Daily Archives: September 9, 2014

This Post Has No Purpose

Was awake waaay too late into the night last night with racing thoughts and no real idea why. But I suspect it was the fact that a day I’d been looking forward to was a complete bust: first it was the canceled p-doc appointment, and then my favorite football team went on to lose their game in front of millions of Monday Night Football viewers. Not only that, they lost ugly, which only made the humiliation more complete. Nothing like a batch of missed plays on offense and half-assed tackling on defense to make a professional team look like junior varsity. But I am a long-suffering fan, and you can bet I’ll be watching when they get slaughtered by the Seattle Seahawks this weekend.

I’m not sure what the purpose of what I just wrote is, and I have no idea where I was going with it except that I wish it took a little more to upset my apple cart. I handled the canceled appointment with great aplomb, in my opinion, but that football game was so crap-tastic—and I did so much yelling and cussing—that I was still overstimulated at midnight, and didn’t get to sleep till sometime after one AM. I couldn’t shut my brain up. And it wasn’t the usual “OMG we’re going to be homeless in another month” train of thought that usually occupies my mind when I can’t sleep. In fact, I can’t really put a finger on any of it because my thoughts were racing so fast that they weren’t even registering.

Usually, that means bad news on the mood stability front, but today I only feel kind of dull, like I’m a bit hung over. At least with this kind, there’s no headache and no puking, nor does there need to be remorse for falling off the wagon. Speaking of which…..I’m coming up on my one-year sobriety birthday, which breaks my heart because I should be celebrating almost 23 years. Damn that slip last September! I still want to kick my own ass for that—and over something that was utterly ridiculous to boot. I wish it had never happened, but as the saying goes…..you can wish in one hand and crap in the other, and see which gets filled first.

Anyway, such are the musings for a late-summer day which is rapidly losing light. I don’t suppose that’s helping matters much, but the good news is it will soon be early fall, which is when I tend to have a surge of energy (and boy do I need it). I love fall, almost as much as I love summer, and with the arrival of autumn colors and pumpkin-flavored everything, comes optimism and the urge to nest. Except this year I can’t nest because I don’t know where Will and I are going to go once my unemployment runs out, unless some miracle happens and I find a job.

But that is all stuff to be dealt with on another day. Thanks for reading this post, even though it probably doesn’t make much sense and certainly has no real purpose. That happens sometimes. So do bad nights and lost football games. C’est la vie.

 


One Every Forty Seconds

Tomorrow, September 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day and the latest news from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows we have much work ahead of us to reduce suicide rates around the world. Last week WHO issued a press release noting more than 800,000 people die by suicide every year, which comes to about one […]

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Manic Temper Tantrum

Tasmanian Devil (Looney Toons)

Tasmanian Devil (Looney Toons)

Last night I blew up and had a full-on manic temper tantrum. I forcefully threw my iPad down and then proceeded to flip over the kitchen table. Crap. I was at the end of my rope. I had overdone it over the weekend, painting the exterior of our house in extreme heat (and too much sun). My husband and I were arguing over home renovations, and I lost it, completely. I hate it when I lose it. At the time, our son was wearing noise cancelling earphones and playing a video game in his room, but he did see me ramping up earlier in the evening, getting increasingly irritable, argumentative, and reactive. I kept telling my husband that I wasn’t well, had overdone it, and couldn’t deal with discussing the home renovations.

After isolating myself in our bedroom for a while to cool off (and pack an overnight bag, which I did not use), I came back downstairs, and my husband was on the phone with family members trying to find out how his oldest brother was doing. His brother’s cancer has rapidly progressed to stage 4. Our 14-year old son came downstairs and tried to lighten the mood by reminding us of family members who successfully fought off cancer, including my mother who faced stage 4 twice and survived. Our teenage son was the voice of reason amidst rage, anxiety, and despair. He shouldn’t have to endure my unacceptable behavior, our arguing, or our worries. Prayers are welcome and appreciated.


Filed under: Bipolar Disorder, Family, Hypomania, Mania, Marriage, Mental Health, Mood Cycling, Posted Thoughts, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Triggers to Mood Cycling Tagged: mania, poor impulse control, regret, Temper tantrum

Hazy

“It’s like you’re sleep walkin’….But I know you’re dead within…you’re just going through the motions…”
“Wonder if I checked your pulse…would there be a beat at all…you have no emotion…”
—Stitched Up Heart- Dead Walking

That song pretty much explains my thoughts on those around me. No empathy, no compassion. DEAD INSIDE.
In some ways, I envy them. Because it seems like I got all the emotion they lack and it all wants to flip on at once. Or at least it did yesterday. I cried in front of R which made him uncomfortable. Like his comfort is my problem. I have a pulse. I have feelings. And apparently, my tear ducts work outside the death of a pet.
Yeah, yesterday sucked. I kept bullying myself. “No, you will NOT cry!” “Knock it off, you are not this weak!”
Shame society has programmed me to view tears as weakness when in fact I think the ability to cry takes great strength.
It wasn’t so much being ashamed of tears. It was more like…what the fuck is this? And why won’t they stop? I didn’t even really know why I was crying. It’s not like me, at least not with the meds on board. I cried when Bella died, but I’ve always cried over the death of my pets and I make ZERO apologies for that. Oddly, I have trouble working up any waterworks for dead relatives.
I am that broken.

So yesterday I wasted away in Mangoritaville. Right or wrong, I had to get the tears to shut off someone. Numbness is preferable to a faucet of tears I couldn’t even explain. Though having my car towed away as scrap really was tear worthy. I am so fucked now. And R had the nerve to ask, “What’s got you so down?” REALLY? Then to add insult to injury, he started playing a bunch of old 70’s song “to cheer” me up. Songs he likes and knows I don’t. Yeah, helpful. Wanna cheer me up? Play Pantera. Angry aggressive music cheers me up.

I am a broken toy.

Today…I am hazy. Which is fitting because it’s gray and mid thunderstorm outside. It’s an emotional hangover. (Though the Mangoritas probably contributed.) I knew it was coming, though. I fly high for awhile, seemingly stable and rolling with the punches. Then I crash hard. Like face first on concrete SPLAT! hard.
“There will be better days.” R says.
Yeah, when? Because he’s been reiterated that platitude for three years now and my life just gets shittier. One step forward, ten steps back. I do the best I can dealing with it but I am human and it does take a toll.

Today…Yeah, I got my kid to school and came back home. I fed my cats some Ramen noodles. Two new kitties showed up outside and they were friendly. I do love making new cat friends. Now Voodoo is climbing me and it’s a little irritating when I can’t see to type but…My cats love me. They don’t judge. My tears don’t make them uncomfortable. They don’t give meaningless platitudes.They just accept me as is. As long as the food dish is kept stocked. And I can live with that. Isn’t that all any of us want? To have our basic needs met?
I am not feeling that from anyone around me these days. I am surrounded by the emotionally walking dead. It’s lonely. I don’t think they would have a pulse if I checked. Not emotionally, anyway. And this is not me being hypersensitive. This is…the way it’s always been. My parents weren’t affectionate. They didn’t encourage talking about your feelings.
I thought they were just broken.
But it’s not just them, it seems to be everyone around me.
What is the big deal with talking about how you’re feeling? And why is it my whole life I’ve had to pay counselors just to have someone listen to me and be supportive?
My parents’ philosophy? “Life sucks, get over it.”
Uber helpful, eh?
Suppose that’s why I’ve always kept journals and do the blog thing. Even if no one reads it or gives a damn, at least I am purging the emotional demons in some way.

And that’s all she wrote. For now. Because the mental demons never shut up and eventually they will have to be purged again.
Rinse. Lather. Repeat.


Music and Me

There is a long standing, well documented connection between bipolar disorder and creativity. Indeed, while in hospital I met some people who were extremely talented and creative and artistic. I wasn’t one of them. 

I used to be creative. I sung, wrote music, played guitar and piano (albeit very badly!), and participated in various bands and choirs. I LOVED it. Music was a release for me, and it was forefront in my life. Then somewhere along the line I lost it. I became too busy for music, and lost my creative spark. 

I often wonder if Lithium was responsible for this change. A large number of people with Bipolar disorder refuse to be medicated because of the allure of mania and hypomania, and often the creativity that accompanies these states. I haven’t written much about my “highs”, but it’s safe to say they are generally pleasurable.

I’m not sick when I’m “high” (or “productive” as my husband and I call it…because let’s face it, no one wants to be labelled as “manic”). No I’m not sick… I’m awesome! ;) I’m shouting from the roof tops and going to change the world. “Slow down, Rachael!” I hear people telling me. “Keep up!” I feel like shouting back. 

My creativity didn’t vanish during periods of depression either. In fact some of my favourite songs were written during very difficult times. It seemed even the dark moods were enough to elicit creativity. 

Perhaps then it was parenthood and the life I led, busy and exhausting, that diminished my desire to create. At the end of the day, when dinner dishes are packed away and my little boy is in bed, do I really have the creative energy left in me to write, or sing, or go to a music studio for a jam? Usually I am lucky to make it through a TV program without falling asleep. 

When I had the spark, and wrote music I had this bizarre belief that songs were floating out there, and you just had to be in the right state to reach out and grab it. I would write very quickly, words and chords erupting out of me, like it was just meant to be. When I finished writing a song, I couldn’t imagine it not being there. It was perfect in all it’s imperfections, and it owned it’s place within the universe – even if I was the only one to ever know of its existence. I have a large black book of songs I have written, most of them never to have been showcased to anything other than my bedroom wall. 

But there were some songs that did make it out of my bedroom. Quite a few years ago I used to get together with a good friend to write and record songs. He dealt with the music and production side, I did the vocals, and we both wrote the songs. Today, for the first time in years I listened to some of the songs – and the way that music so often does – many memories were evoked. I remembered the creative outlet I once had, and I missed it. 

Often I wonder how my life would be without Lithium, and I suppose recently I have had a sneak preview as to life without being medicated. My body’s inability to absorb Lithium and Seroquel and the rest of the vast band of medications I am on was rocky, unstable, frightening, and – frankly – disastrous. 

I hate that I am dependent on medication…but  I swallow down the pills, even if it is with resent. Many see Lithium as the enemy, zombifying and potentially taking away creative energy, flattening moods to only include the mediocre middle ground. I don’t disagree, but to me it’s a drug worth taking if it means I am there for my family. As a psychologist once said to me “it doesn’t matter how talented or creative or clever you are…if you keep having breakdowns and hospitalisations no one is going to want to hire you, and no one is going to be able to rely on you”. It’s a basic law of physics that what goes up must come down, and following a period of high creativity, productivity and mood I almost inevitably crash. To me, any potential crash that was as debilitating as what has just happened is not worth the risk of being unmedicated.

I do hope, and I do anticipate, that one day I will be able to go back to my music, my terrible guitar playing and limited piano skills. But for now I just listen to what I used to do, and I smile because I know that that creativity is locked away in me somewhere. I just need to learn a new way of accessing it, throughout the Lithium and parenthood and all the rest. 

“Here” is my favourite of the songs I co wrote with my good friend all those years ago. It makes me smile and reminds me of good times, when my husband and I were young and (relatively!) care free. If you feel so obliged you can listen to it here… on a site I had forgotten even existed. Enjoy :) 


More Whatifs

I’m seriously getting tired of my mood being all over the place. I’m not ready to give up on the Latuda yet but I’m not feeling hopeful. I am questioning everything.

My husbands and my engagement was unromantic and I basically feel like he was pushed into asking me to marry him. Why do I feel that way? Basically I said you ask me to marry you or I’m asking you. He chose to ask me. We were butt ass naked in bed and well I was probably manic and it’s the only thing I regret about our marriage.

I asked him today if he thought he would still have asked me at some point if I hadn’t of brought it up. He said he would have but I honestly think he might have gotten the fuck out after a couple of years of my crazy. I guess I’ll never really know.

I’m forever grateful for him though and I’m so glad that we are so happily married. Now I wish that he didn’t have to put up with me being so fucking crazy. I wish I didn’t have to put up with me being so fucking crazy. Life with would be just fucking grand without it.

I just found out my cousin killed himself. My whole family is a mess…. Sigh


The. Best. Summer. Ever.

I was manic from April to May 2013. Then when the mania ended, I became depressed. I was depressed from June 2013 until May 2014. The depression mainly consisted of insomnia and an empty, numb feeling. It really sucked. I thought the empty feeling was my new normal. I didn't think it was depression because I didn't feel sad and I was on medicine. But it was depression. I've learned that all depression doesn't look or feel the same. And the medicine I was on were anti-psychotics not anti-depressants. So they didn't treat the depression.

I was not hospitalized for the depression. I never go to the hospital for my depression. I just suffer through it. I don't recommend this. The depression only ended because I became manic in June 2014. This is why I love the mania. The mania has saved me from depression twice (in 2007 and 2014).

I swore to myself that I would have an amazing summer given the awful year I had. I would spare no expense. Deny no whim.

At the beginning of the summer I shared all of my summer plans.

This is an update. Be warned: there are a lot of pictures!

 I attended a few concerts this summer. 
This picture is from a Joe Budden concert in Brooklyn.

 I spent a lot of time in New York City this summer.

 I attended the Dave Chapelle show at Radio City Music Hall in NYC. He was incredibly funny.

 I saw a few Broadway plays: Avenue Q, Once, Wicked, Heathers, and Book of Mormon.

 I took a few vacations. I visited Savannah, Georgia; Atlantic City and Ocean Grove, New Jersey; Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina; Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, DC; and Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

 
 I visited the Kara Walker exhibit.

 
 I bought a beautiful painting from an artist at the Harlem Book Fair.

 
 In Washington, DC at the Smithsonian museums.

At the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. 

At a drawing class in Brooklyn at MOCADA (I drew on an apron and a tote bag). 
The class was led by artist Shantell Martin

 At the beach in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

 Had an adult game night for family and friends.

Hula-hooping in the park. We were having a family reunion. 

 
 I also ate amazing meals. This is flan, empanadas, and shredded chicken with white rice.

At the John Legend concert at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn. 

Had a picnic on Governor's Island in New York. 
That's the Statue of Liberty in the background. 

Pretty much :-) 

 
At a Ferguson/Mike Brown rally in Durham, North Carolina.
"Hands up. Don't shoot." 

 Rihanna and Eminem concert at the Met Life Stadium.

 Amazing Jeff Koons exhibit at the Whitney Museum
Definitely check it out if you're in the area.

The view from my hotel room in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. 
The hotel is on the Long Island Sound. 

 At the Cloisters in Manhattan.

All dolled up to see and be seen at the Essence Magazine Street Style Block Party in Brooklyn.