Did you hear or did you listen?

Can we hear but not listen? Or listen without hearing? Who determines the meaning of each when we talk to someone who doesn't pay attention to what we say?

I feel bad when someone chooses to stay hurting instead of working to improve themselves so they're happy. But if they don't want to work as hard at getting better as they do at staying down, then what more can anyone do?

Fighting the demons of mental illness is not easy. But if we don't want to struggle every single day of our lives, then fighting is the way to go.

Make a change

When someone says they are going to change, do you believe them? Are you ready to help them? How much effort do you put into helping them? Most importantly, do you know when to stand back and let them do the work on their own?

Most people have talked about making a change at some point in their lives. The question is, how serious are they?

Consider someone who has made the same mistake several times. He doesn't seem to learn. Yet each time, he is adamant he will never do that same thing again. And within months, he has walked right into the same situation.

I wonder, then, if he really meant what he said. And how much effort should I expend when he isn't, unless that's his point--to get me to fix his problems for him. But here's the thing: that ain't gonna happen. He has to fix himself.

Words

Words have the ability to brighten our day when we're down. Spoken from someone we love, they can erase the negatives we see and replace them with positives. Our lives are enriched by others who take the time to share the very words that brought them through the darkness.

How true is it, then, that words can erase the sunshine from our day? Can our loved ones replace our positives and erect a darkness within us just with words?

Yes.

Words have the ability to change our moods in seconds. They erect a barrier of negatives, chase away any positives within us, and leave us in a tunnel of darkness.

We cannot erase the spoken word. But we can help erase the negative moods surrounding those we love.

Hard to share?

How difficult was it for you to tell others about your bipolar? Is it still hard to share? I compare talking about the disorder to discussing diabetes or cancer. We have the disorder/disease. We didn't ask for it. If we cannot freely say "I'm bipolar/I have bipolar" then the disorder owns us. We fear what others might think yet we wouldn't have that same thought about a heart disease, would we?

I discovered the more times I said I was bipolar, the more powerful I felt. Taking control and owning up to that diagnosis gave me the strength I needed to win over mood changes and other symptoms.

I happen to have bipolar. The disorder doesn't have me.


Control our moods

The brain is complicated. Or maybe it's simple and we make it complicated. The mood swings can affect how we think, changing how our brain functions, and even how we behave.

I've been told many times I think too much. My brain never stops, though. I have letters, words, even full sentences running through my head when I sleep. Multitasking is something I do well, with my brain ten steps ahead of the task at hand.

Bipolar moods hit in a second. They change how my brain works. They try to control my brain. But I control my brain . . . and therefore, my moods.

Time for new posts

Is illness an excuse for a lapse in posts? Or did so much time pass when I was sick that posting fell out of my routine? Either way, the posts haven't been updated for far too long. However, with the beginning of 2015 comes the hope for a new start on Healing Benches. Time to put on my thinking cap, dust off the typewriter, and get to work!

Multitasking

Multitasking. How well are you at managing three or more tasks at once? Can you have several screens open on the computer at the same time?

I'm often in the middle of several things at once. While writing/editing, I may have a couple of chat windows open on Facebook, as well as be playing a poker game, adding another post to this blog, or reading the daily news on CNN. Seldom do I get confused.

Yet there are times I'll be writing/editing and become so absorbed with the work that I forget all other screens. Am I rude? In a way, yes. On the other hand, when the creativity flows, I let it go. As an author, I would be foolish to stop when the writing is going well.

Multitasking has many supporters, just as it has numerous people against it. Does bipolar make any difference in whether one can multitask or not? Maybe I'll Google that the next time I'm busy. 

Sleep

The sounds of nature . . . and semis traveling along the highway . . . keep me company. My brain continues to work even though I tried to slow it down. Each time I put something away, the calmness settles in a little bit more.

I look around. Stand. Walk a few feet. Sit back at the desk. And a minute later, repeat each step. Not once. Or twice. But a dozen times. There's nothing left to put away. Nothing more to clean. The OCD made sure of that earlier.

What keeps my brain from shutting down to rest? When will my body become so tired I drift into sleep? It's not the sound of the semis, although they are annoying. It's not my brain, even though it could use a good cleaning,

Why am I awake then? I don't need to be. I want to sleep. The bed is open.  It's 5 AM. Sleep is not friends with bipolar.

Speak up

When someone mentions bipolar, there is often a negative stigma attached. Yet the disorder shouldn't be considered any worse than a heart or kidney condition. Each has a distinguished set of symptoms to manage. Yet with the right combination of medication, therapy, and counseling, bipolar isn't any different than any other medical issue. They all need professionals to help us, time to learn triggers, and a conscious effort to keep them under control.

But how we react when someone mentions our disorder is an important part as well. I find it difficult to understand why people are embarrassed to talk about their symptoms. We did not ask for this any more than someone asked for cancer or diabetes. Yet people discuss the problems with those medical issues with strangers even.

The disorder doesn't define who we are. The symptoms are not our characteristics or traits. The disorder is a condition we cannot change. But we can change how others perceive it by talking freely about how we feel or how the symptoms affects us.

Speak up. Share with others. You never know who might be struggling in silence.

Let it go

So you had a rough day. You had a low. Or as some people prefer to say, you crashed. But you made it through, regardless how you did it. That's the positive side.

The negative is not moving on afterward. The low is over. It doesn't exist anymore. You conquered the symptoms. Yet the constant references give it more power than it deserves.

I understand the low. I know what it's like to have that crash. I also know you haven't fully beaten it until you stop adding pieces of it into every conversation. Let it go. Just . . . let it go.

Bipolar as a Blessing?

I'm lucky. Sure, I have the medical diagnosis called bipolar disorder. Granted, I have rough days, mood swings, and sleepless nights. I learned to fight, though, and discovered what triggered some of the problems. Each challenge I faced because of my bipolar has given me an added dose of compassion, understanding, and patience.

You might think that's the lucky part. It isn't.

My disorder gives me the strength to guide others who are still looking for ways to fight. And I've mentioned how I pay it forward in past posts.
 
The people I met on this journey . . . they're why I'm lucky. Each one is a blessing in my life.


****


For more on how others "Pay it Forward", check the latest issue of The Write Place at the Write Time, including my submission using my pen name JaeLynn Topper, at the following link:



http://www.thewriteplaceatthewritetime.org/payitforward.htmlhttp://www.thewriteplaceatthewritetime.org/payitforward.html






Our Fight

The fight against bipolar is one we cannot accomplish alone. Yet, we cannot rely on others to do our fighting for us.

If that sounds confusing, then maybe I can make it a bit clearer.

Anyone with bipolar benefits from a support system. That can be family, close friends, or someone they know online. Each way has positives . . . and negatives.

Family may want to help. They may believe they're helping. But if they don't understand bipolar and the layered levels of the disorder's symptoms, they might not be much help. The same goes for friends, in person or online.

Often the best people to help someone struggling through one of the highs or lows of bipolar are those who have gone through the very same things. They can relate in ways others cannot.

If you don't have bipolar but still want to help someone you love, then do your research. Study the disorder. Find reputable websites with factual and proven information. Learn what triggers a mood change in your loved one. Find ways to keep those triggers away. Most importantly, never stop learning. But know that the true fight comes from your loved one. He/she is the one who has to push the darkness down and climb out of the pit. Just be standing at the top, ready to give them a hug . . . and your full support.


Fear (a poem)



Jumbled thoughts
They scream for attention
A piece here, there
Unsure what they say

A scramble for the front
They fight amongst each other
Confusion paves the way

Not able to hear
The words garbled
Panic takes over


Fear won




8/11/06
revised 5/20/14

Winning (a poem)

How do you stop them
turn off your brain
not let them win
or be allowed to remain

How do you change thoughts
in the middle of it all
maybe hearing a friend
even through a phone call

Can you lose them
throw them away
make your life better
day after day

Knowing what to do
then strong enough to do it
so when the crash is over
you know you have won

8/08/06


These words might not mean anything to some readers. I don't remember my frame of mind when I wrote them, though, so I can't talk about that day. But I can speak for now. Mood swings don't just effect the person with the disorder. They extend to family, friends, others who see them each day. If you are at the bottom and just live day to day, then maybe you aren't fighting. 

The moods don't magically go away. They don't decide to run along and leave you alone. No, the moods dig in and try to take over. You have to control them, instead of letting them control you. That's not as hard as it sounds, either. Go outside and throw old shoes at the garage. Then laugh at the silliness of what you just did. Feel the weight of that mood lift as you gather those shoes. And wave at the neighbor who's trying to decide what the heck you just did. Or, you could leave them outside and let the neighbor's goat enjoy them for dinner. Now that should lighten your mood. 


Moods

How do you change your mood? Can you switch a bad mood into a good one just by willing it to happen? Or do you need to force the change?

I've had my fair share of mood swings. And I'll have more. When I do, I try to discover the trigger and the solution. One is often easier to find than the other. The trigger is emotional, something with a deep meaning that hits me in my heart. That makes the solution an emotional one, then, as well.

Dealing with emotions isn't easy. Add bipolar to the mix and it can be twice as hard. But here's the thing. Releasing those emotions can have such a healing effect. Cry, laugh, yell, or scream. Feel the pain leave your body. Feel the joy enter your soul.

Emotions and mood swings. A great combination.