My Birthday: A Year of Joy

donut

This vegan almond joy doughnut brought me literal joy this afternoon.

I’ve been 36-years-old for approximately four hours and I couldn’t sleep and I thought it would be a good idea to do a little birthday post.

My brain shaped this birthday post earlier in the week. I decided to journal it first and as I was writing my birthday thoughts changed. I ended up writing something I didn’t intend to write.

I’ll tell you what I thought I was going to write. I had decided on writing a strong and sassy piece about my fuck-bank. For the uninitiated, a fuck-bank is a list of what you spend your fucks on. For example I have zero fucks to give about being a shiny star PTA parent. I give many fucks about making sure my children have a good life. Do you see the difference? My goal was to proclaim that my 36th year on this earthy would be spent caring for this and ditching that. I would make sure folks knew what I would and would not do. A long list of shit I won’t tolerate was building up. My life would so clearly have a nice neat line down the middle; on one side everything I love and on the other side the things to be avoided.

A doctor’s appointment this morning changed my perspective a bit. I’ll share what I wrote regarding this appointment on Facebook earlier today:

Today I received the best birthday gift ever. My psychiatrist said I’m doing really well and he recognizes I’ve been working really hard at staying stable and managing my bipolar 2 disorder in a holistic way. He isn’t changing my medication and he is not putting me on mood stabilizers. YAY!

Back in late February he increased my anti-depressant and it caused severe hypomania. I had to scale back down to 10mg (a very low dose of Brintellix) and accepted that I cannot increase my anti-depressants without inducing mania. This is typical for those of us on the Bipolar spectrum. Usually a psychiatrist will introduce a mood stabilizer like Depakote, Lithium, or Lamictal at this stage.

However, I’ve been managing my depression with therapy, yoga, B-12, fish oil, probiotics, less caffeine, more nutrient dense whole food, and journaling. SO NO MOOD STABILIZERS!

*throws confetti*

This post was flooded with support and good cheer. All the people who have watched me openly struggle with pain, despair, uncertainty, aggression, anxiety, depression, and insomnia are truly there, truly cheering for me, and truly love me for who I am. Flaws and all. After this boost of warm fuzzies and some celebratory birthday donuts from Revolution Donuts, I simply didn’t feel like drawing lines in the sand. Standing with my arms crossed and declaring to the world what I wanted seemed, well, bratty.

Instead I started making a list in my journal. I decided to list 36 things in my life that bring me joy. I made a rule that I should be as specific as possible and the items on the list needed to be self-initiated. In other words I cannot write “world peace.” That is too broad and I single-handedly cannot end all turmoil across the globe. BUT, I can choose to brew some tea and listen to the rain INSTEAD of griping with “Bernie or Bust” folks on Facebook. I could seize opportunities to meet with friends for coffee instead of rigidly adhering to a cleaning schedule. Rather than saying yes to every charity, volunteer event, or political initiative I could choose what mattered most to me and not worry about what others think about me.

Most birthdays have me searching for what new things I can add to my life and this list highlights the goodness already a part of my little world and urges me to simply welcome more of the same good stuff in my life.

I’m presenting this list in a brief format and my plan is to explore the items on the list more fully, a few at a time, in the future. Here we go!

  1. Enjoying my kids.
  2. My marriage; I love Sam, but marriage is so much more than love.
  3. One-on-one conversations and excursions with my dear friends.
  4. Quiet time in the early morning hours with large cups of tea.
  5. Cooking meals with fresh produce, spices, and seasonings.
  6. Restful sleep.
  7. Moving my body with yoga, exercise, and walking.
  8. Sitting at my desk before bedtime and journaling about my day.
  9. My cat curled up and purring on my chest.
  10. Therapy
  11. Writing poems. Editing poems. Reading Poems. Supporting Poets.
  12. Large stacks of books.
  13. The joy of office supplies, my bullet journal, and time to organize and reflect.
  14. COFFEE!
  15. Wearing dresses that are fun and help me in feeling good about myself.
  16. Fun with makeup, accessories, and expressing myself through fashion.
  17. Feeling the softness of thread between my fingers as I crochet or knit.
  18. Freshly sharpened pencils, a coloring book, and a slate of podcasts.
  19. Audio books at work and home.
  20. Music! Through my earbuds and live.
  21. Art. Buying Art. Appreciating Art. Supporting Artists.
  22. Blogging snippets of my life.
  23. A rainbow of embroidery floss and a contended afternoon of stitching.
  24. Sitting outdoors and appreciating nature.
  25. Letters to and from friends.
  26. Listening.
  27. Activism in my own way (aka the written variety).
  28. Advocating for women’s rights, income equality, and ending the stigma against mental illness.
  29. Learning about other cultures, people, and ideas.
  30. Celebrating colors, textures, smells, and sights.
  31. Random acts of thoughtfulness.
  32. Doing my job in a way that brings me personal pride.
  33. Ink. More ink. On my skin.
  34. Making my home “cozy.”
  35. Taking pictures
  36. Baking all the things.

I plan on periodically writing more about each of these items and how they figure into living a life of joy. In fact, that may be my word for this year: JOY. Less worry and anxiety over things I have no power to change and a welcoming attitude towards all the good is a marvelous way to start my 36th year.

36 is going to be great.

 

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10 comments

  1. I love that so many of these things are moments and experiences. While there are definitely physical things that enhance our lives (COFFEE!), it’s the experiences that stay with us. I do wish you a very happy 36th year full of health and joy!!

  2. Happy, happy, happy birthday, dear Amanda! This is such a great post, and I am celebrating with you on the lack of mood stabilizers. What a way to start your 36th year!!

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