Famiglia and My Dad.

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Famiglia is Italian for family, and I am proud to be of that heritage.  I have the greatest family one could ever ask for, something not a lot of people have.  I consider myself blessed, especially with how much I put them through growing up, while dealing with undiagnosed to diagnosed Bipolar Disorder along with substance abuse and addiction.

My father was a military man, most importantly he was a family man.  My dad was always there for all of us not matter what.  Today marks the 3rd year of his passing, so I have a lot to think and talk about.  My dad raised a wonderful family with my selfless and passionate mother, still to this day, she makes sure my sister and I are ok and does everything in her power to help.  My mom has never not been there for us.  My little sister is a beautiful and hard working individual and she has never strayed from being a good and down to earth, caring person.  Sometimes I envy her for that, but honestly, I could not be more proud of her tenacity and passion for everything that she does.

I don’t think my family would have turned out the way we did if it wasn’t for my dad.  He had this charm and everyone just seemed to gravitate towards him, he had a lot of friends and remained married to my mother for 32 years and 9 months, up until he left this world.  I yearn for a love like theirs, one of commitment, honesty, loyalty and respect.  They were true companions and partners.  They were best friends.  They were amazing and beautiful.  My dad was funny and I miss his dad jokes and nick names for us.  I miss how he always asked us about our day.  I miss the best advice I’ve ever recieved.  I miss him a lot.

I think my dad pushed my sister and I to be good people, and we both ended up that way, my sister first and me not until my mid 20’s.  I had a bad circle of friend and fell into a dark opiate and upper addiction at the time.  He helped me get clean by getting me into rehab and then just taking me to church with him when I got back, strengthening our relationship tramendously before he died.  It was something special that just he and I did, we bonded over that time so much.  I am still clean and sober, and in recovery and my life has improved in so many ways.  I do not recognize the lost person I once was.

I am so grateful that my dad and I were able to mend our relationship and have it blossom into not just a father and daughter relationship, but two mature adults sharing with eachother instead of arguing.  I know that’s all he ever wanted.  I know he would be proud of my family today.  My sister and I work hard and are homeowners and my mom still has the most beautful soul, living with pure grace, I love her so much.  I love my sister so much.

We grew together after Dad left.  Things are different, yes, but we wouldn’t be the people we are today if it wasn’t for him.

We miss you Dad (aka Fazza)

 

Loving Yourself.

cropped-heart2.jpgWhen you uncover the ideation about who you think you are, you will find your true self, and that is love.  There is nothing more important than self-care, in my opinion. We have one life to live, and living behind a facade of vein or a misguided ego doesn’t allow for lasting relationships with anyone, let alone yourself.  You will eventually become, numb, bitter, withdrawn, etc.  There is a difference between being selfish and being selfish if you know what I mean.  Self care and setting healthy boundaries are a good type of “selfishness”, while the negative selfishness is usually all about personal gain at the expense of others (you might not even realize you’re doing it too)

Learn to be happy alone, give yourself a break and stop being so hard on yourself.  Stop needing to be out in the social scene at all times in the fear of missing out.  You will only miss out on yourself.  Look in the mirror and do this: write positive affirmations on post it notes like, “Hello beautiful!” or “You have a great sense of humor!” Seriously, it works.  Every morning when you wake up, these little self-love notes will be there to remind you of how wonderful you are.  It probably seems cheesy to some of you, but don’t knock it until you try it!

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Getting to know yourself and actually being in a truly comfortable state of mind makes all the difference.  It isn’t something that needs to be forced either, it literally takes time and some mindfulness.  Remember it is not selfish to care about yourself and your own needs.  

Forgive yourself for past mistakes, let go of regret and don’t betray your integrity.  If you keep looking at the past, you will never move forward and gain positive progression.  In showing compassion for yourself, you will naturally become compassionate and kind to others.  Then there is that saying, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When you treat others with disrespect, condescendence and impertinence, that actually will all deflect onto you.

Let go of all of the negativity in your life. Do you!  Seriously all you have to do is whatever makes you happy!  Bust out those paintbrushes, draw, learn a new craft, find a new job.  Those are just some examples on how to compartmentalized your mind.  Trust me, you will feel better, and when you feel better about yourself you are more inclined to be there for others.  When you can be honestly present for others, you will eventually like yourself more and you might even end up loving yourself;

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And that is beautiful.

Self love is true happiness.

Developing a sense of accomplishment and a sense of pride in what you do in your life even if it’s something small, and really believing in your heart that you have confidence, grace and internal beauty, you will learn that you are capable of really loving others as well.

I can’t stress this enough,

Love yourself first.

Side Note About my Blog.

This blog is personal, informative and educational. I have a lot of opinions and sometimes I go on rants.

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This blog is about how I have made ginormous strides to overcome the hardships and technical difficulties of having a mental illness.

I am not suicidal, I am not depressed, I am not unhappy and I have doctors that monitor my mental and physical health. I also have a great support system, I may make fun of them and bitch about them from time to time, but that’s why I have this blog. (Lol)

I appreciate that people reach out to me and care and that means the world to me, I just want you to know that I am bipolar yes, but I’m ok.

Thank you 🙏

Lisa

Communication Breakdown.

I am not using this disorder as a crutch or an excuse for my behavior and I never will.  I take full responsibility for myself.  That being said, treat people how you expect to be treated.  In my experience, it takes so much out of me to do or say the right things because I don’t have a “what is rational on and off switch” I have had to train myself to be able to beat my brain into submission.cropped-brokenglass1.jpg

I mean, there are so many things I could say that I just don’t, there are also things I do or say that I shouldn’t, but I accidentally do it anyways.  That is where I am sorry. 

No one has an excuse to treat someone how they want to.  You aren’t always right, you aren’t always the one who knows everything, you don’t get to raise your voice when something upsets you and your bad temper is never going to be tolerated by anyone.

This all comes with growth, compassion and understanding of 1: the human psyche, 2: do the right thing and 3: respect people’s boundaries and emotions.

Communication is not an easy concept to master, but it gets easier when you try to understand.

Our Truth.

This isn’t a cry for help it’s more of a lesson. Having a mood disorder, a fucking terrible one at that is exhausting. This has caused me to be completely empathetic towards anyone suffering. I get it. I understand your pain. There is no cure and our meds only make it more tolerable. There is only hope and the belief that tomorrow will be better. I am not perfect, I try my hardest to keep it in check. Sometimes though, we have to accept when it can be bad. Trying to fight through the worst episode is the most intense, frightening, frustrating and painful thing one can do. So rest. Let it happen. It won’t last forever, but the Disorder always will. It isn’t a choice. Many of us were born with it, a disease of the brain, chemical misfiring. We are often misunderstood, yet we are born with this extra pressure. Life is hard enough as it is without the added craziness. So to anyone suffering or wanting to give up, don’t. You still have to live even if it’s hard. Also, to our loved ones, we are never intentionally trying to hurt you. Please understand that.

Research Medications.

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I used to get my meds tweaked way too often. I blame most of that on how young and uninformed I was. I was put on benzodiazepines immediately after having one panic attack. I was only 19 when I was prescribed klonopin 6mg a day as needed for anxiety. That is a ridiculous amount. I did not know benzodiazepines were dangerously addictive and nearly impossible (I’ve tried numerous times) to stop. The withdrawals are unbearable.

I have been prescribed everything under the sun for anxiety, ADD and of course mood stabilizers and antipsychotics. Some work very well, others just made it worse.

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We also can’t rely solely on psychiatric medications to maintain our lives. We have to do the internal work on ourselves as well. I still take medications, but I take half of what I used to. Research and ask questions about any meds that are being prescribed to you because you don’t necessarily have to take what a doctor suggests, there may be other alternatives.

True Love Is Not Impossible Just Because I’m Bipolar.

8B0D6CC1-A031-401F-9DE2-DEE61891873EI’m just being honest here.  I do believe that having any mental illness is incredibly taxing on a relationship, but both partners need to do the work. 

The way I handle stress or just everyday life can seem to be dramatic to say the least.  I’m doing the best I can in my relationship and it hasn’t been easy.  Often times I find myself over thinking and over analyzing what I could do better.  It can be difficult to control my illness in a way to be in a positive relationship.  When I’m having an episode, sometimes things really trigger me and I can be mean and hard to be around and I will sometimes lash out on the people closest to me.  Being in a relationship means I have to be especially aware of triggers.  

Luckily, I have been stable for quite some time. (YAY)

I was lucky enough to find the man of my dreams.  I met him a long time ago, yet we have only been together for almost 3 years.  He is so patient.  That is one of the many reasons I am marrying this incredible man.

When I met my fiance, I laid it out on the table, “hey just so you know I am bipolar and I take meds and I can be weird sometimes”.  I didn’t expect him to totally understand because it is impossible to understand.  I still struggle understanding my true emotions too.

All I can say at this point is I feel safe with him.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve this kind of love.

Everyone deserves true love.

I’m Happy.

Alone In Our Thoughts.

Unfortunately, having a mood disorder can and will cause you to feel alone sometimes.  Make yourself happy first.  Take care of yourself, eat well, sleep well etc, as much as you can, I know it’s easier said than done, ESPECIALLY mid episodes, but the older I’m getting, the easier it has been, and I accept me for me.

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I do still notice how loved ones say that they understand, but there have been times in the past when I used to just hide and isolate myself and cry so no one would hear me.  Later on, they’d finally ask me the question, we the mentally ill folks all hate “What’s wrong…”  (face palm)

Accept that no one can see the chemical imbalance that is happening in your brain.

That is all.

The Impossible Explanation Of Being Bipolar.

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I want to take a moment to try to explain Bipolar Disorder.  This is what the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says:

“Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.”

“There are four basic types of bipolar disorder; all of them involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, and energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very sad, “down,” or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes). Less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes.”

Here is a list of manic and depressive episode signs and symptoms also provided by NIMH:

People having a manic episode may: People having a depressive episode may:
Feel very “up,” “high,” or elated

Have a lot of energy

Have increased activity levels

Feel “jumpy” or “wired”

Have trouble sleeping

Become more active than usual

Talk really fast about a lot of different things

Be agitated, irritable, or “touchy”

Feel like their thoughts are going very fast

Think they can do a lot of things at once

Do risky things, like spend a lot of money or have reckless sex

Feel very sad, down, empty, or hopeless

Have very little energy

Have decreased activity levels

Have trouble sleeping, they may sleep too little or too much

Feel like they can’t enjoy anything

Feel worried and empty

Have trouble concentrating

Forget things a lot

Eat too much or too little

Feel tired or “slowed down”

Think about death or suicide

Now, here is where things get complicated.  There is also mixed cycling which is a combination if the two, being depressed and manic at the same time, and  then there is hypomania.  Hypomania is what I would like to call the calm before the storm.  This is what falls between the full-blown manic and depressive episodes.  In this state nothing feels too extreme and there’s a weird sense of normality, but I don’t really know what feeling normal is so I just roll with it.  I’m not hostile, angry or sad.  I’m also not that excited, elated or hyper focused on anything.  This is when my mood is kind of stable and I can actually function without any mood setbacks, when I can organize my life and get important tasks done.  There is no timeframe of hypomania though, that’s what sucks about it, it could last from a few days to maybe a week and some change.  It’s different for everyone.

Then boom.  Another one.  Usually I’m always praying for good ole mania, but unfortunately it’s the luck of the draw.  I prefer mania because at least I feel great, things are awesome and wonderful and beautiful and oh look what’s that over there?  Now I can’t sleep, but who needs sleep when you have so much to do and so many random thoughts and ideas in your head? I’m going to have fun and complete so many tasks!

People need to sleep…BUT when you’re Bipolar, sometimes you can’t no matter how much you know you need to and no matter how hard you try.  It’s chemical.  My brain is on overdrive.  I’ve stayed up for days at a time.  This is when depression starts to set in.

I.  Hate.  Being.  Depressed.  It sucks not being able to get out of bed.  It’s hard to take a shower, sometimes I won’t.  I either eat too much, too little or not at all.  I completely shut down from the world and my loved ones.  I don’t want to do anything.  Nothing is fun.  I stare at the wall for a long time.  I get mad at myself for being depressed and then I cry and cry and cry.  When I’m depressed I get really defensive about everything.  I used to be suicidal and have suicidal ideation before I got on the right cocktail of medications.  Sometimes I still feel hopeless when I’m depressed, but I would never take my life now really knowing how selfish that would be.

I am still loved and I have to remember that.

That’s what the mania and depression episodes feel like to me, but like I said, it’s different for everyone.  Sometimes other mental issues come into play.

“Anxiety and ADHD: Anxiety disorders and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often diagnosed among people with bipolar disorder.

Substance Abuse: People with bipolar disorder may also misuse alcohol or drugs, have relationship problems, or perform poorly in school or at work. Family, friends and people experiencing symptoms may not recognize these problems as signs of a major mental illness such as bipolar disorder.”

Well, I have ADHD and horrible anxiety and I also have struggled with substance abuse.  So I have to take more medicine for my inability to focus and more medicine to curb my anxiety.  Substance abuse isn’t an issue anymore because I’m clean now and I know that even a couple of drinks will cause issues with my meds and my treatment.

So this is Bipolar disorder in a nutshell.  It sucks the life out of me.  It is absolutely exhausting…But I still live every day and I do the best I can with what I’ve got.  Even I didn’t grasp this shit in the beginning!  It has taken me years to pinpoint the signs and triggers.  It has taken me years to stay sober.  It has taken me years to believe that even though this sucks, I don’t have to suck!

This is a lifelong illness and a daily struggle.  I’ve applied for disability because of it and got denied because they said I could still work a minimum wage job, and I got so offended.  Social security basically told me to suck it up and work for practically no pay…..live with this disorder and be poor and even more depressed?  I said NO GOVERNMENT.  I went to college I am better than this.  I am smart, educated, artistic, funny and a good person.

I’ve said it before, being mentally ill has made me try harder than most “normal people” I know for a fact that I’m not lazy.  I’m just “crazy”

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