Things that change

There are things that are going to change over time in a person:

Such as their appearance, status, health, how much money they have, their workplace, employment status, world views…

But things like character and personality are most likely not going to. It’s common, but foolish to judge someone by their external current state of being. It takes a wise person to look beyond the transient.

Life update: improvements!

Hey there! I know it’s been awhile, but a lot has changed (for the better) in my life, and I’m happy to say that I’ve been busy.

  1. Meds: I’ve come down on my lithium, finally! I was taking four little pills worth 1050mg per day, but now I am down to 900mg. I asked my doctor about this because of my hand tremors, and out of the three things I was taking, lithium seemed to be the one that was probably causing it- and plus, I have been feeling a lot better lately, so this was a good time to lower my dosage. I’ve asked about possibly coming off of lithium completely, and it sounds like it’s a possibility, but something we would reconsider more down the road.
  2. Career Choice/School: I signed up for a boot camp preparation class for software engineering, which is very INTENSE. There is pre-readings, the classes themselves (4 days a week), then the homework which follows that. It’s made me very busy and I am so happy that I am at the level where I can occupy myself with something other than just my recovery. I’m also really glad that I’m on this set path with a clear career goal. I’m really excited to be embarking on this challenge.
  3. Yoga: I went back to my yoga practice, which I abandoned almost a year ago. I’m doing vinyasa style yoga, which means that there are almost no pauses between poses, and moves very fast. I am hoping to get more toned and a little stronger because I’ve atrophied a lot from my depressed days when I stayed cooped up at home for days. Yoga just makes me feel good.
  4. Therapy: I’ve faced some of my demons, and I am becoming more self aware about my relationship with them. Some of the main ones were workaholism, having bipolar itself/self-stigmatization, things from the past that have been fueling my PTSD, anxieties, my situation (where my life suddenly just fell apart) , losing friends etc. I’ve really made peace with these, and I feel good about it. There is still a lot more that I need to tackle, but some progress is better than no progress.

Those are the main ones I feel improved in the past month or so. Since school is taking most of my time out of my schedule, I think I will continue giving short updates like these every few weeks, so stay tuned!

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.

 

Going bonkers

Therapy (emotionally) hurt today. It was like putting salt in the wound, or breaking a piece of bone that was healing the wrong way. I’m not mad about it, but I acknowledge that it hurt really badly.

It was about my workaholism and how I bend backwards to please people who are paying for me to do any job. I noticed that whatever I do, whether I love the thing that I’m doing or not, I get obsessive about it. I compulsively checking for errors, or redoing things that don’t really need redoing just because I see flaws. And I see flaws everywhere in my work- I cannot unsee it. That usually ends up costing me my health and my sanity, and sometimes, as a result, my job.

It’s a sensitive topic for me because I am more self conscious about my work product than myself as a person. I can laugh off jokes about how I look and how I talk, but I have a hard time laughing off jokes about my abilities or intellectual capacity. I take other people’s opinions about them more seriously than I should, and it’s a weakness that I’m aware of.

I hate that I had to go back and access the memories right before I got hospitalized etc. to talk about these issues I had with C, but there was no other way to process. I got really upset talking about it and had to miss my class afterwards because I felt like I was retraumatized. I think it was a useful discussion to have, but with my confidence so low and my depression not yet gone, it was extremely difficult for me to talk through reasons why I could not stay at my old job like most normal people.

Speaking of normality, I feel isolated and sad because I remembered that I lost all my friends before my diagnosis. I made some new ones, but it’s hard to have the same kind of conversations with someone new. I worry that once I get older and when my parents are no longer there, I will literally have no one, and that I’m going to die alone in my apartment and not be found while my cat eats my face to survive.

I just read everything again, and clearly I’m spiraling tonight.

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.

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.