of characteristics of abusers that can help identify whether you are in an abusive relationship:

1. They demand respect, but do not feel obligated to give it.

2. Only their feelings matter. If you express a feeling you are belittled and told that you are feeling sorry for yourself. Often you are accused of being selfish, sitting on your “pity-pot”, or being a “cry-baby.” Tears are not allowed.

3. They expect you to be a “mind-reader”, to anticipate their every need or want, and to comply with their desires without question.

4.  They will accuse you of their own flaws to deflect responsibility from themselves. So for instance, if you have a need and express it then you are being “manipulative’ and “selfish.”

5.  There is no room for compromise. It is either “My way or the highway.”

6.   When they get angry, they assume the worst about you. They pretend that they are mind readers who “know” that there was some evil motive behind your actions. When you try to explain you are accused of “making excuses.”

7.  They make you responsible for their unhappiness. Everything would be fine if you would just behave yourself.

8.  They consciously or unconsciously set you up to fail. Remember the comic strip “Peanuts” where Lucy would set up Charlie Brown every football season? Lucy would hold the ball for Charlie to kick and then when he got a running start she would pull the ball away at the last minute. Nothing you can do will be good enough for your abuser.

9.  Abusers are addicted to being “right.”  Have you heard of the saying “Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?”  Of course what this says is to not sweat the small stuff. Unfortunately, abusers would rather forgo happiness than to admit that they are wrong. And then they pass their misery to the rest of us.

10.  Abusers will always deny that they are abusive. They will paint themselves as long-suffering saints and act like you are the one who is unreasonable. They will say or do anything to try to justify their irrational behavior, including telling outright lies. For example, my brother-in-law  told me that when he yelled at me to get a job (I am disabled), that he meant it as a compliment!

I hope you all will find this list helpful. If you have anything to add please feel free to share Winking smile

The Bipolar Detective

The Bipolar Detective (Photo credit: chris.bburn)

 

As someone who has bipolar disorder and who has worked as a peer supporter with others who have the disease I can categorically say “No”. In fact, many people with bipolar disorder have developed a heightened sense of compassion for others because of the suffering that they have been through. However I do acknowledge that we can and often do create havoc in other people’s lives. The question is not whether we are evil, but rather how responsible we are for our actions when we are ill.

First of all, I am not advocating the “anything goes” philosophy in regards to bad behavior by those with bipolar disorder. However I do want to point out that things are not always what they seem. Bipolar behavior is not always simply a problem of a person being in a bad mood and taking it out on others. It is a problem primarily of perception, not mood.

I can imagine the surprised look on people’s faces when they read this. But it is called a “mood disorder!”

Yes it is, and I am not arguing with the mental health diagnostic criteria set by professionals. It is a mood disorder. However speaking from my own experience it is much, much more than that.

For me, it is a disease that lies to me about my own reality. It tells me friends are enemies and enemies are friends. It tells me that no one loves me, that I am a bad person, and that the only solution is to kill myself.

The problem is that this isn’t the impression I give to others. They see my erratic behavior and assume that it is about them.  They also assume that I should know that. What they don’t understand is that I can’t make sense out of my own behavior, so how can I explain it to them?

Many people consider people with bipolar disorder to be inherently selfish. We are only as “selfish” as someone who deals with chronic physical pain, such as a cancer patient. It is natural for someone in extreme pain to focus on themselves. That is not a character flaw, it is human nature and completely normal. Unfortunately, when someone is in a lot of pain, it is easy to miss the fact that they may be hurting others.

There are also some people with depression or bipolar disorder whose problems go way beyond just mood difficulties, including me. I am talking about having a complete break with reality.

I saw an interesting Dr. Phil show the other day. The topic was about people using a bipolar diagnosis to get away with their “bad” behavior. It featured a mother and a sister confronting a woman who they said was abusive. I am going to comment on this, but I want to make it clear that I am not a mental health professional, but rather a mental health consumer who has spent time helping others as a peer mentor. My opinions are my own.

On the surface, it sounded like that this woman was in fact extremely abusive. She was responsible for sending her mother and sister to jail for allegedly kicking her in the stomach when she was pregnant. They were both found not guilty but it cost her sister her job in the military. Naturally they had a lot of bad feelings about this because they felt that she had lied to the police about being attacked.

The lady who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder still maintained that this had in fact actually happened. As I watched this drama going back and forth my impression was that they were all telling the truth as they saw it. I saw genuine pain on all sides and I felt bad for their situation.

I waited for Dr. Phil to perhaps state a different alternative to the idea that one side or the other was lying, but he never quite made it there. I suspect it was because of legal issues that come with his working with the public on his show. First of all, he is not a medical doctor so he cannot make a medical diagnosis. Second of all, he actually had to give up his license as a therapist in order to do the show, because of strict confidentiality laws protecting clients. That of course does not mean that he is not a qualified therapist, it just means that he has to be very careful about what he says and does on his show.

I think he got very close to the real issue when he spoke harshly to the sister who supposedly had kicked her bipolar sister in the stomach. He said “Do you believe that your sister is mentally ill?” When she said yes, he replied “Then you are being mean and abusive to her!”

I think what he was trying to say to her was that there may have been more to the issue than just her sister telling lies (if in fact she really was).  She may actually believe that something happened that didn’t happen at all.

From personal experience when I had a breakdown on the job I accused an employee of saying something offensive to me that I now believe that he never said. I feel awful about that but I was in a delusional state. I wasn’t trying to hurt anybody. My erratic behavior eventually got me fired from my job, which was just as well because I was in no condition to work anyway.

Getting back to the Dr. Phil show, I can completely understand why her family was upset with her. At the same time I am not certain that she intended to hurt them. She may have genuinely believed that her unborn child was in danger. From that standpoint her behavior would make perfect sense.

I am certainly not saying that her family does not have the right to feel hurt and betrayed. But it sounds to me like they need to address that in private therapy on their own rather than to dump the responsibility on a person who maybe was not in her right mind at the time.

Now after saying all this, I do want to acknowledge that there should be limits on bad behavior by those with mental health issues. Sometimes it may be impossible for others to live with certain problems that come with the diagnosis.  That is an individual decision and I am not judging that at all.

But what I hope that I have done is open up a bridge of understanding for those who find their loved one’s behavior completely incomprehensible. Chances are it has nothing to do with you. For help for understanding your loved one’s mental illness I recommend going to the  National Alliance on Mental Illness website

Confronting My Family

because we can

because we can (Photo credit: ben matthews :::)

Several months ago I had a big blow-up with my sister and brother-in-law. Accusations ran fast and furious and I was left wondering exactly what I had done wrong. I had innocently triggered a lot of old feelings from them. I was accused of being viciously insensitive and abusive.

They were partly right. I have done and said a lot of wrong things when in the middle of depressive episodes. I accept responsibility for that. However I have controlled my reactions for some time. So when they attacked me I was befuddled and hurt. In their eyes I have always been abusive. This is patently untrue. It hurt me to realize that even the good times we had when I was well didn’t count. And that my learning to control my reactions towards them in recent years didn’t count either.

The problem was that they were mistaking my behavior from my illness for who I really am. And they should know better.

Anyway I tried reasoning with my sister but eventually lost my patience because she was more interested in beating me up with all the things I had done wrong in the past. I lashed back in a rather mean way telling her that she needed to deal with the problems in her own life rather than focus on me. Specifically dealing with her husband’s abusive behavior towards my dad and myself.

I wouldn’t have said anything except for the fact that he had come down on me so hard and let me know that he considered me a completely worthless piece of trash. The irony is that everything he was accusing me of was more true of him than of me. He boasted about what a loving, caring person he was and how much he does for others while accusing me of being completely unable to care about or do anything nice for anyone in my entire life (despite the fact that I gave him my low-mileage car, gratis).

The truth is that he is an insensitive jerk who is taking financial advantage of my father.

Unfortunately my sister completely supported his attack on me. So basically I lashed back saying that he needed to stop using our dad as a piggy-bank and look for a job which he has refused to do for two years.

My sister didn’t talk to me for six weeks. I felt awful about that but I felt like I really needed to be firm about it and not back down. Eventually she called and although she did not apologize to me we did our usual thing of sweeping things under the rug and not talking about it.

Don’t get me wrong. I am glad she is back in my life and I do care about her. But it is the uncomfortable feeling that since these things have not been talked about and could erupt again at any time that bothers me.

Frankly I am tired of this. I am tired of pretending that things are ok when they are not. I go on believing that we are getting along great and that they have forgiven me for the past until, guess what? They’re baaack!

I am tired of them playing on my guilt about the past. And I am tired of them pretending that they haven’t contributed to some of the problems in our relationship.  Because they have been hurtful and abusive also.

For instance my brother-in-laws’ hatred of me stems from the fact that he thinks I never liked him. Apparently I did something when we first met but I don’t remember it. I honestly don’t. My sister told me that I started crying and that he felt that I blamed him for that. Interestingly enough, she herself doesn’t remember anything happening either. I had gone years not knowing that he felt that way until she told me that is why he doesn’t like me. So here I was with my damn bipolar guilt thinking I probably did do something so I actually went to him and pretended that I remembered what happened and apologized.

Maybe I did cry (I mean that goes with bipolar right?) but I certainly do not remember hating him at first sight. I didn’t even know him, I thought he was pleasant and was glad that he was making my sister happy. Honestly though, I don’t remember being depressed that day so I guess it will always be a puzzle to me.

The truth is over the years I have observed things about him that have disturbed me and I have actually gone out of my way to be nice and not say anything and to be supportive. For instance that fact that he gets fired from jobs (usually because he won’t do what the boss asks him to do) and expects my dad to bail him out. And it has gotten worse to the point where he literally expects my elderly dad to support his entire family indefinitely (or at least until he gets his “big break” as a writer, which hasn’t happened yet). This behavior has gone on for about twenty years and I have said nothing.

At the same time he has cruelly persecuted me for being disabled and not working. I actually was working part-time for a while and even that wasn’t good enough for him. I actually had one of his friends verbally attack me at a family function because she thought I was faking my problems. I have never said anything to him about how much his attitude has hurt me. He would probably just tell me to get off my pity-pot.

What can you expect from a man who criticises my eighty-four year old father for not walking fast enough?

But, you see, I am the problem. I am abusive, not him. Because of that whole “bipolar thing”, you know.

I asked him to trim my bushes in my yard once and only once. Paid him a handsome $100 for it, too. He trimmed the sides of my very overgrown bushes and then left. I called him telling him that he had done a good job and asked when he was coming back to finish since he had not trimmed the tops of the bushes. He got mad and hung up. You see I had not told him specifically to trim the tops of the bushes so he felt no obligation to do it, despite the fact that they were very overgrown. I was out of $100 (another nice thing I had done for him that he won’t acknowledge) and had to hire someone else to finish the job.

He of course told my sister about how I didn’t appreciate what he had done for me and how “mean” I was.

Cry me a river, I am sick of this sh**.

I am at the point where I think I need to set some firm boundaries with him and my sister both. I am not sure how to do this but I know that both of them have been using my guilt about my past behavior as an excuse to treat me badly. I can’t let that go on, They accuse me of not having respect for them but they do not believe that I deserve the same right.

It ends now.

There are no great people, only great challeng...

There are no great people, only great challenges which ordinary people rise to meet. (Photo credit: wildphotons)

There are no great people in this world, only great challenges which ordinary people rise to meet. William Frederick Halsey, Jr.

Having  bipolar disorder is certainly a great challenge to overcome. Could it be that this is the reason we came to this earth, to overcome this great obstacle? The Universe does not give us a difficulty that we cannot conquer. You may feel that you are at the end of your tether and that there are no answers. The answers lie within you, and when you realize what it is you need to be well your energy will draw it to you. Letting go is a part of the process: prayer and meditation are the best ways to achieve this. Even if you don’t consciously know what you need, your Higher Self knows exactly what you require to recover. Just be receptive to whatever opportunities come your way. When you’ve found the right path you will know.

Close your eyes and envision the love of the Universe surrounding you. Imagine a long ceremonial parade of people coming to bring you brightly wrapped gifts. As you open each one, you see a misty vision rising out of the package. These visions represent what you need to be well. Your needs might be to have supportive, understanding people in your life. Or maybe to have a doctor who listens to you. As you identify each vision, see it becoming more solid, more real. When you can see these visions as concrete realities, then say to yourself, “I accept these things into my life. The Universe provides just what I need to be well”.

On the Threshold of Eternity

On the Threshold of Eternity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think my biggest pet peeve with those who don’t have bipolar disorder is how they judge me based on their assumptions of the motives behind my behavior.  I am not talking about the average person off  the street, rather it often comes from people who ought to know better: so-called friends and family. All I can say is how can they claim they know all about me when they don’t take the time to listen?

So I have a list here of some the insensitive comments that have been made to me in regards to my depressive disorder and my response to them:

1.  You use your illness to manipulate me.

Trust me, the last thing that is on my mind is manipulating you. My energy is focused solely on trying to cope with my symptoms. If I hurt you along the way, I am sorry. As I learn better ways of coping I can learn to control my outbursts. However I do not appreciate the assumption that you have a clue about my motives or about my pain.

2.  You tried to kill yourself to get back at me.

Why on earth would I do such a thing?  Give up my life based on a temporary grievance?  Isn’t it more logical to assume that I was out of my mind at the time?

3. You just want attention. I should just ignore you.

If it makes you comfortable to believe this go right ahead and dismiss all the pain I have gone through. Apparently you believe that numerous suicide attempts and hospitalizations were just a game to me. Go figure.

4. You are just making excuses (in regards to my choice of taking medication).

So you want to make my illness into a moral issue? Thanks for the support!

5. You are making up your problems (both mental and physical) so you don’t have to work.

Yeah I really enjoy living at poverty level , being homebound, and not having a fulfilling career.

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The sad thing is that when people like this insist on defining my character by my mental disorder, then they are missing out on the person I really am. I am a smart, creative, caring and loyal person. And the people who do really know me think I am worth knowing.