Daily Archives: December 14, 2013

Google Has Temporarily Saved My Life


Looking at the statistics for this blog, I think I am pretty safe to write what I am about to write.  While I have a few readers (mainly from Russia, France, and India) it doesn’t look like anyone who knows me in real life reads anymore.  So I am going to be honest.  I am thinking about killing myself. 

No, this is not a cry for help.  I am not seeking attention. I’m not trying to be “emo” or “selfish” or “stupid”.  I am just telling the truth.  

I Googled “how to make suicide look like an accident” earlier today and didn’t find anything noteworthy as far as ways to die.  What I did find was a lot of people trying to talk others out of going through with it…for all the wrong reasons.  I’m sorry, maybe you mean well, but telling someone they are being selfish does not change their minds.  If anything, it just drives home the fact that we aren’t fit to live anymore; when we can’t see past the pain anymore, when we’ve gotten to the point where we feel like our death would be easier on our families than our living, then being called selfish is perhaps the sharpest knife you can stab in our hearts.  Thank you for killing us quicker.  How thoughtful of you.  

Beyond that, though, I found something valuable today.  I found people who understand what this feels like.  I didn’t talk to any of them (some of them are probably dead by now), but the words they wrote on various spots on the internet, the exact places my Google search led me today, reached out and grabbed hold of my trembling hand.  And suddenly I didn’t feel so alone in this battle of how, of when, of why.  

I have plenty of people in my life to tell me why I should stick around. Well, I say plenty, but I really only have a handful.  Some of them would be angry with me.  Some would be devastated.  Some (like my children, and god this hurts the worst) may even blame themselves.  They might never recover.  I really don’t have anyone I go to and tell that I feel like I am going to kill myself.  There are a few who I tell after the feeling passes, but I withdraw into a cold hard shell in the meantime.  I don’t want to tell anyone my plans; they might try to change them.  Or, for the few friends I have who wrestle with the same demons, I am always afraid my candid talk of suicide might trigger the same feelings in themselves.  And telling a doctor or therapist?  That’s a surefire way to end up in the state hospital.  If I had the option of somewhere lovely like Laurelwood where they actual do try to help, then I would drop everything and run to the place.  But being caged like an animal in the state run hospital where they don’t even send in someone to talk to me except maybe one time with a doctor who appears drunk and hopeless? And with the patients who throw chairs and accuse me of stealing their room even though it is the one I was assigned? No, thank you.

The depression has been rough lately.  My last post on here (right after the fake-optimistic one of YAY I’M GOING TO FINISH MY BOOK AND NOTHING IS GOING TO STOP ME) hinted at a little of that depression I suppose, but it runs much deeper than that.  My paranoia is back.  The kind where I feel like everyone hates me, including my fiance. Everything I say gets on his nerves and I’m holding him back in life and I can’t even keep our living quarters clean or consistently cook food for us…yada yada.  And to my daughters, I am just a complication.  They have a good life with their dad and stepmom and stepbrothers.  Every picture I see of them having a good time both comforts me and kills me.  Because I am not in those pictures, and I am barely in their lives.  Because I have no money and no driver’s license and no guarantee at the few social functions I have the courage to attend that I won’t embarrass them to death with one of my stupid panic attacks.  And my son.  When I am a good mom I am a freaking good mom, but when I’m not I am aloof, impatient, rageful, terrifying.  Of all the people I know who have a mother with bipolar disorder, none of them have ever said anything good about their childhood.  None of them.  Instead, I hear the horrible dysfunction they had to endure, and on a good day I can kid myself and think I will never produce that type of atmosphere for my dear children.  But then the rage comes.  I’m not talking about a little snap of the tongue.  I mean full-blown rage.  Screaming, throwing things, locking myself in another room so I don’t kill someone rage. So, yes, I am a complication in my kids’ lives, dead or alive.  While I am the only one available to watch our son each day, I figure if I died then my fiance would probably move in with his mom and then there would be plenty of people to share in a good, nurturing childhood for him.  The good things that could come from my death are abundant in my eyes.  Would they outweigh the grief?  I don’t know.  I hold all the possibilities in my hands and try not to drop any of them, because to tip the scale will certainly seal my fate one way or another.  

I had decided I wanted to get the house clean before I did anything drastic.  So that no one would call me a slob when I was gone.  But just sweeping the living room floor I screamed at my son for getting in the way and then I just sank down to the pile of dust and sobbed.  I thought of waking my fiance, so he could save me from myself, but I know he needs the sleep.  I logged onto Facebook to see if there was a friend I could confide in (because I can’t talk on the phone and certainly not in person) but the first thing I saw was a picture of my two beautiful girls posing with their stepmom.  And they looked so happy, like nothing was missing.  I deactivated my Facebook account, and now here I am.  Still weighing the odds, but the scale is more unbalanced.  I am unbalanced.  And I’m tired.  I’m tired of crying all day.  I’m tired of my thoughts.  I’m tired of my actions.  I’m tired of my past, my present, my future.  I’m just tired. 

Life Lessons

This last week, I have learned more life lessons than I have learned during the rest of my semester at college. These lessons cemented my future as a mental health advocate, but they did not come without pain. Throughout the entire experience, I drew strength from knowing that I eventually would be able to share this story with the hope of helping others going through similar ordeals.
Ryan and I met online, and we had an instant connection (no more cheesy puns, I promise). We had a lot in common, but I was hesitant to meet in person. I avoided a “real life” meeting for over a month, but over Thanksgiving break, we met at a coffee shop in my hometown in Maryland. We talked for hours. That same day, he met my dad and brother and we watched Clue together. We didn’t want to say goodbye, so we ended up going out for pizza and talking at the restaurant until it was closing.
We texted over the rest of break. We even arranged to go on more dates when I got back from Pittsburgh. We quickly decided that we wanted an exclusive relationship, and our feelings progressed rapidly. He was so funny and being around him made me feel happy.
I should probably mention that before meeting, I had confided in him about my bipolar disorder, and he confided in me that he had struggled with anxiety and depression in the past. 
Last Sunday, we went to a Ravens game with his parents. The game was exciting to say the least, and his parents were very kind. But that evening, I noticed a change in Ryan’s mood. Things were rough. I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say that I was concerned.
The next evening after work, he told me he was having some troubling thoughts about ending his life and was experiencing some impulsive behavior. We made a plan that he would eat, try to get some rest, and we would discuss possibly going to the hospital in the morning.
The morning came, and I was more concerned. Our telephone conversations were brief and upsetting, and I went to the Residence Life Coordinator of our building and explained that I was scared for Ryan’s life. With guidance, I made the decision to call 911 even though Ryan had explicitly told me not to do so.
LIFE LESSON ONE: It is better to be hated by someone and for that person to be safe than for the alternative.
LIFE LESSON TWO: Police officers are trained professionals when it comes to these situations. I am a nineteen year old college student. 
I met Ryan at the emergency room, and I helped him fill out paperwork. Waiting for hours to meet with a psychiatrist, I tried my best to comfort him. He had a previous negative experience at the hospital, and I knew he was afraid this would be a repeat. After meeting with the psychiatrist, I saw him struggle to make a decision. I did my best to encourage him to opt for inpatient treatment. Once the decision was made, I helped him get ready to go to the psych ward. I was so proud of him.
LIFE LESSON THREE: Admitting that you cannot care for someone is not defeat. It is allowing professionals to do their jobs.
While I waited for visiting hours to start, I called his mom and his work. It became clear that his family would not be a part of his treatment plan and that I would need to step in. I was his emergency contact. Remember, at this point we had been dating less than two weeks.
LIFE LESSON FOUR: We cannot get upset with adults who do not understand mental illness. Although it is frustrating, most people are doing the best that they can do. 
Over the next couple days, I visited Ryan during visiting hours, got in touch with his teachers, got in touch with his work again, brought him books and clothing, and tried my best to be strong for him. I could see and hear him improving. He was smiling and funny again. It was hilarious to see him joking with the nurses and other patients. I was reminded of the Ryan I met at the coffee shop. Sometimes we would get frustrated with each other, but overall we remained supportive.
LIFE LESSON FIVE: It is important to learn how to differentiate between the person you care about and the mental illness. The mental illness can warp their words and actions beyond recognition, and it is critical that you try not to take it personally.
Yesterday, Ryan was released. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. I had cried so many tears. I didn’t study for my finals. One day all I ate was Gatorade and some cookies. I couldn’t sleep well. I forgot one of the most important lessons of all.
LIFE LESSON SIX: Take care of yourself first.
I still care about Ryan, and I want him to continue his path towards wellness. However, we are no longer together. I’m going to take the time now to care for myself, to heal. Even though this was a very difficult experience, I’m thankful for it. I have learned even more lessons than I have enumerated in this post. This chapter of my life may be over, but that does not dilute its significance.

Semi-Normal

They say that there’s nothing that makes one appreciate modern conveniences like not having them anymore, and never was that any more true than during those five days we were without running water.

Yesterday we awakened to a burst pipe, adding insult to injury. Thank God Will knew what to do, and $35 worth of plumbing supplies later, we were back in business. Hurray!!

Suddenly, water came rushing out of faucets, and we could do dishes! And take showers! And best of all, flush the toilets!

You laugh, but believe me, when the only running water you’ve had is running to the neighbors with 5-gallon buckets, you learn real quick not to take it for granted.

Now, if I could just figure out why my computer doesn’t want to connect to the Internet anymore, life would really be back to normal. Oh well, one thing at a time…..except I REALLY hate typing blog posts on my iPhone. Know what I mean?


Physical Pain and Mental Health

STATU024

There is a strong link between physical pain and ones state of mind. I suffer from Chronic Intractable Pain, as well as Bipolar Disorder and the two are so often conjoined it’s difficult to tease them apart. In fact I usually can’t do it very well. When I hurt I feel depressed more often. And vice versa. It’s an ongoing cycle of misery.

I know this is obvious to anyone who deals with both of these things but maybe it’s not to other people, so I’m writing to educate as well as to empathize. Pain can shift your mood as quickly as a mood disorder can and when you have both going on it’s challenging.

I take medications for both these conditions every day to be alright. It doesn’t always work as I’d hoped tho and I’ve been trying to adjust things a bit lately to see if I can make a difference in how I feel. It’s being a mixed bag. I’m having to take a lot of extra drugs and I don’t like it. But I have to do something…

I’ve been trying to cut back on my morphine lately and it’s not going as well as I’d hoped. I take a large dose of extended release tablets so I can’t cut them in half and I have to go down a lot each dose. I went down a dose and I did OK, but I hurt a bit more. Then I went down another dose and did pretty well but I hurt even more. And my mood was getting bad.

When I went down the third dose I hurt too much and my mood started to go to hell. I was so depressed I was suicidal as I wrote in my last post. I couldn’t maintain well at all and was having a hard time holding onto my good feelings. So I decided that maybe it’s time to go back up on them again. I started out with one dose a few days ago and it’s already changed my moods. I hurt less.

Many of you may know that they used to give opiates for mood control back in the day. They did it because it works, tho the side effects are too dangerous to use it as a mood stabilizer and it kinda freaks me out that I’ve had this reaction to cutting back on my doses. I don’t want to be dependent on opiates for my moods as well as my pain control.

I haven’t spoken to my doctor about all this yet but I will next month when I see him. And if I can cut it back more slowly maybe I can do it and be OK. But it scares me to do it and have so much more pain and instability in my mood when I cut back. I take a large dose of opiates every day just to be alright and I see why I need that much when I stop them a bit now and then.

It’s good to check it out occasionally just to be sure I still need such a high dose. This experiment is telling me that maybe I can take a little bit less but not much. I need help to figure it out I think. I want to take less opiates for several reasons but it may not be possible for me. I may just have to live with it. Sigh….

But getting back to my story about the link between pain and mental health… In order to be OK with this kind of double whammy you really have to take good care of yourself. It’s so difficult to do when you know you need exercise, for instance, but you’re too tired to do it and you’re too depressed anyway, so why bother?

What a terrible attitude that can be. It’s not intentional it’s just the way it is. I have to work extra hard to do things that keep me limber and stretched out so I can feel looser when it gets so that I start to hurt. That requires a lot of exercise on my part and I don’t always do what I need to do. It’s not good.

So I try to stretch most every day and go for walks with my partner who also needs the exercise and it’s good we can do it together. We do the stretches that way too and work out on our weight machine in the garage when the weather allows us to. It’s been chilly here lately so it’s been hard to do that part of it.

Having both pain and a mental health condition requires you to always be on your best behavior. Even when you don’t feel like it you have to try. I know that sounds like a simple answer but it’s all we have. If we don’t take care of ourselves no one else will, and we live in pain and suffering and never gain our full potential. Pain holds us back as do our moods. When they conjoin it’s doubly hard.

Depression hurts all by itself they say, and I don’t know how much my pain is caused by that and how much is the back and body injuries that I have. Like I say it’s hard to tease them apart. Either one can precipitate a flare up – of depression or of pain. Either one can lead to the other in a loop effect that is always there. It feels like there’s no escape, and I guess there’s not. Triggers are everywhere.

But they say Living Well is the Best Revenge, and it’s true for suffering too. Living a good life and taking good care of yourself can go a long way towards alleviating both the pain and the depression when they take a hold of your life and turn it inside out.

It’s not the life I thought I’d be leading at this age but it’s what I’ve got and I’m so grateful for it. Now if I can just stay OK for a little while. I’d like to make it into the new year in one piece… ;)

Be as well as you can be,

Steve


Filed under: Bipolar, Chronic Intractable Pain, Depression, Health, Illness, Medications, Mental Health Tagged: Bipolar, chronic intractable pain, Illness, mental-health, recurrent depression

Just keep on taking the tablets



Sometimes I wonder what the fuck I'm doing when actually I know exactly what I'm doing. It's not that long ago that I wrote a post about how important medication is in helping to control my bipolar. I guess that's how I saw it at the time. I don't feel the same about it right now. I've decided to wean myself off my medication. I've been feeling like crap for months now. I feel physically ill and I'm convinced it's to do with my medication. I'm always thinking about stopping it. I think about it at least once a week when I'm decanting a shit load of pills into daily compartments. I think about it when I feel so physically tired it's an effort to get up. I think about it when I look at myself I the mirror and can't see that "spark" I always had. I think about it when I get headaches and constipation and nausea and spots and a horrible taste in my mouth and, and, and....I get it into my head that if I could just get rid of all the crap they keep pumping into me I could start to think clearly and sort myself out, physically and mentally. Maybe just maybe they got it all wrong and there's nothing wrong with me. Maybe all my bipolar symptoms are caused by all the mind altering rubbish they keep expecting me to swallow. Well, obviously saying I haven't got bipolar is pretty stupid but to what degree have I got it?  I managed most of my life without anything drastic happening. My ups and downs were just part of who I was. It was only when I was given antidepressants that the real problems started. I haven't felt right for so long now I owe it to myself to give myself a chance. Part of me knows I'm taking a huge risk but an even bigger part of me thinks it's worth it. All they do is bang on about how you must keep on taking the pills. Don't come off your medication without talking to your doctor. What's the point of talking to my doctor? I know what he'll say. I need my medication. I'll get ill without it. Well I've been ill with it. I've been up and down and all over the place for months and months. I'm convinced it caused my heart attack. I can't do it anymore. I seriously can't. I don't want to stop because I think I'm better, I want to stop because I'm not.  Maybe I am being irresponsible by not talking to the psychiatrist but he's a locum, he doesn't know me and I can't stand him. Sometimes you just have to go with your own instinct. I'm not bothered about being on medication if I really need it but that's the whole point, do I really need it? I don't think so. I don't think it's really helping me anymore. I don't think it really did in the first place. I've had enough of feeling shit. I've had enough of crappy side effects. I've read about how people can control their bipolar med free. I've come off the Quetiapine. I was pretty impatient and did it virtually cold turkey. It's now 4.30 am and I haven't slept a wink. I feel really ill. I've got the "jitters", I feel sick and I've got the headache from hell. Well last week I felt sick and headachey all week anyway. See, if this is what it does to you when you're trying to get off the stuff just think of what it does long term taking the stuff. I'm sure it will pass and I'm sure it will be worth it. I have to keep telling myself that. I'm starting to feel a bit scared now but I'm determined to keep at it. Once I've been off the Quetiapine for a couple of weeks I'll maybe think about weaning myself off of the Lithium. I haven't decided yet. I've never really had a problem with Lithium. I've never had bad side effects from Lithium. It's the Quetiapine that has always concerned me.
I haven't told anyone I'm doing it except for one friend who I knew would understand. It would have been too much hassle. I know I'm going to get lectures and all sorts now but when it boils down to it, it's up to me. I'm not a child, I'm not about to run riot. I'm not a danger to myself or anyone else. I'm a grown woman with a mind of my own. Now it's done and I think I'm ok. Time will tell.
They say that life with bipolar is better with medication. My life isn't that great with it. I'm willing to take my chances. I won't know unless I try.
I'm not taking this lightly. I have thought about it carefully. I'm not doing it on a whim. I know that there is a huge risk involved. I have thought about the consequences for me and my family and friends if it all goes horribly wrong but I'm not expecting it to go horribly wrong. I have enough knowledge now to recognise how I'm feeling. Ffs that's what I seem to spend most of my life doing, analysing my moods. I just want to forget about it and have a life.

By writing this I'm not in any way advocating that anyone should stop taking their medication. For some it could be catastrophic. It's just my own personal view and experience.

Just keep on taking the tablets



Sometimes I wonder what the fuck I'm doing when actually I know exactly what I'm doing. It's not that long ago that I wrote a post about how important medication is in helping to control my bipolar. I guess that's how I saw it at the time. I don't feel the same about it right now. I've decided to wean myself off my medication. I've been feeling like crap for months now. I feel physically ill and I'm convinced it's to do with my medication. I'm always thinking about stopping it. I think about it at least once a week when I'm decanting a shit load of pills into daily compartments. I think about it when I feel so physically tired it's an effort to get up. I think about it when I look at myself I the mirror and can't see that "spark" I always had. I think about it when I get headaches and constipation and nausea and spots and a horrible taste in my mouth and, and, and....I get it into my head that if I could just get rid of all the crap they keep pumping into me I could start to think clearly and sort myself out, physically and mentally. Maybe just maybe they got it all wrong and there's nothing wrong with me. Maybe all my bipolar symptoms are caused by all the mind altering rubbish they keep expecting me to swallow. Well, obviously saying I haven't got bipolar is pretty stupid but to what degree have I got it?  I managed most of my life without anything drastic happening. My ups and downs were just part of who I was. It was only when I was given antidepressants that the real problems started. I haven't felt right for so long now I owe it to myself to give myself a chance. Part of me knows I'm taking a huge risk but an even bigger part of me thinks it's worth it. All they do is bang on about how you must keep on taking the pills. Don't come off your medication without talking to your doctor. What's the point of talking to my doctor? I know what he'll say. I need my medication. I'll get ill without it. Well I've been ill with it. I've been up and down and all over the place for months and months. I'm convinced it caused my heart attack. I can't do it anymore. I seriously can't. I don't want to stop because I think I'm better, I want to stop because I'm not.  Maybe I am being irresponsible by not talking to the psychiatrist but he's a locum, he doesn't know me and I can't stand him. Sometimes you just have to go with your own instinct. I'm not bothered about being on medication if I really need it but that's the whole point, do I really need it? I don't think so. I don't think it's really helping me anymore. I don't think it really did in the first place. I've had enough of feeling shit. I've had enough of crappy side effects. I've read about how people can control their bipolar med free. I've come off the Quetiapine. I was pretty impatient and did it virtually cold turkey. It's now 4.30 am and I haven't slept a wink. I feel really ill. I've got the "jitters", I feel sick and I've got the headache from hell. Well last week I felt sick and headachey all week anyway. See, if this is what it does to you when you're trying to get off the stuff just think of what it does long term taking the stuff. I'm sure it will pass and I'm sure it will be worth it. I have to keep telling myself that. I'm starting to feel a bit scared now but I'm determined to keep at it. Once I've been off the Quetiapine for a couple of weeks I'll maybe think about weaning myself off of the Lithium. I haven't decided yet. I've never really had a problem with Lithium. I've never had bad side effects from Lithium. It's the Quetiapine that has always concerned me.
I haven't told anyone I'm doing it except for one friend who I knew would understand. It would have been too much hassle. I know I'm going to get lectures and all sorts now but when it boils down to it, it's up to me. I'm not a child, I'm not about to run riot. I'm not a danger to myself or anyone else. I'm a grown woman with a mind of my own. Now it's done and I think I'm ok. Time will tell.
They say that life with bipolar is better with medication. My life isn't that great with it. I'm willing to take my chances. I won't know unless I try.
I'm not taking this lightly. I have thought about it carefully. I'm not doing it on a whim. I know that there is a huge risk involved. I have thought about the consequences for me and my family and friends if it all goes horribly wrong but I'm not expecting it to go horribly wrong. I have enough knowledge now to recognise how I'm feeling. Ffs that's what I seem to spend most of my life doing, analysing my moods. I just want to forget about it and have a life.

By writing this I'm not in any way advocating that anyone should stop taking their medication. For some it could be catastrophic. It's just my own personal view and experience.

At The Crossroads of Everything

Ah, me.  Here I sit in my recliner, hairy golden Lhasa Apso Noga under my right elbow.  I’m sixty years old.  Sixty years old!   The half-way point. How did that happen?

It happened long, and it happened fast.  I have lived very fast.  I have lived several lives in tandem.  If you added it up, I’d be at least 180.  So I shouldn’t complain about a bit of arthritis here and there, and that my skin seems to be attempting to slide off my bones onto the floor.

Yeah.  I was watching G4 skiing the other day.  I never watch TV unless I’m at my parents’.  For one thing, I don’t have one.  For another, I think it’s a waste of my time.  I have books to write, blogs to write, paperwork not to get done.

Where was I?  Ah yes, G4 in Park City, Utah.  I lived in northern Utah for two years.  It was heaven, in a way.  Everyone walked around in spurs, like Chester in Gunsmoke.  Jingle, jingle.  I walked around in spurs too.  Don’t ever squat with your spurs on!

I brought four of my 19 horses with me when we moved from the horse farm in Ohio out to Utah.   We lived in a suburban neighborhood. Instead of manicured back yards people had barns and horse corrals.  Us too.  You’d look out the window and see somebody riding a horse down the street.  It was surreal.  Pretty soon I was doing it myself.

Everyone but us was Mormon.  I’m used to being the only Hebrew in a Christian environment, but I have never lived in a completely homogeneous population before.  It was like a pure culture.  That was their intention.  They were fascinating people, and I learned a lot from them.

One of the things I learned about was a little-known ski area that was just for the locals.  It had over 4000 acres of skiable terrain, 2200 of which were groomed.   The rest back bowl.

I started on the Bunny Hill.  I learned by watching the three-year-olds fearlessly snowplowing around, without poles.  Then I decided to take a lesson.

The instructor took me right up to the top of the mountain.  You had to ride three different ski lifts to get there.  It was snowing so hard I couldn’t see my skis hanging on the footrest.

I had never been on a real ski lift before, only rope tows.  A real ski lift requires swift and precise action to get on and off, if one does not want to find oneself face down in the snow.  Getting on was terrifying; getting off, heart-stopping.  Every time.

I got addicted and ended up skiing five days a week, from 11 to 2, during ski season, which goes from late September to June, sometimes July, there.  Nothing like it.  No-thing. Like. It.  It’s like flying, falling down a hill standing up (mostly).

What does this have to do with being at the crossroads of everything?  We Hebes, when someone has a birthday, we say “Ad Meah v’Esrim” which means “you should live to be a hundred and twenty,” which is the age Moses lived to be.  I always add, “B’simcha ve’rav bri’ut,” “with happiness and abundant good health.” So here I sit at sixty.  The half-way point between zero and 120.  And I wonder what will be.  Could it be a new beginning?  Or the beginning of the end?

It says in the Torah that Moses retained the strength of a youth until his dying day.

Well, I am sad to say that ain’t the case with me.

Some of it’s my own fault, because lately I have become a lazy slug.  When I wasn’t a lazy slug, I was tearing around on skis and horses and acquiring my share of bangs, biffs, knees surgeries, wrist surgeries, oh hell, I get bored with the list.  A good deal of my physical debility is due to some weird autoimmune plague that has not been pinned down, but several doctors have told me that whatever it is has to be autoimmune.  OK.  I don’t give a rat’s ass what’s causing my immune system to crash and burn–I am the only person I know who has had FIVE HIV tests–all of them negative.  I just want to be able to pick myself up and do whatever I want to, like I used to.

If I could just wake up and see that ol’ chair lift coming at me right at waist level, I’d know I was dead and jump right on that thing.  Woo-hoo!  Take me to the blue slopes, please, the blacks hurt my knees.

So who the hell cares about skiing but me?  Who cares about Latin dancing, camping trips on horseback in Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Utah…who cares about that shit besides me?  Probably nobody.

I really don’t want to live to 120.   I think 74 is a good age to go.  The Vedic astrologer (we Hebes are not supposed to go in for things that belong to other religions, but hey, I’m an anthropologist and besides I’m not so observant as I once was)– the Vedic astrologer who did my chart when I was in India gave me between 72 and 74.

That would be fine.  I don’t want to live a real long time, because the toll this disease has taken on my body and my mind makes me weary.  What can I do to break out of this state of the doldrums?

I guess I could get another horse; but it has to be a Peruvian Paso like the one I used to have, Joe Crow.  Man, he was an equine ATV.  One time we got chased by a Basque shepherd in the High Uintas range in Utah.  The Uintas are one of the very few mountain ranges that run East-West.  Anyway, I was riding Joe with my 130 lb. German Shepherd, Nero, by my side.  We came upon a herd of sheep, guarded by two enormous Great Pyrenees dogs.  They’re pure white, about the size of a St. Bernard, and they take their job as herd guardians seriously.

Nero wanted to go confabulate with them a bit, but I could tell from the murderous looks in their eyes that that was not a good idea, so I called him back.

Just happened to be a shepherd on horseback around the bend, who heard me, and came after me with a lecherous look in his eye.  The Basques don’t bring their women with them when they go out shepherding for weeks at a time, living in caravans that look like a wine cask stuck on the back of a truck.  So when this one saw me, he came after me at a dead gallop.

Joe did his signature 180 turn and took off like the devil was after him (he was), and when we hit the trail into the forest, the one we had just come out of, Joe took a sharp right and went straight up the mountainside.  Nero was right there with us.  Joe stopped in a grove of trees, heaving, and we watched the shepherd try to get his horse to follow our trail straight up.  If I hadn’t been so freaked out I would have laughed.

After a fruitless while, the shepherd desisted and meandered back toward his sheep, and Joe picked his way down the mountainside.  Joe was a horse who could take over the wheel when need be.

We headed back toward camp at a fair clip, and my heart stopped pounding in my ears and went back down in my chest to pound.  Suddenly Joe pulled up short and froze.  There, in the middle of the trail at eye level, was the enormous head and rack of a bull moose.  Do you know how deadly moose are?  Cow moose with calves are the most dangerous, but a bull moose, especially in rutting season, is very happy to run you over like a locomotive.

Curiously, the moose and Joe seemed to be having a conversation.  The moose was not at all interested in me.  After they had talked over whatever it was, Mr. Moose courteously moved aside to let Joe, Nero and I pass.  The rest of the trip was uneventful, thank God.

And do you know what?  That was 15 years ago.  15 years ago I was in top physical condition, and I didn’t even know it.  A lot of my energy was driven by hypomania, ah, that delightful state of feeling immortal!  And of course I got myself fired from my job in Utah, and instead of doing what I should have done, which was to go into partnership with a couple in Park City (another ski town in Utah) when they invited me, I decided it was time to try living near my parents again, and came to North Carolina–the first time.  That was in ’98.

But I could still do anything, anything at all, so I built a solo pediatrics practice from the ground up.  I like to do that sort of thing.  And I worked there in state somehow melding devastating depression and blissful contentment until a missionary group bought my hospital, and my building, and kicked me out, and I had a breakdown and had to go to the hospital and have never been the same since.  That was in 2000.

So much has happened since–it does seem like several more lives have passed, some frenetic, some catatonic.  Now I’m a card-carrying recluse.  It suits my suddenly-elderly Aspie temperament.  One small dog, no indoor plumbing, quiet except for the roar of the river on the small waterfall beneath my window, and the God-awful hooting of the damn trains that run on the other side of the river.

What’s going to happen next?  Dad is nearing the end of his life.  When he leaves the planet, then I have to do something with Mom and the museum that serves them for a house.  And then, back Home.  Jerusalem.  My Home.  But my faith is weak: what, I ask myself, if we lose Jerusalem once more, and then there is no more Home?  What if my health betrays me, and I can’t manage the hard life there?  Life in Israel is very rough.  It’s unforgiving, physically, and the spiritual power that rests over all of it and especially Jerusalem, can either make you or break you.  So far for me, it’s about Jerusalem 5, me 1, but at least I have a toehold.

And now I feel that I am standing at that ol’ Robert Johnson crossroads, looking the devilin the eye.  They say that Robert Johnson met the devil at the crossroads, and made that “devil’s deal” with him: if you make me the best blues guitarist ever, then my soul is yours.  The devil laughed, and made it so.  Johnson rocketed from being a novice player to a master musician in two years (of course he practiced a lot ;-) ).  Robert Johnson lived to be 27 years old, but according to Eric Clapton, who with his band Cream covered Crossroads, he was, by the time of his death from unclear yet certainly sinister causes, the greatest blues guitarist in history.

Standing at the crossroads, what will I do?  We Hebrews do not believe in a “devil,” so to speak.  I believe we live or die by our own hand: the “hand” we’re dealt at birth–genetics, temperament, intelligence, social situation, and so on–and our own “hand,” which is what we do with what we’ve been handed.  The hotter the fire, the quicker the fuel is burned up.  And my fire has burned mighty hot.  I don’t feel like there’s much left in me.  I feel as if my 120 year allotment has been folded in half, and I’m standing at the crossroads looking out into deep space, wondering what is going to happen to me.


Unaware

My dad took my kid for two days to do some holiday stuff. I’ve been yearning for a break for ages. I was going to do this and that, including write in my story I’ve been obsessively working on for 2 months…

Then BAM! Mood shift. No cause. No warning. I’m just caught unaware yet again. I am trying to find it and it’s not happening. I am back in sit and stare off into space territory.

It’s making me anxious because I so rarely get time to myself, or at least time to do my own thing and not feel like a bad mom. Tick tock goes the clock. I need to DO something. Now. I have the time.

Why won’t my brain cooperate? I survived another week,ffs. I deserve a little unwind time. Why did the mood shift now of all times? Not a single thing happened. I ate nothing, drank nothing, saw no one. Just suddenly…the mental space I was in earlier…

has become THIS.

Earlier I felt half heartedly functional, even faced the mail box and went grocery shopping.

Now…

I am vacant. I am nothing. I cannot describe how I feel because I feel nothing but low and lower because I don’t even know why I feel this way. And society demands an explanation. The living hell is that with mental illness, especially mood disorders, more often than not there is no reason and no amount of trying to find some mythological trigger is going to help. This is the nature of the beast.

THIS is why I get so defensive about people copping an attitude toward me over this disorder. They think it;s some crutch to avoid things I don’t like.

Fact is it impacts every aspect of my existence, including the things that I love.

What is galling me more than anything now is that I didn;t see it coming. I was once again caught unaware.


Lost And Confused

    So, I am not feeling particularly bad about divorcing my ex-husband right now. In fact, we belong to the same Buddhist community and he introduced to this form of Buddhism. Our community is divided across the city into smaller groups or Districts. I am now and have been the Women’s District leader for […]