My life is nothing if not cyclical. This time last year, I was working on getting my shit together, and later in the year, I pulled a complete and total movie troupe, shaved my head and went crazy. It actually wasn’t that linear, but I keep laughing about it. At that time, I started identifying and mapping out my cycles, triggers, and all the things that greatly affected my life that I did not notice. Flash forward to now, I even tapped into astrology in helping with understanding stuff. I am all about moon phases as a predictor of my behavior. I tend to go apeshit or get really creative around the Full Moon. I’ll let you be the judge which is which on this last day of the Full moon. Funny enough, I actually started researching moon cycles because someone called me a lunatic. I find the original meaning of words far more informative than the general bastardization of language nowadays. Lunatic actually was used to describe what is now called bipolar, and it was originally attributed to the full moon. (The More You Know!)
Anyway, moons and bipolar aside, the really fascinating thing I’ve learned is I do the same shit at the same time every damn year. The beauty of Timehop is that you get to witness your insanity year on year. I actually just deleted my facebook not too long ago and it has been a nice respite from watching me go up and down all over again. It was kind of scary seeing that, on the same day, every year I am the same way, and I suppose, equally scary that it took me 10 years of Facebook to see that trend.
Anyway, like last year, I’m focusing on routine, consistency, and discipline. I’m re-committing to yoga and meditation. All of these have fallen to the wayside for the better part of this year. I’m really happy that I’ve mainly stayed with writing and absolutely stayed with journaling for as long as I have, because both are so important, but also something I used to stop and start. I’m focusing, too, on philosophy – especially Buddhism – still. I have always had a very black and white, all or nothing mentality. If I would start exercising or dieting, I would do it every day, and when I inevitably skipped a day, I’d declare myself a failure and quit.
I actually caught myself yesterday. I did 30 minutes of yoga in the morning, and by the nighttime, I was saying to myself that I ONLY did 30 minutes of yoga. I started feeling down, etc. and I caught it. Firstly, I’ve been doing yoga on and off at best for months, so I’m out of practice. Secondly, I am THRILLED to get up at 5:45 AM to get the minions off to school. Given I’m a night owl and (unless I’m depressed) don’t go to bed before midnight, this is rough. /whine
I’m beat, so committing to yoga and showing up at the mat for 30 minutes is great, not only. It’s little shit like that which will chip away at me until I give up, and I caught it. I am finally getting that it is not the big changes, it’s not the overhauls, it’s the little moments, the little thoughts, the little building blocks that make the difference. And, I did 45 minutes of yoga today, so woot. But this is the shit I kept missing. I think it was Glennon Doyle Melton who said,
“Life is like a spiral staircase, you keep going around, picking up things you missed, and every time you go around you get stronger.”
It’s really overwhelming typing a lot of this out because I’m also remembering I was terrified of medication this time last year. Christ, I was terrified of admitting something was wrong with me. I’ve been so upset about being on meds since January; the med combos I was on were really fucking me up. With the new psych and being on JUST Lamictal, I feel fucking amazing. I don’t feel like this psycho hose beast because I’m on meds because I finally realized by taking the meds, I can do the things that really affect me – yoga, meditating, writing, music, being a mom (not in any order). It’s these that build me up and make me who I am. The Lamictal is making it easier to do that, and I feel so good. I know I’m going to have a crash, it’s inevitable. But if 2016 & 2017 taught me anything, it’s: fall down 7 times, get up 8. 2015 was all about getting over my fears, and that has carried forward to now: I am finally getting over my biggest fear – myself! I’ve had my ass knocked down and handed to me so many times I’ve lost count, but my biggest enemy has always been me. I’m tired of fighting with myself; I just don’t have the energy.
I’ve finally come away from perfectionism, but I swung too far to the other side and became enabling and indulgent. So, true to the Libra nature, I’m seeking a balance between the two. That’s where Buddhism and philosophy have been helping me for a year now. Once I began identifying my cycles, I became terrified of the inevitable crashes. I think the worst depression episode I have had happened in April of this year. It made my other episodes look like child’s play. I’m weirdly grateful that happened because it made me stop being afraid of being depressed. Looking back, I think so much of my mania vs depression has been more overcompensating for depression vs. depression.
Maybe it’s a mom thing, maybe it’s a me thing, I don’t know, but I feel guilty as fuck when I am depressed. I feel like no matter what I do, I can’t do enough. It’s this never-ending game of catch up, where I’m a no legged man in an ass-kicking contest, and it’s my own ass I’m attempting to kick. Inevitably, I’m too tired, too beat down, too whatever to get anything done, and as it worsens, my depression worsens. That’s only focusing on chores and crap like that, not to mention actually important stuff like spending time with my kids or enjoying life. So, when I feel not depressed, I overcompensate for all the time I “wasted” depressed. This is actually an improvement this year because previously, I would behave as though I was manic when I was actually deeply depressed. I look back and I can’t even fathom how I did it. I read my statuses on Timehop, and I would find myself choking back tears on what I used to put myself through by not being honest with what I was going through.
It is incredible how much easier it is to say, “No, I don’t feel up to it today,” as opposed to my “Everything is fine!” and push myself until I feel akin to a roadkill rabbit smeared on the highway. I lied about everything to the point I don’t even know what the truth is anymore. My obsession with philosophy has helped me finally understand it doesn’t matter, it’s yesterday. Yet, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. As I start a new cycle, I’m not focused on perfection or even changing myself. Alan Watts would say, “Fix yourself? Why would you want to do that?”
At the same time, he and other Zen masters, and Perennial Man-child Kent Wayne say that discipline is what gives true freedom. Authenticity and freedom are all I truly seek. Freedom from these cycles, freedom from suffering, etc. Yet desire is the root of all suffering, so it’s not something I’m chasing, it’s something I create. I create freedom from all of this by building block by block the life I want or, maybe more accurately, the life I was born to live. Everything before was a web of lies – to myself and everyone around me. I tried my damnedest to fit in the boxes I belonged in, but it made me sick over and over again. The psychosis, if nothing else, showed me I can’t handle a double life, I can’t handle being anything but me now.
This time last year, I was still kind of scared to talk about Buddhism, the fact that I struggle with my brain, and despite appearances to the contrary, my shit is absolutely not together. I’m really happy to not have all those shits to give anymore. Alan Watts said in the seminar I listened to today (in addition to freedom in discipline), “The more you give control away, the more you realize you haven’t got a prayer, and you trust in the universe, instead of trying to control and bend to your will, you will find you have more energy, and more power, because you stop wasting your energy on self-defense” That’s really it. This time around the spiral, I’m pulling a 38 Special and holding on loosely. I’m not worried about ups or downs, and I’m not worried about opinions. I’m not really worried at all, and my anxiety is trying to get in there with “oh my gosh, you’ve clearly forgotten to worry about something!”
Nothing big is changing, but everything is changing. Good things are coming, I know it.
Thanks for reading! If you’re interested, here are some links:
Very, very gentle easy routine, and I find it really helpful when I’m feeling unstable
Amazingly relaxing and helpful guided meditation:
Alan Watts, of course