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“I fight for my health every day in ways most people don’t understand. I’m not lazy. I’m a warrior.” – Unknown

Listening to: Hammers and Strings by Jack’s Mannequin

I’ve come to realize that there will never be a day that’s easy. Every day is going to be a struggle and a fight in some way. Sometimes those ways will be familiar, sometimes life will throw something new and unexpected at you. Even the days that everything, for once, is going fine. With chronic mental illness it isn’t going to be easy.

The constant monitoring of your mood and emotions. The battle of keeping yourself balanced when you start to lean one way or the other. Fighting the urge that comes along sometimes to just let yourself go, fall into whatever is going to come. And the understanding that episodes are going to happen, no matter how vigilant you are. The ability to forgive yourself for those episodes. And the perseverance to pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, and put your life back together.

I hate every minute of manic depression.

But. It has taught me a lot of things. Self control. Being more in tune with my moods and emotions. How to handle situations with grace and empathy. How to listen to both myself. That self care is important, and is more than just bath bombs and a manicure. Social media can be toxic. Everything in life is fleeting. I’ve learned how to order my thoughts and express myself.

I want to look a little more in depth at some of these.

Self control
I don’t know how many of you have experience with bipolar disorder. At least for me, even when my mood is balanced I get… urges. I get these thoughts and ideas about things that I want to do. Everything from getting a tattoo or dying my hair or writing a book or running away to the Keys and opening a bar called Lou’s. (Who is Lou? I have no idea.) Some of these ideas are fine to just run with. Some require a little thought, some a lot, and some are nice things to think and dream about but are totally not practical. Tattoo? Needs some thought and planning. Hair? What the hell. It’s just hair. Writing a book – a lot of thought, planning, and time. Lou’s? A really nice dream, but never going to happen. But living through the experiences of making a lot of bad decisions in a short amount of time? That really makes you sit back and think about the things that you’re doing. You analyze the urges that you get, break them down and build them back up. And then you ask yourself – is this really a good idea? Is this really something that I want?

Listening and self care
In some ways having a mental illness is a lot like exercising. You have to listen to what your body is telling you. Should you take a day a little lighter and rest? Should you push yourself? Should you go to bed early or stay up and finish the movie? Sometimes you really just need to take it easy. Maybe that’s a walk in the moods to calm your thoughts, maybe it’s time in your garden or with a good book. Who knows? It’s different for everyone. For me, at least, being outside is a great way to recharge. And I’ve found that working out is a great stress relief and that getting a good sweat on makes me feel a lot better.

Social media
On more than one occasion I’ve stepped away from social media. What’s easy to forget is that people show themselves the way that they want to be seen. Sometimes when you’re down it’s hard to not compare your life with that of other’s, and a lot of the times that you’re going to feel that you’ve come up short. Especially in this day and age, sites like Facebook become so politicized and so polarizing so easily. But it can be hard to look at all of these people that appear to be living their best lives when you’re stuck in the pit of despair. But they’re not telling you about the argument with their spouse or the horrible day that they had at work, or even that they’ve got a massive breakout going on. Social media makes it really easy to compare your life with other people’s, and that’s never a healthy road to go down.

You know, I sat down tonight not having any idea what I was going to write about, and here we are at the end of another post. Sometimes inspiration comes from odd and unexpected places.

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