November 23, 2009

why so hard?

So, I had this paper that I was supposed to write. It was a simple paper, four to six pages synthesizing my biggest ideas throughout college and talking about my favorite classes. I was supposed to simply write about the ideas that snowballed in my mind. The ideas that connected with thoughts in other classes and the way they changed the way I understood the world. Normally, this assignment would thrill me. I love thinking about thinking. I love when my ideas connect and snowball ultimately making my world shatter through the realization that everything I thought I knew was actually wrong, or at least completely different than I ever thought. But this time, given that I have a lot of other stressors on my plate, things like a looming college graduation, a non-existent post-grad job, and the fact that the paper came at the anniversary of a very painful past experience, (a near death by overdose), it was nearly impossible to finish. It has actually taken me about a month over the due date to complete. And last night, finally, I turned it in.

So, why was it so hard, I ask myself. Aside from the obvious previously mentioned items, I realized that it forced me to look at a part of my life in a different angle. I found it strange that I can write a memoir about my experiences with bipolar, and travel the country sharing my story, but I couldn't seem to write a simple paper about my college career. The thing that I realized though, is that I have not had your average college career. Throughout my time in college I have been diagnosed with bipolar, been hospitalized two times, came extremely close to losing my life several times, and been through innumerable amount of ups and downs, round abouts, and zigzags through the world of mental illness, self-medication, and that continuous search for stability. It was through all of this that I had one goal: to just finish school. So it was through all of this that my biggest ideas formed. Through all of these things I was attempting to write papers, read, grasp big ideas. In the end my experience with bipolar and my experience as an undergrad became completely intertwined.

In realizing all of this I finally just realized that there was still healing to do. I still had to come to terms with a lot of trauma and pain that I thought I had already coped with. It is through these tasks, seemingly menial papers, that we originally assume to be easy that each of us must realize that there is always another level. There is always a deeper level to which we can explore ourselves and our lives. Always more to the story that we originally thought. Though the paper was extremely difficult and painful I came to realize that I needed to go to that painful level to truly come to terms with my college experiences. I needed sludge through the painful moments in my life one more time so that next time it might be a little easier. Sometimes we find ourselves asking, why is this so hard?! It's because we need to confront it, to push ourselves to the next level, and to realize that everything isn't as it seems.

November 09, 2009

little things

On Friday I was forced to think about my future as I met with my college advisor regarding my upcoming graduation. Still being in a somewhat sensitive state I became extremely, overwhelmingly anxious. It was at that point that I remembered the importance of family (whoever that may be: friends, community, etc.) and support when it comes to stress, and especially when it comes to complications pertaining to one's mental illness. So, I went to my sister's house because I know that she (almost) always makes me feel better with her "get mad not sad" attitude that is so opposite of mine. (To learn more about my this, read my mom's blog entry, "Where's Sister"). I think the thing that made me feel the best however, was also the fact that we made cookies with my twenty-one month old nephew. It was in the moment when I looked at his flour and oatmeal covered head that I began to feel better. As he "helped" stir the flour, sugar, salt, and oatmeal by putting it all over his high-chair, body, face, and the floor I couldn't help but smile. His flour covered body was a reminder of the little things in life that are important. Just watching his mischievous little face and observing him as he tested us with his toddler-ness was a reminder that sometimes it helps to focus on the little moments, (and in his case, the little things). When I'm at my worst, I often find that the only way to get by is by focusing on the small moments in each day, each hour, each minute. In doing this I can get out of my head and remember that the earth is still spinning, and that joyful, (and even hilarious), things are still happening.