Major Contributors to My Healthy Happy Lifestyle

The following people have my undying gratitude and love for their contribution to my treatment and healthier, happier life. To be added to this list please visit my Indiegogo Campaign and make a $25.00 donation. Every bit goes toward my treatment program.

Jennifer Evans
Jennifer Clark
Laurie Telles
Judy Peterson
Allan Berry

Saturday, April 19, 2014

New Blog Site

Dear Readers:

I have moved my blog to a new site.  The new page is at:

Change Your World Practice

I hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Reasons I May Seem Unfriendly

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, mostly because of all the therapy and meetings with my doctor that I have had over the past couple of months.  At some point, they always ask me about my friends and I always say the same thing, "I don't really have any close friends.".  I have some acquaintances, sure, but there is no one other than my husband whom I am truly close with.  This always gets a sympathetic look and a suggestion of a 1001 different ways that I can get out and meet people.  I know they are doing it to be kind but, in some ways, I don't think they understand how hard it is for me, and all the others like me, to do the things that they are suggesting. 
I was a very shy kid.  I could barely even talk to other people in my family when I was little.  As I got older, this turned into a nearly debilitating social anxiety.  I would just freeze up when people would try to talk to me, which made it seem like I was unfriendly but, in point of fact, I was terrified. I was so concerned with what people would think about anything that came out of my mouth that I couldn’t actually form a train of thought, which just reinforced the fear I had of talking to people.  I could barely manage the niceties without embarrassment.  Most of the time,  I would just stare at the floor and try to walk away like I didn't see someone in order to avoid painfully awkward conversations. I'm still pretty bad, though not as bad as I used to be.  It's still very hard for me to talk to people (especially online on Facebook and Google+)   I have to force myself to talk to people or make a comment online (a lot of the time I start to do it but then delete it out of fear of what other people will think).  I always said the best thing that ever happened to me (for so many reasons) is having my son because it forced me to learn to interact with other people at least on a superficial level.  I had to be able to greet people and ask questions, if only to make sure my son was properly cared for during the day when I couldn't be with him.  It's helped me to be able to have, at least, a casual conversation with people.

My depression also started to get a true hold on me when I was a teenager (17 or 18 years old).  Not only was I dealing with the normal hormonal fluctuations that all adolescents go through, I was dealing with a hormonal imbalance that left me despondent most of the time.  I withdrew from just about everyone I knew.  It made it even harder to talk to people because it took an inordinate amount of energy to put together a conversation in my head.   I still had some friends at that point, but many of them weren’t the “right kind” of friends.  I was drinking a lot to alleviate the pain and help myself to relax around other people.  It allowed me brief respites from my depression but I decided pretty quickly that that was no way to get through life (and besides that fact, my father was a horrible alcoholic and I had absolutely no interest in ending up like him).  I was so obsessed with everything that was wrong with my life (and by extension wrong with myself) that it was just too hard for me to step out of my own head and deal with someone else.  The isolation actually reinforced the depression but, at the time, I felt powerless to do anything about it.
Aside from the anxiety and depression preventing me from interacting with others, my obsessive nature sometimes interferes with my relations with other people.  Sometimes I am just too distracted by what's going on in my head, to notice what is going on around me.  Once I grab a hold of something, I go over it time and time again and I find it very hard to share with someone else because I can’t really hear what they are saying.  I’m too busy going over whatever my obsession of the moment is.  I come across as distracted or distant.  Sometimes I'm pretty sure people think I'm ignoring them or not listening but I really am trying.  It's just hard to hear them above all the noise in my head.
I’m also extremely sensitive to other people’s emotions and energy.  This may actually be the hardest thing for me to handle.  I can talk myself into getting around the depression, anxiety and obsessiveness but this one I can't seem to get around. I've had people tell me that I should develop a "thicker skin" and, I wish that it was that easy, but  I just can't seem to do that.  Part of me doesn't want to because  that allows for my compassionate side to be available to those that need it and helping others is very important to me.  But it's also very draining.   I can pick up on the energy in a room without even talking to anyone.  I’m told this is because of having an alcoholic (and very probably bipolar) parent.  I never knew what to expect with him so I had to always be on alert to whatever others were feeling and emoting around me.  I always pick up on whatever emotion or feeling the person I’m dealing with is having.  If they’re in a good mood, that’s great,  but if they aren't,  or if, God forbid, they are in pain, I get exhausted very quickly.  I can really only handle it for a short period of time and then I just become overwhelmed by it.  The stronger the energy or emotion I'm dealing with, the shorter the amount of time I can actually handle dealing with it.  Sometimes I have to just get away and be alone for a while to recharge, which can sometimes come across as being uncaring but, otherwise, I just don't have the energy to deal with what is going on at the time.  

Do I get lonely living this way?  I would be lying if I said I didn't.  It can be very hard for me sometimes and I know it can be really hard on my husband as well because he is my sole source of social interaction.  Thankfully, we are also really close, but sometimes it would be nice to have a girlfriend to commiserate with about things.  And it would be great to give him a break to do things that he is interested in.  I'm willing to try new things to meet people (but not the Meetup groups that keep getting suggested to me - that is way too many people to deal with at one time).  I just have to do this slowly so that I don't get overwhelmed and give up.  In the meantime, I will keep doing the small things that I can do to provide some semblance of social interaction for myself.  I'll keep saying "hello" to everyone I come across and smile.  I'll keep trying to participate in groups online.  And slowly, over time, hopefully I'll be able to pick up some great people to call my friends. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sometimes a Little Stress is a Good Thing

Today I went back to work for the first time in about two months.  Needless to say, I was a little anxious about it.  I didn't know what people were going to say to me about being gone for so long and I wasn't sure how I wanted to respond to what I had been doing for the past couple of months.  I was also anxious because of things that had gone on in my absence and things that had happened before I had left.  There was a lot of anxiety to deal with and I don't deal with unknowns very well.

So I stressed and worried and fussed a little but, when I got to work this morning, everything slipped right back into how it was before I left.  I walked in and the guys were very excited to see me (I even got a couple of hugs out of it).  Nobody really asked me what had happened but they all seemed to know that I was sick and needed to leave for a while to get some help.  After the first five minutes, everything was just like it was before and, man, can I just say, what a relief that was.  Do I trust it yet?  No.  I would be lying if I said I did.  I still have some anxiety about being back here and the fact that nothing seems to have changed for the better since I've been gone but, for now, I'm okay with that.

Is my life stress free now?  Absolutely not.  My lab looks like it blew up while I was gone, so I spent all day getting everything back into some sort of semblance of order and trying to figure out everything that was done while I was gone.  My lab partner decided that today, of all days, was a great time to be gone so that he could mow his grandmother's lawn (because I guess that was too hard to do over the weekend?).  I still have this blog to take care of because it is important to me and my continued efforts at caring for myself.  I still want to work on putting together my idea for a Change Your World Foundation and, eventually, if it all works out, I want to end up working for myself, helping other people get the care that they need (I swear I will write about it at some point, I'm just trying to take my time on this one thing).  Plus I have a husband and puppies and kitties that insist that I spend some time with them.  It's busy and stressful but, you know what? I love it.  This is my little slice of normalcy.  I prefer hectic and busy over slow and easy any time.  It's all part of my less than settled personality I'm sure but,  I like this particular personality quirk.

Stress doesn't have to always be a bad thing.  It can give you that little burst of adrenaline that you need to get things done.  It can make you more alert and make you more efficient.  For me, it's something that I use to keep moving forward.  It adds a little excitement to an otherwise all to predictable day.  It's just that when you let it start to take control (like what I was doing in a couple of months ago) that it gets to be bad.  With my bipolarity, it can be REALLY bad.  Stress is one of the biggest triggers for relapse.  And combined with the fact that I had refused to be on medications for a variety of reasons and I had set myself up for a huge failure.

In an effort to prevent going back to that scary, dark, and dangerous place, I will definitely keep my medication going,  keep going to my psychiatrist and my therapist, keep this journal/blog going and try to remember that I can actually enjoy my crazy, hectic, somewhat stressful life.   I'll also incorporate some good old-fashioned relaxation into the mix as well.  Because all stress and no play is no fun for anyone.  For right now, I'm enjoying my own little version of "normal" and I am hoping to keep this level of routine going for as long as possible.  I could go for a year or two of bland ordinariness with the occasional burst of fun crazy.  If that doesn't happen (because I still haven't been able to talk to the owner or my co-worker about my diagnosis and what I need to do to ensure my continuity of care), then it doesn't happen.  The worst thing that can happen is I don't work at this job anymore but that doesn't mean I won't ever work again or that my life is doomed.  I just have to keep the stress under my control (as opposed to me being under it's control) and I can handle whatever happens.