If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I have a long, disturbing history with Bipolar Disorder. Through countless hours of therapy, endless cocktails of psychotropic medications, measureless pools of tears, and unfathomable depths of darkness for more than a decade of my life, I somehow found my way to the other side, to a brighter life, to the life I had always wished for. And through this process not only have I discovered myself, but I also learned some very effective coping skills. Being proud of myself for how far I have come in the healing process, I like to share what I have learned in the hopes that it can help make someone else’s life a little easier.
*This post is a collaboration called All Choked Up initiated by Sheela of Sheela Writes and including Eve of The World According to Eve, Debbie of Fashion Fairy Dust, Lisa of The Sequinist, and of course, myself.
I am by no means naive in the world of mental illness. Quite the contrary, I am very well-versed…having lived it and then moved on to study it. I do know quite a bit about the struggle that is mental illness, but I also know quite a bit about the power that lies within each and every person to help themselves through the darkness. I think sometimes, however, we get so lost in the forest that we simply cannot see the tree of knowledge. So I am going to share some of the leaves from said tree…in essence, I am the student who has become the teacher.
Please don’t think that I am so ignorant to believe that what has worked for me will work for everyone else. Every person has to travel their own path and our journeys are so very personal. But I do believe if something has worked for me that it may work for someone else. I also know that it is damn well worth a try! And if there is even the slightest glimmer of light at the end of the darkness, well then, that is all the hope you need.
In recent weeks, I have found myself discussing this topic with a few different people and it struck me that I need to write about it. I know that I have mentioned in previous posts about the importance of “feeling the feels.” But I want to go deeper. Deeper into the power of feelings.
Our emotions are like women and their hormones. They have power. Like a lot of power. And if we refuse to give a particular feeling its moment in time, its moment to be recognized, that feeling will become angry and vengeful. For real. Like a downright royal bitch to be exact. And it will perpetuate and grow in its anger. And then it will choke you. Figuratively and literally. Anyone who has ever had a panic attack has experienced the literal choking by an angry emotion ignored. So my tip is this…do not ignore your feelings. They don’t like it. And they are mean little buggers.
So what do you do with this information? You do this…when you have a horrible, miserable, negative emotion set upon you like a thief in the night, let it in. Welcome it like a beautiful, disturbed, mysterious woman. But let it in with the knowledge that it is just visiting and while it may try to overstay its welcome like an unwanted guest, you have the power to ask it to leave. But not before you give it its moment. When an unwanted feeling comes knocking, open the door, welcome it, but draw your explicit boundaries with it as well. Let it know that it has as much time as it needs, but no longer. You will not play host to misery forever.
And it kind of works like this…you feel totally depressed and self-deprecating. Feel it. Humor it. Wallow in it even. But all the while talk yourself through it. Yes, talk to yourself and to your emotions. Say things like, “Okay, I feel miserable right now and I am hating myself. So I’m going to sit and feel that way. But when I have felt this way in the past, I have always come back around to feeling better again. So go ahead, you miserable thoughts and feelings, and have your moment. Take your time. But know that you will not break me.” I swear this works!
The same is true of anxiety and panic attacks. Recognizing them is 90% of the battle. Talk to the panic. Tell it that it’s okay to visit for a brief time, but then it must go. By allowing it to wash over you rather than resist it, you are essentially taking away all of its power. Once I learned how to do this…in the middle of an anxiety attack…the attacks became shorter and shorter in duration. Like minutes. This method worked in half the time as popping an anti-anxiety pill. And eventually, the panic just stopped. And the need for medication has ceased. I can’t even remember the last time I had an attack. Or taken a pill. It has been that long.
Just to keep it real, I want to share this quick experience. A few weeks ago, I woke up in the morning feeling utterly worthless. I am no stranger to this feeling, for sure. In fact, I spent years living like this. Which in hindsight is a blessing because when it came upon me again a few weeks ago, I was able to recognize it. And in my head, I said, “Well, hello, old friend. I haven’t seen you in quite some time. And to be frank, that is okay because I don’t really like you. But if you must be here, then be here. But I know you will tire of me just as I will tire of you. And then you will be on your way again.”
When I look back on the person I was ten years ago, this little visit from Worthlessness would have sent me into a weeks long episode of depression complete with a multitude of booze consumed and pills eaten…and oftentimes a visit to the hospital. But I am not that person. And I allowed Worthlessness to visit. And then it left…just like I knew it would…before I went to bed that very night. I suppose it got just as bored of me as I was of it. Because I would not give it the satisfaction of the fight that it came seeking. So, farewell, Worthlessness, until we meet again. And we will meet again. We always do. Because feelings always come back around. You just need to become more adept at handling them. And better at asking them to leave.
Never give your emotions the power to choke you. Because they have that much power if you permit it. *(I am not a licensed a counselor. I speak only from personal experience. If you are in crisis, which is totally different, please call your local emergency number.)
Top: Target (I bought this a year or two ago).
Skirt: Cato Fashions Lace Maxi Skirt
Shoes: Kohl’s (These are from last year).
Bag: Old Navy (From last fall).
Choker and Bangle Bracelet: I have had both of these for about as long as I have had feelings.
Watch: Churchill Timber Watch.
Now let’s take a look at the fabulous bloggers who have collaborated with me in styling our chokers! Thank you to Sheela for arranging the whole thing!
While you are giving your emotions their moment in time, please stop by and give these gorgeous ladies their moment as well and check out their take on the choker.
Sheela (Sheela Writes) is ravishing in her teal maxi dress!
And Eve (The World According to Eve) is all about the sass in her graphic tee and camo shirt.
Debbie (Fashion Fairy Dust) is a supreme combination of sophisticated, chic, and total bad ass. I have a big ole blogger crush on her right now! (Just acknowledging my feelings!)
While Debbie is badass, Lisa (The Sequinist) is all class. So stunning in black sequins.
*This post may contain affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission if you click on these links and make purchases. It costs you nothing and supports my website. All opinions expressed are my own and are in no way influenced by any compensation that may be received. Thank you for your support.
*Photo credit to my friend Amy, photo extraordinaire of 5 Memory Lane. Thank you, dear friend, for putting up with my crazy outfit photo sessions. You are always patient, and kind, and oh so brilliant!
Taking a breather on the edge,
Linking up with These Fabulous Link Ups Where I Link Up