Jul 23, 2016

Jilly's Bi-Polar Self

Yesterday was a fabulous day. I went out and about, saw friends, went out to eat, and ended the day by talking to one amazing lady. It's amazing to me that I can have a day like I did yesterday and wake up today, unable to get out of bed and tears streaming down my face. It's moments like this when I have to take a deep breath and remember that tomorrow will come, the sun will come up, and 95% of the time this darkness that is surrounding me today, will disappear, and I'll even out. Even knowing that though, there are still those days where sometimes I cry.

I know having a Bi-Polar 1 disorder is something that will never go away, and it will always determine a little bit of my life. That's not bad though because my Bi-Polar makes me who I am, and I'm very proud of that girl. I look back in life and realize all that I've overcome, all that I've learned about myself and my illness, and how I've taken back control of my life. It's an incredible feeling. It's the feeling that I try to hold onto when I'm surrounded by darkness. That's not always easy though.

I know that today is going to be a hard day. I'll cry uncontrollably for no apparent reason. Most things are going to make me sad. I'll turn off my phone, and shut out the world, and I'm okay with that. Days like this only come once a month, and I now know how to manage them. I know what dosage of what medications to take when it gets to be too much. I know how to refocus on the tears, and not let them overwhelm me, but accept that they're just going to come. I know what to do when the darkness becomes too much, and I have to reach for help from Dave. I know that if it goes into tomorrow, that that's too long, and so I take a pill that will make me crash for 24 hours, but it will restart my system. Most of the time though, I have learned to embrace the pain, and allow myself to hurt. I embrace the tears and know that they won't last forever, and this too shall pass. I have learned to accept this rapid cycling disease I live with, and know that tomorrow isn't too far away. I can make it. I'll get there.

We all have bad days. We all have moments that aren't our best. There's nothing wrong with that. It's okay to take a "me" day and do anything and everything you have to do to just make it through the day. Whether that's watching mind numbing TV all day, or listening to your Nirvana (my current choice) as you lay in bed and let the tears fall from your eyes, or if it's forcing yourself to take a walk out in the sunshine and feel the heat on your face to help remind you that you're alive, there's nothing wrong with any of this. We all need a day that's just for us regardless if we're happy or sad. The sooner we learn to accept that we need a day to become a better you, even a day to just survive, so that tomorrow you can try again, it's okay. Don't feel bad about it, regret it, or allow yourself to put yourself down because you need that. You're human. You have good days and bad, and the sooner you can embrace that fact, the better your life will be.

I used to try to fight the darkness. I still do when it gets too dark, but part of me has learned to embrace the dark. I have some of my most beautiful thoughts, talks with God, and journal entries, when I'm wrapped in darkness. What I've learned is that I just can't allow myself to stay in that darkness. I've had to learn how to escape it when it becomes too encompassing. When it becomes too overwhelming, I've learned how to ask for help. I've learned how to reach for the light, when that darkness is so strong I can't simply "pull myself out of it." It's been a learning process, but I'm there. I still have so much more to learn, but I feel so good about how far I've come.

Today is a "Jill" day. Today is all about me, and I'm going to choose to be selfish. I'm going to choose to stay in bed, and not step one foot outside my door today. I'm going to stay in my pajamas, have mascara stained cheeks because I'm not spending the energy to get up and wash my face, and I'm going to allow Dave to love me, cater to me, and make his day all about me, and it's all okay. 

I'll wake up tomorrow ready to try again. My rapid cycling will kick in and most likely by tonight this darkness will be gone, and I'll be back to being me, but for this moment in time, for this day and this day alone, it's all about me. I'm allowed to hurt. I'm allowed to cry. I'm allowed to be swallowed up in self pity, and pain. I'm allowed that because I know I won't allow it to last. For today though, it's going to be all about me, and that's okay.

The beauty about my Bi-Polar is that all of you can relate whether your emotions are dictated by an illness, or just life. All of you understand what it's like to have a bad day. Those bad days give us the capability of loving another when they are having a dark day. It makes us more empathetic, more loving, more kind, softer, more understanding, and more selfless. Embrace your bad days because you're allowing someone else to become a better person by loving you and helping you through it. We need each other. We need light and dark. We need strength and weakness. What would the world be like if we were all robots that just went through the motions? Life would be horrendous, dull, and awful. We need light and dark so we can be better human beings. It's what makes us different from every living creature in this world. It makes us human, and being human is a beautiful gift.

Today I'm sad. Today I'll cry. Today I'll leave the cell off, and lay in my bed (with the sun pouring in because I still need some light) and listen to Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Pink Floyd (specifically "Shine on you Crazy Diamond"), and focus on my breath. I'll focus on the simple fact that I'm alive, and that's good enough for today. Tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow will be brighter. Tomorrow I'll be back, but today is a Jill day. Today is just about me. Today is a chance for me to become a better person, so that tomorrow I can love someone through their darkness. So, thank you for my dark days life. Thank you for pain. Thank you for allowing this day to hurt, so that I can become better. Thank you for my depression.

Jul 13, 2016

My Rock

 As many of you know after my last few posts, I was in an abusive relationship, and shortly after that ended, I was raped. During this time in my life, I felt like I was spinning out of control. I felt as though no matter what I did, I couldn't function normally. I was scared to do even the most basic of things, such as walking to the sidewalk to pick up my mail from my mailbox, or leaving my house at all. 

These events that had happened to me, were controlling my life, and therefore I was literally disabled from living. I could barely breathe, let alone confront the outside world. It was at this time that I started therapy. That decision to go every week for those 7 years, was one of the best decisions I've ever made. It gave me my life back. It made me be able to live without fear. It gave me a 2nd chance.

After I was raped, I had to take life 60 seconds at a time. What I mean by that is that I would have to tell myself, "Okay Jill, you made it through the last 60 seconds, so you can make it another 60 seconds." Anything more than those 60 seconds, was impossible to face. There were some days where it was every 30 seconds. During this time, when my PTSD was controlling my life, I had to find something that would bring me peace, something that would help get me through the day. That's when I found my rock.

When I started therapy I was a wreck mentally, and emotionally. I felt as though I was used, and would never be lovable again. I felt like I was a dysfunctional woman and I'd never again be a whole person. I was broken. After all, how could someone love me, want me, and accept me, after all I had been through? How could someone want to have someone in their life that's broken?

It was at this time that my therapist recommended having a physical item that could bring me peace. Something that I could focus all my energy on when my anxiety made it impossible to breathe. Something that made it okay for me to slowly start leaving my home. Something that gave me courage, strength, determination, and peace. That "something" was a perfectly oval, and pure white, river rock. Yes, a physical rock.

When I first started carrying my rock with me, it had little bumps, and crevices, all over it. Whenever my PTSD/Anxiety, would grip me, I'd hold that rock in my hand and rub my thumb back and forth, all over it. Over time I slowly smoothed out that surface. My once bumpy, and rough rock, started to become smooth, and even more beautiful. It also made me able to start to live again.

I carried this rock with me everywhere I went. I would have it in my pocket, and when I felt like I couldn't take another breath, I would start to rub my rock, and force myself breathe. I had made it 60 seconds. I could make it 60 more. 

At night when my thoughts overwhelmed me, and I couldn't sleep, I would hold my rock and rub it, forcing myself to take deep breaths. I don't know exactly what it was about this rock, but it was helping me cope. It was helping me focus. It was helping me live.

After about 4 years of having my rock, it started to wear down in the middle where my thumb would run over it. It almost looked as though I was starting to make a very small bowl. The bowl shaped rock, was proof that I was gaining control again. 

This rock showed me that I could do anything. I could have strength to overcome my obstacles. It symbolized that what I had gone through, was not going to control my life. I was going to take that power back. I was going to go from being rough, sharp, and bumpy, to something smooth, strong, and beautiful. Those were things that I never thought would be possible again.

As time went on, I no longer lived 60 seconds at a time. It progressed to 3 minutes, then 5, then 25, then an hour. Over the course of those 7 years, I was finally able to live without being overtaken by time. I was able to simply wake up and live. I was finally able to start seeing the good in life again. I was starting to become "Jilly" again.

After those 7 years in counseling, I had slowly started to not need to go as much. I was now having an appt every month instead of every week. I was able to go back to the park where I was raped. I was able to speak to women in abused women classes about what happened to me, and how I was overcoming it. I was able to take these horrible experiences, and shape them into something beautiful. I was healing, and it all started with that rock.

I'll never forget the day when I realized that I didn't need that rock anymore. I had gone from carrying it with me 24/7 to carrying it in my purse, to then leaving it in the car, up to the day when I put that rock on a shelf in my bedroom, and walked away. It was the most carefree that I had been in over 7 years. It was the most peace I'd felt in over 7 years. It was the most beautiful feeling I'd ever had. The only way I can describe it, is that I felt alive again. I had overcome the darkness that enveloped me, and started to exude light.

The other day, Dave and I were having our pictures taken by one of the most beautiful Humans on the planet. Keith Baskett has a gift that I've never seen in anyone I've ever met. He has the ability to see light in someone, and then capture it. He has the capacity to see you as the most incredible person on earth, and he makes it possible for you to see that as well. He's simply an incredibly gifted photographer.
While getting these pictures taken, I was telling Dave about my rock, and why it was so special to me. The story got brought up because we were on the bank of a creek, and looking at all these beautiful, and unique rocks. As I was telling Dave my rock story, tears filled my eyes. I hadn't really ever told anyone about that story. The reason I was crying was because I saw for the first time, how far I had actually come. How I had overcome those particular trials in my life. I realized that I was able to love again, but more importantly I KNEW that I was once again lovable. It was such an amazing moment for me.

This picture is the most beautiful picture I've ever had taken, because it captured that moment. It captured everything that I had feared would be lost forever. It showed that I could tell my story without pain. It showed that I was proud of the woman I've become. It showed that I was able to be loved completely, and unconditionally, by another person in this world. The most incredible moment that this picture captured though, is that I was finally able to love Jill again. I love the person I've become, and it all started with my rock.

If you are struggling, or experiencing any of the feelings that I've experienced over the last 10 years of my life, you're not alone. Those feelings of loss, self criticism, pain, worthlessness, sorrow, guilt, remorse, anxiety, and feeling like you're unlovable, are very real, but they're not true. 

You're worthy of being loved again. You're an incredible person, and you touch people's lives. You're important to many. You're important to me. You're enough just as you are. Most importantly though, is that you can do hard things, and come out on top. I know this because I've done it.

My hope to any of you reading this post, is that if you do feel some, or all, of these feelings, you'll know that you're not alone. You'll never be alone. I know that because you have me. You have someone that understands your pain, and heartache, and I still love you. You matter to me, and you're special to me. 

If you can find the smallest piece of faith, know that you can overcome your hard times too. If you're too weak right now to have faith in yourself, let me offer my faith to you. I know you can do this. I know that you can become all that you want to be. I know that because I've done it. It is possible. You can get your life back. I promise. You can learn to live again too.