Daily Archives: December 19, 2013

I Can’t Stop the Cynic in Me

I walk a very thin line of trying to keep up with world news enough to not be completely ignorant and in the dark about important stuff, but not enough to let it wreak havoc on my mental health. Right now, it is all harmful to me. I know ignoring it and pretending life is wonderful for all is ridiculous, and impossible. But it is just as impossible to make sense of anything anymore. Everyone has their own opinion about everything; facts are an ancient art form that have been so muddled and scraped over by false interpretations and political agendas that the fragments of truth don’t even form half the picture. So, what do we do with these table scraps? I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. Some say pray, and I’m all for the positivity of prayer, but it doesn’t seem to be quite enough. Because prayer requires action, not just some pretty words and a coin in the bucket. Prayer is the easy part. You don’t even have to believe in a god to pray. But to make any difference at all, what can we do, and for what purpose? And who can say that purpose is even the right one? After all, there are so many sides, so many beliefs and opinions. Everyone is fighting for something different. And we are all losing.

Excerpts From Diaries Past – Tuesday December 28, 2010

This is a series that I will add to every once-in-a-while, with excerpts from past diaries…

Bipolar Disorder Seems To Eat Friends

I just found out through my student loan provider of all sources that my “best” friend no longer wishes to be used as a reference for me. I think that this individual could have at least done me the courtesy of letting me know themselves, but it would appear that mental “interestingness” eats friends without […]

The Best Bench in Town

Here in Los Angeles we have tours of the stars homes, celebrity death tours, tours of the artwork in subway stations, Hollywood Forever cemetery tours, Universal Studio Tours, and many, many more. I, however, would be happy to give you a free tour that is both interesting and practical. I can offer the Homeless tour. … Continue reading »

No, it isn’t! (Not to be confused with "No, I Don’t!"


“No, it isn’t.”
“Yes, it is.”
“No, it isn’t.”
“Yes, it is.”
“No!! It isn’t!”
“Yes! It is.”

Every few weeks I’d have this “discussion” with my hubby who insisted that my mood and energy swings were related to PMS.  To be honest, I was finally starting to see it that way, too, just before being diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder.  Of course, this was after about 15 years of marriage, so there was plenty of time to have this “discussion”.

And face it, ladies, don’t you hate having any bad mood or angry outburst attributed to being “that time of the month”?  Talk about feeling invalidated!  Like I we can’t be legitimately angry or be in a bad mood.  Since we’re women it’s only because of all these wacky hormones flowing through us.  So, naturally I wasn’t happy having any and all bad moods attributed to PMS.  And as much as I adore my husband (and I did and really, really do…couldn’t get through this without him and his support) I did occasionally actually get angry about something and became even more angry when he felt it was “just my PMS talking”. Besides, there were so many other weird symptoms that went along with the bad moods/depressive states such as sleeping a lot, feeling achy like a bad case of the flu, ear/sinus pain, and just generally feeling sick.  Well, I know now these symptoms aren’t uncommon with the downside of BPD, and even with unipolar depression.

But I did know there was something else going on. I just didn’t know what it could be.  Mental illness never crossed my mind, though I knew I had extended periods of depression.  Still, BPD is portrayed as the wild and crazy BPD I.  Very little is publicly known or publicized about BPD II, or other numbers on the spectrum trail.

So, we “discussed” it periodically.  The thing was, I knew my symptoms didn’t follow a PMS course.  My symptoms were regular, but not on a monthly cycle.  My episodes were much briefer then, as is more typical of BPD.  Short episodes of mania/hypomania and periods of depression intermixed with periods of feeling “normal” (again, whatever that is).  I loved the hypomanic state…calling it my “euphoric” period.  I was brilliant, exciting to be around, charming, creative, energetic.  These periods always followed the down period when I just couldn’t get enough sleep and felt like I was in a fog. 

I remember for our family’s 10th anniversary planning on going to dinner at a restaurant in a town about 45 minutes away.  At the time, I worked as an on-air personality and news director at a small radio station in my hometown.  After my morning shift that day, I went home and slept until about 10 minutes before my afternoon shift.  (We lived about 5 minutes away from the station.)  I went back in without doing any additional news work, completed my afternoon shift and went back home to sleep until the family came home.  The thought of driving 45 minutes to a restaurant was so tiring…just the thought was tiring.  But we did it.  It turned out to be a not so wonderful experience, but not because of my state of mind.  Just a very expensive dinner for mediocre quality Italian food.  One of those stories we can tell and understand in the family, though.  However, it was my introduction to bruschetta, and for that I am happy. It’s like Italian salsa.  Yummmmm.

I have to wonder how many other women suffer from BPD and are told it’s just hormones.  Is it more prevalent than we think? Would something a little stronger than Midol help more women deal with those energy/mood swings?  Research grant time!


(Warning: This blog post actually makes sense and flows in a decent order.  This may not be the experience on very many of my posts.  J

Dating and Relationships with Mental Illness

(I really should learn to write more imaginative titles. One day I think I’ll master that art)

Most of my friends are dating people…in serious long-term relationships, engaged, just got engaged, or are getting married soon…if not already married. Which, while I’m happy for them, it’s also not helpful for me. I mean…on some level, I look at my friends who are obsessively possessive, rude, clingy, and just generally obnoxious…and I wonder why and how they can find someone to date when they’re so obnoxious, and yet I haven’t had a boyfriend in nearly 7 years. And I know that this is extremely mean-hearted of me to think like that. I shouldn’t be annoyed at other people’s happiness.

But it does remind me of something I’ve known since I was younger.

These people…they’re “normal”. The ones out of my friends that are in relationships. They’re happy, well-adjusted, cheerful and perfectly sane. They’ve got normal lives. That’s what they’ve all got that I don’t have. I’ve known for years that I wasn’t normal, even before I knew about the bipolar and OCD, I always knew I was different. I was melancholy and “down”. I was always more somber and depressed than most people my own age.

And that’s what I’ve begun to realize. I will eventually have to tell someone that I date about my mental illness. I don’t know how to really go about that sort of thing. The couple guys I dated in high school always knew that I was depressed. I never had to explain to one of them to make him understand that I struggled with my mental health. He understood it, and even tried to help as best he could (difficult as that was, given the wrong diagnosis). The other two I dated…well they knew I was depressed, but neither one bothered to try and understand me. I think that showed me it was not worth dealing with people who cannot accept me with my mental illness.Outside of high school…I’ve gone on a few dates, all in Europe. Those were while I was in Germany, and it was just a few casual dates. There was no need to explain, because it was just for a good time out. Besides…how to explain my mental health in a language that I was not as familiar with as English, well that was not a challenge I was ready for at the time. Besides, a few casual dates did not require me informing them–I know that much.

But if I ever want to date someone for a longer period, I know eventually I need to tell the guy the fact that I have several mental illnesses. I’ve never had to do this, and I have no clue exactly how to handle the seriousness of a situation like that. I think it also concerns me in that I’ve never had to consider dating someone that hasn’t been previously aware that I have a rather serious mental illness. I’m on medication now, and I seem better…but I still have the same issues that I used to. It’s different, in that now I’ve better support and a better handle on what my issues really are, but the underlying fact is still the same.

To quite a large section of the general public, I’m damaged goods.

So dating terrifies me. I have major issues with opening up to people. Trusting people is even harder for me than opening up. So dating is already filled with landmines. Pair it with some major issues I have with the way society expects people to start promiscuously having sex with people they see after only a few dates–and you have a major case of commitment phobia. I don’t know how to handle dating when expectations run counter to what I feel is intrinsically my own moral compass. Ugh…and now I’m rambling.

Divider Grey

 

 

The point of this is that I feel like a failure in all things related to dating and relationships.

My mental health and condition limits me severely, I know this. I’m more open than I used to be…but then there’s my history with my family that has severely impacted my ability to fully immerse myself into relationships that I have. I’ve been working on this for quite a while, I am better than I used to be. I’ve gotten to where I can trust friendships, which is a huge step forward. But in terms of relationships and dating…that’s where I still feel like I’m failing.

See, I’m the eldest grandchild in my family. So my whole family (subconsciously) expects me to get married first…have kids first, do everything first. Actually, my grandpa has flat told me that he expects me to do all this first. It’s my “duty” as the eldest grandchild to be the first to do all these things. Or so says he. The rest are more subconscious about the expectations. And so…when my sister, and cousin are both happily dating guys, and my other cousin is engaged, and they’re all at least 18 months younger than me, well it makes me the huge disappointment in the family. Stupid really, since it’s not like this is some competition between us cousins. We don’t care, it’s more like the adults care.

And my mom thought she was being helpful by suggesting that I should try online dating. I know that’s logically an excellent idea. For me…with my schedule at work, and with my problems communicating in person with people, it’s a smart idea. However, I can’t help but feel like it was suggested because I’m a failure at dating in real life. Actually, what I really am is a failure at having anyone showing remote interest in me at all. I know that’s just me being overly sensitive, because there is logic to trying online dating.

Divider Grey

 

And roundabout back to the point. How to tell someone that I’m mentally ill. Dating online would help with that. It’s a lot easier to hide the signs of my disorders online than it is in person. But it still doesn’t help in my long-standing dilemma of what I do when I have to tell someone that I do have this intrinsic part of me that will never be cured. And it’s not something that garners all the attention of people, for being acceptable. My own family gets angry with me and tells me to “get over it”. So having someone else react to it, I am not sure how or when to tell another person about this part of my mind and mentality.

How do you share what is really intrinsic, but something most people don’t want to deal with? And when do you share it? Those are the kinds of questions I know I have to figure out when I actually find someone to date. I know this is all highly premature, since I still am not dating anyone…but it seriously worries me. I know that my OCD gives me compulsions that are highly visible and bound to cause comments, so that is going to come out at some time. But my bipolar disorder…that one, I don’t know how to explain it. After all, it’s hard to figure out how to explain to my family, and they’re used to a history of mental illness. Imagine if I ended up dating someone that wasn’t…I can just see how ill that would go over.

And of course, I’m massively over-thinking this. I know that. I just worry too much. Right now, all I can do is start slow and play it by ear. Which is really part of what terrifies me.

Jingle All The Way

Christmas shopping (without benefit of mania): $700+…..well, OK, a little more…..and a little more than that

Lunch out: $12.50

Being DONE with Christmas shopping a full week before Christmas: Priceless!

Well, I have a lot less jingle in my jeans, but I’m singing a happy tune tonight because I got my holiday shopping all wrapped up with a shiny red bow….and with a whole week to spare. No frantic last-minute efforts to find that elusive Super Nerf Blaster Thingie for the grandson or a model airplane for the hubby. No hasty fast-food meals in the car going over the wish lists AGAIN. Best of all, I didn’t get too frustrated or too tired this time, and I made some really good decisions.

This isn’t as simple as it sounds. Most years when I’m nearing the end of my Christmas shopping I become frazzled and start buying impulsively, spending way more than I should and not getting people the gifts they actually want. As much as I love retail therapy, shopping at Christmastime tends to make me crazy, what with the rush of traffic and other shoppers crowding the stores, but this year I did a little at a time and then finished off with a five-hour marathon today.

So I spent a little more than I’d planned. OK, quite a bit more. I always do—I build it into the budget—and I’ve never once regretted it. Seeing the delight on everyone’s faces on Christmas morning makes it more than worth all the hassle, and this year I think I did better than ever. I pretty much stuck with everybody’s lists, although I did come up with a few clever items that they didn’t ask for, but hopefully will be delighted with. You gotta love those “This is the coolest thing I never knew I wanted!” moments.

I even managed not to buy much for myself. A pair of thermal underwear and a thermal Henley shirt were all I got, because a) all I really want is to be warm, and b) Will decided that I was a good girl this year despite being sick for so much of it, and used a good portion of his Social Security check to buy presents for me.

What HE doesn’t know is that I got him something he won’t believe I actually bought, as it was expensive as hell and something I wouldn’t ordinarily have purchased. But he’s been a pretty good kid himself this year, and he deserves this…..and oh, so much more. He continues to do well and look good, his attitude remains positive, and I’m so damn glad he’s here to celebrate this Christmas with me that I’d give him the stars if he wanted them. Even if I had to climb up on a ladder to reach them. :-)

 

 


Denial is a River in Egypt

Pam Tillis co-wrote the song that goes, “Just call me Cleopatra, everybody, ’cause I’m the Queen of Denial.”  If you want to see her video, which is just wall-to-wall packed with cultural stereotypes  (somewhat embarrassing) but pretty funny, look here.   It would give Edward Said, author of Orientalism, an epileptic fit.

When I was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, I took a graduate-level seminar in Cultural Anthropology.  There, they liked to throw around words like “hermeneutics.”  When I asked what that meant, the professor grew red in the face and told me that if I didn’t know, then I shouldn’t be asking.  Hmm.  Kind of like my mother’s favorite retort when I’d ask her what I’d done to deserve punishment:  ”If you don’t know, then I’M certainly not going to tell you!

I don’t believe they knew what the word “hermeneutics” meant (it’s the theory of text interpretation, especially Biblical or scholarly).  I found out, though, quite by accident.  We were supposed to read Orientalism and write a paper on it to discuss in seminar.  So I read the book.  I thought it was a pompous, reverse-racist take on the “Western” ideas in art, music, film, and literature supposedly misrepresenting the Arab world.  But I have a nasty habit of reading footnotes and actually reading the original sources.  It takes a bit longer, but you can discover amazing things: like, for example, that the primary sources cited in the footnotes say something quite different than the author, in this case Said, made them out to be.

I brought a stack of these primary sources (we had libraries full of real books back then) to show my “hermeneutics” professor what I had found.  But oh dear, it seems I had shot a sacred cow!  For the sin of debunking Said’s theory by means of his own references (not to mention proving that he had committed a crime by misrepresenting the references as supporting his theory, when in fact they often said exactly the opposite of what he said they did), I was hauled before a tribunal (hauled before a tribunal!  I am not kidding you).  I was only a nobody undergraduate, but they didn’t want this accidental discovery of mine to get out.  I had to withdraw my paper and promise never to mention it again, if I wanted to get my degree from that venerable wellspring of hermeneutics.

Last week I wrote about the deplorable scene that erupted when I came out to my parents that I had been forced to resort to prostitution when I ran away from them at the age of 16.  So far, neither of them has asked me why I ran away.   I take that back: my father did once, when he thought he was dying, and I couldn’t bring myself to tell him.  I have wondered ever since if I did the right thing or not.  I tell myself that I didn’t want to distress him when he was so ill, but I really think it’s fear.  In fact, I know it’s fear.

The result of my revelation was a major catastrophic scene, blaming me for depriving them of their only child, and therefore I deserved whatever I got.  Not surprisingly, I had a major meltdown as a result of all that, and a flareup of physical symptoms as well as some serious PTSD flashbacks, nightmares, what have you.

I got an ugly email from my mother the next day, accusing me of accusing her of putting me out on the street to work as a prostitute (huh?), and of committing the crime of saying such things in the presence of my father, a “sick old man.”

Rather than engage with her and start a war, I rolled over like my dog does when she thinks she has done something bad, in appeasement, so I won’t scold her for peeing on the carpet.  I wrote her back and said I was sorry that she had perceived such things, that I never intended that she should perceive such things, and that I certainly never intended that she should perceive that I had accused her of such things.

Indeed, I did not roll over so far as to say that I was sorry if I hurt her or sorry to deprive her of her only child, etc., because those are delusions.  I am in no way sorry for crimes I did not commit.  I am in no way sorry that I read Said’s primary sources and exposed him as a liar, and I am in no way sorry that I came out and told my parents that I was forced to prostitute myself when I ran away from them.

Here’s what I am sorry for: I’m sorry that I don’t have the courage to tell them why I left.  I’m sorry that I don’t have the courage to face my mother and tell her that her screaming and her name-calling and her gaslighting and her growling “I can’t stand you” time and time again, drove me to the brink of suicide and I had to get out of there.  I’m sorry that I can’t tell her that for those reasons and more, I preferred to live on the street and get raped again and again.  At least that was an honest danger.

But everyone loves her.  Just today someone came to visit and was gushing about how sweet she is.  I had to get out of there.  Yes, I know that’s the way people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder operate.  They are just so sweet, such pillars of the community, such advocates for the underdog–on the outside.  But on the inside of the book, there’s a rat stinking.  A living lie that never gets past the door, and nobody is reading the footnotes.

And so, the day after the messy tribunal,  and after the non-apologetic apology, I was expecting the cold shoulder, the “silent treatment” as she likes to call it.  That’s what I can usually expect after an outburst of honesty. But wonder of wonders, she was just as cheerful and chipper as can be!  We can’t afford to actually deal with this, because I’m needed to help care for my dad, who is indeed a “sick old man.”  And it seems that we can’t afford the possible consequences of driving me away again with insults and gaslighting.  So I was spared the usual aftermath of a moment of honesty.  I can’t say it’s not a relief.  But I’m still spooky, waiting for the other shoe to fall.

So for now there is a lull in the action.  I’m debating whether to dive back into anonymity with this blog.  I’m terrified that sooner or later, she or one of her friends will find it and out me.  I mean, I’ve already outed myself, but I’m starting to regret it, because of the possible consequences.  I’m trying real hard to stay in the footnotes and not be afraid of the tribunal.  But I don’t know if I can hold out with this fear and tension much longer, because she hasn’t read the references, and wouldn’t believe them if she did.

On the other hand, what’s the price of living in fear?