Is Love Enough?

I was sitting on my friend’s bed one day venting about my newly ended relationship. I was at a loss. My heart hurt. She tried to be encouraging by emphasizing all the good things that were happening in my life, but all I could manage to choke out in response was, “but I love him.” Her response sent me through a loop, for she looked at me and asked, “Is love enough?”

I was at a loss for words. Why couldn’t I answer this question with confidence? Maybe because my breakup had made me realize love wasn’t enough and the thought of love not being enough truly broke my heart.

It was the beginning phase of my breakup, and it’s safe to say I was holding out hope we’d get back together. Love conquers all, at least that’s what I was told. So if that’s the case, loving him as hard as I did would mend this. It had to.

But days passed, then weeks, and finally months. The breakup went from amicable to messy, and in the midst of all that chaos, one little question rang through my head. Is love enough?

The simple answer, no. Love isn’t enough, and to be frank, I feel pretty foolish for thinking it was. I loved this person with my entire being. When we broke up, my heart hurt, my soul ached, and I felt a level of sadness I hadn’t felt in quite some time. So if love was enough, it should’ve worked out.

We tend to idealize love. Watch any romance movie, any TV show, listen to any love song, and you’ll see how much we place love on this imaginary pedestal, treating it like a cure for all of life’s problems. But love is not a cure-all.

That’s a lesson I had to learn the hard way because, in my head, love equaled happiness. If I found love, then I would finally be happy, but that wasn’t the case. Love doesn’t solve your problems; it just masks them until one day it doesn’t anymore.

The truth is, love is all-encompassing. It’s trust, compassion, respect, emotional safety, emotional intimacy, sexual attraction, and so much more. So when one of those things is missing, you can’t truly be in love. And to be honest, there were a few of those missing from my former relationship. This made me realize that love is built over time.

The simple feeling of love isn’t enough. It may make you feel good in the moment, but if there isn’t mutual respect and understanding for one another, that feeling alone will never be enough.

There are so many moving parts in a relationship. Things that will cause you to grow together or grow apart. And if you ended up growing apart like my ex and myself, you’ll start to realize that the love you had for that person isn’t enough to keep you together. Because as you grow apart, the respect, the trust, the safety, it all lessens.

I spiraled after my breakup. How could someone I love so much not love me back anymore? What did I do to deserve the sadness, devastation, and feelings of betrayal that came from the breakup?

This question lived rent-free in my brain for months until one day, I woke and realized that I did nothing. I loved viciously, and epically it just wasn’t enough at the end of the day, and that’s okay.

He’s moved on, and finally, I am starting to as well. And as I move forward and develop new relationships, this is a lesson I will never forget. Love isn’t enough but respect, trust, and safety always will be.

Rock Bottom

It’s safe to say that I hit a low point in my life and trying to navigate it has not been easy. Some days are fine, other days are hard, and most days are complicated. It’s hard to proceed when you’re trapped in rock bottom. You scrape the walls, desperately trying to escape, and yet you find yourself exactly where you started—on the ground, defeated.

Change is necessary to escape any low in your life, but there comes the point where self-reflection is vital. And that’s where I am. I’m trapped in rock bottom, looking at the walls around me, attempting to figure out how I got here in the first place.

“It’s when we hit our lowest point that we are open to the greatest change.” – Avatar Aang

Yes, I just quoted a kid’s show, one of my favorites to be exact. But this quote profoundly resonates with me. Because until you hit your lowest point, you are closed off to who you can become. Why? Well, because you’re comfortable. Comfort isn’t the enemy, but it’s also is not your friend. When we live a life of comfort, we stop pushing ourselves to reach our most genuine potential.

My life up until this point was comfortable. I had a job, was in a long term relationship, and my day to day was steady. But then my heart got broken, and everything I knew came crashing down in front of me. I felt myself spiraling downward with no end in sight. This couldn’t be happening, not to me.

I hit my lowest. Getting out of bed was a struggle; getting through the day without crying seemed impossible, and I felt stuck. I just kept thinking, “Will this aching in my chest ever go away?”

And while it hasn’t wholly alleviated, it’s undoubtedly lessened. How? Because I pushed myself. I realized looking back and pondering the “what ifs” was getting me nowhere. It was merely dragging me further into my depression. So yesterday, I challenged myself not to cry. And lone behold, I didn’t cry.

Was it hard? Yes. Did I want to burst into tears on several occasions? Hell yeah. Was it uncomfortable to force myself not to? You bet. But I persevered and got through an entire day. And for the first time in a week and a half, I felt like myself again.

If my breakup has helped me realize anything, it’s that you can only change yourself, and if I am honest, I am tired of who I am. I am tired of being an anxiety-riddled mess. You reach a point where you’re exhausted, and it was that exhaustion that made me realize I’ve hit my rock bottom.

My anxiety has taken control of my life, and that is not okay. It’s taken me down a road I never wanted to travel. My life has become one of fear, panic, and sadness.

So, what do we do when we feel like we’ve hit our lowest point? Well, you can sit in it, as I did, or you can stand up and get the fuck out of there. I know things will get better in time, but how much time I need is up to me. I don’t want to be sitting in these feelings one month from now.

Use your negative experiences to make you stronger. Those experiences are the perfect opportunity to challenge your current mindset. Sure, I could wallow, I could allow myself to be consumed by sadness, but I refuse.

So, I’m challenging myself. I’m challenging myself to wake up early each day and write. I’m challenging myself to workout, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. And finally, I’m challenging myself to become the person I’ve always wanted to be; Someone who isn’t scared to be themself.

This journey will not be comfortable. But if I take it one day at a time, I know I will succeed. Because when you have nothing to lose, you open yourself up to immense self-discovery.

How Do We Heal?

Healing has been a hot topic within my life this past week. I’ve gotten so much advice regarding the subject due to my current circumstance. And if I learned anything, it’s safe to say that nobody’s healing journey is the same. Many make their journeys out to be some magical, life-changing experience when in reality, that’s not always the case.

Healing can be messy; it can be sad, it can be devastating. For me, recovery means crying. It means licking my wounds for a little bit. It means sitting in my emotions to release them and move on. Healing is a process, and nobody should rush you through it.

My process is a disaster, if I am honest. It’s a roller coaster of emotions that include days that are great and days where I can’t even get out of bed. It’s messy, and that’s okay.

But sometimes, bringing yourself to begin the healing process is difficult because we can’t stop looking back. We ask ourselves “what if” and, in turn, start spiraling towards derailment of our progress. That’s me right now. I keep looking back; I keep wondering “what if,” and in turn, I’m hindering the progress I wish to make.

We can easily be our biggest downfall. We self-sabotage, avoid, and deflect. But healing is like the seasons; things are cold and dreary for a while, but eventually, the sun comes out, the flowers bloom, and things begin to look up.

So please, don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong. Healing takes time, and eventually, your sun will start to shine again.

Moving Forward

I’m sad. I’ve tried starting this article in so many different ways. I tried to be philosophical even, talking about change and how hard it can be due to being a creature of habit myself. But at the end of the day, I’m just sad.

Change is hard, and when unexpected change happens, it can feel impossible to cope. My unexpected change is a breakup. He was my first love, my constant, and now that he’s gone, I have trouble managing my day-to-day. What do I do when some days are great and other days all I want to do is cry?

Things ended amicably, and for that, I am grateful. However, sometimes I wish I could hate him, just so moving on could be easier. But I don’t. I love him, and sometimes it feels like I’ll never be able to stop loving him.

My heart hurts, my soul feels crushed, and all in all, I am not coping well. I’m just so sad. So how do we move forward when feelings of self-doubt and loneliness surround us?

I’m not too sure. I know I have to but the ‘how’ is where I am struggling. It’s easy to want to hang onto the past. As I mentioned earlier, we are creatures of habit and comfort, and when we are kicked out of our comfort zone unexpectedly, it’s hard to figure out how to push forward.

I know that this feeling is temporary. With time and space, this all shall pass. One day I’ll wake up with a smile on my face. One day I’ll get through the day without crying. One day I will be happy.

But for now, I’m sad. And that’s okay too. It’s my job to realize these feelings and move past them. Time heals all, but it’s okay to sit in the moment. Moving forward doesn’t mean rushing forward. It means taking the time you need to heal and grow in the ways that satisfy you.

Today I will cry. Today my heart will hurt. But eventually, my light will shine again, and the work I’ve done to move past this will be worth it.

Being Bipolar in a Time of Quarantine

Mental illness is already hard to navigate but add a pandemic into the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster.

My Bipolar diagnosis came about two months after the pandemic began, and it has not been easy since. The high and lows I experience daily have been challenging, and being in quarantine has not helped.

Mental illness causes a sort of detachment from the rest of the world. Being Bipolar, I already feel mentally secluded, but now that there’s a physical component, I feel completely isolated.

Most days, simply getting out of bed is hard. Willing myself to get up, have my coffee, brush my teeth, and get ready for the day ahead is a challenge. I have to force myself to function.

You wake up with the clear objective of getting from point A to point B, craving the end of the day where you can roll back up into your blanket burrito and shut out the rest of the world.

Most days, you aren’t living; you’re surviving.

You’re holding on to the smallest moments of happiness in hopes it’ll motivate you to get through the day. You’re left waiting for an ounce of normalcy to return. You crave routine because when your mental health is in decline, a routine is so important. It provides stability in the midst of chaos.

When Covid-19 hit back in March, my introverted self was excited at the prospect of working from home. I thought the time to myself would deem beneficial, and in a few weeks, when all of this was said and done, I’d come out feeling rejuvenated. But a few weeks turned into a month, and a month turned into three, and suddenly we’re almost at the one-year mark.

I miss going into the office, seeing my coworkers, and chatting with people while getting my morning cup of coffee. I miss the commute and the energy of New York City. I miss being able to hang out with friends and family without fearing for their safety. I miss the simple things.

But here we are, in the middle of a pandemic with no clear end in sight. So what do we do? I have absolutely no idea. I could say meditate, do yoga, practice gratitude, and every other cliché in the book, but will that help? In the beginning, all of those things were powerful tools I kept in my belt, but as the months dragged on, hopelessness began to outweigh any positives that came from them.

It’s a scary feeling, hopelessness. It’s a powerful emotion that can derail any progress made; it’s the antidote to success. And that’s why this pandemic hit everyone so hard; it’s left us all with a feeling of hopelessness.

So how do we cope? That’s a hard question to answer, as even I am unsure how to cope with the lack of normalcy Covid-19 has left us with.

So I write. I write about my experience in hopes someone relates to it because you’re not alone in your feelings. For many of us, this pandemic has wholly derailed the progress we’ve made. It derailed me completely.

Before the pandemic, I was on track to success. I got a new job, worked out five days a week, went on adventures with my boyfriend, and finally felt as if I found my groove. But things change, and you either evolve with it or fight against it.

So I ask what you’ve found helpful during this strange, unprecedented time because I’m tired of fighting and could use all of the advice I can get.

Guilt

Guilt. It’s a powerful emotion that can often stop us in our tracks. Guilt has a lot to do with self-reflection, making it incredibly paralyzing at times. We have to first analyze ourselves to analyze our guilt, which can mean looking deep into the good, the bad, and the ugly. Things we’ve repressed will resurface, sometimes in the most aggressive ways.

So what happens when our guilt is linked directly to our mental illness? I have a lot of guilt surrounding my Bipolar disorder. Consistently going from tumultuous highs to devastating lows can bring a tremendous sense of uncertainty, making it hard to enjoy everyday life.

The times where I’m up, I can’t help but linger on the fact that this feeling is only temporary. This uncertainty then seeps into my personal life, making it hard for me to function day to day without immense feelings of anxiety. Unfortunately, that anxiety turns to irritability, and my loved ones end up being at the forefront of my snippy nature.

And while I’ve put in the work necessary to gain back some of that control, I still find my guilt overtaking me. I cannot help but feel as if I am not doing enough. That feeling translates into me thinking that I am doing nothing but hurting those around me. Any slip-up, any ounce of irritability, even when justified, is met with an immense feeling of guilt.

Your mental illness can often feel like a weight, holding you and those around you down. You can end up feeling inadequate, broken. And while I can logically comprehend that is not the case, I still find myself drifting into that sea of uncertainty.

My family, friends, and boyfriend would be better off if I could get it together. The panic attacks, the mood swings, the depression, it’s holding them all back. And even when they reassure you that isn’t the case, guilt rears its ugly head. It shoves you deep into a hole with no way of digging yourself out.

So how do we break that cycle? How do we get out of the never-ending loop that is guilt? I genuinely believe guilt related to having a mental illness stems from our own insecurities. So to me, developing a sense of security and power is the key.

The first step in removing that guilt is building up your sense of self-worth. Understanding you are a person, and therefore, you are worthy of good is incredibly important. You are not your mental illness. Your mental illness is something you have. Stop saying, “I am depressed” or “I am bipolar.”Too often, we identify ourselves with our mental illness, forgetting there’s so much more to us.

Hi, my name is Katelyn, and I have Bipolar Disorder. But that is not who I am. I am a writer, a good friend, trustworthy, loyal, and I love unconditionally. Those are the traits that make me who I AM as a person.

My Bipolar is only a small part of me; it does not define my entire being. This sense of security gives you your power back. It enables you to acknowledge, process, and move on from all those parts of yourself you may not love. Regaining that power can help silence those intense feelings of guilt.

Of course, anything I write on this blog will be easier said than done, and this idea of regaining your security, your power is something I am still working on. But the more you work on it, the harder you train that muscle, the easier it’ll become to shut down your guilt.

Always remember, you are more than your mental illness.

The Sad Girl Monologues

Eight years ago, I wanted to die. Heavy, I know. But there I sat on the floor of my room, pill bottles in hand, ready to put an end to all of the pain, suffering, and heartache I had been battling for the last three years. Depression and anxiety had taken control of my life. The highs were incredible, but the lows were devastating.

Getting out of bed became a challenge; sleep was non-existent due to nightmares, and ultimately I felt defeated. Luckily, there was still a glimmer of hope, a small flame inside me not ready to go out quite yet. So, I made a deal with myself. I would come clean to my family and my therapist about everything and see-through whatever treatment plan they saw fit. But if things hadn’t changed by the end of that plan, I would put a permanent end to my suffering.

I think we all can all agree that’s quite the ultimatum to make with yourself at only 16 years old, but I couldn’t bear living another moment in the mental and emotional agony plaguing my life. So it was decided. I would be removed from school for a month and go into a partial hospitalization program to receive intensive individual and group therapy.

I despised it. Being monitored every second of every day made me feel like a child again. I wasn’t allowed to handle sharp objects without adult supervision, medication was locked away, and I couldn’t even shower with the door closed.

It sucked, and I was left wishing I had ended it when I had the chance. I rarely participated in group therapy, and I despised my assigned clinician. But every day from 8 a.m to 5 p.m, I was forced to go to treatment. Eventually, I began to participate, and my clinician and I even started to get along. The lack of freedom and tough love I received in treatment was just what I needed.

Because if you couldn’t tell, I didn’t kill myself. I ended up graduating high school, which was a significant accomplishment for me as I never thought I’d make it to graduation. After high school, things were going great. I excelled in college, moved out of the state temporarily, met my current boyfriend, whom I love dearly, and even landed my dream job.

But in the midst of all that, things began to plummet once again. Why? Simply put, I wasn’t being treated properly. What was thought to be Clinical Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder was Bipolar.

I know, I know. This is supposed to be a tale of hope, and now it’s just getting sad again. But to tell you my life has been perfect since going into treatment would be a lie. Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.

The mood swings, irritability, euphoria, and sadness, became packaged and tied together with a neat little bow, Bipolar. But the knowing doesn’t always make it easy, and in this case, it sent me into a downward spiral faster than I could blink.

I was left with so many questions and little to no answers. My biggest one being, how do I move forward? This dark cloud had engulfed me for so long, surrounding me with no exit route in sight. So how do I forge one?

That’s the golden question. Because we know it’s our job to pull ourselves out of this miserable cycle, but figuring out how to do that is the hardest part. It’s easy to convince ourselves to be happy, but that only lasts for so long before we are pulled back into that dark cloud of uncertainty.

So what happens when you feel happiness is unattainable? When you’re struggling with any mental illness, you’re quick to feel as if you’re standing in the way of your own happiness. When in reality, you’re merely trying to navigate your life’s rubble, wondering when it all started to cave in on you. And that’s a mental illness in a nutshell; it’s continuously digging yourself out of the rubble.

So what’s the point? If I know my highs are temporary, and my lows can be debilitating, why should I keep pushing forward? Well, for happiness. My friend recently told me that life isn’t about living in pure bliss. It’s about finding those moments of happiness, no matter how small, and holding onto that feeling they give you.

I understand life can be difficult, and sometimes the bad trumps the good. The point of writing this isn’t telling you, “It will get better” because sometimes it doesn’t right away. But I promise that if you fight to hold onto those small moments of happiness, life will start to feel worth living.

Eight years ago, I wanted to kill myself, and while this journey has been challenging, I am so happy I didn’t.

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