I Was Not Ready Yet

I wasn’t ready to stop drinking for 15 days during the month of May.

I wasn’t ready to put down the 3rd, 4th, 5th glass of wine.

I wasn’t ready to say no when the waitress asked if I wanted another.

I wasn’t ready to accept how alcohol was affecting me physically.

I wasn’t ready to stop letting alcohol make me feel like I was in the honeymoon of mania.

I wasn’t ready to feel left out from the sort of romantic drinking in warm weathered evenings.

But now I am.

I do this all the time. It makes me feel like a fraud and a hypocrite. I drink a lot, go on benders for days, weeks, months and then I stop. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s a mind game I play with myself. I talk myself into it. I talk myself out of it.

I woke up this morning and I’m ready. I’m ready to end my relationship with wine. I’m ready to end my fake walks back to my apartment after a boozy dinner to actually go to the liquor store and buy more wine. I’m ready to stop waking up to hangover anxiety, deleting texts on my phone, calling my parents drunk, having social regrets.

I’m ready to live my life and be present. I fell down 7 times, but I’m getting up an 8th. Cheers to many la croixs to be had.


The Right Road

At work, bored, I took a bunch of personality quizzes online. One of the quizzes was about gratitude. I don’t really think of myself as a person who (sadly) is very appreciate of who I have in my life, what I have in my life and where I am in my life. But, I ranked very high on the quiz and it made me think.
There are so many things I wish I could change. The size of my apartment. The length it took me to graduate college. The hours of sleep I get each night. How many glasses of wine I can control myself to drink or not drink. The distance from my apartment to my office and the directions of the bike lanes during my route.
I wish I could change the size of my swimmers shoulders and runners thighs. I wish I could change the foods I crave. I wish the salads I love weren’t so expensive. I wish my parents lived closer to me and sometimes, I wish I had a roommate to keep me company. I wish I could change how long winter lasts in Boston and the texture of my hair. But, regardless of all these silly things, I am so grateful.
I’m grateful because I’m alive. And I am grateful for every single person, moment, thing, struggle, success, disappointment, paycheck, night out, personal day off of work, the list is endless.
I look back on the past 3 years and it has been a lot. I struggled and went through periods of insanity, isolation, starvation, depression, paranoia, mania, anxiety, stress, delusion and so much more. But I’m alive, here, and I’m so lucky.
I look back on the past few years as I come up to my 25th birthday and think of all that could have gone wrong. There are so many different scenarios that could have led me to not being here, writing this post.
But I’m beyond lucky, blessed and humbled. I have a great family. I have great health care providers. I have the best friends. I have a body that came back to life after I tried to stop it from functioning. I have a bank account that allows me to eat food, commute to work, exercise, feed my cats, put clothes on my back and pay my rent.
I’m also so lucky because I have luxuries like seeing my dad at least once a month, living so close to not only my best friends but having access to the arguably the best healthcare in the country. I’m lucky for having a job that gives me an income and isn’t too stressful for my bipolar. I’m lucky that my body is able to exercise and reap the physical, emotional and mental benefits. I’m lucky that I have two little kitties who give me unconditional love even when I leave them home alone mostly every day.
And when I think about all the things I wish I could change, I wish I could change that because I’ve been given a wonderful deck of cards despite the tough ones. I’ve been diagnosed with a handful of DSM diagnoses. I pick up more than a handful of prescriptions each month. But it’s not completely about the hardships.
I have all of these amazing people, places, things around me. It’s that I’m lucky and beyond fortunate I can keep going because of that. I can keep showing up. I keep trying and sometimes, I fail. But I can forgive myself and just be grateful because at the end of the day, my journey could have gone on a different path. I’m right where I need to be.


Backwards Advice

There are a lot of articles about “what I would tell my younger self”. Today, I feel the opposite. I’m looking at my younger self for advice.

After getting my heartbroken by my first love, going through my parents divorce, putting myself through different schools because I felt so lost and dealing with a sibling that I lived with yet, didn’t speak with, I gave myself the best advice. And that was. Do what is best for you.

I put my heart and soul into swimming. I went to bed early. I woke up early. I gave 110% at practice. I ate the right foods. I said no to dances and proms because I wanted to be the best athlete I could be. It was the one thing that I had control over and it was the one thing that I felt such an amazing reward from.

I did have fun, had friends and I went to parties but I also had my heart set on me.

I won’t forget how awful it felt those first mornings after my break up without text messages from my now ex boyfriend. It would be before 5am driving to swim practice and I would just tell myself it’s okay because I’m going to get faster today in the pool and that’s going to make me happy. The happiness I got from swimming completed me.

I think over the past 3 years as I’ve gone through the ups and downs of bipolar, I’ve lost that girl. I lost that competitiveness and that drive.

That girl has come back. I’m working on bringing it back because I’m changing my mindset. The moment that I have my priorities and what I love and my health in check, everything else will fall into place.

My dad is coming this weekend and he’s the only person in the world I want to see. I have this huge sense of relief and comfort when I’m with him. But we’re having dinner with some of my friends and my one friend keeps trying to get me to drink…why? I don’t know. She knows about my illness, my hospitalizations and my medications. She knows I have trouble monitoring my drinks and I blackout. And it bothers me that she’s so insistent about me drinking and it also scares me that I’m going to.

But I have to keep telling myself no. I have a goal. I have commitments. I have promises to myself that I have to keep.

The Therapy Itch

Do you know the therapy itch? It’s what happens when you crave a session with your therapist and expect some sort of relief or moment of clarity and control. You want that “aha!” connection moment, sort of like an epiphany and then everything falls into place and you leave with a smile.

Life has been going really well for me. I’m on this really great streak of taking care of myself. I have a job I really like. I have been able to keep up my social life without drinking. I have been rebuilding relationships I destroyed when I wasn’t well and things are just more in control for once.

But, of course, I have another injury. After 6 weeks of exercising on a painful shin, I have a tibial stress fracture. I have a constant need to move around whether it be running, walking to work, biking around the city or going to SoulCycle, I am limited. And because of that I feel my schedule has come crashing down.

I have 3 races that I will not be able to partake in at least 2. I had to cancel my workout classes for the week. I booted back up my right leg and my dad bought me one of those scooter bikes in lieu of crutching around the city.

I’m good and I’m okay but I feel off without doing what I love. I went to therapy hoping my therapist would give me peace with the fact that I can’t do what I crave doing. But, I didn’t get it.

She praised me for being content with my job and for abstaining from drinking and reckless behavior but there was no coping mechanism mentioned about what to do except rest.

It sucks.

With this spring/summertime mania starting to seep into my skin, I can feel it. I’m okay mood wise but I have more energy than usual and I want to use it towards something I’m passionate about!!!!

So there it is. The therapy itch. It was not scratched. Maybe next week, we will try again.

My Manic Alter Ego

As I write this post, I walk along the charles river after waking up at 5am for the 4th time this week. I had planned to go for a run but given my shin injury, this morning I had to walk.

While I seemed to be one of the only people awake in my neighborhood, I thought back to growing up. I remembered how disciplined and dedicated I was to the sport of swimming. I went to bed every single night at 9pm or earlier for about 10 years, including most of my college years due to my early morning workouts and just because my body constantly needed the rest. I would leave parties at 1am or earlier for the first 2 years of college.

Then I became the girl who was always up for more. Later nights, heavier drinking, more parties and with those behaviors came being less productive, less present and ultimately harmed my health.

I won’t give all the credit to my mania for when I became the party girl but it definitely influenced her.

This week, I decided to take a serious pact to myself to be sober because it’s a trigger and I miss the productive girl who said no. She was a badass. She got things done. She was up with the sun and she had her agenda to tackle.

Along the way of my illness, I partially lost her. And I miss her and I’m desperate to have her back.

Lately, this thought keeps popping into my head, I don’t want to look back on my 20s and not remember any of it.

I want to look back and feel proud. I want to be proud of my accomplishments. I want to have great relationships. I want to remember being healthy, stable and present. I’ve spent so much of the past few years not there, whether, I was manic, depressed, anxious, drunk, starving or just hungover.

I cringe when I think about how many times I’ve “backed out of life” and how ashamed I feel. But then I remember, without those cringeworthy moments, I wouldn’t be here right now, watching the sunrise on an early Thursday morning over the beautiful city of Boston.


The Medication Dilemma

I have a basket next to my bed, which is next to my apartment door and it keeps my keys, my TV remote, the current books I’m reading, my AirPods and my medication. Usually there are 3 pill bottles next to my bed. The medications I take at night, in the morning and during the day. Over the last few weeks, the bottle next to my bed dropped to 1 and sometime 2. I took out the medication that keeps me most stable and I put it in the bedside table, on the other side of my bed, in a drawer.

For the past few weeks, I have been off my main medication. I don’t know what prompted me to start it. Maybe I felt I was gaining weight. Sometimes I feel bored and a little dulled out so I feel I needed a little hypomania in my life. Regardless, on my own, I said enough with Lithium and I stopped.

I read an article a while ago on The Mighty and the article speaks about how Bipolar isn’t good nor bad but society deems it to be a problem. The article compares bipolar to gay conversion therapy and my main take away from that comparison is that people try to fix bipolar people by reducing their symptoms, their suffering and the things that don’t fit in a functioning person. Therefore, the fixation is usually medication, therapy and other types of treatment. The article was enough to justify my medication vacation. I decided I didn’t want to change something that I was naturally given.

To go off my medication, I was honestly hoping I would spring into some hypomanic or controlled type of mania. I don’t think a controlled mania exists, that’s probably an oxymoron for me. But to be honest, being off my medication for a few weeks, nothing major happened to me. I still slept 8-9 hours. I was functioning at work. I had a normal amount of energy. But I was also going out, spending money and drinking a lot more than usual. I went out every night this past week, drinking to fall asleep and walking a ton with all of the energy I had.

Generally, I spend a lot of time alone because I live alone but this past week I was with friends all the time. If I wasn’t at work, I was with my best friend, at her apartment or going out to dinner or the gym. I was more talkative, engaged and that led me to drinking, going out and spending money. One could say it’s hypomania but for me, it was just a nice little vacation from a responsible stable life.

Now, given my history, it’s a slippery slope. I feel good and I want it to stay that way but I ultimately crescendo into this huge manic episode where I’m up all night making collages out of the magazine I hoard and running miles at 4:30am and I can’t sit at my desk at work for more than 18 minutes without going into a fit. And then I’m coming home to shop online for things I don’t need with money I shouldn’t be spending.

So, last night, I had a moment of reflection when I decided that my Lithium pill bottle that saves my sanity belong right with the rest of the pill bottles that I take religiously.

I had a week last week and I realized I don’t want to keep it going. It was fun. I don’t regret it. But it was enough of the mania side to make me pop open that Lithium bottle and go back to being the best version of myself. Today, the best version of myself is a person who does comply with my medication routine, is responsible about lifestyle choices and daily routines. I want to live that life because I know once the world comes crashing down after a manic episode hits, I don’t want to be back in the spot of picking up the pieces.

I want to function at work. I want to hold a proper running training schedule. I want to budget my money correctly. I want to have self-control and self-respect. These things come with those pills I have to take every day.

People have altering views about medications, treatments, illnesses and such. But for me, I do need to take my medication to be healthy and be a productive member in society. I’m proud of myself for ending my medication boycott on my own. Things could have turned out very poorly and I’m lucky that I didn’t let them get that far. Or that they didn’t get that bad before I could stop them.

I’m taking the past few weeks as a learning experience and one to remind myself the next time I want to move that pill bottle into the drawer and forget it exists that I have these pills for a reason and it’s a good one.


Happy World Bipolar Day 2018!!!

Happy Day to us, living with Bipolar Disorder! Today is the day to celebrate those of us who fight, strive, struggle, thrive, last and live through each and every day, no matter how hard and no matter how difficult these days may be.

I remember writing a post to celebrate and acknowledge this day in 2017. I remember walking to the T and heading off to my former legal firm for a day’s work. I was in such a different place. I was on a different medication routine. I was on a different lifestyle/exercise routine. I didn’t have a regular therapist. I had different friends that I communicated with regularly. I was in the worst stage of my anorexia. I went back to my hometown more frequently because I was so dependent on my parents and I didn’t know how to feel safe anymore.

I woke up this morning after laying in bed all day yesterday with a stomach virus and my right shin acting up from too much running. The previous night I laid on the ground by my toilet and as I was getting sick, I cried. I didn’t know what to do because I felt alone. This morning, I really didn’t feel too great about today. I saw an overdraft fee in my one of my checking accounts, went to the bank to try and get it reversed and they said no. I wasn’t sure if I was going to shower. I reluctantly pulled out my old air-casted boot and put it on my right leg so I didn’t further my physical pain, delaying races I had excitingly signed up for post foot fracture. I didn’t know what this day had for me, but I didn’t feel good about it.

When I got the email from bpmagazine saying it was World Bipolar Day, it made me remember how far I have come since this special holiday last year. It hasn’t been easy and I’ve learned a lot. I went through a hospitalization. I went through a few jobs. I fractured my foot. I have been very up and very down. I still go through that. I will for the rest of my life.

But I’ve overcome so much within 365 days.

Today, I write this post with so much hope and so much gratitude for everyone who has helped me to get to this point in my life. And I write this post to be there for others, who need strength, need to feel not alone and have been in a bad place, once or countless times. You are not alone. And there is always help. You will feel and be better and no feeling will last forever.

I’ve realized my problem with my addictive personality whether it be with exercise, shopping, alcohol, controlling my food intake, or just plain being impulsive. I’ve made Boston my home and I don’t like to stray too far from where I have cultivated and created this safe space for myself. I’ve created an amazing relationship with my current therapist and psychiatrist, two care providers that I sought out on my own, no help from my parents, social workers or hospitals. I’ve learned which friends I can count on, who can listen to my story and which friends are just my friends to keep me company at the end of the day and not take things seriously. I know how to pick my battles better and which battles to let go of.

And the list could go on.

Mostly, thank you to this community I have here through my personal blog. Thank you to Step Up For Mental Health, the organization that allows me to share my voice through my blog posts to the mental health world. Thank you Boston, the city that has given me a place to call home. Thank you to my community at SoulCycle that brings me up when I feel down and need the motivation. Thank you to my body that has allowed me to recover when I neglected it’s needs and it has still allowed me to drive it into the ground with exercise (in a healthier way). Thank you to my psychiatrist, therapist, in-patient and out-patient facilities that have kept me safe and brought me back wellness. Thank you to my family, my friends, my co-workers, my neighbors, my city for making me feel like I’m worthy of love, respect, confidence and stability.

I’m so thankful. No one asks for this illness. But we’re all in it together. We have each other’s back and we’re all fighters. Let’s break the stigma. Happy World Bipolar Day!