Daily Archives: March 23, 2014

My Outer Limit

For a while I’ve been wanting to write about an amazing change God has transpired within me.  I decided not to since it concerns my neighbor(s) and I don’t want to write about them.  They’re in the past and that’s where I want to leave them. Nevertheless, this urge would not go away.  Within this […]

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High School

I did NOT take this photo. This is from Rock n Roll Revival last year, but it captures the spirit of the show better than any other image I could create myself. It was taken by Connor Smith.
Last night, I attended Rock n Roll Revival XXV at my old high school. RnR is the glistening jewel of Severna Park, outshining all other local events. Forty songs are performed over the course of two acts, and the singers, dancers, and band members are all students – except for the one faculty number. The talent is incredible. Each year I’ve been overwhelmed by seeing what my musically-minded classmates are capable of.
Yesterday something else overwhelmed me, too. As I walked across the parking lot to our car, my ears still slightly ringing, I felt sadness. There was a lump in my throat. What can I say of my high school experience? I never auditioned for RnR – the closest I got was signing up for an audition slot and crossing my name off the day of because I was too afraid. I never tried out for any sports. I have very few friends from that time in my life. There were no crowning achievements, no ribbons or trophies, no scrapbooks full of happy memories.
When I was alone with my dad, I told him about my feelings. “You were sick,” he explained. “It would be more unfortunate if high school was the high point of your life.”
He has a point. It’s hard to make friends, join clubs, or audition for roles when you can’t even convince yourself of your own worth. How do you make yourself appealing to a potential friend when you are disgusted by yourself? I didn’t go to prom or graduation because I didn’t feel any sort of attachment to my peers. I had enclosed myself in a box. I had withdrawn from everyone. Some nights I would get very upset that no one wanted to be my friend, but when anyone tried to get close to me, I pushed them away. Depression has a way of isolating you when you most need friendship.
I cannot let myself think how different high school would have been for me if I had had my bipolar disorder under control. To me, those years are lost. There are a few glimmering moments of happiness, most of them involving academics or discussions with my teachers. Despite my efforts to limit my closeness with others, I have a couple of very good friends. Overall, however, those years are marred by depression and mania.
Even though seeing RnR saddened me, I’m thankful I had to the opportunity to attend. I felt rare pride for my community, a place that I normally see as obsessed with athletic competitions and standardized test scores. My hometown is full of very, very talented young men and women. The best part is, I don’t think RnR will be the high point of their lives. There is so much more in store for people with that kind of pure talent coupled with motivation.
So whether you shined at high school or just survived, I firmly believe there is more. I am finding happiness at college, where stability has finally allowed me to pursue the activities I enjoy. Soon I’ll be playing softball again with a team from my dorm. I get to write all of the time. I’m making a difference through Active Minds, a club I’m involved in that helps fight the stigmatizing of mental illness. 
Things are getting better. High school is not the end.

Today I got frustrated with my mom – but not as bad as before

I love my mom. She’s a constant supportive and stable person in my life.

I’m sick, I have bronchitis and I’m trying to quit smoking. Slap those two together and I’m one irritable fuck. I called my mom a couple times but couldn’t carry on conversation. I kept getting frustrated, just not caring what she had to say. Usually I do, she always has something interesting to say. I’m used to saying “I’m going to let you go” and then chatting for 5 minutes after that. But I snapped at her. I felt terrible.

I went and bought a pack of light menthols and smoked one. I went back inside and called her again.

I felt like a bitch. I felt like an asshole. Who yells at their mother, someone who gives them the world, and always have, and will until the day they can’t anymore?

So I was crying. My mom picked up. She asked what was wrong. I said I was sorry for being so mean to her, for being such a bitch. That I was sick and craving cigarettes and I was just being mean and she didn’t deserve it.

She didn’t get mad.

She said, “You’ve been a lot worse, kiddo. Being sick isn’t easy, and neither is quitting smoking” and we chatted for a half hour and she forgot about it. She forgave me for it. I kept apologizing and she said not to worry.

I love my mom. She’s always forgiven me, even when I don’t deserve it. She always loves me, even when I don’t deserve it. She’s never told me I don’t deserve it.

But she did say, “You’ve been a lot worse”. And she’s right. I have.

She also didn’t  bat and eye when I came out to her as being genderqueer. She was supportive and said she’d support me no matter what.

Everyone needs a mom like mine.

I Can’t Remember, I Can’t Forget

I can’t remember the stuff I need to take with me on a ride, I keep having to go back inside to fetch things: keys, water bottle, maps. By the time I’m ready to go my head is boiling, steam is rising through the ventilation slits in my plastic hat. What I leave with on my ride into the countryside is grasping repetition. Nothing has changed. It is always like this – as familiar and as inevitable as the traffic circles I navigate as I head north to reach the countryside less than a mile from my home.

It doesn’t take very long before my mind is full of visions – tarmac, number plates and indicator lights. And then the green sway of the long grass lining the road appears as I follow the hard grey blade underneath my tyres as I cut through fields following the dips and climbs I  know so well.

Uncertainty, and a lack of trust in one’s own abilities, are classic signs of mental health problems. From the crippling scratching of anxiety to the dirty yellow walls that encroach upon the mind of someone with paranoid delusions, all these crumple the mind. Our ability to remember sits like a discarded slip of paper with a list of tasks, in unrecognisable handwriting, resting in the waste paper bin at our feet.

Help is always closer than we know when the anchor of memory shifts uneasily in the unseen seabed of concious, loyal experience. But we discard it the moment we fall against the banal, disinterested breast of our own despair.

So often I cannot remember for myself what I suggest, describe and explain to people I want to cajole onto the path of recovery.

And then there are things I cannot forget.

The route to Bramber, to Shoreham, Devil’s Dyke, the road that leads all the way to Horsham.

But that’s not all.

I cannot forget the moment when, sitting at my desk in the office of the mental health day centre I was the manager of, I saw a sheet of paper with the clinical description of the symptoms of depression, and saw my reflection staring blankly back at me.

I cannot forget the moment that I told my colleagues 2 days later that I was going to have to take some time off (2 weeks initially) because my G.P. had diagnosed me as suffering from depression. 2 weeks stretched into another fortnight.

I cannot forget my first appointment with a psychiatrist, his insistence over the coming weeks and months, that I must give up my job if my recovery was going to stand a chance.

I cannot forget the moment, at a regular appointment with the occupational health doctor over a year later, that I announced to his (and my) surprise that I was finally going to take that advice and resign.

I cannot forget the view from my bed of the block of flats several streets away that rose up to stare at me every morning and afternoon, nor the fluctuating moods of the sky as the seasons passed.

I cannot forget the moment, in the autumn of 2010, that I cycled through a narrow pedestrian cut – through in a wall near my home at 10mph and came clattering to a halt, sprawled on the tarmac and realising that this was no ‘ordinary swoon’. There was some, as yet unnamed, tear in the fabric of my life.

from To a Skylark

What objects are the fountains

Of thy happy strain?

What fields, or waves, or mountains?

What shapes of sky or plain?

**********

What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain?

With thy clear keen joyance

Languor cannot be:

Shadow of annoyance

Never came near thee:

Thou lovest, but ne’er knew love’s sad

satiety.

**********

Waking or asleep,

Thou of death must deem

Things more true and deep

Than we mortals dream,

Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal

stream?

**********

We look before and after,

And pine for what is not:

Our sincerest laughter

With some pain is fraught;

Our sweetest songs are those that tell of

saddest thought.

**********

Yet, if we could scorn

Hate and pride and fear,

If we were things born

Not to shed a tear,

I know not how thy joy we ever should

come near.

**********

Better than all measures

Of delightful sound,

Better than all treasures

That in books are found,

Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the

ground!

**********

Teach me half the gladness

That thy brain must know;

Such harmonious madness

From my lips would flow,

The world should listen then, as I am

listening now.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 – 1822)


Purity Balls and PTSD…Caution: addresses possible sexual abuse

Yesterday, my daughter asked me if I have PTSD.  Her reasoning is that I tend to not remember my past until I go through old letters or paperwork documenting my life.  For example, my son is applying for disability so I have been going through old files for medical records for his case.  I came across old report cards and reports from child psychologists and school psychologists.  Boy, did the memories flood back.  All three of us are bipolar, with other stuff thrown in, but we were not diagnosed or even under good care back then.  I was either too manic or too depressed to even know how bad it was.  I never got them to school on time; forget homework; they didn't even bathe regularly.  I don't remember what we ate.  I made good money (I was a programmer) so I don't think we went hungry.  My daughter remembers empty cabinets and  lunches of popcorn.

My point is this:  there is a lot I have blocked out from my past, and that includes from my childhood.  I am aware that there was a lot of weird dynamics going on in my family.  A lot of shame and guilt and anger.  And neglect.  There was a lot we weren't allowed to see or do because it was "bad" or "sinful."  My father had an obsession with privacy and modesty, an unnatural obsession. And it gets worse.

So when I saw the posts on Purity Balls, I thought I would throw up.  The thought of my father "protecting my virginity" or being my "boyfriend" makes me physically sick.  Even the declarations of love and adoration make me queasy.  Is it me or is it them?  I would love nothing more than for these evangelical fathers to be emotionally strong and stable so that they never take advantage of their daughters.  But I feel that this ritual covenant between father and daughter could blur boundaries for the girl, make her feel safe when she is not, and give the father perceived rights to take liberties.

We shouldn't need Purity Balls.  Fathers should protect their daughters Anyway.  This whole thing is just creepy.

Purity Balls and PTSD…Caution: addresses possible sexual abuse

Yesterday, my daughter asked me if I have PTSD.  Her reasoning is that I tend to not remember my past until I go through old letters or paperwork documenting my life.  For example, my son is applying for disability so I have been going through old files for medical records for his case.  I came across old report cards and reports from child psychologists and school psychologists.  Boy, did the memories flood back.  All three of us are bipolar, with other stuff thrown in, but we were not diagnosed or even under good care back then.  I was either too manic or too depressed to even know how bad it was.  I never got them to school on time; forget homework; they didn't even bathe regularly.  I don't remember what we ate.  I made good money (I was a programmer) so I don't think we went hungry.  My daughter remembers empty cabinets and  lunches of popcorn.

My point is this:  there is a lot I have blocked out from my past, and that includes from my childhood.  I am aware that there was a lot of weird dynamics going on in my family.  A lot of shame and guilt and anger.  And neglect.  There was a lot we weren't allowed to see or do because it was "bad" or "sinful."  My father had an obsession with privacy and modesty, an unnatural obsession. And it gets worse.

So when I saw the posts on Purity Balls, I thought I would throw up.  The thought of my father "protecting my virginity" or being my "boyfriend" makes me physically sick.  Even the declarations of love and adoration make me queasy.  Is it me or is it them?  I would love nothing more than for these evangelical fathers to be emotionally strong and stable so that they never take advantage of their daughters.  But I feel that this ritual covenant between father and daughter could blur boundaries for the girl, make her feel safe when she is not, and give the father perceived rights to take liberties.

We shouldn't need Purity Balls.  Fathers should protect their daughters Anyway.  This whole thing is just creepy.

Can Worrying Lead to Mania?

Image

I have been depressed for the past week. In fact, I had not left the house in a whole week.  It is now 6 am and I have not been able to sleep.  If you know anything about bipolar disorder, you know that a lack of sleep can lead to mania.

My ex-husband told me one time that he thought I worried myself into manic episodes. There is a lot of truth in that.  Because I panic when I am not sleeping and think I am going to get manic, I get stressed about that. The more stressed I get, the less I sleep I get.  This stress and lack of sleep will oftentimes lead to mania.

I would get nervous about not sleeping and having to go to work the next day. My mom pointed out one time that everyone has nights that they can’t sleep. Even though she knows that not sleeping can lead to mania, she tried to assure me that I would be fine.  (She did know that I still could get manic. She was just trying to point out that it could be nothing, also.)

I had a psychiatrist one time tell me that if I can’t sleep after a half hour to get up and do something for awhile and then try again. If I can’t sleep, then just stay up until I crash.  She told me to do this even if it meant I stayed awake more than 24 hours.

I have taken that advice a few times since. There is no reason I should just keep lying in bed with my mind racing when you can get up and accomplish something.  This is where worrying can come in.  If I were to sit here thinking right now that a manic episode is on the horizon, it could be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Yes, I need to take every precaution that I have in my action plan.  If I don’t sleep sometime today or the next night, I need to make an appointment with my doctor.

I know that right now I am in trouble because my medication need to be adjusted.  To be frank, I am sick of this roller coaster since my medications have been changed. I had to switch medication because my insurance no longer covered the medication I was on. Don’t get me wrong, I was still cycling when I was on the medication that my insurance no longer covers. Therefore, I was hopeful that trying something new might be the answer. I have not given up as I have not been on them very long.

I know I will be ok and will stay out of the hospital.  I know that I can do things that will keep me out of there. I need to lay low, eat right, not going anywhere or spend any money.  I need to let the people in my support system know that I am in danger right now.

I have confidence that everything will be ok.  I am not worried because I know that I will be ok.  I have a great doctor, a wonderful supportive fiancee and a loving family.  We have gotten through so many things together in the past.

I am so sick of this. I am sure they are too.

I usually am not so open about my current struggles. I was not intending on sharing my current situation when I decided to write this blog.

Can Worrying Lead to Mania? The answer to my question is yes.  I do think worrying can lead to mania.

If you are reading this and think you are getting manic and worrying about it, I would suggest that you take a second look at your situation.  Worrying and stress definitely can lead to mania.  Try and remove the stress. Even if you have to take work off for a few days, do it. It is better to stop the mania in its tracks before you end up getting full-blown manic and end up in the hospital missing a lot more of work.

There are a lot of cliches about how worrying is a waste of time. However, it is easy to get trapped into the web of worrying.

My suggestion is to realize that you are going to be okay.  I am going to just keep saying that to myself.

The good news is that by writing this blog entry, I have gotten tired enough to go to sleep.

Good night! Zzzzz


Can Worrying Lead to Mania?

Image

I have been depressed for the past week. In fact, I had not left the house in a whole week.  It is now 6 am and I have not been able to sleep.  If you know anything about bipolar disorder, you know that a lack of sleep can lead to mania.

My ex-husband told me one time that he thought I worried myself into manic episodes. There is a lot of truth in that.  Because I panic when I am not sleeping and think I am going to get manic, I get stressed about that. The more stressed I get, the less I sleep I get.  This stress and lack of sleep will oftentimes lead to mania.

I would get nervous about not sleeping and having to go to work the next day. My mom pointed out one time that everyone has nights that they can’t sleep. Even though she knows that not sleeping can lead to mania, she tried to assure me that I would be fine.  (She did know that I still could get manic. She was just trying to point out that it could be nothing, also.)

I had a psychiatrist one time tell me that if I can’t sleep after a half hour to get up and do something for awhile and then try again. If I can’t sleep, then just stay up until I crash.  She told me to do this even if it meant I stayed awake more than 24 hours.

I have taken that advice a few times since. There is no reason I should just keep lying in bed with my mind racing when you can get up and accomplish something.  This is where worrying can come in.  If I were to sit here thinking right now that a manic episode is on the horizon, it could be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Yes, I need to take every precaution that I have in my action plan.  If I don’t sleep sometime today or the next night, I need to make an appointment with my doctor.

I know that right now I am in trouble because my medication need to be adjusted.  To be frank, I am sick of this roller coaster since my medications have been changed. I had to switch medication because my insurance no longer covered the medication I was on. Don’t get me wrong, I was still cycling when I was on the medication that my insurance no longer covers. Therefore, I was hopeful that trying something new might be the answer. I have not given up as I have not been on them very long.

I know I will be ok and will stay out of the hospital.  I know that I can do things that will keep me out of there. I need to lay low, eat right, not going anywhere or spend any money.  I need to let the people in my support system know that I am in danger right now.

I have confidence that everything will be ok.  I am not worried because I know that I will be ok.  I have a great doctor, a wonderful supportive fiancee and a loving family.  We have gotten through so many things together in the past.

I am so sick of this. I am sure they are too.

I usually am not so open about my current struggles. I was not intending on sharing my current situation when I decided to write this blog.

Can Worrying Lead to Mania? The answer to my question is yes.  I do think worrying can lead to mania.

If you are reading this and think you are getting manic and worrying about it, I would suggest that you take a second look at your situation.  Worrying and stress definitely can lead to mania.  Try and remove the stress. Even if you have to take work off for a few days, do it. It is better to stop the mania in its tracks before you end up getting full-blown manic and end up in the hospital missing a lot more of work.

There are a lot of cliches about how worrying is a waste of time. However, it is easy to get trapped into the web of worrying.

My suggestion is to realize that you are going to be okay.  I am going to just keep saying that to myself.

The good news is that by writing this blog entry, I have gotten tired enough to go to sleep.

Good night! Zzzzz


Soggy cereal

That’s how I equate my mood today. Crunchy fresh poured cereal versus soggy milk logged aged cereal. The former being good, the ladder being crap.Today is soggy. Too bad because yesterday prior to panic palooza my mood was decent.

So what happened?

Nothing. The only factor is it was 70 degrees out yesterday and 40 degrees out today.

On the plus side, my anxiety has been barely noticeable today.

On the bad side, I have accomplished nothing, it’s like I want to, know I  need to…but I don’t know where to start because I am a bowl of soggy cereal and the only thing to do is dump the bowl and start with some fresh crunch loops.

Meaning, sleep it off and hope it shifts tomorrow.

When I see that fill in shrink this week, I am going on a soapbox to get off this Viibryd. I don’t think it’s doing shit.

Or maybe I am just doomed to being soggy cereal for life.