Daily Archives: December 31, 2013

The Year in Review

This year I…
confessed that I had bipolar disorder.
started yoga.
found my voice as a mental health advocate during Mental Health Month in May.
had my first psychotic episode.
was “upgraded” from Bipolar II to Bipolar I. (I’m allowed to joke about it, ok?)
finished high school.
skipped prom and graduation.
organized and photographed the “What Does Mental Illness Look Like?” photo shoot with a group of beautiful friends.
moved in at Towson.
started college as an unhappy Chemistry major and finished my first semester as an excited English major.
experienced real heartbreak.
had a manic episode that resulted in hospitalization.
learned some powerful life lessons (and a few academic ones too).
was a mental health panelist at a NAMI event. 
Pardon the shadows. I was taking pictures very late at night in my bedroom.
So what’s going to happen next year? I have quite a few ideas!
I am participating in a 365 day photo project. You can stay updated by following or bookmarking my new tumblr. I’ll be documenting my days as well as experimenting/doing whatever I feel like doing. That will all be happening here: http://theawkwardindiegirl365.tumblr.com/
I will be launching a BRAND NEW website that is currently untitled. It will be a place to share the faces and stories of individuals affected by mental illness, including survivors, family members, friends, significant others, etc. I will not be launching the website for a while, but I have already started compiling content. It’s going to be rad.
I will be focusing a lot of my efforts on collaboration. There are so many talented and unique individuals that are a part of my community, online and real world. I want to connect with these powerful people and make a difference.
At some point I also have to fit in the 18 credits’ worth of classes I’m taking, Active Minds, and finishing my book.
Oh wait – I didn’t tell you? I’m also writing a book.
2014 is going to be jam-packed full of awesome.

Plethora of Suck

Spent two days functioning at sub basement level. Meaning, barely. Mood in the gutter, mind cluttered with every negative thought it could dredge up. It amazes me how my mind waits until I am on the precipice of complete breakdown…THEN it decides NOW is the perfect time to reflect on every failed relationship, every failed job, every wrong ever committed. And in an altered state, the damage is immense. I ended up in the fetal position under a blanket two straight nights because I literally couldn’t handle any more consciousness, any more of my own self torture.

Today has been better, though I think mostly due to the fact that if I survive this last day I can kiss the wretched year 2013 goodbye forever. People scoff and ask what I have to complain about, what happened that was so bad, it’s all in your attitude and how you look at it. Okay, well, even at my best I am CERTAIN having my home invaded and my shit stolen is a bad thing. Meds failing is a bad thing. Rampant anxiety and depression are bad things. Bad bad bad all year long for the most part. What happened to be happy about? Oh, right, I am still breathing, let’s have a parade for that miracle.

No one gets it. It’s about mental state because it adds to quality of life or lack thereof. If your mind is encased in darkness, sucking the joy even out of good things no matter how hard you are fighting it, well it tends to taint and color everything. I resent being labeled a pessimist. Because I’ve earned my pessimism by having more bad than good happen. Still, my outlook has been positively great even when waking up to find myself suddenly a single mom- because my mental state was not in this abysmal place. At the same time, I have had times when everything was awesome but the depression drained it all and it was all bad and would forever be bad.

Mental state.

Good riddance to 2013. May 2014 be better. I have no resolutions. I only want meds that work so I can survive. It seems modest yet so impossible a goal.

In my evil moments,I fantasize about mental illness being contagious. So I could just shake someone’s hand and let them take a walk in my world for a day or two. Let them finally see and ‘get it’. It’s mean and yet it’s realistic because until I can find people able to grasp the depth and severity of the illness…I am forever going to be resentful of being dismissed as this jumble of behavioral and personality problems. I have those, no doubt, but everything seems to start and end with the mental stuff I can’t get a grip on. Let my critics walk in my shoes a couple of miles. Maybe I will be more humane and not mock them and push them and make them feel like absolute pieces of shit.

Maybe not.

My mood is not great today. But my head seems clearer, the “you are a loser” thoughts have subsided. The anxiety is a quiet thrum. I have already done the functional facade thing. Get dressed, go out, wash dishes, cook lunch. Hollow little victories but victories just the same. Things others take for granted, things that are like climbing mountains when at war with your own mind, when your mind keeps telling you things are one way when they are another.My contrary mind.

Happy New Year.

I still want a new brain.


Empathy

This short video made the rounds on Facebook a while  back.  In fact, I may have even published it before. But, none of that matters because it’s good enough to share again.  This is an excellent video to share with friends and family.  It may help them to be more sympathetic towards your living with metal … Continue reading »

Burn – Elle Goulding

We’re gonna let it Burn! We are going to let them know we are here in 2014! No more excuses. No more suffering from this illnesses. No more letting your mind get you. We’ll be raising our hands, shouting up to the skies!

CUZ WE GOT THAT FIRE, FIRE, FIRE

..and we’re going to let it burn.

Happy and safe New Year’s Eve, my friends..


2013: The Year That Was

And I’d thought 2012 was bad……all I had to worry about then was adjusting to my big, bad bipolar diagnosis and playing lab rat for all the necessary experimentation with meds. Now my whining about that year sounds like schoolgirl hyperbole compared with what I want to say about this one.

In fact, 2013′s only saving grace is that it’s ending on a high note. The rest of it, basically, has SUCKED. What good is there in a twelve-month span of time that sees your husband diagnosed with stage IV cancer? That includes going street-rat crazy and losing the best job you ever had? That plunges you back into poverty and forces you to go begging for medical care, a decent job, and some self-esteem?

Almost everything that could’ve gone wrong this year, did. I should’ve known it would be a shitty year when it started with a stomach virus that (literally) brought me to my knees. It only got worse with the passage of time, as the stress of my job wound my nerves so tight that they finally snapped and I barely escaped hospitalization. The resulting damage to my professional reputation was so great that it not only cost me my position, but fundamentally changed the way I thought about myself and my career.

Then my sister fell here at home and needed to move to assisted living, which was a clusterfuck in every sense of the word. She was being overmedicated and her mind was turning to mush at a time when I needed her wisdom badly, as I was still trying to make sense of what was happening to me. We fought like cats and dogs the entire time she was in the nursing home, and it didn’t help that I was hypo/manic all summer…..she doesn’t respond well to me when I’m in that condition, and I don’t respond well to her not responding well. We’re OK now, but things were pretty tense for awhile there.

I’m also still unhappy that I used that friction as an excuse for overdosing on Ativan and blowing almost twenty-two years of complete sobriety. I look back at that and wonder what in the hell I was thinking when I took those tablets and then told Will what I’d done. Now I can’t celebrate my “sobriety birthday” on January 1st like I did for over two decades, because in the strictest sense of the word I’ve only been sober for three months and one day. I HATE it that I’ve had to start over…..but what’s done is done, and there’s no use pissing and moaning about it now.

And then to top it all off, Will was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which made everything else that happened this year look like a cakewalk. I STILL glance over at him several times a day just to make sure he’s still here and whisper a prayer of gratitude for this grace period we’re in. His primary care doctor says that if he’d had the ‘normal’ kind of pancreatic tumor, he wouldn’t be here now. Thank God that if he had to get this terrible disease, he got the rare form that can be stopped, if not cured!

The other big thing that happened this year was, of course, leaving clinical nursing to take a HUGE leap of faith into the unknown. It’s not as if I had a choice; I knew as far back as a couple of years ago that my days as an active, working nurse were numbered, but when things came to a head in midsummer I realized I had to go sooner rather than later. Again, thank God I had enough smarts to listen to the “still, small voice” in all of us that tells us the truth, even when we don’t want to hear it. I was nursing on borrowed time those last six months, and knowing my patients are safer in the care of other nurses who DON’T have all this mental stuff going on will help me sleep much better at night.

Speaking of which: another good thing is finally having developed some discipline in the self-care arena. As much as I hate to admit it, Dr. A was right—going to bed and getting up at the same times every day IS crucial to balanced moods. Nothing else has worked as well to get me where I am today. I think a major reason is that the routine makes it much easier to take my meds at the same times each day, which also promotes stability. It’s certainly cheaper than a lot of the other methods I have to employ (can we say psych appointments?). But of course no one’s suggesting that all my issues can be fixed with a little sleep and a good routine……oh, boy, do I know better than THAT now.

Which brings me to what I think the take-home lesson of 2013 is, and that’s acceptance: of my illness, of the need for consistency in my life, of the good and bad things that happen…..and of the fact that I am a deeply flawed, but decent human being.

Welcome, 2014!


Sit down and shut up!