Brave New Mind

There’s something completely mind-altering about looking into a mirror and seeing someone still familiar, and yet entirely different.  It’s a lot different from an impulsive cut and color.  Those kinds of changes are so sudden and purely aesthetic.  Underneath all of the paint, it’s still the same structure.

With changes in diet and exercise, the structure begins to gradually shift.  The roundness came away, revealing angles and shapes I had never known.  But, it wasn’t just about the weight that had come off.  I had tone in my muscles that made me look strong and sturdy.  For the first time in my life, I felt strong, inside and out, like I could take on the world.

I started to realize that sometimes, change comes from outside in.


With a new found confidence from feeling comfortable in a new skin, I reexamined my own internal world with a sense of confidence that was once sorely lacking.  It wasn’t the same as the critical introspection that I was so used to engaging in.  For once, it was a realistic, objective perspective.

The Voice, as I’ve referred to intense intrusive thoughts and vaguely psychotic entities in the past, had suddenly taken my side.  I’d find myself launching into once typical degrading monologues, only to be stopped short.

Why are you so eager to hurt yourself?

There are people in your life who believe in you.  Why don’t you believe in you?

Why are good things not allowed to happen to you?

These challenging questions came slowly at first.  I was so inclined to revisit places I had already been to before.  My abusive past.  The mechanisms of growing up with early onset bipolar disorder.  I rubbed my hands up and down my self-injured scars, searching for answers.  Who did this to me?  What did this to me?

It occurred to me.  It was probably the most difficult realization I’ve ever come to in my entire life.

It all begins and ends with me.

I am the alpha and the omega in my life.  The beginning and the end of all things.

And for awhile, I sank into a depression.  By that logic, I was responsible for all of my misery and a failure at taking control of my own life.  My greatest fear had been realized.  Everything was my fault, just as everyone had been telling me for my entire life.

There was a point where I realized that the self-loathing was just counterproductive.  It didn’t inspire me to try harder or make any improvements.  It was defeating, and bred a sense of hopelessness that rendered me helpless.  In fact, I didn’t hate myself at all.  I actually liked myself and was proud of my accomplishments throughout my life.  That wasn’t me talking.  It was something else altogether.

When breaking these intrusive and abusive monologues down, I came to a startling conclusion.  The value system, of which I completely governed my life and behavior, were not mine at all.  These self-defeating values were inherited from extraordinarily flawed and rigid familial and societal governments.  They had become so deeply ingrained that responses were automatic.  The truth is, I hadn’t even been living my own life by my own rules.

Some examples include:

“Many times in life, you’ll have to do a lot of things you don’t want to do.  You just have to get it over with.”

I subjected myself to a immeasurable amount of misery that was completely unnecessary.  At certain points, I found myself only surviving my life.  I endured so many awful situations that I could have avoided if it weren’t for the idea that misery was just a part of life.  It built a certain amount of resentment for those around me who I was sacrificing myself for.

“Get a grip.”

I attempted to live my in stoicism, because I was under the impression that emotional displays were distasteful and unacceptable.  It was absolutely conflicting to my nature, being a person with bipolar disorder.  Sometimes, there is no handle on things.  And yet, I attempted to rein in my emotions and behavior, causing an explosive temper and repeated meltdowns.  It translated to me expressing every negative emotion as anger, because anger was the only acceptable thing.

“Crying means that you are weak.  You can’t show people that you are weak.”

I stopped crying (at least in front of people), because I would be mercilessly mocked.  This was more reinforcement for angry outbursts.  I hid my vulnerabilities and became viciously defensive.  I instinctively pushed people away, because I was convinced that the closer I allowed someone to be, I more likely they would be to damage me.

“There are no excuses.”

Any explanation that I could provide for my shortcomings was considered to be an excuse or a rationalization.  There was no answer that I could provide that would be good enough.  All of my limitations and inexperience were of no consideration.

“What other people think is the only thing that matters.”

I got the idea that the only way to measure my self-worth was through achievement.  External approval was the singular source for validation of my actions.  Combined with all of the above, this value became the source of my own self-loathing whenever I would fail to meet an expectation.  And when all of the expectations were generally unrealistic due to overambition, it was an automatic setup for failure.

In reality, it wasn’t that I was actually responsible for my misery.  I was responsible for making changes to a rigid and dysfunctional value system that served to oppress me throughout an entire lifetime.  The great epiphany wasn’t placing blame.  It was to empower me, and help me realize that I am the main character in my own life.  I am the source.  And in the end, I had the final say in my happiness and lifestyle.  I govern myself.

Immediately, I started to view the world as a blank page.  I was liberated from all of the bonds that caged me in such a bleak and oppressive world.  I had the authority to rewrite all of the rules by taking on values that I believed in, and living a functional, productive life.

Everything in moderation.

As long as I’m still trying, I’m succeeding.

Eliminate limitations.  There is no such thing can’t.

This one requires some explanation.  In this line of thinking, there are no limitations in the sense that there are always adaptive strategies through creative problem solving that can make something a possibility.

True respect begins with respecting myself.

I have a whole article I want to write about this.

Regular and constant practice are the keys to mastering anything.

Energy is neither positive nor negative.  It’s the expression and application that determines the nature.

Meditation is necessary for a calm mind and a calm spirit.

As long as I’m acting purposefully, I cannot be acting recklessly.

Control is an illusion.  Guidance through leadership is a fact.

Humanity is not a condition.  It is a natural state of existence.

Truthfully, many aspects of my new value system have roots in the tenets, codes, and practices of martial arts.  However, martial arts is only a template.  It’s a starting point from which we are encouraged to develop ourselves mentally and spiritually in our own individual ways.  And through my knowledge of psychology, I began to mold a whole new mindset for myself to start a brand new life.

121 thoughts on “Brave New Mind

  1. Awesome, just awesome. (ps – love the new look)

  2. I’m glad you’re starting to shrug off those old views and paradigms in exchange for something that liberates you and makes you feel strong. As someone with a developmental disorder and with friends with disorders, I understand that outlook is important. Good for you!

    • Thanks!

      In a way, it was a long time coming. The biggest stumbling block that I encountered was really the launching point. What I failed to grasp in the past is that there is no building on a faulty foundation. And without sound architecture, there can be no enduring structure.

      I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been through a “transformation” in the past. I’ve written in other posts, “I’ve lived a thousand lives, died a thousand deaths”, because I’ve undergone this rebirthing process repeatedly.

      But, this wasn’t being reborn. This was the culmination of a complicated gestation period. Like from embryo to infant, this was transforming from a singular cell into a complete, living, breathing being. It’s being unrecognizable from the start to this point, yet being made from exactly the same material.

  3. Wow, it sounds a lot like what I had to go through. I get the same exact feeling now that I left all behind in the past. I feel extremely well-prepared and confident to take on any set of new challenges in the world today.

    • The journey as a whole is so immense, that I can’t sum it up. However, up until this point, I feel as if I had been running cycles in a corkscrew fashion. Points in these cycles had been parallel to the ones prior, but only similar in comparison.

      Now, it’s something completely different. I’ve broken the round robin, and I’m in a place that is so free by comparison.

      Don’t get me wrong, that freedom is terrifying in its own way. Instead of a predetermined set of choices, everything is on the table. My life is finally mine. In a way, that responsibility is heavy and overwhelming. But, it’s a welcome challenge. I’m finally ready!

  4. Good for you for making those changes, I can imagine that it isn’t easy. I especially like “As long as I’m acting purposefully, I cannot be acting recklessly.”

    • I appreciate your comment and outreach. The whole process really started out as something completely overwhelming and engulfing. It’s like, where does a person even begin? And as I mentioned, I did come upon the realization that it all begins and ends with me. However, in the beginning, I did not receive it very positively.

      It was really a period of enlightening. One of the principles of martial arts is the popularized “Yin and Yang” (or “Um and Yang” in Korean). Just the idea of it puts a whole new spin on any perspective. Any way my mind could manipulate something into being a negative influence could be flipped around into something positive. A trait in myself that I considered to be negative, say, obsessive, could be thought to be analytical, observant, or detail-oriented.

      And that generalized. Anything can be modified, because everything has an um and a yang.

      Finally getting to that particular value, I can tell you the root of that one. In martial arts, we are taught that every motion has value. Each time we move, we are expending valuable energy. Therefore, we have to make every movement purposefully in order to make it count.

      Then, there are the principles of control in both mind and body. But, that’s a whole other conversation!

  5. Good for you! But I disagree with this: “By that logic, I was responsible for all of my misery and a failure at taking control of my own life.”
    When you have any kind of mental illness, it is caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain, trauma, etc.
    So, you are not necessarily the only one responsible for your misery. In my own experience with major depression and suicidal tendencies, once you are in therapy and find a medication that works for you, then, you can work on yourself, improve and finally break free.
    I think you should add this truth to your mantras, my humble opinion.
    Be well and kudos!

    • I agree with your disagreement. I was presenting my own intrusive thought through that piece of dysfunctional logic. I went on in the article to describe the source of that faulty logic and how I wasn’t exactly responsible in the sense that I was the source of all of my misery. The source was an awful value system imparted on me through various sources throughout my life.

      I’ve been in and out of various treatments for fifteen years now, which is more than half of my life. I was originally misdiagnosed and treated for major depressive disorder with self-injurious behavior, which exacerbated the bipolar disorder. Eventually, I came to self-medicate.

      It’s been four years since I accurately diagnosed with bipolar disorder. And in these four years, I’ve come to discover several facts of treatment and recovery.

      While the basics are true, stay in effective (being the key word) treatment and medication regimen, there is so much more to it.

      First, a person has to want to get to a place of recovery. Not just the part of treatment, but over the hump into recovery. As a person who had an early onset, that was probably the hardest transition of all. In a way, it was a fear of success. What would my life be without constant, overbearing disorder?

      And that brings me to the next truth. It’s not enough to want it. It’s about perpetual knowledge and constant practice. For a person to get from the place of wanting it, and having it, they have to have the tools to get there.

      Which brings me to the fact that there is no one true path of recovery for every person. In fact, the path changes as we proceed down it. What once worked in the realm of medication for me doesn’t work today. Therapeutic techniques I once utilized are no longer effective, and have been repeatedly modified.

      But, the one thing that no one seems to mention is personal leadership. Some can call it self-control, but control is really an illusion. Personal leadership means that a person not only acknowledges that they are the owners of their mind and behavior, but they are responsible for their own thoughts and behavior.

      That seems daunting and overwhelming, especially when thoughts and feelings seem “out-of-control”. But, once the illusion of control is released, we can begin to take ownership. It’s not blame and shame kind of thing. It’s about reshaping our minds to function with us and for us, and not against us. We are not at war with ourselves. It doesn’t have to be that way.

      When we step outside of a clinical context, we start to be able to see that we can do it for ourselves. “As long as we’re trying, we’re succeeding.”

      • Thank you for your thorough reply. I especially liked the “ownership” concept. It rings very true to me.

        • Thanks! Ownership is really scary at first. For me, it invited a lot of the blame and shame game. Hence, the terrible logic, “It’s all my fault. I did this to myself.” In a way, it was hitting the most sensitive pressure point of my psyche. It hit on this embedded concept, born from an abusive past, that I truly invited awful things to befall me.

          Through a lengthy process, that I will come to break down in future posts, I came to certain conclusions. And through some of those conclusions came resolutions. Unlike what I was taught to believe, there are certain things that are absolutes and beyond my ability to change. The sun rises and sets each day. I cannot change that. Just like, despite my best efforts, I cannot change people and the objects and situations that they have ownership over.

          The past was the past. Even yesterday was the past. I cannot change that. I can either own it, or let it own me.

        • I already look forward to your future posts. Following you as I type. 🙂

  6. I like this, and it kind of falls in line with my own journey with mental health lately. I’ve been really into CBT and it’s helping me realize that I have a lot more responsibility over my depression and whatnot than I though, even though some of it is also external circumstances out of my control. I also agree with the outside in thing.

    • I’m glad you mentioned CBT. CBT techniques, in combination with other methods of psychological treatment, did come into play here. I’ve actually been drafting an article on the mechanics of reshaping cognition, emotion, and behavior. Initially, the self application seems almost impossible because there is no vantage point of objectivity.

      But in the first stages, it’s actually better not to have the objectivity of a practitioner. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found myself sitting in therapy in the past, disgruntled, and thinking, “How would you know?” Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. But, they could never really know what it was like for me, and exactly what I was thinking and feeling.

      With the outside in thing, it was a milestone for me to get to this physical shape. I did something I never imaged was possible. When I started martial arts, I saw all of these fit, strong, agile people with belts much higher than mine. They shared their own journeys, and they had all come to those points over many, many years of faithful training. Sure enough, after so long of the same dedicated training, I could actually note the progress.

      And there is nothing like breaking a board. I completed my first break on the first try in front of group of about fifty people at a demonstration. I was a white belt, and it was terrifying. When I heard a small gasp come from the crowd, I was thrilled. It was another achievement that I once considered to be beyond my abilities.

      If I can break a board and kick someone taller in the head, then why can’t I live a better life?

  7. brava! you are exceptional to have come to this realization. i still struggle to live life by my own terms, still sometimes falling back into the ones i was taught by family of origin/society expectations. hopefully i will soon join you on that blank page 100%.

    • I’ll be honest. I had some advantages in that respect that other people may not have afforded to them. A year ago, I finally moved about ten miles away from my family. Though it doesn’t seem like much, in this city, I might as well be across the world. My family doesn’t come out here much for any reason, and they aren’t really inclined to insert themselves into my new life.

      Another advantage is being able to surround myself with new people and new attitudes. I’m an emotional sponge, and moods and attitudes are contagious. I spend three nights a week in a very positive space.

      For instance, my green belt test was a few months ago. I was testing with a guy who had been a second degree black belt 20 years ago, and he was returning to the practice. He is really amazing, mostly because he’s already experienced. He completed his break, a complicated spin ax kick. When I took my place to attempt my own break, my instructor explained to me, “I had him do this advanced break to test his ability. I’m having you do this break because I believe in you.”

      For the record, I broke the board. I even exceeded the three tries, but when he asked if I would like to attempt a different break, I requested another attempt. And because of focus and determination, I broke that board. And bruised my heel! (Bruises and scrapes are typical when breaking boards).

      What I’m trying to say is that the whole process was a complete life evolution over the period of a year. It’s not really like I woke up one day and said, “I want things to be different.” I watched changes start to happen and said, “I think this is the right direction” and I followed it. Sometimes the path is right there, and sometimes we have to forge it ourselves.

  8. Brave writing! I understand how it feels!

  9. I get the impression someone likes Iron Man

    • Stark actually comes from my German heritage. It means “Strong”. In English, it means “impossibly clear”.

      Iron Man is great, but that wasn’t really the influence in choosing a pen name. Really, Tallulah came from a Tori Amos song, but also a Native American heritage. It means, “leaping water” and is the name of a waterfall in Georgia, not too far from my birthplace.

  10. I can relate to a lot of what you’ve said and I think you’re very brave and strong to have realized these things and to share them with others. I think a lot of life is finding the perspective that works for you, motivates you and keeps you going through challenges, but sometimes getting to that perspective takes time, challenges and pain. You’ve made it through and seem to have a great outlook on things now.

    The statement about crying being a sign of weakness got me. I always felt this way too. At a certain point, though, I realized it can also be a sign of strength, a sign that you trust someone enough to show them how you truly feel and also a sign that you’re strong enough to admit how you’re really feeling. Trusting people takes a lot of courage.

    Thanks for posting this. I think it will help a lot of people.

    • (There was a whole reply that I drafted that my computer ate. I’m going to attempt to replicate it.)

      You are so right that real change comes slowly. It’s something that I want to really stress with readers. The first thing I had to do was change my perspective about life in general. Life is about growth, and not struggle. Through creative problem solving, we can develop adaptive strategies that can be generalized. That way, when we face similar challenges in the future, we will have already developed strategies and tools that will allow us to take lessons and grow from them. It’s better than being what feels like irreparably harmed by them.

      Change is so riddled with growing pains, because it’s a lengthy process. In times of distress, most of us look for the “quick fix” so that we can find immediate relief from our discomfort. That is what hinders real, lasting change. Quick fixes are band-aids for broken bones that really need to be set.

      I remember the distress I experienced after the birth of my son. Despite my feverish attempts, my baby weight wasn’t budging. So, I approached my doctor about it. He had the most wise thing to say about it, “You didn’t gain the weight overnight. You can’t be expected to lose it overnight either.” It took me 38 weeks to gain 28 lbs (only ten of which I lost in the actual birth). It could take that long, or in my case, even longer. I can remember being 18 months postpartum with 10 lbs still to go.

      I suspect that I have been affected by bipolar disorder my entire life, though I have only truly been textbook symptomatic since I was 12. By the logic above, it could take 16 years or even longer to fully recover, if there even is such a thing. Because there is no going back. I gained two inches in my hips after my son was born, and my figure has never really been the same. It took me awhile to accept that I would never really look the same. But, in time, I not only accepted it, I embraced it.

      Lastly, I believe the most difficult thing for anyone to do in this world is to be vulnerable. When I was in preschool, a teacher suggested to my mother that I was “overly sensitive and needed to grow a thicker skin to make it in this world”. It turned out to be counterproductive throughout my entire life. As Jewel would say, “I’m sensitive, and I’d like to stay that way.”

      Thank you for your lovely compliments and for reading. And I do appreciate the inspiration that you’ve brought me!

  11. This post reeks of truth, of honesty. I grok this, because I’ve been in this same position one too many times before. But what a liberating feeling it is to realize once and for all that you are the master of your own destiny, the bringer of your own inner peace. What a wonderful post this is.

    • The realization that I am the master of my own destiny was really difficult for me. Through various occurrences in my life, I was conditioned to passively allow others to make my decisions. And when I was required to be decisive, I found it completely distressing. What if I made the wrong decision? Then, the blame couldn’t be passed. It would all fall on me.

      Blame, shame, and guilt have no place in a life that is being lived with purpose. We all do the best we can with what we have. And that should always be good enough for us. At the end of the day, the only person we have to answer to is ourselves.

      That brings me to a topic that I intend to write about. It’s about self-respect. If we don’t respect ourselves, we can’t trust ourselves, and then we can’t do right by ourselves. And if it doesn’t start with us, how can we possibly expect to extend it to others?

      Thank you for reading. I’m glad that it spoke to you.

    • I would go as far as to say that many of our harmful tenets are unintentionally taught to us in our youth. That’s not passing blame on to the adults that had a hand in raising us. They are people, just like us. They make mistakes, and surely they didn’t intentionally impart those values on us. Even abusive caretakers don’t realize that they are abusive. If they did, chances are they would take steps to stop themselves. Most people aren’t so cruel as to intentionally harm other beings.

      And where did those adults develop said values? From the caretakers that raised them, and so on and so forth. In cases of domestic violence, they refer to as the cycle of abuse. Even without the abusive qualities, value systems can be inherited.

      As children, we don’t have much of a choice as to how we live. Those decisions are made by our caretakers. But, as adults, we have every option open to us. We can push criticisms aside, and live our lives in our own way.

  12. So amazing. You have so much insight about yourself and a great outlook. You’re very brave for being so open!

    • Thank you. I’m really smiling as I type this. I used to believe that insight comes from a great deal of introspection. However, I missed one key ingredient. It comes from observation as well. Most of the time, I was too involved with interaction in my external world without really seeing what I was doing. It wasn’t enough to know what was going on in my head. I had to see how it translated in behavior.

      I greatly appreciate the compliment, although I consider myself very awkward with the reception. Does anyone really graciously take a compliment? LOL!

  13. A brave new mind takes a woman of great courage and honesty to write about it! Very powerful, and so true it hurts. But it’s that good kind of hurt – jelly legged at the top of a climb – the view being ever that much more remarkable.

    Our external world is always a reflection of our internal one, and ‘value assignment’ is the greatest freedom and greatest power we can claim. The brain learns through pattern and people just don’t realize how much their programming influences both their internal and external dialogues with reality.

    Through careful, disciplined metacognition and dedicated (sometimes ruthless) creative problem solving, I’ve restructured my own reality into a much more positive, much more intrinsically (genetically) honest place to live. I was born to live by story, and when I realized I could write my own and make them real, not just play pretend, it changed my world forever.

    Congratulations on embracing the “blank page”, what I call Blank Canvas Living (.com) and inspiring us all!

    • I used to consider my experience with disorder as having different tinted glasses. Now, I realize that I was giving entirely too much power to the disorder and robbing myself of it. It’s that kind of thinking that leaves those with disorder feeling so powerless when we face symptoms and challenges. It’s dangerous feeling that breeds a certain amount of hopelessness, because we unintentionally become slaves to the disorder.

      I’ve worn corrective lenses for longer than I can clearly recall. The kind of perspective I experience now was my like my first pair of contacts. My vision was so crisp, and there were no blind spots that glasses create. I actually had to go buy sunglasses, because the world was too bright at first.

      It’s interesting that you bring up dialogues. I’ve been so interesting in writing an article about positive language. It’s something I practice in a classroom setting. In a child’s world, the word “no” is so frequent and restrictive. But, a statement that contains the word “no” is completely open ended.

      I had a student who used to take that to the max. Rules like “no running” allowed for interpretation. If there was “no running”, then that didn’t exclude any other types of movement. It doesn’t give any instructions as to what they should be doing instead of running.

      So, instead of establishing rules that started with “no”, I created a sort of command statements. “Walking feet in the classroom” didn’t include jogging, sprinting, jumping, or any other kind of movement.

      Language is a behavioral expression that is a clear indicator of how we think. To change cognitive patterns, we can use that in reverse. If we change our language, then we can eventually change our thinking. It can extend beyond ourselves to affect the environment around us. Positive language can have a positive affect on those around us, and in turn, those around them in a domino effect. All it takes is one person.

      • …”we can use that in reverse.” YES!! This is the key to cognitive evolution! It’s that big wonderful secret we need to shout from the rooftops (using positive language of course lol).

        There’s an idea that when you say “no candy” or “don’t think about candy” the ‘no’ is added as a quote/unquote “sticky note” to ‘candy’. Over time this sticky note becomes loose and falls away, leaving us once again with ‘candy’ being the cognitive focus. So really, we’ve got to change the entire language focus of the idea…”no candy” could become “yes fruits”.

        Note: Neurologically speaking, “sticky note” is a rather vague analogy, but it’s a popular one among scientists so I’m assuming there’s biological basis for the post-it model. PS: thanks for the shout-out in your language post 🙂

        • I just thoroughly enjoy the way you think. I would love to get the bullhorn and go to it. But, one mind at a time, I suppose. I find myself worrying about the tone of these kinds of articles. Is it too preachy? Does it convey a kind of “new-agey” feel that is going to turn skeptics away? In the past, I can remember rolling my eyes at these kinds of sentiments. How can I possibly just “think happy thoughts”? I was hoping that this was more than that, providing some kind of direction to the reader.

          I like your idea of flipping thoughts around. You could even go as far as to say, “instead fruits” to let your mind know that fruits are a substitute. It doesn’t completely outlaw candy. It just makes fruits preferable.

  14. Wow ! This is very inspiring 🙂 good stuff !!

    • Thank you! I was really just explaining some of what I went through in the last nine months during my absence from blogging. The last of it really happened in the last three to four months. I never thought it would be so well received.

      I’d really like to go more in depth about it. There’s so much more to it than this.

  15. What a great blog on Bipolar Disorder. Do you like any of the books the most of the ones you wrote about?

    • There is only really one that sticks out in my mind, and I can’t recall the exact title at the moment. It’s something like “The Dummy’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder” or something to that effect. It takes the disorder outside of the clinical context and puts it into words that the average reader can relate to. It’s actually more practical than any clinical text I’ve researched.

      But more than the books, I like a lot of the blogs. A couple of years ago, another blogger and I started a community mental health blog called “A Canvas of the Minds”. If you’re interested, there’s a link in my sidebar.

  16. “Energy is neither positive nor negative. It’s the expression and application that determines the nature.” Awesome line!

    • That wasn’t entirely my own wisdom. I have to credit the origin to one of my martial arts instructors.

      When I was a white belt, I always had this fear that I wasn’t learning because I was doing it wrong. And as my belt test drew near, I started to tense up and mak e needless mistakes because my mind was so clouded with doubt. One of my instructors was working independently with me and asked, “Are you feeling nervous?” I admitted that I was. Instead of telling me to relax, like everyone seems inclined to do, she said, “Nervous energy is energy just the same. For now, less mind and more body. You don’t need to think about these techniques so hard because they’re already locked into your muscle memory.”

      For once, I stopped thinking and just started throwing techniques out there with as much as I had. Suddenly, I unweighted off of my feet and it started to come back together. Pivots were easier and the whole form just flowed.

      By shifting my energy, I turned negative mental energy into useful physical energy. And when I saw the result, it immediately fed back into positive mental energy. It was really the first time I had ever experienced the mind-body connection in action.

      That’s really another thing I want to write about is the mind-body connection. There’s always a lot of talk of redirection of mental energies into different channels (creative pursuits, etc), but sometimes changing tracks is a lot easier said than done. But, that’s another discussion!

  17. This is an excellent change from the normally depressing stuff that sprawls the web. Props and congrats

    • I will admit, I’ve written my fair share of it. Well, probably more than my fair share. It’s always been my goal to try to turn all of that into something with a fresh perspective. This was never intended to be my personal journal, where I gripe about the difficulties that I face. In fact, I’ve even stopped doing that in my personal, hand-written journal here at home. Whenever I start to go down that road, I make an effort to detour down a more positive path.

      For instance, I was recently writing about some challenges I faced surrouding my return to the work force. I started to launch into a rant about how it would be easier if the people around me would support me to make the transition easier. I stopped myself, and turned it into a philosophical theory of personal leadership.

      For me, it’s a lot healthier than the idea of “letting it all out” and basically having one long depressing tale after another to serve as the story of my life.

      Thanks for reading and commenting! It is much appreciated!

  18. Really Brilliant expression and very inspirational story!

    • I greatly appreciate your reading and feedback. I really had no idea that it would even get to so many people. And what I mentioned in this article is hardly even scratching the surface! I hope readers will stick with me for more in this wellness series.

  19. Reblogged this on Kat's Korner Kafe and commented:
    I cannot relate to the bipolar disorder and psychosis, but I 100000% relate to the self-loathing and low self esteem. This woman so so strong. “I am the alpha and the omega in my life. The beginning and the end of all things. ” “I realized that the self-loathing was just counterproductive”

  20. I’ve never read anything I’ve related to more in my life. I don’t believe I have bipolar disorder but I’ve never been told I don’t have it either. Either way this post hass made me feel things I haven’t felt, I’m not sure what but they’re being felt now

    • Awww, thank you so much for your incredible comment. I’m really thrilled and beaming as I’m typing. I’m glad that it really brought something to you. And I’m hoping that it’s something that you can take with you. If nothing else, maybe it can help to see you thought some of the tougher times.

      There’s really nothing harder than living in the uncertainty of mental health disorder. Originally, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Somehow, it didn’t feel quite right. I was treated for a number of years without success. And it was just torturous.

      For me, it was awful to go through life knowing that I was different, but not having a name to go with it. It was like feeling like there was something inherently defective about myself, and that there would be no way to “fix” it. It took a lot of years for me to come to realize that there really is no “fix”. I don’t need to “fix” me.

      If you haven’t gotten a definitive diagnosis, you might want to check into it. For some people, it’s really devastating to get the diagnosis. But for me, the diagnosis put what I thought was just “me” and “my personality” into a classification of “symptoms”. Symptoms can be treated, and the best parts of me had a chance to shine through.

  21. What an inspirational and useful article! I think what I find the most enjoyable about it comes from its ability for the reader to empathize and understand what you’re getting at. I think a vast majority of people have a “from outside to inside” experience at some point in their lives. I have a similar one as you, as I currently work on losing weight and gaining muscle. Your experiences really ring true with me, as I feel more positive and in control of my mental health as I gain control of my physical health. There’s something about the outside and inside of yourself; although initially they may not seem to directly connect, it seems that changing one tugs at the other one until they both coexist equally.

    • There is definitely a mind-body connection. Scientists explain it in terms of neurotransmitters and hormones. But, it becomes more evident and relevant when put into practice.

      At times in the past, I was really headstrong and couldn’t buy into the physical health having a direct impact on my mental health. But, I had never really practiced healthy living on a larger scale in a practical way. It was a series of crash diets and temporary abstinence from alcohol. What I failed to understand is that healthy living is a complete lifestyle that has to maintained to really gain the full benefit.

      I think if a person hasn’t experienced the outside-in experience, they should really give it a go. Make a real commitment to six months of education and practice toward physical health, and then see how it affects them. I know that the message has a difficult time getting through, because we’re constantly barraged in popular media about health and wellness.

      But, it’s really worth the try. You’re right. The coexistence really became harmonious and made me feel like a complete being. It’s the most incredible feeling that makes me want to continue down this road. For once in my life, I am looking forward to seeing what’s in store.

  22. Pingback: Sunny With a Chance Of Armageddon | Watch Your Language!

  23. I like this. Very well expressed could almost feel what you were writing 🙂 Clever title aswell… and keep up with the positivity

    • Thank you so much for your wonderful compliment. It really makes me feel good that I touched so many people.

      This had so many working titles, it actually kind of funny. Because in the end, I really kind of just chose it on the fly. It felt right, you know?

  24. Thank you so much for the brave article. The principles you found are like many discussed on my own blog because they work. I am glad to have found this mostly because the misinformation about mental illness is so out-of-hand that it seems exacerbate reluctance to get help or maintain treatment. I was heartened recently by Science Daily articles about DNA diagnoses on the horizon, since they now know that Depression, ADHD, schizophrenia (this one’s nearly curable), and bipolar disorder share a common gene. Meaning that just one in the family increases chances of another– any other. The only problem is that there aren’t enough diagnosed cases (to make it profitable enough- I think). That’s a big deal because of the misdiagnoses; another one there enforces that people could have two or more of these that present as another. Yet with all the complexities of physiology of the human self, unfortunately the sum of what appears to be general public knowledge is only simply that “crazy people are crazy”. I am always amazed at the surprise to discover a “chemically” imbalanced brain could produce complex thought. With a straight face –no knowledge of the “chemicals” they mock or from where they come; yea some symptoms are congenital, but others are temporary, triggered or rapid onset, or will come with age. It could still happen to anyone, so why the lack of concern. The symptoms of these big four are all around us in people we contact all the time, but too bad the labels are reserved for those with the good sense to seek help. I hope one day conversations like can make society more proactive. Til then, bravo. Excellent work.

    • I am blown away, and I really appreciate this thoughtful comment. Thank you for taking the time to not only read the article, but to draft this as a lovely addition.

      There is a great deal of misinformation out there. And what’s worse is that the science of psychology is still very much in it’s infancy. Scientists and practitioners still have yet to pin down all of the complexities that come with mental health disorders. Therefore, successful treatment becomes that more difficult. And even worse than all of that is the rampant spread of “pop psychology”. So many legitimate practices and illnesses like “mindfulness” and “disorder” have become buzz words.

      I could probably go on about that topic for pages and pages. It’s a better topic for A Canvas of the Minds, which is a community mental health blog a friend and I started a couple of years ago.

      To be honest, I don’t really know the full impact of what it’s like to be suddenly hit with a diagnosis. I became symptomatic very young in my life, so I don’t really remember a life “before mental and developmental health disorders”.

      But, I can tell you as a parent how it feels. My son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder two years ago. Although I have a brother with the same disorder, so I had experienced it first hand, there is nothing that can prepare someone for that. We suspected it, but getting it confirmed was like getting hit with a truck. And then, they just throw piles of pamphlets and xeroxed at you and wish you luck. Not one psychologist took the time to really sit with me and go over it.

      As for genetics, I have evidence in my own family tree that bipolar disorder and autism spectrum disorder share genetics. My parents had two biological children, one with one and one with the other respectively. Now, my son turns up with one. And despite the fact that my son has autism spectrum disorder, I know he’s still at risk for later developing bipolar disorder. The odds were never really in his favor.

      I have one biological cousin with bipolar disorder, one biological cousin with autism spectrum, and another with ADHD. It just goes to show that similar genetics can present their dysfunction in very different ways.

      It’s still amazing that we’ve gained so much ground in social awareness and acceptance of developmental disorders, but a horrible stigma is still attached to mental health disorders. My son attended preschool for the first time this year, and my husband and I were both terrified that he would be made fun of, just like the kids made fun of special needs kids when we were in school. I went to visit his preschool and discovered the complete opposite. The children were eager to help him out and be friends with him. Some of the kids actually shed some light on some things that I didn’t even think of. They thought of him as “a very sweet kid”, and he was actually popular!

      But, nobody was willing to share about their children’s mental health disorders, or even their own. A parent approached me one day to ask me if I would keep a special eye on her child because he “had a bad night”. I asked what happened, so I knew what to look for, and they explained that he hadn’t slept the night before because he ran out of medicine.

      I had my suspicions, and the parent went on. “Look out for any signs of agitation or aggression. He’ll need some extra time to cool off today.” When I asked what medicine he took, the parent named an antipsychotic and a sleeping medication, probably thinking that it wouldn’t really clue me in. But, I put it together. This kid has bipolar disorder. It explained a lot, but as a teacher, this information could have been very useful when developing adaptive strategies in the classroom!

      Why was it so important to keep it a secret, at the risk of compromising a positive, healthy educational experience? I’m a professional. Did this parent really think that I was going to treat this child differently than the other children?

      I really wanted to shake this parent down and say, “Do you really think I don’t know bipolar disorder? I live it!” But, as a professional, I had to keep it professional. Their personal business is still unfortunately their personal business, despite the implications it has for a classroom setting. If I had wanted to keep Beast’s disorder on the down low, I have the right by law to do so. Even if it is counterproductive.

      And what the general public doesn’t understand is that one in four people are affected by mental health disorders. I think the statistic is now one in seven are affected by a “serious mental illness”, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder mainly. (I really despise that term. “Serious”, what is that supposed to mean? Dangerous? More important than major depressive disorder or a disorder from the anxiety spectrum? It’s degrading either way). On break one day, I had an employee come to me and start to explain her disorder over a cigarette. I stopped her short and said, “You don’t have to go into the in depth. I have bipolar disorder and I’m well acquainted with mental health topics.” She was shocked, but relieved. I told her, “Mental health disorders are really more common than anyone can believe.”

      A lot of the terms are still pretty degrading, as I mentioned above. Mental illness? The illness component still conveys this idea that a person is “sick in the head”. It implies that a person “afflicted” (I don’t care for that term either) by “mental illness” is capable of committing great atrocities against another person. I’ll tell you this; chances are that if a person is carrying a label around, they are less likely to harm other people. The people with the labels are the ones who are aware of their symptoms and behavior.

      The terms are so mocked that they’ve become catch-all phrases. Katy Perry, as much as I enjoy that woman’s music, described a relationship as “a case of love bipolar”. When a friend described her city’s weather as being “schizophrenic”, I almost went off the deep end. If a person has strong organizational skills, they’ll describe themselves as “OCD”. They do so with no regard of those being clinical terms, and the serious implications they carry. Making those terms popularized adjectives is a mockery of those disorders and those that really struggle with them.

  25. Tremendous insight and so well-worded. I loved reading this piece. I hope you are able to maintain this new mindset!

    • Thank you! I am actually in the middle of writing a new article that describes the mechanics of development of the new mindset. Even better, it describes the necessary psychological mechanics of maintaining them too.

      I’ll give you a little preview. In order to maintain changes such as these, it’s important to practice. In a clinical setting, practitioners typically use ABA (applied behavioral analysis) techniques. It’s a pretty simple science. Positive reinforcement maintains the behavior through feel-good rewards upon successful completion. It’s kind of like the mouse, the maze, and the cheese. When the mouse completes the maze, they are rewarded with the cheese at the end.

      In real life, we know that positive reinforcement is a little more difficult. Especially when we are the ones that are doling out the reward for ourselves. That’s why the behavior has to be automatically sustained and not contingent upon our own subjectivity of whether the behavior had a successful outcome. In more plain terms, we have to be rewarded externally by natural consequences for our behaviors and not by ourselves. For instance, a positive interaction with a coworker produces favorable results. We are automatically rewarded by the favorable results, so we don’t really need to give ourselves a pat on the back.

      I’ve gained so much more ground in my life in the last four months than I have in the last four years of treatment. It’s easy for me to see my progress, and that sustains the behavioral effort of changing my thoughts. With every day that I practice, it becomes harder to “slip back into my old habits”. Those habits just don’t make any sense to me anymore.

      I really hope that readers continue to read throughout the development of this new wellness series. In time, it will become clearer that while change may be difficult at first, it becomes easier and natural as time goes on. And with so much time, it becomes automatic. The changes that I implemented will start to spawn their own changes, until it’s a process that I don’t really have to think about anymore.

  26. Often times we have no control over circumstances or situations, and certainly not other people. The power of choice, however, to choose how we feel about any particular thing, is all ours. A change in thought is a change in your world…Be empowered and know that you always have a choice…All love ~K

    • I like to think of control as an illusion. Control implies that we have the power, authority, and influence over a person or situation. Mostly, we don’t. In some cases, we don’t really even have control over ourselves, because a lot of what we do is automatic. It has to become automatic, because thinking about every little action would have to be exhausting and time consuming.

      Instead, I like to think of it as influence and choice. We can influence ourselves, even if we don’t have influence in the greater majority of our external world. We can choose (like you said, the power of choice) in how we think, maybe even if we can’t immediately chose our emotional reactions. We even have a choice in our behavior, and how we engage in our external world.

      You are so right – choice is power. Free will is a difficult concept to initially accept, because it feels like so many things are beyond us. Especially in terms of mental health disorder. I remember my mother telling me things like, “You have to get control over yourself.” I just couldn’t. I couldn’t control the overwhelming emotions that I felt, and it just added to my hysteria. Eventually, I got the idea that I was just an “out of control” person. Getting a diagnosis didn’t really help, because the general consensus is that mental health diagnoses are a result of dysfunctional genes. We can’t help our natures, right?

      No, we can’t. But, we can work with the hand that we were dealt, disorder or not.

      • I do not believe we inherent dis-ease…it is a choice always my love…I struggle with these issues and the misconception we are doomed because of a bad gene is absolutely ludicrous. So we may be pre-disposed to something. You do not have to own that. Often times we need to define what is happening and why…but issues continue to present themselves because there is a powerful lesson you are failing to get and the universe is trying to impress something upon you. Diagnoses are a waste of time because they are made because you met the minimum number of symptoms required for a diagnosis associated with “your disorder” and these are based on past cases, none of which have to do with you. We are individuals and each have very individualized needs, life experiences and circumstances. You have the power within to control this disorder you feel is in control of you. It’s not..We live in a world of illusion and we make it as we go along…you can tell yourself a different story from this day forward and keep telling it to yourself until you believe it. I believe in you..rewrite the script my dear 🙂 All love ~K

        • I so agree with this. I especially loved the part about the lessons that the universe is trying to give to us. That is usually why people feel “doomed” to repeat the same mistakes. There is no “doom”. Mistakes don’t have to be repeated if we just take the time to really draw from them.

          I respectfully disagree that diagnoses are a waste of time, however. But, I do understand what you are getting at. Diagnoses are a label, a kind of descriptor of the dysfunctions that one faces. I know that I cannot “control” an episode. When one comes on, I know that there are certain mental states that are occurring. But, I do have a great deal of influence on how they are going to affect me and my life.

          You have an incredibly healthy attitude toward coping with disorder. It doesn’t have to rule my life. I don’t have to indulge an episode, just because I have no say about the onset. I do have a say in how it is expressed and how I cope with it. Episodes mean that I just have to monitor myself more closely and carefully than I usually do. It just means that I have to develop adaptive strategies to use in my life in order to remain functional.

          And it means that a certain level of acceptance of certain limitations has to happen. In depressive episodes, I cannot expect to function at the same pace, and I have to be especially careful of my thought patterns, as I become more sensitive in those times. With manic episodes, I have to monitor behaviors and impulses. I have to exercise better judgement, and maybe even go outside myself to determine delusion from fact.

          I love your comment “rewrite the script”. You’re absolutely correct. We are not slaves to our disorders. They do not define us and the course of our lives. We do.

          Thanks for all of your wonderful thoughts. I appreciate them so much, and the encouragement that comes with them!

        • You are a perfectly beautiful creation…you need only to always remember that…so happy to inspire, have an amazing day ~K

  27. You are incredibly creative and talented! I love your blog topic. You have an intriguing way of writing, and I really like your use of graphics to embellish what you say. I will look forward to reading more of your work!

    • I am so awkward at taking compliments, but I want you to know that I’m grateful and appreciative. I’m really glad that you like it so much. I’m no graphic artist, but I do know that most people are visual people. I’m not exactly a visual person, but I do know that graphics help me break up blocks of text. It’s a little easier on the eyes, and it gives me brain a little rest between paragraphs.

      • I can’t wait to continue reading your posts. 🙂 If you don’t mind, I wanted to share a book that is really giving me renewed hope in case it is of interest to you. I’ve felt like I have a flawed brain or genes or whateverbecause of my issues and struggles. I’m reading this book called, “The Brain That Heals Itself.” It talks about neuroplasticity which seems to be a fancy word for retraining your brain to make it work better. This has implications for everything from learning disabilities and even blindness to schizzophrenia and autism. This is fact and it’s happening like workouts for the brain. I am hoping to continue learning about it I.hopes of finding a new and better way to help myself and others 🙂

        • Thanks for reading! And I always love new book suggestions. I can’t ever get enough to read. I am really excited to look into it and picking it up. I’ve heard of neuroplasticity before, but it seemed kind of like a buzz word. Thanks for the tip!

  28. It’s as if I’m reading a confession that teaches me something about life and living.

    • I started blogging over two years ago, but I was kind of MIA for the last nine or so months. No note, no explanation. I just dropped off the blogosphere. So, this was partially an explanation of what took place while I was gone.

      This is the first truly and wholly positive and firm place I’ve been in. There are many times where I’ve been in “good” places before, only to come to discover how temporary it was. I didn’t understand that positive living isn’t about positive things happening in my life.

      Certain life events are exciting, like falling in love, getting married, a new job, a promotion, the birth of a child, etc. They might even bring some new shape to a life. But, they do not complete define who we are and how we live.

      I realized that I spent my whole life either waiting for something “good” to happen to me, or working feverishly to force it to happen. But, life isn’t all about the action and events that occur. Sometimes, the things that come to define us happen while we are standing still.

      Over the last year, it felt like my life came to a grinding halt. I was laid off. I moved to a new town, lost a number of old friends, and had difficulty making new ones. My son had come to a developmental stand-still and my marriage was entering its fifth year. I stopped writing entirely and the symptoms of my disorder weren’t really budging either way.

      It was only when all of the action around me stopped that I was finally able to start growing as a person. It’s much like soil. The soil needs to be tilled and stirred up so that the seeds can be planted. But, if the soil continues to shift, then the seeds can’t take root. Nothing can grow if the ground continues to shift.

      It was in that time period that I finally learned that I could be my own rock, bipolar disorder or not.

  29. Honestly awesome. Love the pic:)

  30. Wow a good post! Do check up ny blog too and follow. Haha

  31. Wow! What an EXCELLENT post. You have given me, as someone with bipolar disorder, belief and hope that I too can feel this way. I have so much to think about and I thank you for that! Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed too!

    • I do check in with my blog over the weekends, and this made my heart just overflow. Thank you for expressing this to me. I completely understand what it’s like to be in the throes of bipolar disorder. It can be overwhelming and quite disabling at times. I’m really glad that I could have touched your life.

      And you can feel this way. It’s a post I want to write. You can. It might seem impossible, but when you start telling yourself “I can”, you’ll find that the attitudes start to change. It won’t come all at once. Saying “I will” implies some kind of distant future. “I can” means you can start today. Remember, “As long as you’re trying, you’re succeeding”. Everything is a process, and evolution of ourselves and how we think and feel. And for you, it can start today. This very second.

      • You’re an inspiration! You’re also so sweet to send such a thorough response to my comment. I appreciate both the acknowledgement and the encouragement. I’m improving as each day passes. The journey to diagnosis was hard enough but since then I’ve found it overwhelming KNOWING I have this condition and establishing how to cope/deal with it. Like I said, I’m improving and posts like this give me reason to keep trying. Thanks 🙂

        • I think in some ways the diagnosis is kind of liberating. While there are many people out there that have a mental health disorder, I know that everyone experiences it in a different way. I wrote a post a long time ago about the way bipolar disorder shaped my life. It was the inspiration for my music for so many years. My experiences with it have been the bulk of my writing for many years in various formats. In a way, it’s been my muse.

          But, it’s had me stronger as a person. Many people focus on the debilitating part of it, but I see it in an entirely different way. It has built my character, and brought me to this place. I’ve realized through this post that many people in this world deem themselves “unhappy”. It has taken me on a journey that others without a diagnosis might struggle to embark on.

          It helped wonderful things happen in my life. I wouldn’t be me without my disorder. My husband may not have felt the same about me, and we may not be married today. In some cases, the impulsivity worked for me, and brought me my child. The hyperactivity helped me graduate from a two year college with three degrees as an honor student. And my creative, adaptive nature has given me a very colorful resume.

          I’m glad that I can lend some strength and inspire wellness. Because believe me, if I can do it, anyone can do it. I’ve been to some dark places and picked up some damaging habits. I stopped drinking to excess a long time ago. I’ve been almost a year free of self-harm. It’s been a hard road, and I will continue to face challenges. But, for the first time in my life, I really see the light.

  32. Excellently written and expressed. The ability to reach out to people through the assemblage of your words is truly a beautiful skill.

    • I’m just thrilled that you think so. I’m not attempting to be humble when I say that I never considered it to be anything special. I was just another anonymous blogger, feeling like I had something urgent to say. I always dreamed that I could reach out, but I never knew that it was actually possible.

      If I can inspire change in one person’s life, I would be overjoyed. I’m really glad that you enjoyed the post!

  33. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your insights. I am so glad to have spent time going through this on a not so great Sunday afternoon. It cheered me up really. I’m from India.

    • I want to thank you for your wonderful compliment, and for your readership. I’m also glad that this could be uplifting for you. It’s really a wonderful feeling to know that I am actually making a difference in the world. Thank you for your comment!

  34. Lulu… thank you! I found that reading your words was like writing them myself, so familiar, so real. What a relief to find that I’m not the only one. I have transitioned through post traumatic stress disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, post natal depression and various other ‘labels’ to a place where I am at total acceptance of who I am, right here, right now – and I’ve found happiness and peace! Interestingly, once finding that inner space, I’ve discovered that who I am needs no label. I feel a kinship with you in that! It’s a gift to write like you do and a privilege to read you. xxK

    • Thank you. I am genuinely blushing. I’m really glad that is spoke to you and really rang true for you. I can’t say that I’ve been formally diagnosed with any of the disorders that you experience, however, I have felt their affects. Traumatic experiences aren’t something that can be easily released. And it’s really a misconception that they could ever be discarded or even forgotten. Even when we finally come to terms with them, we are still faced with the possibility of landmines, even if they are few and far in between.

      Postpartum depression / psychosis might be one of the most difficult things a woman can face. Caring for an infant (especially if it is the first), is an overwhelming, terrifying and life altering experience. It’s mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting beyond anything else. When those symptoms come into the mix, well, it just feels impossible.

      It sounds like you’ve not only come accept yourself, but actually love yourself. Everyone has their faults; it’s just that people with disorders have terms attached to them.

      I used to really try to sit there and pick apart disorder from personality. It was so important for me to know what was what, so I could excuse some of the traits I didn’t care for. The truth is, symptom or personality, it’s all me. Sometimes, I can be moody. I can be nervous and tense. And then there are times were I am impatient and short tempered.

      But, I don’t see it in that light. I am sensitive, and I have the ability to feel very deeply. I have a high energy level and care very much about things in my life. And I’m incredibly involved and wildly enthusiastic.

      If I can start thinking of my faults in terms of what they bring to me as strengths, then I can have a better image of myself. I just have to keep thinking, “It all starts and ends with me.” Everyone’s individual world starts and ends with them.

      • Lulu… can I post your comment on my blog please? You have so succinctly summed up mental health… it really is about knowing yourself inside and out, accepting whatever is there, warts and all, and understanding that health is a process. I’ve just been through a relationship break up and experienced a landmine… what a gift to have that sleeping remnant illuminated to be released – terrifying and emotionally shattering though it was! I’ve just blogged about it and then re-read your comment here and it helped. A timely reminder that we’re all human, and we’re all doing the best we can.

  35. Actually, it very brave of someone to reveal such emotions. I am glad you found moderation. Cool.

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  37. Your writing is beautiful. I, myself struggle with similar things sometimes, and your post is extremely motivational. Thank you for posting this, it reminded me that everything is up to me. xoxo

    • It’s a heavy thought a first, especially when so many things seem “out-of-control”. It just seems like this monumental task. But, if we break it down into pieces and just take it step by step, we can start to move in a healthier direction toward wellness.

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment. I’m overjoyed that I could have written something that touched you.

      • Baby steps, that’s what I remind myself. If I just take baby steps, I will eventually reach a healthier point. Stay strong xoxo

        • Martial arts has taught me that everything is a process. I remember being a white belt and watching the higher ranks in awe. I briefly had a thought, “I’ll never be that good.” In times of frustration, the higher ranks would relate their own white belt stories to my experience. And my thinking changed. If these incredible martial artists started out just like me, then why couldn’t I train to be as skilled as them?

          It goes a step further. I had gone in thinking that certain physical limitations would hinder me. My knees have a congenital deformation. I have asthma. My eyes are pretty bad, so I have balance and coordination problems. Through determination, and a lot of help from people who have similar limitations, I overcame it. We developed adaptive strategies, such as warm ups that prevent injuries to my knees, and practicing with my eyes closed so I could learn the techniques by sensation, kind of like a blind person might.

          Limitations don’t have to be disabling. In martial arts, they’ve given me a significant edge. Now that I understand that “weaknesses” can be translated into unique strengths, I’m attempting to figure out how I can use different facets of my disorder to my advantage.

        • I can’t tell you just how nice it is to hear kind words like that. I often lack self motivation, and reading your stories are really encouraging. Now I want to write down all of my “weaknesses” and tell myself how to use them as my strengths. ❤

          Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me, it's extremely refreshing to know that there are people like me out there who struggle, but still get through it, even if it is a long process.

        • Thank you for taking the time to read it. It makes me feel wonderful that I can encourage others to find their own path to their own wellness.

          Sometimes mental health disorders themselves have a way of stripping us of that motivation. It’s really kind of built into the symptoms.

          But, there’s also attitudes that arise out of past challenges. There is this sense of defeat and resignation that bubbles up. “Why should I bother? It’s never worked out before.” But, I remind myself of certain things. All of the great inventors didn’t initially get every invention right the first time. In fact, we’re still improving on the light bulb, many years later!

          I’d love for you to do a list of “weaknesses”. Sometimes, they are things that we can change. When I started martial arts, I was in pretty poor physical shape. I would come home from classes, aching for days. And in time, I shaped up and the pain was less and less. I actually got myself into a physical state that I never dreamed possible.

          But, there are the things that we can’t change, like I mentioned. It’s those weaknesses that we can flip into our strengths.

  38. i tired to like your post but it wouldn’t let me…anyway well done!! 🙂

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