step up to the mat

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Becoming a mom and adjusting to life at home has been interesting to say the least. The first six weeks, stuck in the house and unable to work out among other things, made me a little stir crazy. Now that Oscar is almost two months, and things are starting to look a little normal.
And now that I am all clear with the doc, I am working on myself, especially physically, due to all of the issues I encountered during pregnancy. I am focusing specifically on yoga because i have issues with my joints, but also mainly my back. At only 30 years old, getting off the couch is difficult.
So, I’ve started my yoga practice, way back at the beginning. And let me tell you, I was feeling down on myself and putting it off because I knew it would be challenging, and that is something I am not used to.
But mainly, I found myself falling into the trap. You know, thinking that because my body wasn’t back to the way it used to be, and that I am the biggest I have ever been, that I shouldn’t try. I felt shame as I started to move into different poses, and had to take a break or two.
But about halfway through, I decided that it was enough. Despite all of my negative thoughts hadn’t stopped me from getting on the mat today; its only slowed me down and put my mind in a negative space.
I’m not saying that I will be positive all of the time. Or that I will practice everyday. I’m not perfect, and while I focus on body positivity, I still fall into bad habits. Even considering all of this, I’m not going to allow myself to feel shame again. There is no reason to feel at shame, especially when you’re just trying to better yourself.

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give thanks 🖤

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The world around me never ceases to be be amazing. I am opening my heart to new experiences in my life. While this isn’t the most glamorous thing, I find myself smiling more.

Instead of hating waking up at all hours of the night, I take advantage of the time to spend with my son, and enjoying these moments before they’re gone.

One thing that anxiety feeds on is the constant loop of irrational thoughts. It can push the imagination to a dark place and focus its energy there.

Anxious thinking is my natural reaction and normal state of mind… to the point where my mind reels in circles. I find joy in things, like working on my journal, or a bouquet of flowers, and it’s these things that tether me to the real world. All of this and more are reasons that I give thanks for this harvest season.

to be a kid again

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I am trying to put more faith in magical things these days. I used to have my mind opened wide to all sorts of possibilities, but after the worst year ever — 2016 — I kind of shut down to that mindset.

It’s no doubt that 2017 and 2018 worked better in my favor. Good things started to fall into place, and I am beyond content where I am now. I just want to get back in that good habit of being grateful, and optimistic.

For those of you who know me, you know that my mind often dances in and out of make believe. There’s a reason I enjoy reading, writing and watching movies as much as I do. So, when I decide to put my faith in something intangible, know that this is what works for me and is helping me to feel more like myself.

Because if there’s one thing I miss, it’s my imagination. Before I closed my mind to everything, ideas would poor out of me. Poetry would flow from my hand without my mind even trying. This is the person I want to be, and that’s why I am removing the skepticism from my arsenal.

And, if this seems silly to you, there’s a simple reason why.

I now have a son who I am in charge of teaching and helping to grow. And an important part of that job is nurturing his creative mind, and helping him to see wonder in the world — whether it’s real or not.

I hope that my son can enjoy some of the aspects of my own childhood, such as making up games to play, writing fun stories and plays, and running outside like he could reach the whole world on his own.

I know that Shawn and I will be there to play along with him, and to keep the difficult stuff at bay for as long as possible so he can enjoy just being a kid. I know we all miss those times.

treat yourself

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This morning Shawn is treating me to a little pampering. I am getting my hair cut and colored, and I can’t tell you how long it’s been! I am excited to feel refreshed and more confident.

After having a baby, i can’t help but feel defeated about my appearance sometimes. Being always tired, and not even getting out of my pajamas some days. I’m not saying that I need to have a perfect body image to be happy; what I am saying is that it’s okay to do things that will make you feel good.

It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of everyday life and forget about the small pleasures of life. This doesn’t always mean spending a butt load of money, either.

One way that I treat myself on the daily is a steaming cup of coffee in the morning while I wake up and contemplate the new day. My son is now apart of that routine, and it’s an amazing way to get in the perfect headspace.

Whatever it is, the little things are a perfect way to help you appreciate life. I know it’s something I am constantly working on. It’s hard to not feel guilty when doing these things, but as they say, you can’t care for someone else until you care for yourself.

small town living

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This morning, as I was sipping my coffee and watching our baby boy fall back to sleep, I looked out the window and took a deep breath.
It feels so good to be outside of what I guess I could call “civilization,” in a town that is disconnected from everything I knew.
With only about 3,000 people, Virden was a little too small when we first decided to move here. We went from Bloomington-Normal, a bigger city for Central Illinois, to Lincoln, which is smaller than our hometown, and have finally settled in here for the time being.
There is no variety of restaurants, no Walmart, no Starbucks. But, what I once thought were things I couldn’t live without has become seemingly unimportant. Now, I spend my mornings watching squirrels run through the leaves in our front yard. We settle in during the evening to silence. The skies are a lot clearer.
It’s peaceful, and while I miss some of the comforts from before, and miss my family, I am happy to have a little piece of serenity for our boy to grow up in. I would much rather have a big yard for him to run and play than a bustling town.

focus on the happy

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I have been torn on opening up in regards to feelings about my body, particularly now after I have given birth. I try to pride myself on being positive especially when it comes to my body image.
The truth is that I have had to push my mind to a place of positivity. Sometimes it works, sometimes it really doesn’t. It has only been six weeks, and I am still waiting for the all-clear from the doctor that I am all good. Oscar’s birth went amazing and fairly easy, all things considered. But, other health issues from before and after pregnancy have certainly put a damper on the idea of becoming more active.
Ultimately, I don’t want to put unnecessary pressure on myself. It’s always been important for me to not worry about what others think, and to not compare myself unfairly to others.
The truth is, my relationship with my body has been a tumultuous one. But I don’t remember feeling pressure to make others happy with my appearance until after high school. I have gone back and forth on it so much, I just think I have to let go.
I know that the very popular postpartum thing to do is push for that pre-baby body. The truth is, I love food. And I love being active, but I also love my lazy days. I need to focus on a healthy and happy balance for all of these things.
My vision for my life is to work on strengthening my back and joints, which I have systematically abused during my 20s. Playing on the ground with Oscar has reminded me that I am no longer that young, and need to take care of myself. The knowledge of my bipolar reminds me that I should focus on anything that makes me happy. Playing with our son, practicing yoga, expanding my skills as a cook, and nurturing my dream of opening my cafe/diner.
Whatever your vision, make sure you give into that fully, and focus on the happiness. It’s not on anyone else bring light into your life.
And for all of the new mommies out there, don’t let go of the important things for that perfect body. At the end of the day, it’s all just for you.

less than perfect, but that’s okay

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As someone who has been diagnosed with bipolar, I am no stranger to the crippling feeling of anxiety. It is something that can haunt your entire day, and make your brain spin in circles. If you’re anything like me, your brain will pick one minuscule thing and spiral it out of control until you’re lying in bed with your eyes wide open, sleep nowhere in sight.
It’s something that is becoming more common — or perhaps it is just being talked about more now — but I know I am not the only one.
Since giving birth to Oscar, my anxiety seems to have grown into a beast all it’s own. I know, I know, anxiety is something that simply comes along when you have a baby. After all, you’re all of a sudden in charge of this other human being — and it seems sometimes like everything is out to get them. That’s a lot to stress about.
But my mind has gone past that. My mind can start thinking back to every bad moment in my life and settle in there. On top of being a new mother, and moving away from everyone we know, it’s overwhelming.
The fact of the matter is, I am not perfect. Far from it, actually. Nobody is, but I have to try and move past that. My anxiety may try to feed on my mistakes to paralyze me with fear, but it is up to me on how I react to it.
It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to take medicine. It’s okay to spend a day binge watching tv with your son because you’re just having “one of those days.”
The biggest step you can take is not to be too hard on yourself, and enjoy all of the times you do feel okay. Sooner or later, it won’t be as difficult.

my own

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**written 2017**

When the faded colors swim in front of my face
In the place that felt like
A fresh escape
From the serious life I had built
I know it’s all coming back to me.
I knew from my cold shaking fingers
That grasped through the holes
In my sweater
That I had missed a chance at salvation
On yet another sunset in my mind.
And there’s a solid place in my soul
Twisting at the thought of that spot
Next to me, cold now but filled
With hope that not everything was burnt
When I wrung my mind out over this loss.
The bright light took my sight by surprise
As it hurdled towards and crashed into me.
The shattered pieces of time,
Shards of broken memories flew by,
Hidden by the. Spark of rage inside
My body all curled up and stuck in
This prison created by the harsh words, spoken over the knifes edge.
These things took root in the dark spots
Of my heart, and grow in my soul,
Like when your fingers tear at my flesh.
Oh, but hold on.
In this wreckage of self, I see I ripped and bloodied my hand
Grasping for help.
Reaching for any semblance of relief from the pain,
And it turns out the hand it finds is none other than my own.
The self-reliance built upon the foundation
Of recovery tethered to the self-love inside
Will only remind me now that
My escape from this prison has been my own.
Yes, my own all along.
And while your weak-willed nature
Tries to pull me over the cliff’s edge once more;
My feet stand planted firmly on the ground,
Toes flirting with the Earth,
Dirt dancing between them,
And after the harrowing journey to the brink and beyond,
It’s as if the sun is pouring into me
Telling me I’m where I belong.

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lost

**written circa 2007**

I sit and wait along the drive
Watching the intertwining dotted line
Hold my hand for a trippy scene
But don’t take myself away from me.
A frozen sculpture from a heated moment
Paints the decor of my arrival
Drag me along, pull the strings
Wait for retribution and hold on tight
The feelings only going as far and as deep as the imminent heart of night
Each distinctive air and hope floating against themselves.
Awaiting, a hardened padlock adorned with my name
Aching from within on a happy day
Saying goodbye in a terrible way
Hope is the mysterious matter making up the time
Every philosophy of being remembered by a fraction
Destroying all possibility of chance
A broken knife for a forgetful life is all that’s grasped onto for comfort.
The pungent state stings the senses and promises a new world tomorrow.
Helpful sayings to amend lost situations,
But it’s a little too late for the bird to sing.
It can still cry out in desperation
Towards the elimination of everything.

mental health awareness

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Now that I am no longer pregnant, in addition to monitoring both my and Oscar’s physical health, we have to be extra vigilant with my mental health.

The “baby blues” can come in many forms, and can usually sneak up on aa person or their partner. The first time I was pregnant, prior to my bipolar diagnosis, they were worried and followed up because of the adoption.

This time, however, because of my mental illness, the risk factors became more prevalent.

I am happy to report that, thus far, all seems to be good on my end. The biggest thing I am practicing is being open with my emotions.

And, ultimately, it’s something I should practice regularly. This spectacular life of ours is too short and beautiful to not take care of ourselves.

Having a good life companion helps. My husband knows me extremely well, and therefore knows what to look for and how to help me. Building a support network is extremely important, no matter who they are.

Learn to appreciate and be grateful for the good people in your life. I know that I have, and continue to take inventory everyday. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed with what you find.

oscar oberle horvatic

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As some may already know, a few weeks ago we welcomed Oscar into the world. It has made life extremely hectic. I have been able to write up a couple of posts but hadn’t had time to go through and publish them. Some of these will be backdated a little.

October 3, 2018

It has been an overwhelming week to say the least. On Sunday, September 30, I gave birth to baby Oscar. It was an emotionally charged experience, but my heart has been so full ever since.

I am so lucky to have found the love of my life to go on this journey with. Watching Shawn as a Dad has made me fall in love with him all over again.

And now I am twice as lucky; we have created such a perfect little human.

One of the first nights we were home, he was extremely upset and crying — there was some problems for him going to the bathroom at first — I was getting upset myself and started to feel like a failure.

Then both of his tiny little hands grabbed onto my finger and hugged it to his chest. He stopped crying and I was feeling so relieved.

Needless to say, my heart melted and I felt in tune with this journey into motherhood. For the first time in my life, I felt as though I was fulfilling my purpose.

Sure, I still have a lot to figure out. I am certain there will be plenty of defeating moments. But Shawn and I are. Both learning, and will continue to work at this in the best interest of Oscar.

After catching up on some sleep, I can look at the past few days and know that wee will be okay. I am so excited to be walking this path.

Accepting myself

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As I enjoy the end of this pregnancy, I find myself falling into bad habits of picking myself apart.

This pregnancy has been a lot harder on my body than the last. Not only was the morning sickness, gas, back pain and pretty much everything else terrible, but the up and down of my emotions made it so difficult on both me and my husband.

When I became pregnant on my bipolar medication, I listened to the doctors go back and forth on side effects of staying on and the side side effects of going off.

We decided that, with my history, and the fact that the baby had already been exposed to the medicine, that I would stay on the medication. It definitely helped a little with regulation, but as the baby grew and my blood volume grew also, the medication was less and less effective.

It was a hard time for me and those around me.

All that aside, however, I am sitting here, almost done with everything, studying my stretch marks, washing my face to try and help the constant acne and trying to hide my hairy legs.

I know a lot of this is hormones, and some old bad habits. But it’s disheartening when I have worked so hard to focus on positivity. I guess what I am trying to say is that body positivity and the confidence that goes along with it is a constant work in progress. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, just remember to not leave the positivity behind.

Changes on the horizon

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At only 34 weeks pregnant, my mind was still living in it’s procrastinator’s denial. Yes, I see how much my belly is sticking out, obviously I am having a baby. The logical side of my brain recognizes that. Butt until I got admitted into the hospital for preterm labor, there wasn’t a connection in my brain that we would be bringing a baby home, and soon.

The nurses and doctors were under the impression that I knew what to expect because I had given birth before. I was finally able to explain my situation as a birth mother to them and re-emphasize that, other than some reading, I knew very little about what to expect. That seemed to help.

This has been a year of change for me. Shawn and I had been together for about six months, and ended up pregnant.

Fortunately for both of us and our little bundle of joy, our relationship was growing strong and we had already been talking about the future, including marriage. I will never forget what he said when I told him the news.

“This just means we’re moving all our plans up a year — no big deal.”

I am fortunate to be with such an amazing person. Anyways, we quickly made plans to get engaged and married. I managed to plan our wedding in about three months, once I had located a venue.

Both of us couldn’t have been happier with how our wedding turned out, and we were able to stick to a very modest budget along with some generous help from those around us. Getting married felt right and natural — and honestly, since then (June 3rd to be exact), life hasn’t felt all too different.

But after getting through all of that, it was still weird to think that we’d be bringing a baby home. There was so much to do, to prepare. I was starting to feel overwhelmed.

And then, a few weeks ago, I was admitted to the hospital and told I was in preterm labor. Obviously, the goal was to stop it if possible, which they did. I have been on bed rest ever since, and little Oscar has decided he’s going to take his sweet time coming out now.

But at the time, I had no idea and was a little…panicked.

Bless my husband and his parents who took this cue and worked at our home to finish up the nursery.

I am thankful for my mom and sister who also took the time to visit and help me while I was in the hospital.

I wasn’t expecting to not go back to work that day — I had run to the doctor’s office on my lunch break. My employer and coworkers are awesome for handling that sudden change.

I am also grateful to the nurses at the hospital, who I think noticed my fears so they started discussing different things that are good for a new mom to know, and who also reassured me that the hospital would make sure Shawn and I, once Oscar finally did arrive, left prepared to handle things at home.

We have definitely come a ways since then, and there are always more ways to prepare, but I think the most important part for me is that my mind is prepared. I cannot wait to start this journey with my husband and our little dude. I am excited for this new step, and to become a mom.

that time of year

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There’s something about cool spring mornings, with the soft light and crisp air that makes me smile. I remember waking up on these mornings as a kid, on a Saturday, to join my mom and dad out in our screened-in porch. I would sit on the fake grass in the small spots where sunlight hit to warm my skin. I’d be allowed to have a small cup of coffee, which tasted like a treat with cream and sugar swirled about in there.
I don’t know what the proper word would be to describe the feeling that I had on those mornings, that has followed me all the way through adulthood. Every time I wake up and see the cool sunlight peeking through the window, I get flooded with the same emotions.
It’s almost as though I feel inspired, or creative. The possibilities of what I can do, as a person, as a creative soul, feels almost electric at my fingertips.
I have been working a lot lately on positive self-talk. I am aware of the fact that when it comes to getting stuff done, I am my own worst enemy. I crave to read, to write, to draw, to hike. All of these things are right there in the back of my mind, but I find myself following the same unhealthy patterns.
And when spring comes back, and I feel like a little kid again, it gets to the point where it’s more work to ignore the voice in my head telling me to ‘go’ or ‘do.’ If only I could bottle that feeling for the dreary rain and snow days.
I am using my own encouragement and goal-setting to dive into my creative world once again. And I can tell you I already feel happier and lighter. I want to keep this motivation surrounding me, pushing me forward to do better and appreciate more.
I feel the urgency of this mission now more than ever. I want to raise my children in a fun, creative home. I want them to have the inspiration that I have become accustomed to. To use their imagination, and create, is one of the greatest things a child can do.

sober life

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Sobriety is something that has always been a struggle for me. For a long time, those around me were convinced, and were convincing me, that I was simply addicted to alcohol. And there was a problem, but it was much bigger than just addiction.
The diagnosis of being bipolar started to make everything clearer. Patterns started falling into place. The chaos that I kept spinning around me made sense all of a sudden.
I can honestly say that one of the worst things to go through is to feel yourself slipping out of control, and there’s nothing you can do to stop yourself. I am sure to those who are unfamiliar with bipolar will not understand but there are even times where I don’t realize that it’s happening.
Unfortunately, alcohol was a method that fueled this, and I gave into it for years. I drowned my sorrows and disappointments by having fun, claiming it was just a side effect of my youth and boredom from living in the Midwest.
Being trapped on this path shaped a lot of my life. I can think of lucid moments, or even larger periods of time, where I would look at myself from the outside and wonder what the hell I was doing.
Eventually, this slowed down as I become absorbed in my work, however I never fully left it behind.
In late December of 2017, I decided to stop drinking all together. There were one too many times of waking up with no memory of the night before or waking up and feeling shame because of the things I did. And most of all, now that I was on the proper medication for bipolar, all I was doing was causing it to short-circuit by drinking.
Obviously, shortly after that I found out I was pregnant. That takes drinking out of the equation completely, but I am happy that I made the decision prior to that.
I read about and follow a lot of sober success stories; people who are living with purpose and excited about the possibilities since they invested in themselves and have stayed sober. It’s always been an inspiring thing to watch. Now I have decided that I will follow the same path, because what’s more important than the health and happiness in our own lives?

time for change

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So, with everything going on in life, writing has fallen off my to-do list for far too long. For those of you who know me personally, you are aware of the changes I am talking about.
Back in January, I had started school again to finish my bachelor’s degree once and for all. That part was challenging enough, but in February, I found out that Shawn and I were pregnant. This was something that we had not planned but were excited about the news regardless.
I spent two days off work feeling not-too-great and decided to go to the doctor to make sure it was nothing serious or contagious. Imagine my surprise when the doctor comes in the room to tell me that I’m pregnant.
Now, given my history, this was something that I was extremely nervous about at first. Between the bipolar, being in a newer relationship and just starting my life over again last year, the news was overwhelming. But I’m lucky to be dating my best friend.
As soon as I got out of the doctor’s office, I called Shawn and told him the news. He drove home from work right away, and we sat together talking everything over. He made me feel safe and so ready to take this journey. And he assured me that all that had happened was we moved our plans up a year or so.
It was then we decided to get married. Shortly after that, we went and picked out an engagement ring. We did it together, which felt lie the perfect way. A week later when the ring came back sized to perfectly fit my finger, we announced to everyone the good news about getting married. Not too long after that, we shared the great news about the baby.
Even though everything came about as a surprise, our future is laid out before our feet and I couldn’t be more excited. I guess I have never been one of those people who expected to have things work out like this.
I know there will be tough roads ahead, life is never easy, and rarely ends up perfect. But what is perfect anyways? I have dedicated myself to our future, plus I am focusing on self-care and positivity. These things are more important now than ever before. I want to make sure I enjoy my life and that I provide a good environment to my family. Most importantly, I want to share adventures with my love, and teach my son the importance of fun and creativity.
I am so excited for the future, and can’t wait to continue sharing my journey.

release

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Take part in time and lighten your load
Do no accept defeat even as it is handed off
Peculiar settings make for easy days with uneasy feelings leading the way
Hold onto the snake, ride along with the ancient earthquake
Reverberating comfort to us through the ground
Pound pound pound on your heartbeat
Strengthen blood pumping hope to oneself
Decaying bones headed by the fire representing the loss of sanity
Serenity holds the hand of independence
And keeps the wheels going, watch the gears form together.
Connecting as if correlating parts
Throw another log on to stir the embers
Apparently what we’ve missed isn’t nearly enough
Dip under the calm water and feel free to enjoy the ease of its release
A whole lifetime has fluttered by in the blink of an eye as you attempt to remove infection
Look up to the sky, what do you see?
Milky white silhouettes outline what has yet to occur

turning point

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Staying in the emergency room for a day and a half did nothing to ease my anxiety, not only about relinquishing control over my life but also admitting that I really need help. It allowed for a lot of contemplation, and a lot of worry. Going into the hospital last year really tested everything that I had inside me.
When I finally arrived – after an hour-long ride strapped in an ambulance – I was surrounded by an environment that I didn’t understand. My instincts went into overdrive, and I don’t think that my panic has ever been stronger. I sat there just thinking of how I could get out of there to go back and go through the mundane steps of my life. But there I was, and I had no choice but to look forward.
Something that people don’t tell you when you go into the hospital, even willingly, is that you don’t control when they deem you are ready to get out.
The activities with the strange people that I met made me feel extremely disassociated from reality. We worked on different therapy techniques and were allowed the freedom to practice fun activities like drawing, or writing. The greatest gift that was bestowed upon me was a notebook so that I could start distracting myself from my surrounding.
I will say that the best part of being there was sharing my experiences and learning from the experiences of others. There was a wide array of different people there, all with their own baggage. While at first, I was stand-offish to the experience and the people, I started to open up in group, and started sharing during our free time.
After two days I started to feel the fog lift. The seriousness of what I had been through started to seep in, and my brain started thinking of everything I needed to do once I got home. I spent my time there learning about myself with others and working on my first book. I hand-wrote 100 pages, or more, and it was so therapeutic.

When I finally got the okay to go home, my whole body buzzed with excitement. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to start my life once I got out, but I think that getting acclimated to my meds and taking a pause from the every day life that pushed me over the edge got me to a turning point in my recovery.

for tonight

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Close your tired eyes, just for a while
Say goodnight,
Grasp the slipping hand, it’s passing by
Say goodnight
No one will understand what you’ve been through, until tonight
Truth ripping through the soul
You can feel some more
It’s time, goodbye
Who are they to condescend the dreams that were dreamt in bed one night.
There is no more to transcend.
There is nothing left.
No one to fight.
Give in to the warmth at hand.
Then you’ll understand, you have the right.
Look up, the future is here.
It’s not what you feared.
Why say goodbye?
Turning time will only tell
Happiness or burning hell
It will be alright.

the knife’s edge

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Being diagnosed bipolar was something that I really didn’t expect, and totally took me by surprise. I didn’t think of myself as someone who was out of control, and never really thought that there was something in my brain working against me. But I guess that’s how it can work right?
The fact that I saw other’s around me have unsuccessful relationships with doctors and attempts with medications in terms of mental illnesses, on top of the stigma I already had in my mind that there just couldn’t be something that wrong with me, I had a difficult time accepting this conclusion.
On top of that, I had already jumped head first into treatment with the psychiatrist that my doctor had referred me to – and here was I was with a conclusion that I hadn’t expected and wasn’t all that thrilled about. I had two options. I could tell the doctor to fuck off, that there was no way her diagnosis was accurate. Or, I could follow through with the plan that I had set myself on to see where it would take me.
I guess the thought that really pushed me towards getting help was the realization that I had been going through my life with no assistance thus far, and I was still feeling so terrible every day, and things were still falling apart. Seeking medical help seemed to be the one avenue that I hadn’t tried out, and it honestly made sense for me to give it a try. So, I gritted my teeth, and went forward with it.
Something that every medical professional will warn you about, or should warn you about, is that a lot of medications meant to treat depression, or the antipsychotic medicine they can prescribe you to treat bipolar disorder, can make your sense of depression or hopelessness worse before it actually does its job and makes you feel better. Oh, and my favorite, it can make you more suicidal. Appropriate, right?
It was probably a week or so into the new medication when my mind snapped. I had come home from work for two nights straight and sat with a kitchen knife staring at my arm, just thinking about how easy it would be to get it over with. There was still a small voice breaking through telling me how stupid that was, though.
It was the night that I finally cut into my arm that I called my mom and told her that I needed to go to the hospital because I couldn’t trust myself while I was getting acclimated to this new medication. I was lucky enough to not do any damage; the best way that I can explain it is that I cut into my arm to try and feel something. And, as faint as it was, the alarm went off in the back of my mind to reach out for help. I am lucky that I did so. It was then that I would commit myself into the hospital for a little under a week, and give myself a chance to get used to the medication as well as press pause on everything that was causing my mind undue stress.

flow

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It’s not too hard to research some information on a topic of my own
But I will ask you one last time
Why are you so bold?
Walking through an empty hall
Attempting to speak to you about a faith I have never truly held
Do not mock my heart for refuge in my prison-like cell
You would like alone time as well
If you don’t, well you’re a liar.
I will be hasty and call you so because I can
It is as simple as that.
My eyes are swollen and puffy and sad
So how difficult is it to give me the cool clear drops to stop the poison from spreading?
I am sure you are not prepared to meet my demands
Say goodnight and kiss my hair
And be okay with an intermission
You will have to sit still and be quiet for now.
While I suffer through inner turmoil
Thank you for connecting me together
With the silvery smoke
That is currently escaping your world
Just hold my hand
And give me the wave
And allow me to flow all night with you.

what’s up doc

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Time to fast forward a bit so I can give you guys a picture of what I have been living with all these years, and so you can see the culmination of almost ten years of up-and-down chaos come to a stop. All I can say is that now, looking back on everything and understanding myself and the circumstances, I can make a more concerted effort to be a better, more appreciative version of myself than before. That’s how I want to live and have been trying to push to live my life, in the past year and a half or so.
Back in 2016, I was in the throws of a deep depression. Well, correction, it was more of an up-and-down rollercoaster. This was a pattern I was familiar with, or I guess that the people closest to me were familiar with. Since my vision was so clouded by the thoughts that my mind convinced me were real and important, I thought that I was a self-realized person. And, in comparison to a lot of cases, I was. Unfortunately, my ability to convince myself that I was smart enough to know everything that was going on and keep an eye on it myself had kept me away from doctor’s and away from anyone who could have potentially helped me any sooner.
Anyways, the erratic behavior that my family and friends had seemingly grown accustomed to had started to resurface in a volatile manner. I chopped my hair even shorter. I dyed it blonde…again. Then it was blue. Then, it was purple. I was chain smoking. I spent a couple nights drinking by myself. I started spending money, recklessly. These were all just external examples of the way I was trying to control my body because I felt like everything was spinning out of control.
I spent everyday on the up-up-up to get through work. Logistics is a tough industry and requires a lot of energy and attention to detail to get through it. I was able to throw energy into it to get through the day. For the most part, the hysteria or the complete empty feelings that gnawed at my insides were kept at bay while I was at work and had to focus on these tasks.
But as soon as I left, the distraction was gone, and the feelings settled in. And I was in for a long night. I had finally sought out the help from my general doctor to start getting to the bottom of whatever was going on with me. I figured it was a minor case of depression, perhaps with a side of anxiety. I figured that’s all it could be, and I knew so many other people who were affected with variations of the same.
The process with medication started off slow, but I was open-minded to it. You’ll have to keep in mind that I had already spent ten years neglecting that anything was wrong. By this time, I had reached out for help, I was ready to accept what they had to offer.
So – as I said, the process started off slow with the medication specifically geared towards depression and anxiety. It took weeks of testing out different medicines and their side effects, and then moving over to a psychiatrist to start narrowing down that it wasn’t just depression and anxiety, there was something else at work.

mundane

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Mundane
That it haunts me to know I cannot move forth
And to move the vase of flowers
To the closet from the window
They’re so perfect the iridescent green holds onto the water droplets as a struggle.
Well I won’t stop it, just infringe it.
So, don’t mock my hair, which is fried from
Colors and burnt on the ends
For an artificial high.
Haha – I don’t think so.
Not another happy ending when I am
Standing in the cold, smoking a cigarette,
From the cheapest brand I don’t enjoy
Give me your oversized sweater and flee
I won’t stop you
I merely seek warmth and comfort
And snowy kisses on a mountain
When we occupy your dreams
They will transcend into reality
Until we’re actually there with the manmade
Snow fluttering all around us
And we drink our cocoa
At separate, stringent tables
Do not forget to pray for those
Who do not seem fortunate enough
To experience such a dream like reality.
Who knew we were so lucky to hold our own
But please do not untie my dress
I quite like it hanging there from my assets from my mother.
So just allow it to adorn me for now.
The weekend is almost over anyways
So, we’ll be heading back to mundane
Soon if there are no obstacles
And no more forks in the road.

muse

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I can’t begin to grasp your fingers
Too large for mine
Small dainty fingers
You don’t care, you cover me up
And hold me together just like the glue
You used to fix my elephant
When you were my hero and I was upset
The clothes are too big, too baggy to hide my new-found beauty
It is tiny and cold and pale and yours
You will wrap me up in your arms
Because it’s still too cold for one as frail as me.
Your arms are too big
So, I’ll be content to swim in your embrace as long as it’s you.

pieces

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This feeling of concern about self-control is bleeding through the cracks;
I hold onto one single breath
I can’t let go because it hurts; and the whole thing is twisted.
A topsy-turvy occurrence of confusing circumstances controlling the night around being
Keep in touch with your soul
Fragmented shards flying through
Transcending all that is known
In and out the grains of fabric
That clothe the reality that surrounds the iridescent particles of color that put together my body
And it frames my world with swirly rips from my heart.
Freak out the crazy, push it to the back, no longer alone.
Just keep me alive.
Everyone’s life; grains of sand and clay
Broken pieces through the cracks.
Might as well not let them slip while you still can.
It’s all a little bit more entertaining when you place it in that order.
So, lock away the box from my dreams in your nook.
Do me the favor and never let me see them again.

pour me another drink

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Alcohol was easily defined for me as a lubricant for my social awkwardness. It started right after I graduated from high school and was forced out of my comfort zone. As I already reminisced, my freshman year found me at Eureka College. It was only a 45-minute drive from home, and with my car on campus with me I had the luxury of escaping back home. This allowed me to only approach the first year to my college experience with a ten-foot-pole.
I had a hard time connecting to people. For the first time, I was in different settings, trying different things and meeting new people. After growing up in the same town that I felt safe and comfortable, I was suddenly hit with crippling anxiety. I couldn’t just talk to new people. I couldn’t be the outgoing, fun-loving person I thought I was. Any party at school I attended, or any time I ate lunch in the cafeteria, it was like my entire body was an exposed nerve.
The comfort of alcohol was like an answer to my prayers. It literally gave proof to the term “liquid courage.” Suddenly, I was able to talk openly with people. Small talk was no longer something that left me frozen with fear.
It brought on something new that I wasn’t used to either. Most of my life, I was never the girl that stood out. I was never exactly the center of attention at parties – or most venues, for that matter. And then, thanks to alcohol, all of that changed. Laugh out loud memories, connecting with new friends and getting hit on by guys that I would have never thought.
At the time, it was fulfilling because I thought these were the types of memories I should be making. I thought that if I spent too much time alone, or being anti-social, that I was doing something wrong. And my anxiety did nothing to help with my feelings of isolation from others my age. I would spend time reading, writing or watching T.V. and wondering if I was doing enough to cultivate my social life. It was this internal struggle and my desire to fit in and – yes, I will admit it – desire for attention that pushed me even farther into the party scene.
One thing to note is that partying is not an uncommon theme from my hometown, so between my time at school and driving home to visit new groups of friends, I was pushing my own limits of what I was comfortable with on all fronts. My alcohol intake began to grow every night I drank, and then the number of nights I drank became more often each week. And so far into my experiences drinking, other than a few…. adventures I decided to go on, I was just having some harmless, young fun.
It began as harmless fun, but I clung to alcohol has the fun in my life and the only method of entertainment. By the time I got to NIU for my second year, it was a crutch that I leaned on heavily. I was able to make friends, but my focus was obviously not on my studies as I fell deeper into the bottle.

nostalgia gone wild

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A part of me still feels like the 18-year-old girl who had the world laid at her feet, so many opportunities to choose from. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have ended up in a good spot and have finally found myself in a place where I am extremely happy. I also don’t believe in regrets — I have lived my life. I am chock full of experiences – some good, a lot of bad.
I suppose when I was 18, and I was granted the full liberty to go and do whatever I wanted, the overwhelming urge to go-go-go became a visceral need. Luckily, I was young, and surrounded by other young people growing up in a town with little entertainment to offer.
Pressure was mounting because of senior year, and the pinnacle of my life’s work – getting into a good college and making my family proud – was finally on the horizon. Never in my life did I think that I would start shrinking away from the challenge.
We were climbing in my two-door cavalier ten people at a time to go on all-night adventures, fueled by crappy Denny’s coffee and cigarettes. Hiking trips in the bright rays of the sunrise, down by the river front or up under the bridge to overlook the highway. Only wearing light hoodies, worn down moccasin shoes and our hair too disheveled for our own good – because at the time, that was what looked good, you know.
We were having too much fun running amuck to do any real damage, but there wasn’t much focus on my future or concern about anything past the night ahead. And while that worked for the time being, when it finally came time to pick a college, I used my lame relationship that would only last about a month longer as an excuse to pick a college close to the area. I even tried insisting on living at home during this time.
Lucky for me, my mom pushed me out of my comfort zone and even though I ended up at a nearby college, I did end up living in the dormitory there. It was my first college experience, but it was mine.
I know that the people in my life who maybe didn’t understand those late-night adventures with my friends during those adolescent years saw this time as “the turning point” for me. This is when I turned from the girl who barreled straight-ahead towards her future with no fear to someone who proceeded with caution, and clung to the familiar.
My dream was to always be a writer, and while I was out there living my life, and I was still writing, some might say that I wasn’t as focused as I needed to be. Some could argue that these experiences helped form me into a more well-rounded person. Experiences can help fill in some gaps, and move a person forward.
This was a time where everything was exciting to me. I started off every day feeling fabulous. I had a couple good friends who would ride-along with me, encouraging my whirlwind ideas and enjoying the late nights, heavy eyes and couch surfing.
When my high school graduation came and went, so did any sense of responsibility. Starting the night of my graduation, drinking copious amounts of liquor became my famous past time. I had made some new friends who would have everyone over to drink at their apartment regularly. This began a whole new phase for me, and if the people in my life thought I had hit a turning point before….they hadn’t seen anything yet.

lost places

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It’s a sad truth that through our lives, as we construct the building blocks of memories in an ever-changing landscape, that the scenery starts to change. We don’t expect for these foundations to slowly fade away; until one day they are no more than wisps of nothing.

I miss the beach off the gravel track, with the morbid nickname. The river water would do its delicate dance, lapping at the edges of the world as our footsteps found their way.

I miss the tunnel that never ends. In the darkness, when we all grab hands and run until our lungs could burst with the urgency of it all; and the echoes fly around like birds in the sky.

I miss the hidden field, where cars and bikes and civilization couldn’t reach. The warm sun beating down on the soft grass or lying back on the blanket to count the stars winking back at us like old friends.

I miss the skeleton houses on the lake, decrepit and old and filled with the lives of people before. Where we would climb over nature to snap the best photo shots and zoom in on these forgotten homes.

I miss the spot under the bridge, where the colors splashed across the canvas with purpose and meaning. And our fingertips turned blue from the paint, but it was ok because we were creating our own worlds.

I miss the ledge that overlooked the city most of all. Where I spent so many nights sleeping, and talking, and dreaming, and exploring, and fighting, and loving, and hoping. And while I knew the nooks and crannies of the city below, from up above I still felt the magic of possibility.

questions

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When I walked in the room and eyes fluttered my way,
And my ears turned red,
I remember today,
How it felt to feel naked and be scared of the world.
In a place long ago, before I had grown in
I place my finger on the memory that bleeds so badly.
It gushes and gushes with remembrance I no longer wish to hold
Even though I know I have stored it away,
but not for long.
I will use it against you
when you threaten those things,
When you threaten me for death and even for living.
That doesn’t scare me, don’t be so bullheaded.
I may take a lot of things and place them under my hat,
Even though it is falling apart.
So what I ask is this: What is the idea?
When I am all huddled and frightened of things
That happened in dreams, and places that don’t touch me.
What is it, then, that holds onto my wrist and measures its size?
Only because that’s what I like to do,
You can find it queer but at least I’m not the one who thinks highly of himself.
I take a needle to my eye and draw within it the thread
That I have sewn and cared for and created for so long.
I tie it in a knot around the things I have seen,
Those are held in a place in the dark corners of being.
Through the tunnel out of hazel that you didn’t see coming
is when you’ll be slapped in the face
for questioning the things that you have.
Like the pretty questions of who is sleeping there
and how can I get away with such things.
Well, do not ponder for long on the ideas
I have held in the pocket in my pants that fit all too tightly.
Isn’t that what you wanted?
A simple reprieve…
How about the book written about the secrets of you and me?
You should thank me now for not being a blabbermouth
And respect the fact that I also hide in your lies;
behind the new girlfriends but before the story of your drinking.
Keep it all in order, and it will all be okay.

let’s black out the bad

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A difficult part of recovery that has been a pain point for me has been how to handle drinking – particularly in social situations. I – much like others who suffer with bipolar or other mental illness – spent many years turning to self-medication via alcohol.
Nights drinking with Manic-Rikki, however, were a very different experience from anything that someone who knows me now could imagine. On a good night, I would simply collect as many people together as I could, figure out a venue for us to hang out, and let the good times ensue. Sure…it led to some wicked hangovers, but that was no harm.
There were times more often than not that have become fuzzy around the edges – of the parts I can remember at all. Dangerous choices were made, I was carefree and way too wild. I trusted the wrong people, focused on unimportant things and checked out of my out life.
It’s hard for me to think about this, admit this, or sometimes even see this in my past as it was sometimes just a collection of three days…and then I would be okay for two months. But then two weeks I would go insane. A week of depression. Then claw my way out.
And over…and over…and over…
Once I moved back home from college, there was a good four or five months of struggle before I ended up pregnant. I was shocked awake, and was lucky enough to be drawn away from everything that was feeding the chaos in my head.
After the pregnancy, I was terrified of going back to the life I once lived. I was terrified of hitting rock bottom. I no longer knew the person that was back before, but I wasn’t sure who I was supposed to be. And while it was a slow slide…. I did eventually find myself back in turmoil, pouring myself into a bottle a night to tuck myself away from my problems and deal with the disappointment in myself and the loss I was feeling.
Interestingly enough, me getting a car and being hired for my first “grown up” job – in logistics – in Peoria gave me a reason to clean up my act. I was now a Monday-Friday worker, and I had a job that was somewhat challenging.
Life was exciting again!
Over the next few years, I went through phases of weekend partying, followed by months of sobriety. I couldn’t find the right mix, and would get myself so worked up that I felt the only way to have a social life was to jump back into the old one. Hell, sometimes I still feel like that.
It wasn’t until I moved out of my mother’s house, and was in a new city, with my new job that I started having to face this demon along with many others. My relationship to alcohol wasn’t one of those things that was clearly defined, or that was even harmful all the time, so it wasn’t even the star of the show for a long while. But eventually, like everything, it had to be addressed.

hold onto me then

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The parting water sweeps the skin
Churns angrily in the night
Melt away with me, the stars have shown their spite
The crowds yell out to us now
Calling for consummation on the drive.
Hold onto me then, I will lead you through the light.
The scales draw out the blood now
It’s almost time to drink
Trickle with the sweat snow, tell the brain not to think
Dilate your senses baby
We’re almost on the brink
Allow the darkness to swallow you
I am right here at your side
Hunt the gods in me babe
The only law we must abide
Do not allow your frame to slip away
Be afraid, hold onto me then, swallow your goddamn pride
Paint the sand tonight with your fingertips
Then desecrate the bride
Let’s leave our mark on the world honey
Let us go cause a riot
Run through trees and dive off cliffs
Perhaps we may take flight
Recognize yourself in me
You really ought to try
Hold onto me then, I will lead you through the fire
Salty tears of the lust run down my face
Figure out the plan for us before time slips away
Run into the streets with me, I will win the race
The belt tightens, deathly like
And we’re gone without a trace
Hold onto me then, I will lead you through the lace
Ring the bell of mercy baby
Cry out in the angst
Force your voice to be heard
So everyone may have a taste
The worst is yet to come for us
If we fail to move with haste
Hold onto me then, baby, I will lead you through the waste
Come on honey, let’s face the truth
As it crowds underneath your soul
Realize your lost to young, your dug into a hole
Twice around the wrist now baby
Go on and measure its size
Hope is all that we have left, are you ready for the surprise
Hold onto me then, baby, I will lead you through demise.

living my recovery

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I can look back at my life in pieces, and see the rollercoaster that time has taken me on; the ups and downs throughout my adolescence and twenties that brought me to where I am today. It’s a difficult reflection for me, thinking about who I was in the past.
People tell you that after your 18th birthday, after your 21st birthday, after your 25th birthday, years will just start to slip away, and that time will disappear on you in a flash. All of these years are ingrained in my memory, to the best of their ability considering the circumstances – and my love of alcohol.
The thing that no one can prepare you for is how to handle and fix your life if you’re losing your mind. No one has a guide for you for how to ask for help, especially in cases that aren’t cut and dry. If you aren’t an addict, or a constant danger to yourself, then as an adult it is difficult for outside people, even your family, to know that everything, including your mind, could be crumbling around you.
Of course, I didn’t know any of this back then. I thought I was just a girl who liked to have just a little too much fun. When you’re in college, that’s seemingly acceptable, even when your grades suffer a little because of it. I didn’t realize then that alcohol and the constant partying was simply a form of self-medication, and a tool that my mind was using against me. And even though my loved ones were a little worried about the recklessness – what could they do?
I wish I knew then what I know now. It has been a little over a year since my diagnosis with bipolar disorder, and even though I still don’t fully understand it, I have studied it enough to trace its destructive path throughout the chaos of my life. The ups, downs and the plateaus have all started to come together and make sense; it’s as though I could paint my life as a self-portrait of how the disorder has affected my adult life thus far.
And, of course, it doesn’t stop there. There have also been long-time body issues such as body dysmorphia along with binge-eating and food restriction over the years, on top of an abuse of alcohol and other issues of excess. My body has spent years racked with guilt and anxiety over ideas that are either created in my head, or that are insignificant to begin with. My fear has allowed me to distance myself from friendships, ruin relationships and test my commitment to my family.
Today, I am managing my illness, and since I have begun the journey of recovery, my life has improved exponentially. I have been able to allow myself to experience life more socially, I have improved relationships with family members and friends, I am in the healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in, I am finally pursuing the last leg towards my bachelor’s degree, I am working towards body positivity and am making headway in my career.
And it’s been like this for a year now. Most of the time, I am taking small steps forward, but occasionally take giant steps back. I still feel anxious enough to want to stay home from work sometimes, or hide out from people and avoid conversations, but most of the time I’m at least able to push through the rough days – and at least my head is a lot clearer now. That’s all apart of recovery though, and part of the learning curve…give and take.