Daily Archives: November 30, 2014

Santa Baby

Pictures 121Pictures 116Pictures 122santaExcuse the blurry header. I am working on that. As my friends and family will tell you, I am really technologically challenged. This blog is pretty anonymous so none of them (except one) read it. I seriously think the rest of them think I am lying when I say I write a blog. They don’t think I know how to type on the computer. (They’re sort of correct.)

So it is November 30th and I am exhausted. Woke up about 3 am with a migraine and took an Imitrex. So I now have that Imitrex “high”. Decided not to go to church as the Imitrex high often causes me to want to lie down wherever I am. And the pews might look very tempting. We do have our Christmas Angel gifts all ready but they aren’t due till next Sunday. So we are under control there.

Thanksgiving. Whew! We wound up with 17 eaters and 2 more who blew in late for food and dessert. The table looked great. I mean it looked like something you’d see in a magazine. (Well, I thought so anyway.) This was all thanks to garage sales and deep discounts at Hobby Lobby. The food was also good. My brother-in-law made short work of carving the turkey. My husband said a nice prayer. And the conversation was good. The kids actually helped. I got up after dinner and started on the dishes and the kids dried. I washed most everything but the serving dishes which I filled to soak. My dearest middle son did the silverware. And my husband happily entertained the guests in the living room with trivia games, etc.

I never made it to the trivia games. I took off my shoes during the dishes and when I finished my part I plopped down in the den. A few people wandered in and we had some good chats. I think everyone had a good time.

I collapsed in bed that night with some mess still in the kitchen. I figured…no problem…we can finish that in the morning. It wasn’t dirty dishes, just a few pans soaking and some stuff strewn around. Plus, we had the tables and chairs to take down.

The kicker to all this is that I had made arrangements for two good friends, Dianna and Arlene, to come over at one to help decorate the house for Christmas. So my husband and I and wonderful middle son got up and got to work on the kitchen. Daughter and other son wandered in to help also. (They were good helpers but were missing the holiday spirit. Well, so was I at this point.) We FINALLY got that kitchen done and the guys got to work on Christmas.

Step one for Christmas at our house involved moving a hoard of containers from the garage to the entry. Somewhere in there is our tree. It’s a big tree as we have a pretty tall ceiling right where it goes. I like to put it right in front in the big window so people can see it when they drive by. (I always like looking at other trees in windows. I get a big kick out of that.) So my boys put the tree up and we starting fluffing up those smashed branches. And that was all we needed to do before our help arrived.

And arrive they did. Both of them have downsized into apartments in the last year or two so they don’t decorate much. Fortified with mimosas and the Christmas radio channel, they have a good time at my house. Dianna provides the artistic eye, while Arlene and I provide the labor.

Yes, my bipolar self was getting tired at this point. But not depressed a bit. That was nice.

So Dianna decides we are going with a Christmas red, green, silver, gold, and white color scheme. No blues, purples, pinks, or limes, etc. unless they were handmade ornaments made by the kids. I can’t tell you how good it felt to weed all these weird colors out. I plopped them in a box and am giving them away. I even threw some in there that were just plain ugly. And the tree looks spectacular! We added white and red poinsettias in the branches and some “picks” of different things. (I hope to get a pic of the tree on here….maybe will ask one of my techno kids how.) The tree isn’t quite like those fancy ones you see in stores but for the money we spent on it, it looks darn good. (Again, lots of garage sale stuff.)

Dianna also opened all the containers and put up all of the wreaths and nativity sets and houses and all the little junk. We tried to stay with the Christmas reds and greens but this was harder as there was more sentimental stuff floating around. I did give a pile away that was burgundy, blue, or teal. These colors are all great, but I have to admit it looks a lot better when you stick with a color theme. Prior to this my house looked like a “bad potpourri of color”. (This from my youngest son.)

The last stop was wiring the heavy garland on the banisters. This looks just fantastic. Really nice. The ladies left and my husband took over with putting all of the empty containers away. He and my youngest also started putting lights out front.

Now we just put lights on bushes and around trees, etc. To crawl up on our roof is a major thing. But the guys did a nice job. The whole thing looks tasteful.

The rooms in the house all need a good pick up and sweeping. Lots of fake pine needles, extension cords, old newspaper, etc. But I am incredibly relieved the tree and lights are up. I feel like I am ahead of the game. If I feel crappy from here on in, at least it looks like I made a great effort.

Hopefully, Santa will stop by.

Happy Humbug

It’s a truism that holidays are difficult, not to say hazardous, for those of us with mental disorders. But there are a variety of reasons and a variety of reactions and – dare I say it – a variety of coping mechanisms.

First, let me say, that despite the fact that I was already depressed or bipolar as a child, the holidays were marvelous. Our granny, maiden aunt, and uncle lived a few hours away and we spent Every Holiday there. (My uncle drank, but not when we were kids.)

On Thanksgiving, we’d arrive, the adults would eat themselves into a coma, and then nap while we kids were sent of to the movies.

Christmas was similar, except that we’d get up, open presents from our parents (and “Santa” for the biggies), pile into the car, and head to granny’s. The adults would eat themselves into a coma, and then nap while we kids were sent of to the movies. (I specifically remember The Sting and The Andromeda Strain, during which I saw my first picture of a naked male butt.)

There was no tension involved – no grand dining table, no fancy dress, no distant relatives, no formal manners. We’d simply fill a plate with home cooking, perch on a sofa (which was called the davenport) or chair, and chow down.

My birthday falls between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but poised well enough between the two that it was never combined with either one. Back then, birthdays were simple – cake and frosting from box mixes, four to six neighbor kids, presents (no gift bags), and maybe a couple of party games. (It was at someone else’s birthday party that I was traumatized during a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey.)

How could anything in later life measure up to those?

Well, it couldn’t. My first Thanksgiving away from home was when I was at college, and we ate lasagna, not turkey. I believe it was the first time I had lasagna. Ever.

Since then all the holidays have gone downhill, or I have.

Any more, they’re a chore, a relentlass gray blob from November through January. (Halloween starts it off. I can’t get with that either.)

For years, I kept up some of the traditions for my parents’ sake. My mother in particular loved everything to do with Christmas – the Macy’s parade, the tree with my father’s favorite old smudge-faced angel on top, crocheted holiday sweaters and snowflakes and handmade ornaments from her foreign penpals and neighbors and church friends.

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My first Christmas in my own apartment, I had a small fake tree. When I got married my husband and I tried to get into the spirit with surprise gifts and selecting and decorating my mother’s tree and inviting a divorced friend to dinner with us.

But I was sinking rapidly. At various places I worked, all the ladies sported store-bought Christmas sweaters and sweatshirts (Halloween ones, too) that I thought were just awful. But one year, in a desperate attempt to fit in, I bought holiday sweaters on sale in January to wear the next year. Of course, by then I had lost the job.

Dan and I continued the tradition of dining with our friend John, but our venue changed to Chinese restaurants, where we were kept company by Jews, pagans, atheists, and, no doubt, other depressives and bipolars.

One year Dan was visiting his mother and I was on my own. I tried. I really did. I trotted out a festive holiday sweater and little wrapped-present earrings, and went out to a buffet that offered turkey and beef and ham. But I sat by myself and listened surreptitiously to my iPod. And not holiday music, either. By then about all I could stand was the Christmas jazz from the Charlie Brown TV show.

This year, we ate out on Thanksgiving – but not at the swanky hotel buffet we sometimes took my mother to, or any of the other mega-buffets. We went to a diner that John used to love. I had pork chops and lemon pie. On Christmas I’m likely to be by myself again and may just get festive with a Stouffer’s mac-n-cheese.

Comfort food seems appropriate, and the cats like to lick the dish. Then for dessert – Zoloft and Ativan and Lamictal and Abilify and Ambien. Yum. Visions of psychotropics dance in my head.

 

P.S. I wrote about a Thanksgiving with John on my other blog. If you’d like to see it, go to http://janetcobur.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/thanksgiving-ratatouille-and-a-near-death-experience/

And if you’d like to see my rant about the “War on Christmas,” go to http://janetcobur.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/lets-call-a-truce-on-christmas/

 


SoulCollage®

SC-Bipolar

Bipolar Disorder: I am One who has an altered mind.

For about a month, I’ve driven to Des Moines on Sundays to attend the Unitarian Church there.  I love the facility—an eco-friendly building nestled in the woods with a wooden footbridge from the parking lot that crosses a burbling stream.  Every week, I’ve met interesting, like-minded people with amazing stories to tell.  The messages are uplifting, and I get to sing. I feel very welcome and comfortable there.

But, the biggest surprise was the load of activities and classes that the community offers.  This one caught my attention immediately:

SOULCOLLAGE®
Wednesdays, 7 – 8:30 pm
11/12, 11/19, 12/3 & 12/10

SoulCollage® is a creative process in which we make our own deck of collaged cards for the purpose of self exploration and self acceptance. Images are intuitively selected and cards are created in a manner that accesses your deeper self and facilitates a journey to wholeness. Created by Seena Frost, SoulCollage® allows you to create a deck that is the “Story of You.” This is a fun, intuitive process that requires no artistic experience but allows every one to becomes their own artist. The four-week class will include information about SoulCollage®, making of the cards, and working with the cards to understand their meaning. 

I couldn’t imagine a class more tailor-made for me!  I had to go.

I loved it from the moment I walked into the room.  Native American drum music in the background, chairs set in a circle, simple instructions.

Don’t think.  Pick three images that either attract or repulse you.

There were hundreds of images culled from magazines and who-knew-where-else laid out on tables.  We silently walked around, looking at them all, then took the ones that called to us.  I consciously kept my brain from rushing ahead to what it might mean, what I would collage with it, blahblahblah.  The point was to follow our intuition.

SC-Captive

The Captive: I am One who is blind to the assistance in front of me.

The way we introduced ourselves to the class was to pick one of the images and speak from it, starting with “I am One who…”  This image would be the base for our first card, a part of our selves that made its presence known.

Since I was a little manic at the time, I immersed myself in the process, sent away for the book and supplies (dang cheap, I may add), and started making cards at home.  I’ve been collecting images my whole life with no idea what to do with them except keep them safe.  A lot of the images I use in my collage and mixed-media art, but many are too weird or personal to be appropriate for pieces meant to appeal to others.  So, I pulled out my huge stash of images to see if any of them spoke to me the SoulCollage® way.  The clouds parted.  Angels sang.

This process is a little like making your own personal Tarot deck.  There are Suits as in Tarot, but these Suits are a bit different.  The Committee Suit are cards that depict parts of one’s personality, while the Community Suit picture actual people, places, pets, significant events in one’s life.  The Companion Suit is comprised of animal guides connected to the seven chakras, and the Council Suit collects the archetypal energies (much like the Major Arcana in Tarot).  This is Play that could last a lifetime.

Our class didn’t meet this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, but our facilitator invited us to a card-making gathering she was having at her office on Friday (Not surprisingly, Maureen is a psychotherapist specializing in PTSD).  I went, bringing some of my images and using some of hers.  I love the silence of doing the work, then the community aspect when we speak from the cards and process what they mean for us.  I fully intend to participate in any workshops Maureen holds, especially the one on The Companion Suit.  It seems like a little guidance and meditation might be in order to “find” these special animal guides.

The Observer: I am One who sees Reality without judgement.

I love turning off my brain and just letting the cards form.  I never know what’s going to happen or what images will demand to be put together.  It’s alchemy.  And deep Play.  And manic or not, I love it.  Because it’s an adventure, and I’m all about that.


Sunday Blah

I love this quote, but I don’t believe it in the slightest:

‘Redemption – that’s when you buy back all your bad karma – so you can steal heaven.’ – Carol O’Connell

Took the dogs to the beach at 6 this morning, got to get into a routine of doing it early over the holiday season. Came home and had some raspberries and yoghurt … I really am a ton better. Yesterday I gardened and cleaned windows. It’s completely out of character for me btw.

‘Rinpoche. I do not have the strength not to hope.’
‘I wonder about you sometimes,’ Choje said. ‘I worry that you are too hard a seeker.’
Shan nodded sadly. ‘I do not know how not to seek.’
– Eliot Pattison

The only fly in the ointment is wakeful agitation at night. My sleep hygiene is good, so it ain’t that. If I distract myself by reading it’s ok, but jeeeeez I have to read a lot to avoid the intrusive thoughts (maybe flight of ideas too). As much as I love reading, I’d love to get some more sleep. I’m not good enough at meditating to avoid my own mind when it’s revving so high. Worry, anger, grief – bangbangbang through my head like  underground trains. I’m seeing my psychiatrist later in the week though, so there’s no panic attached.

A note for myself, 4 months after diagnosis:

Meds recap:
Cipramil
Cipramil, Seroquel
Cipramil, Lithium
Serdep, Lithium
Serdep, Lithium, Wellbutrin
Serdep, Wellbutrin, Lamotrigine

Bacon defrosts faster if you glare angrily at it, right?

A Relaxing Sunday on a Saturdaysubn

Today has felt so much like Sunday. Long afternoon nap, watching the series Grimm with hubby and just basically relaxing.

There hasn’t been to much tension today and my tummy is feeling slightly better. I still have heartburn from hell but it will pass, it always does.

Even went out to the house and just sort of hanged around a bit. It makes the time pass a little faster. Also makes daydreaming about what it will look like when it is done.

Also drove around looking at Christmas decorations. They are always so beautiful. Maybe I won’t get sad this Christmas. I got hubby some cool gifts and making him happy makes me happy.

I think I am finally getting over my depression.. fingers crossed.