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“All I have for the moment is a song to pass the time,
A melody to keep me from worrying
Yeah, some simple progression to keep my
Fingers busy
And words that are sure to come back to me…”

I’ve always been a really good sleeper. I’d read for a while and fall asleep… and I’d do my best to get seven or eight hours a night.

These days I don’t sleep well at all. Sometimes I wake up and feel like I didn’t sleep at all. A lot of times I just plain can’t sleep.

“So there still is hope,
Yes I can be healed
There is someone looking for what I’ve concealed
In my secret drawers, in my pockets deep,
You will find the reasons that I can’t sleep
And you will still want me…
Will you still want me?”

I’ve been doing a lot better since I wrote my last post. I still need to get my life in order and work to make more and more progress… but I’m going in the right direction.

It’s so important to look at your life, figure out what you can and can’t control, and try to make good decisions.

Good decisions…

I’ve been doing okay with that the last few months. I did make a lot of horrible decisions before I came back here though… with effects that I still feel every day.

I’m adjusting to this new way of life… learning to live again. Learning a lot about love.

It’s hard…

but still so worth it. Love.

The way you think… the way you feel… it controls so many things. I know that if I don’t BELIEVE I can get better, I won’t. I know that if I don’t fight the anxiety, the thoughts… they’ll beat me every time. Sometimes they’ll beat me even when I do fight… but I’ll keep fighting anyway.

“So hold up your fist
To the flame in the sky
To block out the light
That’s reaching for our eyes
Cause it would blind us…”

-Bright Eyes

There is this tree here in my hometown…

it’s just your average looking tree… I don’t even know what kind it is- not too big, not too small..

It’s next to some other trees on my favorite road in this town, on the curve where you can see the lake the best.

Every spring, white flowers bloom on all the branches of this tree.

It happens at a different time every year… and the flowers don’t last very long. They soon fall off and are replaces by green leaves, leaving this tree to be unnoticeable again.

A few days ago I was driving on that road and notices that some of the flowers had already bloomed. It made me smile… it gave me hope. It’s so early for the flowers to bloom… it’s a good year for an early spring. It really is.

In other news… lots of stuff has been happening the last couple of weeks. Sometimes I really feel like I’m making huge strides, and other times I feel that it’s worse. It’s so hard to say. Saw the doctor on Monday and he just increased the dose of the antidepressant I’m on (again.) We’ll see.

I really do believe that it’s the little things in life that often hold the most happiness, the most beauty- even the most inspiration sometimes.

So, in spirit of my “small victories” post, I figured I would make a list of little things that I have been enjoying lately.

1. Coffee!
-It’s true. Sometimes I make it purely out of habit or to wake up, but once it’s brewing, I usually get really excited. There’s just something about relaxing with a nice cup of coffee… writing your thoughts… or whatever it is you like to do.

2. Sunshine
-I guess it could easily be debated on whether this even qualifies as a “little thing,” but regardless, the sunshine can really lift my spirits sometimes, especially in the beginning of spring. It often is so easy to take for granted, but after months of dreary, cold weather, the sun almost makes me manic.

3. Bird(s)
-Hear me out. Sometimes when I’m driving I’ll glance up and notice that one lone bird flying through the sky.. or simply just in the air gliding in one place. Or there will be a whole flock of them flying. I’m not sure why, but birds have become a symbol of hope to me. They can be so beautiful.

4. Jumping into the shower after a work-out
-Do I even need to explain this one?

5. Finding a new song you’re in love with
-To me, this one really doesn’t qualify as a “little thing,” but it probably would to most. It might just describe where you’re at, or inspire you, or simply aesthetically do something for you that hasn’t been done before.

6. Breakfast
-My favorite meal of the day. I love waking up super hungry and just slowly savoring each bite of my food. Lately I’ve been into raisin bran crunch. Delicious.

7. Coffee shops
-Whether you’re meeting a friend or sitting by yourself, people watching or writing or reading or whatever… this is one of my favorite places to be.

8. A good conversation
-A good conversation with anyone brightens my day… and by good, I mean one that makes me think.

9. Humor
-That person who always makes you laugh… or simply being able to laugh at yourself. Laughing is essential.

10. A good book
-I almost didn’t put this, because it really is huge to me… but it’s a little thing in that it’s so easy to do (and inexpensive.) Sometimes I really think I wouldn’t survive without good books.

11. Nice strangers
-not creepy nice, but that stranger who hangs back a second to hold the door for you, or the stranger who flashes you a genuine, warm smile. Those things make my day.

12. Driving with the windows down
-I know some people hate this, but I love it. I almost never use the AC in my car. Turn the music up, windows down, old country road… it’s almost heaven for me.

Post your own list of little things or comment and let me know the small things in life that make you happy 🙂

Baby steps.

That has been something I have told myself over and over about lots of things since I came home from the hospital. It’s like my mantra.

I got hired at a daycare working just a few hours a week. I love spending time with kids, and it’s really good for me to be working just a little. Plus it’s a heavy weight off of my shoulders as far as finances are considered.

Yesterday was my first day. Before I went in I wasn’t having a very good day as far as my moods go. Starting any new job is really difficult… meeting all the new people, learning all the new things, wanting to make a good impression and do a good job. The first hour I was there I was counting the minutes until I would get done. I was put in the one and a half year old room, and I really don’t have experience with kids younger than three or four. By the second hour, however, I was no longer thinking about the time. I was just having fun with the kids, feeling good about being productive and remembering why I love working with kids so much.

It’s a small victory, but I am celebrating nonetheless. It’s been frustrating lately, because as I progress, I get even more anxious to start feeling truly stable again. Also, in the last week I sort of feel like I’ve run into a brick wall as far as progress goes. I’m doing a lot better than before, but this last week I didn’t really feel like I kept making improvement (again, as far as moods go.) I see the psychiatrist this week and we’ll have to talk about adjusting meds. When I left the daycare yesterday I was feeling so good about it, but within ten minutes I felt like my heart was just wrenched with anxiety and fear… again, of what? Nothing. I don’t know. I had plans for later that night and I almost canceled them. I forced myself not to though, and a couple hours later I made myself go. Another small victory.

But I’m celebrating nonetheless.

When I think of acceptance in social terms, I think of two religions or denominations accepting one another, meaning that although they don’t agree on everything and they certainly don’t understand each other very well, they can agree to disagree, if not appreciate one another or even admire certain things about the other.

Or I think of accepting those of different sexual orientation. A straight man may not at all understand a gay man’s sexual preference, but he can still learn to appreciate the gay man, and vice versa.

And the examples could go on.

I’ve been thinking about acceptance because I know that I need to not only accept where I’m at right now, but also accept what I’ve left behind and the things that happened during the months prior to moving back home.

What I realized is that just as a religious group doesn’t have to like another religion’s beliefs in order to accept the people of that religion, I don’t have to like that I left behind so many good things, and I don’t necessarily have to understand it either. But in order to accept it, I need to stop fighting it. I know that it’s okay, even necessary, to feel angry and/or sad about it, but I can’t let those feelings overtake me. I need to learn to appreciate that I had those experiences (even the bad ones) instead of fighting the memory of them off.

In other news… here’s what I’m looking forward to about this weekend so far:

  • Going grocery shopping tonight with my mom and brother (I know that sounds kind of ridiculous, but I honestly love grocery shopping… especially when I don’t have to pay for the groceries!)
  • Getting coffee with my old roommate and one of my closest friends who will be in town tomorrow. I miss her so much.
  • Taking my brother Nathan to a movie at the cheap theater tomorrow night.
  • On Sunday I’m getting coffee with an old friend who lives in town.
  • Sunday night I’m spending time with my sister
  • Knowing that March starts on Monday!

That’s it for now. Happy Friday!

Sometimes a person says something that just makes you stop and think.

Saturday night I got coffee with my friend Cody. I have history with him. I dated him when I lived in Milwaukee (although he lived here.) After dating 8 months or so I broke up with him. A couple years later we dated again and again I broke it off.

Maybe it didn’t work because it was long distance… maybe it didn’t work because we were incompatible.. but honestly, I think it is something with me. See, Cody is one of those guys that girls are lucky to get. He’s one of the most genuinely nice guys I’ve ever known, and he would have done anything for me. Anyway.. that’s a story for another time.

When I was in the hospital and thinking about who I wanted to hang out with when I got out, he was one of the first people that came to mind. I’m as vulnerable as I have been for … well, maybe ever. Cody makes me feel safe, and I knew he wouldn’t judge me. There are honestly very few who I feel comfortable around at this point.

So we got coffee. I was telling him about how I’d be here at least through the summer, explaining that I really screwed myself out of a lot of things in  Milwaukee… that I’ve thrown a lot away, and that I have a lot to figure out again. He looked at me and repeated something that I had once told him: “You may have thrown away a lot, Sarah, but now you’re in the position to do whatever you want. You don’t really have any holds. You’ve told me the same thing more than once. And you have time to figure it out- what you want to do now that things have changed.”

It really made me stop and think. I have told him that before.. with envy even. Even though I was pretty happy with the way my life was going, I was still getting footloose… still unsure of how I wanted things to play out. Yet I couldn’t just drop out of school because, well, first of all I really liked it and wanted the degree, and secondly I was too much of a coward to do it.

It’s just another positive way to spin my situation. Life is not a race. I have time to figure this stuff out… and at this point, I really can go in whatever direction I decide to go in. Sometimes I really start worrying that I won’t be ready by next fall.. well, you know what? It would be okay if I wasn’t. It’s not a race. I have steady ground beneath my feet, but I still haven’t built the new “foundation” that I’ve been talking about for a while now.

It meant a lot to me that Cody said that. Partially because I really needed to hear it, but also because it shows that he cares… and that at one time my words had somewhat of an effect on him.

And, really… pretty much anyone at anytime in their lives has the freedom to choose what path they want to go down. So often we settle.. settle for our mates, for our jobs, our location, and a million other things. Sometimes it’s because it seems easier, but a lot of times it’s because we never really consider any other option… and I’m sort of being forced to. And in a sense, that is a blessing.

In my last post I wrote about how I’ve definitely made some progress since being released from the hospital. I thought I would make a list of things that have helped so far… (in no particular order)

1. Blogging
-Creating this blog and writing about my experiences, getting advice and encouragement and stories from people who can relate, and reading other blogs has been very helpful. Thank you guys!

2. Rest
-The meds I’m on make me REAL sleepy. Giving my body time to rest has been helpful.

3. Writing
-Again, blogging, but also writing in my journal

4. Being open and honest with those around me
-Prior to hitting “bottom”, I had cut many ties and was pushing away almost everyone that cared about me. Although I’m still not quite comfortable enough to reestablish many of those connections, I have been very open and honest to my family (who I’m living with) and a few close friends.

5. Working out
-Not only does this naturally make me feel good, but it gives me something productive to do three-four mornings a week. Along with cardio, I do some weight training which my doctor told me would help with mood swings.

6. EATING
-Prior to hitting “bottom”, I had almost stopped eating entirely. And when I started trying to eat, I had a really hard time getting/preparing/eating the food. Sometimes I still don’t have much of an appetite, but I make sure to eat three meals a day. Before all of this happened, I NEVER had a problem with my appetite (in fact it was rather excessive at times:) )

7. Upbeat music
-I’m all about the chill/sad/emotional songs, but upbeat music can really help when I’m not feeling so great.

8. Reading
-Giving my mind a break from my own thoughts

9. Doing things for my mom
-Cleaning, doing dishes, running errands and whatnot not only make me, again, feel productive, but it also feels good to help out my mom.

10. Positive thinking
-I literally sometimes just tell the bad thoughts to go away and make up my mind to stop thinking them. Sometimes this works; other times it doesn’t. It has been extremely helpful though (essential, really.)

11. Giving myself time
-This one I struggle with. I keep thinking that my family will start pressuring me to make progress more quickly… that they’ll say I’m just being lazy. That’s just ridiculous. They KNOW I’m not lazy and never have been, and they will give me plenty of time to keep getting better and “functioning” at a higher level.

12. Medication
-Another one I struggle with, and believe me, I dragged my heals on this one. But I honestly feel that my medication has helped… but I will write a whole post on that some other time.

13. My stay in the hospital
-I really didn’t want to go into the hospital. It was something that others encouraged me to do and I finally did out of desperation (and fear, really.) It ended up being really good for me, but again, I’ll write more on that another time.

14. My family
-The most important. I’ve had a lot of issues with my family… in fact, they were the last people I wanted help from. A lot of my own issues stem from things that happened either in or to my family. And yet… the night I hit bottom I remember lying on my bed, tears flowing from my eyes, sobs racking my body… feeling that nothing was real, everything was meaningless, what point was there? It was by far the most pain (physical or emotional) that I have ever been in. I remember desperately wishing that I had never been born. If I could have chosen to rewind time and erase my existence, I would have done it in an instant. I wanted to die, but I knew that it would hurt a lot of people… which led me to think of the people that love me, and the people that I love and didn’t want to hurt. And I thought of my family. And I thought to myself, “I still believe in love.” And I repeated that over and over. I knew that the people who loved me most, who loved me unconditionally, were my family, and I thought, “I have to let them love me.” And I repeated that over and over. And I called my mom. Later on, I decided that part of the new foundation for myself that I was going to build would be based on my family. Not on the premise that they are perfect, or that nothing bad will happen again, but on the premise that they have always loved me and always will. And for that, I am very, very blessed.

What are things that help you?

Emerson said: “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

I have honestly been making a lot of progress since I got discharged from the hospital and moved back home. When I first got out, I feared being alone. My head was really foggy. I had a hard time concentrating on what people would say to me. Night time was especially bad. As soon as dusk started approaching, this sense of dread and fear would overtake me. I would try to keep myself busy, which seemed to help, but I would never have left the house.

Now, I don’t mind being alone. My mood swings are way less severe. I’m not as tired all of the time. I can concentrate a little better and the night time anxiety is not nearly as bad. A lot of the same symptoms are there, but just not to the same extent. I feel like I have so much more strength to fight off negative thoughts when they approach. There are definitely bad days and bad moments, and I know I have most of the journey still in front of me, but so far things have progressed further than I would have thought by this time.

Along with progress, however, comes this fear… this fear that I will crash again. And can you blame me really? As far as I knew, things were going great before all of this happened. I fear that once again I will fall. Actually, I think a more likely scenario is that I would do very well first and get sort of manic again before becoming really depressed. If I started feeling more depressed I would be more likely to ask for help.

I need to learn how to trust myself again. Yes, I’m doing better, but I have nearly no responsibilities. I take my brother to work and pick him up, clean and do the dishes, run errands for my mom… that’s really it. I don’t have a job. I don’t have school. I don’t have any of the responsibilities I had before. Last week I had an appointment on a day that I usually work out. Although there was still plenty of time to work out, I worried and stressed over it all morning… thinking, will I have enough time? I ended up having more than enough time. Little things overwhelm me very quickly now… whereas before, I could handle working two shifts, commuting to school in between, and then doing a night class again after my second shift of work. And I didn’t even really stress about it.

I have the opportunity to pick up some hours at my mom’s daycare. The advantage would be that I’m sort of a shoe-in, and I wouldn’t have to work many hours. I also have a lot of experience in childcare. On the other hand, the daycare is almost always short staffed and the children run wild (according to my mom.) It could be very stressful. I told my mom that in a couple weeks I think I would be ready to do that. And I think it’s good for me to work towards a short-term goal, though at the same time it scares me that I won’t be able to do it.

I need to learn how to trust myself again. To continue building that new foundation. To trust that although life will always throw me challenges, there will always be a way out. I don’t want to come out of this fearful of another crash. I want to come out of it stronger and more at one with myself.

A couple posts ago I wrote about how I met with a new psychologist for the first time. He basically asked me questions for the whole session, and I’m still thinking about some of them.

He explained to me that both Freud and another famous psychiatrist (I don’t remember who) found that a significantly high number of patients who came in with strong feelings of depression yet had seemingly good lives could not answer what they thought the purpose of life was and they did not find meaning in their work.

So, my psychologist asked me what I think my purpose is in life, why I’m here.

Now, first of all, I’m only twenty-two years old.

Second of all, what a big question. People ask themselves that throughout their lives. Some answer in terms of religion: “To spread the Gospel.” Some answer more lightly: “To have fun!” Some answer with philanthropy: “To help others.”

I’ve always asked myself big questions. I think that most people could be content doing a number of things with their lives. I don’t think there is only one profession I am called to do. In terms of religious or spiritual beliefs, I’m really unsure where I stand on a lot of it, so I really can’t answer from that perspective. But the answer that I’ve come up with in the past is pretty simple.

I answered the doctor: “To love. And to let others love me.”

And he actually gave me a sort of funny look and said, “Okay… well, more specifically than that?”

I said: “I don’t know. A few months ago I had a plan, and now I don’t really have that plan anymore. But I feel confident that there are a lot of different ways to love people, a lot of different things I can do.”

And in my journey towards “learning to live” again, I realized that this is still something that I believe. To love… and to be loved, is really the best you can do in this life. And it’s really not easy either. So many of my actions are motivated by things that are far from it. Heck, I could start a whole different blog called “learning to love” and I’m sure I wouldn’t run out of things to post about.

What do you think your purpose is? Your meaning? Why are you here and what makes you answer the way you do?

I want to write about someone close to me.

She’s one of the strongest people I know.

I don’t know anyone else who helps others more than she does.

I really think that she would do anything for me.

She is also one of the most patient people I know.

She’s known me my whole life.

Yet over the past couple of years I have let a lot of resentment build up against her. There were times when I was younger that she just wasn’t there for me. I’ve never been good at asking or receiving help, but I was silently crying out for it and she wasn’t there for me.. not because she didn’t care, but because I hid my pain better than the others did. She was able to justify overlooking me in order to be there for those who seemed to be a more immediate concern. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve formed my own opinions that are much different from hers, and it causes tension.

She doesn’t understand me very much and we have very different worldviews.

When she was horribly worried about me she became very overbearing and suffocating. She wouldn’t just let me come to her on my own. She tried to force herself on me, and I couldn’t let her be there for me because… well she hadn’t been when I needed her all those times when I was younger.

She works really hard and always has. She’s 55 years old and deals with one-year-olds all day at a daycare. Then she finds the strength to care for all the other people in her life.. people with problems that naturally find her because she is such a caring person and finds so much meaning in helping people that others are just plain top tired to help. People with psychological problems, people with alcohol problems, people with all kinds of problems…

And she manages to stay positive almost all the time.

And when I finally hit bottom, she was there for me in an instant.

I love her very much, and the older I get, the more I know how blessed I am to have her.

She’s my mom.