I recently sold this oil pastel drawing shown above, but I wanted to share it because it is one of my favorite pieces I have done recently. If you can’t tell, the image is of a person and a little dog walking through a rainbow world (which represent happiness and life), but ahead of them lies the darkness of depression and they either don’t see it coming, or are impelled to continue walking, perhaps against their own will.
As someone who struggles with bipolar type 2 and chronic severe depressive episodes, this is clearly a personal feeling conjured into a visual image. I thought I would share though, because I bet some of you can relate to it too.
Yesterday I had a genuinely good day! My husband and I went to a little new age shop that is always fun to browse through. I love all that metaphysical “woo woo” stuff, and got some cool new candles, an awesome black skull container, and a book on aromatherapy. After that, we visited a local Native American mounds park, with a beautiful waterfall:
For lunch, we stopped at a quaint little pizza place, which sat us next to an old fireplace with ice skates hanging on it (I love little details like that!):
After eating, we drove by an old neighborhood park near a river and decided to stop and check it out. They had really old playground equipment, like the stuff I grew up with! I couldn’t resist the temptation to play on their bouncy toys:
Or climb to the top of the jungle gym:
I also played on their old, flat board swingsets and a big, bouncy dinosaur that looked a lot like Barney. After playing, we took a walk along the river. I did fall at one point and woke up with a huge bruise on my thigh today. I knew I would be extremely sore today after all that activity, but it was worth it! Days like that make life worth living.
Maybe I should have suspected yesterday that when I was feeling so good, it might be me slipping into hypomania a bit. As the evening wore on, I could tell that the good mood was going a little bit off the rails. I started feeling extremely antsy and a bit hyper. I may have started driving my husband a bit nuts by constantly asking him silly questions and yelling across the house to him.
Suddenly, I found myself with too many thoughts and plans in my head to concentrate on any of them. I felt pressure to get lots of stuff done, even though there was really no need to do them all right now. By the time bedtime rolled around, I really didn’t want to take my medicine (Seroquel) because I knew it would make me go to sleep and I didn’t feel like sleeping, I felt like staying up all night to clean out and reorganize the spare bedroom.
Fortunately, I listened to the little voice of warning in my head that told me that if I didn’t take the medicine, it might feel good to stay up all night right now, but that this could easily spin out of control again like it has in the past when I have gone days without sleep and even ended up hospitalized. So I DID take the medicine and went to sleep. However, even today I can feel the traces of hypomania hanging around, trying to convince me to just throw caution to the wind and enjoy the high.
I really should know better by now. I really should learn to just disengage with ignorant or narrow-minded people who refuse to even consider any viewpoint but their own. I should learn that it takes away from my happiness and peaceful life by wandering into pointless debates with people who I know I’m never going to get to even consider an idea that has any nuance or depth to it.
My therapist today encouraged me to disengage from these people, to stop letting them level personal attacks at me over simple differences of opinion. If I want to stop being bullied or pushed around, I have to stop allowing it. Of course, none of this applies to you guys (my blog followers), but more has to do with people on other social media who I happen to be acquaintances with in my real life. Even if they are distant familial relations, I have no obligation to let them project their crazy, illogical, rigid way of thinking onto me.
If you are going to tell me that I am evil, immoral, or dishonest just because I don’t believe what you believe, I really don’t need you in my life.
For a while I’ve been wanting to start posting occasional writing prompts to my blog. Just a question or two or a spark of an idea to hopefully inspire you guys to take up your pen/pencils/keyboard and write out your thoughts and feelings. Even if you aren’t a writer by profession like myself, writing out your ideas, beliefs, and emotions can be extremely therapeutic. I plan to post the prompt itself and then do a short writing response myself to the prompt to hopefully inspire you further or help you get to know me even better. So today’s prompt is…
What would you envision as a happy ending to your own life?
My response: If I could plan the perfect ending to my life, it would look something like this: Most importantly, I would die loved and surrounded by people who will genuinely miss me. I hate to think of hurting people by leaving when they want me to stick around, but it is much better than the alternative of dying all alone and having either no one to care or having a funeral where only the officiator shows up.
Secondly, I would like to go out a success. What does that mean to me? Not being rich necessarily, although it would mean not dying penniless or homeless or from starvation and lack of medical care. I would have enough resources to meet my needs and a few pleasures on a regular basis. I would die having left a large positive impact on the world, being respected for what I did, inspiring others to be more creative and compassionate, and having contributed to helping many people think about important things more thoroughly and reasonably.
Lastly, a good death to me would mean that all the people and things I loved and leave behind (family, friends, books, toys) will all have found good homes of their own and others who appreciate and love them as much as I did.
For the last few days, my husband and I have been out of town, attempting to squeeze in a little vacation before summer ends. We didn’t go too far away from home, just enough to see some new sights and break up the monotony of our normal routine. While away, I bought a new book entitled “My One Line A Day”. The book is similar to a journal or diary but is set up a little differently. Each day for the next three years, I am supposed to write one line about my day in the appointed spaces in the book, leaving an interesting record to keep and reflect on after the three years are over. Honestly, I’m not sure if I will remember to write every single day, but I figured since I only had to write one line every day, that I could hopefully handle that.
I am currently on my third day writing in the book and I have noticed something interesting. First of all, it can be hard to sum up an entire day in one or two sentences! For this reason, I have decided to focus on the “highlight” or “happiest” thing I remember from each day. Interestingly, I have found that the highlights I remember are not the big things. What made me happiest the last few days wasn’t the tourist attractions, the big events or acquiring new “stuff”. Instead, I wrote about spotting a snapping turtle in a tiny runoff from a nearby creek and feeding sparrows bits of my bagel at an outdoor café. I haven’t written my line for today yet, but again I think it will probably be one of the smaller things, such as seeing my cats again after being away for several days or the delicious decadence of enjoying a chocolate covered strawberry.
I am definitely interested to see how this little project keeps going over time. It is amazing when you truly pause to think about what made you happiest on a particular day. I would encourage everyone to try something similar and see what you come up with. You may be surprised to find out what brings you the most joy and what doesn’t seem to matter that much at all by the end of the day. If you want to get one of these books for yourself to chronicle your next three years, you may be able to pick one up at your local bookstore or you can order one from Amazon or another online retailer.