I don’t have many recent photos of myself. I prefer to be behind the camera, not in front. I’m overweight. I have (had) Bell’s Palsy, and I never fully recovered from it so the left side of my face isn’t quite symmetrical with the right side. I have a shaved head. I’ve never thought of myself as one of the pretty girls- I was the smart sister, my younger sister was the pretty one.
I used to journal frequently. I have bipolar disorder, and journaling is one of those things that’s recommended, especially if you don’t do therapy. Every time I decide I’m going to get back into it, I falter after a few weeks. I want to start now for multiple reasons. I want to track my lifestyle changes, for one. I also want an outlet for getting thoughts out of my head.
Recently, my family (this includes my long-term boyfriend- Georgia no longer has common law marriage, and my two sons, a teen and a tween) have started to make some significant changes toward our lifestyles. We’ve tried to keep it simple to start, but I can see that it will become more noticeable and life altering if we stick with it.
We all suffer from mental health woes of one variety or another. My youngest son inherited my bpd, only it’s much, much more severe for him. Raising him has been a lesson in patience, among other virtues, for all of us. He’s doing relatively well now, but even with improvements, when he has a bad day, it’s on a Hulk scale. He also has dyslexia and learning disabilities- though you’d be hard pressed to realize it if you never asked him to read to you. My older son is very… quirky… and smart and has been known to struggle with depression, even from a young age. He, also, is doing better these days. He’s playing soccer, being more social, etc. Colin, my life partner, has a mood disorder as well, mixed in with a little explosive disorder.
Here’s one thing you need to know about our family- when one of us is doing well, most of us are doing well. When one of us is going through a “low,” we all tend to spiral downward. We’re mental leaches.
[There is a Katydid in my living room right now. It’s really, really loud.]
So, life changes. The majority of the changes we’re working on right now are diet related. I’d say baby steps, but some of them are significant. For one- I’ve gone from multiple sodas a day, to no more than one soda per week. Water, water, water, water- my gods, I hate water. But I’m down to pretty much coffee, milk, and water. I’m getting better at it, and hardly craving soda at all. Something else we’ve done is started working toward less bread and more fresh produce. It’s been more drastic for me, as I’m eating very little bread now. I’m not trying some fad diet like paleo or atkins. I’m just trying to substitute less healthy foods for more healthy foods. Instead of traditional pizza crust, we’ve started trying the Pinterest-famous cauliflower crust. I never even liked cauliflower, but that shit is better than almost any other pizza I’ve had. And you can eat an entire pizza for the same calories as a couple of pieces of a Dominos pie. Fewer potatoes, more avocado. Less ice cream, more fruit. Instead of going out for lunch every day or two, I’m taking lunch to work 4/5 days a week. When we go out to dinner, I order the mixed veggies over the fries.
Progress is slow for now. Colin has actually lost a bit of weight, but he’s more physically active than I am. Also- he doesn’t need to lose much weight, but healthier choices can’t hurt in the long run.
Progress is slow BUT I’m already, after a few weeks, seeing some changes. For one, without the salt and sugar filled fast food diet, my ankles are less puffy. My pants are starting to fit a little better. My stomach doesn’t seem to be in constant distress. My skin doesn’t seem to be as dry. Little things.
The biggest thing that we’re working on, though? Attitude. Perspective. It’s all about perspective. Recognizing that things are much better than they were a year or two. Making the conscious decision to improve our way of life.
Colin, who’s never said such a thing before, referred to himself as a hippie today. We were discussing saving for retirement versus being able to enjoy youth. There’s a balance in all things. His father doesn’t get that. His father has spent his life being miserable, putting all of his effort into a healthy retirement… stressing himself out, giving himself heart attacks in the process. The point is- you can’t take it with you. So if we’re well enough off for Colin to get that dream car (a super sexy Challenger), he can do that… while still saving a little bit for retirement. If we’re able to spend a few bucks and invite friends over for dinner every now and then, it beats the hell out of being lonely and miserly.
These things matter. Money isn’t the most important thing, but making the most of what you have is. Everything in moderation- even moderation. Family, friends, laughter- these make our worlds go ‘round. Money just pays the bills and buys stuff. Working on improving our health just means that maybe we’ll be able to enjoy those important things a little bit longer.
When I was twenty, I was pregnant with my first son. It was an accident. He was a birth control baby. My bipolar disorder was really starting to show its ugly face at that point. My relationship with my boyfriend at the time was tumultuous. It was either fire hot or ice cold. He nearly killed me once. I nearly killed myself another time. We were homeless for some time. I ended up moving back in with my family, which was one of the worst things I could imagine. I could tell you exactly how many and what kind of pill was in her house b/c I was prepared to take them all. It took a long time for my life to look up.
I started seriously dating Colin when my youngest son was almost 2. Nearly ten years later, as a chronically depressed person, I say that things do get better- but our choices help to make it so. I had toxic people in my life in my early twenties, and because of that I am lucky to have made it to thirty. Now that I’m working on thirty-five, it’s surreal to think back to my suicide attempts. I’m glad that they were half-hearted. I’m glad that I’m still here.
Perspective. It’s all about perspective.