Monday, April 14th, 2014 | Author:

I realize nothing I’m about to celebrate is going to sound like a big deal, but in our house, it is. In the reality that is my mind, everything is different and it is incredible the serenity we’re experiencing because of it.

I haven’t had a fit of deep, dark, dreadful depression in months. I haven’t had that overwhelming, nauseating feeling of anxiety in almost as long, although, I have experienced a little anxiety in small doses – nothing crippling or overwhelming that I couldn’t work with, though. There have been no catastrophic outbursts or the feeling that I’m going to die sometime soon; there have been no evenings of writhing in pain while my mind blares a screen over my consciousness. There hasn’t even been that feeling of heavy sagging in my chest when my brain habitually flits to things that usually make me sad or angry. There’s just been peace.

And in that time, I’m getting up and getting things done around the house that aren’t done in manic fits or with an all-or-nothing agenda. I’ve gotten the yard under control and the house in order in the course of a week while still stopping to nap or veg out with some chocolates and VICE documentaries. My body isn’t what I want it to be (I’m in the throes of changing medications from this one that has caused me to blow up in the last year), but I haven’t wasted any time crying about how humongous I am; I’m just going to the gym and eating what I want without any guilt or shame.

I know, okay? I realize that getting up and functioning every day is hardly something a 30-year-old should feel proud about, but I do. It’s tremendous.

I’ve NEVER been like this as an adult. Not ever. Since the Crazy started some 20-ish years ago, I’ve been all intense-energy-then-crushing-depressions one after the other. I’ve been “I’m CHANGING this time!” for a couple weeks then back into guilt and shame and messy apathy. It’s been endless and awful and taxing and has stunted my ability to perform like a competent human for entirely too long.

But, instead of being all indignant that “THIS time is DIFFERENT, dammit!” I’m really feeling peaceful and comfortable. And that’s what’s so weird about it to me. It just feels normal instead of something I’m triumphantly powering forward with. For example, getting simple things done like the dishes used to take a large amount of centering and deep breathing and meditating to power through the agonizing, physically-painful anxiety that came along with it, so finishing it always felt like the end of a marathon. Now, it just sort of gets done without any fanfare.

I don’t know what exactly has changed in me, but I’m happy it has. It’s what I’ve been waiting/working/praying for for as long as I can remember; I didn’t actually think I was capable of having this sort of temperance, given that I’d been diagnosed as all these things that are considered “incurable.” I think having heard that I was “bipolar” or “chronically depressed” or “BPD” or otherwise “mentally ill” and being told that it never goes away is what kept me in misery way, way longer than I needed to be.

I’m glad I’ve waited it out to finish the book I’ve been slowly working on all these years. I have a different message to get out now than I did even a year ago, and, while I need to spend more time being healthy and leveled-out to have a solid perspective from which to narrate, I’m so grateful that I am at a place I can work from to share this sort of hope, instead of the “This is common and it sucks, but you’re not alone.” thing that happens too often in those types of memoirs.

Anyway, I digress. Things are different. It’s changing everything about my lifestyle and my family and it’s been so good on a really normalized, unsensational way. A lack of wild excitement might seem really boring, but, frankly, I’m just so relieved to be out of the intense highs and lows and the constant mental noise of it all that I’d be willing to maintain this light, airy, even-paced demeanor for years. Long walks, quiet cups of tea, yoga, gardening, art projects, and early bedtimes every day? Bring it on. As long as I’m not fighting demons away regularly, living like a senior citizen sounds FANTASTIC.

Thursday, March 06th, 2014 | Author:

My spirit-sister texted me at 2 a.m. this morning to see if I wanted to do a bicoastal meditation session like we’d been wanting to for a couple months now, even though she thought I probably wouldn’t be up. However, I’d been caught up in my brain pummeling me with what seemed to be a marathon of self-loathing that has been plaguing me for a while now in a pit that seems to be slowly deepening. I immediately agreed and went about setting up the ritualistic sacred space accouterments.

We set an end-time and started tuning in, but my brain just wouldn’t stop with the shit-talking and panic and sadness. I found myself begging my Higher Power for a little peace.

“Please take this from me. I feel so lost and removed from anything spiritual. I feel so disconnected and alone. I can’t stop failing. I can’t keep myself consistent. I can’t commit to anything. I am so ashamed. I am so sorry. I am so sorry.”

It didn’t take long before I was doubled over, crying, and just begging for a a moment’s peace. In the recent weeks, all my meditations have been constantly interrupted with inner noise, even though I’ve been throwing myself into conscious living techniques to no avail. I suddenly felt desperate that it wouldn’t happen despite my best efforts.

Something caused me to engage with a vision and I watched it play out until I was interrupted by my cat at the exact time we were due to wrap up the session.

My friend and I were both pretty exhausted, but she wanted to tell me the important parts of her meditation before she went to bed so she wouldn’t forget them. In hers, she saw me chanting, “Semper domus. Semper erasmus.“, which is strange because she doesn’t speak “Greek or Latin or whatever that was.” Neither do I.

My online searches were quick to return answers. These phrases directly translate to, “Always home. Always loved.”

I couldn’t stop myself from sobbing in the presence of such profound Grace.
My mind and body are at peace right now.
Finally.

Friday, February 21st, 2014 | Author:

“There’s nothing wrong with you, Liz,” she said.

For 11 years now, I’ve begged therapists to help me figure out what is wrong with me. Ever since my adolescent depression caused me to stop being That Kid Who Did and Was Wildly Successful at Practically Everything, I started being disappointing, and “difficult”, and I wondered what the hell was suddenly wrong with me that I was miserable and unable to complete things that used to be so easy?

Why am I not yet back to being that overachiever after all this therapy and all these medications and all this meditation and all this self-help crap and all of this “recovery”? Why am I still crippled with anxiety and guilt to the point that I barely accomplish anything on a day-to-day basis? Why do I keep trying to change my lifestyle only to wildly go flying back off the rails when my mind inevitably says, “Oh, fuck this.”? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME?!

Laureen, my current therapist, is the first person in the entire time I’ve been struggling with this to ever look at me, smile, and say, “There is nothing wrong with you.”

She said this on our second meeting together after she’d been listening to my husband discuss the constant roller coaster of insanity I’d kept us on for the year before when he’d been seeing her by himself. I scoffed and thought, “Well, she doesn’t know me yet; she’ll figure it out soon enough.”

But, months later, she still continues with this MO – that there’s nothing wrong with me at all.

And it’s been more effective in changing my life than any other therapy I’ve ever experienced.

I’ve tried for 17 years now to change myself. Constantly. I’m constantly convinced that if I start making myself do some other radical change every single day, I’m going to be “better.” I’ve tried countless diets (I’ve lost and gained the same 30 lbs roughly 12 times now…totally healthy, right?); I’ve decided I’m going to abstain from countless indulgences; I’ve tried putting myself on schedules and/or trying to adhere to routines; I’ve tried saying that I’m going to try to do the same thing every day/week as a means to make myself better. And then I can’t. And I’m submerged in this guilt and feeling of defeat: What is wrong with me that I can’t adhere to a schedule “like everyone else”? Why can’t I say, “I’m gonna work out/do yoga/practice one of my musical instruments/clean house/stay at 1,500 calories every day!” and stick to it? Why can’t I decide to abstain from something like chocolate or social media or something harmless and actually stick with it? Why do I always try to kick these habits and then fly wildly off track and overindulge over and over? What is WRONG with me?

And only recently have I dared to think, “Nothing. There’s nothing wrong with me.”

I’m just different than what I was raised to believe I needed to be. I can’t clean the house a little each day or once a week or on some sort of schedule if I set it out, but it always gets done; it’s never been filthy or in total disarray. I can’t stay on a regimented diet, but when I stopped thinking about it a few years ago, I lost a ton of weight and was at my smallest, most energized, and healthiest; I didn’t have any desire to put a lot of crap into my system. I can’t abstain from things I really love because, inherently, I don’t believe in it; it’s like Erma Bombeck said, “Seize the day. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.” And it isn’t reverse psychology; if you were to tell me I could never ever drink root beer or shoot/smoke heroin or listen to Limp Biskit for the rest of my life, there would never be a moment where that whole “You want what you can’t have” crap would come into play. Not ever. But when I try to deny that there are just things I love to do or indulge in every so often, I end up derailing and overindulging and just feeling awful and overcorrect and the whole cycle goes on and on forever. It’s bullshit and I’m tired of it.

When I listen to what my body and mind want, I am productive and I am healthy and I feel accomplished even when it doesn’t at all match up with what I’ve always believed was the best way to achieve things.

I realized that, when I was younger, I was constantly doing. I had literally 2 extracurriculars every day after school except Fridays; I practiced piano everysingleday; I always did something for Girl Scouts or church or theater or piano competitions, etc. on the weekends – and, because my schedule was completely full, I never had a chance to just be. I don’t fault my parents because they did everything they could to give us every single opportunity imaginable, but I now wonder how much of that I even wanted to be doing, and I remember doing a lot of things that I loathed just because it was expected of me – church/rec-league basketball comes to mind; I was more comfortable posing nude for strangers at NCSA than playing basketball in front of people I knew during those tormented seasons.

I think, at some point my spirit realized that constantly doing things wasn’t enough, and I got exhausted denying what I really wanted to do, which was just be. For example, I got tired of pretending I could tolerate Sunday school/youth group where they told us to hate gay people and slut-shame and reject “sinners”, and I wasn’t heard or respected when I expressed my desire to stop for years. Because of this, I spent a lot of time afterward being really, really angry at organized religion instead of just getting away from it. Even now, I’m usually happier spending my spiritual time meditating alone by sitting quietly or walking outdoors or singing or saging or doing yoga, etc.

I went to college because I was “supposed to” and it caused me to crash and burn over and over again for 7 solid years of undergrad including summers. The whole time I wasn’t living up to the accomplishments or habits of my peers (the driven, consistent, intellectual types), I loathed myself for not being as disciplined or regimented. When I was doing things my parents disapproved of (having “weird” friends, exploring different spiritual beliefs, dating people who didn’t fit their ideals, not wanting to wear entire outfits in the comfort of my home, etc.) I lived in constant shame and guilt and found myself hiding out from their judgment, which meant doing the things my heart felt drawn to in secret. This sort of continues with my husband, although to a lesser degree. For example, he hates that I smoke occasionally when I go out – about 2 cigarettes every 2 months- and I finally told him to get over it because I was tired of lying about it when I don’t think it’s a big deal. At all. The same goes for my graffiti projects or having unconventional friends or needing to go on road trips to stay with friends every other month. And even to the day-to-day difference in habits – him being regimented and thriving on routine whereas I am completely the opposite – has been a strain on us as cohabitants. I’ve punished myself for years because I just – as they said in the underrated movie “Life – “can’t get right.”

And I’ve finally decided to embrace this completely novel idea that that lifestyle just isn’t right for me. It doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked for a really, really long time. I’m slamming myself into a round hole when I am a square peg, and it’s just breaking me down and making me crazy.

When I am true to myself, I am capable of doing genuinely great things. I taught at a community college and was able to show up to every class, on time, and give 100% of myself every time because I really, really enjoyed it. (Meanwhile, when I’m doing work where I’m not engaged or feeling like I’m valued, it’s a waste of everyone’s time and money because I’m just going to be mentally clocked out.) When my mind is in the mode to create something, I create really great things, but it can’t happen on any sort of regimented schedule. I get obsessive about things for a very short amount of time and am meticulous about learning it thoroughly or finishing it to the most minor detail until I, much like Jay-Z, am ready to move on to the next one. I clean my house from top to bottom when the whim strikes me, and it always does. I don’t have a problem with these things, even though other people immediately around me have always seemed to. When I allow myself to listen to myself, I take care of myself and nurture my home without overdoing it on any front and feeling like I have to constantly apologize for falling short.

I’m really, really tired of constantly apologizing for myself. And I think I’m just effing done with it. I think, if I start listening to what I actually want, regardless of what literally anybody else has to say about it, I’m going to find myself finding balance and accomplishing things I’m proud of. That’s how it has always worked for me. I need to stop denying that just because anybody else has a problem with it.

I know. It all sounds so cliche, but I have been raised in a culture and with people whose lifestyle is so dissimilar, I’ve always been taught to believe that, because I can’t thrive in that sort of daily life, that there’s something wrong with me.

And it took 6 therapists, 1 AA sponsor, two trips to two separate mental hospitals, and talking my brains out in therapy and prayer for an 11 year period for anybody, ANYBODY to tell me, “There’s nothing wrong with you.”

Fuck what anybody else has to say about it; I’m finally giving myself permission to believe that she’s right.

Category: Recovery and Changes  | Tags: , ,  | Leave a Comment
Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 | Author:

It’s a rare thing for something incredible to happen to me and for me not to want to write about it. (Yoooooumight’venoticed.) So right now, sitting in the aftermath of an event that provided a series of really wonderful and incredible and validating (not vindicating…for a change…) and happy and healing mini-events without the feeling that I HAVE TO deconstruct it and all its facets rightthisveryminute is really foreign for me.

Oh, naturally, I’m fighting off those nagging feelings of, “Yeah, great for you; you sure you didn’t act like an anus and deny someone else that sort of serenity?” and other such self-doubt. Sure. It’s me. I worry about that after a conversation with check-out clerks.

But yeah. I’m just taking this wave of euphoria and sitting on it without taking it apart again to make sure it’s been constructed correctly.

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 | Author:

For the last two years of high school, I got to go to a local arts and technology school, where I “majored” in theatre.

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 | Author:

September 1, 2013 at 4:05pm
We’re shooting a high-tech/super pro video we’re hoping to make go viral and we need your help. If you can be in Florence, SC on September 14, 2013 for an all-day shoot, that would be great. We’re looking primarily for people who identify as “overweight” or “fat”, although your faces won’t be shown and ANYONE is welcome – even you skinny folk. THIS IS ABOUT BODY ACCEPTANCE.

YOU WILL NEED:

~A (classy) bathing suit and/or a set of clothes in white, black, or tan. These will be getting wet and filthy. There WILL be a place to wash off and change.

~ Some junk food to eat and/or fling around. Doughnuts and Hostess-type pastries are great for this. We’ll have a bucket of chicken going around for prop use and maybe a cake, but I don’t know just yet. Bring something that looks messy as crap on camera and would be hilarious in slow-motion.

~ A little time to help us clean up afterward. We’re using someone’s house for free for this shoot and I don’t want to leave their place in complete disarray, so a little help picking up food bits and doing a general wipe-down of the set after would would really help. It’ll take 15-20 minutes with everyone helping, tops.

~ Any empty cans of red soda you can collect between now and then, preferably Cheerwine.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN ORDERING LOVE MERCH to wear for the video, you may do so, but we have to sell it to you at cost because we can’t just afford to give it to you. Please contact me or Bob Zink at Showcards Signs for more information about this. Showcards is in Myrtle Beach, SC and can be found here: www.ShowcardsSigns.com or at 843.448.6712.

This video is to be one huge, hilarious commercial for the Love shop and will be produced by “Love Productions.” There will be no nudity or vulgar messages/gestures in the finished product. The only person whose face will be visible is my own and I will be the entirety of this parody’s punchline. None of us are making any money off this video; it’s just for laughs. Invite friends who can follow directions, help clean up, and won’t be jerks.

For complete details, you can pm me, but I need to trust that you won’t leak the concept until we’re ready to launch it the week after the shoot.

For any questions, email me here or at Liz.PS @ Live.com. Or call my cell at 843.855.0832.
Thanks, all!

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 | Author:

I’m not usually one for the oversentimentalization of New Years, but it seems the lunar cycles have landed us in a good ending/beginning, so I’m going with that. Without any preplanning on my part, the last 12 months were the life/mind-shifting, transformative renaissance I’ve been praying for for decades. I mean, it hurt like a sonofabitch and there were moments that weren’t fun at all and during which everything was going to completely collapse (assuming I didn’t finally sink), but right now is a pretty fantastic new place to be mentally – “mentally” being my entirety when it comes right down to it.

I want to learn the landscape here and how I’m best here. It’s the first time since I can remember that I feel comfortable making long-term plans for myself; I’ve always been too afraid to do that before, and I never took any such aspirations seriously because I’ve carried around a long-held belief that the future somehow didn’t exist for me. (This is how I’ve managed to make it this far while feeling like my life has just happened around me without my immediate participation.)
I want need to change that.

One thing I’ve learned this year is that I have the capacity to change my entire reality, which I’d frankly just never believed was anything more than psychobabble before. But my unwieldy emotions doesn’t wreak havoc on my impulses anymore, thus destroying pretty much everything within arm’s length.

You’ve heard. In fact, most of what I’ve written here is the same sort of thing I’ve written about over and over for all the years I’ve been blogging here. I remember whining about hating the struggle more than a dozen times annually, and I definitely don’t want to do it anymore now that we’re past it. I wanna work in that “past it” space.

So I’ll be “out there” in the real world if you need me. Thanks for reading all this and staying tuned to what seemed like an endless saga of madness. I’m not delusional enough to think that it’s gone forever; I just know this feels different. This peace feels more obvious; I’m not stuck in the same webs of anger or shame I’ve been calling home for ever. I’m wise enough to know I need to make serious lifestyle changes if I’m going to maintain what I have going on immediately. My recovery needs me putting my energies elsewhere. The mental stuff has worked; I need to move it into a physical realm.

I’m also taking all the other entries on SuburbanBohemian down and saving them for my personal archives. They may resurface again; they aren’t unimportant to my story. But, for now they’re going into hiding.

It’s time.

Thanks for giving me the space I needed to work out loud here. It helped. It worked.

Sunday, December 29th, 2013 | Author:

And then, one morning, you wake up and have a thoroughly engaging conversation with a man you used to literally loathe; you laugh about how much other people’s children suck and how oral sex is integral to successful marriages. He hugs you when you leave his house after being a guest there for a weekend. Your eyes mist when you see him and your friend waving vigorously as you drive away.
—–
On your way home, you stop by to see her where she’s still unable to leave her bed. The photos that have literally adorned her refrigerator since the late- 1980′s are gone. She listens to you talk for about an hour, but she says very little – even less than last time.. You put your hand in hers and look at each other for awhile. She thanks you for coming. You kiss her forehead and remind her that you love her. When you leave, there is no ache of remorse or insecurity that you could’ve done more. You were enough today.
————————-
Later, an interaction with a relative that is rife with laughably predictable passive aggression, emotional withdrawal, and outright denial of emotion (let alone the flagrant tension/problem), is met with a feeling of serene apathy. At one point, I look at my spouse and roll my eyes with amusement. We’re giddy with the realization that we won’t be worrying or crying over this later in frustration. We are free.
—————-
There is only peace.

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013 | Author:

I once was in a very, very codependent relationship that was brutal and toxic and just atrocious on my psyche for years afterward. In the aftermath, I decided that I’d never let myself be that way with anyone ever again and I’ve managed to maintain that conscious, “I can take anyone or leave them” attitude ever since, even though I’ve started to question whether or not that’s just not the truth when it comes down to it.

Then today I read a new definition – that “codependency is simply the complete neglect of self care” – and it changed the entire way I have been treating recovery. I thought independence was not being so emotionally invested in someone that I couldn’t function without him or her; maybe it has nothing to do with whom I lech onto, but is more about holding myself at arm’s length.

I hate the term “game-changer”, but I feel like that’s the most apt description for what this concept is. It doesn’t mean that I’m codependent on any one thing or person; it just means that I’m still not emotionally independent, and that’s what has been keeping me in emotional stasis, even though I have had the mental processing of psychoanalysis down pat for years now.

Merry Solstice to me.

Thursday, December 12th, 2013 | Author:

I’ve been here panting in the aftermath of our turbulent crescendo for about a month now, since I’ve stripped our daily lives of unnecessary burdens and outside drama, and I’ve been working overtime to get my mind on an even keel for any amount of time. And this week I looked around and realized that, without any of the usual chaos, it is really, really quiet.
Almost too quiet.
It’s freaking me out. A lot, actually.

There’ve been no meltdowns or huge eruptions of emotion or external upheaval or feelings like I’m on the brink of death… There’s just been serenity and level-headed normalcy and general contentment for longer than I can remember.

It dawned on me that the chaotic, emotionally-exhausting lifestyle was one I’d lived consistently since I was an early adolescent; in that time, I only “found myself” or identified who I “really am” in my escapes into creativity or some other outpouring away from the messy restlessness of my ongoing circumstances. (Admittedly and as aforementioned, I learned how to participate in these dysfunctional cycles and how to kick back at the broken people I encountered who caught me blindsided and I started acting like that sort of monster, too, even toward the few people who weren’t steeped in self-loathing. It got to be pretty abysmal… I digress…)

And now things are just sort of steady. And non-chaotic. And okay.

And I have absolutely no bloody idea how to maintain this sort of lifestyle. I feel completely naked and unprepared. Obviously, I know the rules and what’s expected of me and how it’s all supposed to work; I just feel like I’m involved with a very detailed role-play exercise to see how I do in a “healthy” environment. I expect notes and feedback at the end of the day’s session…

I’ve been candid with my support unit about deciding to no longer dive into my usual distractions in the course of recovery, which, strangely, involves me not hurling myself into yet another altruistic endeavor, as I have used those as a means to validate myself in my ongoing fear I have nothing real to offer anyone if I’m not physically giving them anything, (I call it my “Oprah Complex”.) So I’m doing what they teach people to do post-rehab, which is how to take care of yourself, how to coexist in a group environment, and how to re-form an identity without hiding behind vices.

I realized I had all the time in the world to myself this week to do whatever I wanted, and I suddenly felt unsure of what that was. It wasn’t like usual, where I felt too much guilt to do something I wanted to and would do it with a ton of anxiety; nor was it like when I’m depressed when nothing sounds interesting to me… I just… I knew a bunch of things I’ve always wanted to get around to doing and playing with and had absolutely no idea where to start…at all.

So I did laundry. And I read a little. And I did some housecleaning. And I wrote a letter to my incarcerated pen pal.

And I was bored.

And that’s awful. Do I need to have a clinically crazy, dysfunctional lifestyle to be mentally stimulated and/or have a mind capable of flourishing?

The thing is, I’m pretty sure this quiet contentment/stability is what I’ve been working toward in recovery all these years. This is what people want. This is that routine people talk about and the day-in-day-out lifestyle that people say they thrive in.

This should feel like a blank canvas. I realize people would kill for this variety of luxury, especially at my age. Instead, I feel like I’m driving on a very wide, open desert road with no particular destination, and I’m almost out of gas… And I can only get AM radio…

Mental illness is the only medical issue in which full recovery involves extracting the patient from an alternate reality. Nobody warned me I’d be leaving entirely.

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