Bipolar Disorder, My Real Opinion

I’m jealous

I am not a jealous person. Really. Except when it comes to one thing.

I am jealous of those who don’t have anxiety. And I know you’re thinking “Well, everyone has something”.

Well, most people have a normal range of emotions (excuse my use of the word normal here). A range of emotions that includes feeling nervous, stressed, irritable and sad. But, I can almost guarantee you that most people do not experience emotions the way someone with bipolar disorder does. Or the way someone with a mood disorder/depression or an anxiety disorder does.

And that is why I am jealous. Because if you don’t experience anxiety or depression the way I do, or others like me, you don’t know the extent of what it’s really like. You can try to imagine what it is like but it is not the same thing. Us mental health advocates and mental illness “sufferers” (I hate that word because it isn’t all suffering, so let me change it to “experiencers”) try to describe the symptoms and feelings but words can’t do it justice.

Maybe you think I am being dramatic (which is actually something you should never say to someone with a mental illness FYI). I’m not. Maybe I seem bitter? I’m not. In many a blog post or Instagram post I have mentioned that I am not an optimist but I see myself a as a “realist”.

There are many things a person can be jealous about. Money. Love. Fame. Success. Careers. Family. Friends.

I don’t think I have met anyone who is jealous of my mental illness. Wouldn’t that be something if someone came up to me and said “OMG you’re so lucky. You have bipolar disorder!”. Yeah right. No one wants to have bipolar disorder. No one wants to have anxiety.

My husband and I were talking about growing older earlier today. He said he is afraid of growing older, but in a light-hearted way. I said I am, but I really am. I am terrified. It takes a lot out of me now to manage my illness. It takes a lot of strength to pull myself together daily and to keep my symptoms (mostly) at bay when I am at work five days a week. I am exhausted now, how will I manage when I am older?

What will life be like for me? Honestly, I don’t want to know. I’ve seen statistics about people with bipolar disorder having shortened life expectancies. The heightened risk for metabolic syndrome, diabetes, this and that. That doesn’t mean it will happen to me. That doesn’t mean better medications and treatments won’t be discovered. I know there is no cure.

I also know that believe it or not, this is a manageable illness. When you let your thoughts run wild, it seems impossible to fathom. There are two things I try to remember: 1) This is not my fault 2) I am not alone.

Sometimes I get caught up thinking about silly or stupid mistakes I have made. Chalk it up to hypomanic behaviour. I also want to mention that while hypomania is not as “severe” as mania, it is still very disruptive and destructive. I can seem like I am on a war path but I have learned some techniques along the way to stop myself from full blown self-destruction.

As my husband just said to me as I read him a draft of this, “It’s not an easy illness to have.  You have to modify and adapt as a partner and as a family“. Which is what he has learned to do and what we do as spouses.  Some days are not easy. Especially when I am irritable and agitated and want nothing to do with anyone, even him. I have learned to signal to him when I need space and try to do it as politely as possible because I know I can come off as brash when I don’t mean to.

Sometimes he asks me what he can do for me or how he can make it better. I may respond with “Get me a new brain”. He will tell me “You have a beautiful brain, don’t worry”

Maybe he is biased but I have to put some stock into it because I am the way I am for a reason. Maybe it doesn’t always make sense, but after all, who says everything in life has to make sense?

As Carrie Fisher once said:

“I’m very sane about how crazy I am.”

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Bipolar Disorder, My Real Opinion

Do you feel like crying?

My husband asked me how my psychiatrist’s appointment was. I didn’t feel like talking about it. I felt it was easier to write it out instead. This is the result. I was hesitant to post this as a blog as it is so sensitive and personal but this is who I am and writing is part of my process.

She asks me, “how are you feeling?”. I say in my quiet, mouselike voice, “Okay…I guess”. I am clearly not. I am emotional.

“Do you feel like crying?” she asks me. I don’t answer.

I ask if I was hypomanic the last time I was seen, three weeks earlier. I am told I had described myself as “borderline hypomanic” when last seen. I had described being upset about putting our beloved dog down and being worried about how my Mom was handling that (I am very close to my Mom and often feel her emotions too).

I proceed to tell her about my “over-productivity” over the last few weekends involving cooking, baking, reorganizing and very little rest or relaxation.

She asks about my anxiety. I say I have been rather anxious. She asks if there was a particular reason. I ask if I have to have a reason to be anxious, to which she agrees, I don’t.

I describe the nausea and horrid anxiety I’ve been feeling, and my difficulties with food. She comments that I’ve lost weight. I realized earlier that day that my shirt and blazer were looser than previously noticed when I was getting dressed. I replied that I really had no appetite and lost weight unintentionally. I know what you’re thinking, “why is she complaining about losing weight” but you have to understand this means I am really unwell.

The nausea has been overpowering.

I thought I was being heroic by not taking Ativan for a couple of months and using Clonazepam very sparingly, only when I really couldn’t sleep.

I was trying to do this without benzodiazepines.

But she asks me if I had been using them and I said no, not really. She advises me it’s okay to do what I have to, to be able to sleep and calm down. She says to think about my mental peace, and how important that is because it is obvious (to her too) that I am not happy, I am not myself and I am feeling miserable (and that the weather doesn’t help).

I respond, “I don’t even know who myself is sometimes,” (truthfully, that is most of the time) and I was rather tearful.

Again, “Do you feel like crying?”

Yes. I start to but then I stop because I can compose myself so quickly it’s scary and I am already distracted by another thought.

I feel the hypomania fighting, clawing its way to the top. Trying to speak and take over the conversation because sad Melanie is being too quiet.

I describe how I was feeling so sad that morning but by lunchtime and certainly by the time my appointment came around, I had begun to feel hypomanic and chatty again.

I discuss how I become so frustrated because I know what is happening and I can’t stop it.

She commends me for being able to recognize all of this, which says a lot about me and while I “forget” who I am, to think about all the good things I am doing or still able to do. I am working consistently, I cook, I bake, I find ways to keep my brain busy. I even do extra work on the weekends to make extra money. Essentially – “you are high functioning”.

She asks what brings me joy or what do I do that I enjoy. All I come up with is that I would just love to have time to sit and read for pleasure. I love books. I want to just read. And write. As I wrote that, I am reminded of a C.S. Lewis quote,

“We read to know we are not alone”

She assures me it’s okay to take Ativan and Clonazepam as needed. I don’t have an addictive personality where I will abuse these medications. They are there when I need them.

I just feel like it’s somehow taking a step back but I know it isn’t because in order for me to take a step forward, I have to be able to tolerate/survive the present and get my symptoms under control.

Sometimes we have to rely on those tiny pills (or “emergency pills” as I initially called them in early years) more than we want to, to bridge the gap between anxiety and “stability” or as I call it, my “baseline” (which is really a low-level anxiety that is manageable but still on occasion likes to remind you it’s there).

I feel like my moods shift back and forth, like an oscillating fan. I might experience a soft breeze of anxiety or a more forceful burst of hypomania. I could have a calm lull of nothing. Unfortunately, unlike a fan, I don’t have settings I can choose from.

I am trying so hard to come to terms with things I can’t change. It’s hard to let go of certain situations and to try to put distance between myself and bad things or sad things that have happened.

The sad and unfortunate reality is no one has a solution. There is no magic pill. No magic wand. No cure-all. No remote to rewind time. No remote to pause or stop time. No one has answers. No one can do anything to make things better for me or the situations I face or the ones I care about most have to deal with.

No one has any answers, there is not a damn thing anyone can do to make things better and this is not me being dramatic, this is just the cold hard truth.

People often respond with “I’m sorry”, “I don’t know what to say” or seem to imply they are afraid of saying the wrong thing. There is no right or wrong thing to say. Just don’t give me purple prose. Don’t feed me fluff and tell me things that you can’t guarantee or know will happen (i.e. “Don’t worry, everything will be okay”).

I’ve had to adjust to a new reality since my diagnosis and have experienced some of the worst anxiety attacks and bouts of depression and agoraphobia.

I’m not asking anything of anyone. All I can hope is that by reading this, you are gaining insight into the muddy waters of my mind.

Sometimes the thoughts are so heavy, they drag me down as though I were drowning in quicksand.

I struggle to stay afloat.

I may seem composed. I might be that day. I might be anxious and terrified on the inside. You might never know because I am so good at hiding it. I am so good at hiding it I seem “normal”.

I am exhausted is what I am.

I advise my doctor I am afraid of sleep. I can’t sleep because I have nightmares. I don’t remember them but I know I have them because I wake up breathless. And we know how important sleep is when it comes to mood disorders.

So now I must focus on getting myself to sleep better and to relax and get my anxiety under control. I have to. I can’t afford to fall apart. I don’t have the strength to, and then to put myself back together. So if Ativan and Clonazepam are my bandaids and Polysporin, well I guess I better use them to prevent further infection.

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Bipolar Disorder, My Real Opinion

Don’t Minimize My Feelings

Find out who you are and do it on purpose- Dolly Parton

I started writing this blog post about 5 weeks ago, after a conversation I had with someone who made me feel like my feelings were being minimized. I know it wasn’t that person’s intention and I am not going to “out” that person because he or she is not a bad person, it’s just one of those unfortunate situations where you hope someone understands you (or is trying to) and it turns out that is not the case.

If I decide to open up to someone, I am making myself vulnerable to potential judgement, to a possible argument and the chance that the person actually doesn’t really have the time to speak. The worst thing you can do to me is make me feel like my thoughts are not valid or they are not important. Because my thoughts are very real to me and sometimes are scary as hell. Believe me, I live with them. They keep me hidden at home sometimes.

Vulnerability can be beautiful. I appreciate when people show me their true selves and show me they are vulnerable. I would never hurt those people and I know they would never hurt me. Unfortunately, there are so many people who are afraid to let this part of them be seen (if it exists in them at all).

I realize I am not the easiest person to be friends with, or be related to, or be married to or live with. Although at the same time (and not to pay myself on the back here) though I do struggle with self-confidence and self-esteem, I know at my core I am a good person. I am a strong-willed, fiercely determined, ambitious, loving, generous, patient person with more empathy than I know what to do with. This empathic nature gets me into trouble though, because I am a sopping wet sponge when it comes to absorbing everyone else’s emotions, even from a distance! (Sorry-tangential thinking there)

Okay back to the subject at hand. I may not be the most easygoing person at times, but I am never intentionally difficult. Unless you are trying to get me to open up and I have clammed up, and no matter how much you try to pry me open, I won’t budge. I want to explain why this is and what my thought process is, because I think it is important for people who care about me, or who want to understand me to know and this is the best way I can explain it.

Before I delve into my thought process, I want to talk more about the issue of minimizing thoughts and feelings. We are human. We all have thoughts and feelings. How willing we are to express them is an individual choice. I can be very expressive at times, and it is those times when I hope the person I am talking to recognizes I need to be heard. If I feel like I am wasting someone’s time or this person does not have the time of day for me, it is unbelievably frustrating and painful. Or if the person on the receiving end of my call/texts (or however we are communicating) questions the logic behind my thoughts and feelings, it is a crushing blow. I am aware that what I feel and think may not seem logical or rational to many people (no one said anxious or depressive thoughts were rational), but let me work it out. I like to think out loud sometimes.

Sometimes, I become preoccupied with the idea that I am a burden to my friends. I don’t know when this started or why I think this way, but this belief only strengthens when I am feeling depressed or starting to go on my downwards spiral. I worry that I am a needy friend and that when my friends see messages from me they think “Oh boy, not again” or “She’s so draining” or “She’s so needy”. I hesitate to reach out when I need help.

Instead, I suppress my emotions and I try to keep it to myself. I have written about having great friends, which I do but when I get in one of my “funks” I almost don’t believe that I have friends. What ends up happening is I drive home from work, sad, in pain and tears, wanting to call someone, but I can’t, because if he or she is busy, I will be disturbing them (or so my mind tells me).

My thoughts spiral further and further to the bottom of the pit. I begin to feel like I am a waste of space. I start to doubt my abilities. I wonder why I bother blogging or with mental health advocacy, I think “Am I really making a difference”? and “Who cares about my Instagram account and what I have to say?” and so on.

When I come out of my “funk”, I remember that these thoughts are just thoughts. The same way my anxious thoughts are just thoughts and not necessarily true and not necessarily indicative of things that can and will happen, because anxiety is not a psychic. At least I hope mine doesn’t evolve into one. That would be f*cked up.

When I originally started to write this, I was listening to Florence + The Machine’s “Shake It Out”, and the lyric, “It’s always darkest before the dawn” spoke to me. You don’t know light without dark. You don’t know good without bad.

Or, as Albert Einstein once said,

In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.

What opportunity you ask? For growth. To develop strength. To learn an important lesson. Let your difficulties teach you something. I know I certainly have. Over the last 6 or so years, I have been challenged more than I deserve, I have experienced profound sadness and absolutely terrifying anxiety, stigma, the loss of friends, more stress than I ever thought I could handle and I am still standing.

Do you want to know what I have learned?

Here it is: No matter what life throws at me, I am still here. Yeah. Take that life! I’m not getting knocked down. I’m not going anywhere. 

 

 

 

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Bipolar Disorder, My Real Opinion

I am Conserving My Energy

I don’t think any one enjoys getting older after a certain age. You realize that “adulting” is hard and it really sucks at times, for lack of a more eloquent way of putting it.

I recently turned 35. It feels so strange to say (write) that. I don’t know where time went. That “wasted time” fear is a topic for another day though.

I was thinking about who I “used to be” when I was younger. In two ways. Firstly as the person I was who was often the victim of bullying and struggled to socialize and fit in and then as the person who couldn’t get enough of socializing and clubbing and drinking.

I am neither of these people now though.

The first person, that scared kid/pre-teen/teenager – who let everyone walk all over her and was a people pleaser and so shy? I am a much stronger person now and I vocalize my feelings (as best as I can or I write them out) and I am no door mat. I am not shy about having anxiety and depression and bipolar disorder and my experiences with these illnesses. I stand up for myself and I have backbone. I have come a long way since then.

I don’t feel like I am a “loser” who did not feel like life was worth living sometimes. I don’t think I ever really told anyone how I first experienced depression when I was 13 and again 16 and 17 and then tried to shut it off for a couple more years (until it turned into a vicious anxiety). I hated myself so much. I didn’t want to exist. I never wanted to tell my parents this as I never wanted to worry them (and I still don’t) and I don’t often think about those dark times but for some reason lately I just started thinking about the distant past (because I am hardly ever able to stay in the present).

There are people who say they loved high school. I say it was one of the hardest periods of my life. I went to two different high schools and was bullied at each one. I was bullied in elementary school too (two of them). I just attracted bullies with my red frizzy hair, freckles, pale skin and shy disposition. I was an easy target because I did not know how to fight back. I’ve been thinking about how I survived all those bad days at school and I found my people (who are still in my life now). How did I even get through all of that?

Honestly, some of it is a blur. I remember many many pep talks from my Dad and advice from my parents on how to deal with bullies. I remember feeling I was different but never knowing why or understanding how. It didn’t make sense until many years later.

Flash forward to first year university and the me who wanted to party and socialize and drink and go clubbing and dance all the time. What happened to that version of me? I developed anxiety and was medicated briefly but I still wanted to go out and be fun. I don’t know when that changed. I think probably mid-twenties around my bipolar diagnosis. I was enjoying hypomania without realizing what was happening to me. I was not a pleasant person to be around when drinking per se (I was a bit belligerent and not cooperative when it came to leaving places) and I was very flirtatious and knew how to flaunt what I had (when I felt good about myself). Overall, I think I was fun though, and more carefree and spontaneous and easygoing. I miss that part of me.

I was talking to my best friend, Elana yesterday while listening to music and had an urge to go out to a club and dance. I expressed this and she asked me if I was being serious or was it the hypomania talking. I said I was being serious, which I was. I feel like I need to do something to burn off this energy. I want to have an “epic” girls night like we used to. I want to feel fun again.

I explained this and I said “When did I become so conservative?” She responded, “You are not conservative. You’re just conserving your energy.” Brilliant! The perfect response, and I know she is being truthful too because she is always brutally honest with me even if I don’t like it.

I often speak about the “spoon theory” and saving spoons and I tell people to “save their spoons” but I don’t save enough spoons for myself. Elana is right, I am conserving my energy, so that I have at least the minimal spoons I need to function. It’s easy for people to forget I have bipolar disorder when I go to work full-time and have my side business to run. It takes a lot of effort on my part though to do what I do. To be able to function at work and at home. I cook, I bake, I do “normal” household tasks like do the laundry and empty the dishwasher and whatnot.

It takes effort to fight with your brain. It can be your enemy. It can be your friend.

My experience with bipolar disorder is that I sometimes feel too much, I sometimes feel too little. Sometimes I feel nothing at all. Sometimes I just want to feel again. Sometimes I want to scream at everyone to leave me the f*** alone. Sometimes I don’t want to be left alone. Sometimes I feel so loved and wanted. Sometimes I feel useless, like a burden and worthless. Sometimes I know why I am here and what my purpose is. Sometimes I question why I am here at all. And that’s just a glimpse of what goes on in my very busy brain.

One song that really seems to calm me and soothe me is Alex Ebert’s “Truth”. My sister introduced me to this song. If you have never listened to it, listen to it, trust me. It may not be your taste in music but the lyrics are powerful. I’ll share the ones that really get to me:

The truth is that I never shook my shadow
And every day it’s trying to trick me into doing battle
Calling out “faker” only get me rattled
Want to pull me back behind the fence with the cattle
Building your lenses
Digging your trenches
Put me on the front line
Leave me with a dumb mind
With no defenses
But your defenseless
If you can’t stand to feel the pain then you are senseless
Since this
I’ve grown up some
Different kind of fighter
And when the darkness come let it inside you
Your darkness is shining
My darkness is shining
Have faith in myself
Truth

 

Every day I am doing battle with my mind. I have really good days, heck I even can have great days, but I admit I always have a “baseline” low level anxiety that lingers. Anxiety can make you forgetful, fearful, feel shocked, feel stunned, feel helpless. But I’m not helpless. Not if I’m able to write this blog and tell all of you about my journey.

I choose to stand to face my anxiety and my depression and hypomania and whatever else bipolar disorder brings with it. I am a different kind of fighter. I let the darkness of depression inside, yes, because I know it will pass, and because the more I fight it off, the worse it will be. I’ve grown up a lot. I’ve come really far. My “darkness” makes me shine because it makes me fight and it makes me strong. I do have faith in myself, and that my friends, is my truth.

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Bipolar Disorder, My Real Opinion

The Pills Are Looking At Me (It’s Not What You Think)

The bottle of pills is staring at me. It’s calling out my name. It’s within reach, but I am not going to be reliant on Clonazepam to get me through the rest of the week. I already took half of one today. I want to gain control of the situation, even though I know it’s okay to take it if I need it.

I haven’t seen my doctor since January 7th. I was supposed to have an appointment at the end of January but that was cancelled due to weather and then cancelled again due to a death in her family, and my next appointment is on Monday. I’ve never gone this long without going to my psychiatrist. It’s not that I need someone to hold my hand while I discuss my feelings and validate them. It’s not that I don’t have people to talk to, because I do. There is just something about seeing my doctor that helps me. She’s not there just to prescribe me pills. I have been seeing her for over 16 years, and I am used to my regular appointments.

I’ve made it this long, but I am trying to keep it together, I really am. I’m so nauseous, I can’t tell if it’s anxiety or something else but it really freaked me out this morning. Hence the need for Clonazepam. My boss could tell from my voice that something was off and sent me home and told me to just work from home.

I grabbed a couple files and went home. I haven’t exactly been productive- yet. I know I will get work done though, just at my own pace, even if it means working into the evening. As long as I put in the requisite number of hours, it doesn’t really matter when I do the work, right?

Anyways, back to how I am feeling today. So, I call this my “scary anxiety”, where I am absolutely terrified of the nausea and panicked. I was just panicked. I still am. I wasn’t having panic attack and I was okay when I left the house, but as I got closer to work I felt worse. It’s odd because I was in a great mood for a couple of days before that and wasn’t anxious. Why does anxiety come back when I need to be productive and go to work?!?

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I have emetophobia which makes me terrified of nausea for a very valid reason. I can’t get into it, because it will make me more anxious.

Even when I got home, I still didn’t feel better and I feel like I am getting worked up again. I am already worrying about tomorrow (thank you anxiety). I think I am thinking about “This time last year, this happened….and then that happened…” and recalling bad/upsetting things that have happened the past couple of years and having trouble dealing with it. I am not sure why the feelings are resurfacing now, but I am so f*cking frustrated with this brain of mine right now.

A couple weeks ago I went more than a week without Clonazepam (which is a big deal) and I was all proud of myself for meditating twice a day and feeling like it was making a difference and for feeling more “centred”. And then this happened. It doesn’t take much for anxiety to undo all your hard work, does it?

On my way home, I heard one of the songs on my “Feel Better Play List”, which made me tear up. It’s not even a sad song. I just always loved that song and usually it makes me smile, but today it made me want to cry. A couple hours ago I thought I really was going to bawl my eyes out. I don’t know what triggered the sadness, I guess the same thing that triggered the anxiety. Maybe compartmentalizing everything that has happened is backfiring on me and the dam I built is finally breaking.

I don’t think anxiety/panic attacks are cathartic, but I know having a good cry can be. Can this be subdued with a good cry? Maybe, maybe not. Do I need to take another Clonazepam later? Most likely. Is that a sign of weakness? No. Sometimes we all need a little help, and it can come in various forms.

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Bipolar Disorder, My Real Opinion

Where Does Time Go?

I ask this question all the time. Where did time go? How does the time pass so fast?

Just a heads up, I am in a mixed state, and this blog post may reflect the spectrum of emotions I am currently feeling, so you are going to see some sad, anxious, irritated/angry thoughts. I am NOT looking for pity of any sort, and I am actually okay, just venting. I also have been hyper and not sleeping very well hence the irritability and agitation. I would say this blog is impulsively written, but it is not. If you know me, you know I am honest, to a fault and I do not sugar coat things and just tell it like it is. Even if whatever “it” is isn’t very nice.

Sometimes I think out loud. Sometimes I have no “filter” (thank you hypomania) and sometimes people just need to know the truth (I’m just blunt). The same way I tell people not to give me fluffy responses to my comments or my rants and tell me “Don’t worry, everything will be okay” when they have absolutely no way of knowing that and neither do I. All I know is things will happen the way they are meant to happen.

I don’t know what prompted me to do this today, but I decided to delete some old text messages off my iPad. You know, the ones that are alerts from the bank or the phone company and whatnot. In doing so, I came across so many messages to and from people I haven’t spoken to in months (or even over a year or more at this point in time), or who seem to have disappeared from my life.

I felt a rush of sadness. Like I felt I couldn’t breathe for a minute, I felt a rush of emotion.  Has it really been that long? Is it me? Did I do something wrong? Why do I not speak with these people anymore? Or why do some of my messages go unanswered? Did people forget about me? Are people that busy? Am I a difficult friend? Am I a burden?

Yeah, I get it people are busy. It’s easy enough to forget to answer a message, maybe for a few days or so, or a week, but come on, this generation is pretty attached to their phones.    And quite a few of these people are supposedly “good friends” or “close friends”, so what gives? I get the people who are going through or who have gone through difficult  times but we have had the “I’m there for you” conversation and I actually take the time to send “Just checking up on you” messages periodically when they go MIA.

I try really hard to stay in touch with the people I care about. I even started to reach out to friends I felt I was “neglecting” when I was in my bad state/funk for the last couple of years. I will say, that no matter how “bad” I am feeling, I am still here for my friends. I will warn them that I may not be that responsive or what state I am in so they know why I am “quiet” or being a hermit. I may not be fun or able to go out all the time, but I always (or almost always) welcome my friends in my home. Even when I feel shitty.

And I really want to say thank you to the close friends who do the “check-in” for me and know my patterns. They know me so well that they tell me when they will be unavailable to answer their phones/texts. Another friend who is going through a hard time is also always reminding me she is there for me too. These people are definitely special to me.

When you live with bipolar disorder, it is important to surround yourself with the right kind of people. I know who my friends are. I know who the “imposters” are. I know who is worth my time and who isn’t. As my Mom and I always say to each other, “you only have so many spoons”. And I want to save my spoons for those who count. Or if you read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, you know you only have so many fucks to give. If you haven’t read that book, you should, because it is life-changing. It puts things into perspective.

I have said before that I am not into the “power of positive thinking” and I am not necessarily an optimist or pessimist, I refer to myself as a realist. I am a practical-minded person. I see through people’s bullshit. My husband tells me “you don’t trust anyone”, which is true in a sense. To me, the most reliable person is myself. Which is funny because anxiety and depression make me see myself as “unreliable”.

What I mean is that I don’t trust people to do things the way I like them done or I don’t trust that people will follow through with certain things. I am a “believe it when I see it” person. That’s not to say that I don’t believe people are good, are kind, are thoughtful or generous. Because I do see people that are and I have experienced acts of kindness, generosity and I am grateful for that. I just have a certain distrust because it’s my way of avoiding disappointment.

I fear disappointment because it makes me feel awful. Who wants to feel disappointed? No one. Maybe I am just a really sensitive person? Actually, yes, I am a really sensitive person. I am strong, I am stubborn, but I think people sometimes forget I am sensitive or how sensitive I am. I can easily misread a text message as being rude or curt.

I am getting better with that though. I am learning to remind myself that Facebook messenger/texts/WhatsApp messages are not always the best way to convey important information and that it’s really hard to discern a person’s tone of voice through those methods of communication. So if a message seems “suspect” to me, I have to learn to let it go. Otherwise, I am just fuelling an unnecessary fire. Or as David Bowie sang, “Putting out fire with gasoline”.

I want to share a story about giving too many fucks and what happens when you stop giving too many. I used to care what people at work thought of me and was concerned I was being judged. I felt like no one liked me and felt very isolated. The one person I was friends with left to work for another company. I was so upset and then our articling student, who I was close with, finished his term and was gone too. My two “people” who knew what I had been going through (it had been a terrible summer in 2017) were gone.

So, I decided I would adopt a new attitude. I would focus on my work and act like the little things didn’t bother me. And then something strange happened…All of the other staff started to talk to me, and ask “Are you coming for lunch?” and I now have developed friendships with a few of them. I am comfortable enough to have lunch with these people even when I have a bad day and feel anxious. I have even been able to tell two of them about my journey with bipolar disorder and my experiences with mental illness. I chose to save my energy for what mattered at work.

To quote Mark Manson, the author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck,

Essentially, we become more selective about the fucks we’re willing to give. This is something called maturity. It’s nice; you should try it sometime. Maturity is what happens when one learns to only give a fuck about what’s truly fuckworthy. As Bunk Moreland said to his partner Detective McNulty in The Wire…”That’s what you get for giving a fuck when it wasn’t your turn to give a fuck.”

Bottom line? Choose your fucks wisely.

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