I asked several bloggers whom I’ve become acquainted with if they would do a guest post on Surviving the Specter. They have all graciously accepted, and I am really excited to feature them over time. They have in one way or another, inspired me, made me laugh, made me think, told it to me like it is, been supportive, reached out to me, and been there to pull me through my rough stuff. They are beautiful people and excellent bloggers. They have so much to share and it would be a dishonor for me to hoard them all to myself, haha.
My first guest blogger is Sassafrass, The Feisty. She is a quick-witted, high energy blogging machine. Also, a sarcastic word smith and a beautiful person. Please visit her blog and drop her a line in her Comments section. She would love to have a dialog! Check her site out – https://sassafrass20blog.wordpress.com
And now, I’ll turn it over to Sass’…
I’m a 35 year old separated mom of 2 kids-a 13-year-old teenager *WAHHH* and an 8-year-old girl. I live with Bipolar1 with my parents, kids and my dog-a 50 pound Black and Red German Shepherd named May. I’ve been diagnosed for 9 years, and I’ve been on MANY medications, and I know that I will be on meds for the rest of my life. I’m ok with that-my sanity is worth the trial and error, even though I whine about it at times. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the color pink-as obvious in my blog theme and desktop glass, phone case and purse, and half of my wardrobe 😉 I’m also living through a HARD marriage and separation. It’s not been easy for myself or the kids, but we are making it through J I am a high school dropout, though I did go on to get my GED in November of 1999 followed by my CNA Certification in December of 1999 and I have been in the health care industry-geez sounds like some kind of universal cannery or something!-but all in long term health care facilities. I’ve recently hurt my shoulder and I am most liking going to have shoulder surgery in the next coming weeks-YAY L. Ah, the life and times of a CNA lifer! MY life is a chaotic as my head. My Gramma would always tell me this quote when my life was always in turmoil: “This Too Shall Pass” and it is my mantra. I’m also starting to incorporate a quote from one of her favorite movies “Strictly Ballroom”: “Vivir con miedos, es como vivir a medias!” which translates to “A Life Lived In Fear Is A Life Half Lived”, and I think it’s perfect for what a lot of us are going through. I LOVE to read-a lot of fantasy, some “main stream” stuff, young adult fiction…but I WON’T read anything on current political stances because it’s a trigger and then I’ll think the world is coming to an end and who needs that?! I also am a big movie fan. Not much I won’t watch, but Horror is OUT OF THE QUESTION-because I am a HUGE chicken shit. Plain and simple. Vampire movies are my favorite-my son is named after a Vampire! Wish I could say the same for my daughter…still kinda pissed about that one, actually. I visit my Grandparent’s grave often to gather my thoughts at times, and those are some of the most peaceful times as of late. They encouraged me through so much in my life, and they would be so proud of where I am today.
If I can leave you with one thing it’s this: I have never once, in my entire life, ever regretted a single decision I have ever made. Because of those I made, I am on this path, at this certain point in my life for a reason. I can look behind me and see the lessons I have learned, and for that, I am grateful. Even if those decisions were REALLY stupid and made when I was manic or depressed, I learned something from them.
1. How long have you been blogging?
I’ve been blogging just over a year. I started May 30, 2014.
2. What is the focus of your blog?
I started my blog as a way to heal from the breakdown of my marriage but it’s morphed more into a mental health blog, but there are all kinds of weird crap in there, so it’s more of like an abstract painting. Each person takes away something different!
3. Is there a particular time that you write/post?
Some days I spend HOURS in front of my computer blogging until my fingers are blistered, then there are days I’ll go without posting a thing. It’s whenever something hits me, or a particularly rough or high day. Ah, the Bipolar Coaster. Life is like a box of chocolates-always filled with nuts! I hate nuts in my food.
4. Where do you get the inspiration/ideas for your blog posts?
From my life. How I live and cope with Bipolar 1, my friends and family, how it all affects and effects me. Sometimes I’ll branch off of a topic one of my Sassafrains (a nickname one of my friends came up with for my followers lol) posts. There’s a group of us calling ourselves the “Volatile Femmes” and we support each other so much we’ve created our own words and cues for how we are handling daily life. It’s a crap shoot, really.
5. From your experience, what three pieces of insight/wisdom can you give to new/growing bloggers?
A) Be honest-and by that I mean to yourself. Yes, you can get anonymity, but if you aren’t and CAN’T be honest with yourself, then your blog will reflect that and it will feel restricted. Who wants that? B) There are TONS of subjects and blogs out there and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and compare yours to theirs-DON’T. You’ll second guess everything, get frustrated and give up, and it’s not about being the best blog or the one with the highest amount of followers-it’s about being true to you. C) Have FUN! You don’t always have to be heavy with things. Use a little humor or special anecdotes for your blogs. You’ll be amazed at much your peeps will like them-and it’ll make you feel good too!
6. What mental conditions (“illnesses”) do you survive with? E.g., depression? PTSD? anxiety? self-harm?
I have Bipolar 1 with Mania and ADHD and Trauma related issues. I was diagnosed simultaneously with Bipolar and Postpartum Depression. No one is sure which exacerbated the other, but that’s ok. It adds to my spice of life! I’ve been on so many meds it seems like I read like the Nurse’s Drug Reference Book. Right now I’ve been going through a pretty bad depression, which isn’t my usual cycle for it. It usually comes around July and November, but I went through some pretty rough stuff and voila! Depression…aggravation is more like it. And apparently picking at my nail beds is self harm. Never knew that until my latest trip to partial-which makes TOTAL sense to me.
7. For each condition, what is at least one coping mechanism you have found to be successful?
I take my damn meds (Volatile Femmes Ha-ha). I have a therapist I see as often as I can, and I see my psych nurse. Obviously I blog-and it’s a HUGE release. But my biggest and best coping mechanism is music. I go to music for a lot of things. I’m addicted to Spotify, and my taste is in music is HUGELY varied, so depending on how I am will depend on what I listen too. And it’s always loudly in the car 😀
8. Do you have a personal story you would like to tell? One of success? One of growth? A story that tells about your rough stuff?
I’ve been sitting here trying to think of ONE thing to tell a story about, but I can’t, because everything ties together in my life. So if I were to say anything I would say read my blog. That’s where you see the most growth and struggle and the most real part of me. I will say that my sister never really understood where I’ve come from, where I’ve been until she read my blog from beginning to end. At that time I hadn’t started my Quarantine Diaries yet, so I there are more posts she hasn’t seen. We had a really GREAT conversation after (even posted about that convo) and our relationship has taken on a new level for the better. She said that when I explained to her what it’s like in my head, now she is able to really grasp when I’m all over the place because of the noise in there. I told her that now the hive of bees in there has quieted their humming, but it’s still there. It will never be gone, and that’s ok. I think when it’s gone is the time to worry!
9. From your experience, what three pieces of insight/wisdom can you give to others surviving with mental illness?
A) NEVER be afraid or ashamed of your Mental Illness. There’s so much stigma because people just don’t understand. B) NEVER pass on the opportunity to educate someone about your Mental Illness. We’ve all gotta fight the stigma that it’s shameful and dirty to have one. PFFFFBT. I say to Hell with THAT! But know when not to waste your breath on teaching someone. C) NEVER EVER EVER EVER be afraid to reach out for help when you are in a bad place. We tend to not ask for help when we are drowning because we don’t want to be a burden to someone-but this is the time when we need the most help, so burden and use that support system.