February 15, 2016 by Courtney
Like I wrote in my last post, my doctor told me he wouldn’t give up until I no longer have symptoms of Bipolar II. I am so thankful for a doctor that has faith that this is attainable. Until he said that last Monday, I thought I would always live with the symptoms to some degree.
As the new dose and new med are getting into my system, I’m beginning to feel more stable and balanced than ever before. This new stability is helping me see something that I’ve never seen/understood before.
I have struggled with balance in every area of my life for as long as I can remember. Food, exercise, alcohol, weight obsession, and even cleaning and laundry. I’ve had an all or nothing attitude about everything.
I ate perfect (obsessing), or I ate terrible. I exercised 2-3 hours a day (doing exercise that I hated) or not at all. I have been obsessed with my weight since I was a kid. I focused on it completely or gave up. I had too much alcohol too often, or I didn’t have any. I had a spotless house, or I had a house that was trashed.
As I’m becoming more stable I’m realizing that it is possible to have balance in these areas, and I’m finally coming to that balance that I’ve always desired.
Recently, I’ve started exercising 4-5 days a week. Karis and I hike for an hour each afternoon. I love hiking most of all, and even though it’s not strength training, I’m okay with that. I eat healthy much of the time, but I don’t fret over a piece of cake or sugar in my coffee. I eat when I’m hungry. I try not to eat out of emotion. I eat more intuitively than ever before. I eat and exercise for health rather than weight loss. I learned that some of my issue with weight is out of my control because of medication, and I’m learning to accept that. It’s really cool that my Fitbit shows my resting heart rate over time, and it has slowly been decreasing, which is huge! I have beer (or wine) a few times a week, and when I do, it’s just a few. I don’t drink to cope anymore, which was a huge issue when I was in the thick of things. My doctor told me it’s really common for people with high anxiety to drink to cope because it takes it away for a time. But the downfall of that is that it can lead to addiction, and it’s really bad for you. It also doesn’t help with weight issues :-). There are so many more healthy ways to cope and take care of yourself, and I’m learning to practice those things. So, I don’t feel like I need it anymore like I used to. Instead of drinking alcohol, I drink my favorite hot tea or coffee (decaf at night). I play a game with my kids or Robert. I journal. I sit on the porch and enjoy the evening. I chat with friends. I go for a hike. I clean. I spend time planning for homeschooling or researching homeschooling curriculum (the nerd in me enjoys these things). I cook or bake. I write. There are so many more things that I can do for self care and to cope with feeling bad. If none of these things work, I take medication designed to help with anxiety instead of drinking. It’s made a world of difference for me!
My prayer now is that this balance in my moods and every area of my life stays this way. I have heard of many people finding the right combination of medications and things stay great. I’ve also heard of people finding the right combination and it ends up not working as well down the road. So, I’m just taking it one day at a time. If nothing else, I’m learning more about myself every day. I am able to control things better with the wisdom and knowledge that I have gained, and I have also learned a lot about practicing self care… the most important part of my day as far as I’m concerned.
The most important part of all of this is that God has led me to the right doctor, a great counselor, and great friends and family to support me and help me through all of this. I feel that God has a purpose and a plan for all that I have gone through and continue to go through. I have seen Him work in my life and the lives of my friends because of my illness.
Being this open and vulnerable is really hard sometimes. I have the fear of what people will think of me. But I have found over time that vulnerability is courage, and that courage is what helps others. It’s worth it if I help one person to feel encouraged through my vulnerability.