2013: What will the new year bring?

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So another year comes to a close. Goodbye and good riddance I say. I think it’s only natural to be reflective at this time of year. Reflective of the things that have caused pain, brought pleasure, achievements, losses, tragedies and new arrivals.

But just because the clock turns midnight and signals the beginning of a new year, it doesn’t mean that some magic spell has been cast and everything we wish for and desire will miraculously come to fruition. At least not straight away. Having said that, there is no harm in hoping and there is no harm in feeling a sense of optimism that despite what may have occurred during the previous year, things can and will improve throughout the new year.

My 2012 In Review:

2012 is ending in similar fashion to the way it began. Despite the fact that I am still alone, this year I am feeling slightly better about that compared to this time last year. Maybe it’s because I have found somewhat of a happy-medium when it comes to my medications. In early January I was absolutely fed up with feeling anxious and depressed most of the time. I was sick of functioning poorly and I desperately wanted things to change before they got out of control again. If you you would’ve told me that it would take most of the year to find the right combination, the likely reply you would’ve got from me, would be “Fuck that!”. I know full well that in reality it can take people much longer to get their med combo right, but seriously – one year? Mostly dedicated to trying to handle unwanted side effects, becoming depressed to the point where suicidal ideation intrudes my thinking. No thank you! But you know what, I have survived and I’m grateful that I did. I have come out of the darkness and into the light once again and believe me when I say that I am in no hurry to go back there anytime soon.

A small point on Suicide. In previous posts I have stated that I do not believe in Suicide, but that’s not to say that I haven’t thought about it. There have been times where these type of thoughts have gotten so intense, to the point where I think there is no other option and it ends up absolutely scaring the crap out of me. It is NOT how I want my life to end and no matter how dark things may get, there are always avenues to get past these uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. I am yet to call a crisis line or check into an emergency department, however I have made use of online resources such as mental health forums to seek out support and understanding. Taking anti-anxiety medication or simply sleeping it off has also been enough to lift that sort of intensity. But enough about that.

Despite having a lonely and isolated year, I have persevered and would like to think I have come out on top despite the ugly circumstances of having my Bipolar run rampant and making life almost unbearable at times. I think a small turning point came when I started this blog. Having an outlet to express myself and talk about how Bipolar affects me has been a positive experience. Receiving likes, comments and knowing that your voice actually reaches somebody has been very rewarding. Equally, reading and commenting on other blogs has also been a rewarding experience. There are some amazing people and stories out there and the blogosphere is a wonderful opportunity for people to be heard and connect. It doesn’t matter if your post is 200 or 1200 words in length, everything is valid and has a place.

The other positive which came later in the year was returning back to university study. Having a sense of purpose once again has done wonders for my mental health. Naturally there is some stress with studying and there is also some self doubt as to whether I can actually complete my Bachelors, but I am taking it one semester at a time. The end goal is firmly in mind, but I cannot afford to look too far ahead. I think I am on the right path and I believe in being an advocate for those who suffer from a mental illness. I believe that is my purpose in life. There was a brief time when I was a psych nurse where despite the stress of being in such a role, I had a sense of purpose and fulfillment I had never felt before. I was devastated when I became unwell again and had to give this up, but the issues that surrounded this time make sense with the benefit of hindsight. I only wish that I had handled things a lot better and didn’t find myself in a situation where I had to start from zero once again. They say that everything happens for a reason and I am now at the stage where I have made peace with the past and happy to look forward to the future.

And that’s where this time of year provides something unique, unlike any other time of the year. There is a chance to start over with a clean sleight. A chance to bury what’s happened in the past. A chance to feel positive about the future once again.

I am grateful to have a roof over my head and I am grateful for the people I have in my life. I don’t have many friends, but I know that the people in my life care about me. I care about them too. This includes the people I have come to know online through this blog and via forums.

The voids in my life are something that I need not rush or try to force any change. It will all happen in good time. This is my path in life and whilst it’s far from how I would like things to be, that’s not to say it is too late for things like falling in love again and starting a family. If there is one thing I do know, nothing matters unless there are people to share things with. It has taken extended periods of loneliness and isolation to realize this. You can have the best job in the world and yet feel completely empty when there is nobody to come home to. You can have all the peace and quiet you want, yet the silence becomes deafening and you wish someone was there. It’s no fun going through life alone and everybody needs someone. As much as they may not like to admit it.

So what will 2013 bring?

Oh who the bloody hell knows? And don’t even get me started on new years resolutions. Stop smoking, eat less crap, go to the gym. Blah Blah Blah!

This time if year is stressful enough, without the added pressure of trying to completely change into something I am not and subsequently spending January and February feeling like shit because I haven’t been able to live up to these expectations. Not for me sorry!

What I do vow is to keep things simple and try to find a balance between normal stress (which is part of anybody’s life) and toxic stress that could cause a relapse. I am intent on not going through another winter depression where I hide from the world, am highly anxious and hate myself for it.

I will continue to focus on my studies without being daunted by the big picture. I will invest time into building friendships without feeling the need to have a hundred friends. I will try and give more to the ones that I care about.

I am also keen to return to work in some capacity. Ideally in the field of mental health. I may go back to nursing, but there are a few hurdles I need to jump through to get my registration back. I hope this exercise isn’t too stressful in itself.

When it comes to finding a partner and falling in love again, I am not putting any pressure on myself there either. Establishing a foundation based on friendship, mutual respect and trust is more important than diving in dumb and blind. It is a process that needs to happen naturally and cannot be forced.

Again, it’s nice to be reflective at this time of year and sort through the things that you do and do not want for the new year. The reality is that we will wake up on the first day of the year, exactly the same person we were on the last day of the year. Change should be gradual and realistic but there is nothing wrong with following your heart in order to find what you most desire.

As you reflect on another year passed, whether it was good, bad or indifferent, stay true to yourself in your desires and expectations for 2013. Make sure you’re not someone who is burnt out within the first three months of the year. It is of course a marathon – not a sprint!

Most importantly: Have yourself a good one and I wish everyone a Happy and Safe New Year!

*Thank you for supporting this blog over the past few months and I look forward to more sharing and connecting with fellow bloggers during 2013*

Embracing Social Media in an Isolated World

Having Bipolar has turned me into a very private person and this has created a void in my life. There are times when I am happy to be left alone and simply not care about what the world is doing. There are other times when I feel lonely and isolated. This is where I desire to have a connection with people, want to feel less alone and crave the need for support and understanding.

Creating a blog dedicated to my illness was designed to help fill that void. Getting likes, comments and followers of my blog had it’s desired effect during the initial phase. Now I feel somewhat empty again. I have been too low in my mood to put something meaningful together in the hope that others will identify and appreciate what I have to say.

My last few posts have been dark and angry which relates to the way I’ve been feeling. The void and emptiness of not having people in my life continues to manifest though. I participate in a couple of mental health forums but sometimes I struggle to feel like I’m really heard.

I use the reader in wordpress to keep up with blogs I am following. As pathetic as this sounds, I am sometimes envious of people with regular likes and comments. The same applies to those who have Facebook and Twitter followers.

Today I have created a Facebook account and a Facebook page for Bipolar Beach with the hope that over time, this builds up to help fill the void of feeling lonely and isolated. The problem though is that I find it very difficult to share things personally about myself.

There is a mild acceptance of where I am at with my life in terms of having Bipolar, the medications I take to manage the illness, and the lifestyle I lead, despite all of this. However, there is a deep sadness within me that there are no people to talk to or hang out with. I guess there is added difficulty being in my mid thirties. People have come and gone. Others have settled into married life and are busy with raising kids and the rigors of everyday life.

The negative aspects of social media such as stalking and bullying have left me with the belief that living in anonymity is better than being vulnerable and exposed. It saddens me that tools designed to bring us closer together, can have such devastating effects. But I guess that comes down to the fact that there is always going to be bad people in the world. I am turning to social media to feel more connected and reduce the impact of the loneliness and isolation that comes with having a mental illness.

Another issue that I think about is finding love. Finding that one person who understands and accepts you for who you are. I seriously wonder if I’ll experience love again in my lifetime. I’m sometimes curious as to whether I can actually find the right person over the internet, but think this is probably a bit naive. There is also a part of me that thinks I’m better off not being in a relationship. At least during this phase of my life where things are more challenging than they should be.

I don’t spend the entire day on the internet but it is the first thing I do everyday. It helps me to feel calm and focused. I am returning to study in November and the degree I am pursuing will be done online. This fits well with my needs and lifestyle. I hope to meet some like minded people that will challenge and stimulate me, alongside the study content .

For now, I will continue on my mission of trying to feel better connected, despite living in isolation,

It might be only wishful thinking, but I hope you can support me on this journey.