Monthly Archives: December 2013

Phew ….nearly done




It's the day after Boxing Day. Well, I managed to get through Christmas without any major upset and if I'm honest I really enjoyed some of it, even without my son. When I woke up on Christmas Eve I felt more lonely and more scared than I have done for a long time. For a short time I thought how much easier it would be to just pack it all in. Put an end to it all. I always feel like that on Christmas Eve. Thankfully those feelings passed. I'm so lucky to have such great friends. It's impossible to stay miserable when you're surrounded by people that you know genuinely care. I was dreading Christmas dinner with my Mum and Dad but it was fine. They didn't mention my son and neither did I. I know they were thinking about him, he's their grandson after all but they didn't let on that they were upset. I could tell they were. They tried to make my day as happy as possible and vice versa. Even if he didn't want to see me, how could he do that to his Nan and Grandad? 
  I found it more difficult at my sisters with the rest of the family. I always feel like the odd one out. Probably because I am the odd one out! It's nothing that they do, it's just me. Again no one mentioned my son. He's the oldest of five grandchildren. They were all there. It was almost as if he didn't exist. Obviously I didn't hear a word from him. Not even a text. I knew I wouldn't but I kept hoping. That hurts. I've no idea where he was or what he was doing. If something really bad had happened to him I'm sure I would have heard. One of the most important people in my life and now he's gone. Just disappeared. He's homeless, he's got no money, not even benefits, he's cut off from all his family and he's feeding a heroin addiction. Something will happen, I know it. I don't want to think about it but something will happen and I doubt it will be good.
Now all I have to do is get through New Year and I can draw a line under this bloody awful year. I used to love New Years Eve. I loved the parties and getting drunk and singing Auld Lang Syne. I loved the excitement and anticipation of what the future might hold. I think I should just stay in and go to bed early this year. God knows why I think it will be any different when I wake up. It's just another day. I guess we all have high hopes for the new year. I'm not going to make a whole load of resolutions. I've got stuff that I want to do and I'm going to try my hardest but I'm not going to set myself up to fail either. I'm not going to take anything for granted.
Considering everything I feel like my mood had settled a bit now. I cried a bit today, well a lot but I think it was more relief. Relief that Christmas is over. I'm not going to let things get to me. I am a strong person and I know next year will still have its problems but I am determined not to let Bipolar get in my way. I'm not going to let it make things more difficult than they already are. I can't control it completely but if I am careful I am feeling hopeful that things won't be as bad. I don't think I could cope with the constant changes in my mood that I've had over the last few months. I feel ok now without the medication. I keep changing my mind on that one but I'm going to stick with my decision. I'm not going to let doctors or psychiatrists or anyone else dictate how I deal with it. 

Phew ….nearly done




It's the day after Boxing Day. Well, I managed to get through Christmas without any major upset and if I'm honest I really enjoyed some of it, even without my son. When I woke up on Christmas Eve I felt more lonely and more scared than I have done for a long time. For a short time I thought how much easier it would be to just pack it all in. Put an end to it all. I always feel like that on Christmas Eve. Thankfully those feelings passed. I'm so lucky to have such great friends. It's impossible to stay miserable when you're surrounded by people that you know genuinely care. I was dreading Christmas dinner with my Mum and Dad but it was fine. They didn't mention my son and neither did I. I know they were thinking about him, he's their grandson after all but they didn't let on that they were upset. I could tell they were. They tried to make my day as happy as possible and vice versa. Even if he didn't want to see me, how could he do that to his Nan and Grandad? 
  I found it more difficult at my sisters with the rest of the family. I always feel like the odd one out. Probably because I am the odd one out! It's nothing that they do, it's just me. Again no one mentioned my son. He's the oldest of five grandchildren. They were all there. It was almost as if he didn't exist. Obviously I didn't hear a word from him. Not even a text. I knew I wouldn't but I kept hoping. That hurts. I've no idea where he was or what he was doing. If something really bad had happened to him I'm sure I would have heard. One of the most important people in my life and now he's gone. Just disappeared. He's homeless, he's got no money, not even benefits, he's cut off from all his family and he's feeding a heroin addiction. Something will happen, I know it. I don't want to think about it but something will happen and I doubt it will be good.
Now all I have to do is get through New Year and I can draw a line under this bloody awful year. I used to love New Years Eve. I loved the parties and getting drunk and singing Auld Lang Syne. I loved the excitement and anticipation of what the future might hold. I think I should just stay in and go to bed early this year. God knows why I think it will be any different when I wake up. It's just another day. I guess we all have high hopes for the new year. I'm not going to make a whole load of resolutions. I've got stuff that I want to do and I'm going to try my hardest but I'm not going to set myself up to fail either. I'm not going to take anything for granted.
Considering everything I feel like my mood had settled a bit now. I cried a bit today, well a lot but I think it was more relief. Relief that Christmas is over. I'm not going to let things get to me. I am a strong person and I know next year will still have its problems but I am determined not to let Bipolar get in my way. I'm not going to let it make things more difficult than they already are. I can't control it completely but if I am careful I am feeling hopeful that things won't be as bad. I don't think I could cope with the constant changes in my mood that I've had over the last few months. I feel ok now without the medication. I keep changing my mind on that one but I'm going to stick with my decision. I'm not going to let doctors or psychiatrists or anyone else dictate how I deal with it. 

Resolution 2014

20131226-235804.jpg

Yeah. This needs to happen in 2014.

My word for 2014 is MODERATION

What’s your resolution? What’s your word?


‘Twas The Day After Christmas

…..and all through our home, the only critters stirring were the dogs and their bones.

Well, the bones themselves weren’t actually stirring, but between our Pug and my sister’s Pomeranian, there’s been a major bone of contention. They’re both spoiled rotten, and they’re both ”only dogs” so they get plenty of loving attention at home. But put the two of them together, and you’ve got the cheapest entertainment on the planet! They chase each other round and round, play-fight, and then they REALLY fight—usually over a place on one of our laps.

Having a guest dog is a lot of fun, though. This morning I had two dogs greet me at the top of the stairs when I came up for breakfast—Louise’s dog makes friends easily, and she got attached to me within about 30 seconds after our first meeting at Louise’s apartment. However, resident dog Zinnia does NOT like to share the spotlight, and the emotion shows clearly on her little puggy face when any of us is caught petting Lulu.

Right now they’re both asleep on the sofa with my sister seated between them. Thankfully they’re pretty good about sharing the humans, but there’s always an undercurrent of jealousy, even on the part of little Lulu. Overall, however, it’s been really enjoyable, and of course now I want a second dog, even though it wouldn’t be smart to get one when we’re so unsettled as to whether we’re going to stay in the house we’ve lived in for almost eleven years or move closer to my work. We may have a hard time finding a place that’ll take even one dog, let alone two, and Zin may not appreciate it either, despite the fact that she makes a halfway decent hostess.

Yes, it’s been a great Christmas week, with plenty of love and laughter and waaay too much food. The pounds that accompanied my three-week Zyprexa adventure brought some friends with them, and now I want the holiday season to be over with so I don’t have to be tempted with cookies, candied yams, eggnog and other stuff I don’t usually eat. And once again, I’m thankful that Zyprexa is only a visitor in my life and not a year-round companion…..I swear I’d weigh 400 pounds if it were. 

Speaking of which…..the way things have been for the past several weeks, it feels like my last bout with mania and then depression happened in the distant past, instead of only a couple of months ago. This is another reason why I’m glad I’ve stuck with this blog; it keeps me humble and reminds me that I can never relax my vigilance, because there WILL be future mood episodes and I need to be able to recognize the warning signs so I can take action before they get away from me. 

Last night my son’s mother-in-law (who also follows the blog) told me she can always tell when I’m off my bird by the way I structure my sentences—she said I “zigzag” between subjects at a blinding speed, and she can almost hear me running off at the mouth. So I went back through some of my old posts from times when I was manic, and I was instantly embarrassed: some of that stuff is so tangential that even I can barely understand it!

Thus I thank you, Constant Reader, for following bpnurse and putting up with me when my thoughts are rocketing around the universe like a giant Ping-Pong ball. Happy Holidays, and may 2014 be better for all of us.

 


A Song for My Sister

My sister and I are separated by nearly 2000 miles. But, as is often the case with sisters, there is an unbreakable bond and there’s rarely a day I do not feel surrounded by her love and support. She is one of the most giving, loving, amazing and beautiful people ever to grace my life and I thank God every day for her.

My sister and I do not look alike, she takes after mom while I look more like dad. She’s definitely more of a girly girl than me, but we’re very much alike in other ways. We both wear our hearts on our sleeves, give to others far more than we ever get back and both still have that dream of finding “the one”.  I wish right now I could say that we both have that one person in our lives. Instead, my sister and I are alike in finding ourselves tired, sad and heartbroken after giving our hearts and getting them back broken. In her instance, she’s tried and tried to make things work, but circumstances seem to keep interfering. In my instance, it’s once again losing my heart to someone totally ill suited for me. Did I mention my sister and I both adore firefighters? Yup, we’re a little too alike sometimes…

I heard this song recently and it made me think of exactly where my sister and I are in our lives…

The lyrics hit way too close to home for me, and I know my sister will probably cry when she listens to the song. But  I take heart in knowing I gave as much as I could, so while it certainly hurts to know things between The Paramour and I are not going to work out (and my heart won’t get the memo for a long time) I at least know I did my best. The Paramour came into my life and woke up feelings I thought were long gone. But two broken people cannot have a healthy relationship.

My sister has given so much to her guy for years now, and there’s always a reason things don’t work out for them. She deserves so much more than being on the back burner of someone’s life. I know she’s going to hurt for a while but I pray she never loses hope that one day she will find the right guy who makes her a priority, as she deserves.

So, not only is this a song for my sister, it’s a song for the brokenhearted who find themselves in similar situations.  We deserve to be happy and not feel ashamed for having given so much of ourselves.

Filed under: Self Discovery Tagged: heartbreak, moving on, sadness, sister

Weekly Photo Challenge: One

Been awhile since I did one of these photo challenges, hasn’t it? For some reason, the theme of “One” resonated. …

Continue reading

The Wrong Side of Bed

Today is one of those days where I feel like I got up on the wrong side of the bed. The entirety of my interaction with humankind online has done nothing but nigh-on infuriate me, and over pretty much nothing. I’m taking it as a hint to try and keep my head down and not talk to anyone; let’s see how well I do.

I’m also cranky ’cause I’m having stupid toe cramps. I’ve applied magnesium oil to my feet, I’ve had a little can of tonic water (the quinine is useful for cramp, though sources seem to suggest to not do it often or unless it’s severe), and I’m going to see if heat helps any. I’ve also got Icy Hot that I can apply and that *usually* is useful, but since it’s the tubs rather than the tubes, it requires an annoying amount of digging out. It’s not that the cramps hurt, per se, but they’re a relatively constant irritant, which then causes my anxiety to spike.

And then there’s the joy of breaking in a new computer. As happy as I am with my shiny new baby, it takes my wretches eyes and migraine-y head some time to adjust to the change. It’s a little thing, but when all the little things are stacking up against each other, they’re all sort of a big thing together.

Really though, it’s all just so hard because the ire doesn’t want to lie down in a timely fashion. Even if it has been a bit since I stopped taking the Zoloft, it still feels like there are some side effects. Perhaps it *IS* just what my non-Zoloft baseline was; I certainly have a hard time remembering after having a good half a year of taking it. I guess I wish my brain would ‘toughen up’ a bit so that I didn’t feel quite so floundery. I mean, I’m still doing passably well, but atop all the pregnancy crap, the little bits of braining bad do stick out.

Anyways, I should probably try to find a nibble of coffee or chocolate or something and avoid people. *nodnods* Hope everyone is doing well.

<3

The post The Wrong Side of Bed appeared first on The Scarlet B.

Desperately Seeking Faith

I had hoped I would get through the holiday and feel better, to find the joy of the season somewhere within. Instead, I find myself frustrated, sad, disappointed and worn out altogether.

Call it a crisis of faith, call it a breakdown.  All I know is my faith in a higher plan that God has set forth for me, is shaken. That confidence of knowing I am meant to travel a certain route is nearly gone. It has been replaced with frustration and disappointment. I know I am not to question God’s plans for me, but to instead hold tight to my faith and wait to see what God is manifesting for me. But the reserves of strength and faith are running out. Disappointment after disappointment, wrong decision after wrong decision, heartbreak after heartbreak leaves me wondering why. Why do I seem to be stuck in pain, why does joy elude me, when is it going to end?

The countless tears are taking a toll.  A favorite Bible verse echoes jarringly in my head, but not latching onto my heart. Still,  I cling to it, willing it to quell my tears, cool my frustration.  I suppose I am at the point where my faith is the size of a mustard seed and I pray that I shall soon move mountains.

source: weheartit.com

source: weheartit.com

Filed under: Self Discovery Tagged: bipolar, disappointment, faith, frustration, sadness

“Being” or “Having” Bipolar

raised_mandelbrot

There is much wisdom in saying that we Have a Mental Illness when we speak of our Bipolar Disorder. People say it gives us more Control. But there’s one aspect that is often forgotten. This illness by it’s very nature is cyclical, and our minds don’t always stay where we put them.

What I mean is that it’s fine and dandy to say you Have a mental illness and you Control it when you’re stable and doing OK and you can actually mean it. But when you go either too high or too low then you are Not in Control of your illness, By Definition!, and it’s silly to pretend you are, just because you use certain words to describe it.

I feel too much cognitive dissonance to think that I simply have an illness in the bad times. I’m Bipolar personified then. My emotions change and take me over and all I can see is where I’m at at the time. I can’t see out of my dilemma, even tho I Know differently.

It’s important to acknowledge where you’re at in life. If you’re in the pit or flying too high then you are Not in control of your illness. Why else take all those pills and go to therapy and do all the mind tricks we do to take care of  ourselves to be OK? If we weren’t messed up by the illness we wouldn’t need to do all that would we?  Of course not. We’d be fine like the rest of humanity… (some sarcasm here…)

Personally I use the terms interchangeably. I find them both empowering. I found it empowering the first time I was diagnosed 18 years ago at age 45 and I have ever since. I’ve had Bipolar my whole life and I’m considered a model of recovery by my Psychiatrist and counselor both. I do well mostly, and have a lot of insight into my illness. But I still lack that control much of the time.

Now and then I have some control, but I am Not in Control when push comes to shove. Then the bipolar takes over and I’m lost. That’s when I feel like I Am bipolar, deep in my bones. And you know what? I don’t mind calling myself Bipolar when I feel like that. It seems to fit me better than just saying I Have it. It’s more visceral.

I don’t mean this to be a downer for anyone. In fact I mean it to be empowering. I believe that You control your life in the long run. But being in control of your own life means accepting all the parts of it, even the Bipolar disorder that takes away that control.

In the end what matters most is how you relate to your illness and your strength to endure it. And I do mean endure because it’s hard as hell. Making peace with all parts of ourselves is crucial to this struggle. Accepting the dark parts of ourselves is a part of the Dance of Life, especially for those of us with Bipolar, and it’ll always be this way.

So think whatever you want. Call it by any name you choose. Relate to it however it gets you thru the night. It’s all good, but don’t think you have it under Control. Don’t make that mistake when you say you “just Have” this illness. It’s all too easy to think you have it all under control if you say you just have it. Be careful not to let it mean more than it can.

Words have power and the words you use will define things for you it’s true. But saying you Are Bipolar doesn’t hurt you. It means you know yourself. You know who you are in your worst moods. You know yourself deeply and fully and you accept responsibility for that knowing by claiming your identity. It’s OK to do this. It’s even wise I think.

And it’s also fine to think that you Have this illness. I don’t mean to imply differently. But I’ve written all of this just to point out that it’s not any one way all the time. It Changes! It’s cyclical and when it changes and you lose control, you have to accept where you’re at with whatever grace you can.

If that means saying you Have bipolar that’s cool. If it means you say you Are bipolar that’s cool too. Yes words have power, but only the power we give to them. We don’t have to lose what power we do have by always being “psychiatrically correct” in the words we use to describe our illness. We have free will in the definitions we use to talk about our lives, even if not completely in what our lives may have become.

Wishing you stability in the coming year,

Steve


Filed under: Bipolar, Depression, Emotions, Medications, Mental Health, Rapid Cycling Tagged: Bipolar, Invisible Illness, recurrent depression

The Best Christmas Gift of All

Everybody knows I’m Jewish.  But.  I grew up being the only Jew in a world of Christians.  My teenage years were mostly in New England, in Southeast Massachusetts where people really do trace their family lineages back to the Mayflower, the ship that landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620.  I have been to Plymouth Rock and it is a disappointment.  All this hubbub about Plymouth Rock This and Plymouth Rock That, and all it is is a medium size boulder sticking out of the sand, with no distinguishing features save a bronze plaque:The Pilgrims Landed Here.  No mention of the Indians, turkeys, Indian corn, nothing.

With the exception of my parents, I had no other Jews to celebrate Jewish holidays with; and since my parents themselves did not have much exposure to Judaism, we bumbled through the two Jewish holidays we knew about (Hanukah and Passover) by rote: did the things we knew to do, ate the foods we knew to eat, but otherwise did not have any particular understanding of the significance of the festivals.  Since it was only the three of us, none of it lasted very long.

We moved to New England when I was twelve.  The other children were quick to let me know that “their ancestors got off the Mayflower,” meaning, “and you will never belong here or be one of us.”‘

On the other hand, since I had never belonged anywhere anyway, being from another planet etc., I got used to it and poked around to find families that would tolerate me crashing their Christmas traditions.

With the exception of Old England, I doubt there is any place on earth that takes Christmas so seriously as New England.  By “seriously,” I mean Serious Fun.  In those days you could count on two or three feet of snow on the ground and often more coming down, the night turned blue by the refraction of the snow so that the fields looked like vast undulating blue bosoms.

Over these blue bosoms we would tramp on Christmas Eve, freezing in galoshes, boiled-wool pea coats, and hand-knitted hats, gloves, and mittens, the latter so caked with snow from snowball fights that the wet wool threatened frostbitten fingers.

On arrival to our destination we would stand outside the two or three hundred year old clapboarded or shake-shingled house and sing our hearts out: the standards, O Holy Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, Joy To The World, like that.  The family would come to the door , backlit from the roaring Yule log in the great open fireplace.  After grinning through our performance, they would invite us in to warm up around the fire.  Mittens came off and steamed on the hearth while we were immersed in great mugs of hot chocolate floating with marshmallows.  The cookies went ’round, inquiries made after the health of Aunt Bessie, and after we were warm, dry, and refreshed, we said our “thank-you’s” and “Merry Christmases” and set off across the fields to our next destination.

Most families did not put up their tree until Christmas Eve, unlike the current trend that used to begin with after Thanksgiving and now seems to be encroaching on Halloween.  The suspense leading up to that joyous hour when the big Balsam fir (no one used anything else, for the Balsam’s delicious fragrance permeates the house and no potpourri is needed) was hauled upright in the bay window.  There really is no better place for a Christmas tree than a bay window, because there’s plenty of room to move all around the tree to decorate, and the window seats make great places to sit while opening presents.  And of course, anyone happening by gets a spectacular view of the tree!

I don’t know about today’s decorations, but in those days there were two kinds: home-made, and heirlooms.  The home-made kind ranged from little felt Santas, elves, and angels made by first-graders, to paper chains made by us, to popcorn-and-cranberry swags that we made on the spot with a felting needle and a lot of popcorn and fresh cranberries (being New England, where cranberries come from, and all), to gingerbread cookies made of a special recipe that hardens and you wouldn’t want to really eat them but they look great, and of course the candy canes, which we did eat.

Then the box of heirloom decorations was opened, and a hush fell on the room, succeeded by excited exclamations as each precious piece was unveiled from its tissue wrapping, where it had slept, dormant, since last Christmas.

The Star, of course, came out first.  New England Stars are often made of hand-crafted tin with whirly things and tinkly things.  Some of them are lanterns that you put a candle in, if your ceiling is high enough.  Getting it on the tip of the tree involved ladders and gymnastics and usually brothers.

The icicles were of drawn crystal.  Real crystal, that danced with light.

The balls included clear ones with snow scenes inside, and ones with red-cheeked Santa faces hand-painted on, and each one had its own story: who it had belonged to, to whom it had been passed down to, and how it came to be in this box.  There was a reverence to hanging each and every memory, connecting generations, on the fragrant branches.

Nothing was done without a rich egg nog, or a wassail, to cheer along the festivities; and the cookies that were meant for eating came out.  Every year someone made pfefferneuse, those abominable pepper cookies that look deceptively delicious, but taste so evil that one is forced to seek out a discreet trash can to spit them out.  Likewise the obligatory fruit cake, made at least a year ago and packed away soaking in rum.  Does anybody really like fruitcake?  Please.  I want to know.  And please send me your address.

In my experience, fruitcakes are a great gift to receive, because you can pack them up in a different tin and give them right straight to somebody else–just make sure you don’t give it back to the person who made it–which can be a little tricky in a small town like ours.

Now.  New England Brown Bread.  THAT is a horse of a different color.  Who has had it?  It is a moist, molasses-filled cake spiced with cloves and cinnamon, bristling with raisins, baked inside a number-something (I forget, but I think it might be twelve) tin can, in a water bath.  That makes it officially a pudding, I think, according to English culinary nomenclature, but in New England we just call it Brown Bread, and it is the most delicious thing of all, especially eaten warm, splashed with brandy and dolloped with vanilla ice cream or heavy whipped cream (not the kind in a can), or both.  And it is BROWN.  Whenever I have been the lucky recipient of a can of Brown Bread I have never recycled it like I do the fruit cakes, but hoarded it until I could enjoy it properly.

Roll forward many years, and I am in Seattle.  How I got there is another story, but let’s just say I was alone, without family or friends.  I was exploring my Jewish roots at the time, and bit by bit learning the how’s and why’s, but really between the worlds, and terribly lonely and depressed.

As everybody knows, the holidays can turn a normal everyday depression into a catastrophic one, so I did some advance planning and came up with a solution: rather than stay home and entertain myself by running movies in my head about the brilliant and elegant ways I would off myself, I would go to the mission food kitchen and take my mind off my troubles by running my ass off serving meals to people who didn’t have the luxury of a home in which to sit and contemplate suicide.

I showed up on Christmas morning.  Even though dinner wasn’t to be served till noon, the dining room was packed with people holding down their seats, eagerly awaiting one of the few real meals they would get this year.  It was cold outside, too, and of course raining, being Seattle, so they got to wait in a warm, dry place.  My heart opened to all these souls: there but for the grace of God go I.

Tables were set, the dinner gong “went” at noon, and we waiters began to scurry with heavy plates steaming full of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, canned yams, canned green beans, cranberry sauce….there was a bit of confusion when some of the guests decided to “help” with the table-waiting in order to procure seconds for themselves….an announcement was made that seconds would be available after everybody had “firsts,” providing we didn’t run out of food.  Everyone sat down again.

A sudden wave of panic broke out in the kitchen: the cook had fallen ill–now what to do?  I mentioned that I had been a chef some years back, and was instantly drafted and in fact, shoved physically into the huge stainless steel institutional kitchen.

To tell you the truth, it wasn’t a difficult job to fall into, since much of the food was already prepared and just needed to be heated up.  But there was a herd of turkeys sizzling in gigantic ovens, and pots of mashed potatoes that I needed  a ladder to even see into, and such pans of dressing, that needed two people to hoist out of their oven compartments!  And oceans of gravy hot enough to scald to death the unfortunate who fell into the gargantuan pots.

I was very fortunate to have a small army of kitchen assistants who knew what they were doing, so all I had to do was ask questions and do what they said.  In two sweat-drenched hours we fed well over 400 souls.

I helped to serve the pumpkin pie, since by that time there was no further chef-ing to be done.  I could barely make it from one diner to another, due to the fervent hand-squeezings and embraces and blessings from people I would not have previously thought of getting that close to, but somehow, and I think you’ll understand, a blessing from someone who lives in the cold, wet, filthy, dangerous, hungry world of the streets is worth more than a blessing from the Pope.  It is a blessing from a fallen angel.

That Christmas, I felt that (even though I am not a Christian in the conventional sense) if someone had asked Baby Jesus what he wanted for Christmas, he would have said: Take care of the poor, the destitute, the hungry, the sick, the outcast, the prostituted.  This is what I want for my birthday….for Christmas!