Just another ramble

Hi all,

It’s me again. Checking back sporadically as always about inane details of my life. I’m officially signed up for coding bootcamp that starts in January! I’m really excited and nervous about this. Excited  because I feel like I am finally going after my dream of working as a tech nerd, and nervous because I’m not sure how much I’ve recovered- and if I have, how much my body (and mind) is capable of tolerating the long hours. I mean, much like after a huge physical health scare, of course that will be a worry- the relapse. In my mind, it’s something inevitable, as I have already proven to myself this week by getting sick from overworking (read, it was just homework for a class). So, I may not be physically ready for this thing. I don’t know. But I do have until January to get back on track with my physical health.

Another thing that happened was, that I reached out to some people who used to be in my life. One was a best friend, and the other was my ex-boyfriend. I never would have done this if my therapist hadn’t suggested it. I will tell you that right off the bat, what happened was drastically different. My best friend took me in with open arms, even when I apologized for my inappropriate bipolar driven behavior towards her, and we are now back to being friends like nothing ever happened. My ex, on the other hand, was a different story. He also apologized, but for the failed attempt at communication (which I didn’t think was the main reason for the relationship’s demise, but we can agree to disagree), and told me that he was seeing someone else. He did add that we should meet for coffee if I was still in Chicago, but I think he might have just added it as an afterthought. Who knows. All in all, I thought it was nice of him to respond. My therapist noted from both reactions of the people who responded, that one knew me, the true me, and that the other one, didn’t.

Speaking of friends, I’m making new friends! After being frightfully lonely from self-isolation, (for the fear of being found out about having bipolar and the stigma,) I decided to say yes to making friends. I looked for meetups and said yes to every opportunity thrown at me. I even said yes to going to a music/dance festival even though I’m way too self-conscious and don’t like dancing in public, and it turned out, I actually had fun!

I’m finally near the finish line for completing a course that I always wanted to take since college (but couldn’t because I had other degree requirements to finish), which is Algorithms. I took it through Stanford on Coursera, and while it was difficult, I got through it.

Running is going well! I started with 1 minute walking, then 2 minute running, then increased that to 10 minutes of running slowly, then upped that to 20 minutes.

Today I’m down with a cold, but looking back at September, there were many milestones I should celebrate.

What a week

I slept more than how much a cat sleeps in a day today. I couldn’t help it! I was just so tired. I’ve had two technical interviews/assessments this week for a software engineering/coding bootcamp, and I mostly blame it on that. Those things are exhausting. On top of that I had class at night, and a bunch of studying for the said class during the day. I’m glad that I’m doing all this because it makes me happy and I love it, but sometimes I forget that just because I don’t mind doing it, doesn’t mean I get a jail free card from being exhausted from doing too much.

I am super stoked that at this point in my life, mental illness doesn’t define me. It definitely has in the past, if you scroll down to some of my earlier blog posts from a few months ago. I’m actually doing everything I love/want to be doing right now, which is running almost daily (although not very much), studying what I love learning about, and of course, having some sort of purpose/direction in life. Even though things are not perfect, I could have more friends, and I’m not “there yet” (we never are, or we’d we dead) I am so grateful to be at this point in my recovery for everything that I can do again. I mention this a lot about finally becoming stable because, I used to believe that I was going to be depressed forever, and have serious symptoms of bipolar forever. But nothing is forever, and even if some of it is, you learn to cope with it. So I pray that you, reader, can find some hope in reading about my high points in my life- it will come to you too.

There is still a ton of things left to do, such as another technical interview for this other school I applied for, and more studying to do on higher-order functions and closure (which are difficult topics at first for someone studying computer science). My month long class ends next week so I’m hoping I can get a breather when that ends.

Manic Sunday Funday

I have several rules when I feel manic. No online shopping, no signing up for things, no making of such decisions that are possibly life altering unless consulted with a family member. Writing a blog post is not barred by any of these above rules, so while my unreliable sense of excitement about writing something lasts, I’ll be writing this post.

It feels like this: it feels like a prophet has come to you from the heavens and has given you your life mission, in this instance, it is writing this post. It could be anything really, like draw a lot of heads, or read until your eyes hurt, or look at job postings hour after hour without needing to rest. None of which, in hindsight, are not really things that should be “goals,” but rather everyday tasks. It feels so exciting to be doing such said task, you forget about everything else. Sometimes this is good if you want to forget all your life’s troubles for a while, but if it does persist, too much excitement for too long, can really do harm.

What are your rules you have for yourself when you are manic (if you have them)?

 

Career path: too many thoughts

In retrospect, I don’t know if the things I accomplished thus far were “a step forward.” Malcolm Gladwell asserts that you need to have 10,000 hours behind you to call yourself a master,  or get more than just “good” at doing something. But the caveat is, you have to do it right. If you practice wrong, you’re practicing to be bad at something, theoretically. I look at 10,000 hours of waking life that is behind me and ask myself, did I do my life right?

If one is asking that question, the answer must surely be no. You don’t really question things you did right; most of the time, they are taken for granted. Was it since college? Before college? Was it my major? Or that one internship? That relationship? That friend? I could ponder this question to get to the bottom of where “things went wrong” but I know it’s stupid to expect a cut and dry version of the unfortunate origin for it all.

While it was all happening, though, it felt right. It was difficult, but what isn’t difficult that is worth achieving? I managed to get through it all. It was the wrong kind of difficult, sure, the depression inducing, bipolar eliciting kind, but I didn’t know this at the time.I was, in a sense, practicing life wrong, if you will.

So from where I stand now, effort seems futile if it’s misdirected. And if I overwork. If I trust my decision making skills. Right now is when I need to trust myself the most, I feel as if I have the least amount of confidence for it, after all that has happened. Right now is when I need to take a leap of faith, but I am the weakest I have ever been.

I’m scared that this artist thing isn’t going to pan out. I already started looking at becoming a graphic or UX designer instead. The job where you do everything on the computer. Jobs that are digital are more viable, it’s a no brainer. But I look at both and try to imagine 5 to 10 years from now on, how I would feel about my choices then, and I just can’t- things are too hazy, there are too many moving pieces for me to be able to predict what might happen, and what might be a better choice. Again, the leap of faith awaits.

I know that it’s a luxury to be able to sustain indecision. I’m not that young anymore (neither too old), but not young enough to be trying every single thing that’s out there to see which career fits like a glove. I shouldn’t even be thinking about this at this hour.

 

Two steps back one foot forward

Thank you for being there for me, everyone. Your comments, likes and reads have helped me to hold on to dear life this past week. I truly think your thoughts and prayers got heard, and the mental health gods decided to spare me this time, again.

Motivation is coming back to me, slowly. I’m not as triggered by things and the dissociation went away. I’m so thankful that this depressive episode was just a short one.

Here is where I went wrong. I thought I was safe, and that my rapid cycling bipolar had stabilized because I had been more than OK for more than two months. But it humbled me again with another episode. I’m never safe. I’m never cured, even with the help of anything. It has to be managed. I think I put too much stress on myself by taking up full time classes and freelance jobs. They were great experiences, but I feel like I put those job related things before my mental health- and if I don’t want another episode in the future, that really needs to change. So, this month has been two steps back. We live and learn.

It has been quite a while, depression

I didn’t really see it coming for me this time. I know I had been really busy, and it was a bit of a stretch right now to be doing anything full time in my condition, but I did it anyway.

My perception shifts, once again, to the negatives I have in my life. The negatives I have not even thought of for a month or so. I have no real friends where I am, I have no job, I live with my parents, I have no idea what to do about my future. It’s all doom and gloom. I try, at the same time, to remember the upsides, but it sounds like a false prophet. I don’t really feel it. I feel numb, and gratitude can’t be felt with all this numbness.

Call it what you will. The ripple effect from Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. But that’s not what this is about.

When I shift into this kind of mode, as I’ve written about it before, the colors literally look less vibrant, and I can’t emote. I can’t work out, and everything is a catastrophe in my head. Everything I’ve ever done is useless, and I feel like a victim in every episode in my life. I see in my head, a full house of the people who know me, laughing at me for where I am in my life.

My head decided that today was a mixed episode kind of day. So I’ve painted the whole day away, and I don’t feel even a little accomplished or joyful.

I’m going to try to ride it out. But this sucks.

I’m an illustrator! How my life took a dramatic turn (once again)

I feel like it has been ages since I last posted. I should say that it was not because of something bad happening, but it was because of something normal. More than just normal, but good. I’ve been very busy.

I have some good news- and it is especially good because it is about my career and where it is headed. I mentioned before that I was struggling quite a bit to find out what I was going to do for the rest of my life, and I know now. Not fully, but well enough to feel pretty secure. And it’s a cliche, but it had been under my nose all along.

It was this one week, you see, when everything changed. When everything clicked. When it felt like it was a sign from the universe, or God or what have you. It was a validating hug that came from all directions.

First, one of my classmates from the art class I was taking reached out to me to ask if I was interested in some illustration work. She knew a friend of a friend who needed illustrators. My illustration so far had been only for my own pleasure, or what someone might describe as “just a hobby, nothing more.” It had been more than that; it was my therapy- it was where I found peace. I constantly sketched, painted, inked- mostly animals, especially my cat. But a year had passed and I found my skills good enough to draw professionally! The guy wanted animal illustrations (in my own style!)-I was stoked because I could not call myself a commercial artist or illustrator until this day, technically. He liked my portfolio on instagram, and we got to work. I was so proud and happy at the thought that I could maybe make money while doing something I love. I took it as a sign.

The same week, I got another commission. It was for several pet portraits. This time, it was similar- I was at church, and I showed my instagram (which is basically my portfolio) filled with ink drawings and watercolor paintings of animals, and she wanted some of my work for her bedroom! I was so excited to have not one, but two projects come up when I least expected it. I usually don’t believe in this stuff, but this was the universe giving me a thumbs up to what I have been doing with my time, and perhaps a sign that I was heading in the right direction.

My therapist was not surprised when these boons came my way. She had the “I told you so” look on her face. She said that she told me before that I was a good artist, and she knew something like this would happen. She said that she saw a lot of clients who struggle with their creativity and artistic abilities because society isn’t very accepting of us creatives. Instead the message is, “get a stable high paying job, start a family and retire early” and not “do what you do is best suited for you.” I don’t think my math degree and my subsequent job in finance was a waste of time. But I am rather glad that I found out early enough that I had something better waiting for me.

The next step for me would be to keep taking classes, get better at my craft, and above all, create more places online in order to reach out to people to sell my art.