This is a blog about my journey with bipolar disorder. I was diagnosed spring of 2011 and was admitted into a mental health hospital a month before my wedding. I struggled greatly for the next year and a half going on and off meds, experimenting with different forms of therapy and was readmitted to the hospital at the end of 2012. Since then I have been learning how to re-live my life. Seeing a wise, supportive, kind therapist once a week and emerging myself into Dialectical Behavioural Therapy are 2 of many ways that are helping me recover. I have found deep comfort and much strength in mindfulness practices, taught to me from DBT.

This blog is my way of allowing you to see into the life of someone who suffers from bipolar, depression and extreme anxiety. I want to own my story, and help defeat the stigma. I hope you find some comfort in knowing you are not alone, or learn more about mental illness through the writings of my blog.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

breathing in: calm, breathing out: tension

It's been over a year since my last post.
Lots has changed.

I've been toying with the idea of starting to write again, but have been uncertain and scared to do so. Do I risk being an oversharer to spread awareness of mental health? Do I need to reveal my suffering and pain so others know they are not alone? Is it brave to share? Or will others think I am weak? Maybe the answers will be different for everyone. For me, I need to write. I need to share.

So what has changed?
Since my discharge from hospital in 2012, I have been meeting weekly with a therapist, I have been working closely with my family doctor and psychiatrist to figure out which meds work for me and which ones don't. I have been participating in a form of therapy called Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, which was created for people with Borderline Personality Disorder. Its foundation is mindfulness, which has its roots in Buddhist practices. Summed up, mindfulness is becoming aware of your present moment and not judging it as good or bad, simply being aware, accepting it gently for what it is. There are countless ways and exercises to help you become more mindful. I find breathing particularly helpful.
More on that later.
What else has changed?
We moved into a new house, and are slowly figuring out how to married, haha. But seriously, our marriage is amazing. We still fight, yell, slam doors, and get annoyed with each other but now we have a foundation of strong love beneath us. We are quicker to forgive, slower to speak mean spirited words, have a greater understanding of each other. We have treaded deep waters and nearly drowned. Bipolar has not been kind to us, but we have come out stronger than ever. Our relationship was tested in ways I never imagined, and we grew and flourished when I thought we wouldn't make it. I have tears in my eyes just writing this; it is good to reflect and be reminded of how far we've come. Ryan is my main supporter, my provider, my care giver, my lover, my encourager, he pushes me to keep going while providing arms to fall into when I have nothing left. Ok, enough sappiness.

For months I have had spirts of doing really well, thriving even, and bouts of deep, dark depression. When I feel strong, it feels like the darkness will never come back. When I feel down, it feels like the sun will never shine again. I am currently struggling to tread the waters I am in. I've been processing and over processing a lot of life shaking things these last 2 weeks, most of which I hope to share with you blog posts to come. But it has left me in a very raw and vulnerable place.

Back to the mindfulness I was talking about earlier. Like I was saying, I find breathing particularly helpful. Focusing on your breath is one of the simplest, most powerful ways I can become mindful. I want to share with you one of my favourite techniques for focusing on breath. You can do this in a quiet place, while driving, waiting for an appt, or in the everyday hustle and bustle of life. So, as you breathe in say calm (you can do this either out loud or in your head) and as you breathe out say tension. Take sloooow DEEP breaths. Inhaling: calm, exhaling: tension. Repeat this several times until you feel your mood calm down, or until you feel done. If during the exercise you find yourself getting distracted, thinking of other thoughts, slowly and gently, without judgement bring yourself back to focusing on the breath. And that's it! I do this a few times a day when I feel anxious or upset, or just when I remember to!
I have created an image that you can print out and post somewhere you'll see it, to help remind you or inspire you.

Looking forward to writing you again soon.

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