This post was originally published on the Love Warrior Community on October 11, 2015.
Do you feel like you’re being held back? Or that an aspect of you is being stifled?
I’m holding myself back, and I’m stifling my own growth.
I started a new job about four months ago, and I feel like I’ve put a piece of myself back into the closet.
I’m a writer and a blogger. I blog about my self-love journey, and part of that journey revolves around bipolar disorder and my moods that accompany that: anxiety, paranoia, depression, and hypomania.
I have been writing about this on the Love Warrior Community, and elsewhere, for about the past three years. Yet, the past four months, when I felt prompted to write about what I was experiencing, I didn’t.
I know employers and colleagues stalk each other on social media from time to time. Someone from work commented about something I did over the weekend, and I thought, “Oh, you must have seen that on my Facebook.”
As a new employee, I’m still reading people’s energies and discovering that line on what is too little to share, what is too much, and what is in between when developing that professional relationship.
I would never randomly blurt out to someone, “I have bipolar disorder,” but if we were having a personal conversation, and the topic was brought up in a comfortable and organic way, or someone asked me, I wouldn’t have any problem disclosing. By writing about it online, and if a colleague were to read it, it almost feels like a random blurt out.
As a writer and mental health advocate, I share aspects of my life in blog posts, articles, and on social media — to anyone who has access to the internet.
I haven’t cared in the past about what people thought about my diagnoses, so why have I been hesitant to have that information out now?
I’ve been telling myself that part of it is related to the stigma, but I don’t think that’s the case.
I have been experiencing a low-key depression for the past month and a half, and when I get depressed I tend to isolate myself and develop pessimistic thoughts. I also tend to ruminate on thoughts that don’t serve me, and that I don’t necessarily believe in.
I have been telling myself that it would be an issue of people at work knew that I have bipolar disorder and paranoia, but I don’t actually believe that.
I think I’ve been projecting my own beliefs. When I felt myself shifting into a depressive state, I was trying different techniques to get out of it, but it wasn’t working.
About a month and a half later, I told myself a new mantra, “What I’m feeling right now is okay.” When I stopped struggling against what I was feeling and accepted it, it made experiencing it a lot easier. I stopped struggling against it.
I don’t enjoy feeling depressed, but if I do feel depressed, it’s okay. It’s what I’m feeling, and feelings aren’t bad or good. They are what they are, and they have messages to tell us.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting to be depressed, and trying to change it, but there’s a fine line between struggling against it and trying to change it, which makes it worse, or accepting it for what it is and trying to move past it, which makes wherever I am at on the feelings scale okay.
When all of my thoughts, energy, and focus are essentially saying, “What you’re feeling right now is not okay,” it doesn’t leave any room for me to discover why I’m feeling the way I am, and it doesn’t allow me to be with where I’m at. If I can’t do those two things, it makes it that much more difficult to move forward.
Today is National Coming Out Day. I first came out as a lesbian in 2005 or 2006, and I came out on a larger scale in 2007. It was around 2012 when I started writing about my experiences with bipolar disorder and paranoia.
Today, I am coming out again. I love all of myself. For the past month and a half, I have been shaming myself about how I have been feeling, and there’s no need for that.
When I am depressed, when I am not cycling, when I’m anxious, when I’m paranoid, when I’m whatever mood I am, or whatever feelings I’m going through — I am a beautiful human being.
Every incarnation of me is beautiful and purposeful, even when I feel that I lack purpose and direction.
Every experience is an opportunity for growth. Through my diagnoses, I have learned to better be with and decipher my emotions, and I’m still learning that. I’ve learned to confront my fears, head on, to live outside of my comfort zone, to self-soothe in any situation, and I’m still learning those things, as well.
This recent month plus experience with depression has helped me to better ground myself and explore what makes me happy in life. I don’t feel extraordinarily grounded or happy, but I am exploring healthy ways to cultivate those feelings.
Within this time frame, I have removed caffeine from my life, for the most part. Caffeine contributes to my anxiety, heartburn, paranoia, tense muscles, inconsistent energy levels, and it disrupts my sleep schedule. I crave caffeine most when I feel depressed. Sometimes it gives me a momentary jolt of excitement and energy, but without it, I’m on a journey to explore what other things in life can give me that same joy and excitement.
Running grounds me, likely more than anything else in life. I recently hurt my ankle, and now I’m exploring other ways to ground myself. I bought an online reiki course and got a reiki attunement yesterday.
I’m on a journey to constantly discover what nourishes me emotionally, physically, and spiritually, and what doesn’t.
Although being depressed for the past month and a half hasn’t been particularly fun, and hurting my ankle hasn’t been either, these experiences have given me new opportunities to explore myself.
And that is a gift.
In hiding from myself, casting shame on myself, and closeting myself, I miss out on the gifts.
With acceptance comes gratitude, and with gratitude, I become open to the beauty in everything, even in the more difficult or unpleasant things.
Beauty and growth can be birthed from any experience, I just have to allow it.
I’m choosing to allow life: however it may unfold, and in all its incarnations.
I love myself. All of myself. And I choose not to closet any aspect of myself, most importantly, from myself.
For the month of October, I invite you to explore the aspects of yourself that you have been closeting.
What aspects of yourself have you been hiding from? What would happen if you allowed them to surface? What would happen if you showered those parts of you with love, instead of shame?
Share your experience in the comments below, or submit your story to be published on the Love Warrior Community.
– Emelina Minero