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?

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.

Hiking Trails of Communication and The Beauty of Being Broken

Today I was reminded that when I started dating my now husband, Eddy, I was unable to speak. Up until that point so much of existing in life was just REACTING to something, rather than REFLECTING, and TRYING to learn but not quite knowing how. When he would ask me questions sometimes I would grunt or whine or give him sounds in response because I had no words, and I told him I would have to wait a while because it took me longer to process things than it took him. He would remind me on so many occasions — “YOU’RE HUMAN. USE LANGUAGE!” But for some reason my thoughts would be in such a huge tangled mess that I couldn’t form them into anything coherent, so I settled on asking questions to try and figure out the world, even if whatever I “learned” just went into a huge muddled soup of ideas. It got to the point where I would just be so flustered and he would ask me the first things to come into my mind, such as “ostrich!” “airplane!” “desert!” or some other jumble of words, and he would try to make symbolic sense of it, even though I never could. I’m so grateful that there are people out there with the patience of dealing with minds like mine… Really, considering that everyone is broken in some way, we just have to find people who are broken in the way that fits our own broken like a puzzle piece.

I’ve come a long way since then, and have learned how to express myself clearly to those around me…for the most part anyway. Going to the ayahuasca retreat, I was told that I was a gifted communicator and I never felt that way before. It just sort of “happened” when I went down this road of trying to explain myself and my feelings to other people, because I became so desperate that I wasn’t able to express myself in any other way. I suppose this is something that could potentially be a “superpower” for bipolar people… this kinda “blurt out” communication style of just… trying to get your thoughts across because it’s constant vomit in your head. Or maybe that’s just me? Who knows. All we can do is share our story and hope it resonates with someone else.

Anyway, Eddy and I always come back to the conclusion of how language is so limiting. He describes communication as a hiking trail… which I took as constantly going down this road of sometimes ups, sometimes downs, exploring different paths, and eventually you get to a point where you understand the other person (hopefully… some people struggle with this all their lives). To Eddy, it’s the idea of finding a way to move forward regardless of what stands in your path, trees, forest, whatever. I’m grateful that I’m learning how to walk those trails and develop language in terms of understanding others and being able to communicate inoffensively to where others understand me as well.

When you think about it… we really are all just living in different invisible worlds, and communication is trying to to bring that inner world out to others. Of course there will be inevitable bumps that arise along the way, but I believe effective communication is something we all need to strive for as humans, because overall conflict would be greatly reduced.

We are all unique masterpieces, expressing dimensions of various degrees to those around us, hoping something connects. This is why we can’t be so hard on ourselves if it comes out wrong… we’re all speaking such different yet similar languages. Allow yourself the patience to recognize what the framework of the universe is trying to tell you. So much of the time I feel like I wish I could say things in more poetic flowery language, but people have told me that they like the clarity with which I speak… so I guess I just need to accept how these messages are choosing to come through. As we all should.

I’m starting to get it when people say stuff like “I’m a work in progress.” Our pasts may break us in certain ways, but it’s like Kintsugi–the Japanese idea that broken pottery can be fixed with gold, making it more valuable to have the gold in the cracks once the damage has been done. (The video below explains this idea very well.) If we’re lucky, we can find people who see the value in our broken-ness, and the progress we’ve made along the journey that’s come from that… the strength and beauty we’ve developed from those cracks.

Nurturing Issues

I find that Kundalini Yoga more than anything else is helping me learn to stabilize myself. The owner of the studio says that our minds are so busy that the yoga is designed to tire out the mind in order for us to be able to meditate. Especially for those of us with bipolar minds, they’re constantly going going going and it feels like there’s no hope of silencing it at ALL. But no matter how shitty I feel, how fast those thoughts are going, Kundalini Yoga ALWAYS makes me feel better, and I walk out having some sort of revelation about what my thoughts are trying to tell me. Tonight it was about NURTURING.

I realized that since I’m always bouncing back and forth between the extremes of depression and mania, it’s been difficult to form any type of self care routine. I used to think this was primarily a discipline issue, but I feel like discipline can only come if you can sustain the motivation to follow a routine. What am I saying?! Isn’t the point of discipline supposed to be that it happens even when you’re NOT motivated? In any case, struggling with extremes makes it seem IMPOSSIBLE. When I’m manic, I feel like I can do ANYTHING. Like run a ton of miles, lift a buncha weights, go to yoga, draw, go out to lunch or dinner with EVERYONE… all in the same day on like, an hour of sleep. I always get excited and tell myself that I’m building all these great habits and that it’ll be easy, but the routine ultimately ends up being completely unsustainable because it’s set up during my manic high where I feel like I can actually accomplish things. Then when I fail to do all those things and crash, I have even LESS motivation to take care of myself due to all the self hatred of being unable to follow the routine. It’s been like this for YEARS, and I KNOW that I do it, yet I haven’t found a solution… the mania is always so strong that I haven’t figured out how to create realistic goals, and the depression hits so hard that it makes it nearly impossible to recover before my next manic phase comes along.

Today in yoga we did a set called the “Foundation for Infinity,” and were told that it’s when we’re in that flow state where everything seems to be going right, that we’re flowing with infinity. It’s within infinity that anything is possible, and you can only feel it when your mind is at peace. This is why it’s so important to tire out the mind in order to be able to meditate and experience that this is actually possible! After our set we did this meditation to the chant of “Hur Hur Mukanday” which is a mantra for releasing blocks so we’ll be able to nurture the seeds that we sow in order to manifest what we want. During this meditation I saw a child version of myself with a watering can, watering seeds that had just been planted then sitting patiently waiting for them to grow. Then that child turned into me, now as an adult, getting FRUSTRATED that they weren’t growing quick enough, and throwing a fit over it. Then I felt like a seed of light was beginning to sprout at my chest, and immediately it got stomped down by this dark energy within me, before it even had a chance to grow.

This is what I’ve been doing to myself my ENTIRE LIFE, and to visualize it in such a way… I felt like I was punched in the gut. Patience and nurturing are clearly something I need to work on. I instantly thought “If I can’t take care of myself, how will I be able to take care of a kid someday?” And also, I’m 30 years old… I should be able to know how to take care of myself by now. I also thought about my husband… So often I’m stuck in my own thoughts or self hatred that I don’t pay attention to his needs. He’s even TOLD me this multiple times, yet I haven’t gotten much better at it because I’m still so wrapped up in MYSELF. Thankfully he’s really understanding and knows this is difficult for me, but it makes me feel terrible and selfish, always like “HOW AM I STILL NOT ABLE TO DO THIS?!”

Normally all this would’ve bummed me out, but after the meditation I felt a really strong resolve to start taking this more seriously one small step at a time, because really… that’s all we can do. The dwelling HAS to stop. The unrealistic goals have to STOP. The self hatred has to STOP. But none of it is going to happen overnight… which is where the nurturing comes in. All of these things are just seeds that need to be watered… and I have to actually ALLOW them to grow rather than stomping on them before they can even turn into something. And maybe that’s something that this inner beastie is trying to tell me.