Friday, July 25, 2014

The bipolar chronicles: Learning to Give Myself some Grace

Some of you know that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder back in early May.  I thought I was just dealing with a nasty case of post partum depression, and then I saw another specialist, and he put it together that since bipolar disorder runs in my family, all the stress made it completely flare up on me.  Good times.  So since then I've been on three meds - Lamictal and Seroqual, which help the bipolar mood swings, and Xanax, which helps the anxiety I get.

I think it's ironic that I tried so hard to be med-free during pregnancy and delivery, and now I'm sort of making up for lost time.  I try to do everything you're supposed to do - meditate, exercise every day, do yoga, etc etc.  Sometimes you just need a little extra help, I suppose.

Anyway, I've been thinking lately about how there are a lot of times when I want to crawl into bed and completely avoid life, and all the demands that it has of me, for several hours.  Every day.  I hate facing disappointed people, and being a working mother, I seem to be surrounded by disappointed people.  Hannah's upset because I can't play during lunch.  Boss is upset that I didn't get something done that I said I would.  Friends upset because I never email or facebook.  Husband upset because I'm a bad wife who doesn't pay enough attention to him.  Quicken Loans upset because I decided not to refinance with them.  And on and on it goes...

I remember once about 10 years ago I was producing The Vagina Monologues for V-Day - where Eve Ensler lets you produce the play without paying royalties as long as all the proceeds to go charity - and I was doing it in my hometown of Lancaster PA while living in NYC.  The whole thing had a massive implosion at the end, largely due to me not paying enough attention.  When I showed up to the dress rehearsal, I was literally accosted by actresses upset that they couldn't get tickets in advance, and a director upset that his name was spelled wrong, and a venue upset that their phone number was given out inappropriately, and on and on and on it went.

After all the complaints had been dealt with, and I had apologized and admitted my many shortcomings as a producer, I was having coffee with a dear friend who told me, "heather, if any of this starts up again tomorrow, you just need to say, 'I'm sorry, yesterday was complaint day, and you clearly missed it.  I just can't hear your complaint today.  Maybe next time.'"

It was a good lesson.  There are things I can deal with.  There are things I'm responsible for.  And sometimes I just need to let people down.  And that's ok.  People let me down regularly.  Nearly every day someone doesn't do their job properly and that impacts my world and my job.  We're all just humans.  I can cut them some slack, and I can cut myself some slack.  No, hubby, I'm sorry, I can't listen to xyz now, I need a bubblebath.  Maybe tomorrow.

I can't imagine myself talking like that on a regular basis; I'm a pleaser and I like to be useful and make people happy.  But in the meantime, it's adding a huge amount of pressure to my life, while also making me pissed off at the other people who don't adhere to my standards, and therefore it makes us all miserable.

After all, I do live in California.  You'd think I was better at chilling out than I am...

1 comment:

Cynthia T said...

It is so hard living a comfortable life as a people pleaser because there is no way to please everyone all the time. I've learned that, in the long run, it is enough to be polite and generally responsible, please yourself as required, and don't sweat the small stuff. Two of my favorite sayings: "If Mama ain't happy, no one is happy", and "I am not responsible for the happiness or negative feelings of others". And really, it is true. As for me, I've given up being disappointed. Life is too short. And if my best isn't good enough, too bad :)