When Will I Be Ok With Who I Am?

Wolves are always ok with who they are”

– Amanda Beer, Wolf Connection

My cycles are starting to become unbearable and the more I try to figure them out, the more shitty I feel. It’s like the more awareness I have of myself, the more I hate myself for being this way…

Yesterday I started this awesome program called “Women and Wolves” at Wolf Connection, a ranch that offers wolf therapy here in Southern California. I was way too excited to start and it totally triggered my mania and I ended up making a horrible first impression on the group, speaking my story from my head and not my heart, taking up all this time and rattling on and on about things that didn’t matter. I could tell they probably thought I was insane because I was talking so fast and I know I came off so self absorbed… It’s like I was swept up in a current that kept pulling me further and further from shore… I’m super bummed because I was so excited to start this journey and ended up making a fool of myself and don’t even feel comfortable going back next week.

Something that gives me hope though is how they mentioned we’d be returning to our story during the final week to see if we’re seeing it a little differently…they talked about one of their wolves Annie, and how she lost one of her legs and that they used to introduce her to groups with that story. “Here’s Annie she’s such a symbol of resilience for losing one of her legs,” but that Annie would howl over them speaking. This made them realize that maybe this wasn’t her story…that she was more of a warrior who didn’t let what we’d consider a “disability” bother her. So they started telling a different story… they didn’t talk about her accident anymore, they focused more on her being a warrior. And they told us how they wanted us to start viewing our stories that way too… hopefully by the end of this, I can finally let go of this story I’ve been clinging to for far too long, that I’m really starting to feel as a hindrance to my wellbeing. Why is letting go so fucking hard?!

When they brought out my favorite wolf Willow I felt like breathing into her presence completely calmed my weird energy down and I was able to feel grounded in my body again. I hadn’t even realized how nervous I had been and how that made me vomit out words I didn’t even realize…I suddenly felt flooded with shame for just HOW MUCH I TALK when I need to just LEARN HOW TO BE.

Willow came out with her tail between her legs, which they said shows both a nervousness but also a sign of peace. They explained how her behavior would probably be described as “anxiety” in humans, but that she just accepts that it takes her a while to get used to a new environment and new people, and that’s ok. They called it “attuning to her environment.” She allows herself the time to get used to something before taking action, and it’s TOTALLY NORMAL. Whereas we humans like to diagnose different types of energy in favor of what the culture seems “normal.” I realized that what I’ve been experiencing lately (especially because I’m off my meds and had to stop smoking weed for a variety of reasons) is this new awareness of how unconsciously I act due to way too much manic energy in my body.

They said that wolves are always ok with who they are…and I’m wondering when I’ll finally be ok with who I am. The shame I felt in that meeting yesterday made me feel INCREDIBLY far away from accepting myself, and immediately afterward my mind jumped to suicide because I felt so hopeless about who I am. I started looking up stories about drowning, because lately that’s been my method of choice. But then I felt a ton of shame for how little mental discomfort I’m able to handle…just because I feel like I came off as a crazy weirdo to a bunch of strangers? God I seriously spiral way too quick and it’s so easy for me to forget all the good I have in my life. I really need to be more like a wolf.

Here’s a photo of Willow from an in person visit I took to the ranch last month. She has a really strong presence, and they were surprised when she came over to sniff me. It felt like a blessing. Seeing her again yesterday even over zoom I felt that same presence, and without all the people around it was awesome to watch her open up, get comfortable and not be so on edge. They call her a symbol of “balance” because by this point (she’s 11) she knows who she is so well that she’s very conscious of her needs, and that inner strength is immediately felt when witnessing her. I could feel her nervous apprehension when she was brought into the space, but they explained how she takes time to “attune” to down regulate that energy and calm herself down. I hope I can get there someday…With as much healing work as I’ve done on myself, I’m still unable to regulate. I try to not let it bother me, but I’m really sick of it…seeing Willow gives me hope and reassurance that maybe I’ll get it someday.

Lately my mania has been OUT OF CONTROL and Eddy keeps telling me I need to be silent, because my throat has been hurting for over a month. It’s like the awareness I’m building is making me so uncomfortable that being alone with myself makes me feel this bubbling up energy that needs to explode in a flurry of speech…but at this point in my life I’m honestly so fucking exhausted. I’m literally on a roller coaster I can’t get off of…like a horror movie one that wants to kill me. And now it’s beyond mental, it’s in my body and I just keep getting sicker and sicker to where I’m starting to have to cancel all my client meetings…

I’m so tired and I want off…

Take The Power Back

Damn I got super heated after that last post. I hate how I’ve felt like a victim for SO LONG because I wasn’t willing to see how I was falling into a narrative that wasn’t even mine. I truly believe that a lot of this “bipolar” mindset really is because of our culture… and let me tell you I feel jipped. I’m so sick of feeling broken and inferior when I’m fucking not. But maybe this has always been the fight. This ugliness, this darkness… it’s a part of human nature. Mental health and the system we’ve been fed are so interconnected its time to take a good hard look at ourselves and see what we truly need rather than what we’ve been taught to want. Separate from this toxic culture to step into our own integrity and capability. I turned away for far too long, to my own detriment, and I’m sick of feeling helpless and overwhelmed. But it’s hard. It takes courage to rise above all this bullshit. But I’m finally ready.

It’s time to take my fucking power back.

Take The Power Back
Rage Against The Machine

In the right light, study becomes insight
But the system that dissed us
Teaches us to read and right

So called facts are fraud
They want us to allege and pledge
And bow down to their God
Lost the culture, the culture lost
Spun our minds and through time
Ignorance has taken over

Yo, we gotta take the power back!
Bam! Here’s the plan

Motherfuck Uncle Sam
Step back, I know who I am
Raise up your ear, I’ll drop the style and clear
It’s the beats and the lyrics they fear
The rage is relentless
We need a movement with a quickness
You are the witness of change
And to counteract
We gotta take the power back

Yeah, we gotta take the power back
Come on, come on!
We gotta take the power back

The present curriculum
I put my fist in ’em
Eurocentric every last one of ’em
See right through the red, white and blue disguise
With lecture I puncture the structure of lies
Installed in our minds and attempting
To hold us back
We’ve got to take it back

Holes in our spirit causin’ tears and fears
One-sided stories for years and years and years
I’m inferior? Who’s inferior?
Yeah, we need to check the interior
Of the system that cares about only one culture
And that is why
We gotta take the power back

Yeah, we gotta take the power back
Come on, come on!
We gotta take the power back
Hey yo check, we’re gonna have to break it, break it,
break it down
Aw shit!
Ugh!
And like this Ugh!

Come on, yeah! Bring it back the other way!

The teacher stands in front of the class
But the lesson plan he can’t recall
The student’s eyes don’t perceive the lies
Bouncing off every fucking wall
His composure is well kept
I guess he fears playing the fool
The complacent students sit and listen to some of that
Bullshit that he learned in school
Europe ain’t my rope to swing on
Can’t learn a thing from it
Yet we hang from it

Gotta get it, gotta get it together then
Like the motherfuckin’ weathermen
To expose and close the doors on those who try
To strangle and mangle the truth
‘Cause the circle of hatred continues unless we react
We gotta take the power back

Yeah, we gotta take the power back
Come on, come on!
We gotta take the power back

No more lies
No more lies
No more lies
No more lies
No more lies
No more lies
No more lies
No more lies

Ugh!
Yeah! Take it back y’all
Take it back, a-take it back
A-take it back y’all, come on!
Take it back y’all
Take it back, a-take it back
A-take it back y’all, come on!

Not Enoughness, Hungry Ghosts, and the Addictive Magic of Mania

“These hands could hold the world but it’ll never be enough”

– From The Greatest Showman, “Never Enough”

Scientists still don’t claim to know exactly what causes bipolar disorder. Some say it’s likely passed down through genetics. Others say it’s brought on by drug use or intense traumatic events like a death in the family or divorce. The more I attempt to understand myself and this “illness” that I’ve been diagnosed with, the more I see that the way I was raised and socialized in this culture is probably a huge reason I’ve developed these “manic depressive” mood loops. It’s becoming more and more obvious to me that all of this is on a spectrum of how deeply people are able to “feel” within their own psyches.

In a culture of “not enoughness,” to feel as deeply as someone like myself is incredibly painful, leading to patterns of suicidal fantasies, constantly looking for a way out from the pressure of an invisible audience, the approval from a nonexistent authority figure. Because of pain from the lows, I have to chase and grasp at higher highs, and in this modern technological culture where stimulation is around every corner, the idea of “balance” starts to seem more and more impossible. Unless you start to raise awareness of your own cycles and face the consequences of what its like to get swept up in the extremes — how it affects those you love, your health, and your future. It’s tough to admit, and for a bipolar mind, incredibly painful to face. After tons of breakdowns and buckets of tears, this awareness has helped me immensely to commit to this healing journey of trying to understand myself from within. But just like one of my teachers says, this scarcity story, this need to chase the next high is not my fault, but “the sea we’re swimming in.” The narrative fed to us by a culture that just wants our attention, money, and information. Even though some of us may handle it better than others, we are all susceptible to the distractions and temptations of a modern technological society.

Bipolar, like ADHD, is often mis-diagnosed, and the more I open up about my symptoms, the more I find people who relate to these extreme shifts in moods and wonder “am I bipolar too?” Many of them update me later and tell me that they had actually been diagnosed with “anxiety” instead. It makes me realize that we always want to label this “brokenness” we feel, this “unbelonging.” Because so few of us actually feel like we “fit in” anywhere. But seriously — can someone tell me what “NORMAL” actually is? I don’t think so. Why? Because this idea of “fitting in” in itself was something programmed into us for generations, ESPECIALLY to the boomer generation, leading to mass burnout and unhealthy workaholic tendencies in a society just trying to get by.

Perfectionism is a tool of oppression in our patriarchal, white supremacist + capitalist society. An instrument to enforce oppressive power structures.⁠

ditchperfect.com

The idea of “perfection” was always a fake world presented to us to try and control us, to keep us down. Here’s a great article about how overcoming perfectionism is actually a form of activism, an instrument to enforce oppressive power structures.”

This is especially obvious in this footage from the 1950s. It’s pretty chilling to know that this video was ACTUALLY PLAYED IN SCHOOLS!!!

NO ONE WAS EVER GONNA “FIT IN” TO THIS!! All it created were unrealistic expectations, and now the world has gotten SO overwhelming that an incredible amount of people have no idea how to handle the sensory overload, and a reality where “perfection” is actually impossible yet we’re all programmed to seek approval and validation to let ourselves know we’re “ok” because we don’t trust ourselves enough to believe we’re not crazy. It’s all so fucked. Plus, worrying about such an uncertain future in a country now ruled by the billionaire class has us all struggling to survive. Sold the idea of “The American Dream” — the concept of working hard to “become something” and strive for an unattainable ideal of “success” and to fit into a culture of a “normalcy” that never even truly existed.

No wonder so many people relate to these “bipolar” and “ADHD” sensibilities — we live in a dualistic existence, with that gap between balance getting larger and larger seemingly everyday as more comes out about the division between race, class, gender, religion, and everything in between. With more and more shit being sold to us every second, sensationalistic news headlines to hopefully win our clicks and valuable information, just so we can be sent another email persuading us to buy more garbage that will eventually end up in the ocean or a landfill somewhere, destroying more of our fragile ecosystem. Of COURSE this is going to affect our bodies and minds! We’re seriously at a point in history where we NEED to take our power back!

Anyway, from what I’ve seen, what sets bipolar apart is the propensity for mania, carried away by the highs of a magical fantasy world where all those worries melt away. When I began to start really looking at the difference between how mania and depression manifest for me, I realized I had become addicted to the highs of my own mind… how fucked up is that? (At least it’s been great to never need caffeine.) But who can blame anyone being addicted to any of these distractions and numbing agents (drugs, alcohol, the internet, etc) of our new world? The highs and lows of the actual physical reality we live in are so MASSIVE, that if you ever attempt to actually look at them, it’s DEBILITATING.

My point being… we live in an extreme world, and I believe that my sensitive bipolar mind functions as it does because I was raised by extremely opposite parents, with extremely opposite values. My mom being an immigrant from the Philippines, COMPLETELY sold on the idea of that “American Dream,” that anything was possible in this country of “plenty”, and my dad being a hippie who dropped out of high school – knowing it was a crock of shit from the beginning – and took all sorts of psychedelics, expanding his mind but being diagnosed schizophrenic and labeled crazy even in his teens.

My mom pushed that idea on me of needing to “work hard” and “get a good education”… no one could take that away from me. I was encouraged to take classes for “gifted” children,” pushed to get good grades, win awards and trophies, and pursue this academic life so she could brag to people about me, meanwhile filling my head with ideas of fear. Everyone was out to get me, everyone was constantly talking about me behind my back. Trust no one, even my own father. Focus on myself. This was obviously her way of protecting me, and my submissive dad, although all about peace and love, had no real voice in the relationship. I grew up under the heavy hand of perfectionism and toxic masculinity as seen through the lens of an immigrant woman who could never, and still can’t, see America for what it really is — a land of a people in denial of a history of wealth built off the backs of people of color. A land of cheap thrills, of doing anything to make a quick buck at the expense of your integrity. A culture of workaholism — giving your life and energy to people who don’t give a shit about you. This was the dominant narrative in my life, with my dad’s idealistic “peace, love, magic” outlook on the world taking a backseat. It sucks that my mom always just wanted what was best for me. A life that she didn’t — couldn’t — have in a third world country like the Philippines. But it became an intense pressure for me to become something unattainable, leading me to seeking extreme highs to distract myself from that pressure, and crashing to the extreme lows of feeling like I would never be able to meet the expectation I now had in my head, developed from the fear instilled in me.

I watched The Greatest Showman for the first time on my plane trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, the first stop on my grand trip to Antarctica, the ends of the Earth. (After that experience, talk about “Never Enough…” ugh). I’m a sucker for musicals, and I’ve always been a fan of the concept of a “circus” — the awe, wonder, and magic part, not the violent exploitation of animals and those who were “different”. But I’m willing to suspend my disbelief to be entertained and moved by this romanticized Hollywood rendition of what we’d like to think of a circus to be. The sentiment is nice, and it’s such a perfect metaphor for my mania — darkness, contradiction and all. Nothing is ever as it seems, especially with a bipolar mind 😐 Plus, with my past of being practically raised in Disneyland and taught escapism early… it’s no wonder I have high expectations for life to be grand, and difficulties facing the “reality” of history. When I get swept up in that “high,” it’s as though everything gets more colorful and anything seems possible — my rose tinted glasses are on full blast! Childlike joy, awe, and wonder — all of that MAGIC you felt as a kid, when life was simpler, when fairytales were real, and the world was less complicated. That feeling of being truly ALIVE.

To me, that’s what mania feels like, and ohhhhhh man does it feel good. But the shittiest part about it is that it can never be enough. And that’s what I love about the message of this film The Greatest Showman — they address this pretty well, in a nice, lighthearted PG fashion that I’m hoping can get through to younger generations. It’s flashy and fun, with a nice hopeful ending that this self obsessed guy chasing fame, money, and self preservation will eventually turn it around and realize that spending time with his family is actually enough. Not realistic, but idealistic in the way that REALLY appeals to me lol… I am ashamed to admit but TOTALLY relate to Hugh Jackman’s character, and it was so great to watch it with Eddy because we frequently talk about how I share tons of similarities with his own father who passed away when he was a child. We think that he was an Enneagram Type 7, just like me, falling into the traps of gluttony, of seeking approval from an invisible audience. He ended up losing everything, including a successful business, his family, and eventually his life… all to the detriment of this “not enoughness.” Sometimes I wonder if all Type 7s are bipolar, or if bipolar and this ADDICTION to the highs and inability to handle the lows, is more of a negative pattern built into us as a result of this culture and ancestral wounds than anything else. And sometimes I worry I’ll never be able to overcome this insatiability… but never say never, right? I’m working on it.

There is so much to be grateful for in this world we live in, but it really does seem like the more we have, the more we feel we lack. I love this song from Greatest Showman that sums up how nothing can ever be enough… it’s beautiful and seriously makes me tear up ;_;

During THIS song, Tightrope, Eddy said “what story ISN’T this? This is also like Hook… it’s just different people experiencing different parts of the same tragedy.” It’s such a universal, repetitive issue that we seem to never learn from. What I keep seeing… in my own life and in films… is that regardless of these constant messages from media, so many of us have to experience these things for ourselves, go through this pain firsthand to truly learn the lesson. But I don’t want that for me… I want to learn instead of continually making this mistake as I have for years. Eddy relates to much to the wife in this song, and it hurts me to know that I constantly fall into the trap of being swept up in my mania, running off to “the next thing,” getting caught up in “novelty” rather than appreciating what I have right in front of my face. Then when I’m brought back to reality, I just fall into depression and am completely useless. It’s always great, and painful, to see such a disgusting part of yourself in display right in front of you.

I’ve mentioned before but last month I took a class at Shakti Feminine University called Cultivating Currencies, where I was introduced to my money story. We discussed how in the world economy, but especially the United States, we’ve been sold this narrative about “scarcity.” Nothing is ever enough. We’ll always be broken so we continue to be consumers and contribute to this capitalist system. We’re not appreciated for what we contribute to society, just what we contribute to this broken economy — to the detriment of our sanity, of our self worth, and of our values. And I believe that all of this extremity absolutely affects people’s minds in fucked up ways.

Gosh it’s so easy for me to get fired up and go on a tangent… I don’t even know if anything I ever write makes sense lol. But FUCK PERFECTIONISM, conformity and the need for validation — amirite? xD

The major assignment for my Resilience class these next 8 weeks is to meditate on “Enoughness,” and although I’m only on Day 2, it’s already starting to shift my perspectives and see more of the scarcity bullshit that plagues our lives.

It’s a trip to really start to connect with your body and start to be aware of what these sensations mean when serious mood shifts occur. Awareness really does seem to be the key to achieving any sort of feeling of balance… and after my manic episode last week I feel like I’m making a serious commitment unlike ever before. Enoughness needs to become the new norm! Gratitude is everything, each moment is a miracle, our body takes care of so much for us… “It’s” not out there — everything we need is already inside of us.

I’m truly sick of this extreme roller coaster bullshit. All it does is keep us in chains of our own making. Feeling whole is way more satisfying than this insatiable torture we’ve been fed. One last point to make that all of this reminds me of —

According to Lama Surya Das, when a student asked the monk Thich Nhat Hanh, “What is life like in the realm of the hungry ghosts?”, he replied, “America”.

From “Hungry Ghosts On The Couch,” an entry from Robin Cohen’s blog

The concept of the “Hungry Ghost” is one of my favorites to perfectly illustrate just what mess we’ve gotten ourselves into because of capitalism and our economic structure. Listen to Thich Nhat Hanh talk more about it here:

Bipolar Playlist + Resilience Course

Last week I prematurely went back on Instagram and talked to way too many people which sent me into mania. Sleep schedule got fucked, lost my voice, got really sick, feel like I’m backsliding. I’ve never been able to handle the internet and I keep fooling myself into thinking I can.

Now I can’t find my phone and Eddy won’t let me know if he took it or not and I need it tomorrow for this class I’m gonna be helping facilitate. Now I’m hyperfixating because I don’t know if he has it or not and he keeps giving me cryptic answers. I can feel my energy going toward all this hatred and tension that really is absolutely pointless. He says I’m like a crack addict. Fuck technology. Seriously. As I sit here and write a blog post. Lol it really does suck to be a human in this modern age… contradictions everywhere…

This playlist helps. Lol it really is a convoluted mess of different types of songs, so it’s quite a journey to set it to shuffle and experience the roller coaster of clashing music. It’s such a great representation of my moods it always makes me laugh out loud.

SIDE NOTE: I meant to post about this earlier but lost track of time! I’m gonna be helping facilitate this Resilient: Women, Money and Soul class at Shakti Feminine University starting TOMORROW at 9am PST/ 12pm EST. If you’re interested, there’s still time to register here!!

Last month I took their Cultivating Currencies course and it seriously changed my life, helping me shift my values, examine money and scarcity stories programmed into me by society and ancestry, and cultivate the feeling of “enoughness” in a culture that teaches us we’re never enough. This will be a deeper dive into those concepts, offering tools to take back personal power while in sacred space with women 🙂 Women’s circles have seriously been the most beneficial thing to my mental health these past 2 years… I find that I learn the most when connecting to others and hearing their stories. It’s always such a great reminder that everyone is always going through such similar things and that none of us are ever alone.

Here’s a drawing I did during that class to represent how I was feeling about money at the time.

I call it “Hungry Ghost” because… that’s what America has taught us to be. Nothing is ever enough… we’re constantly marketed to, told that we’re broken and we need to buy something to fix ourselves. But really, we already have everything we need! It’s really great to have found this school and these classes geared toward reversing that deep programming ;_; If any of this resonates with you, click here for more info!

I had such a profound experience in the class that they offered me a the facilitator role of “Tech Queen” for this Resilience course 😀 I am BEYOND excited because all of this is seems to be divine timing!

Why am I here again? Oh yeah I was complaining about technology and here I am being tech queen for this class xD See? Contradictions everywhere. Definitely feel better now though 🙂 It can be so simple! Learning more and more about what I need for self care everyday.