11/02/2020

Seek Not to Alter Me

Posted in Family, General, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:17 pm by The Water Bearer

“Cheer up”

“Calm Down”

“Harden Up”

“Take a Breath”

“Just Chill”

“What’s Wrong Now?”

“That’s crazy talk”

“Geeze you’re a lot to take, aren’t you!”

If you have a mental illness, you might hear feedback like this all the time. Usually from those around you who feel they are being helpful by telling you how to ACT ‘normally’.

I recently watched the movie ‘Joker‘, and yep ok it was little darker than I usually like, but for the sake of research into mental illness I thought “Heck, I’m just gonna give it a go.”

Just as predicted it was dark, I mean really dark, and brilliantly acted!

As I watched intently, gripping my throw-pillow and cringing at the brutality, one statement POPPED like fireworks when I saw it. It was simply brilliant!

Joker writes in his journal –

‘The worst part about having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.”

This sums it up folks! WOW! I mean WOW!

I’ve been at this a long time, well over a decade, I am unmedicated and functional despite my episodes of Cyclothymia (a form of Bipolar with long-lasting episodes, some last months, others can last years). I know the tools that help me avoid episodes and the tools that help me cope with episodes, and I use them daily. When I’m feeling at my worst, I struggle to be around anyone who wants me to behave like they want, or even to behave like I would when I’m not episodic. But the reality is, I can’t keep that up for long, and often “playing sane” can trigger a spiral into an even more severe episode, making life so much harder to deal with.

I often think how nice it would be if someone asked “How you doing today Claire-Bear?”

and I could reply “I’m actually mid-episode at the moment and struggling to be here.”

and have them reply, “Well good on you for showing up and giving it a go, if you need a time out or want someone to talk it all through with, just holler.”

But I rarely reply that way, and the times I do, I usually get looks of pity or motivational speeches and well meaning advice on how to manage my mood better. Some people just back away slowly, wide-eyed, not making any sudden movements, never to ask how I am again. I’ve even had people take offence and say “well I’m here now, you could at least cheer up for me!” or “I can’t believe you didn’t accept my invitation” or “I can’t believe you asked me to leave before I was ready.”

With all the awareness around mental illness of late, when will we as a society realise that there is no benefit in encouraging people to “Be Normal” when none of us are normal all the time, and life would be very boring if we were. You’d prefer to be accepted or at least tolerated, even if you don’t have a diagnosed mental illness, because lets face it, you’re not perfect, no one is. Perhaps more of you could be authentic in your downtimes and weirdness if there wasn’t such negative feedback when you come clean?

Remember: An episode is not just a sad mood, or an extra does of energy, that can be altered to suit the crowd if you will it…And it doesn’t mean we can be written off as dysfunctional and useless either!

I am very lucky, I have a number of friends, family and colleagues who get me, they just do. They appreciate my amazing qualities and accept my horrifying ones. They don’t hold it against me when I act in ways that seem selfish or crazy, they give me the benefit of the doubt and don’t take it personally. They show support and they listen, they don’t sit counting how many times I interrupted them while in a manic state or take offense, demanding that I should “learn how to LISTEN!” They don’t get pissed off when I drop off the grid for a bit and stop initiating contact when I’m wrestling with depression, they reach out and say “Hi” with no expectations. They don’t hold against me the stances I take or excessive advice I give, they appreciate the wisdom I’ve gained from my overactive analytical mind and depth of thought.

So the next time you notice our imperfections…. instead of trying to make us act like you want, you could try saying

“That’s cool, You just do You.” or “I’m here if you need, Babe.” or a simple “I love you”.

That goes for behind our backs too, because eventually snide remarks all come out and who can tell the damage they can do to someone’s soul?

29/09/2017

Pressure Building & Perfecting

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:50 pm by The Water Bearer

I’m not gonna lie, finding my feet as a wellness instructor/entrepreneur on top of mother/wife/employee/friend, is proving to be quite the challenge. I am a girl who loves and thrives in a routine. I form patterns quickly and use scheduled habits as my default setting to help my thoughts cope with all the new responsibilities that threaten to murder my creative mind-wandering.

Funnily enough, lately, no matter how ‘responsible’ I try to be or how many to-do lists I write, there is no routine in sight! So many new (exciting) roads are forming ahead of me and I feel my feet lifting off the asphalt. I hate this feeling, it feels like spinning. I need grounding and I know it. One part of me says ‘STOP’ Do nothing, rest, throw away the to-do list and just BE! Another part of me says  “Ooh look at that bright shiny new client who needs all my focus”, or “Gee that is a great idea for a new book I could start to write” or “Wow a Sanctuary Stretch retreat would be awesome”. Then I remember how easily empathy adds more weight to my shoulders, and my other 4 unfinished books, plus the amount of work a retreat would take to set up properly. I want to cry at my lack of discipline and the idea that there is a graveyard somewhere where all my ideas and passions go to die!

Ok so it’s not quite that dramatic today!…. but don’t get comfortable, it could form into a melt down at any moment.

Running regular classes for movement and mindfulness is such a blessing! What an awesome job, right! And yet as things get busier over here, I am feeling the pressure building. Pressure of any sort immediately conjures up memories of past struggles. I am reminded that I am never my best self under pressure. I become manic easily, trying to combat and control the struggle. And yet I am also comforted by the understanding that each time I have been under pressure, I have come out a little better on the other side.

Perhaps you can relate?

Look back across your life and identify some past pressures. At the time, you may have felt overwhelmed in your lack of understanding, you would surely have felt discomfort, as your natural instincts to resist suffering kicks in. Now, see if you can identify a change in yourself resulting from that pressure. Did you change for the better or for worse?

In my own life I see the times I refused to accept the lesson, and how it led me to an even darker place. I also see the times I accepted the lesson, and saw my own personal prayers answered in subtle increments. We never really see the change happening at the time, it’s only when we look back and think ‘Woah, I am really different!’

So this time I am stepping into the pressure with a little more anticipation than ever before. I am hopeful and expectant of the miraculous changes to appear in my life, once the dust has settled.

Grounding has always been difficult for me, without routine, so then perhaps I am now transitioning into a place where I can learn to be grounded amidst a lack of routine? That idea thrills my heart!

I may not be ‘perfect’ throughout this period, I may melt down occasionally as I adjust to the newness of life, still won’t you join me? In the perfecting process? Push on through seeking the lesson, the transformation. It just may be the answer to your prayers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

09/04/2013

The Weight of Change*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , at 8:08 am by The Water Bearer

weights

A lot is changing in my neck of the woods of late. Much of it I knew was coming in advance and it grew like storm clouds in the distance, looming and grey, with the possibility to bring either destruction or renewed freshness of life.

It has been a strange couple of months adjusting to each change as it tacked itself onto the growing cloud, and the upheaval of emotions brought with each new turn. Even though I am aware of the effect these changes are having on me, I have been trying my best to stay balanced. Trying to be aware of my sensitivity to the friction and fear that are close acquaintances of the unknown. Trying to hold myself in, keeping tight grip on the emotions that are brimming up inside me, but to be honest I have been failing much of the time.

As I read my older posts, I know I have had a true sense of peace at various points over recent months. Yet at the moment, the concept that I can get back there anytime soon is not tangible enough to calm me. I accept that so many changes are bound to cause unpleasant reactions to slip out and I have been endeavoring to demonstrate some self-compassion. Not very successfully, but still, I am trying.

When life gets many bursts of change all at once it can take on a manic appearance, and mania is an old foe of mine. I have had too many encounters with manic episodes to trust myself in its presence. I have a true deep affection for people in general, I love engaging and connection, but even so, I have come to learn over the years that I am not good at being around other manic people. Not for long anyway. I am too easily influenced by the emotions expressed by others, they add onto my own dysfunction. It is unhealthy for me to spend too much time with someone else’s mania, which I have no ability to calm or control.

So, as changes come thick and fast, the faster time seems to pass, not enough time to regroup my thoughts and get a grip, and it’s nearly impossible to slow my thoughts enough to seek God before I act upon them.

I have been hit with a condition that has had me bed ridden for almost 2 weeks. My Iron levels dropped so low that I could barely stand for more than a few seconds. I have had to watch and cope with all the pending changes from a horizontal position. You would think resting in bed for two weeks would encourage time to slow down, but feeling useless only added to the upheaval I have been battling with. Those enemies of friction and fear were not appeased in the slightest. The weight is still building on my shoulders.

So I guess this is my prayer request, in Yeshua’s Name:- That I stop trying to maintain control over things God is obviously trying to change, because they may be the keys to changes I have been asking Him to bring about within me. To have a subconscious level of trust in His plan. To recognise the stirring of mania as an opportunity to faithfully hand all my cares into His capable hands.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated…..

pray fingers

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