Finding Peace For A Troubled Soul

How a Self-Proclaimed Loser Finally Found Peace

By worldly standards. I haven’t achieved much, nor do I have much clout or influence. I do not have hundreds of friends and followers, in real life or on social media. The friendships I have managed to gain have not come easily or quickly. If it were not for having to interact with those individuals daily, I might not even be able to consider those people my friends.

In my life, I have only been a “winner” a handful of times. In middle school and high school, I achieved recognition for my artistic talents. My endeavors to obtain a career in graphic design failed. I was never able to finish college. Fate told me I could keep art and design as a side project, but not as a career- not at least at that time when I was in my twenties.

I had never considered writing as a career and thus, never realized my potential until more recent years. Writing is an especially sweet pursuit for those who struggle to be heard in the noise and busyness of life. One is almost forced to withdraw from the world in order to reflect and gain a fresh perspective on everything from relationships, money, family, pain, etc. Introverts are particularly gifted and drawn by writing.

When I was young, I turned neither to God or writing. I didn’t even try to draw much, but somehow believed that I should go to school for graphic design. Even though I was a very depressed and emotionally fragile person, I tried to attain what I felt the world was calling me to do- and I remained unfulfilled and unsuccessful in my pursuits.

Being poor was just one disadvantage of my youth. Our family no longer lived on the “right side of the tracks” once my grandfather died. My family lost touch with families in our middle-class neighborhood. Our family relocated after my dad was laid-off from his job. After the death of her only son, the family went to live in the upstairs of my great-grandmother’s house on the West Side of town.

My family was wrought with grief and anguish. Mom didn’t want to be torn away from the stability of our old neighborhood. Dad was struggling to keep it together after the loss of his father, and the loss of employment. They started fighting more, and we became poorer, in spirit, community and financially. 

A number of changes occurred to our family with regards to location status. None of these things provided any type of stability. As a result, I felt very insignificant and unworthy compared to other kids. When I saw other kids feeling happy and nurtured, I knew I was going through issues others my age did not face, and I faced them alone.

Only now, as an adult, can I see how selfish I was to consider only myself during those difficult years. Now that I am that parent that struggles to keep it together, I could only hope that my kids would be understanding of their mom. A mother who has tuned-out their emotional needs at times. I can vividly remember all the times I found parenting “short-cuts” to just get some kind of a mental break! Many of the “nobler” parents would gasp at how often I was disengaged, albeit, due to the emotional burn-out. 

Throughout my teens and twenties, I became more withdrawn and depressed. Even with my group of friends/drinking buddies, I felt a certain emptiness in my soul.

By my early twenties, I tried to conform and be an adult. Without any family support, I tried to make it on my own by working full time and going to school part-time. During those years of my teens and twenties, I believe God was calling me but I turned to substances, self-pity, and selfish ambition. I would still achieve anything in the world.

Marriage was also not the answer- a man was not the answer. At 35, I was alone with my two young children. Maybe I was subconsciously trying to correct my version of history by quickly marrying somebody I was not suited for in marriage. Not only did my own inadequacies cause me to make rash decisions, they altered the lives of my children.

We have managed to obtain some of the “good things” in life by now- a house (mortgage), security and stability. The kids no longer have to see drugs and alcohol in our neighborhood or home, but we are without emotional resources many times. In that emptiness, I have tried to fill the void once again, except not with alcohol like I did when I was young. Now my vices were seemingly more benign.

Credit cards- I tried to buy my family’s happiness with entertainment, food, clothing.

Food- I have turned to unhealthy foods to fill the void, and then I’ve purged in an effort to rid myself of the guilt of poor food choices.

Time- Instead of savoring every free moment with my family, I have been given over to passively leaking time on the internet and on social media.

Never could I offer God even just a little of my time in the morning to prepare me for the day. Instead, I turned to the wireless void of deceit (when not used sensibly). Instead of allowing God to manage my time, finances and other aspects of my life, I over-indulged or tried to allocate things as I saw fit.

Now, I spend a few minutes each morning (almost every morning), reading the Bible before I get ready for work. Connecting with God each day has changed my life significantly. I am able to move on past my flaws (sometimes after a good cry). When I am subject to depression and anxiety, I take comfort that I will overcome my emotions and feeling.

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.

 

Why I Love My Bipolar Mania!

Mania Can Feel Like Euphoria At Times

Although experiencing “flight of ideas” in of itself is not a mental disorder, it is a symptom of those with bipolar disorder. All that mania and energy needs to be channeled somehow- it is best used in creative endeavors. When I experience the highs of mania, I become the idea person– the person who conjures up dozens (or more) ideas, concepts, processes, etc., only to never really follow through any of them. By the time the idea(s) is(are) manifested and it is time to develop the ideas, my mind is off somewhere else…perhaps I am so down again that I can barely find any desire to become “goal-directed”. This is not a particularly desirable quality for my vocation.

As a result of the flaws of my manic episodes, I can use my moments of mania to augment my work life, but I can’t allow myself time to pursue anything loftier than my menial job. As a middle-aged worker, I am able to look back upon my vocational lifespan and know that I don’t consistently have all the qualities necessary to get the sweet, 9-5 job in an ad agency. Those people, as far as I can see, have a different kind of attitude when it comes to creativity. 

In the arrogance of my youth (or the ignorance of my youth), I figure I would benefit from going to college. I never obtained even a two-year degree in any one course of study. I was neither inspired or encouraged as a young person- I had a desire to go to school, but I lacked the tenacity to finish the one class that was standing in the way of my moving on in college.

Drawing for me is a release- I am able to focus and generate some clarity through these lines and shapes. Through these seemingly benign and naive patterns, I can somehow see the patterns of my life, even if they are mere fragments of a shattered lens.

So, I never completed my Marketing & Sales certificate- or the Graphic Design degree in which I transferred. The Sociology degree I desired to obtain was just too impractical and unlikely. It doesn’t mean I’ve given up on education or enrichment. I simply had to change the way I sought these things.

Mania- it can make me feel more creative. Bipolar disorder isn’t as simple as many are led to believe. It’s can be difficult to focus on complex tasks without the help of notebooks, post-its, and my trusted computer. These tools serve as ways to process many simultaneous thoughts and ideas.

When it comes to employment, the volatile and changing nature of the bipolar disorder can limit one’s career choices and success, no matter how much skill or talent one possesses.

Many people who struggle with mental health issues (like myself), may find menial jobs comforting- for they are predictable and help us to feel anchored in some regards. I find that my mind has time to wander, instead of being consumed by mental-overload.

I try to make the most out of an otherwise undesired and limiting aspect of my life and choices. I still have dreams and creativity.

 

A woman with outstretched arms near a lake.

How to Balance the 7 Elements of Wellness

“Health is not everything, but without health, everything is nothing” (cited from Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher, 1788-1860).

Insulating Your Health With The 7 Dimensions of Wellness

While physical health is the most obvious part of wellness, there are several dimensions that are integrated to create healthy wellbeing. These seven elements of holistic wellness- physical health, spiritual health, and mental health- are indicated as:

  • Occupational- Finding work that maximizes your talents and abilities, honing your professional skills, determining your career goals, exploring opportunities for growth, taking vocational assessments.
  • Environmental- Spending time in nature and in pleasant environments, reducing or eliminating harmful noises and exposure to harmful pollutants.
  • Physical- Exercise, nutrition, sleep, weight management, protecting your body and being mindful of any changes or symptoms of illness. Hygiene and preventative measures are also important.
  • Emotional- Giving and receiving support, self-esteem, the ability to express emotions and share feelings, managing time and stress optimally.
  • Spiritual- Spending time alone, participating in religious or worship activities that satisfy your desire to understand your purpose in this world.
  • Social- Sharing your knowledge or skills with others, getting involved within your community or by volunteering, sharing your ideas and thoughts, (ala a suggestion box, for instance).
  • Intellectual- Keeping an active mind, reading, taking classes, being inspired by people or activities that challenge your thinking.

When Imbalance Occurs, We Are Less Resilient

At times, various aspects of our wellbeing dominate our lives, while other aspects may be neglected. When we become imbalanced in any one of the elements, our overall wellness is affected and we may be less resilient to handle additional stressors. It is important to accept that “life” sometimes happens and some events and exterior influences are beyond our control.

Adopting a few practical tips can help you overcome stress:

Adopting a few practical tips can help you overcome stress:

Avoid or limit exposure to triggering or stressful tasks or associations.

  • Be assertive.
  • Know your limits.
  • Maintain a flexible attitude and be willing to healthy compromises.
  • Keep things in perspective. Will it matter a month from now?
  • Practice forgiveness to release negativity.
  • Manage your time.
  • Ask for help.

Sources:

(https://www.grcc.edu/humanresources/wellness/sevendimensionsofwellness).
(https://www.emaze.com/@AIRQQRFI).

Simple Ways to Balance Work and Life

Work/Life Balance

“Live To Work, Work To Live” was once a popular credo associated with high-achievers, while others referred to the phrase in a tongue-in-cheek manner to express negative feelings towards work and life. We now realize that in order to maximize our potential in the workplace and in our personal lives, we must find our own “work-life” balance. However, “work-life” balance is still a misunderstood concept.

The notion of a work-life balance isn’t a simple formula, but it can be simplified by stating that it is a balance of positive and negative aspects of an individual’s life. Personal, professional and family life- a harmonious balance in all aspects of our existence, can help us achieve a healthy “work-life” balance.

Make Time For Your Social Life

In your quest for economic and vocational satisfaction, making time for family and friends is an important part combatting feelings of loneliness and actually, promote resiliency. Social support enhances the quality of life and provides a buffer against adverse life events. (https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/social-support).

Set Goals

Making the most of the time we have for work and life is dependent on the types of goals we set. If we fail to set goals or impose superficial or vague goals, it is much more difficult to find purpose in our work. A goal such as, “make more money” is too broad, thus, it will be much harder to maintain mental and emotional stamina to accomplish a goal that offers no method to focus our energies. A better alternative to a broad goal is to set a smaller goal, which provides smaller steps, smaller action plans on our part, to manifest a more meaningful and realistic goal.
(https://www.wanderlustworker.com/setting-s-m-a-r-t-e-r-goals-7-steps-to-achieving-any-goal/).

Determine and Reduce Distractions

The “garden” of your life requires much pruning- it is essential to be mindful of the things that are consuming your time and energy that may not be necessary at that moment.

Technology and Smartphones, although a necessity in the workplace, can hinder our attention. It is better to know what time of the day you are most productive and when to maximize getting work done at that time. Avoid checking emails every time you get a notification. Instead, set aside specific chunks of time to read and reply to messages.

Noise is another common distraction in the workplace. White noise, such as the humming of a fan, can help mask other noises that may cause you to become distracted. You can find many white noise apps that enable you to block distracting conversations and noises in the workplace. You can also avoid such distractions by simply wearing noise-canceling headphones or earplugs.

Many workers don’t have the option to shut a door to block interruptions. Body language is an important tool to signal to others you have little time for talk. Be mindful to discern what is relevant information and what is idle chatter. When you feel the conversation falls into the latter category, kindly tell your co-worker that you have to attend to a very important task and don’t have much time for talking right now.
(https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/distractions.htm).

Good Health Improves Productivity, Morale

Getting enough rest, exercise and good nutrition will help you have more energy at work. When employees have more energy, production increases and accidents decrease. Morale and engagement also appear to be higher when workers are healthier. Less absenteeism also assures that coworkers aren’t burdened by picking up extra slack from a sick colleague, which may inadvertently affect company morale and productivity.
(https://www.gohealthhero.com/blog/10-benefits-of-healthy-employees/).

Take Time To Nurture Your Dreams

This is something many busy people take for granted. Unfortunately, when you fail to feed your dreams, you have less to give in all other aspects of your life. When we simply forge ahead, neglecting our dreams, we lose the ability to infuse joy into our work and relationships. Sometimes “life” happens and we lose focus, or our ambitions become less-important. When we don’t have much time to pursue our dreams, we need to find ways to allocate even a small amount of time to dream regularly. This can be achieved by taking on hobbies or side projects that utilize our talents and abilities. When we realize our happiness is the sum total of our work and lives, we may start to find more ways to obtain a better work/life balance.