Mindful reminder

The white mattress lies right in front of me, leaning into the wall. Small buttons run parallel along its surface, creating creases looking like small valleys. The soft white color soothes my mind. My son is nursing, and I am filled with gratitude. I can see his small hand milking an imaginary breast. His fingers are tiny, his thumb the shape of a triangle. Looking at his hand, I remember how his soft and warm skin feels when it closes around my finger when he is afraid and needs comfort.

Sometimes I stress. There is so much to do and too little time. I constantly crave stimulation, feeling bored without it. And then. Moments like these. When I remember what life is all about. When sensations arrive one at a time, making it possible to take them in. It makes all the difference, because focusing intently on one thing makes it easier for emotions to come forward and the body to react. Too much stimulation leaves no space for the unconscious. Like an overcrowded stadium of people, feelings drown in noise and slip away.

When I remember my past, the memories coming forward are all rich with details. Without sensations, I would probably never have remembered the events. I don´t have many memories, maybe because I spent so much time inside my head instead of looking around.

Living my life today, I try to use my senses more. When old, I want to feel I have lived my life to the fullest, and that means being present.

My son reminds me all the time of the importance of being in the now. His fascination of what he sees and touches makes me interested too. That brings a whole new level to everyday life, a true antidote to depression and negative feelings.

Sleep

Sleep. Putting your head on a pillow. Looking up while thinking about the day that was. Rolling back in time, remembering other nights like this one. No matter what you have experienced or where you have been, sleep has been a part of you. Sometimes sleep takes time, but you can never not sleep, and no one can die from lack of sleep. Off course, reduced sleep-quality can have a profound impact on life, but one thing is for sure: Sooner or later, sleep will come.

Until sleep comes, remember to live. Let the moments awake be about something: Try doing new things, challenge yourself, let your brain live the dreams produced during the night. We need to bring something with us to bed. We need to feel that we have done something worth remembering. We need to see that we have done our best to survive, and that we can be proud of ourselves. Sleep is a part of a cycle. We need it to reboot, to start anew. Sleep takes us in its arms, rocking us back and forth. When it doesn`t take us in its arm, just wait. Let it take it`s time, because you can`t force a cycle. If you can`t sleep, get up and do something else. Because you will sleep, sooner or later. Until then, live and breathe.

From a crazy family

When I was 19, my mother told me that she had been molester by her own brother. Before I even had time to process this, she told me that my grandfather was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and my grandmother with bipolar disorder. She also told me that my father was adopted, and did not know where he came from.

In a heartbeat my whole childhood was turned on its head, and memories were searched to see if I had known something was amiss. But no, children seldom think about what is normal or not, only when we start to compare ourselves to others, do we notice if something is different.

Although my mother did not go into great detail concerning her own upbringing, she did reveal some information. For example, my grandfather at one point thought he was Jesus waiting for his 12 deciples. To make them feel welcome he had lined up 12 pairs of shoes.

She also told me she had watched my grandmother wading into the sea, wanting to die. Another time, when she came and visited us where we lived, she had not slept for a week, and started wandering off to a night club. My parents had to go look for her, and found her before she could use her dance foot.

Both my grandpartens took a lot of pills, and I remember asking what they were for. The answer I got was rather vague, something about health issues. I did not probe further, just accepted that they had to take them every day.

My grandmother slept at all times, and that was not strange either. I just thought that old people needed to sleep more than us, and that was that.

I am glad that my mother protected us kids by not talking about their hospitalizations, psychosis and behavior, because I was never affected by what was going on behind the scenes. My mother always wanted a family of her own, and dreamt of giving her children a childhood she did not have herself.

When I look back, I only feel respect for how my mother tried to protect us and make us feel safe . Even if I came from a «crazy family» and some might have prejudiced when it comes to mental illness, I did well considering my genetic background and am grateful that I can help others with risk factors in their genes and environment to achieve their potential.

Introduction: A bipolar psychologist

I work as a clinical psychologist, and also have a mental illness. I was first diagnosed in 2014, when I was admitted to an inpatient unit. I had bouts of depressions previously, but had not needed more than the support of therapists and friends. When I got seriously ill, I was 29 years old. My life had not been a walk in the park, I had experienced my share of traumatic incidences (a rape at age 20 and my best friend being killed in a car crash when I was 15) but had mostly coped well. When I had my first manic episode, I had a month of several stressors that in the end got too much. I slept less and less, but still tried to do everything at once. At one point I simply could not do it anymore, and I was officially an inpatient, experiencing how it is to suddenly be in a position where I needed help. I have since had two more serious breakdowns, but am now leaving a healthy life as a mother and therapist. In this blog I want to share my experiences, anonymously. I hope my story can inspire others, showing that serious mental health issues does not mean a life in misery.

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