A friend recently lent me the book Furiously Happy A Funny Book about Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson. It’s furiously funny. I’ve been laughing the whole time while reading and again when thinking about it. She shares her personal struggles and victories with mental illness in such a way that sometimes I think, “should I be laughing at this?” It’s perfectly imperfect.
The book has come a welcome time because I’ve been down. It’s the cycle and after a few euphoric weeks I’m in the low.
What’s different this go around? Awareness. Support. Self-Compassion. Proper Medication.
It all contributes to success. When I say success that doesn’t mean perfection either and that’s a hard lesson for me to learn.
The kids left on Friday last week to go to their dad’s for the week. When they leave it’s hard on me if you co-parent with an ex you will understand what I mean. I big piece of your heart literally goes. I don’t mind co-parenting with him. That’s not the hard part but the week on, week off is. I wanted a different arrangement of time maybe a 2-2-3 but some things can’t be the hill you die on and that was it.
Anyway the kids left, I was home from the cottage, my insurance company called to ask if I was going to apply for Long Term Disability (I am not), I missed my oil change appointment the week before and they were calling, I missed an ultra-sound appointment 2 weeks ago and I needed to call back, I hadn’t unpacked from the cottage yet. These may seem like simple things but for me it was a whole mountain of down.
So I dug deep, looked for signs and focused on wellness instead of my sadness. A few months ago I would have cried a lot. I would have fought self-harming thoughts and even acted on a few. I may have crumpled onto my bedroom floor and cried for hours in a messy heap. I would have been so anxious that I would feel like my stomach was on the outside of my body. I would have replayed scenarios in my head over and over again hoping for a different outcome. I would have texted a few friends, got angry when they didn’t reply but would have also gotten angry when they did. I would have posted passive-aggressive quotes on social media, delete some, repost them then disappear from social media for a while. I would think about making a coffee for a few hours but not actually have the ability to do it. I would cry and ask myself if I should have a shower or eat something but be unable to do either. This would continue until all of a sudden it didn’t and then the euphoria would build again allowing the cycle to repeat.
So it’s better but not perfect. Here’s what a typical low week might look for me now – based on this week.
On Friday I went on a date. It was perfectly normal but in the end not for me. All I could think was how can I even date, or think someone could be interested I’m too broken. But I also refuse to hide and if sharing my story makes me unloveable then so it is.
Saturday. I ate an entire box of cookies. The whole box. By myself. I also watched the entire season 2 of Glow, Honey, Honey 2 and the rest of Good Girls. I met up with friends in the evening. I went even though I was having a hard time and I’m glad I did because the laughs helped me perk up.
On Sunday, I saw a praying mantis while I was pulling weeds in my backyard. Praying Mantis’ hold a special place in my heart and I explained why in an IG post. It made me cry but it was cleansing because it made me feel like I wasn’t alone.
Monday I didn’t go to group therapy. I forgot and it wasn’t until Thursday that I would realize that I did. I told my counsellor that evening that I hate that I have to share my kids.
Tuesday I pulled it together and made a list and got it done. My parents also came to town and stayed with me. I had the kids for a visit that night and this time with family helped restore my mood even more. We had puppy training class and that was really fun.
Wednesday I don’t know. I have zero recollection of what happened that day. I’m pretty sure I didn’t leave the house.
Thursday. I met with my psychiatrist that’s when I remembered I forgot to go to Group. I shared with her that I was struggling. She told me I need to give myself a break because it’s a lot of things going on. She told me she understands because on top of Bipolar Disorder I’m a perfectionist and I’m very hard on myself. She asked me what I was doing for self care, to just love myself. I’m also starting a group in August for eating disorders.
After my time with her I stopped at the Tim Horton’s booth and the hospital and treated myself to a coffee and a peanut butter cookie. I didn’t have my son with me, he has a severe peanut/tree nut/shellfish allergy so I indulged. The young woman who served me was super cool and she asked me about my tattoo and said it was incredible, and when I told her my artists name she told me she follows him on IG. I thought that was neat!
I cried when I ate the cookie. PB Cookies make me think about my mom. She made the best PB Cookies when I was little. I really loved them when she used crunchy PB. There’s some struggles within our family right now. Things haven’t always been easy and right now isn’t an exception. But my parents have taught us love, and resiliency. So I know we will persevere and get through it.
I noticed a leaf that had a splash of aqua paint on the leaves. I’ve noticed it the last few weeks but this time I was intrigued by it and I doubled back and took a photo of it. How did the paint get on it and why wasn’t it on any other leaves? Why did I really notice it this week but not others? What did it mean? I also saw a couple in the distance sitting on a bench. She was leaning into him and he had his arms around her. I wanted to take a photo because the moment was powerful but I also didn’t want to violate their moment. It made me feel sad and amplified my own loneliness.
Later that afternoon a storm rolled in. I went noticed it because I heard a loud bang – my welcome sign had come crashing down. It was so windy and the sky was a mix of grey and orange. The dust cloud blowing around made it hard to see. I brought my dog to the step and the two of us listened to the gusts, the thunder, the rain pelting the sidewalk and streaming down the eavestrough. We started at the intensity and took it in and I felt a sense of calm wash over me. I regretted after that I didn’t run out into it. But, I actually got a second change. The storm started once again and I went for it. I no longer cared about what my neighbours might think or that perfectly styled hair would be ruined. I ran out, up the street and twirled around. I danced around like 5 year old me would have. And it felt so good.
I was given a second chance and I took it.
Just like on March 21, I was given a second chance of life.
And I’m taking it.