The Game

It feels like the only time I can actually write is when I feel crummy.  Like now.  So I guess it’s good that I haven’t written in a while?

I don’t know the answer to that question and I’m not sure if I want to.

Anyway…

I’m in the midst of another round of “what’s the right combo of meds for Kate” and I wish I could tap out.  This is a game I’ve played with multiple doctors for almost 16 years.  Sometimes I think that it really is all a game, that it’s all bullshit and therapeutic meds just make everything worse.  But then I get on the right combination and I remember what it feels like to feel “normal” again.  Normal for me is being able to go to work, hold a conversation, take a shower, and leave my apartment without having a breakdown.  You forget how difficult the simplest things can be until you have a depressive episode.  Plus, meds tend to minimize these episodes, which is why I try to push out some of the hippie crap that’s always in my head about being “natural” and remember that meds are here to make me better.  If I had diabetes I would take insulin, so what’s the difference?

Another reason I go along with it and keep holding out that there is this “right combo” of meds for me is because I know it’s too risky to go without them.  I know what it’s like to actually feel crazy; to have a very skewed and limited sense of reality.  It can be both terrifying and exciting at the same time, until reality (the real one, the one you can’t see) starts to fall apart around you.  But you’re too delusional to care so you keep falling until you hit the bottom.  I’ve hit that bottom a few times in my life, and it’s not a place I ever dare to get near ever again.  

So I call my doctor when I feel crummy.

I trust him to make educated decisions about my mental health and he trusts me to tell him when something isn’t working.  I have to, I’m a human not a computer so no alert will go off if my mood destabilizes (unfortunately, that would make so much easier).  I have a similar agreement with my husband; as long I never give up on me, neither will he.  I can imagine being married to someone who has an illness that you can’t usually see can be quite frustrating and draining, but he makes it look easy.  

This gaming is getting harder to play because the stakes keep getting so much higher.  When I could withdraw from college, live at my parents house, and use their insurance things weren’t as complicated.  Now I have a (super amazing) marriage, a (legit) career, and a great life that I need to keep alive.  And some day I’ll (god willing) have a tiny human being to keep alive.  

So that’s why I keep playing this game.  

I don’t think bipolar disorder is a game I can ever “win”, but I think if I can keep the upper hand at least most of the time then I’m doing just fine.  And after 16 years of practice, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to keep me on top.

Live Without Pretending

A lovely friend posted a quote on Facebook today that said “Live without pretending, love without depending, listen without defending, speak without offending.”

After I read it it, I sat with it for a few moments to let the words digest and sink in.  The line that keeps replaying in my mind over and over like a broken record is ‘live without pretending’.

We all pretend, well at least most of us do, in various aspects of our lives.  Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we pretend we like where we live or that we actually enjoy eating healthy.  We pretend we like getting up early to go to the gym or that we enjoy the conversation we have with our coworkers as we prepare our third cup of crappy coffee.  We pretend and pretend and pretend to the point where we forget we’re pretending.  We start accepting our boss who never listens to our suggestions or our partner who never listens to anything.  We accept these things that are less than ideal because that’s part of being an adult; accepting.

Or is it?

Every time I read an article about someone who opened their own yoga studio in Aruba, or is backpacking through Greece as they write their second novel, or eloped to escape the pressures and expectations of family, I always think to myself “how the f*ck did they do that and why haven’t I figured out how to?”

From what I’ve read, combined with my perception of human behavior and just a hint of my BA in sociology, I believe that there are certain people on this planet who have the ability to look at what everyone is doing and say “nah, not for me.”  I wish I could tell you what it is within them that gives them this ability to escape the monotony of all the crap the rest of us are able to accept and pretend is what we want, but I’m still trying to figure that out too.

A lot of people are ok with pretending.  They don’t have a bad life and they don’t have a great life, they just have a life.  And there’s nothing wrong with that, in fact it’s pretty damn good to have a life.  Not everyone is so luck to be able to complain that the worst parts of their days are commuting, annoying coworkers, and humidity.  But what about those other people, the ones who broke the mold by not accepting or pretending?

I want to be one of those people.  I believe I am one of those people.

But I’m stuck because I keep pretending.

I’m very luck to work for the company that I do.  I know that.  But I also know that this, what I sit here day in and day out doing, is not what I want to spend my life doing.  I’ve changed jobs more often than most people change their water filters, and it’s because I can pretend that I’m content, but only for so long.  I’ve gotten quite good at pretending I want things that deep down I know I don’t.  I do this because it’s what I’ve taught myself to do.  Accept what people tell you to do.  Accept their definitions of “success” as your own.  Accept that maybe you’re not good enough to get what you really want.

That last one is the one I’m struggling with.  Because you see, as I sit here in a situation I’m sure others dream about, I’ve realized that the reason I change jobs and the reason I can’t accept my situation is because I’m pretending I’m pursuing my passion.  I left similar jobs because I kept thinking that I would find a different experience and feeling from another company.  I was doing the exact same thing over and over again expecting to get different results, and that my friends is the definition of insanity.

So, now that I’ve figured out the problem it’s time to figure out the solution.  Unfortunately I can’t share that with you now because I don’t know what it is.  But stay tuned, because I intend to figure it out and when I do I’ll be sure to share it with you.  Until then, expect a lot more writing coming from this blog because I’m sure as hell going to share everything I learn along the way.

xoxo TBC

Silver Linings of Rejection

Today I received my second rejection letter from grad school.  Grad school had always been idea in the back of my mind, so I decided to apply to two Creative Writing MFA programs.  Although I knew my chances were slim (the acceptance rate is 1% – only 6 students were admitted), I still had hope that I would be the 1% that got in.  Alas, something I really, truly wanted didn’t happen.  C’est la vie.  The first rejection letter, which I received two weeks ago, really hurt but the second one didn’t.  In fact, it actually made me feel good.  Well, after the initial “f*ck grad school, what a huge waste of time that would have been, creative writing programs are dumb” feeling wore off.  I get to stay at my job and keep working for an amazing company, and I don’t have to try to persuade my boyfriend to move to the middle of nowhere for two years.  That’s not all, I’m also taking away three important things:

It redirected my focus

Before I applied to grad school I was feeling very overwhelmed.  Everything in my life seemed to make me feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and lost.  I felt like I was rudderless and couldn’t focus my energy on one thing I actually wanted.  When the idea of grad school popped into my mind, it allowed me to concentrate on the one thing I really want to do but had lost sight of; write a book.  If I ever felt stressed from work or city life (which was often), I thought about grad school and living in a completely different place.  Even though I’m not going to grad school or moving (at least not any time soon), that ‘mental break’ thinking about grad school gave me was well worth the whole process.

I took the GRE

I’m sure most people look at this as a horrific experience I had to endure with no reward, but I don’t see it that way.  Was the GRE unpleasant?  Hell yeah – I had to sit in a room for four hours and answer questions that in no way, shape, or form tested my knowledge, but rather tested my ability to study for the GRE.  Even though that SUCKED, something pretty great happened from the experience; I learned I can still do math.

That may sound insignificant or stupid, but I legitimately thought I no longer knew how to do math (minus addition and subtraction).  My math scores were exponentially higher than I anticipated as were my writing scores (although I wasn’t too surprised with my high essay score – I mean, come on).  It felt really good to know that my brain has not melted over the past 6 years since I last took a test.

I started writing something important

Although I consider all of my writing important, I started writing something that could become the most significant thing I’ve ever written (fingers crossed); my book.  For years I’ve known I wanted to write a book, but I didn’t know how I wanted to focus all of the millions of thoughts and ideas buzzing around my mind.  Preparing a writing sample for grad school gave me the opportunity to organize, plan, and start the story that I’ve been dying to get out.  So keep a look out for chapters or excerpts that may appear on this blog or one of my other blogs.

The schools were in Wisconsin and Wyoming so it looks like I’ll be staying on the east coast…for now at least.  I actually really wanted to move to Madison, but after keeping a careful eye on their weather this past winter, perhaps it’s for the best that I won’t live somewhere where -25 is a realistic (and common) temperature.
If there’s anything you’ve ever wanted to try or secretly dreamt about doing, I highly suggest you give it a shot.  Even if you don’t get it, the things you do get as a result of the process could lead to something even better.