Being Bipolar and Overcommitting ~ Doing Too Much And Crashing…

Overcommitted

This is not an easy post for me to write but it is one that I think won’t be so surprising for those who have followed me for a long time. I am not superwoman, although when the manic side of my bipolar disorder takes over it might look like I’m trying to be. An agoraphobic women who rarely left the house in the last couple of months I have joined a gym, gone back to church, and joined Weight Watchers, the latter of which is the best thing I have done for myself and I am deeply committed to continuing with it. However, jumping in the car and driving nearly 30 minutes in bad traffic to the gym one way has finally done me in. So much so that I haven’t gone to church the last two weeks from the overwhelm of having to leave the house so much, and it has come to the point that imagining going to the gym has caused me to shut down so completely rather than go I have gone to sleep with the pugs and completely numbed out. I crashed big time and it wasn’t pretty. I had to make a hard decision today and I have decided to cancel my gym membership and exercise at home.

I am embarrassed and afraid because I have tried to exercise at home before to no avail because I couldn’t stay motivated to do it, but I am hoping that having gone to the gym thus far and with the inspiration I get at my Weight Watcher’s meetings, as well as seeing the weight come off — I have lost 15 pounds so far — will be my impetus to exercise, and I have ordered a dvd to exercise with called “Older and Wiser” specifically for those of use who are older and have body concerns that the young and fit don’t have to worry about. I am committed to my wellness and as I was also diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in the fall I have to lose weight and take care of myself and I intend to. The shame, however, of quitting the gym does not sit easy with me.

This is something that I deal with all the time, this bipolar dance of getting excited and believing that, well, if I can’t jump buildings with a single bound I can at least commit to several things outside my comfort zone and manage them with ease. You are not agoraphobic one day and then dive headlong into leaving the house 5 or 6 days a week and with church on Sundays it was 6 days a week. When I didn’t go to church 2 weeks ago and then again this Sunday I knew I had hit a wall. Going to church is important for my spirit and I have really enjoyed going, but two Sundays in a row I turned off the alarm and went back to sleep with a sigh of relief. I wouldn’t have to go out one more time. This is not okay with me, I have really missed going and I want to go back, in fact I believe I need to go back. This Sunday I intend to.

Agoraphobia is a sticky widget. I have managed, with vigilant therapy and medication to leave my house a little more easily to do a handful of things I need to do, get to therapy itself for one thing, and going to Weight Watchers is another, but to go to a gym that is large and full of people when I am overweight and shy about it puts me in a very vulnerable position and the long drive in bad traffic there and back is the nail in the coffin. I arrive home in such a state I am not good for anything else, and when I go back to sleep 2 hours after I have gotten up for the day because I am in such a panic about having to get dressed in my gym clothes and drive to the gym my life has left the realm of manageable. I am self-medicating with sleep when I do that and I have gone back to sleep at 1:00 and slept off and on until the day was safely over around 5 or 6 and I could face the evening. This is a terrifying, paralyzing way to live, and writing about it is embarrassing and beyond hard.

I write about these things because I know that there are others out there who suffer from these same kinds of things in whatever way they manifest and I know what its like to feel alone and afraid and like you are the only one in the world to ever _____________ and end up feeling so poorly about yourself that it is hard to go on. It has been getting harder and harder for me to go on. That’s where I stop and draw a line in the sand and say, “No more.”

I felt so ashamed over having told everyone about joining the gym and writing about how important it has been to me and then realizing that I was going to have to quit that I could barely breathe, and I know there will be people who will say, “There she goes again, saying she is going to do something and then not following through,” but I can’t live my life worried about that. I am, first and foremost, accountable to myself, and I will have to face myself in the mirror as I go through the days ahead and talk to myself about what I need to do to take care of myself by exercising at home. And to that end I have talked to a dear friend who has agreed to be an accountability partner for me as I work out my exercise at home regimen, and it was she who told me that her word for the last year was “Permission.” I have to give myself permission to do what I know I need to do. I am doing just that.

I feel all shy and trembly, yes, embarrassed, and ashamed that I could not continue with going to the gym, but going to the gym opened up many things for me including returning to church and joining Weight Watchers, both of which I will continue with, and it showed me that I am able to do many things that I heretofore had not known I could do. It helped me start to make friends with my body and showed me that I can move and that it feels good to do so. Having gone to the gym for almost two months I am hoping will be the thing that will help me commit to exercise at home now. I shall continue on and find my way.

If you are struggling know that there is no shame in honestly examining where you are and what you really need to do, and not do, in your life to be okay. And if you are bipolar please be gentle with yourself. We will have these swings between the poles that take us to places that we cannot sustain or maintain and that’s alright. Coming back to center and reorienting ourselves to what is possible and right for us in the moment is what we need to do, it is what I am doing, and I am flooded with relief as I write these words. I tried, I did not fail, I simply found that for me there needs to be another way. And so it is.

MaitriSz4.4.16.09

 

 

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Comments

  1. And, of course, you know, dear Maitri, that those of us who love you don’t give a fig (from a blame/shame standpoint) whether you carry through with gym, church or any other enthusiasm. Because we know you’ll write about it, and you’ll write about it in ways that make it all right that we try and fail and try and fail and worry and fail and try again. Do whatever you need to do to keep putting one foot in front of the other. The one thing we’d have a hard time with is if you stopped writing about the harrowing journey…because then we’d have to figure out how to articulate on our own the unease that threads through our days.

    • Thank you so much dear Cathryn, you don’t know what a soothing balm your words are. They mean more to me than I can say. I have felt sad and teary since writing the post, kind of butterfly-ish in my tummy, but it is my truth and I always hope that in sharing it someone, somewhere, might be helped and feel a little less alone. Your kind words assure me that this may be so. I cannot thank you enough dearheart. Bless you for writing in here tonight, it has helped me enormously…

      Sending you love and a warm gentle hug…

      Maitri

  2. i myself do not like gyms. i like to MOVE as a way of life. being aware i live in a body. stretching, reaching, bending, swaying, dancing, that’s an exercise program for me!
    plus walking and or swimming. the body LONGS to move. it does not need to be in a building with big machines and sweaty people watching video screens with loud music – ugh – in my humble opinion

    church and weight watchers plus occasional grocery shopping, that’s PLENTY.
    know thyself, and be true to her

    xo
    ka

    • Thank you so much sweet Ka, I have found that I don’t like gyms either and you hit the nail on the head with the video screens with loud music, I have never gotten used to that. And I love your way of gently swaying and dancing your way through life, that appeals to me too. And yes the body does long to move.

      Thank you so much dearheart, I am trying to know myself, and learning, slowly… <3

      I love you Ka…

      Maitri

  3. Hello my friend. Thank you again for writing another article that helps me to understand myself better. Like you I find it difficult to leave the house at times and have a tendency to over commit. I call it commitment phobia. I’m trying to love myself unconditionally and practice radical self acceptance. This seems to be working.

    • Dear Janice,

      You are so welcome honey and yes, love yourself unconditionally and practice radical self acceptance. There’s nothing better that you can do. I’m glad it’s working.

      Blessings to you dearheart…

      Maitri

  4. Dearest Maitri. There is no shame in radical self care, which at times means changing plans on things we have tried that are no longer serving us well. I understand shame. And while I’m not bipolar, having other health issues in common with you ( like anxiety), I can remember trying to sleep the day away to avoid things. It’s been many years ago now since I’ve done that ( I think having a house and husband to care for gets me going more) , but I understand how that feels.

    I am here with you and you will still exercise and you will still do your thing as only you can do that. I care about you and we can work on our health and exercise together. Thank you for writing the vulnerable stuff that gives all of us permission to change our minds too.

    • Thanks Bekah honey, I appreciate your understanding the need to make a change and yes it will be wonderful to have an accountability partner! I’ll look forward to that!

      Sending you a hug honey,

      Maitri

  5. Oh, Maiti-
    I can’t imagine enjoying a gym under any circumstances, and certainly not if I had to drive 30 minutes to get there and back. The only reason I’ve ever showed up in the past (at our campus gym) was to meet my gym buddy (we both lifted weights, and I encouraged her to do a bit of aerobic exercise in the process).

    Now, I’m just walking a lot, in spite of my Y membership (basically unused), although my hubby makes up for my absence by swimming and weights. But I also have two walking buddies, who I enjoy walking with — I’d go regardless, but it’s fun to visit and walk. But listening to podcasts, or just enjoying being outdoors is great, too.

    Ugh, the loud sounds, music, etc. in gyms….

    I know you’ll continue on — thanks for sharing your thoughts and inspiration. It makes a big difference for me, I know, and doing what makes sense and feels right is always wise.

    • Thanks Lisa,

      It must be nice to have a buddy to exercise or walk with, I bet it makes the time go faster too, and yes the loud music at the gym is something it is very hard to get used to. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, it’s good to hear from you honey…

      Love,

      Maitri

  6. Teresa Myszka says:

    Maitri, I hate to exercise, always have. School gym classes did me in. I have joined gyms, walking groups, and all imaginable forms of exercise. I know that sitting is the new smoking, and moving is important for the body , mind and spirit. I enjoy turning the radio on, grabbing a hair brush and mouth syncing tunes, while dancing. I do chair yoga, I even tried belly dancing…lol. What works for some, doesn’t work for all. I do exercise in what manner suits me these days, nothing formal, and definitely no sweating at a gym. You’ll find your niche, we all do. Hugs

    • Me too Teresa! On hating gym class and not liking exercise. I do like gardening, which I think may kind of count as exercise. I’ve thought about trying hula dancing or belly dancing too.

    • Teresa, I too always hated gym classes so I understand that completely! I am not big on exercise but I know that I have to do it to get this weight off and be well. I will love to think of you with your hair brush singing and dancing! And yes I am finding my niche, it just needs to be at home.

      Sending you a hug honey…

      Maitri

  7. Oh how I understand this post and have lived it, over and over.
    When things were really bad…severe anxiety, poor self esteem, PTSD from the car accident, and the darkness and loneliness of depression, I withdrew from life. Just going to the mailbox was a major accomplishment. Not moving my body enough and self medicating with food, plus I was in constant pain and gained 60 lbs….which led to more of the cycle of self loathing and not wanting to get out of bed. Then little by little, all kinds of little miracles helped me take baby steps towards a healthier me…my pain is much less, I lost the weight and I started to love life, and more importantly, love myself more than I ever had before.

    There are still times now when I am on overload and I take to bed, with my dogs, and feel instant relief, but then the debilitating shame from not having carried through with something or someone I had made a commitment to….And I feel like I let everyone down, especially myself.

    But now, because of knowing you, I give myself permission to have these “mental health days”….that’s what my teacher friends and I use to call it when you just needed to call in sick and recharge your depleted batteries!

    You’re doing so much good for yourself and taking such good care of yourself…..you’ve come so far from where you were, it is nothing short of miraculous! I’ve always hated gyms! I’m too self conscious about my body to put myself through that. I walk my precious granddaughter in her carriage, and taking care of her has forced me to keep moving! But I love doing it, because I love her so. I think that using a dvd in your home to exercise to is a great idea! But if there are days you don’t feel up to it, I say, just allow yourself a “mental health day”! We all could benefit from them 😊

    Sending you much love and gratitude for all you’ve done to help me and others on this not so easy, but oh so worth it journey, called life! Love You 💜💜💜

    • Thank you so much sweet Donna and I am so proud of you for working your way through all of the hard stuff. I remember where you were and see you where you are now and it is beautiful and amazing. And how wonderful to incorporate exercise with that darling baby. Good for you.

      I loved working with you and cherish the times we talked and spent together. You honor me by having worked with me and trusted me with your precious self. I’m sending you much love too and I will carry onwards and upwards on this new journey of mine inspired by you all the way…

      Love you honey,

      Maitri

  8. Betty Banks says:

    I do not care for a gym either. I exercise at home using different size hand weights and get my cardio on a treadmill at home.
    Don’t beat yourself up over a decision you made that is probably best for you right now. We all have the right to change our minds.
    By the way congratulations on your 15 pound weight loss! You are awesome. 💜👏

    • Thanks so much Betty, and yes I think a lot of us don’t care for a gym. I had no idea how much I wouldn’t be comfortable there until I was there for awhile and it kept getting harder and harder to go back. And thank you re my weight loss. I am really working at it and plan to get to my goal no matter how long it takes! YOU are awesome too my dear!

      Big hugs and love to you,

      Maitri

  9. Daisy Winifred says:

    So glad that you have become a gentle coach on your own behalf :0) I am sure that you have absolutely no reason to be ashamed or embarrassed for looking at the ‘state of play’ realising the rules you’d laid down were no longer fit for purpose and writing some new rules to continue supporting your need to approach fitness as a friend not as some warrior ready to fight you to the death. The journey you are on is one that you chart, it is you who opens the map and takes note of landmarks and signposts no one else.
    It seems to me that you have already climbed to the top of the first mountain by realising and committing to your self moment by moment; allowing yourself plenty of wiggle room and definitely time for sitting and taking stock.
    It’s about looking ahead at the range of mountains you will traverse in the coming weeks, months and years and knowing you will need time to make sure you have a sharpened pencil and chart table ready to enable you to plot your route in a way that allows you to plod walk skip run plus sit and lie down. Yes you can take note of other travellers journeys but you are creating YOUR journey in YOUR way to support YOU and offer YOU sense of achievement and possibility…and you know what, you are doing fabulously!
    You are in the process of creating a new way of living, it’s not about losing weight or getting fit as some sort of magic talisman, though both of those things will happen and become integral part of the journey you are embarked upon if you allow yourself those moments to draw breath and look around so you’ll find places to set up camp before setting off again in to the wide blue yonder:0)
    NEVER apologise for being you, let it go and let be but please resist castigation…you are on your journey no right or wrong stamps are available just the one reading ‘this is my life good bad or indifferent isn’t what it’s about, it’s about my life and my living of it and I am pleased with that, I thank you!’ then of course you will step forward and fall flat on your face but then life and its living does that to a person:0)
    Remember there doesn’t need to be a hook in your life…you let yourself down gently try not to hoik yourself back up.
    As always your friend, D-W

    • Thank you so much Daisy-Winifred,

      As always your thoughts are deep and spot on. It is quite a journey I am on and I am finding my way little by little, step by step, moment by moment and it is harder than I’d imagined and yet so important to keep charting the course along the way making adjustments and being flexible. I am learning how to be me in this new time and space and through tears and fears and unimagined little joys I am finding my way.

      Thank you for being here and being my friend, always, it means more than I can say.

      With love,

      Maitri

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