Decisions, decisions, decisions…

How many decisions do we make a day? A million, trillion, billion. I think some are obviously more engrained like oh I will drink coffee this morning without a thought and some are forced, planned or maybe, impulsive. Anyway, decisions come up left and right and you don’t even know you’re making them. They can feel natural.

Since my last hospitalization (which is now 7 months ago) I have been in job limbo. I call it job limbo because I quit my law firm after briefly returning and having it be detrimental to my mental health situation. I took a full time job in retail. Fun, I did enjoy a lot of my time there, but not a “career” for me personally. I can’t afford my rent, my bills, my lifestyle. Also, I wanted to take on more.

I’ve applied to at least 300 jobs, done 100 phone interviews, gone to 50 interviews and some of them have had multiple rounds. I’ve been rejected, ignored or I’ve been the one rejecting. But for the most part, I’ve had little to no success.

Currently, I am working at a small medical malpractice law firm. The “team” consist of a head lawyer, and 3 lawyers under him. I am 1 of 2 females in the practice. I am not a lawyer. I do more paralegal, admin, secretarial work. While it gives me something to do during the day so I’m not going insane and doing stupid things. I hate it. I hate so much about it.

But, lucky for me, yesterday I had a WONDERFUL interview at a University in Boston. It seemed too good to be true. It was an assistant-type position for a program that throws tons of events, lots of innovative thinkers, smart people, and really creative. I don’t think I would spend a day bored. Also, it’s very lenient in the sense of hours. If I work a weekend, I take some weekdays off. If I want to come in at 8 and work until 4.. that’s fine too. It’s very, get your job done, and we’re good to go. I loved it. But it’s an hourly position. And I’m assuming that means little to no benefits. It’s a commute that isn’t too great from my commute now. It’s not close to my mental health doctors. There are downsides.

Lucky for me, today, I received a “soft” job offer via phone at a different law firm but it’s a more corporate setting. It will be a boring 9-5 desk job. I will be doing work that makes me want to cry. But I will be in a building with, coincidentally, one of my best friends. I will be in one of Boston’s up and coming area’s where I have my gym, my spin studio, my favorite lunch spots and I will be able to use Boston’s version of Citibike.

At this point, I’m making decisions based off my mental health. Do I take a job (hypothetically since I didn’t receive an offer yet) off of the fact that I would love it, but it would not provide the support I need. Or do I take the job that helps my lifestyle and provides the mental health resources and support I need?

Throughout my treatment, I have learned my most favorite thing ever. It has to do with lists (that I’m obsessed with) and it’s simply pros and cons. If you’re in the middle of a big decision you write the pros and cons of acting on the situation and the pros and cons of not acting on the situation. It’s such a good way to contrast the benefits, downsides, rewards, etc, etc.

So, I’m giving myself a snow day tomorrow whether we get 2 inches or 22 inches and I’m going to pro and con it out. I’m leaning towards the law firm just for the support and for the reassurance that at the end of the day, I have the resources and access to care that I need.

I don’t want to sound dramatic but growing up is hard and growing up when you have a mental illness is even harder. Goodnight! I hope everyone gets a snow day (if you want one)





When Bipolar isn’t your only problem..

There are some types of axioms that make up your mental health diagnoses. Probably for health insurance, I don’t really know. But I know my primary is Bipolar 1 Disorder with mania, psychotic-whatever features. And my secondary diagnoses are general anxiety disorder, ADHD and anorexia nervosa. Sometimes depression is thrown in the mix.

Anorexia is something that I have had a weird relationship with for as long as I can remember. I can remember, at a young age that I played a video game called DDR, a game where you dance on a mat connected to the TV and it has a calorie count in the corner. As a child I asked my dad “how many calories are in a pound?” He said, “3,600 calories are in a pound”. He was definitely concerned as to why I cared at such a young age, but life went on. I was astonished as to the large number of calories that equal one pound on my body. I freaked out mentally and wanted to dance forever to get into a calorie deficit.

I remember being in 1st grade. I was 6 years old and my parents had this amazing 3 angle mirror in the hallway of their individual walk-in closets… it was a ridiculously amazing hallway. But I looked at myself and at that young of an age; I determined that I was pregnant. That was the only plausible reason for my stomach being so large. I was 6 years old. I didn’t know where babies came from but I couldn’t believe my body. Looking back, it’s like I thought I was the Virgin Mary but in reality, it was my budding eating disorder and probably a sort of body dysmorphia

Fast-forward to 11 years old and my second major panic moment of, I’m going to be fat for life. I started taking pictures of my body, my love handles, my thighs, and my stomach. I wanted the picture so I could compare progress during dieting. I wanted a before and an after progression. I wasn’t struggling physically, yet, but I was emotionally and mentally.

I went to high school and would binge eat unhealthy food like ice cream sundaes before my 3 hour swim practice. But during the day I was restricted to fruit, oatmeal, turkey and scrambled eggs, I didn’t weigh my food or count how much I ate, but those were my “safe foods” and I could have as much as I wanted. I was a competitive swimmer and I had an average body weight for my height, I wasn’t physically suffering, just yet.

Fast forward, again, to college. It was hard to escape the late night pizzas, long days of tailgating football games to napping to drinking at night and waking up with weird food in my bed. I basically put my diet on “hold”. I ate foods I deemed healthy in an orthorexic way but I never calorie counted. Until I graduated.

I had a weird college time line so my actual graduated of Spring 2015 ended up being Summer 2016 due to being mentally ill. When I had my first manic episode I became extremely anorexic. A glass of juice would constitute as 2 meals, breakfast and lunch. I was convinced that the medications I was put on would make me fat. I was so manic, I had no appetite so it didn’t matter to me much. The “meals” I ate, I would purge. I had no shame about puking in an NYC restaurant bathroom with a line out the door.

After I was stabilized, anorexia followed me right into my core. I moved up to Boston and I had my first manic episode away from my parents. At first, I lost 10 pounds in less than a month. I don’t remember much. I just remember leaving the hospital and being happy with the fact that I looked thin and I wanted to keep myself that way. I remembered that I was once really thin from a manic episode then I let myself go..that wasn’t going to happen this time around.

The mentality of maintaining “thinness” sent me into actual anorexia nervosa. I calorie counted to a T. I had a food scale. I had multiple food calorie counting apps on my phone. I had multiple body weight scales that I hid in my closet from my roommates. I logged EVERYTHING. I hated dinner; I went months without consuming dinner or lunch. I had numerous food rules. I became secretive and a liar. I would plan binges when I needed to breakdown and when I did, I would purge it up in my closet. I would sometimes have garbage bags of vomit in my closet for days. I hated living with roommates because I couldn’t live out anorexia and bulimia.

I moved out. I moved into a studio, closer to work but ultimately I needed it so I could weigh myself in peace, binge eat in peace, starve myself in peace, occasionally exercise (if my energy level allowed) and live out my eating disorder.

Paranoia is already a huge part of being bipolar. But add on anorexia nervosa and paranoia exponentially multiples. Co-workers noticed how thin I became. I would be asked what I had for lunch. I would be asked how I have no body fat yet never work out anymore.

I was the worst version of myself. I was miserable yet I loved trying on a 00 and having it fit poorly. It’s the most twisted knowledge. I would spend more time in a grocery store than you could ever imagine, just taking in nutrition facts, mentally calculating if I could consume it, usually no. Once I got so drunk, at 4am I raided a guys’ fridge I was dating at the time. I was so embarrassed he figured out my ED, he didn’t. I once ordered 5 pizzas, individually, after going out. I was so hungry and so drunk. The delivery man kept showing up in 5 minute intervals and I was so confused as to where these pizzas were coming from.

Eventually, I couldn’t do it. I decided I needed to seek out help. I found a dietician and a therapist who specializes in food and former athletes. Perfect match. They both dumped me because I basically refused to follow what they said. I didn’t want to eat carbs and this and that for breakfast. I loved my controlled diet. I couldn’t eat my fear foods. I couldn’t eat dinner. I couldn’t go to events revolving around food.

I went a long time of eating 600 or less calories a day. But as time went on, I became manic. And with mania came alcohol. Wine slowed down my mind. And wine came calories and eventually, drunk eating happened. I remember specifically, my birthday. I was going to Martha’s Vineyard with my mom. I would be in a bikini the entire weekend. The night beforehand, I was of course drunk and ate an entire dominos pizza. I couldn’t stop asking my mom if I looked fat. In retrospect, I was 25 pounds skinnier than I am now.

I don’t know what happened. Mania took over. I went to the hospital. Thin as a rail but no one cared. Mania and bipolar was my first priority so that’s what was taken care of. It was lithium levels, sleep, mood stabilization, etc. But I left the hospital and ever since, my anorexia has come and gone. I still weigh myself from time to time but what really saved me was running. With running, I’m not able to starve myself. I need fuel in this furnace to complete a half-marathon or just simply commute to work. Sometimes, I’m afraid I’ve turned the “#strongnotskinny” corner but, to be honest, it’s better than the way anorexia took over my life.

The point I want to drive home is that, bipolar, schizophrenia, major mental illnesses that debilitate you, have such a huge impact. But there are so many crossovers with addiction, ADHD, OCD, anxiety and more. It’s tough to my “secondary” illnesses to get the attention they need. I’m still working on bringing them forward with my doctors. It can feel scary to me. But it’s important because sometimes, I can’t help my bipolar recovery if I don’t have my anorexia under control.

Am I missing something?

Since I fractured my foot, now 6 weeks ago, I cleansed myself off of Instagram. I haven’t been a big Facebook or Twitter user in years. I’m still relatively active on Snapchat, however, Instagram is the big mudslide. It’s the devil and the angel. It can give you the quotes or people to relate to when you’re feeling sad or need motivation, but it also posts the perfect bodies, lavish vacations and other peoples’ “good life”.
It’s hard to not get caught up in all of it. So, once my foot was fractured, I deleted it. I felt down in the dumps on my own, I didn’t need to send myself even further with the social media comparison game. I’ve learned that for right now, I can’t look at Instagram. I can’t see people day drinking at vineyards or going to Saint Patrick’s day festivals. I can’t watch pro-runners post their workouts with their mile splits and mileage. I can’t look at “vegan, all-natural, GMO-free, no sugar, no dairy, no moonshade” recipes. I just can’t do it. As one may say, “it’s triggering”
But, now that I don’t have the social media comparison game, I sometimes feel stuck in the real life comparison game. I see people going out while I’m planning to stay in and immediately question if I should be going out, living up my 20s, even though I really need to stay in and take care of myself. The times I do go out with my friends, I’ll catch myself being in awe of how clear their skin looks or I’ll go to SoulCycle and fawn over someone’s bracelet and perfect body. I’ll questions to myself on the T of random people, what is their job? how much money do they make? are they happy? do they have a significant other? how do they fit working out into their schedule? can they afford to eat out for lunch every day or do they meal prep on sunday? It’s so silly! I can’t believe myself when I type this out, but it’s the honest truth.
Of course, all of these questions and comparisons come from my personal insecurities. It comes from the parts deep down inside of me that I hate about myself. It comes from the fact that I want what they have, or what I think they have. It’s about the things I wish I could change about who I am.
And the truth is, even if I may not believe it, there is someone out there who looks at me and thinks the same thing, wondering how I am the way I am.
Over the past 6 weeks of my upward battle, I’ve learned a lot. Mostly, I’ve learned I need to stop comparing myself. I need to live in the now and live for the best of me. Have I mastered it? No effing way, I’m so far from it.
Aside from my foot that has been healing wonderfully, the “job hunt, search, situation” has been the hardest. I was unemployed for a few weeks, I was injured and I was filled with a lot self-hate. As I’m coming out of that phase (I ran 4 miles on Saturday and Sunday, yay!) I’m learning that:
1- Everything is temporary, as I’ve written in my previous post
2- Comparison usually sets you back and makes you feel worse, delete your instagram.. it’s the best, even if it’s only for a few days or weeks
3 – Do what makes you happy and what makes you, you. And do it without apologizing.
4- Everything is a process, you will have highs and you will have lows but don’t allow it to stray you from the path towards your goals. This is cliché but anything worth having is worth fighting for.
5 – The presence of something that someone has that you want, doesn’t make you a failure or less than. But, it probably means that someone looks at you in the same way, wanting something that you have.
6 – Take up space! Let yourself be heard. Do things you’ve always wanted to do and grow whether it be socially, intellectually, physically, emotionally. You must never feel small and if there are people in your life who do.. it’s time to reevaluate that relationship.
I don’t want this post to sound superficial. Things seems superficial and very surface but deep down, they can mean so much more. Happy happy happy Monday.
And to those of you in the Boston area..let’s hope for a snow day? I hope I didn’t jinx it so please knock on wood!
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Both Sides to the Story

I’m the girl that loves to go out. Yet, I’m also the girl that loves to isolate and stay in. I do both yet, I have no balance. I’m a living oxymoron.
In high school and in the first few years of college, I was notorious for being the “responsible mom”. I would go to bed around 9pm. I would only go out once a week. I made sure I didn’t drink too much or blackout too close to my swim meets. I didn’t partake in weekday sleepovers. At college parties, once the clock struck 1am, I was dashing out the door to get into my bed.
My “party” lifestyle revolved around my swimming career, which kept me grounded and out of trouble. But in a way, it was my own version of self-care. I had a value, a priority and I lived my life around it. I gave myself the voice to say no so I could go to sleep or so I could wake up, not hungover, and do the school work that needed to be done.
As my bipolar symptoms start to show, I became the party-girl. Summer 2014 was the first summer, I believe, my mania started to show. That summer, I was the girl who woke up, started drinking underage at 10am, would drunkenly stumble around my college town making friends with random people on the street or mailmen, get to a day party, black out in a guys bed before the sun went down and then stumbled to the swim house where I would wait for someone to help me back to my apartment.
But I was the girl who could do all of that and still make it out that night. I was a rallier. It wasn’t a good look. That wasn’t a good summer. People worried about me. I just shook it off and kept on living the “good life”. I turned into this overnight monster. It was most likely the first symptoms of mania creeping into my life. And ever since, I’ve continued my streak.
To this day, I go on benders for longer than I ever want to. I drink even though I’m way past my threshold. I say yes to plans I need to say no to. Hey, I came violently hungover to the first day of this new job I have. I will spend money, agree to dates with people I have no interest in, impulsively agree to big commitments like jobs, without thinking things through. The impulsivity and fun that comes with being a party-girl are the traits that I have carried into my life, partying or not partying.
It’s not fair to me to identify myself as just an out-of-control fun, cool girl. The other side of the story is that the girl who I was in high school and the beginning years of college, before bipolar and mania corrupted me, she still lives inside of me and she is desperate to come out, all the time. To be honest, I love when she’s out because she is the stable, calm, centered, grounded, best version of myself. And to be honest, I sometimes feel guilty when she comes out because she is so unlike the fun, party girl, never says no, lets go all day and all night long girl. She is smart, confident, hardworking, responsible, dependable but she has trouble tolerating boredom and that’s when the drinks come out and the lights turn down.
I was thinking about my weekend plans on my commute to work today.
I know tomorrow I will have a relaxing after work because I have to go directly to a SoulCycle class and then maybe I’ll do some laundry before heading off to bed. Saturday morning, I have another SoulCycle class and then I have to do fundraising for an organization I am a part of. But, in the afternoon, living in Boston, there is a huge St. Patricks day “fair”. Do I want to go? Of course! Do I think anything good will come out of it? No. Absolutely not. I will drink, even though I would promise myself I’ll only have “one but two max”. Will I spend a lot more than I promise myself? I always do.
So I sat on the T and I was thinking, maybe I should just take care of myself this weekend. I should continue building back up my athleticism, which I have done such a great job of the past 2 weeks, so I can start to try and run next week. I can organize my apartment, maybe go through some spring clothes to be put in my closet. I can grocery shop and meal prep. Maybe, I’ll read a book and clean.
But, then I feel guilty. I feel guilty for having the free time to have fun and be young and wasting it on things that are “boring” and things that are isolating me from being social. I guess that’s what the modern day definition of “FOMO” is. But, it’s the truth. I’m torn between taking good care of myself and destroying myself.
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Things are temporary.

Things are temporary.

This phrase is something my mother has always told me. I’m ending the first few weeks at a new job and there have been many mornings that I’ve woken up (after snoozing my alarm 4 times) and wished that I was back at one of my old jobs, jobs that in the moment I hated and jobs that made me look for new jobs. But like my mom said, that feeling of hate towards my former jobs was temporary. She was right because right now, I wouldn’t hate to be working there versus here.

I’m sitting at my new job, my new desk, in a new neighborhood and I hate it for numerous reasons. But, it’s temporary and I’m working my butt off to make it as temporary as possible by finding a new job and ensuring that job that is more fitting with my lifestyle. Things are temporary, but in the moment things that are uncomfortable and things that I dislike are things that feel like forever.

Although I never think about how things are temporary until they are in the past, it is important for me to remember that things are temporary because I tend to go all or nothing. This probably has something to do with the fact that I have bipolar 1 disorder and black and white thinking tends to come naturally. I get so engrossed in some thought or some behavior that the next thing I know, I don’t know when it’s going to stop. And in the worst case, I don’t know how to make it stop. I have completely lost control. But that feeling of losing control is only temporary, I just don’t know it yet because in the moment, it feels like I have lost control of my life, forever.

I fractured my foot about 6 weeks ago. I fractured it from running too much, it’s probably something I’ve mentioned before because it has been so detrimental to my everyday life. Running “saved” me in a sense from unhealthy behaviors and especially, an eating disorder I developed. Running gave me structure and grounded me. It gave me purpose and it gave me confidence. Once my foot was fractured from overexertion, I was torn. I went on a week long bender that seemed to turn into a month and I just didn’t know when it was going to end. I hated that I couldn’t run, I couldn’t go to work because I would be on my feet all day, I couldn’t work out, I couldn’t go to the grocery store and carry my bags back to my apartment and I resorted to doing the activities that hurt me in the long run. I didn’t know when my destructive behaviors were going to stop and I didn’t know when my emotions were going to level out and mostly, I didn’t know when my foot was going to heal enough for me to at least go to Soulcycle, let alone run again. I felt helpless, hopeless, scared and very alone.

It’s still been 6 weeks and I’m unable to return back to my old exercise routine. I desperately miss being able to work out twice in a day. I know some people would love an injury to just chill out on the couch all day, but it pains me. But, it’s temporary. I try and tell myself, I have the rest of my life to get back in shape, into running, into racing and into my athletic routie. I have so many years ahead to train for half-marathons and marathons and embrace myself as an athlete and a runner.

But, also, I lied. Things are temporary but there are exceptions to every rule. For example, taking my medications are not temporary. Being in treatment, seeing my therapist and seeing my psychiatrist are not temporary. The every day unknown mentality of if today I’m going to wake up and thrive through the day or wake up and just feel completely off, that’s not temporary. But the bad feelings pass. The bad days end.

The shame I feel when I have to take medication at night if I’m staying over a friends, that’s temporary. The shame I feel when I have to lie about a “podiatrist” appointment when it’s really a session with my therapist or psychiatrist, that’s temporary. The shame I feel when I have to make up stories about my resume to hide the gaps from hospitalizations, that’s temporary.

The guilt I have when I go out with my friends, drink more than I should, stay up insanely late, overspend on food, drinks and whatnot, that’s temporary. The guilt I have when I snooze my alarm instead of waking up to not stress and rush to get ready for work, that’s temporary. The guilt I have when I give myself a break at work instead of going non-stop all day, that’s temporary. The guilt I have when I feel I’ve overeaten and I’m unable to burn it off as easily as I used to be able to, that’s temporary.

At the end of the day, most of the feelings and emotions I have are temporary. Sometimes, it feels like things will last forever and when they feel like they will last forever, I’m trying to be better about how to cope with these emotions. It’s not conducive for me to hit the neighborhood bar with my best friend to smash my anxiety but it is conducive to get out of my head by heading to my neighborhood SoulCycle, maybe do a face mask, watch reality TV in bed and call my mom. It’s hard because when my emotions pull me in a direction, I have trouble tuning into my wise mind and reminding myself that being impulsive will just prolong the feeling of “temporary”. My impulsive feelings that turn into impulsive behaviors make my temporary feel more like forever. But at the end of the day, temporary will always be temporary.

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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.