It’s A Choice

Eddy: Why do you have to be so sad?

Me: I DON’T KNOW.

Eddy: You don’t have to be.

TRUTH. Honestly, I know it’s a CHOICE. I always know it’s a choice… yet I keep choosing wrong! Or is it even wrong? Shouldn’t it be right to allow myself to feel these emotions so I can let them pass? It’s getting tiring though. I know it’s all a cycle, but the cycle is so painful… What am I even looking for? I know the good mood never lasts… so I can’t help but keep feeling like maintenance on this human form is just so tiresome… AND IT KEEPS GOING. There’s no way out.

But technically there is… that choice. The patterns of the mind are so damn strong. Stop choosing to be miserable.

Surrender

What does surrender even mean?

You don’t have to feel overwhelmed.
You don’t have to feel pressure.
You don’t have to feel doubt.
You don’t have to feel insecure.
You don’t have to feel inadequate.
You don’t have to feel behind.
You don’t have to feel regret.
All you need is gratitude.
All you need is to be. Here. Now.
All you need is love.
Love will lead to peace.
Why is this so hard?
Because you still haven’t surrendered.

It doesn’t have to be hard.

Calm In A Numb Kinda Way

For the past couple days I’ve been feeling calm in a numb kinda way, but not in the numb way that I felt when I hated being on my meds. Eddy says its maturity. It’s the in between. It’s not feeling particularly high or particularly low… and it kinda bums me out. It was bumming me out too much I tried to find some things to worry about, and Eddy totally saw right through me saying “You’re just looking for things to worry about right now, but it’s because there isn’t really much of a reason to complain.” He was right. My brain is addicted to worrying, and now that things seem to be going ok I don’t seem to know exactly what I am. I’m shifting…starting to live a new story without knowing the script yet.

I was depressed today but in a way that’s different than normal… more because I wasn’t feeling much at all. Went out for a hike and felt better being out in nature… I at least got out of the “everything is pointless I just want to die” internal monologue. But it’s strange that I can’t seem to recall too many thoughts and it scares me. It’s like my thoughts are there but aren’t at the same time, so I’m not sure what to talk about with people around me… including Eddy. It’s like… because my thoughts seem in disrepair, I’M here but not at the same time, which makes me feel a bit like… my existence is useless? Yet… maybe it’s ok because at least I’m not freaking out? I dunno… Really not sure what’s going on… is this what it feels like to grow up?

Off Meds Again – Day 2

So I’m off my meds again. It’s funny because I went to my psychiatrist 2 days ago and we were talking about awareness of symptoms, and she mentioned how difficult bipolar is to diagnose, and how it’s often MISdiagnosed. And how basically everything like diagnosis and treatment is really all up to anyone’s best guess. I’ve read things like that before too… about how people aren’t even SURE how pharmaceuticals ACTUALLY work… and I think hearing my psychiatrist express doubts like that made me subconsciously forget to take my meds. I was already thinking about it though, because in yoga they were talking about how it’s better to know yourself without any altering substances to be a yoga teacher. And I agree with that. Although my meds weren’t making me feel “numb” all the time, sometimes I would feel numb and wonder if it was the meds or me. It’s an interesting battle… how do you find yourself? Between symptoms of depression and mania, or between how you are on meds vs how you aren’t on meds? I suppose I fell into the thought process of “well, I wonder what I’m actually like now if I don’t have meds, because I’ve been feeling so stable with the yoga.” It bothers me how I can’t tell what’s actually working, the meds or the yoga? And since I’ve started work I’ve been feeling a strange emptiness yet calmness… and I suppose I’m just curious to try this experiment with myself. In the end, I would rather NOT be on anything because really…who am I? I would like to know.

All that aside, today some dark familiar thoughts of inadequacy crept in but I managed to stave them off. It truly dawned on me that THINKING too much about just how inadequate I think I am is such a time waster, and really won’t get the work done. I feel like I’m becoming more of a professional. Everyone at work seems so put together…and I know that’s just on the outside, but I definitely feel like I entered this zone of “well adjusted human artists working together” and couldn’t help feeling a bit like a phony. I think I’m holding it together pretty well though… initiating interactions with people in moments I would used to feel awkward, not having crippling anxiety, not dwelling on specific things I said. But weirdly… I feel so strange. Hence the getting off the meds thing. I’m really not quite sure what to think, or maybe I should just stop thinking? Maybe this “not thinking” business is actually a symptom of LEARNING TO BE IN THE PRESENT?!

I hate though that “feeling behind” is starting to creep in again. I can’t help but think of what Leah said, about how she can tell my bipolar is preventing me from flourishing and reaching my true potential, and that it should be my top priority to keep it in check. But that involves seeing what works… and I’m starting to see too how constantly thinking about it, or wondering what’s up with it, is taking my attention away from other things. Like, things I could like perhaps. I definitely like “things” but I can also tell how my obsession with figuring out what’s wrong with me, or stabilizing my symptoms trumps all else and ultimately makes me feel like I pursue things less for “fun” and more for “function” which kinda bums me out 😦 It really does feel like a curse…

I’m not even sure what I was trying to say this post. This is just the ramblings of the day… I suppose that’s what these always are but especially today I feel like things are just not fully formed and I’m in some kind of a daze…

Move Out the Energy

It’s dawning on me more and more that when I let my moods get the best of me, it means that I have a lot of pent up energy that ends up exploding in some kind of episode. I’ve begun this morning ritual of sadhana, and even though it’s only day 5 I can feel an immense change, and every morning I have some sort of revelation on my internal state. Today I even ran with my dog afterwards! I accomplished so much already and it’s not even 9am! People always say that for those of us with bipolar, STRUCTURE and a CONSISTENT SCHEDULE are the most important thing, and I’m beginning to see why. Sadhana forces me into that schedule, and it helps because there’s about like 10 or so people who join in every single day! I’ve tried group exercises classes, group texts where we AGREE to do something… but nothing has ever worked. I severely underestimated the power of the RIGHT community, and I’m so glad I’ve finally found mine! To know that all these people are committed to improving their lives because they too struggle with life in similar ways to me is really inspiring, and makes me want to keep this up… not because I’m afraid of DISAPPOINTING people (as was always the motivation before), but because I love feeling a part of this group of light bringers 🙂

It also really helps doing it first thing in the morning, so that I release a ton of energy BEFORE going into work. MENTAL energy. So much gets stuck in my mind that to have an outlet for that is monumental! Meditation is seriously… no joke. Now that I’m doing the work, I see that THIS ENERGY that I’m now getting rid of every morning is what later turns into depression or mania, and THIS is MY method of stabilizing myself so that my mood doesn’t flip later in the day, like it did so often before especially during the workday. I’m just so happy to feel like I’m finally on the right track and that I seem to have found something that WORKS. Just gotta remind myself to NOT STOP even when things go bad, because this is life and it’s inevitable. Accepting that it won’t always feel this good forever… but really enjoying the stability 🙂

The Pain of Duality

“Grief is the space between what you expect and what you get.” – Dan Harmon’s Therapist

Yesterday was my first day as a character designer on Rick and Morty. I felt really lucky because it ended up being one of their monthly screening parties where they show a finished episode and have pizza and beer and do a raffle. In the beginning the creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland got up to say something before showing the episode, and Dan’s speech really got to me. It’s been a rough season and a lot has happened, and he wasn’t afraid to reflect that in his speech which was so admirable to me. He mentioned a “sociopathic god” and how we don’t know if he loves us or hates us so what we end up getting is “randomness”, and how his therapist said that “grief is the space between what you expect and what you get.” At the end when he was thanking the crew for their great work, he said that as creatives our minds are different, and basically how we should embrace that. He said something like “so have your anxiety, depression, autism—whatever! Your brains are brilliant how they are, and because of those brains coming together we’ve made the best cartoon in the universe!”

This REALLY got to me, more than I even realized. I was still contemplating it in sadhana this morning, and it turned into a meditation on the nature of duality and mental illness. I feel like this year I’m really only starting to feel the real effects of my bipolar diagnosis from last year, which I can only say because of a drastic perspective shift. Working in animation has always been a love/hate relationship for me, because even though it IS a dream come true and what I’ve always wanted to do, working the jobs themselves simultaneously makes me hate myself for my current skill level, and also makes me wanna quit and do my own thing because I feel like I’m wasting away helping someone else complete THEIR vision, even though I haven’t felt like I have adequate skills to make my own thing ANYWAY. But starting at Rick and Morty and hearing Dan’s speech…I couldn’t help but feel welcomed in the best way possible. I felt like because of what these creators experience, they’ve created something really special…something that has managed to become the most popular cartoon on TV and find a place in cartoon history for a reason. They are able to inject existential angst and the struggles of life in these high concept sci-fi adventures which lightens it up enough to be digestible by the general public, and make everyone who watches the show feel like they’re not alone cuz “Hey! Someone else is feeling this way too!” Hearing them talk, especially Dan, made me feel like it was DEFINITELY the place for me. A place that understands and welcomes the pain of existence…a place where you can just be. A place where I can truly work on a show with a message that I’m proud of because it’s the message that I too want to spread. 

Anyway. All of that stuff made me realize that as humans, we ARE duality manifest. ALL of us. And within the duality we experience, we begin to cling onto SPECIFIC aspects of duality and obsess about them. For me…something that hit me real hard today was noticing that I go back and forth between thinking mental illness is real and thinking it’s fake. Back and forth between believing I’m “bipolar” and wanting to just attribute what I feel to “being emotional” and I’m just how I am because of my past and environmental factors. Nature vs nurture right? But what Dan said about artists brains made me think…

Diagnosis or not, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US HAS A DIFFERENT, SPECIAL BRAIN. That brain makes our minds function in complex ways that we spend our entire LIVES trying to cope with and figure out. But I think…as a human…this is always how it was meant to be.

The fact that I’ve been stuck in the duality of “bipolar or not” shows me that, even though I wanted to kinda “transcend the label,” I’ve still been focusing too much on the “label” without fully accepting how I actually am. I suppose this is the first step to acceptance…and it’s not that I’m necessarily trying to accept the diagnosis itself, I’m more just trying to accept MYSELF — myself and how my brain makes me think and function in this reality. It’s incredibly liberating to see that this is one of the prisons ive been trapping myself in. Now hopefully I can remind myself I’ve come to these conclusions next time this arises! That’s the challenge, right? Haha!

Something else that came through during sadhana this morning was this thought of “are we all just constantly somewhere on this duality spectrum until we cross a line from light to dark, negative to positive?”

Maybe “bipolar” can just be thought of as a term for people who cycle between those opposites quicker than others, who make their home at the actual POLES rather than the in between. And maybe this definition is an easier way for me to accept how my mind operates.

In a similar way, people who are depressed are more inclined to the negative pole. We’re all just vibrations and frequencies anyway right? And one of our goals in life is to raise our frequency go move more toward the light? Easier said than done but…that’s why I’m doing this Kundalini Yoga Training! 

In sadhana, the song choices that my teacher picked were a completely different vibe than yesterday. To me, they all sounded melancholy, somewhat urgent, yet angelic…seeming to express “it’s tough to live in a world with duality, but that’s what makes it beautiful.” 

This past weekend we were learning yoga nidra, and one offshoot of it is called iRest, a program developed by Robert Miller I think in the 70s to help with the PTSD of war veterans. In this set, we did an exercise to experience opposites — hot/cold, anger/joy, light/heavy — first separately, and then we were asked to try and experience them together. I could very easily feel the opposite sensations in my body separately, but when trying to feel them together I got frustrated and confused because my body just wasn’t able to grasp it. And after feeling that confusion for a while, I ended up just relaxing and achieving a sort of “calm.” When asked how we felt after the exercise, I raised my hand and described my experience and one of my teachers said that “calm” I felt is essentially the experience of infinity and the goal of yoga — to embody that stillness BETWEEN opposites. She went on to explain that in our human experience we can ONLY feel opposites SEPARATELY, which is why the darkness is necessary in order to know the light…the pain is necessary in order to know what it feels like to be happy. It’s that age old concept of yin and yang, and although I always “knew” about it since it’s so widely spread in our culture — that idea of the light and dark being NECESSARY to balance the world…to FEEL IT in my body was a COMPLETELY different experience. One approaching a more “true understanding.” 

I think BECAUSE I feel so much being bipolar, it’s so easy to be at and experience the POLES, because they’re EASIER to feel. Even though the negative pole of depression is difficult to be IN, it’s more apparent to feel THAT than some vague in between, and it’s also easier to feel the “positivity” of mania. But thinking about what Dan Harmon’s therapist said with GRIEF basically being the in between…it makes so much sense to me. I would RATHER experience the POLES than the IN BETWEEN because the grief of knowing that sooner or later I have to go back to one or the other is maddening. And that’s the melancholy I heard in the songs this morning — it’s almost like a constant state of underlying sadness, knowing that each day inches us closer to our deaths, and if we hold ourselves back and continue to have unrealistic expectations, then being in the in between will always somehow feel like failure. And that’s constant grief…grief about our potential not living up to how we see ourselves in our heads…grief that sooner or later we’re gonna die not having done what we want…grief that sooner or later, no matter WHAT we do, everyone and everything we love will turn to dust. 

I definitely feel like I’m beginning to grasp something deeper…and although it’s instilling more of a sense of “peace” I can’t help but be a little sad about it. Yet…I think I’m going in the right direction? I just keep trying to remember something else I learned in yoga…that we chose to incarnate in this exact lifetime at this time in history for a reason, and everything we go through is the exact thing our soul is yearning to learn. Regardless of how sad I feel, I still get the sense of being on the “right path,” and maybe that’s all that can bring us solace in this difficult human existence. 

The Human Disease

“Our minds can do ANYTHING when we’re told we CAN, but the world tells us we CAN’T.” – Jennifer Lakhmi Chand

For a long time I’d been trying to figure out why I felt so broken, looking into things like psychology, spirituality, and reading a lot of self help books to try and find the answer. Being diagnosed last year began my true journey with mental illness, and Ayahuasca made me reconsider it all. This past weekend in Kundalini Yoga Teacher training, what I learned has made me wonder if mental illness is even a real thing at all.

Our entire modern society is sick. In some parts of the world, people still have to fight for their survival, but in places the United States, it’s almost like we create our own problems since we no longer have to fight for our lives. Don’t get me wrong, some people still do, but it’s not like we need the same stress responses that we had years ago as hunter gatherers. Now we have completely new stresses in order to invoke those responses, like jobs, relationship and family drama, racism, sexism, road rage, etc. In order to even get by in this world, the majority of humans ingest altering substances such as caffeine, alcohol, weed, pharmaceuticals, and all manner of hard drugs. We’ve forgotten what our TRUE NATURE is even like… and the fact of the matter is… we’re ALL living this human condition, and we’re ALL being affected by the environment around us in subconscious ways that frankly, fuck us up. And most people would rather cover it up and put a bandaid on it, just for that bandaid to repeatedly be ripped off… because they’re AFRAID to actually see their own scars. We are all SO AFRAID to take a good hard look at ourselves… because we can’t handle what it is that we’ll find. If we get off the substances, we actually have to FEEL. And that’s SUPER uncomfortable for people nowadays when all that other stuff is so easily accessible and constantly thrown into our face with marketing.

But all that shit is MESSING US UP. The food we eat, the substances we ingest… SUGAR. All those terrifying food and drug documentaries exist for a REASON, yet people remain ASLEEP.

What became really clear to me this weekend in yoga learning about the 5 Kleshas (The Root of All Pain and Suffering), the 10 bodies (The Bodies that comprise us beyond just our physical body), and the Ayurvedic Diet (Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic foods) is that there is SO MUCH that affects us that we are COMPLETELY UNAWARE OF, and SO MANY ASPECTS to our personality and SO MANY WAYS for us to fall off the path… that “mental illness” is inevitable. In fact, this morning in the Daily Sadhana I’m doing (daily spiritual practice beginning every day at 5am), at the end my teacher mentioned something about how meditation and this daily practice would “free us of the disease” and it became clear to me that it’s true! As humans, we are ALL diseased. Unless we truly commit to beginning to see our true selves, to recognize that deep within we’re all shining with the light of the universe and make attempts to have a relationship with that light… we’re going to keep feeling shitty.

This past weekend I had such insane revelations about my negative patterning from childhood, and so much came up regarding my ridiculous self hatred that left me a crying mess on the floor… But really… sometimes being a crying mess is absolutely necessary to begin to cleanse yourself of the emotions that you need to. CRYING DOESN’T MAKE YOU WEAK. IT’S A NATURAL PROCESS FOR OUR BODY THAT WE NEED TO DO FOR RELEASE. A symptom of “bipolar” are these emotional extremes, and the deeper I go, the more I’m able to find the source of these extremes, and am really wondering if the combination of the parenting that I had and the world that we live in (including marketing programming and diet) is what gave me these symptoms/caused these hormonal imbalances in my body that have led to this diagnoses. We can’t just blindly accept what people tell us — we have to learn to seek the answers out ourselves, and those answers only lie within. We are SO TRAINED to look to OTHERS for those answers and that’s HONESTLY part of WHAT FUCKS US UP. I am just beginning to SCRATCH THE SURFACE on that one. Really start to ask yourself who you’re looking to for guidance… I now see that a lot of my self hatred comes from the fact that I’ve never learned to look within for the answers, which has led to me acting out in ways that I have never bothered to understand but would only ask OTHERS to tell me why I was acting certain ways.

There is SO MUCH I want to go into right now about all of the above, and I probably will during the week… it’s just a LOT to go over in one post, plus I’m starting a new job today and gotta start getting ready! I’m going to be a character designer on Rick and Morty and although I’ve been freelancing, it’s my first day in house! 😀 All of these revelations are coming at a good time… and although I know that stress and worry are inevitable, I’m finally learning the proper tools on how to deal with life. And I’m also FINALLY starting to see that it can never be a MAGICAL SOMETHING that helps you deal… true healing is a lot of work.