Daily Archives: November 12, 2014

A quick update

The mixed episode is ending. Dr N thought I had bad akathasia which was partly responsible. He raised my Artane to 5mg in the morning and 5mg at night. It’s helping so far. He also increased my Gabapentin to 200mg. What a slow titration! I see him again Dec 10. I got my Ritalin and I’m NOT going to run out this time.

Tonight is a quiet night. I worked on a website, made pasta (since I have to gain weight according to everyone, and I DO need to gain weight. I had McDonalds yesterday and didn’t purge, and had a big breakfast sub on Monday and didn’t purge, so that’s good)

I’m 101lbs and need to get to 110. Dr N threatened to take me off Ritalin if I don’t gain weight. Ugh. I’m pretty active at the barn. I rode Sully yesterday, not a hard ride, but bareback and jumped some little fences. I’m gettin great bareback. Michele says I need to ride with a saddle more. Shows coming up. I’m riding Odus (Odie-Spaghottie Pon-Pon) tomorrow because he keeps throwing his little riders. Oh goody!

I have therapy tomorrow at 2, then riding. I got my helmet cam working, and fucked it up during riding and it didn’t record. Oh well. I’ll duct tape the battery part on and test it better next time. For now, I’ll eat my penne with meatballs and do internet stuff. I spent all day on a website. I hope she likes it!

Groggylicious

Kitt O'Malley:

This time of year can be difficult for those of us with mood disorders. The recent time change made what the clock says is the late afternoon now the dark of night. My dogs know it is the night-time. They are not fooled by our clocks. Seasonal affective disorder now kicks in. Our bodies are affected by fewer hours of sun, overcast skies, and colder temperatures. As the outside temperatures cool, we just want to cocoon and crawl back under the covers. Granted, it is not so cool here in southern California, but even going from the 90’s to the 60’s has a significant effect on mood. Dyane Harwood describes how the time change and Fall season affects her in her latest blog post. Read on.

Originally posted on Birth of a New Brain:

Bobs #!

Good Monday morning, everyone,  how are you?

This past week I’ve gotten off to such a slooooow start in the mornings.  If it wasn’t for the roaring LifeFlight rescue helicopter I heard at 5:00 a.m. (we live across the street from its landing field) I wouldn’t be up right now.

The time change threw me off, which I expected, but I still hoped it wouldn’t affect me to the extent that it did.  Despite using my cheery Sunbox light as soon as I get up, I resemble a cast member from the film “Dawn of the Dead”.  I kind of look like this fellow, but with long brown hair.

imagesIt ain’t a pretty sight!

I suspect another culprit for my sluggification is the change of seasons.  I’m simply not a cold-weather gal; I was born and bred in balmy, 70 degree Los Angeles for heaven’s sake.  Although I still live in California, it gets…

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Filed under: Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Medication, Mental Health, Mood Cycling, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Triggers to Mood Cycling Tagged: SAD, seasonal affective disorder

Regrets

regretSo we get a phone call last night from my husband’s sister Patty. Patty is not my favorite person…not a hate thing…just sort of an “ick” thing. But more about that later.

So I can hear my calm even tempered husband on the phone with her and I know he is upset. It turns out that they have found out that her oldest son Jack has testicular cancer.

Jack is about 22 and is graduating in about a month (December) from college. I guess somehow someone found a lump and then they did the biopsy and said it has to come out NOW. They don’t know if it has spread but my husband got on the internet and I guess the odds are pretty good it hasn’t. They are taking it out this afternoon and then going to send him right home where he will rest a few days. Hopefully, he can finish up college and graduate. I would think the college would help him out here. (He only is missing a few weeks till the diploma.) And maybe all will be well and he can head right back to school in a couple of days.

Jack has a younger sister Ellen (19) and a younger brother Andy (17). All three of these kids are just a little younger than ours.

So you’re probably wondering what my big regret is. Well, it’s the fact that I have been a very absent aunt to these kids even though they live about 5 minutes away.

Before they were born, I never got along well with their mother. Everyone in the family agrees she is pretty distant and quirky. She is very bossy and a big know-it-all. She is impossible to get to know in a close sort of way. She is polite enough and in a crisis she will pitch in. But she’s odd. I would not hesitate to say I was closer to her own mother (my mother-in-law) than she was.

When our oldest child was a baby, Patty never babysat for her. Never. And when our second came along, same thing. But when Jack came along, Patty was suddenly interested in swapping child care. I was not. My kids were potty trained. Hers were infants and toddlers. And by then I had lots of sitters and friends to help with sitting.

So I wasn’t around Jack or the other two much when they were little. We had some family holidays together. We used to get together on Christmas Eve and have the kids open presents from the aunts and uncles. But that was about it. We’d go over there on Thanksgiving here and there but my kids complained so we stopped. We just started having all of the holidays at our house.

In my defense, (if you want to call it that), I was very ill most of their childhood. I missed their graduations and I can’t remember going to an event of theirs like a play or anything. But I was manic when they were little and incredibly depressed as they got older. I had a hard time making it to my own kids activities let alone theirs. I seriously was sick. And I was trying to hide it most of the time. Jack’s dad was a nice enough guy, but neither he nor Patty seems to get or care that I had depression. It was lonely being around them and I was always exhausted.

I have several friends who are always going on about doing things with their nieces and nephews. How they celebrate birthdays and go to holiday dinners with them. How they have baby showers for them, bake stuff for them, and fly out of town to see them. Patty’s kids are my only nieces and nephews and I have none of that and it is by my choice. (Well, and my sick brain’s.) I’d love to have more family who was sane and have more things to do with them. I think you CAN be over involved with family where it consumes your life, but I still would like more.

I know some things are way too late. It is too late to make any childhood memories with these kids. They may hate me or think I hate them…I have no idea. They may think I am insane and psychotic and they would be right. Who knows what their mother has told them about me?

My husband and sons are going over to visit Jack on Friday to see how he is doing. I was not going to go, but I was going to send a pan of great brownies and a funny card. For some reason, I feel sort of awkward visiting a young guy with testicular cancer. I don’t know if he’d feel embarrassed or not. But my husband says to go so I think I will. I also think I’d like to make sort of a fuss somehow over his college graduation. I just don’t want him to think I am going from zero to weirdo aunt quickly. He might want me to check my meds.

I also had the thought of sending Jack a short letter explaining my illness. But I quickly squashed that as being too weird. I don’t know if he’d understand that’s why I was such a slug aunt.

Then there is the path of least resistance and doing basically nothing. I have lots of friends and a few relatives I interact with. And dealing with these kids means I’d have to deal more with my sister-in-law. Ewww.

So, dear readers, you have gotten yourselves in trouble. After the great advice you gave me regarding Lori, I’m going to ask for some more. What do you think of all this?

PS…As for Lori…out of sight, out of mind. I am feeling much better not thinking of her. I do have one small dilemma. We are having a large Christmas open house. I know John will want to invite her husband. So I may need to invite Lori. But it’s not a big deal anymore. I can do it.

your faithful blogger,

lily

Crocheting, Coffee and Self Imposed Exile

In the interest of self-care and being in the middle of a rather deep depressive episode, I have stayed home from work for the last 2 days. Part of me just cannot handle going in right now. My self care is in the toilet and I worry about what the call offs will do to both my work record and my check book. But I have to push that aside and recognize that I am at a dangerously low point, one I need to safely get through.

Despite a love/hate relationship with my employer (which I think everyone can relate to) I must say I am blessed to have great health benefits and a wealth of resources for improving my physical and emotional well being. My employer offers a “disease management” program in which they provide additional care and coverage for people suffering from various chronic conditions. It covers everything from diabetes to ALS to depression. Essentially if you follow the care plan they set up and stay compliant on your medications, they reimburse you the cost of office visit copays and drug costs. Needless to say, with my financial situation being a disaster, I was all about signing up for the program. It’s a great relief to know that I can now go back to a more regular therapy schedule and still be able to pay for groceries.

Also, I was able to schedule an appointment with a therapist. I have to wait a bit longer than I’d like to see her, but knowing I have an appointment coming up is a big relief. I spent a lot of the last few days in relative quiet, crocheting, drinking coffee and snuggled up with my cat. I am not over the hurdle yet as far as my depression goes, but I have at least taken steps in the right direction. I want to thank my friends and family, and especially my internet family: Dyane, Kitt, Jen, Jenna and Kat. You all reached out despite your own struggles and knowing you’re all rooting for me certainly helps.

Tomorrow I am going to work, and it’s going to be hard but it’s time to emerge from my exile and try to be a functioning human again.

 

Filed under: Self Discovery, Wellness Warriors Tagged: bipolar, depression, emotions, healing, Mental Health, mental illness, therapy

Eric Arauz

Eric Arauz How Written and Oral Storytelling Saved MY Life 2-12-14 8.58 AM from International Bipolar Foundation on Vimeo.

Sunday I was particularly impressed by Eric Arauz‘s presentation on Conscious Storytelling. He gave us each a copy of his autobiography, An American’s Resurrection: My Pilgrimage from Child Abuse and Mental Illness to Salvation, which I am enjoying reading. The first thing I did once I grabbed a copy of his book was to check out his End Notes and his Arauzian Original Concepts. I was impressed and immediately knew I was going to like a guy who referenced Hesse, St. Augustine, Camus and Emerson among other great minds. This guy is an intellectual powerhouse. As I’ve been reading his book, I’ve been most impressed by the quality of his writing. For those of you who love well-crafted story-telling with an intellectual punch, read his book.

An American's Resurrection


Filed under: Alcoholism, Bipolar Disorder, Human Rights, IBPF, Involuntary Hospitalization, Mania, Mental Health, Public Speaking, Substance Abuse, Vocation, Writing Tagged: Eric Arauz, International Bipolar Foundation

What I Miss

Today it is freezing and there is some cheesy snow. You know the kind that doesn’t really seem to be from the sky but is on the ground non-the-less. So I thought that I would post some nice sunny pictures from California to show that even though I hated living there, there was still beauty to be had. Then I realized all my gorgeous sunny photos are locked up in storage jail on my primary computer.

It’s made me wish for my things yet again.  One day I will have one computer with my photography and Photoshop and illustrator on and one for all my games and things and they will be in my presence.

When we are in our home I will be able to sit down and write my book. I have a hard time just sitting on my laptop and focusing on my story(ies). I want to be able to sit in a comfortable computer chair and listen to music blaring full blast and just throw out my words until my fingers tire.

I had stopped creating when I was unmedicated and now I want to create something almost every day and I’m unable to really get into things because this is not my home and I can’t create the way that I really want to.

I miss being able to be slightly manic and write little novelettes and poems because there is no place to sit and listen to the voices in my minds eye tell me stories.

I’ll be posting more than my feelings next year, it will be all of me. Sometime in January I will hit a full year of posting and next year I want to do the same thing only bigger, better..  I guess we shall see.

 


The Forgiveness Letter: Life On The Inside, Part 3

Here’s another big thing that happened during my hospital stay.

I had a wonderful case manager named Ted (name changed to protect his privacy) who visited me, sometimes more than once a day, to talk and do a little therapy. Like most people with a psychiatric history I deal with a lot of guilt and shame, especially when it comes to the fact that I have one. As I told Ted, I can’t help it. It’s the way I was raised. I would never in a million years judge anyone else with a mental illness, but with myself I’m as tough as nails. I have no right to be sick. I have no right to seek help when I need it. And I certainly have no right to let my condition affect others.

So when he mentioned writing a letter of forgiveness to myself, I automatically demurred, citing my upbringing as the reason for hanging onto the guilt and shame even though the people who perpetrated it are long dead. But then I thought about it: what might happen if I did forgive myself? Would the world come to an end? Or might I be able to move forward in my life and leave all that behind?

Alone in my room that night, I began to scribble notes for my letter. At first it felt false and unnatural, but as I warmed to my subject, the words flowed more smoothly and the thoughts behind them came more rapidly. Here’s what I wrote:

Dear Self:

It’s been a long time coming, but I need to write this letter so I can finally let go of the self-flagellation and self-hatred I’ve hung onto all these years. This will be a hard habit to break. Fear and loathing are all I’ve known since I was very small. But break it I must if I am ever to become a whole person.

THEREFORE:

I forgive myself for having a mental illness that I never asked for, didn’t want, and can’t get rid of. It’s nobody’s fault…..not even my own.

I forgive myself for my behaviors during mood episodes. I am not always in control and that frightens me as much, if not more than it frightens others. But I am doing my best to minimize the disruption to our lives by taking my meds and getting enough sleep and seeing my doctor regularly.

I forgive myself for being an inadequate mother. The children have already done so, and so far not one of them has seen the need to sit on a psychiatrist’s couch in an effort to get me out of their systems. I did do some things right.

I forgive myself for not being the woman I think my husband deserves. Not once in all our married life has he ever said I lacked anything as a wife—I put that judgment on myself.

I forgive myself for scaring the hell out of my loved ones from time to time. Will looks worn out and I know part of that is due to worrying about me, but he says there’s nothing to forgive and I’ve got to let it go.

I forgive myself for being afraid to NEED. It’s OK to call my doctor when I’m feeling fragile instead of waiting until I’m desperate. It’s OK to ask for support during difficult times. So many people have offered to help, and it’s OK to let them do it. Really.

I forgive myself for losing jobs, being irresponsible with money, and generally causing problems. It’s done and I can’t undo it. All I can do is keep trying to make it better.

And perhaps the most important of all:

I forgive myself for not being all things to all people, and even  for disappointing them every now and again. I’m only human and I can’t meet everyone’s expectations all the time. It’s time to let go of being a “people-pleaser” and avoid getting sucked into their dramas. And it’s time to regard myself at least as well as I do others—to draw boundaries and have them respected.

Love,

Me

Now, I can’t guarantee that I won’t still be hard on myself sometimes—over half a century of self-criticism doesn’t go away overnight—but I have this letter as a reference point. It’s all good. :-)