Confession: Falling Off & Getting Back On The Wagon

SO....I have some things to confess. I spent last week in a full blown episode of  (hypo?) mania & didn't even realize it until last night when I was laying in bed crying my eyes out, wondering why the heck I was feeling so low. I had felt so great earlier yesterday morning...but by midday the grey cloud of depression was hovering over my head, raining on my little euphoric parade.... Ahhhh euphoria. (Sigh) You know...I didn't even realize how high I had been until I had already crash landed back on Earth-or rather my couch...immobilized. Stuck. Heavy. Sleepy. Edgy. Here's the thing I've learned out being in a state of euphoria after this recent episode: it blinds you to the warning signs, the signals, the indicators that are flashing bright red, hoping you'll notice their warnings. And even if you're able to see the warnings, euphoria hits the mute button on the sounds of the sirens...they go from shrill to dull. Your inclination to care, your motivation to heed the signals loses it's edge, and before you know it you're rationalizing it away, allowing yourself to believe the lie that it's not happening-you're ok, it's no big deal, you're fine, you're just a little excited & happy & that's ok-you deserve to be happy for once don't you? Don't you?!

I should have paid attention. I should have fought harder to hold on to the edge I've gained the past 4-5 weeks. But I didn't. Instead I allowed myself to take a break from fighting.....

It started the week I was sick with the Plague. That's when I stopped fighting, mostly because I felt like pure hell & needed to get better. Problem is, I got better physically, but I started slipping in other areas. School took a hit-I missed some assignments & barely caught up. I started feeling anti-social & withdrew from people. My ex and I had an argument that led to him saying some things that crossed the line and hurt me deeply. He apologized the next day, but the damage was done-I spent last weekend struggling to cope-emotionally eating, drinking too much Moscato, & just trying to numb the hurt. Then last Monday when I got my refund from school, my excitement over being able to pay bills I was backed up on & buy some necessities for my apartment tipped me over the edge & into full blown euphoria.

Having money...getting paid...being able to pay bills, buy groceries, not having to worry about finances for a few gives me a high I don't really get from other things. Now I will say this: I'm pretty responsible with money in the respect that I pay my bills, especially the ones that are necessary to live-rent, daycare, groceries, etc-but I'm very irresponsible with what I have left over. I can't save.  And unlike other people, I don't spend it on Gucci bags, expensive electronics, clothes for myself....I spend it on little things that add up to big amounts. Instead of spending $15o at the grocery store, I'll spend $300. Seeing my cabinets & fridge full, knowing that we have food to eat gives me a high.  A simple furniture purchase might be a necessity, but the exhilaration I feel is more than the normal person would feel. I don't spend just to spend most of the time. Getting my nails done to feel better, buying the boys clothes they may need, going out to eat or buying something for my apartment....those are the things that make my spending habits a problem. Going to Wal-mart or Target can be a major problem when I'm in a state of euphoria.  The compulsion to buy even necessities becomes too strong, my resistance to impulses is weakened...telling myself, "I don't need this," or "I can get this later," is something I've only recently been able to start doing. When I don't have money to spend, I'm fine. But when I have it, and my basic bills are paid? Forget it. My mind races with ways it can be spend-literally.  Saving? (sigh) It's a skill I used to be somewhat good at & now I just flat out suck.

So like I said, last week, having that money....I paid what I needed to, I followed my "how to spend my refund check" list to the tee. But once it was all over, I found myself wanting to keep feeding the high because it felt so good, I felt so good, I felt capable, not unworthy or unwanted like the argument with my ex & stress had me feeling.  The euphoria had me feeling fantastic, but underneath it was the ugly undercurrent of emotions that were pushing me further & further away from the progress I had worked so hard to gain. I skipped my meds a few days this week. Big mistake. Stupid mistake. I kept telling myself I'd take them & then I'd get so caught up in the boys, in midterm semester assignments, in catching up, in the euphoric bliss & forget.

I messed up. I fell off the wagon last week. And my crash back to reality began Saturday night. I passed out on my couch unexpectedly after getting my hair done. Sunday morning I still felt good, but the cloud was midday it was hovering over me, darkening my mood & by evening I had fallen back into the gravity well of a depressive mood.  I cycled this past week. I cycled & didn't pay attention until it was too late to care or resist.

Here's the other thing I've learned about euphoria, cycling, & just living with this crazy beast: It's VITALLY important you have at least one person on the outside who can tell you (in love) what they see happening, what they see you doing. Someone who cares about you, but who is objective & can tell you the truth when you need it. For me, that person this past week was my ex. When I called him crying last night & feeling like crap, he confirmed for me what I had already started to realize: "Addy I've been so worried about you this week, because you've just seemed so high...and talkative....and....and a little manic...and then yesterday I could hear in your voice you were starting to dip...what happened? What are you feeling? What's wrong? Let's talk about it. I"m sorry...I think our fight helped trigger it, and I'm sorry for that. I'm sorry you've been struggling-talk to me. Have you been taking your meds? Have you been drinking too much?"

(Sigh) That's the kind of person you need in your life, and I'm glad I have him. We may not be together, we may fight, we may not see eye to eye, but I know that he cares about me and he wants me to be ok, because he can be that person for me when I really need it.  I'm also grateful for my neighbor who saw that I was upset late last night & stayed up talking to me, trying to help me smile & laugh. I need more people like that in my life.

I fell off the wagon. Today I'm trying to get back on. It's not easy. But I made a commitment to improving my mental health and despite this step back, I'm determined to regain the ground I lost. That's how recovery is sometimes: you take 2 steps forward & take one back. It sucks, but the point is to keep going in spite of the set backs. That's what I'm trying to do today.

I'm not perfect. I try but I fail sometimes ya'll. I have to do better, but I can admit when I don't. Writing this, and admitting these things were hard for me today...but I've gotta face the music.

So I'm off to go to the park & run. Gotta get back up & continue to streak my way back to the box. Here's to making it.

Table Talk Tuesday: College Mama pt 2

Last week I posted about my then upcoming Weekend of Welcome at my university & my concerns about how immersed I felt I could or should be because I'm older & a mama. Well, my ex agreed to stay at my place and watch both boys so I could attend all the festivities I wanted. (I know, even though he's my ex, he's awesome) So I attended various events last Thursday-Saturday. The mandatory ones were tedious & boring, my academic meeting was informative & gave me the dose of reality I needed (I'm going after a dual degree program), & some of the fun festivities were pretty rad.

Thursday night,  I wrestled over mattresses Steal the Bacon style with people 10 years my junior, got rained on repeatedly, & leap frogged the entire length of a soccer field during a crazy long relay race. My thighs started cussing me out halfway and were dead by the time I low-crawled over the finish line. (My team came in third place-GO BLUE! AUGUSTIVUS WOOOOHOOO! PBU! PBU!)

Friday there were more meetings and I was still barely able to move from the night before. When it came time to go home, I stayed home with the boys instead of going back out for that evening's social activities. Besides, Irene was on her way, so I had to prepare, grocery shop, you know, do Mama stuff.  Speaking of Irene, I should have listened to my gut Saturday morning when it told me to stay home instead of go to Philly with the rest of my incoming class. It was just a bad idea. Irene started pre-gaming in our area with lots of rain that left us all soaking wet....which pissed me off. Plus I've been to center city plenty enough this summer-I was less than enthused to be staring at the Liberty Bell & slogging my way to Reading Terminal dripping wet. The icing on the cake and perhaps the biggest indicator that I should have stayed home was the fact that I was in a reflective state of mind. Not really anti-social, but just withdrawn. I wanted to read & stew in my own thoughts....not really what I needed to be Socialite Sally for the day.

All in all I'm glad I was able to partake in pretty much everything. It gave me the chance to meet people & myself the chance to exercise some gut following. I automatically started to see what would work for me, what I could be involved in, & what I couldn't. I learned that when it comes to something like this, it's always best to follow your instincts-I know mine will tell me where to navigate to as I move forward this year.

Speaking of moving forward, let's skip over Irene & just stop at yesterday: my first day of classes. It was hectic, it was usual first day stuff, it was even surprising-some of the classes I thought would be heavy hitters & require hundreds of hours of writing this semester actually aren't. I was able to tie up loose ends around campus (like parking passes & financial aid)...but here's the thing. It all felt like a blur. Like it wasn't really happening. By the time I got home and fed the boys dinner, I couldn't even remember how I had managed to do so. It was only then that I realized my heart was pounding and that my thoughts were racing-had been all day. That I had been moving (and probably speaking at) the speed of light. The frantic pace and anticipation that came with the first day of classes had raised my anxiety to a certain level & I hadn't even realized it, because I felt so great the whole day. (Which, sound a tad like the euphoric feelings of mania, does it not?) And even though my body was tired, my mind was wired & in a very weird space, a little panicky, but I don't even think I can articulate it actually. I just know that I didn't feel right. I could also tell immediately that I wasn't going to be able to sleep. But that's just what I did. I put the boys to bed and then forced myself to 6:30.

This morning I woke up and realized that I'm a little scared about what it's going to take to tackle this semester. It's going to take me being on my A game, and I know I'm not. Not mentally. I'm still trying to get there. Medication is starting to help, and I start therapy next Tuesday....but trying to manage college life, motherhood, life in general, AND trying to get a manageable hold on a mood disorder (meds, exercise, therapy, etc)? MAN. That's alot. And I didn't even mention blogging.....

Can I do it. I believe I can. But the question, is how? I think my therapist will be able to help me develop some strategies (she's a cognitive behavioral therapist), but do you have any suggestions on how I can approach this? How do you balance it all & stay afloat? Especially you readers who do or have battled a mental illness, how did you take care of everything but also manage to take care of yourself at the same time? Any advice you can offer a mama?


A Control Freak Who Hates Being Controlled Lets Go

Confession: I can't handle being nagged, micro managed, or controlled to a degree that borders on unhealthy. I grew up with a control freak of a father so to me my inability to handle such things is no surprise. He made every decision from what I ate to what clothes I wore to how I did my hair.

Growing up this way made me determined to fight for and maintain some sort of independence for myself, almost to a fault I admit. Because I was robbed of the ability to think for myself as a child/teen, trying to learn to do so as an adult has been a challenging one, one that involves a lot of second guessing myself and my decisions as I navigate up the hill. I also appreciate people's advice and the wisdom they dispense but even if I totally agree with them, sometimes I just have to see/learn for myself. Not because I want to rebel or be defiant or think I know better, but because I'm trying to experience it so that I form my own conclusions and learn more about myself and my life. But don't get me wrong-I always keep the wisdom or advice I've been given in the back of my mind as a reminder or a gut check that tells me when I've gone far enough.

Being in the military, I was at a base where our every move was micro managed-It drove me and my co workers crazy. That's one reason why I didn't stay in. That's not to say I can't follow directions or listen to authority. I can and do, but when it starts to feel smothering or too restricting something in me can't take it.

When I come in contact with people who exhibit as much stubborness as me or control freak tendencies I usually reach a point where I just give in. I don't do well with power struggles-I figure if you want to call the shots that bad, who am I to prevent that? So after awhile it just drains me so I retreat, concede, and try to be as supportive as possible while praying for the best outcome.

So I grew up with a control freak dad, have had to fight for the ability to think for myself and have independence and don't deal well with being micro managed. Oh and I concede to those who's stubborness or need to control outweighs mine because I'd just rather let the other person have it.

All of this pretty much adds up to the fact that its hard for me to let God have control in my life. Surrendering and conceding to people is easy-I can physically see them and what they do. But I can't see God. Sure I feel Him, sense His presence when I worship Him or try to talk to Him. But I can't see Him, I can't see what He's doing, I can't peek over His shoulder and see what He's working on when it comes to my life. And that freaks me out. So that turns me into the control freak I despise. I become the resistor, the one who holds tightly to my independence and my constant need to figure it out on my own with an iron clad death grip. But at the same time my heart yearns to surrender, to let Him take control. Its just that from my experience the people I've given control of my life to (or they just took it) have just jacked it up or abused it, myself included.

So I'm trying, very hard to learn to let go. Loosen my grip. Let God do His thing and just trust in Him and not my own thoughts. I'm putting down the chisel and walking away from the urge to carve out my life and just let Him do it for me. His designs are better anyway. I mean afterall, I'm not handy with a hammer and nail-Jesus was a carpenter. I suck at drawing, God is the master illustrator, the ultimate creator.

And He keeps telling me that if I just let go and focus on Him, His design for my life will take shape and come to life. He knows what I want, what my heart desires, and although I didn't do it because I thought I knew better, I spent the past two years trying to carve it into what I thought it should be. I wanted to try and keep what I thought was my family together but well...I couldn't. Especially with a partner who was just as stubborn and controlling as me.

So I'm done fighting. Done carving. I'm letting go, I'm losing control. And praying that while I can't see what He's doing, He's working out the kinks in me and working out His plans for my life and that of my children.

Did I mention this is SCARY?! I'M FREAKING OUT!!!!!! UGH! Pray for a chic! :)


The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

THE GOOD:Took a trip to campus and the Langhorne PA area today to tie up some loose ends and secure housing for myself and the boys. Financial aid/VA all set to go, reserved a decently sized 2bdrm apartment for well within my budget, AND found the perfect daycare. Both apartment and daycare are a 5 minute ride to campus, and the daycare isn't going to require me selling my organs on the black market to pay for it. On a scale of 1-10 of awesomeness & success, I'd say the trip was an 11....the fact that one of my dear friends was with me and my afro was full of gorgeous ringlets was just the icing on the cake ;)

THE BAD: The first daycare I checked out sent my Mama ThreatCon level into the red-and I didn't even make into the building. A scan of the parking lot, outside play area and the miserable looking workers outside with the kids was all my gut needed to start screaming "NO, THIS ISN'T IT!!!" to my brain, who told my foot to hit the gas outta there. My neck has been killing me and that lump in my throat feeling was back with a pesky vengenance today. Ugh. Anxiety over all I needed to accomplish/look into today? Perhaps.

THE UGLY: Angry (ie PISSED, ENRAGED). Embarrassed. Shame. Confused. Resentful. Disgusted. Betrayed. Hurt. Unworthy. "AAAAAGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!" Add that all up and it equals the state of my emotions. And hearing these words: "I know it's not under the circumstances you want/wanted, but..." only makes the intensity level of said emotions worse. ("So what are you saying? I'm the only one who wanted this? That's how you're going to spin it? Ok. FINE.") But I'll just keep squaring my jaw, taking the hits and keep going inspite of the pain. You know what they say, "you don't know what you've got til its gone." And I'm going, going...GONE baby.

'Fessing Up

"Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed". -James 5:16 MSG

“Our lives are a collection of stories – truths about who we are, what we believe, what we come from, how we struggle, and how we are strong. When we can let go of what people think, and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness – the feeling that we are enough just as we are, and that we are worthy of love and belonging." -Brene Brown, Ph.D.

I'm a big believer in the power of transparency and being able to be honest with ourselves & others. I know lots of people who disagree, but I think sharing the stories of who we are & what we go through can help us get through life a little easier, no matter what our differences may be. That's probably why I love projects like Post Secret & connect so strongly with Brene Brown's  work as well as her ideas about living a wholehearted & authentic life. (I'm currently reading her books and have enjoyed her TED Talks a great deal). I think being honest with ourselves & transparent with others provides the environment needed for compassion & empathy to grow & thrive. And who couldn't use some more of that in their lives?

 I understand it's not easy to lay our thoughts, feelings & emotions bare for others to see (or read). Letting others see our humanity, having people bear witness to our struggles can be difficult and risky business. But I also know that doing so can help other people understand that they aren't alone, and I think it's so important for everyone to have a space where they have the freedom to do that. For you, that space might be in prayer, meditation, talking with that one friend who's a great listener, a journal....For me it's prayer-just simple, on going conversations with God-and writing. Growing up I always wanted to have a place where I could just let it all out-the good, bad, & the downright ugly, and this blog is just that.

So what about you? What are your thoughts? In the spirit of these beliefs, I'd like to try something new here on Butterfly Confessions. I've created a space called "The Confessional" where you can share whatever you want. Have something to get off your chest, or a random thought to share?  It doesn't have to be heavy or serious in nature. It can be something funny, whimsical, can also be sad, angry, or on any topic. I'm serious. ANYTHING.

If you do and would like to share over at The Confessional, email me:

bconfessions at gmail dot com.

Think "Real World" or Post Secret, but without the cameras & post cards. 'Fess up in no more than 3-5 sentences. All submissions will be posted anonymously, so you don't have to worry or fear anyone knowing you said it.

What's that you say? Will I be posting my own little confessions here? Yup you betcha-I'll add my name to 'em so you know they're from me :) So go ahead, what are you waiting for?