Not Quite Bad-Ass

I know what I need to do.Marian Ravenwood, Karen Allen, Indiana Jones, Raiders

After a long spell of rapid cycling, mixed states, stressful situations and physical illness, my protocol is to summon the Bad-Ass and pull my life back together.  It’s a time to train, reassert discipline, and prepare for the next engagement with my bipolar disorder.  But, this time, I can’t seem to find her.

Maybe I’m still cycling.  I’m exhausted, but can’t sleep; fretful with no clear concern; compulsive in my eating and spending.  I feel my routine and structure dissolving, which jumpstarts my panic.  The drive to claw out some order from the chaos squeezes me from the inside.

So, okay, I’m still cycling.  Once I set the emotion aside, I can observe the behavior and the feelings with a little more clarity.  There’s no room for the Bad-Ass yet.  And even though the compulsive eating terrifies me, another part of me knows this is part of the illness.  Eventually, this will pass, and I’ll come to a place where I can do the work I long to do now.

What can I do now?

Exercise—I can walk today.  If I’m mindful, I can walk this morning and again later this afternoon.  Tomorrow I can go to my water class in the morning and walk or ride the recumbent bike in the afternoon.  Exercise is the most important tool I have to keep my brain flexible and the blood flowing.

Meditation and Tasks—Luckily, today is our UU small group, so I have an hour of meditation already built into my day.  I’m also leading the Fellowship gathering where we’ll discuss the physiological effects of gratitude.  I wasn’t sure I’d be able to follow through on this commitment—I felt too foggy, too scattered, too panicked.  But this morning seems a little better, and I’m ready with my presentation.

There are some things I can do even in the worst of an episode.  Writing in my journal, making cards, even driving remind me that I can still function, that my brain can still create and make connections.  I’ve long given up my need for perfection in any of these things.  I just do them, and that’s enough to give me a sense of myself when it seems like the illness is everything.

Emma Peel, Diana Rigg, The AvengersEvery once in a while, I’m able to call on some old skills like public speaking and creating ritual, skills that I was proficient in once and can still use if the social phobia, agitation and moods aren’t too crippling.  Using these skills help me feel more human, but they also generate stress.  I’ll lead the small group and do the Fellowship presentation, but I may have to pay for it later in exhaustion and an exacerbation of my symptoms.  Maybe not.  It’s always a crap shoot.

That’s my plan.  Not a Bad-Ass plan, just a rope to pull me through the day.  But I know my Bad-Ass is on the other end of the rope, holding tight, waiting for her turn.

It will come.

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. littlesundog
    Nov 25, 2012 @ 08:25:52

    I’m sending positive energy your way today, my good friend! I’m just sure that Bad-Ass is just around the corner… ready to pounce and deliver!


  2. Penny
    Nov 25, 2012 @ 20:47:30

    From my humble perspective, the mediatation and program on the physics of gratitude were both a success. In the event that you didn’t feel it when it happened, as you turned to start the music this morning, I heard Jan whisper to Bruce, “Sandy does such a great job…” You are one of my heroes… let’s try to do supper sometime this week. I promise I won’t try to feed you brussel sprouts!!
    Love, Penny


  3. Kathryn McCullough
    Nov 25, 2012 @ 23:51:52

    God, Sandy, I know how hard it can be! And I LOVE the Bad-Ass in you—and the Bad-Ass in me, for that matter. Keep Bad-Assing, my friend.


  4. Kathryn McCullough
    Nov 25, 2012 @ 23:52:28

    Don’t you love the verb–to bad-ass? LOL


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