Bleary eyed I look at the clock. 5:14. I cannot sleep anymore, but I am overwhelmed with exhaustion. Did I take my lithium last night? Did we sign up for Tuesday t-ball? My joints ache from the tension of restless sleep, my eyes burn unable to sleep off the drug induced haze. My mind races. 6:34. Why does this always happen? If I had somewhere to be I would struggle at this hour to get ready.
The tasks of the day ramble through my mind. What is Shawn’s schedule today? Maybe he will let me get in an extra hour of sleep. I cannot sleep anymore, but I am overwhelmed with exhaustion. I lay my arms over my head willing even a small nap to come to me. 7:48. The kids will be awake soon and the care list will consume me. Did I ever run the dishwasher? What did I plan for dinner? I try to stretch my aching muscles hoping to relax back to slumber, albeit brief. I decide on a guided mediation. I cannot sleep anymore, but I am overwhelmed with exhaustion.
8:22. The kids will inevitably wake soon. The day’s tasks are long and daunting as they often are with 4 kids. Thank goodness its summer break, maybe someone will sleep in. I shift into a different position finally feeling comfortable, hoping I don’t hear the patter of any feet. As my mind drifts to the beach or a day of television on the couch, I am jarred by someone yelling “Mommy!” 8:53. The day has begun. I
cannot sleep anymore, but I am overwhelmed by exhaustion.
For as long as I can remember, these mornings have been my “normal.” Always including unrest, racing thoughts and complete disarray of my cognitive thoughts. They came with irritability, grandiosity and pushing myself to limits that ultimately came with a crash. They could begin the worst days and the best days, never giving me any sense of moderation.
Recently I was diagnosed with and am being treated for Bipolar Disorder. “Normal” is slowly becoming more regulated as I wake up more cognitively sound. There is less irritation with the tasks ahead of me and I feel positive about the future. I have learned some tips on figuring out a stable “normal.”
- Break things into smaller parts. I wake up with a clear-cut plan and set timers for things like cleaning and prepping for dinner. I keep a calendar for what is ahead so I don’t feel consumed by daunting tasks. The more I can plan ahead as the day starts the better.
- Don’t Overthink. I allow myself space from my emotions and to do list by meditation and yoga. I have feelings but I am a person separate from them, and so are you. If I find myself overthinking I stop and take a minute for mindfulness; connecting with my cognitive brain by seeing nature, smelling things around me or simply counting something nearby.
- I am gentle with myself. Not everyday or perfectly laid out plan is going to work out. Life is unpredictable just like my mood and emotions. I try to stick to things to the best of my ability and accept my limitations. Tomorrow is always a new day.
- Have a PLAN. I have a lot of plans. Self care plans, meal plans, cleaning plans, learning plans, and creative time plans like this one. Journaling, painting and yoga help keep me centered from being strictly emotional or logical. We are complex individuals and we have to feed those needs. Living with the diseases of mental illness take a tremendous amount of effort on our part to care
for our mind, bodies and emotions. Some days we will feel like we are on the right track, and others wonder if we are back at square one. We are worth the efforts. Psychotherapy is another key piece to my puzzle. I hope to continue to reach out to individuals who do not know where to begin on this journey. Just like life we start with a simple step.
More of Karri’s beautiful writing can be found at Blue Eyed Wellology.