Not Comparing Myself to Myself

I notice as I start feeling better, I add more good things in. When depression is going on, I’m not able to do much, but I don’t get worked up about it anymore. I tend to tell myself it will get done when it gets done. Whatever it is. I tend to set a goal of one thing on those days. It might just be “take care of the kids the best you can”. Which really isn’t a just, but in the list of things I can do in a day, it’s pretty short. This week is an awesome

Week, by contrast, and I’ve been cleaning and organizing the house, cooking meals, practicing at Shanteel everyday, and running errands during the day. A bad week tends to find me sleeping, making sandwiches or leftovers for dinner, and helping with the kids as best I can. Yoga practice tends to be forward folds all day (great for depression) and lots of yoga nidra. It works.

With this being a good week, I’m refocusing on diet. I can only add things in when I can focus, and depression makes it really hard to focus. I started intermittent fasting last week – no eating past 7:00 PM, and smoothies for breakfast (I never eat breakfast) to cut down on coffee and start the day with a vitamin boost. I’m making sure I’m taking all my vitamins because they make suuuch a difference in moods. But again, shit like this is hard when it is. I’m eating Buddha bowls again, and I’m cutting back on cheese and meat. I genuinely don’t like how addicted to cheese I am.

The biggest difference is I trust myself now. I don’t stress if I don’t get to Shanteel, because I know I’ll go back. I don’t stress that I didn’t do anything, because I trust I will. There’s so much less fighting that way and I bounce back so much more quickly. I am getting away from comparing for any other reason then reporting symptoms to my doctor. It doesn’t matter what I did yesterday in context of today. Yesterday, I did a lot, but that doesn’t mean today I have to. I’m not in competition with myself or anyone anymore. Today is a day, and when I can look at each day With fresh eyes, it’s like a whole new level of freedom.

I use the good times to build habits I can lean on in the opposite times. The simple things like basic hygiene can be challenging on days I don’t even want to get out of bed. So, I try to simplify everything then. I take really good care of myself when I can and assume it balances out when I can’t. The end.

Sometimes, it gets frustrating watching these fluxes. I wonder what my kids think

When they watch me go from Supermom to ZombieMom. But I remind myself: what if any of them grow up with similar struggles? Do I want to teach them to criticize and judge themselves? Or do I want to show them

Acceptance and love no matter what? No one is the same day to day, we just tell ourselves that and hold ourselves to standards that don’t actually exist anywhere besides our minds.

It’s amazing how comfortable it is when the good times and the bad times aren’t that big of a deal. The amount of energy I’d waste hiding the symptoms, escaping the symptoms, or lying to myself… I actually can do so much more now just from saving that energy and being myself As I am that day Being comfortable in your own skin and mind is a freedom that so few can enjoy. With or without mental illness.

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Talk About Your Sky

This hits too close to home. I’m crying and covered in chills. “She wasn’t well enough to know how sick she was” is a 10 word summary of my life since 7th/8th grade. I started cutting and being suicidal in 8th. I had full intentions of killing myself in March 1997, at the ripe old age of 14. This didn’t come to me as an illness or symptom of an illness. This was: I’m a terrible person, everyone hates me, and it would be a favor to everyone if I just died. This carried forward til present: it still happens. I finally know symptom versus reality, but it has taken so much work to find that truth. I can’t even say medicine is how I found it. Therapy wasn’t either. It was finding myself, my true self, and seeing I was beautiful and worthy of love. Most especially from me.

People don’t understand that mental illness robs you of the capacity to experience love because it tells you no one loves you. It tells you how awful you are. People say always to “believe in yourself” but what if yourself says everyone hates you? You are evil? No one loves you. You don’t deserve love. God hates you? I believed until I finally learned my brain lies.

This is the analogy I use to explain bipolar. Imagine someone who sees the sky is pink. They call this sky blue, because everyone else says the sky is blue. You don’t know what blue looks like, because blue is pink for you. You don’t know to call it pink, you’ve never known it was a color other than blue. It’s always just been how you see your sky. How can you make someone understand their Sky could be a different color? How can I make you understand I don’t see your blue? How can we ever understand that I don’t have any capacity to understand other skies or that my sky is different? And even if my sky is different, it’s beautiful too.

Life changed when I realized my pink sky is the most beautiful one In the world because it’s mine. It’s me. My challenges made my strengths, and my pain made my beauty. This mother, lost to us forever, fought similar battles as me, and she lost, her husband lost, and her children lost. It’s stories like this that make me care for myself more, and speak louder. Everyone has different skies, none of us see the same blue, but that makes you beautiful not broken. Because all the broken parts of me are all the best parts of me too. My mind works differently. I am a genius, and I am also a person who suffers in her mind.

Bipolar affects every aspect of my life and my relationships. I have lost so many people because of this illness including the man who was my world. I can understand the pain Jon Davis in right now, because I remember the pain Evan and I have been in. Jon Davis and his wife divorced in 2016, and it’s so difficult to convey what it’s like to love someone who can’t love themselves. Medically and chemically can’t feel love. It’s like water in a holey bucket trying to get a drink when you’re dying of thirst.

Mental illness was what tore our marriage apart, and healing mental illness is what brought our marriage together. But not before I almost killed myself – either with my addictions or by my own hand. And Evan helped save my life. I hope Jon doesn’t feel the guilt that he couldn’t save hers. I could have left my kids motherless, even though saving them my pain was what started me realizing I was not well enough to realize how sick I was.

Rest In Peace Deven. You’re an angel who graced the world with beauty, until your broken wings took you home for peace and rest.

If these words resonate, start talking and don’t stop. Don’t keep this pain inside. The most beautiful part of you is everything you hide away, because the people who struggle are the people who are admired for overcoming. Talk, please. Share your story. Share your struggles. You will quickly see how many other pink skies there are. None of us are alone.

I Don’t Care Anymore

Vinnie Paul died June 22, 2018. I have been mourning a man I have never met, except in the music that nourishes my soul, since that date. Pantera found me when I was an angsty teenager hiding behind a keyboard in AOL chatrooms. I barely had any real friends. My honest problem was I was terrified to be myself outside of the written world. When I was writing, I felt like I could be honest, and I could be myself. It was not even so much I was afraid to own my words, it was I was afraid of myself. Everything about me felt wrong. It started then, and it’s only recently become a thing of my past. I mean, as of this week, it has become a thing of my past.

My life has a distinct soundtrack, and there are several Pantera songs that play these memories. Cemetary Gates and crying in my bed because I wished I was dead or while I was cutting myself trying to understand why it felt so good to hurt. Suicide Note Part 1 & 2 for obvious reasons. This Love and taking Evan to a strip club for Valentine’s Day because I am the best, coolest, awesome-st girlfriend/wife/best friend (and so very humble). The memory of sitting there drinking beers and watching a chick in camo strip to This Love brings a smile to my face every time. Or the memory of long drives with Evan and me doing interpretive finger dancing to Walk (that’s probably one I would have to show you, it’s very “special”). Pantera was one of the bands that got me through teens and 20’s, a soundtrack to a younger me.

When Dimebag was murdered, I was devastated. I don’t think I had seen Evan cry before the day the Zakk Wylde tribute video came out. I’m talking huge heartbroken sobs so hard he made me sob, and I think it was more from shock. (He may not appreciate that overshare!) I remember being so depressed thinking how Vinnie had to watch his brother die before his eyes. The pain, I couldn’t imagine it.

I believe pain is the precursor to beauty. I believe the most beautiful people in the world are covered in scars that are naked to the eye. I believe the kindest, gentlest, most compassionate people have spent many days in hell, and of those, many of us have put ourselves in that very hell. But what about someone who had to suffer a loss like that? Who had to watch his brother’s life bleed out, as he sat helpless on stage at a concert? Can that pain be transformed? Can it be transmuted?

Of course it can. And it did. A supergroup emerged from this tragedy. Chad Gray, who is one of my all time favorite singers – probably second only to Corey Motherfucking Taylor – started HELLYEAH. Vinnie came on as the drummer. I’ll be honest, I did not pay any attention to them when they started. It was 2006, the year I got married, bought a house, and became a mother to my first born son. It was 4 years after the adoption and Evan and I started dating. Until that time, our lives were filled with music – particularly metal, particularly Pantera. In my 20’s, I lost my connection to music because I spent most of my time waddling around pregnant and becoming the world’s most fucked up Stepford Wife.

After Evan and I separated, I found music again. I think my soul had been starved and cut off beyond the brink of sanity prior to that. Remember Interview with the Vampire, when Lestat comes back after being in the swamp and he talks about feeding off crocodiles? That’s how my soul felt. Slowly, music nursed me back to life. HELLYEAH came into my life 2 important times. The first was when my best friend surprised me with tickets to Mayhem, and my journey home to music and myself tentatively started. My marriage was struggling, it was the summer before my hospitalizations started. HellYeah was playing, and I stood in the sun drinking beers with my best friend and remembering why music was everything I needed in life. They released Unden!able in 2016, and I remembered I had forgotten about them. I listened to I Don’t Care Anymore for months. It was incredible hearing Dime’s guitar again, and I kept thinking how much peace that must have given Vinnie. The song fucking rocks, and became a guiding mantra for me. I wanted to stop caring. Not apathy about life, but apathy about opinions. Why do so many of us care so much what other people think? Why do so many of us spend our lives ruled by the court of public opinion?

That song became the soundtrack to me starting writing again. What did I have to hide? What was I so fucking scared of? Maybe I am half decent at writing and people will like it? Maybe I suck ass and people will not like it? Who gives a shit? Why was I hiding so far back in the closet of my life?! At this point, I was still struggling with whether or not I believed in Catholicism but tentatively taking steps towards philosophy, Buddhism, and pan-theology. So, either I have one life to get my ass to heaven or one life to set me up for more lives based on this life. (That is so rudimentary it is not fair to either philosophy, but that was my fear.) I was terrified of going to hell. The me inside of me was damned, despicable, unworthy of love. For most of my life, I believed my parents hated me. Not because of them, not because of anything, but because I was convinced no one could love me. It’s why I became so obsessed with music. It was my first coping skill. It was the first time I felt I wasn’t alone. I have cried so many tears to so many albums, as so many of us have. Music is like Novocain for your mind and cashmere sweater for your soul, right?

This song started a fire in me unlike any other. I just wanted to stop the bullshit. It’s taken me two years to really, genuinely truly stop the bullshit. I have barely been able to write. Every time I would sit down to type, I would lose my shit. I’ve talked about the psychosis a lot lately, because I have to. I have to heal this wound. It’s been gaping and festering and oozing as I’ve been gingerly cleansing myself (and feeding off alligators) slowly. So slowly. Part of my psychosis centered around blogging. My old blog, Mahbuttitches, caused so much seemingly irreparable harm to my family and people I love. I used it as an outlet to be angry, to be a victim, but to heal. I started putting pieces of puzzles together, and I started seeing all of my demons, my darkness, my shadows. All of the pain I had caused myself, the things I had done to myself for 2 decades, it was too much.

A mind can only handle so much, and true to my nature, I pushed too far. But you can only break out of your comfort zone by pushing to far. Muscles need to rip and tear and be broken down to grow anew. Destruction breeds creation. I finally see the beauty in how epically I burned myself alive, because I do believe the meditation caused the psychosis, and I do believe I caused my psychosis by not taking care of myself. I was unmedicated, I was refusing to listen to anyone telling me I was bipolar, and I was angry at the world. I was a blindfolded dragon who lit herself on fire. Or, apt to my tattoo, a phoenix. And I’m not saying this because it’s anything but how I see it. I like to see life as poetry, forgive me for too much description.

Then Vinnie died,  and the timing was aligned. Don’t for a second take I’m saying Vinnie died to save me from my sins, it’s just synchronicity at work. The constant ripples of consciousness that create the mystery, beauty, and surprise of life. Like music, there is no end to the experience, if you just shut up and enjoy. Bands like HELLYEAH transcend the mundane consciousness and use poetic metaphors triggering insight, growth, and beauty that makes my words feel hollow. Listen to the words, in HELLYEAH, in Mudvayne, if Chad isn’t a singing Buddha, I’ll eat my hat. The man went through hell – listen to Hush, and he comes out of his own self discovery, a similar path I’m walking, to see his own power, the power of his truth, his voice, and what he can make people feel with his honesty and vulnerability. This is art.

I put Hush on as soon as I finished reading Vinnie died, which I had really weirdly, started listening to HELLYEAH again obsessively maybe a few weeks prior to this death because of Hush. It came up on my Daily Mix on Spotify, and a few songs later, Moth played and I could not stop listening to them. Seriously, the lyrics in just those two songs – mindblowing wisdom and companionship.

It’s August 9th, and I have been listening to HELLYEAH since May? At this point? Almost nonstop, I can’t stop listening, it just makes me feel everything I need, it’s like a treasure map into opening my heart, opening my mouth, and writing again. I’m telling you, the full circle thing is overwhelming. I remember playing I don’t care anymore as I was typing about Evan and I fixing our marriage. I was terrified to write about it, because I was still worried about people thinking I was an idiot. It was that song that kicked me in the heart to STOP FUCKING CARING. I love the man, who gives a shit? He’s my best friend, and I don’t want to walk this journey without him by my side. Forgiveness is my terms, not theirs. That day, June 10th, was our 12th anniversary (we never actually divorced, I don’t think we could handle it…). Our 11th anniversary we were just living together and terrified of how bad it could turn out. Our 12th, we finally stopped lying to ourselves and admitted we wanted to get back together. We put our wedding rings on that night. My left hand feels whole again. Because of a song by HELLYEAH.

I am so addicted to this band, and every time I hear Vinnie drum, I am so overwhelmed with this bittersweetness. I’m so glad he has been woven back into the fabric of us, and I know he’s here, he’s with his brother, and he is immortal. I’m not even saying that from a spiritual perspective, I am saying it from literal reality. His songs live on through us, my obsession with HELLYEAH has led to my kids becoming obsessed with HELLYEAH. (I’m a terrible mother who does not censor her children’s music, because I feel the emotional value, healing, subconscious triggering/awakening is far more valuable than them avoiding the inevitable F-Bomb, from their sailor mouthed mother or the many artists we all adore. I also don’t care what you do with your kids, heh)

The point in that is: through two generations, his drumming lives on. In me, and in them. I listen to so much music from my parents, so there’s every chance my grandchildren will listen to his music. I’m obsessed with Westworld, and the line from Ghost Nation: “You only live as long as the last person who remembers you.” has been burning like a hot coal in my mind. Vinnie contributed to music that saved my life – over and over and over again. There were so many times I wanted to kill myself, there were so many times I pulled myself back from pushing deeper on my wrist. There have been so many times I almost let go of the steering wheel, and it’s music that stopped me every time. Because I watched these souls turn their pain to beauty and in that transformation, they have become immortal. They will be remembered long, long after they are gone. They will be passed down in stories of concerts, or drives with the windows down and the music up. They will live in memories of pain and joy. And every time they are remembered, they’re here with us.

I can spend hours, hell days with Vinnie, and I always have. Their music unlocked the truth in me: I couldn’t write anymore, because I had to learn to talk first. To stand firm, beautiful, and strong in my truth. To take myself out of the closet in my skull and smile genuinely into this world. See the beauty in everything. Write the beauty in everything. My psychosis was the greatest blessing I’ve ever had. I see life is music. I am free, because I am me. I can express myself like I’ve been watching, learning, and healing. Music. Vinnie’s drums, Chad’s voice, Christian & Tom’s guitars, and Kyle’s bass have been playing the soundtrack to my journey home to myself, to my writing, to the point where this all began:

I don’t care anymore. I don’t care what  you say. I don’t play by the same rules, anyway. I won’t be there anymore, so get out of my way, let me by. I got better things to do with my time…I don’t care anymore.

And as long as I am able, I will remember and I will write about this journey and every immortal that is helping me scatter my soul into the universe.

How about you? If you made it this far (AND THANK YOU!) what’s the band that has profoundly affected you? What song? Comment here or link to your own memory post about an artist that saved or changed your life. Tell me about the song that makes you float away from this world, or the vocalist, let’s just celebrate the beauty of music, and especially Vinnie Fucking Paul. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your gift. I will see you in the eyes of my children, because you are a reason I can still gaze in them.

Marketing Art

The reason why you are struggling in your dream is not because of external forces. It’s because of a simple, logical one word answer: you. You lack marketing. You’re not marketing yourself – to yourself. How you speak and how you interact with the world is your brand, and your number one customer is you. Everyone else will follow your lead.

Coke does not tell you that they can clean a toilet bowl with their product. It’s true, but they don’t advertise that. They make you lick your lips when they talk about how badly you want that Coke and how much better you feel. They do not tell you how much sugar or calories it contains.

Are you following me? If you are advertising this shit to yourself, you will not hire yourself, you will not purchase from yourself, you will not read your poem, blog, article, buy a painting, get a tarot reading. Why would you? Why would they.

Marketing is strategic and logical. It is the left side of the brain and usually the weaker side of the brain in artists especially because they are right brained. Without marketing: internally and externally, you will not find a consumer. Research the law of 7s in marketing. Email lists, social media, everything is crucial, but finding your niche and finding your message is marketing. And you must market your art. You must network. You must be the CEO of your art. It’s balance. It’s analytical and strategic.

But it’s worthless if you don’t do it on yourself first.

Contact me if you’d like to discuss ways to better market your art, if this is of interest.

Feel free to follow me on Facebook, Blog page, I’m @mahbuttitches on Instagram and @ourbeautifullie on twitter. Let’s connect!!

❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

What Doesn’t Kill You…

(From my Facebook)

Truer now than ever. I think the key to happiness is just being your fucking self. Good, Bad, ugly. It’s in the shadows of yourself you find unconditional love. Carl Jung taught me what I dislike in another is what I dislike in me. Weakness and vulnerability were two traits I detested. I fought everything about myself to the point I lost myself. All because I didn’t want to ask for help.

The second I finally started realizing I can’t do this alone is the second everything changed, but I had to damn near kill myself quite a few times to learn that lesson. I’m proud of my scars. I survived my own self destruction more

Times then I can count. Now they remind me

to love. Always always always find love.

What doesn’t kill you makes you compassionate. What doesn’t kill you makes you a shoulder for another. What doesn’t kill you makes you see the power in vulnerability and authenticity. Vulnerability and authenticity are strength. What doesn’t kill you makes you wiser. What destroys you makes you wiser. The things you never thought you could get through make you wiser. There is no greater strength than wisdom. Smiling and saying I’m fine as you kill yourself inside is weakness. We gotta change these narratives and lies we tell ourselves.

Ask. For. Help. If you think it’s not okay, it’s not okay. When you start talking, the conversation can finally change. ❤️

Would Buddha Take Medication?

This has been a question I’ve been ruminating on for well over a year. I am curious if there are others in a similar spot: for me, my alphabet soup of diagnoses led me to spirituality as did working through various addictions. Yet, I’ve found myself in a conundrum of: can I be spiritual and take medicine? Would Buddha have popped pills?

I began studying Buddhism when I realized modern psychology is basically renamed Buddhism. I figured I’d just go to the source. Buddhism is not a religion; it is a philosophy. The focus is disciplining the mind.

When I started meditating, I lived in fear of my mind. It was noisy, chaotic, nasty, and full of should have/would have/could have. I had always felt there were at least 2 me’s in existence. The mask and the fucked up girl behind the mask. When I came to meditation, my life had become a confusing blur of lies. I didn’t know who I was anymore because I lost track of the lies and reality.

In this journey, I’ve flip flopped between believing I am seriously ill and in need of help and believing there is nothing wrong with me, it is society making me sick.

The psychosis I had over a year ago was the great leveler. In that, I am forced to accept both answers to every question. There are things I saw and experienced that are so real to me even today, I shudder at the memory. Yet, no one else saw or heard these things. No one saw melting faces, or had any reason to believe the weird weather was all my fault. I can’t find the things I read anymore, yet I swear I read them. It’s a case of accepting what is: I cannot explain this, but it happened all the same.

The harder thing to accept is this absolutely started with meditation. I experienced something that I can not describe in words, and from that point on, my life was turned upside down. I did believe I was God, so it could be full delusional grandeur and mania. I also believed I was here to help people, and that too could be mania. I don’t know. The problem and solution always is: I don’t know. I’ve researched it endlessly. Kundalini awakenings resonate with what happened to me. Jung’s concept of the shadow is almost a verbatim account of the 3 or so weeks I was in psychosis. Everything, and I mean everything I was afraid of, worried about, hiding away, etc. came into my reality. It was as if my life was a Stephen King novel.

I still struggle talking about this, because I couldn’t write out everything that happened in those weeks if I had a lifetime to type. If I can one day, it will give Mr. King a run for his money.

After begging to be taken to the mental hospital, knowing if I didn’t go, I was going to kill myself: I’m still left with fear. There’s still a part of me worried I was wrong. On bad days of depression, I can worry I should have killed myself then, because at the time, I was convinced someone was going to kill my kids if I didn’t kill myself. I’ve never been more terrified of my mind. Yet, I had two choices, I could either get back on good terms with myself, or spend the rest of my days terrified of me as I had been.

It took me a long time to come back to meditation. Buddhism obviously teaches meditation, but I learned in the mental hospital. No one told me about needing a guide or a teacher. No one told me what meditation could unlock. The experience I had is very similar to what has been described as Kundalini awakenings, and there are warnings abound that this should not be undertaken without serious inner work to clear your demons. Me? I was obsessed with meditating because it made me feel good. I didn’t really know chakras or anything spiritual then.

Was it spiritual? Was it psychological? Those questions have plagued me for so long.

In reality, the only thing that did happen is all my worst fears did come true, and all the things I repressed came to the surface. I was terrified I was crazy, so I went crazy. I lost my mind. It doesn’t matter what was real or not real, because in my world, it was all true. In others, it was not. For me, I created a self fulfilling prophecy. I believed I was crazy, so crazy is what I was.

This is the nature of life. My truth is something only I have. No one sees the sky the same way, and we have no way of proving or disproving it because we can’t describe blue. This leads me back to my question. The Buddha taught how to discipline the mind to alleviate suffering. I believe he used the complete power of his focus, by watching his thoughts and choosing where he gave his focus.

The Buddha believed all suffering exists in our minds. We cling to the past and reject change, we chase the future and lose the present. We create huge expectations to bring disappointment. We live in extremes and reject reality. I have to wonder, though, how would Buddha deal with now? Look at the world we are in. He’s long gone, and many follow his way, yet does it resonate now? Ancient wisdom is wise, but does it make sense in a culture so vastly different? Would he need Effexor and Latuda to stay centered?

The world is so obsessed with labels and words. Everything has to be specifically characterized and in a box – we’ve turned ourselves into nouns and forms of grammar instead of living breathing constantly changing verbs. God is now an iPhone, I think. It’s very different from a monastic lifestyle in India. In the present, I think suffering is caused by our obsession with the word “or”. My suffering with the puzzle of my psychosis is an easy example of this. The reality is “and” not “or”. That is to say, everything I experienced was completely real, completely caused by meditation, AND bipolar. Why must they be mutually exclusive? Does mania make it false? I used to believe mania made my happiness a lie, and I would use analysis to rob myself of joy with the fear of being crazy.

In reality, to me, bipolar is a description of a particular form of suffering: attachment versus non attachment. I flee the bad days and run for the good days. Medication has helped, meditation helped, yoga helped. I don’t fear my bad days, and I enjoy the good days as they last. Non attachment.

The psychosis is forcing me to accept “and” because it’s the only plausible answer. It’s all of the above. Yet, strikingly, this is precisely what the Buddha taught in non duality. Everything in this life is a process. Sadness is necessary so that happiness is experienced. Rainy days are needed to grow flowers in the sunshine. All of the cliches. But it is truly everything. All the mental anguish I go through attempting to pick a side can easily be avoided by accepting both and sticking to the middle. Any extreme is bad for our minds. Moderation is key in everything.

If you can think about the most painful situation in your life, I am willing to bet there is an “or” you are struggling with. “Did he cheat on me because I wasn’t good enough or is he a shitty person?” Both. It’s both. He believed you weren’t good enough and that does make him a shitty person. It can be everything because it’s all part of one unified process. It’s up to us to decide and move forward. Obsessing with the why, and trying to label it disconnects us from reality and keeps us in fear of the unknown. The reality is: it is all unknown and known. Every moment is exactly as it’s meant to be, and suffering comes from constant ruminating and questioning thoughts. The only reality is action.

The rising diagnoses seem to flag this problem. As we all attempt to force ourselves in one particular box at the loss of another, trying to encapsulate ourselves in neat words and labels, we are losing our minds. Our sanity. Our obsession with words and thinking is making us insane.

Isn’t it interesting that modern psychology and Buddhism are so closely aligned? Why is meditation so crucial? Why did meditation help me go crazy? I appreciate it now, because now I have the opposite – I know what it feels like to lose my mind. I no longer need to analyze myself for crazy indicators.

Meditation is the art of doing nothing, because we all do too much. It is rare we have that counter balance. Like pushing do not disturb on a cell phone, meditation can create the space for truth and reality to shine through. The truth that we always need both. We need activity and we need stillness. We cannot be healthy in any one or the other situation.

What is the truth? What is reality? I don’t know anymore. I think that’s the most truthful I can get. This journey started whether I wanted to or not, but I’ve been holding myself back by shifting my fear to medication. I finally connected I’ve been so stifled in everything because I’m terrified the medicine I am on is changing my brain.

When I started meditating, I saw colors. So many colors. It was like hanging out in a kaleidoscope. Now, I can tell you this is called a siddhi and means very little. Since I started the medicine, I stopped seeing colors. I’ve been worried about this for so long. Yet just last night, I asked that question: if Buddha was here now, would he take medicine to help with the journey?

The answer is: why do I care what Buddha would do? This is what I keep missing. At the end of the day, it’s only me that can move my feet on this path. Buddha may be a guide, Watts may be a guide, but I’m the only one who can choose. If I believe the medicine is hurting me, of course it will. Self fulfilling prophecies are reality. I take supplements and I take medicine. Why not both? Both help me. I have a stigma against myself with the medicine, and I’m tired of bullying me about it.

No sooner did I come to peace with this – after 1.5 years of struggling and fighting with this choice to medicate, I saw colors again. Brighter and more vivid then I remember before.

The Buddha taught me to stop fearing my mind by embracing the beauty of my mind. Meditation taught me how powerful all minds are. They can create beauty or suffering, depending on your focus. In each of us is this power to create or destroy our worlds. Most of us need to destroy before we learn to stop creating our destruction with the stories we tell ourselves.

Are you pondering similar questions? Let me know in comments, I’d love to pick some brains.

If there’s no solution, it’s not a problem.

The hardest part of any challenge is thinking about it. The way I see it, inside my mind is very small relative to the world. The world is expansive and limitless, but my skull isn’t. When I get caught in ruminating or anxious repetitive thoughts, it can feel like a cacophony in my head. And whatever problem

Seems so insurmountable, and I couldn’t possibly handle it.

The simple act of writing it on paper, saying it out loud, or just tackling the problem inevitably shows my problem was far bigger in my head than reality. The mind creates the problem, action always diminishes problems. Sometimes, I make a list of what I’m

Anxious about and I pick “low hanging fruit” i.e. the easiest thing I can do to handle something. And I work my way through it.

The most powerful thing I learned with my psychosis came from a random encounter:

If you don’t have a solution, then it is not a problem. Later, I found a Buddhist quote: “why worry? If you don’t have an answer; you cannot solve the problem, and if you do have an answer; your problem is solved!”

My mind loves to say can’t. I can’t handle this that or the other thing. I used to try to change it to can. The problem with can is, it’s still future state. I will and I am are much more effective in retraining the brain. I will do this, I am doing this. Your mind calms and becomes focused on the present as opposed to dancing in future and past.

But at the end of the day, suffering comes from thinking about problems. Life comes in action. Life, experience, love, God, and humans. We are all actions, not nouns. We are beyond words, so don’t let the words in your thoughts control your limitless potential. I will. I am. The two things to change your life.

Creativity and Anxiety

I’ve loved writing poetry since I was a teenager. I remember my parents sent me to a poetry workshop in elementary school and I was so excited to read my poems out loud. They told me I had a gift, and I didn’t really believe them. I only recently started writing poems again, and even then I struggle with telling myself I’m not good or whatever. It’s resistance from me to me. I get random inspiration constantly, and I can usually write a poem in less than 20 minutes. But I fight myself.

I am finally coming to understand how art works. If my focus is on me and my problems, I’m wasting my creative expression with creative oppression. The creativity is the same: i am either inventing a story about my life or I’m writing a story or a poem or whatever. I read somewhere anxiety is repressed creativity. Art lying inside of you that cannot come out so it creates anxiety.

This is what I do know: the more I have accepted myself, my life, my problems, and my successes, the more often I get random bits of poems that need to come together. This poem here is clearly about an ex and it was built around the line “your love is like rainbow sprinkles and I’m starving for a feast.”

The only way I know to connect with my heart and intuition is to take these bits and paint them into poetry and let whatever happen happen. The only way that happens is when I stop focusing on my bullshit stories and stare at the sky, or a tree, or meditate. Then I stop squandering creativity by inventing worst case scenarios and projection.

When you were a little kid, there was something you loved. Maybe it was singing, maybe it was writing, maybe it was coloring. It doesn’t matter. Find it again and give yourself time and space to do it. The changes that come from connecting with your creativity and inner child… it’s nothing short of magic.

Beautiful Lies – Fine White

At least it’s not a rash…

I’m at an interesting point in my mental health journey. One of my biggest problems with medications is always side effects. Lamictal and topomax gave me a drug rash. Lithium made me constantly tired and I gained 40+ pounds and didn’t notice much beyond more depression. Prozac gave me crazy anxiety. Abilify, haldol, seroquel turned me into a robot or almost drooling mess of drugged human.

Effexor is the only anti depressant I’ve “liked” and Latuda is the only mood stabilizer that hasn’t ruined my life. However, side effects are so bizarre. My jaw locks, my muscles have started randomly clenching and spasming, and I’m getting restless legs. I also have a weird neck/head jerky twitch. By now, I would have cold turkeyed off the drugs and argued I’m fine.

But I’m not fine. Without something, I can’t find a baseline. My moods swing so quickly, and not in an orderly fashion. I’m never manic or depressed, it’s both, anxious, and cleaning obsessively or freaking about cleaning because I can’t clean because I cant stay awake. I’m not doing anything or I’m doing everything or I’m having a panic attack about both.

With Latuda, I’m calmer. I respond more than I react. A lot of this is helped by meditation and yoga, but without medicine, I struggle to perform these things on my own which makes it all worse. But the side effects suck.

What doesn’t suck is my doctor, who is listening to me, confirming these are side effects and actually changing stuff around rather than telling me I’m wrong or just want to be manic all the time. The funny part is I guess all of this work to stabilize my moods is just to get me on adhd medicine. This past month wasn’t good. Lots of depression – more than usual. But I got through okay. I have a lot of stress right now – I am a mom of 3 lol. My life is crazy as a baseline.

But I’m not quitting the medicine. I promised myself after the psychosis I was going to figure this all out. My doctor is adding another drug to stop the side effects and either lowering the Latuda and increasing the Effexor or just increasing Effexor. There are a lot

Of benefits to taking these medicines and unfortunately I’m sensitive to medicine (ask me about my NyQuil experiences lol) so this is really hard.

I’m sharing all this because I think it might be helpful if anyone is struggling with doctors/therapy/medicine. A lot of doctors treat statistics, not people. Some of these side effects are rare, and because of that, many doctors are dismissive. Or, they say the benefits outweighs the drawbacks. But everyone needs to be really educated about their diseases and medicines. Reading side effects, tracking side effects, speaking intelligently about symptoms and frequency. Journaling is an amazing way to understand yourself and what’s going on with your body.

I usually read my journal for the past month and read a journal from an earlier time period (say 6 months to a year) before aby appointment. I can then tell if I’m improving or not, I can see where I was at before and where I’m At now, and how frequently these things are occurring. I track my period in my journal and I note every day I have it in my journal so I can see how the anxiety and depression was. I make notes on my moods and anxiety levels all the time. I note if I forgot a medicine and what happened. I’m my own psychologist kind of.

Because I know the drugs and my body, I’m able to be an active part of my treatment plan instead of just sucking it up and dealing with it. The muscle stuff I’m describing is a big deal. I could end up with long term problems like tardive Dyskinesia. It was because I started noticing these muscle spasms and took notes that I could talk about it with my doctor.

It’s never enough to just take the medicine. A journey of mental health is a journey of self awareness too. I’ve stopped medicine a lot because the side effects were too much and no one was listening. It took a lot of doctors to find one who did. The only difference now is I fight for me, I speak up for me, and I’m an open book with everyone especially my doctor. When i went to the mental hospital

The first time, all I said was I get sad and anxious sometimes. No mention of eating disorders, obsessive cleaning and other compulsions, I said my brain was telling me to hurt myself because I didn’t even know what intrusive thoughts were. Frankly, at that time, I didn’t know what was Wrong with me.

Now I know nothing is wrong with me, I just need support. I care about myself now, so I take care of myself.

I Cannot Worry About The Future if I Am Experiencing My Present

Right now I’m reminding myself frequently: I cannot worry about the future if I am experiencing my present.

That does not mean I don’t have thoughts or worries about the future. It simply means I redirect my focus to the present. In the mental hospital, I was taught a grounding exercise: identify things through the five senses. What do I see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Feel?

Not surprisingly, there are many types of meditation that teach this presence and mindfulness is taught as a way to connect with now.

I also learned positive affirmations in the mental hospital and from my psychologist. This is very similar to a powerful invocation called the Sankalpa, or your heart’s desire. You meditate quietly for a few moments, then allow something you want to arise from a place that transcends your thinking mind.

In any of these practices: grounding, mantra, Sankalpa, mindfulness, meditation, etc. gratitude is fundamental to reaching these states. Gratitude is a place that transcends the ego, the anxiety, and the depression because it places power outside of your thinking mind. If a few moments are taken to see and appreciate everything – good and bad – by acknowledging everything has happened to bring this moment, the ego becomes quiet, confused, and powerless. Gratitude helps with acceptance too. In my journey, being thankful for being bipolar taught me to stop fighting being bipolar. In any situation, I guide my focus to gratitude. Even the worst situations, I can still be thankful I’m breathing.

Once gratitude helps center, I can “hear myself think” better. This is when positive affirmation or Sankalpa helps. It’s a statement in the present of something you wish to accomplish. My first Sankalpa was “I am peaceful, loving, trusting whenever I am confused or upset” this arose as a need for me to shift because as soon as my moods did what my moods do, or depression made me feel worthless, etc. I question every decision I’ve ever made, doubt myself, and worry about my entire journey.

Pretty quickly, I saw this shift. I couldn’t say how specifically, but I started listening to myself and trusting myself more. I recited the Sankalpa after connecting with gratitude and repeated it three times. I also recited it before meditating and bed.

Right now, my Sankalpa is “I am love”. This has led me to stop getting into my head about the future and experience the present instead. Love is action, not a noun. It’s a dynamic, ever changing energy. Love is not clinging or fear, so worrying about the future is the opposite of love.

If these practices are of interest, hop on YouTube. There are guided meditations to set a Sankalpa, to connect with mindfulness, and gratitude practices. I do general searches and just pick whatever I feel pulled to pick. This helps to connect with intuition too. If the spirituality side of things feels weird, check out positive affirmations and I Am statements, mindfulness exercises for depression or anxiety, and try journaling 3 gratitudes daily. It’s the same, just different words and more or less talk of God.

Do things that resonate with you and you alone. Never force a practice that doesn’t resonate or force yourself to do anything a certain way because someone else does it. All the self help books, guides and all this have good intentions, but each of us walks differently with different feet, shoes, and baggage. Meet yourself where you are at and with what you want, and find the resources that support and work for you. At the end of the day, being in your life and experiencing your life now is what is important. Not the past, not the future.