Boys, boys, boys.

I’m not here to make assumptions but people have first loves. The person who sweeps you off your feet, makes you picnics, remembers special anniversaries, etc. My first love was my boyfriend when I was 14 and we lingered in and out for about 7 years. I remember we were too young to drive so we would bike and we kissed on our bikes and someone called us out for how cute we were.

The terrible thing about my first love was that over the years he became controlling. He got mad at me for seeing movies we were supposed to see together. I got asked to Prom as a sophomore in high school but prom was “our thing”, I never went with either of them. He would make me do his chores like walk his dog or set the table for family dinner. He was emotionally abusive. As a competitive swimmer, I couldn’t check my phone during swim meets because he was so unhealthy towards me that it would distract me from my races.

And here I am, I’m 24 years old and I have fallen back into the same pattern. I have been dating a guy who takes me on dates to shake shack. I offer to pick him up and he always accepts. He Facetimes me every day, multiple times a day. But he doesn’t try anymore. He doesn’t want to take me on dates. He FT’d me on valentines day but before he was going out with his guy friends. He cares but he doesn’t care enough.

And here I am. This boy, knows everything. He knows the pills I take in the morning and the pills I take at night. He knows my hospitalizations. He knows my time away from work for mental health. He knows my screwed up family. He knows my close relationship with my dad and my non-existent relationship with my brother. He knows about my eating disorder. And I wish I could be with him more, I wish he would realize what we have and how hard it is for me to open up this way but with him, I did.

And, I’ve become better at letting myself be vulnerable about my illness and my family but it’s not every day you can be so candid. Do I deserve better? Of course. Will I follow through? That’s to be determined.

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The Life I Live

I’m lucky. I’m going to start off this post with those words because they’re true. I have great parents, they may be divorced and they may hate each others guts but they love me to death, support me to my grave and I love them more than anything. My mom and my dad are my world.

I have amazing friends. I have a best friend who I’ve known for 10+ years from my hometown and she lives 50 feet away from me in a city that’s 5 hours from our hometown. I have another amazing friend who I see every single day, even though we don’t work together and she lives super far away. I have friends from childhood whom I still talk to. I have new friends and old friends and I’m so lucky to have all of them. I have amazing people in my life.

I live in a perfect city. I have fallen head over heels in love with Boston. I can walk everywhere, I live so close to the T that will take me to Cambridge where all of my amazing medical care is. I have access to everything I need. Boston is my own little sanctuary.

But I also have a weird head. I have bipolar 1 disorder. I’m not normal.

It’s frustrating when on the outside, people who don’t know, or do know, think I have it all. They see money, they see “status”, they see whatever they see. They see that I currently don’t have a job but am supported by my parents or that I belong to gyms like equinox, wear Vince shoes and wear expensive clothing brands. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean anything. The statement “money doesn’t buy happiness” is completely true. Money doesn’t buy me health. Money doesn’t buy my friendships. Money doesn’t buy me stability.

I am still mentally ill. I still struggle, every day. I still have to deal with my illness. I still take pills every day and every night. I still have to use skills or not use skills and self-sabatoge, essentially. I still have to deal with things that people who don’t have bipolar deal with. I have to make sure that I can set up a life thats manageable when others have the luxury of committing to things that I can’t. I can’t accept a job that has the hours of 7am-6pm or do other spontaneous things.

I put up a great front and as much as I like playing “dress up”. It’s not real. I’m lucky, as I said. I’m grateful for the things I have. I am so beyond grateful. I count my blessing, I also wish that sometimes, people knew. I wish they would know what I’ve been through. That my life isn’t all fancy events and expensive vacations but it’s locked-up hospitals and trekking 40 minutes on public transportation to therapy twice a week.

Hey, I guess we can’t have it all right?

I’ve hit rock bottom more times than I can count in the last 6+ months and what I’ve learned is that it doesn’t last. I have hated myself. I have felt hopeless, helpless and alone. But it’s okay. I keep trying. I struggle. I strive. But in the end, I’m alive and I have the best people in my life and for that, I am lucky.

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When Will It Stop?

There have been so many times since my last hospitalization that I sit there and I’m like “yes!!!!! I’m doing it!!! I’m doing life!!!! I’m stable, functional, I have a life worth living!!!!”

And then it all comes crashing down. It only lasts a week or two or three. And I came crashing down, once again, not the first, not the last.

My drinking has become a problem, again. My foot is fractured from running too much so I don’t have that and I feel completely devastated to the point that when I see people running, it offends me. I’m so jealous. My life has always been being an athlete, when shit goes south, I work out. And when I can’t do, what I can do… my world comes crumbling down, even more so.

I’m being told I’m not okay. I’m getting rejected from jobs and I’m a complete wreck. I feel small, helpless, irrelevant, worthless.

When will I feel better? When can I just live life and not worry? When can I wake up, work out, go to work, work out again probably, make myself a healthy dinner, go to sleep and be happy?

This morning, I think I realized, never. I will never live a life that I won’t have to work at. I can’t float through life. No one probably can. But I think for us, with bipolar disorder, we experience the world differently. And I think the hardest part about that is the fact that, I don’t know how others experience the world. So, I’m hard on myself. I compare myself to people who don’t have mental illnesses. And it sucks. Because I think that I suck. And that’s not true. It just means I was dealt a really shitty deck of cards that I have to somehow deal with.

Until I die, I’m going to be constantly working on my drinking issue. I’m going to be constantly working on my body-image/eating disorder. I’m going to be constantly working on my mood and my skills to cope.

Within the past 2 years, life has become so exponentially hard, I can’t even describe it. I’ve gone through SO much. And I’m still here, thank god. But I don’t want to live life like this. I don’t want to dread times when I am with my family. I don’t want to be moody. I don’t want to cope with alcohol. I don’t want to be alone forever.

I’m not in a good place.

I honestly sometimes consider going off of lithium so I can spring into mania, since it feels better than I do right now. I haven’t.

I have been better. And I want to be better. But sometimes I feel like I need to just surrender to the pain, survive the pain and somehow pick myself up once it’s over.

Xoxo,

Michelle

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Sudden Change

Sudden Change. This is a phrase that was introduced to me when I was swimming in college. It meant that our travel itinerary could change at any moment, our weekly practice schedule could flip flop or an obligation could just be plopped in the middle of your evening, even with an exam the next day. It didn’t matter.

Sudden Change sucked. It was the worst thing ever. I liked to plan my life out, yet I never knew what was coming. It made me stronger. I always want to try to explain “sudden change” in job interviews but I never feel like it’s fully understood. Being a division 1 athlete is something unique, especially at Michigan. But this is all besides the point.

As I have mentioned tons of times, I’m a runner. I moved on from swimming to running and have fallen head over heels in love. I make my schedule for the month ahead, I have a running journal, I train for races, I look up races around the country, I read articles, I follow famous runners on Instagram, I cross train, I read running magazines and blogs and websites. It’s a whole world that’s so similar, yet so different from the world that shaped me and that may be why I love it so much, I’m not sure.

Anyway, I’m writing about sudden change because I have a very painful stress fracture in my left foot due to overuse. Yesterday morning after SoulCycle, I went on my usual Monday morning run. I wasn’t going to go crazy far but about 2.5 miles in, my foot was screaming at me. It was so out of the blue, especially coming from my left foot. I walked, which was more like a limp. But, I was freezing. It’s Boston! And I was next to the river so I was like I have to run home, I’m so freaking cold!!!!! So I ran home on it, pain and all.

I iced my foot and went on with my day, walking in a weird way to compensate for my pain. I woke up this morning, forgetting that my foot was in pain and went to my 7am Soul class. The first clip in, I was like oh shit, this is bad. I somehow made it through class and hobbled home. I had to throw on some heels and get down to the financial district for a final interview before I could seek medical attention.

I get to Cambridge and go to Urgent care where I am given a nice walking boot and crutches. In that moment, I felt my world was flipped, I feel like I could be mourning my foot. I knew something was wrong and I wanted help, yet I also didn’t want that diagnosis. But it’s also okay. I am flexible, adaptable and I can find a way to make it through this injury. I’m an athlete, injuries are a part of that identity and the training process we go through.

I have a 5k next Saturday and a half-marathon in Washington DC next month. I will probably have to drop out of both. As sad as I am, I have to take care of me. I’m new to this running world and I have so many years ahead of me to compete and be an amazing runner. So I will have to stick to that perspective instead of beating myself down.

So cheers, to an issue that is physical and not mental. An issue that warrants me the “disability” seat on the T. I’m just kidding, but it is really interesting to see how different people treat me because I’m physically injured. Even my uber driver treated me differently when I threw crutches in his backseat.

Sudden Change is here and I’m gonna kill it. I’m going to head back to the pool tomorrow for the first time in months, a little nervous! What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

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Happy Monday!

Good morning, Happy Monday!!

I have recently joined Step Up For Mental Health as a volunteer blogger. I recently made my first blog post, very exciting! I don’t want to post this blog’s specific link in my SUMH posts so, I want to let everyone who reads this blog to know about the organization and read my posts, if you have the chance!

I posted the link to my first post below! I hope you enjoy!!

Validating My Invalidation on Mental Health

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New Beginnings

This past weekend, I ran the Charleston Half Marathon. For my new readers, I swam competitively for 12 years until calling myself a “swammer”. I tried to pick up masters swimming but my heart just wasn’t in it anymore.

My therapist suggested I take up running. Starting in October, I started to run on a path close to my apartment. Slowly I became better. I could go further. I started to do different types of workouts. I incorporated cross training. I scheduled runs ahead of time and around different commitments.

Eventually, I felt confident enough and signed up for my first race, a 15k Turkey Trot in NYC. It was a bold 9.3 miles for my first race but, I placed 3rd in my age group. So, I signed up for a half marathon, I placed 4th in my age group. So I signed up to do another half marathon and entered the NYC Marathon raffle.

I got back from my half this week and ever since that training cycle of running has ended, I feel like I have a new start and a fresh outlook. I’m being discharged from my IOP program Tuesday. I have actively started interviewing for full-time corporate jobs. I had a serious wake-up call with the amount I have been drinking. I feel like I’m more in control of my needs. It’s a new year and a better me.

I know when it’s January 1st, it’s a “new year!”. But for me, I didn’t feel a fresh start. I kept dragging my feet and I felt small. I think I tried to fake that I could get my life together. But now, I feel refreshed and empowered. I have accomplishments under my belt, realizations have happened, opportunities are being embraced, old wounds are healed, action is underway.

I posted a New Years post and I still agree with everything I posted. But, I don’t think I was ready to tackle what I want to. Now I am.

So it’s January 18th, 2018. And for me, it’s the beginning.

Happy New Year!

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Keep Rolling Through the Punches

It’s only Wednesday and I’ve had a week. I got admitted to graduate school, conditionally. I was accepted after a second consideration and due to my division 1 athletic experience and experience with my mental illness. Also, I was accepted under the condition that I take a course to prove that I am academically fit. After I succeed, I can enroll full-time. I did the hard work. I reached out and made it happen. I got into graduate school.

I couldn’t get the financial backing. My father wouldn’t even co-sign a loan. He didn’t want me to go into debt. He didn’t believe in a Masters Degree in Public Relations/Communications. My father has supported me financially for years. He’s spent an unfathomable amount on me, even obnoxious. He brought me 2 dozen oysters to McLean hospital, at my request.

I spent all of Monday in panic. I felt like a fraud after having administration jump through hoops to have me pull out. Why couldn’t my dad just agree?????

I used my TIP skill. I intensely exercised, mindfully for 45 minutes at SoulCycle, my safe haven, and I went to bed. I felt out of control. I felt my eating disorder coming back. I started to hate myself and my body. I still feel out of control. I still feel my ED slipping back into my life

Tuesday morning, I asked the final question if I could have financial assistant or a co-signer. I got a no to both. Okay. Fine. Radical acceptance. I put my disappointment in a box and threw it away. Goodbye. Done.

I decided that I’ll find a job. I’ll make more money than retail. I’ll stop relying as much on my dad. I called up an old job agency I had a relationship with, she was thrilled to hear from me and ready to set up interviews.

The next day, from my dad he asks me questions of how much spending money I’ll need for the next few days, I get a pair of AirPods in the mail from him, he renews my expensive soulcycle package and we’re back to our classic “dad supports all finances of my life”.

Tomorrow, I’m flying to Charleston to run my half marathon, the activity, running, that has kept me grounded and mostly out of trouble. And then I realize he’s not even going to make our dinner reservation on Friday, I’m going to spend most of the trip, minus the run, alone.

Now, I just feel sad. I needed this run. I looked forward to it for so long. But this schooling drama and the money and the absence is just making me sad. And angry. At times, I want to back out of it all together. But I can’t.

So for 13.1 Miles, I’m going to run my damn heart out for all that I’ve been through these 13 days of January and I’m going to place as high as I can in my age group because I can. Things have not gone as planned. People haven’t been nice to me. But, I also haven’t been nice to myself.

This weekend, I’m letting it go. I’m going to do it and I’m going to be amazing on my own.

I don’t need anyone because I have me.