My most peaceful time is when I take a bath on the weekends or a day off. I play my Spotify through my Bose speaker and shut the world out for a while. During the week, I’m a no-nonsense bather. Turn on water – make sure it’s hot – test that theory a couple times – get hair wet – wash the private parts – wash face – wash hair (every other day) – wash body – and out! No peace in that routine! It’s all about efficiency. I do some of my best thinking during “not rushing to go to work” bath times. And the other morning, I thought – “I haven’t really gotten over anything”. It hit me hard. I teared up. I’ll start thinking about the past, and what I’ve endured. One of 2 things happens – I can’t believe I’m still alive or I can’t believe I can manage a career, relationships – or leaving the house. I could list all the things I’ve been through, but I hardly believe it myself sometimes. I know people who have lost their ability to function having gone through 1 of the things – much less a combination, and I feel blessed. I’ve been sexually abused, physically abused, mentally & verbally abused and raped. I’ve been diagnosed over the years with Bipolar, Personality Disorder and PTSD. The Personality Disorder has faded, as it can through age, or therapy. My Bipolar and PTSD are pretty prevalent. I think they always will be. I live in harmony with them a lot of the time. I’m sure there are plenty of you out there who see your Bipolar, BPD, PTSD, etc as shoot offs of your personality. I know I do. I was reading a journal of mine from February 2014. I guess I was searching for some clarity in dealing with my Bipolar, and I said the following. (journal entry)
February 2014: So I found the 12 Steps for Bipolar and it’s the same as AA, or any other 12 step program. Like I felt in 1992, I feel the same now. GOD. It really bothers me that God is the one big theme. I believe in God. I do. But, I believe in the spirits and the Universe more. I pray for others, but for myself, I talk to the spirits. How does one work that into a 12 step program? I guess I give everything over to the Universe? Maybe, that’s it. And, clearly I need to go to my Bipolar groups I know this will help me grow more. Who am I saying it out loud to? And how can I help others like me if I’m always hiding? I should be in AA but I don’t think I can do it. It’s just a form of hiding, too. Fact is, I’m an addict – Eating disorders, GW, pain pills. I don’t care about the eating, altho, if I’m honest, I’ve thrown up 4-6 times in the last month – and here and there in the previous months. I think food is still an issue for me. Self image. Feeling fat. Control. Wow. Writing it down makes me feel like a weakling. But, after looking at my step work from 1992, nothing has changed. What a kick in the pants.
Wow. I wanted to leave words out of this journal entry, but I just can’t do it. So, in February of 2014, that’s how I felt. I remember how I was feeling then. I was still trying to recover from my abusive relationship (still am), and I was feeling out of sorts. During this time, I was in therapy, but I wasn’t comfortable with her because she was too young to understand anything real, at least to me. In 1992, I was hospitalized for an eating disorder. Up to that point, I had been active in an eating disorder for years. I did a very good job hiding it. I remember feeling fat in Elementary School – so much so that I wouldn’t wear jeans because I looked fat. I was in 4th grade or 5th. I thought I was fat all the way through Junior High. I really started getting into my eating disorder in high school when I gained a lot of weight after being told I couldn’t play sports anymore. I started throwing up my food. I didn’t really lose weight, but I didn’t gain weight either. Then as the years went on, I would eat, binge, but not eat a lot. AND I was taking laxatives way too much. I’m not going to say how many or what I ate, how much or how I threw up, but I was out of control. By my Senior Year, I just stopped eating, and when I did eat, I threw up, and then I also took laxatives. I was killing myself. I went off to college and stayed up all night in a dorm in Abilene, and I only had myself to answer to, so I exercised all night long. Vicious cycle. Mom realized there was something terribly wrong, so I came home and went to our junior college in my hometown. Things weren’t getting better. SO – Mom put me in the hospital. I had to be watched 24 hours a day until they felt I was OK to sleep, eat and pee alone. I mean – I had a watcher. I was in the hospital for 3 weeks, and in that time, I had to learn how to eat again, deal with my feelings. I spent a couple more months going to outpatient therapy. That therapy was the first time I ever talked about anything serious. I spoke about my family and some history there, and spoke about past boyfriends, and past abuses. I was 19. During that inpatient stay, I was required (because a bus took me there) to go to AA. Of course the first meeting I attended, I saw an old school mate, and he had called me fat in junior high. That day, we were both at an AA meeting, and he came over to me and apologized for calling me fat (I wasn’t). I have no idea where he is today, but I hope he’s well. So, when I referenced 1992 in my journal entry, I was referring to my eating disorder. I know I have my 12 steps from 1992. They are in storage, but I take the time to read them every 5 years or so. I think it’s important. Reading about my eating disorder reminds me that even up to 2018, there were times I threw up. It depended on what I ate. Eating pizza is a huge trigger. Even my ice cream triggered me. I simply had to stop throwing up because my neck was getting worse every day and throwing up was incredibly painful. So, I chose less pain and realized I was going to get out of control again. I wasn’t throwing up every day, but that’s not the point. It would have gotten to that point very quickly. Once a body image problem – always a body image problem. The key is being aware and admitting you’re flawed. I also have a weight trigger. If I weighed over a certain amount, I struggle. I’m at my happy weight right now, but I also exercise more, eat healthier and drink tons of water. It’s not hard anymore. I’ve been doing it since I had surgery. Having surgery reset my nutritional desires, and my exercise goals, and it ended my nicotine intake completely. By the end of the week, I’ll be completely off Tramadol.
There are other items to address from my journal entry, but this is enough for now. I said a lot in a very short entry! Yes, I still believe in God, spirits and the Universe, although, I think God in 12 step programs is great! 12 step programs don’t require a belief in God – it’s about believing in something bigger than we are – spirits, Universe, God, Allah, Buddha – whatever. Let me be clear, though. I do not think there is a 12 step program for Bipolar. It’s not a disease or a death sentence – it’s something I was born with – I can’t 12 step it away, nor do I want to in 2018. It’s part of me, and I am learning to work in harmony with it, instead of treating it like it’s a bad thing. I know in 2014, I just wanted to feel “normal”. I’m Ok with me in 2018 – at least most days!