Daily Archives: September 7, 2016

Refraining From Taking the Weight of the World Onto My Shoulders

It has taken me most of my life to realize that the problems of others, the problems of the world, the problems of problems of problems past, are not necessarily mine to carry every day on stooped shoulders.  Part of getting healthier with Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), is setting boundaries.

Ok, it’s not just part of it, it is CENTERED around making healthy boundaries with the people you come into contact every day, with people you don’t even know, with the world.  I have realized over the last year of DBT that, in some of my personal relationships, I would personally take on the weight that is on others’ shoulders and make it my own.

Not only is this completely unnecessary, it is damaging to the relationship and to the other person, as well as (hello!!) damaging to the self.  If I have a friend who is struggling, it does neither of us any good if I spend mass amounts of time worrying about how to “fix” that person’s problem.  Chances are, that person doesn’t even WANT me to “fix” the problem, she just needs an ear.

Very rarely in life should we take on others’ problems as our own and go about “fixing.”  For one thing, my “fix” to your problem, maybe be a “fix” that you can’t tolerate or can’t sustain in the long run.  What I have learned is that, while it is fine to give advice from time to time (depending on the subject matter and how close you are to said person, to name a few restrictions), what is much more important is building that other person up, regardless of what exactly they are going through, and letting that person know that you support them and that you believe that things CAN get better, and perhaps most importantly, that things are not necessarily their fault or that they are not a “bad person” because things are going a certain way.

People need validation, reassurance, a kind word, a loving touch — not for you to solve their personal crises, or even necessarily to make suggestions as to how THEY might going about solving their personal crises.  It is very important to practice nonjudgmental stance with peers, family, romantic mates, nearly everyone.  You might be thinking in your head, “how did this idjit get into this pickle?” but of course, you saying that out loud is going to help no one.

Image result for heart that listens

And if you think that over and over in your head, and judge a person’s actions or inactions about a particular matter, all sorts of gross and inappropriate judgements may sow themselves into your brain, and that will make supporting this person all the more difficult.  It is only very recently that I had an instance where I thought I was “helping” someone with their problem, and it turned out that they very much resented my advice and insight into the subject.

I thought by giving advice as to what  would do in a situation would somehow fit their somewhat similar situation, but people are different, inside, and out, and MY solutions would not in any way work for the other person as solutions..  People are simply too different.  This is when I realized that, what I needed to do, rather than give direct advice about a situation, was to keep my opinions to myself and be there for the person only in a validating matter.  Validate the other person’s feelings and fears, help them to feel not alone (but not by bringing up my own somewhat similar issue), and most important, to stop judging how the other person was handling the situation and to turn the mind toward loving kindness and away from judgment.

In the end, my cessation of giving this person concrete advice and stopping voicing judgement likely saved the relationship.  Things will not always be so clear, circumstances will not always be so dire, repercussions not always so large.  I am not in any way saying to never, ever give advice to another person about something (granted, as long as you know your correct facts) they are going through, but what I am saying is that most people, myself included, benefit more from having another person to validate, listen, provide a shoulder than from being directed on what it is exactly they should do next to handle the situation.  Building people up instead of tearing them down takes conscious thought and hard work, but is very worth it, for all parties, in the end.

Chronic illness and the right way to respond:



Filed under: Collection of Thoughts Tagged: active listening, advice, anxiety, Bipolar, DBT, depression, dialectical behavior therapy, listening, mental health, nonjudgmental stance, PTSD, reassurance, Turn the Mind, validation

What Stays

So, it has been almost two months since I have posted anything to this website. For a good part of my time off I was still writing some, but absolutely nothing since my son was born. I’ll get into that later. For now, this is what you need to know: I am symptom free, including […]

Support Group a la Hazel

My therapist recently mentioned that perhaps I should attend a bipolar disorder support group in my city.  I told her that I have already attended our city’s bp support group.  Once.  It was before I had this blog to vent to y’all about how crazy ridiculous and unhelpful it was.  I told her that I’m not going back to it, but that got me thinking about what the best support group ever would be.  In my world, it looks a little something like this:

First of all, everyone who walks in is immediately handed a puppy.  You can’t be sad when you’re playing with a puppy.  It’s not possible.  If you are allergic to dogs, you can choose between a parrot that says nice things to you or a baby penguin.  I’ve never heard of anyone who is allergic to penguins, and they’re so fluffy.  Okay.  So when you have your chosen animal, you sit down in a lounge-type area that looks something like this:


There will be bowls of jelly beans on every available surface, because jelly beans are colorful and fun.  Even if you’re not eating them, just looking at them should make you happier.  I thought about providing ice cream, but that’s completely impractical because it will get all melty, and the puppies will try to lick it while you’re eating it.  (Somehow baby penguins made it to my theoretical support group, but ice cream was labeled “completely impractical.”  Huh.  Weird.).  Once everyone is settled, people have to go around and say what was awesome about their week.  Maybe it is something really fabulous: “I won fifty million dollars!” or maybe it is something mundane: “I got out of bed four out of seven days!”  No matter what, we appreciate what you share because it’s whatever you deem to be awesome, and we all love awesome.  If you have nothing at all, you can at least say, “I’m currently playing with a puppy/parrot/baby penguin.”  That’s awesome.

After that, we’re going to have our guest speaker talk.  The guest speaker is always a stand-up comedian, because laughter is medicinal.  Everyone knows that.  So we’ll all be laughing, and the puppies will be running around, and every once in a while the parrots will interrupt the proceedings by squawking things such as, “You can do this!” or “You’re beautiful!”  Then we’ll have pizza.  Because……pizza.

After that (only after all of the aforementioned activities!), then people will split off into two groups.  There will be the Struggle Bus group who will go and talk about their struggles this week, get advice on doctors and meds, and help each other out with the “me too’s” and the “this sucks” that can be helpful from a support group.  The other group will be called the Not Tonight group, and they’ll do some activity that has nothing to do with bipolar disorder.  They’ll get a distraction from all of the day-to-day drama that constitutes living with this illness.  Perhaps they’ll have a nerf gun fight (ten points if you hit a flying parrot, but minus a hundred if you hit a baby penguin.  They can’t fly away – that’s lowball).  Maybe that group will do a craft with their old pill bottles (they can reference this post for some great ideas).  Perhaps they’ll drag race muscle cars.  There are tons of possibilities here.

At the end of the evening, everyone will feel better than when they first arrived.  The Struggle Bus group will have gotten to vent, but they also will have gotten pizza, a puppy, and a comedy show – not a bad evening.  The Not Tonight group will have gotten a few hours of fun with people who understand their disorder, but sometimes it’s okay for that understanding to be unspoken.  They all knew that they needed to help each other forget life for a little while, and that was enough.

There will be a strict “No Wallowing” rule.  If you want to vent to feel better about something, fine.  If you want to ask for help, fine.  If you want to have fun and not talk about your disorder at all, fine.  But if you’re just there to whine and complain and you have no desire to feel even marginally happier by the end of the evening, then we’re not going to waste a puppy on you.  You can go straight to the Wallowing Corner, where we’ll have a giant pile of mud for you to roll around in until it’s time to go.  Don’t bug the rest of us.  It’s not that we don’t care about you, you see.  We made you a Wallowing Corner.  We just don’t want you to bring us down.  And you don’t want to feel encouraged.  So just hang out in the mud, okay?  We’ll bring you pizza if there’s extra.

Personally, I think this could be a very effective support group.  I would go every week.  I think lots of other people would too.  So if you have a crap ton of puppies, a few penguins, and a lot of money…call me up.  Let’s get this party started.

Tool Kit: Serenity Prayer

Crouched in the corner
My hands cover my ears
Looking for shelter from the voices
Forcing myself into a protective ball
To fend off the demons
Gravity has its way
And down here I remain
The weight of the world
Of bipolar
Of anxiety
Of perfectionism
Pushing in on my soul
Reaching into my very core
Testing me
Just how much can I take
Just how much can I stuff
Just how bright can my fake smile be
Just how much can my false bravado withstand
Pressure continues to mount
My fears too many to count
Dark clouds descending
My safe corner shrinking
Everything closing in
Heart beat rapid
Breath gone missing
Sweat now dripping
I repeat the serenity prayer silently
Over again
Until I feel my feet on the ground

Losing Ulla

Ulla’s dog Solo   Ulla. Where do I begin? When I told someone yesterday my friend died by suicide, adding that we never met face-to-face, I sensed that she didn’t understand the power of a virtual friendship. Of course that’s not her fault – if you haven’t experienced being friends with an online “kindred spirit”, it’s … Continue reading Losing Ulla

Caption This Wednesday

It’s time again for “Caption This Wednesday.” As soon as I saw this pic I knew I had to use it. I’m excited to see how creative ya’ll can be.   Here are the rules: Put in the comments section what you think this weeks caption should be. If you post more than one caption, it is considered cheating, and…

The post Caption This Wednesday appeared first on Insights From A Bipolar Bear.

Peace Be With You


A Warrior Woman has left this world.

She slew her Dragon.

Let us celebrate her life.
Let us celebrate her release from its tortures.
Let us celebrate her beauty.
Let us celebrate her release from prison.

“I hope my death is peaceful,
And I hope never to return.”
–Frida Kalho

Sunshine and Rainbows

Some women float through pregnancy like frigging goddesses. They eat healthily, look amazing, work until they go into labour and run the odd half marathon in their downtime. (Only a half marathon because, you know, doctors orders.)

I am not one of those women.


Regular Saturday Night for me!

I throw up so much I have to be rehydrated intravenously. I am still finding stashes of vomit bags and Zofran in the most unusual places.

I eat whatever the hell stays down. Which mainly consisted of potato chips and baked beans.

I hobble around like someone who has ridden a horse for far too long. Thank you symphysis pubis dysfunction. I didn’t realise how bad it was until I dropped a bag at the shops and a beautiful lady with a perm and blue rinse picked it up for me.

My body itself attempts to reject the pregnancy. I bleed and contract and end up on medication and bedrest to try and prevent preterm labour.

In fact, I spend so much time in hospital that my health insurance company – clearly less than impressed with having to pay for in excess of 15 admissions – offer to provide me with a personal health coach to improve my health and wellbeing. At first I was all ‘hell yeah – free health support’. Then I made the disturbing discovery that all the models featured in the brochure had white hair and walking sticks.

I had been invited to geriatric fitness classes.

This was my new demographic.


Still, much to everyones surprise, I struggled on and on until 36 weeks. Then on a Saturday night I went into labour. Of course, since I had been contracting on and off for weeks I didn’t realise it was *actual* labour. So Hubster went to a bucks night and I popped a few Panadol and went out to dinner with some mums from the school. As you do.

The next day things were still on the ouchie side, but certainly not akin to my labour with Master D. And I had been experiencing similar pain almost daily for several months, so I wasn’t particularly alarmed.

Spoiler alert: I should have been alarmed.

Around lunchtime we called the hospital. I knew the drill. CTG and admission for observation. I packed my bag like I had done so many times.

But this time was different. The hospital was eerily quiet on a Sunday and I was the only woman in labour ward. This time I was dilating and they could not stop the labour.

Suddenly I was being prepped for an emergency c section and I was crying because I didn’t get my baby to the magic full term 37 weeks. And the doctors were telling me my baby would be taken away to special care because it was early. That my baby might be sick or have trouble breathing. And there were suddenly lots of people in scrubs around asking me weird questions like “have you been to West Africa in the last 21 days” (umm yeah. Just after I trekked the Himalayas). And I didn’t get the chance to stop my Lithium which can make babies floppy at birth. And I just didn’t think it would happen this way.

Less than four hours after calling the hospital I was holding our beautiful healthy baby girl. No special care needed. And aside from jaundice, and extreme sleepiness due to prematurity, no major issues following the birth.


Then came my recovery. With a history of postnatal depression, postnatal psychosis and bipolar disorder I was considered  high risk for relapse and transferred to a mother baby unit following my discharge from the maternity ward. I was put on higher doses of medication and observed for a few weeks.

And you know what? I was fine. Despite all of the worry and the grim statistics. Once I wasn’t in constant pain and constant worry and threat of miscarriage or preterm birth.  Once the stress of the pregnancy was taken away. Once I was holding my beautiful baby girl and my family was complete. My mind was freed once my body was my own again.

My Master D has always been sunshine to me. The brightness in my life that has kept me going through dark times. But Little Miss S is my rainbow. Something beautiful that has followed an unbelievable storm.

Welcome my beautiful rainbow girl. You are so very loved.



Quick Spring and Summer 2016 Update

I need to be better about blogging more often.

In my defense, this summer was really busy. I took two summer school graduate classes during summer session (May and June). Then, when the classes ended, I started a summer job for July and August. I live in New Jersey, but this summer I worked in Brooklyn, New York. My days were long. Super long. I didn't feel like doing much when I got home.

But I maintained my mood stability! This Spring was the first mania-free one in the last few years. 2013, 2014, and 2015 saw me manic and hospitalized. But not this year :)

At the end of my summer graduate classes, I completed my first year of graduate school for my Master's in Social Work. I'm proud to report that I finished my first year with a 4.0 GPA and I was awarded a National Association of Social Workers (NASW) scholarship in the amount of $5500! My first year was a smashing success. A week and a half ago I started year two of graduate school. (I'm attending part time, so it'll take me three years to graduate instead of two.) And this year I begin an internship. I'll be interning three days per week at a local hospital's adult outpatient substance abuse program. The internship lasts all year, September to early May.

Even though I haven't blogged much on Manic Monique, I was published this summer on The Mighty and the International Bipolar Foundation. The outside sites are where I publish less personal, more broad posts. I'm trying to have a presence on multiple fronts.

Personal Rejection

Believe it or not, the title of today’s post is a positive thing in the writing world.  It means someone took the time to write a note about why they rejected your piece.  This note was about my new piece called “Hot Lead” about a woman who was being abused.  It was flash fiction so very short.  The editor said he loved the writing but that it ended predictably.  So I asked if I could submit something else or had the deadline passed? (Because I have so many submissions going, I can’t remember that kind of thing).  He said they would reopen for submissions September 12, so I have that long to write something new.   I have an idea, so we will see how this goes.

The middle one visited her college of second choice, and I think it may be out of the running.  She liked the recruiter that toured them around, but she met with the Honor College head and was not impressed with her or with the program.  THen she met the band director who basically told her she would have a hard time breaking into the drumline because it was mostly percussion majors who played with the band.  She liked the engineering college people also. So I’m not sure what she is going to do.