kept the flowers

Swallow your pride

Pride. It’s one of the worst Seven Deadly Sins. Apparently, it’s the reason that Satan fell from heaven. Who knew?satan falls from heaven

Today, I think pride is usually used to describe someone’s ego and what causes someone’s refusal to apologize or admit they’re wrong. It can be quite a beast. I’ve had my pride bruised pretty bad—and it sucks. It sometimes results in me strutting and pacing around the house as I declare others’ wrongdoing and my infinite wisdom.

Luckily for me, that’s usually the extent of my reaction to a bruised ego. But I’ve seen others take it to new levels of destructiveness. And it seems that once their pride monster has been awakened, it can be difficult to put back in it’s place. Just like watching someone suffer from an addiction, all you can do is sit back and wait until they’re ready to stop.

Then you have the pride that prevents you from admitting that you’re wrong or refusing to take the high road in a fight. I think a whole lot of people suffer from this…myself included. Sometimes it’s about not wanting to ‘lose face’ or lose the fight. Other times we may truly believe that we’re right. “I wasn’t wrong, so why should I apologize?” But I think a majority of times, it’s simply not wanting to admit that we’re Wrong.

The W word is very strong and extremely threatening to our pride. Why is that? Does the human condition make us fearful of being wrong by nature? I do feel like it’s always been engrained in me. And I’ve definitely known people who would rather lose a limb that lose an argument.

But there are situations that force us to swallow our pride. I think we tend to learn that skill quickly upon entering the real world. Whether it’s for your boss, a client, a partner, or even the DMV, it seems that ditching our pride becomes a vital survival skill. Humility and the ability to say “I’m sorry” are like tickets out of precarious situations. And maybe, just maybe, we even learn to admit to ourselves that we were Wrong.

Though this seems to be extremely difficult to do with your partner—and may get harder the longer you’ve been together. But hopefully by that point, you will have realized that there isn’t just Right and Wrong. There are many many shades of gray between those poles….and just because you were wrong about something doesn’t mean you were wrong about everything (necessarily).

I have come to realize that love means always having to say you’re sorry. Sometimes saying those two words can melt away a fight and open the doors to communication in mere moments.

That is, if you manage to swallow that pesky pride first.

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Hold onto sixteen as long as you can

When you’re sixteen, everything can seem like the end of the world. Tests, acne, boyfriends, you name it. the girls in high schoolBut as I grow older and look back on those times, they seem like the easiest and best days ever. Oh, to live off my parents and only have to worry about prom dresses again.

Of course, not everyone gets to live a privileged childhood. But mine was. We certainly weren’t rich, but I had amazing parents and fantastic friends. I was happy and motivated.

I recently watched some home videos from when I was a teenager—sixteen to be exact. And I couldn’t help but feel jealous of my former self. Even though I know all the heartbreaking and challenging things that came after that, I do envy me and my friends at that age.

Because what came after that was terrifying and devastating and almost too much to handle. Life began—real life. And it sucks…we all know that.

So while I almost wish I was sixteen again, I also know that girl was so young and so naive. She knew nothing about the world or herself or who she would become. And she had a shitload of life headed right for her.

Would I go back and do it all over again? It’s tempting, but no. Whether or not I carried my current knowledge with me, I know that I’d still have to grow up and become an adult—and that’s the hardest part. We can’t hang onto our youth no matter how much we want to.

So I suppose all I can do is hang onto part of that young and excitable girl and combine her with the grown woman I have become, with all the accumulated baggage that makes me, me. And I can certainly remember all the wonderful (and embarrassing) memories that my teenage years held.

And hey, I may have to deal with adult problems, but I can stay out as late as I want and eat junk food until 3am. That’s gotta count for something.

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Famously bipolar

I had heard of the “typical” bunch of famous people who had/have bipolar disorder. You know, Vincent van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, Catherine Zeta-Jonesmaybe Jimi Hendrix, possibly Britney Spears.

But I didn’t know about Catherine Zeta-Jones. And this is a bigger deal to me than others because she is bipolar II like me. I had no idea! It just happened last April, yet somehow I missed this news completely.

I do hope her bravery of facing the public about this did impact people. I hope it melted away some stigma in the public even just a little. People worship celebrities, so they really do have the power to make a difference. Certainly for mental illnesses, someone like Zeta-Jones can be a positive role model and example of someone proactively managing their condition.

Because lord knows, manic depression is a frustrating mess.

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There are storms we cannot weather

When I was in college, my best friend’s father was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer that had spread to his brain. stormIt was very advanced and there was little they could do. It was devastating. My friend was one of six children and extremely close with her father. It was simply unimaginable that this was happening.

Once weekend when I was home, I was visiting my church (more on that later). My old youth group leader asked me how my friend’s dad was doing, and I broke down as I told him. One of the things he said to comfort me has stuck with me throughout the years: “He never gives you more than you can handle.”

As soon as he said it I knew I disagreed. It was a nice thing to say and is probably a nice thing to believe. But I don’t…mostly for the reason that it’s simply not true.

People are given more than they can handle all the time—that’s why people commit suicide. That’s why they quit, run away, and break down.

This has never been more true to me than now, after I’ve been fighting a losing battle with bipolar depression for months on end. I have come to truly understand what “too much” feels like and why someone would take their own life to escape.

So though it’s not comforting, I prefer the truth found in Les Miserables’ I Dreamed a Dream:

But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I think sometimes just acknowledging the hard reality of things can be motivating in and of itself. And when it’s not…there’s always Glee.

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Music is my boyfriend

I have a very distinct memory of being in my best friend’s bedroom when wmusice were teenagers. We were just hanging out, listening to music, and giggling. Typical teen stuff.

Then my annoying neighborhood arch enemy intruded—moody and brooding as usual. I don’t know what he wanted, but he ended up chastising us for, well, being teenage girls. Apparently hanging out and listening to music meant we didn’t know there was a real world outside, with real problems…that there was more to life than what we were doing.

I remember being struck by the strangeness of his words then, and even still today. Because now I certainly have seen the real world and experienced some terrible things. No, you can’t just live in a cocoon and hang out with your best friend and listen to music your entire life…unfortunately.

But funny enough, just the other night, my husband and our friend and I spent an entire night listening to music and laughing. (Mostly spurred by our friend critiquing my music library.) It was one of those nights where staying up super late wasn’t planned…it just kinda happened because time flies when you’re ignoring the real world.

So you know what? Give me nights of listening to music, hanging out, and giggling. Give me plenty of them. And certainly give me that over the real world any time.

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Allow me to question your diagnosis

There are so many fun things about mental illness. It’s a regular smorgasbord of awesome.mental illness

But one of my most recent faves is the diagnosis questioning. i.e., the complete devaluation of your medical condition.

Yes, medical condition. But that’s the problem—people don’t see mental illnesses as real, biological conditions. It goes something like this:

“Yeah, I know you were told you’re bipolar II…but what if you’re not?”

That’s no different than saying, “I know you were told you have diabetes…but what if you don’t?” But so many people don’t see that.

And the worst part of it all is when the questioning comes from friends and family…the people who are on your side, who support you.

So shouldn’t they understand? Why don’t they get it? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because we never receive a real education about mental health; because of the stigma that continues to surround it; because it’s a really scary concept to wrap your head around about someone you love.

Regardless of the cause, it hurts. I don’t know how frequently this happens to other people, but I have to imagine it’s not just me. And that’s what makes me want to do something, anything, to make a difference on this issue…to raise awareness so that the stigma melts away just a little.

Suffering from a mental illness is bad enough—having it questioned on top of that just twists the knife even further.

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moms and cookies and cats in hats

I am grateful for the little (and big) things that manage to peek through the depression—even if for a short moment—and give me hope, comfort, or even just a smile.

Today I’m grateful for Wegman’s coconut macaroon cookies (combined with diet coke), my mom’s words of support, and this cat wearing a hat’s expression that actually made me laugh out loud.

cat in a hat

how this chick manages to get these hats on her cats is beyond me….but it’s hilarious. and for that, today, I am thankful.

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I’ll be all right…just not tonight

Sometimes the best way to express what’s in our souls is through a song. But instead of boyfriends and exes, lately I find myself directing lyrics at my bipolar disorder.

Since I’m currently in a depression that’s been haunting me for months, the songs I identify with do tend to be melancholy, however, sometimes there’s also a hint of hope in the lyrics (thankfully I still have hope that I will find medications to make me feel and function like myself again).

The song of the night is Gonna Get Over You by Sara Bareilles.

I’ll be all right, just not tonight,
Someday

I’m not the girl that I intend to be, but
I dare you darling, just you wait and see

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How many women run your evil birth control manufacturers?

no girls allowedAs I read Jezebel’s piece on evil birth control manufacturers, I found myself wondering who exactly is running these malicious pharmaceutical companies? Is it, as I see it in my head, a bunch of old pasty men—not a vagina in sight?

I had a feeling I knew the answer, but figured I’d find out for sure.

Bayer

Feast your eyes on the sausage fest that is Bayer’s Executive Committee: 12 out of the 13 members are men.

Pfizer

Good ol’ Pfizer does a little better—having a whole three women on their 13-member Executive Leadership Team. (Don’t worry, though. Their board also has a whopping three women.)

Johnson & Johnson

Keeping with the rule of threes, Johnson & Johnson’s board is 33.33% women.

Merck

Another trio of ladies sits on Merck’s board—but they account only for 5.6% of this 17-member team. (Their Executive Committee doesn’t make up for it.)

Warner Chilcott

Jezebel couldn’t find too much evidence of evil here. And there are no women to be found on their board. (Got the magic three on their Leadership Team, though.)

So what does this mean? Maybe nothing. Maybe pharmaceutical companies will inevitably be evil no matter what gender leads them. Maybe the lack of ovaries on their board of directors does make them more likely to fail at women’s health.

I know not. But c’mon, folks…it certainly couldn’t hurt to get a few more women leading your companies.

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The sun goes down on Idol

Steven TylerI’m a glutton for punishment. Thus, I watched American Idol again tonight. Elton John night. Warning: high pun factor.

Country kid shouted out to his grandma. Corny but semi-cute. Whatevs. I’m bored.

Naima sang I’m Still Standing…she won’t be for long. haaaaa.

Paul McCharlie from Always Sunny sang Rocket Man…yes, you’d better pack your bags, pre-flight.

Pia ROCKED her ish out. She shouldn’t be losing anything.

[a good song makes Steven Tyler cry inside]

Stefano mumbled something about a Tiny Dancer.

Lauren could be a candle in the wind if she doesn’t get some voice training ASAP.

Adam Lambert wannabe shocked me by being good until he did the screeching thing at the end.

Thia sings Daniel almost exclusively off pitch…must be the clouds in her ears. I think she can wave goodbye.

Weird, Dr. McCreepy can’t sing when he’s not screaming? Let me put this down in words: No song will ever be your song.

[Randy still thinks using their save on him was a good idea]

[Steven thinks singing different every time makes you a true artist]

I still adore Jacob and want to give him a hug…but it really was so sad. Sorryyyyy honey.

Haley and the Jets actually shook it loose pretty well. But a lil’ less on the sexy voice growl thing next time.

[Steven: you. sing. sexy.]

I bet Simon Cowell is laughing his British ass off.

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