Family Christmas Prep

sally canteen

Will I blog more often in 2016? I’d love to get to this day next year and find a whole lot of posts on this blog throughout the year. The consistent bloggers choose one or more days each week and are sure to blog on those days, if not more. I think this is a brilliant idea, but hey, look, a butterfly…

Yes, I get easily distracted by a new project and then forget to blog about the amazing new project. I do some fun art projects, and I get a lot out of them, they are better than therapy at times! I’d like to blog about that process, the art to health thing. It really seems to work sometimes, although not always. When I’m in my studio, with my three legged cat Luigi on the desk snuggled up beside my laptop, and my labradaughter Sally sprawled out on the floor at my feet, I feel like I can do anything; no Pinterest artwork is beyond the scope of my ‘try this’ folder.

Doing fauxbonichi journalling daily has been a real pleasure the past few months. (To see what fauxbonichi journalling is, click here to go to my art blog) I have really enjoyed sketching a little, painting a little, writing a little about each day. It’s become a habit. A good one for a change.

Today I have to go grab some things for the family Christmas I’m hosting here on Tuesday. Just a few bits and pieces. I’m drinking coffee and putting it off, really should have left early to avoid the crowds. It looks like I’ll have to go alone, which is like doing public speaking at a venue for a thousand people for those of you who do not have chronic social phobia. Sure, I can do it, but when I get home there must be hot tea, maybe an hour in bed, maybe more.

I’m very grateful for the mild Christmas weather. Cool, windy, cloudy, rainy, it all makes for lovely times when you’re not an outdoors kind of person. I’d better go jump in my little car and go shopping.

be you xx Rach

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How Do You Know If You Need Help?

tiger family

1. Suicidal Thoughts

If you’re having suicidal thoughts of any kind, get help. Suicide is permanent in the extreme, and if you’re feeling like it’s the only solution, you need to go and tell someone immediately. I recommend having a safe person, like your best friend, partner, shrink, anyone who is available to you no matter what and can be trusted to believe you when you tell them “Right now I am thinking about killing myself.” or “Lately, all I can think about is killing myself.”

2. Self Harm

If you’re thinking about harming yourself, or if you’ve already harmed yourself, get help. In a healthy state of mind, no person would harm themselves, so you must assume that you’re not in a healthy mind set if you’re in a self harming space. Contact your safe person, right away. See a doctor, and get a referral to a shrink. Keep on seeing shrinks until you find one who listens to you and respects you.

3. Hallucinations

If you’re experiencing hallucinations, whether auditory or visual or other, get help. Healthy people don’t generally have hallucinations. Never follow the instructions given to you by an hallucination, always seek help. Contact your safe person immediately if you can see or hear anything that’s just not there. Tell your doctor, so they can help you find a path to a healthy mind.

4. Extreme High, Fast, Elated Moods

If you’re having super-moods that make you feel as high as a kite, unstoppable and smarter than the average bear, get help. Go to a doctor, explain your moods and let the doctor be the one to decide if you’re having manic episodes. Mania is often described as feeling euphoric, but it can also make you feel really angry, really agreeable, really willing to spend money or sexually unbeatable. Contact your doctor, definitely. Listen to your doctor, and if it makes you more comfortable, take your partner or a good friend to the doctor with you. I know that sometimes it feels safer that way.

5. Deep, Dark, Depression

If you’re depressed, go to your doctor and get help. Never ignore depression, it’s a nasty little bitch and it can try to make you its slave. I just want to say it again; if you’re depressed, go to your doctor and get help. They have a huge range of treatments for depression now, from meds and therapy to meditation, happiness training and a load of other non-traditional methods. Go get help. Truly, go do it. xx

These are my top 5, but there are other things in your life that can be definite indicators that you need to get some help from a safe friend or a doctor. Feel free to add anything I’ve missed, in the comments, so I can include it in another post.

take care,

be you xx Rachel

Losing Weight, Bipolar Style

I’ve just realised something about my many attempts to lose weight in the past six years; every time I decide to lose weight, I’m in a manic state. This means I’m pumped, excited, ready to exercise and eat right and conquer the world. As soon as the depression or mixed state kick in, I immediately lose the momentum and completely give up. This is a huge aha moment for me.

DSCN1448

I’ve joined a gym a few times and in my normal or manic state I can really enjoy the gym. Of course as soon as my mood shifts to depression or mixed state, the Social Phobia accompanies it and I have no ability to leave the house, and I want to eat all day long.

It all seems so obvious now, but I had no way of understanding this before. So, and I’m just thinking out loud here, I have the usual amount of human inertia about eating healthily and exercising, with the added difficulty of unpredictable, uncontrolled mood shifts. Give me a break.

I’m wondering if I can create a plan that shifts with the moods? Sounds revolutionary, but that could be my current manic state speaking. One plan for each of my four states, and I act accordingly each day. The speed at which I cycle between moods could be an issue; at times I can experience four states in one day.

I’m going to work on this and get back to you. Maybe it’ll work. Maybe it’s a book in the making. Maybe I’m all hyped up on manic endorphins?

be you xx Rachel

I’m Dreaming of a Light Christmas

Yep, I’m dreaming of a nice, light Christmas. If you know me, you’ll know I definitely don’t mean light on food; Christmas is the season for special yummy treats and home cooked delights.

merry christmas

My Christmas wish is for a depression-light, manic-light wonderland of family fun and laughs. If you have a mental illness, I wish you a nice light Christmas, too. Here are my tips for a light Christmas;

  • be as kind to yourself as you would be to someone else with the same issues you struggle with
  • it’s okay to tell friends and relatives that you’ll decide on the day of a festive event whether or not you are able to attend
  • yes, you ARE allowed to do that ^
  • take time out from all the plans and events and shopping; do something you know will calm you
  • eat plenty of fruit and veg
  • take your meds
  • if you need to say no to friends and family, I hereby give you permission to say no

If you know someone with a mental illness, I want to encourage you to gift them with the following kindnesses this season;

  • offer them unconditional love
  • don’t give them advice about how to handle their issues
  • support them in the healthy choices they are making, like not self-medicating with alcohol and illegal drugs
  • if they’re depressed, sit with them without expecting anything from them
  • if they’re manic, be kind
  • if they need alone time, give it to them
  • invite them to events and be nice about it if they need to decide on the day

I hope you’re having a lovely December!

be you xx Rachel

Taking Charge of My Own World

Life truly is awesome when you do what you feel you’re meant to be doing. For me, this has involved rejecting a whole truckload of shoulds and oughts. In the last twenty four hours, I have been having big realisations about how much I’ve put on myself in regard to who I should be, what I should be doing and how I should be doing it.

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I read a lot. Reading is one of my favourite things in the world, but thanks to my MI, sometimes reading can mess with my head. When I’m manic, I sometimes read quotes by famous people about how life is great if you make it so, and I start to pile all kinds of shoulds and oughts on myself. I should be happy, because, after all, all of the books say that happiness is a choice. Crap! If I’m depressed or manic/depressed, I’m here to tell you that telling me to choose to be happy is about as intelligent as telling a diabetic to spontaneously produce enough insulin. No can do, sunshine.

Something I’ve learned to do is to hit the blogs and Facebook pages of other people with BD, and read how they make their way through the dark times. Humour plays a big part in this, especially the ability to laugh at your own moods, reactions and choices.

be you xx Rachel

The Four States I’ve Lived In My Whole Life and None Of Them is Queensland

I came in here to blog, half a dozen times yesterday, but I just couldn’t hit the Publish button. Mania + depression is such a nasty headspace. I made the image below, to show the four states ┬áthat I cycle between. I would love someone to invent a BD barometer, because I learn over and over and over that people, even those who know me very well, can’t see my mood on my face or in my body language. Apparently I’m excellent at using an I’m okay mask.

the four moods