Got through my first day of classes yesterday and I only have two more nights of work before I get my first day of "me" time (which I believe translates now to "get your shit together and do your homework" day). Unfortunately I got home at six am and woke up at nine-thirty and couldn't go back to sleep.
On the plus side, I seem to be developing a cough accompanied by some pressure in my chest and a bit of an ache in my right ear (down to my jaw), as well as a scratchy throat. I know I'm not getting sick though because I can't remember the last time I was sick and it wouldn't happen now, not when things are just getting started and I haven't even attended all of my classes yet.
Nope, wouldn't happen.
Song for a Friday in denial: Barenaked Ladies "Brian Wilson"
I'm running on fourteen hours of sleep since Sunday - sandwiched between my job on campus from 9 pm to 2 am every night and the various school events, client contract work, and my annoying inability to stop thinking. My first day as a University student consists of back to back classes beginning at 9:30 am straight through until 7:30 pm, and then onto my job again at nine. I'm tired. I'm anxious. I'm borderline overwhelmed. I'm excited.
I'm loving it.
I have no idea how I'm going to make it through to the end of the year, or even the semester, but I didn't know how I was going to get here in the first place so I remind myself that anything is possible.
Song for a school day: ACDC "Who Made Who"
I've come to the inclination that the word "celebrate" is vastly undervalued in the English language.
Too often we live our lives focused on executing agendas and pushing ourselves forward while never taking the time to acknowledge how much we have and what we've already accomplished. Our mountains and mole hills, the grandiose and the obscure; our triumphs, our privileges, and even our differences. What and who we are, and simply the fact we're here. "Celebrate" shouldn't be relegated to a hit 80s song by Kool & The Gang, it should be part of our everyday lives. We need to focus more on what makes us great and less on what makes us... well, "less".
I know I have a lot to learn about this, that I continue to be a work in progress, but today - rather than disparaging that fact - I've decided to celebrate it.
I wish I had shrinking powers like Ant Man and the Wasp. I would carry a door in my pocket so whenever someone said something stupid, I could make it big and then slam it in their face while saying "Good day, Sir. I said, good day."
It seems like it would feel more satisfying than simply shaking my head and walking away while being less jail-timey than punching them in the face.
Some people get songs stuck in their head. I would love to have a song stuck in my head. The WHOLE song. I get the same two lines repeating in an infinite loop. That's not a song. That's a sadistic parrot with a grudge.
The first of my new school supplies arrived today from Amazon. No wandering around the mall for this guy. Even the few items I could only get from the university store, I ordered online and just have to pick them up tomorrow.
Of all the things I hope to learn this year, being resourceful won't need to be one of them. Or is it efficient? Who am I kidding? It's lazy. That's the one I've already nailed and unfortunately I don't think it's one I'm going to be able to utilize for success.
Ah well, it was a good run while it lasted.
Woke up with doubt and sadness this morning. Even a touch of loneliness. I've been on a positive streak for a bit and the sudden shift comes as no surprise as after all this time I'm accustomed to it. Still never something I'm happy to see return but something I've come to accept as part of who I am. It's me and always will be. I have my ups. I have my downs. Sometimes I have both at the same time.
Recently I've decided to stop fighting it so much and accept it instead. It's part of my reality, and it's not all my bad. I believe it makes me a more compassionate person. I'm more conscious of how my actions affect others. I work harder and take responsibilities and commitments seriously. It's not about eliminating but integrating and accepting so I can live my life to the best of my abilities.
There is a saying that goes "Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart." That's where I want to be. I want to be more in the moment. I want to understand myself better and become a better, stronger person.
In this case, it's easy to speculate the triggers that lead to my current state. Anxiety about attending University soon, the reality of starting a new job and even with employment, the knowledge that it may not be enough to cover all my bills. Too much time spent alone. Ironically, even an event I'm attending tomorrow, which I've been looking forward to for months, but carries with it an anxiety of interacting in groups of people. Many times I'd call it off at the last minute, but not this time. This time, I'm in charge, not my insecurities. I know I'll have a good time once I'm there and the doubt riding my shoulders can wait in the car.
I can't know the future so there's no use agonizing over things that may never happen while ruining today. What I can do is look back at my forty-six years and see all the times I found myself in this same situation and recognize that no matter how much my world felt like it was destined to fall apart, I'm still here. Not everything work's out the way you plan, but it does work out. You may not always be happy with the results but each hurdle leaped introduces one more ending and allows for a new beginning.
Every minute you're here is another chance to get things right, and I'll never be perfect but I'm closer to it than I was yesterday.
Happy Friday. I hope you find some peace of your own today.
A song to welcome the weekend: The Pursuit Of Happiness "I'm An Adult Now"
Look at me getting all fancy and shit, with my shiny new name badge for my new part-time job at the University. I finished my initial orientation session and feeling great about it.
I've owned my own business, been responsible for teams, complex projects, large contracts, and even earned up to $90,000 a year at one point. Still, I was miserable and unsatisfied through the bulk of it all. Not everyone may understand how I can be so happy over a minimum wage job that has me working Thursday through Saturday nights from 9PM to 3AM, but for me, it's all about the experience of living student life to the fullest. At my age, I feel lucky to get a second chance and a fresh start that let's me work my way up to something new. I'm excited to get started; job, homework, grades and all.
I don't know if I'll fail or succeed over the next four years but I'm ready to give it my best try. Another couple of weeks and I begin to discover what I'm really made of. Depression can suck it. Now is happy time.
A song for those about to begin: Twisted Sister "I Wanna Rock".
Out for a little 80's birthday party. Except for some safety pins along the bottom of my jeans, I'm wearing what I do any other day. The 80's may be past but I'm not past the 80's, and I'm OK with that. My friend Cheryl went all out though and nailed it with a mix of colours and style.
Happy birthday Mom. I know I've never come out and told you - a shameful failing on my part - but you are one the kindest, most genuine, and sincere people I know, and I'm thankful for everything you've given and shared with me.
I love you and wish you the best day.
I want to share some words of hard earned wisdom; Be responsible and always monitor your medication. Making sure you take it regularly isn't enough and you can't rely solely on what you're told at the pharmacy. Mistakes can be made and situations can be misunderstood, but you are responsible for what you introduce into your body. That is not to say mistakes shouldn't be made, or situations shouldn't be misunderstood, or trusted professionals such as your doctor or pharmacist shouldn't be held accountable for their actions, it's just to say, in the end, it's your life and and no one has more responsibility for it than you.
It's January 31, 2018 - Bell Let's Talk Day. So let's talk. Or to be more accurate, as this is an article and not a live interaction, I'll type and you read. You can talk amongst yourselves once it's over.
I had originally planned to publish this article last Saturday (even took the accompanying photo that morning), but in the end, I couldn't bring myself to follow through. I thought having previously conquered my reservations about sharing my experiences with bipolar depression, I was prepared to share again, but when it came time to talk about my anxiety and mania, I found myself overwhelmed by the prospect and keenly sensitive to the risks involved. The risk of alienating friends and family who might decide I require too much attention, am too complicated, or am too weak. The risk of losing opportunities and income from employers who can't understand my experiences or feel I'm incapable of performing my duties. The risk of not being trusted or viewed as dependable, of having my every decision questioned, my opinions discounted, or my contributions ignored.
Life has been shitty for me for a long time.
Depression, instead of giving me a break for any length of time, chose instead to be an obnoxious guest, crashing on my couch and putting the empty box of Froot Loops back in the cupboard without telling me before I went grocery shopping.
This essay was published on The Mighty on September 25, 2017.
As someone struggling with depression, there are many lies I tell myself to get through each day. I tell myself that I believe things will get better. I tell myself that I believe life is worth living. I tell myself that I believe someday I will be happy. All these lies I tell myself in the hope they will eventually ring true and I will come to believe them. But there are some lies I tell myself without even being aware, and it wasn't until the suicide of Robin Williams that I discovered I had been telling myself the greatest lie of all.
A slightly modified version of this essay, titled "When Robin Williams Died, I Realized the Greatest Lie Depression Had Told Me" was published on The Mighty as well as Yahoo! Lifestyle on August 10, 2017.
For eight years I ran my own business while dealing with the challenges and stressors that came with it. Panic attacks had become a weekly, if not daily, occurrence and I lived my life like I was only half a step ahead of a charging boulder. For a time, I even convinced myself that this irrational, all-encompassing fear was what spurred my drive to succeed, but instead of propelling me closer to the finish line, I found myself dropping further and further behind with each new challenge - each setback taking me longer to recover. I was failing both mentally and physically and I realized that the life I had been enduring, not living, was no longer working for me.
A slightly modified version of this essay, titled "5 Tips for Living With 'High-Functioning' Bipolar Disorder" was published on The Mighty on July 25, 2017.
Today I called my Dad to wish him a happy Father's Day and for the first time ever, I told him out loud that I loved him.
His response was simply, "You too." I took it as a good start as we had never been able to cross that threshold before and whether it was something he was not ready to commit to or I had just caught him by surprise, at least his response was not an awkward silence I would have to reflect on later.