Punk Rock Mindfulness

I’m a woman with a plan and that plan is to become less crazy and more mindful.

Let me back up.

I was diagnosed, by three separate doctors, as Bipolar I, ADHD, Borderline Personality Disorder, and General Anxiety Disorder. I am a freaking delight! No, really. I am quite charming.

That’s kind of the whole point: I can either be charming, persuasive, extrovert, the life of the party, and everyone loves me or I can be a bitch on wheels, demanding, caustic, aggressive, and a toxic person to be around. These are just the beginnings of my personality. With any mood disorders, there is rarely any stability; there is always super highs and super lows and where normality doesn’t exist.

(And it shouldn’t be any surprise that I’ve lost friends, lovers, and a few jobs when I was unmedicated because that is how these diseases roll.)

That somehow I’ve managed to not end up in a psych hospital or jail is a small miracle. This is the kind of life I lead where I regularly pat myself on the back and say, “Congratulations! You are not locked up anywhere!” I wish that weren’t true but it very much is.

After trying and failing over various therapies and drug cocktails over the years, I went cold turkey in 2013 and this begat 2014 which was the worst year of my life. Some highlights include ramping up a mania phase, divorcing my husband (we’re back together; that man is a saint), moving across country six times in nine months, and racking up $40K in credit card bills during the same time period.

That was fun!

I sought help and was put on a new cocktail but six months later, I crashed and had a nervous breakdown.

Since then, I’ve been slowly rebuilding my life. It’s hard. It’s really fucking hard. I’m currently on a daily cocktail of Lamictal (400mg), Risperdal (2mg), Hydroxyzine (25mg), and Klonopin (my fav!) as needed as well as seeing a weekly therapist and a couple’s therapist and it’s (mostly) working. This is the most stable I have been in my adult life.

Above my laptop, I have a sign that says,

Future -> Anxiety
Past -> Depression
Present Moment -> Peace
Paralyzed or Participating

Even with the therapy and the nicely working drugs, I still live in my brain. A lot. I still get depressed and manic (I am in fact manic now as I write this) but the instances are less and the cycles are manageable. But I am often paralyzed because I keep telling myself it’s easier to live a stagnant life as participating means becoming vulnerable and present and who the hell wants to be vulnerable and aware of the pain they are going through?

I know you get me on this.

Right after I crashed, I wrote a piece for a professional publication on managing bipolar. In it, I talk a lot about meditation and mindfulness. The truth between you and I? I was half-assing it. The meditation app I used gamified your participation so you got badges when you completed certain tasks and I ignored most of the advice given. I did yoga but I rushed through it because I saw it as a chore and not as a tool. I didn’t live in the present, hell, I didn’t know where I was living but I wasn’t fully accepting and willing to make changes though I attempted to convince myself otherwise.

I started writing about my mental health back in the late ’90s and you can watch, in real time, the train wreck of my late 20s and early 30s. I gave no fucks. I was all over the place. I either wanted to fuck you or destroy you. I was quite entertaining. While much of that has slowed down with age and the mentality softened, I was still quite adrift. I used writing as a means to work through my brain, since the drugs and therapy at the time didn’t seem to work, and by late 2016, I felt I had said all I wanted to say about mental health so I closed up my blog and moved over to a newsletter where I write more about my trials and tribulations and less about my crazy. (I am very entertaining! You should go subscribe.)

I also wrote for another professional publication on anger and as well as raising funds for the American Suicide Prevention Foundation, but the more I participated in the mental health community, the more mentally and emotionally exhausted I became and I had no more to give.

Turns out I was wrong.

As my stability increased over the last couple of years, I found myself feeling guilty when I saw friends who were perhaps not as stable as me struggle. How could I, I thought, find a tiny bit of peace when they could find none? It felt unfair and I wanted to help but I had to start helping myself first. First, I finally started putting to work the tools I had gleaned over the years and finally created healthy boundaries to make me a better alley. Second, I started less half-assing being mindful and started to work on being present. (Shit is hard, yo!) Finally, I came to the realization I could not live in a world where my story wasn’t available to others as a touchstone so that they did not feel alone just as my friends felt they could relate to me. I want to say, I’ve been there. It’s hard. I’ve got you and you’ll be okay.

I have a foundation, albeit a bit shakey, but still a foundation to begin building the practice of having a mindful life. I finally said, “Self. Living a paralyzed life sucks and I want to experience joy. Time to get our shit together.”

If you search for mindfulness and mental health, what comes up are counseling centers, doctors, and classes/courses. If it’s being discussed, it’s academic. If you find a blog, it centers on a depression which, who am I to shame someone else’s crazy, but there is almost nothing in using mindfulness with those who have bipolar or other mental illnesses. It’s hard finding like minded people when the top results are doctors and academic articles.

This is where this blog comes in.

The sole purpose is to talk about mindfulness, balance, and spirituality through the eyes of mental illness. (Yes, tarot cards and earth mother goddesses included. It’s all connected.) I have six pages, single spaced, of topics and subjects just itching to be written about. It has become apparent I have a lot more to say about being crazy. I want to become even more vocal of an advocate for mental health and participate fully in the community because it seems ridiculous now not to.

I choose the subtitle “Punk Rock Mindfulness, Spirituality, and Balance” as the ethos of punk rock is very much a DYI and in your face attitude. I’m co-opting it from the music genre because life is very much punk rock and should not be relegated to The Clash or Black Flag. (I still love you Henry Rollins!)

Welcome, I’m really happy to be here.

Note: I am not a doctor, pharmacist, or a licensed therapist. If you need help, the National Suicide Prevention line is open 24 hours a day. If you need a therapist, Psychology Today has a database of therapists organized by location. I’ve also had success using ZocDoc to get a local therapy appointment ASAP when I couldn’t wait months and I wasn’t suicidal. You can also use TalkSpace if you’re not adverse to using online therapy.

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