I Will Do the Best That I Can

There’s a lot of confusion in my brain when it comes to my behaviors, because depending on my mood state my behaviors change considerably.  For example, right now, and for the last four days or so, I have been rather hyper and talkative and gossipy, opinionated, controlling, passive aggressive, and argumentative.  I’m normally somewhat controlling and I gossip sometimes, but not to this extreme.

I am working on Step 6 with one of my AA sponsees, and I thought maybe I should probably work it myself on some of the aforementioned character defects.  But, are they true character defects or are they symptoms of some hypomania?

It fucking drives me crazy trying to distinguish between the two.  I keep trying to tell myself to stop doing these things and then a minute later I am compelled to do them again.  It is like I can’t stop myself by sheer will power.

How can I improve my character if my character isn’t even the problem.  But, then again, what if it is?  Or is it my bipolar?  How do I know?

Just to be on the safe side, I’ve decided to reread a book I have, called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  It has some awesome communication tips that I think will make me feel a whole lot better if I am able to follow them.  (See #1 below.)

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I just got to get out of this mouth-running, ego trip, complaining, controlling, perfectionist, high and mighty state of mind.  It makes me feel guilty for talking about people in a negative manner.  It makes me feel shameful in front of the people with whom I am gossiping.  I beat myself up over it, often berating myself with negative internal dialogue, which I am not supposed to do.  My doctor warned it can trigger depression in me.  I feel remorse after I do it, too.  Guilt, shame, and remorse – not fun.

I’ve been having a hard time communicating properly with my family as well, being passive-aggressive or yelling aggressively.  Always apologizing, and again beating myself over it afterwards.  I think Agreement #3 will help me a lot in dealing with my family from here on out.

This all stops now.  If not the behaviors totally then the negative internally dialogue for sure.  I can use Agreement #4 as my mantra to combat the times I start to beat myself up for slipping.

Wish me luck.

 

Motherhood, Mental Illness and Codependency

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My teenage daughter is on medication and is in counseling for depression and anxiety.  She has been through a lot in the past year.  I’ve written about some of it here, here, and here.

Because of her mental illness and her overall highly sensitive and strong-willed nature, we (my husband and I) tend to have a hard time saying no to her.  We, of course, do not have a problem disciplining her when necessary, but she is a bit spoiled when it comes to materialistic things, and she is rarely kept from doing activities she wants to do even when it involves us driving her all over the place.  We will say no if it is excessive or too far or too late, however.

I have noticed that we do have an easier time saying no to her younger sibling with these things.  I don’t know if it is because we think she is less fragile or not as apt to become as agitated when refused.  I would give it about a twenty-five to seventy-five percent split between the two, respectively.

Overall, saying no to my daughter with the mental illnesses hasn’t been a problem for me until this past week.  I am starting to slide down into a bit of a depression.  As a result, I am having a hard time keeping up with her and her sister’s requests – things like going to the store for a school supply, Halloween costume shopping, stopping for lunch, attending sporting events, and the latest one, which really irritated me because she hounded me about it for two days, uploading some pictures for her from my camera to her email.

I just didn’t feel up to doing it because I like to edit them first and that takes time.  She said I didn’t have to edit them, but the perfectionist in me couldn’t bring myself to send them without editing them because I knew she’d be posting them on the internet.  Wow!  I really have some work to do on letting things go, my ego, and not worrying about what other people think, don’t I?

On the upside, I am learning to edit pretty well at top speed, which will help me if I ever become a professional photographer, which is my fantasy goal.  I think my migraines and mental illness will keep me from that goal for a long time.  Maybe someday it will happen long after the kids are out of the house.

But I digress…

Codependency has been described as “a pattern of behavior in which you find yourself dependent on approval from someone else for your self-worth and identity.”  I am afraid I do this with my role as a mom.  Since not being able to work outside the home anymore because of my mental illnesses, I have convinced myself that my purpose or “job” is to be mom, but in all reality if I was still working outside the home, I would still have to be mom too.

I know I definitely don’t feel like just Jessica.  I feel like “mom” or “wife” but not “me.”  The me I was before I go married was not one I liked.  I was very self-destructive and immoral.  The me I was before that me was the childhood me.  The me in recovery, the healthiest me, the me now, didn’t begin until I was well into motherhood.

How do I find out who the me is underneath the weight of this motherhood identity?  I need the answer to this question.  I think it may hold the key to much joy.

If You Can’t Say Something Nice

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“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”  Remember that old saying mom used to tell us?  I think it is a useless piece of advice at times when it is necessary to stick up for one’s self or set a healthy boundary with someone.  However, say for example, you are given an opinion for which you did not ask, then yes, maybe that person should just keep his mouth shut.

Case in point:  I got a new hair cut yesterday and my youngest daughter comes home from school, takes one look at me and says, “I don’t like it.  It’s too puffy on the sides.”  Normally I would have been secretly hurt a little, but laughed it off and responded with something like, “Oh yeah, it kind of is.  Oh well.”

However, I have noticed something inside of me as I have stopped allowing myself to have negative judgements about myself.  I am suddenly feeling the urge to challenge those who negatively judge me as well.  So, instead of my usual response, I gently said to my daughter after she criticized my new hairstyle, “Please only say positive things about me from now on unless I ask for your opinion.”  She said she was just giving her opinion and I reminded her that I didn’t ask for it.  Then I asked her if she would have said something like that to one of her friends and she said, no.

In general, my kids tend to say negative things to me about the way I look and act in a teasing way, and we all laugh about it, but after awhile it starts to wear on me and my self-esteem.  I feel like I am at the point where I don’t want to listen to it anymore.

Of course, my normal self is saying, “Oh, Jessica you are being silly.  They are just joking around.  Quit being so sensitive.  You are making a big deal out of nothing.”  After all, I tease my husband, and really, we all tease each other sometimes.

I think I may just be extra aware of it because I am being so conscious of my own negative judgements.  It is such a fine balance between being able to joke around and being offended.  I am truly confused right now about where I stand with everything.

I know with the hair comment, what my daughter said was rude.  But, with the other stuff, like them teasing me because I cry over sappy commercials or because I am forgetful or about getting old, it really is said in loving fun.

What do you guys think?

I Feel

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My irritability is better than it has been for the past two months.  I think it had to do with a medication change and my hypomania/rapid cycling.  It got bad enough that my daughter confronted me about it.  I was shocked into looking at my behavior and forced into reframing how I expressed my feelings with people.

I am no longer blaming and criticizing others like I was.  Instead I am taking ownership of my feelings and stating them in an assertive way.  You know, the whole “I feel this way when you do this” rather than “You make me feel blah, blah, blah.”

It makes a huge difference in how the conversation goes.  Communication is much better, because if I say it in the former way, the other person doesn’t get as defensive and I feel better about myself and the way I handled things afterwards.

My daughter says her anxiety is the same, but she is doing a lot more socially with new friends and new situations.  It is such an awesome thing for me to see.  I am so happy for her.

I am very tired these days.  I have come down from my hypomania and am experiencing some apathy and a lot of boredom.  I feel annoyed and depressed when I am bored so I hope it passes soon.

It’s in the How We Say Things

Teenage perception is looking through someone else’s glasses while driving

or getting dressed in front
of a fun house mirror
after riding the Tilt a Whirl
ten times in a row.

Screaming on a roller coaster is cool;
not so much at home
unless
you want to be the topic of therapy

while minions play space invaders inside your head and
needles show up in wierd places
like

under your finger nails and pinning
your eye lids open.

Eventually the pain subsides and
your able to grab a rope
and some friends

and go play double Dutch.