Tearing Down the Walls

I have had some shoddy luck lately. Luck, karma, chance, fluke, whatever one chooses to deem it – mine has been downright shoddy.

I ended up with a concussion when I landed on my head after trying to give my fiancé a peck on the cheek.

For the first time since I’ve begun medication for the treatment of my bipolar disorder, I experienced severe adverse reactions to the medication.

This sort of bogusness is exactly the sort of stuff that used to trigger harrowing depressive episodes. I used to take these situations and view them as a sign that I probably should just stop while I was ahead. Give up now before I meet further resistance. Because the first step to failure is trying.

Seriously, I was pretty much the picture perfect depressed, clichéd stereotype.

After twentysome years of living this way, enough was enough. No longer will I allow myself to be the victim of my circumstances. A book that was given to me by a dear friend Miss Sara Goguen (who runs an amazing website called Saratonin that y’all MUST check out) has a quote in it that has really begun to shape my methods of living. The book is called The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch. I am going to be talking about this book A LOT, so I will save the synopsis and all that jazz for another day. For now, I just want to address this quote…

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

Simple. Straightforward.

There are things that happen to us that are going to be beyond our control. And when these things happen, like it or not, we cannot change them. So instead of mulling over “oh how I wish this did not happen to me”, we gotta get ourselves in gear and change the way that we handle these situations.

Okay, I got a concussion. It hurt. Wasn’t the most awesome thing that ever happened to me.

Two paths to go down.

1. Good ol’ fashioned pity party!
2. Embrace with optimism.

How the hell do you embrace a concussion with optimism?

Well. I got some time off work to recoup. That time off work led to endless hours of thought, since I was put on bedrest. That thought led to ideas. Those ideas led to a project. That project led to Choose Good.

Reaction to meds?

Figure out what is making my body respond negatively. And fight with everything I have to get my happiness back. I earned that happiness, dammit, and I will not let it slip away from me again.

Randy Pausch called negative setbacks “brick walls”. I’ve been meeting a lot of brick walls lately. But, in his ever-astounding wisdom, Randy said that “the brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.

So when you come across the brick walls, do not let them break you down. Break THEM down. Fight for what you want. Because in the end, it makes getting what you’ve earned that much sweeter.

This entry was posted in Choose Good, Optimism and tagged Mental Health, bipolar, optimism, randy pausch, luck, life, brick wall, health on by choosegoodproject.

Defy the Odds: Meghann’s Story

Everyday there are those making the journey to overcome the barriers that life can throw their way. Each week, Choose Good will feature one amazing individual’s story. It is our hope that we can both inspire readers and bring recognition to people who have worked hard for their happiness.

I could not be more pleased to introduce Meghann. In her own words.

Meghann

When my friend Jill asked me to write about my story, I wasn’t sure if I could. I have huge respect for how open she is with her life and her disorder, I admire how she wants to make a change in how people look at mental illness and how she continually puts herself out there to do so. However I wasn’t sure if I wanted everyone knowing what I’ve gone through. But after a bit of thought I’ve decided to join her in her fight as I think it can be a great help when your struggling with mental illness to hear someone else is going through the same thing.

In 2009 I started losing weight. At first this was a good thing. I was feeling happy and healthy and I was doing it in the right way, eating well. After awhile losing weight got addicting, I became obsessed with what I ate and how much I weighed. I would weigh myself twice a day. Any small difference in weight could either make me feel “good” and happy as the scale was going down, or feel disgusting and fat even with 0.2 pounds of weight added on.

At first I denied any problem, but the proof was there. I became sickly thin and I was eating only 400 calories a day. I cut people out of my life that objected and the people who told me to get help. I became even more and more obsessed with my weight. I eventually weighed 90 pounds and I could hardly function. I had to drop out of school as I couldn’t read anymore. My own body eating at itself to survive. I lost my period for a year and I started losing my hair.  I was depressed and suicidal.

I was put on antidepressants and it seemed to help for a bit, but then the binging started. The ups and downs of not eating for a week – then stuffing yourself with anything imaginable until you feel so guilty and bad that you puke it up. A lot of these months are foggy; especially when I wasn’t eating. For the longest time I felt so horrible for what I’d put my friends through and most of all my mom. First she watched me starve myself and then she watched the emotional swings of binge eating. I felt like a failure. A failure because I’d dropped out of school, I was slowly killing myself and I wanted to die. It felt so deep the hole I was in, so deep I couldn’t get out.

But I have, and that’s really why I wanted to share my story because no matter how bad it gets and no matter how much you feel liking giving up DON’T! There are people willing to help you. It has been a long journey for me, I’ve been recovering for about one and a half years and it’s still a struggle. In my recovery I’ve had so many set backs and I’ve seen to alot of doctors. For me the  recovery started when finally realized I was okay. I didn’t have to be the thinnest girl to be loved by someone. I was worth MORE then a number on a scale, I was allowed to be normal. I wanted to be perfect, I thought if I was the slimmest or the prettiest or the smartest then I’d be good enough. And the truth is I’m perfect as I am. I don’t have to starve myself to be loved.

I don’t know how to exactly explain my recovery. I gained weight which solved my body’s needs, but my mind was just as sick as I was when I was 90 pounds. People assumed I was okay because I looked healthy, and I wasn’t. That’s what I believe Jill and others like her are trying to bring attention to. Mental illness is just as serious as bodily illness. It’s real. I’ve lived it and so have many others, just because you can’t “cut out” mental illness like you can cancer doesn’t mean its not just as destructive.

My recovery is still in process. By changing the way I look at food – not as BAD but as energy for my body. How I view myself. How I handle stress.

It’s all still very real to me. I still battle with this disease anorexia everyday. Recovery is slow and complicated and there’s no right answer. For me it was a lot of self reflection and I couldn’t have done it without a few key people in my life. They picked me up and fought for me even when I wasn’t willing to fight anymore. I can happily say that compared to a year ago I am in a significantly better place. I’m at a healthy weight, I am back in school and I have joy and happiness back in my life. In a sense everything seems new again, refreshed. I have fallen in love for the first time, I can read, laugh and I have my smile back.

Anorexia stole every single part of my life a way from me, but I’ve taken it back, and trust me If your reading this and struggling you can take your life back too! One step at a time. Push through setbacks and give yourself a break, you’re not perfect and that makes you perfect!

A few things I’d like to point out…
-Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of mental illnesses
-The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15 – 24 years old.
-95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25

Meghann :)

This entry was posted in Mental Health, Choose Good, Defy the Odds and tagged Mental Health, anorexia, story, optimism, hope on by choosegoodproject.

Defeating the Hulk

Sometimes I turn into the Incredible Hulk. Except unlike the Marvel superhero, I’m not awesome. I don’t turn green, my muscles don’t grow to twenty-times the size, and unfortunately, I don’t manage to save the world from impending doom.

No, I just get really, really angry. Like, Hulk angry.

Jillian smash.

I have two types of anger. I have “normal”, Jillian anger. The type of anger that people tend to experience. Yeah, you’re pissed off – but you’re probably not going to do much more than feel grumpy about it. At worst, you may yell or sulk. But that tends to be that.

And then, there is the Hulk anger. I’m really digging the Hulk analogy for two reasons.

  1. The anger is EXPLOSIVE and GIGANTIC.
  2. The anger is uncontrollable.

Julie A. describes bipolar irritation or anger in words that I could not have put better. “It’s hard to explain to others that this feeling is different than just normal anger. When it’s bipolar disorder related, if feels like a need. As though it would be the right thing to do. Reasoning leaves and it’s all emotion“.

How is it possible to choose good when a mental illness literally causes one to lose control?

I believe the solution is to be proactive rather than reactive. The secret is in prevention rather than reaction.

What?

Simply stated, I need to stop myself from getting to the point where I lose control rather than attempting to manage myself when I’ve lost it – because managing anger from this point of no-return is FAR easier said than done.

I know one day, I will have learnt to control myself when I’ve reached the Hulk. I hope to be the Avengers version, where the Hulk is able to control the anger and use it in a way to, well, do good.

But until then, I’m slowly learning to recognize when my blood is rising, when my inner Hulk is close to boiling over. By recognizing this, I gain the (super)power to know that I need to stop this happening.

Because like Bruce Banner, I am both my destroyer and my defender.

Sources: Disabled World – Disability News for all the Family: http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/article_1541.shtml#ixzz27KJlI5Oz

This entry was posted in Mental Health, Personal and tagged anger, bipolar, hulk, prevention, reaction on by choosegoodproject.

Just because I have it.

I have bipolar disorder. I am not bipolar.

The lingual difference between these two statements may not seem like much. In fact, this statement may seem like a wee bit of a contradiction.

Let me illustrate like this.

People are not cancer. They are not diabetes or multiple sclerosis. Rather, people have those diseases.

Much the same, I have bipolar.

I have made the conscious choice to not let my bipolar define me, but rather to define my bipolar.

I will not be just be “that bipolar girl”. I’m just me, and part of me happens to have bipolar.

You are not your illness.

You are you, and you is beautiful.

This entry was posted in Mental Health, Personal on by choosegoodproject.

Beautiful People

Truth.

This entry was posted in Choose Good, Optimism on by choosegoodproject.

Challenge

Choose Good Project is challenging you.

I challenge you to choose good. Yup, guess that doesn’t come as a surprise, considering that is the whole point of this website. ;)

I want to hear your stories. I want to know when you defy the odds. When, despite a not-so-awesome situation, you choose to move forward with strength, purpose and passion.

It can be something as small or something of epic proportions. People seem to only care about the big things, forgetting that the little things are just as meaningful.

So fire us an email at jillianchoosegood.com

Can’t wait to hear from you. :)

This entry was posted in Choose Good, Optimism on by choosegoodproject.

Why Choose Good?

Choose Good Project began in September 2012.

I imagine there may be those wondering why I would create such a heinous offence against grammar by calling this endeavour “Choose Good” rather than “Choose Well”.

To answer this I turn to my most beloved childhood show, Boy Meets World.

Okay, can we all just take a moment to remember the awesomeness that was Boy Meets World? Seriously.

In the final episode of the show, Cory and the gang ask Mr. Feeny for any parting wisdom that he can offer. Feeny, being a God among men, responds with;

“Believe in yourselves. Dream. Try. Do good.”

Topanga, confused by Feeny’s grammatical faux-paus, then begs the question “don’t you mean ‘do well’?”

“No,” Feeny replies, “I mean ‘do good’.”

And that was that. Simple advice that has stuck with me ever since I was a wee lass.

Feeny is not telling his students to do well. He is not advising them to makes loads of money, have a huge house or own seventeen convertibles.

Feeny instead focusing on what we all should be. Doing good. Helping others. Smiling more. Seeking happines – true happiness.

This has been the mantra in creating this project. To do good by choosing good.

Choosing optimism. Choosing positivity.

This entry was posted in Choose Good, Mantra, Optimism and tagged boy meets world, choose good, feeny, mantra on by choosegoodproject.