What I learned my first year blogging

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

Ralph waldo emerson

“Get a hobby.” I can’t tell you the countless times I’ve heard that phrase. “Find something you love to do and do it.” Another phrase I had learned to despise.

Well of course I wanted to find something to do. I’ve spent most of my life coping with bipolar disorder & addiction that I used to spend my free time with unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Shopping excessively. Smoking. Drinking. Just doing things to get out of my head & not focus on what’s really going on in my life. I was looking for distractions & not solutions.

I never really thought I was good at anything. I wasn’t the best artist. I was too impatient to sew or craft. And sports? I’m awful. Like someone running around with two left feet.

But then last summer I decided I wanted to be a “farmer.” I was manic & became obsessed over the idea, literally researching everything I could find about pigs & goats. I thought it would be a cool idea to write about it & so Farmerish was created.

It has been a year since I made Farmerish. What started out as a “silly idea” to blog about my farming journey, turned into a mental health site where I now collaborate with BpHope Magazine for Bipolar & National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI).

I’ve had so many misconceptions about myself over the years living with bipolar disorder & addiction, and I knew people had misconceptions about me as well. Farmerish turned into more than just a diary, but hopefully a place where people can feel understood & not so alone.

I’ve created relationships with people from all over the world. Rekindled friendships from my past. I was astonished at how many people were struggling with the same thoughts I had. It truly made me realize, “you are not alone.”

And that’s the most important thing I’ve learned. We are not alone. We are not crazy. We may feel crazy but our feelings or thoughts are not always reality.

So to everyone who’s supported me by even just taking the time to read my posts or my articles for BpHope- I truly thank you.

Thank you for pushing me to be a better person. Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you. Thank you for not judging me and letting myself just be me for once in my life.

Because that’s all we can do. Just be ourselves. And we all deserve to be loved, seen, & heard.

Fighting Dirty

For those who weren’t aware, I contribute for a popular mental health website called Bphope.com. It’s geared towards those with bipolar disorder but it’s also a great resource for anyone struggling with a mental illness or involved with someone who is diagnosed.

My piece Marriage Advice from a Bipolar Wife (https://www.bphope.com/caregivers/marriage-advice-from-a-bipolar-wife-relationship-tips-communication/), garnered a lot of attention. My editor emailed me and let me know that it was their “highest achieving” post on Facebook. The post will also be run in Bphope’s print magazine this summer. My first ever paid piece.

Waking up to the comments, emails, and new followers on Instagram who resonated with that piece was inspiring. It was so touching to me that my words help others. But behind the scenes, I also know that my words can hurt. My husband and I had actually got into a pretty intense argument the previous night.

I penned this post “Fighting Dirty.” When I am manic or triggered, I tend to take out my hurt or aggression to the person I love the most. It’s true when they say that hurt people hurt people. How can I stop myself from reacting in the most hurtful, explosive way when I’m upset?

I recently started an online therapy group where emotional regulation is the main focus. A few tips I wanted to share to prevent or deescalate anger when manic or triggered are described below…

Remain mindful

I’m not typically a mindful person. I let emotions sweep over me and take me away. It’s hard for me to be present and actively engaged in a task. Take my writing for example, it’s taken me a couple months to be motivated enough to even want to write another blog post.

How can I practice mindfulness? The easiest way I was taught was to just focus on breathing. By doing so I can regulate how I’m feeling rather than just getting hyped up with emotions and boil over.

Try to be flexible

I’m a creature of habit. I like routines, schedules, and laid out plans. But life has a way of throwing a wrench in our perfect plans and I’ve had to learn to cope with this. By increasing my tolerance to change I’ve been able to lessen my aggression and moodiness.

Practicing empathy

It used to be hard for me to see other people’s point of view. I would get so worked up in my own head and now I know this is a completely selfish behavior.

I think in the end it’s knowing that we are all trying our best. Some days our best is just getting out of bed. Some days my own personal best is just shutting my mouth before I say something I regret. This leads me to my final lesson I’ve learned to avoid “fighting dirty.”

Apologize when you know you’re wrong

I tend to be a prideful person. I don’t typically like waving the white flag in order to surrender or make peace. But I know my words are just as hurtful as physical violence.

Who am I to make someone feel less worthy? We can’t combat our hurt with even more hate.

So to my husband, I love you. I’m sorry. And I truly appreciate all that you do for me and our family. Please remember that I am still trying my best. We’re all a work in progress.


Lessons in Letting Go

I have always had trouble with letting go of emotions, people, things… the list can be endless. I tend to hold onto things that are beyond my control and it creeps into my mental health causing me to feel this weight of negativity and self-doubt.

I see myself as an empathetic person, meaning I can truly understand what’s causing certain behaviors or aspects within a person or situation. This leads me into hanging onto people who are probably not meant for me in my life. This attitude has creeped into my mental state wherein I cannot let go of self-deprecating notions about myself.

Finally, with self-care and mindful practice, I’ve learned a few lessons in letting go of what doesn’t serve you, appreciate you, or fully deserve your attention & love. Here are some lessons I’ve personally experienced that may help or at least give some insight on what we can do to fully let go of the negative aspects in our life & make room for all the abundance of love we deserve:

  • Remember that the only people you need in your life are the ones who PROVE they need you in theirs.

I’ve always loved this quote. Timelessly in my life I’ve tried to mold myself into the perfect person that people would like. Likability has always been extremely important to me. I would change aspects of my personality and even sometimes my appearance because I thought it better suited someone else needs.

I needed to let go of what of other people thought. This is still something that I constantly work on today, especially with my use of Social Media outlets. I find some people find my blog and expect me to be a certain way. Then they find my social media accounts and I perhaps appear different than what they assumed. I’ve lost followers on Instagram and it used to really bother me. Now I remember that I have to remain true to my authentic self and by exposing myself for who I really am- it will hopefully let in the people who prove they need me in their lives.

  • Never rely on codependency in a relationship

Growing up, I was very coddled. I say this with nothing but love & admiration for my parents who raised me. They doted on me as a child and I’ll forever love them for that. However, it has caused this shift in my relationships with people, including men, wherein I felt dependent on them for their love and support.

I needed to find this love within myself. My husband, my friends, and even my parents cannot make me into the person I need to be. Attaching yourself to a person will never fully make you happy. You cannot rely on someone else to fulfill the needs that need to be met within yourself.

  • Things are just things

I love stuff. The movie The Little Mermaid has always been my favorite because Ariel loved to collect stuff. In her words, “Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat? Wouldn’t you think my collections complete?” I’ve always resonated with that song as childish as it may be. I have finally learned that material objects will never make me happy.

As a person who suffers with bipolar disorder I can get very manic. This mania can sometimes translate in shopping sprees wherein I impulse buy many unnecessary items. I think the temporary joy I feel comes from a place of also trying to find outside outlets to make me happy. However that short lived “high” I feel when I rush to purchase something typically dies moments after I buy it with thoughts of guilt shortly appearing.

Things are just things. I have a beautiful family of 3 boys (soon to be 4) and a husband who is devoted to me and adores me for who I am. They are happy when I am happy. My happiness cannot be derived from physical items.

  • Addiction is just an excuse to escape from reality.

I have an addictive personality. My mania & depression used to be soothed with the use of opiates & stimulants. I needed to learn to accept my reality for what it is and not run away from it. On the outside, my life appears to be full, rich, and rewarding. And it truly is. What more can I ask for?

I tried to explain to someone that while I know there are SO many things I need to be grateful for, my mind just processes things differently. I immediately go dark at times. I’ve learned to let go of negative addictions, especially while I am pregnant, which means cutting out nicotine completely and reducing my caffeine intake. I’ve noticed staying busy and keeping my mind occupied on outlets such as my family, my farm, and this blog has led me to lead a much more meaningful life.

I still have trouble letting go of things I cannot control. Life happens. My anxiety gets the best of me and I always fear the worst. But if we let go of what weighs us, hopefully we feel lighter and brighter. I know it hurts sometimes. But let it hurt. Then let it go.

The queen of procrastination

Procrastination is currently killing my mental health. I am the queen of procrastination. I usually believe I thrive working “under pressure” but somethings in life don’t necessarily have a particular deadline.

Take this blog for example. It is nearly the end of January. I hadn’t posted on Farmerish since sometime mid-December. I’ve been able to continue my work for other popular websites, such as BpHope, but mostly because it’s deadline driven.

I don’t have specific “deadlines” with posting on my personal site. I think the real trick to easing procrastination is one, stop being so hard on yourself. And two- remember your why.

I think dealing with my pregnancy and this seemingly never-ending pandemic I’ve forgotten my “why.” The real question I need to ask myself is, “Why am I doing this?” Find what’s motivating you and work from there.

My second post I ever wrote on Farmerish was titled “My why.” It goes into depth about wanting to decrease the stigma surrounding mental health. I also explained how finding your “why” also means finding what you’re good at. I am good with connecting and engaging with people. I truly love it.

One of the ways I connect & engage is through utilizing social media. Now, I rarely procrastinate when it comes to my social media pages such as Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok. But there are problems with social media and the small “lies” they tell.

Social media only shows our highlight reels. I try to keep it as honest and candid on my blog, but I think sometimes outwardly our social media presence can be deceiving.

It’s easy to forget your “why” on social media. We can easily put off an image for the world to see that may not be entirely accurate. I know one of the reasons I have procrastinated with writing on my own blog is because it’s much harder. I’m much more vulnerable. I expose myself more.

But that’s what matters. I attached the image in the beginning of this post to remind myself that it truly doesn’t matter if you’re rich, popular, or perfect. I have to remember my WHY and know that those are not the reasons I chose to write Farmerish. It truly is about being humble, sharing our experiences & hopefully maybe touching the life of another human being other than yourself.

I share my experiences not to get rich. I didn’t even really want to run ads on this site, but hey I’ve made $5 so far (lol). As I “grow” slowly on Instagram and other various networks, I realize that I’m not writing to be popular either. My WHY on those outlets are more to show that a somewhat “normal” life is possible with bipolar disorder.

But what is normal? It’s not being perfect, that’s for sure. So next time you see a picture perfect image on social media remember that things aren’t always as they seem. But I know that by writing these posts, and hopefully being consistent, I will eventually positively impact the lives of others.

Procrastinating doesn’t get you anywhere. Find your why. Remember your purpose. And know that life is so much more than appearing perfect for the world to see.

Illusions of love

Covid 19 and this pandemic has sparked a weird sense in all of us, I feel. This isolation and never ending feeling of dread has made me search for opportunities to keep my mind at ease.

As the year of 2020 closes, a year with circumstances we never expected, I have to stop & reflect. So many things came into fruition for me that I never thought possible.

We bought a farm house and I rapidly started filling it with my pigs and goats. I also got pregnant. But my one true silver lining in all of this was starting this blog.

How can starting Farmerish be more important than finding out I’m pregnant? It’s not. But it’s given me a therapeutic place to write & moreso- connect with others.

Connecting with others is vital to me. I am a highly extroverted person with extreme empathetic qualities. I let people into my life easily even when my judgement tells me not to. Some say it’s naive, some say it’s having a big heart. I’m sure I’m somewhere in the middle.

Starting this blog, I didn’t imagine the masses of people to reach out to me. It’s amazing how words can resonate so well with others. The messages from strangers, people I know dearly, and even random acquaintances over the years have piled into my inbox.

Reading articles or blogs is entirely interpretive to the reader. But the general underlying theme of my messages is that people are more vulnerable than they appear.

I know by putting myself out there also lets a lot of people with darker intentions into my life, however. Illusions of love, I like to call them. They seem just as fascinated with me but it’s all just a distraction. I can’t let people into my life that aren’t going to return the same investment that I would do for them.

Social media is fascinating to me wherein we can put a different persona out there and only expose our “highlight reel”. I decided to do something different with my blog by keeping it raw, relatable, & most of all- real. The response & validation has been overwhelming. I’ve been featured on a couple popular mental health sites, including bphope.

But the insecurity I have within myself still drives me wild. I have 3 beautiful sons and a husband who loves me. I’m surrounded with a network that supports me. Loves me. Needs me in their lives. So why this constant need for validation from others?

I know deep down it’s just a longing to be seen & heard. A feeling that has been lost inside of me for the longest time. But I need to remember my priorities.

Seeking validation should always start within. By fully loving myself I can get a clearer picture of whose intentions are true and pure.

My family. My friends. My students. These are the true people in my life who love me. Not random strangers from the internet.

To anyone who has read my blog- thank you. I’m always here to listen, give feedback, or just simply be there. It’s not easy to completely put yourself out there for the world & be on display. But to the ones who don’t really care, I see you with a better perspective.

Never confuse the people who are there for you constantly with the ones who are only there when it’s convenient. And remember- the only stamp of approval you need should always be from yourself. ❤️

Raging Hormones

Holy moly it’s almost been a whole month since I’ve posted on Farmerish. If anyone ever wants to start a blog, which it’s fairly easy to do, you have to remember to be consistent.

Consistency has been a real difficult task for me lately. I just entered my second trimester last week. Officially 15 weeks pregnant.

It hasn’t been exactly pleasant. I know having another baby is a blessing. But my hormones have been RAGING. Like all over the place.

Having bipolar disorder doesn’t help either. My life is scary sometimes wherein I really don’t know how I’m going to feel from one day to the next. I was riding a two week manic high from my birthday until December hit and I knew I was going to drop at some point.

Well inevitably, the pendulum fell. I suddenly felt irritable, depressed, anxious. All those negative feelings I was able to avoid for two whole weeks straight.

I can get easily triggered once I start shifting to a depressive state. I had made plans with a girlfriend to meet her for lunch. I was so excited to finally get out of the house and put myself together.

After I had gotten ready I received a text from her cancelling, saying she wasn’t feeling up for it. Immediately I started boiling. It’s a really terrible feeling to go from 0 to 100 in my opinion. I was so upset.

It’s easy for me for my first reaction to quickly turn to anger. It’s just always been like that. I finally figured out over time that it’s really just coming from a hurt place inside me.

I went for a drive. My counselor always tells me to take a break from a situation when I start to feel elevated. This is really important for me to remember.

I looked back at the message and I realized it wasn’t that she didn’t want to spend time with me it’s that she truly wasn’t feeling up for it. As someone who suffers from a mental illness, I should be able to empathize that feeling the most.

I quickly called her. I asked her if I could cheer her up by coming over. It worked. And it cheered me up too.

My hormones are raging. It’s true. But as someone with a mental illness I need to remember to put myself in someone else’s shoes and see it from their perspective.

Empathy. It’s easy.

My beautiful best friend. I’m so happy you are in my life, and I will always be there for you!

Waves of love

Love, to me, is the most coveted and important emotion we can give to another person. In my marriage our love ebbs & flows like the waves in the ocean. Sometimes there’s a high tide where the love feels all consuming. It washes over me and I feel nothing but bliss & happiness. Other times, like currently, it’s low tide. The water feels shallow and murky. It’s unclear how deep it goes but I know the love is still always there.

I married someone with no clinical diagnosis of mental illness. Of course he has his situational anxiety & sadness, like everyone else, but nothing neurological that prohibits him to feel happiness like I do.

Living with bipolar disorder is hard. I recently had a conversation with him about my own happiness. I expressed that it’s difficult for me to feel joy most of the time. The highs of my mania & sudden drops into depression seep into my everyday life and ruin most experiences for me. It truly is not easy to enjoy my life at times.

I know I am blessed with a husband who loves and supports me. But like I said, love can be like the ocean. Today the waters feel rough and hard. Rather than feeling love in this high tide moment, I feel waves of judgement and resentment.

I don’t know how to explain to him that my mental illness is not my choice. I have had the unhealthiest coping mechanisms for the longest time in order to “treat” my depression. In the past this has involved drug use and even smoking or drinking. When life feels too overwhelming I’d rather numb the pain in anyway possible.

Being pregnant I know I can’t rely on those unhealthy coping mechanisms. I have my friends and support system. But what do you do when the one person you want to count on the most isn’t there for you?

I have to understand and accept him for who he is and what he is capable of giving me. I know his love his endless. It stretches as far as you can see, almost like looking at the vast ocean.

But sometimes love isn’t enough. Love can’t always sustain happiness during times of heartache and loss. I can’t rely on another person to make me happy.

As a person with mental illness, I know it’s my responsibility to make my own self happy. I read this analogy on facebook which has helped shift my perspective on love:

“Some people are ‘gallon people’ and some people are ‘pint people’. I live my life as a gallon person. I want to give a gallon, and expect to get a gallon in return. However, some people are pint people. They only want a pint. When you give them a gallon; it overflows and is wasted. Then when you expect a gallon to fill us back up, they only have a pint to give. A person is never going to be able to give you what you need; you need to find it somewhere else— or better yet, within yourself.”

Love is always something that should be given freely with zero expectations. These expectations become conditions and should never be motivations. If we get love it should be a bonus but not the sole reason and purpose of our love.

I’m sorry to my husband for not being everything you want all the time. I’m sorry that I crumble at times and feel the weight of my depression. It’s not that I want to give in to my sadness, but I truly cannot help it. But I do love you, and there is no end to that love.

Demons on Halloween

Today is Halloween. When I was a kid I believed it was a day where all the ghosts, goblins, demons, & witches came out to play. Sounds silly but now living with my own demons I know it’s not just a once a year type feeling.

We all have our demons. If you don’t well then lucky you. And I mean that genuinely. The demons in my head, when I’m manic or even in a depressive state (so pretty much all the time), are loud and feel like they’re in the back of my head often.

I know they are not actual demons. In my case, they are intrusive thoughts that are ruminating and can honestly control my mind if I let them. They bring out the dark qualities that I feel guilty to share. Jealousy. Guilt. Blame. Hatred. Those thoughts are there.

There are certain people in my life that I used to resent deeply. I would think of past negative experiences with them & for the longest time was unable to forgive. I swear, it’s like I wanted to be unhappy. In order to forgive I had to let go.

There are only a few coping mechanisms I’ve learned to deal with my own demons. I still struggle. Feelings of doubt & disappointment still outweigh happiness at times. But here are a few ways to silence or at least try & temporarily mute the demons in our head:

-Practice mindfulness

I am the worst at being mindful. My thoughts are always racing from one thing to the next causing extreme anxiety. However, when I slow down & actually pay attention to what’s happening in the present, I notice a shift in my thinking. I’m so busy being in the moment & soaking up these future memories that I don’t notice the dark thoughts.

-Try to meditate with breathing exercises

I never knew how to meditate. Previously, I had been in an outpatient rehab center where an hour of meditation was required during the day. I didn’t know how to just sit there and clear my head. Since then I have learned that simply focusing on your breathing helps with meditation. Inhale. Hold. Exhale.

-Stay grateful

While in the past it was hard for me to forgive people, I’ve noticed that practicing gratitude has helped with forgiveness. By focusing on what I’m thankful for, its helps disrupt the intrusive thoughts from ruminating.

As I wrap this up, I am looking forward to celebrating Halloween with my family. I’m going to practice mindfulness & truly enjoy this special holiday with them today. The witches & goblins might still come out tonight, but I know the demons in my head will be at bay.

The guilt of it all

There are a couple human emotions I feel are entirely pointless. Guilt is one of them. I feel guilt is necessary when dealing with our conscience in order to make decisions that are right from wrong. However, my predicament shouldn’t make me feel guilty at all.

I recently found out I am pregnant. I’m not very far along, about two months, and the tremendous amount of guilt I feel is climbing. Why do I feel so guilty? I’ve always wanted another baby. However, the pressure I feel that it brings causes me so much guilt that it’s hard to feel happy.

I feel as if I’m letting a lot of people down. My parents are one of them. I know they are so worried because of my past severe postpartum depression that it prohibits them from being happy for me.

I feel guilty because I know I should be more excited. How lucky am I that I can bring another life into this world? We weren’t even trying and things just happen anyway. My fertility should be looked as a blessing not a burden.

I feel guilty that I told the world so early of our budding baby. But when is the right time for someone to announce their pregnancy? People usually wait til their second trimester when it’s considered the “safe zone.” I am not in the safe zone. Anything can still happen. But things can happen in the second trimester that are beyond our control as well. My heart aches for anyone who has ever lost a baby. I cannot imagine that loss and what that would do to me personally.

I share because I am an open book at this point. All of my experiences and what happens to me are meant to be learning experiences. But I can’t help but feel guilty for not enjoying this pregnancy as much as I should.

I’m exhausted. I can still take my bipolar meds but the ones I need for focus & attention are not allowed. I can’t seem to find the motivation to even want to go out and see the animals. It’s also been my longest gap in posting on Farmerish.

So how do we make it through moments when guilt & despair surround us? We push through. I have to rely on sheer will power to make sure things get done. I also have to rely on my support system.

This pregnancy will be different this time around. I have never had the support I’ve had in my life than I do now. I read a quote on Pinterest that said, “Guilt is rooted in actions of the past, perpetuated by the lack of action in the present, and delivered in the future as pain & suffering.”

When I was suffering through my postpartum depression I experienced a lot of rage. I had so much pent up aggression that I was taking it out on people that I loved the most- my husband especially. The guilt of that still triggers me currently. However, my present circumstances aren’t defined by my past.

I don’t want to live my life with pain & suffering because of guilt. No amount of guilt can change the past. We must let go in order to move on. And in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy this budding baby. Because it truly is a blessing.

Our first scan

Love is blind

Facebook is funny wherein it pops up memories from the past. Today my cousin sent me a quote I sent her ten years ago on FB. “The only people you need in your life are the ones who prove they need you in theirs.”

I wrote that to her ten years ago. What a profound statement for a 24 year old (at the time). I wish I could say that I held onto that sentiment for the following decade- but it still escapes me.

Why do we make people a priority when they only see us as an option? For me it usually boils down to my low self esteem. I can’t expect people to put me first when I don’t even put myself first in my own life.

Our thoughts create our reality. I have constantly thought so little of myself that in the past I’ve created relationships with people who really weren’t into me. They didn’t love me. They didn’t appreciate me. And they sure didn’t prioritize me.

For the longest time that’s what I felt I deserved. I was so stuck on the feeling of being unloved that I couldn’t fully love myself. I truly thought that I deserved to be treated this way.

They say love is blind. It’s true. A person in love can’t really see all the imperfections that an unhealthy relationship brings. I never wanted to fall in love with someone that didn’t fully love me back.

It’s like we, as people with mental illness, are addicted to the pain. We’re accustomed to it. It’s our life. Our reality. And the pain we seek is usually a feeling we think we deserve.

It’s taken me ten years but I now understand that no one deserves to feel unwanted or unnecessary self-inflicted pain. Why do that to ourselves? Because the heart wants what it wants.

It’s easy to say prioritize yourself. It’s easy to say love yourself. But where do we begin?

Take a look at your life & reflect. What’s missing that we need to fill this void with unreciprocated love? What are the actual needs you want from a relationship? And most importantly, what are your expectations?

I’ve always had low expectations. Living with bipolar disorder I’ve learned to settle when it comes to my own happiness. But that’s not how we should be living our lives.

We deserve to be loved. We deserve to be appreciated. Love is blind but we don’t have to be. Open your eyes to a situation & see it for what it really is. And please remember, don’t allow someone to be a priority when you’ll always be merely an option.