Kind, Gentle and Generous

Give Him the Moon

Earlier this year I set a goal to stay out of the hospital or a hospital program this spring.  Three out of the last five years, I’ve ended up there.  It’s a good thing, really, to know when to make that call.  Lots of folks with mental illness aren’t able to do that for themselves, so I feel lucky and proud of the work I do to hang onto a little insight during the worst of times.

However, the program I’ve used in the past was eliminated, like many of the behavioral health programs across the state, because psychiatrists fled Iowa like rats on a sinking ship (some problem with Medicare reimbursement).  If I needed serious help now, I’d have to drive across the state and admit myself into one of the few psych wards left.  I’d rather not, really.

I needed to change things up—not just my perspective, but what I do to manage this transition from winter to summer.  I found some new resources this year to help—Intensive Psychiatric Rehabilitation (IPR) and Integrated Health Services (IHS).  Both are new state programs trying to fill the gaps left by the psych docs.  Also, with my mom’s passing last summer, I now live frugally instead of crushed by poverty.  It’s a huge difference.

So, with this new net under me, I started to address the critical and disapproving voice in my head.  I started to wonder if my drive to do more and be more was actually another facet of that mean voice.  I watched how I withheld comfort, left no room for rest or rejuvenation, and squeaked by on the least.

I wondered how it might feel to do the opposite—to be kind and gentle in my self-appraisal, to be generous with my time and money.  I wondered how that voice might sound.  I wondered, for instance, what my grandma might say to me when rapid cycling ruined all my plans for the day.  Or what my friend, Lily, might say about me going to Ireland next year.

Whenever I started to hate on myself, or rail against the unfairness of living with bipolar disorder, or scold myself for going to Des Moines twice in one week, I tried to stop and conjure the people who love me.  Their kind and gentle voices filled my mind.  Their immediate generosity helped me breathe.

Over the course of the spring, I’ve tried to make those voices strong in my mind.  This is some of the hardest work I’ve ever done.  I’m steeped in self-violence.  Recognizing the lie in that voice when it slithers into my thoughts takes time.  Then, countering it with petal-soft, open-armed sweetness is like speaking a foreign language.  But, I’ve learned a few words.  And my vocabulary is growing.

Being kind, gentle and generous to myself doesn’t alter the course of my bipolarity.  Rapid cycling fogs my brain and leaves me exhausted.  Emotions flip and tumble like Olympians.  Chores overwhelm me.  But, today, I have hope that I can navigate the hard road through Spring.  In my mind, I’m holding a warm, gentle hand.  It fits perfectly in mine.  Because it is mine.

24 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Karen Roessler
    Apr 11, 2015 @ 19:21:28

    “In my mind, I’m holding a warm, gentle hand. It fits perfectly in mine. Because it is mine.”



  2. Kitt O'Malley
    Apr 11, 2015 @ 19:56:29

    Beautiful. I’m so glad that you are holding your own warm, gentle hand in your mind.


  3. Dee Silbaugh
    Apr 11, 2015 @ 20:12:59

    Being kind to yourself isn’t easy. Stay strong


  4. TamrahJo
    Apr 11, 2015 @ 20:53:56

    🙂 – I hope that a little distance between you and crushing poverty provide a nice cushion upon the ‘nice’ voices to sit while waiting to raise their voice in a choral support! 🙂 Not that I ‘negate’ the effects of the bipolarity, BUT I do know I struggle with debilitating procrastination – so afraid to move, dream, invest in the future when things get so tight, financially – having a measure of buffer gets me motivated to go forth and buy those seeds, or order the software that makes my job easier/faster, larger profit margin for future jobs – hugs and hope spring washes over you as one big blessing! 🙂


    • Sandy Sue
      Apr 11, 2015 @ 22:26:53

      Being poor makes everything small, tight, strangling. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but we all need enough to survive.


      • TamrahJo
        Apr 11, 2015 @ 23:28:22

        So true – in my childhood, my mom read a book and oft quoted a line, which I may misquote – doing it from long ago memories – but it said:
        “No – money is not everything – but if you need shelter, food, medical care or any of the other necessities of life, not having any money can be really devastating” – – 🙂 Here’s to us both, Sandy Sue – getting to the point where the necessities are taken care of – there’s cushion for emergencies and the careful, frugal planning for our respective trips to Ireland! I’m working towards a 6 week trip to Ireland/England for mid-2016 – 🙂 Still far enough out, I’m not stressed about the hits the ‘planned savings’ have taken – but still feel it not a ‘wasted money’ item, either! 🙂

      • Sandy Sue
        Apr 12, 2015 @ 05:47:36

        Oh, good for you! There’s so much joy in the planning—let’s hold onto that.

  5. Littlesundog
    Apr 11, 2015 @ 21:32:23

    Your words bring up thoughts I need to ponder for myself. Lately I could practice a bit of self-kindness and be more gentle with myself. Oh, and I do hope you’ll make the trip to Ireland. That sounds like an adventure you need to partake in!! 🙂


  6. Cheryl LaVille
    Apr 12, 2015 @ 09:03:17

    This piece clearly opens the door for others to understand and learn about you, bi-polar disorder, and about themselves. Thank you for sharing your journey.


  7. Allison Sells
    Apr 12, 2015 @ 10:59:49

    What beautiful blog! You have such good insight!!


  8. David Kanigan
    Apr 12, 2015 @ 19:10:39

    Inspiring close Sandy. Keep at it.


  9. emilyjtelfer
    Apr 13, 2015 @ 02:24:10

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    Beautifully written and very true.


  10. Robert@65
    Apr 16, 2015 @ 22:57:19

    beautifully described – this pain you carry. I don’t know that being bi-polar makes it harder really to hold ourselves in kindness and with compassion. The demons are different…….I struggle to do this for myself too and you Sandy Sue are an inspiration.


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