Daily Archives: December 4, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Language Frustrates Me

Language Frustrates Me

For #ThrowbackThursday, I am posting something I wrote about thirty years ago when I was as an undergraduate. I would submit it as a writing sample when I applied for jobs.


Language frustrates me. Because of it, I think in distinctions; I draw lines where they do not in fact exist; I categorize and differentiate. All this I do to simplify, to impose order. All this so that I need not think or feel or know too much. All this so that I may function in a complex world. Otherwise, I would be overwhelmed. Or so I believe. But, in actuality, my attempts to simplify, to order the world around me, make my world more complex. More complex because I distort. More complex, for language is inherently imprecise. And, I get caught in my errors, in my ignorance, and in my arrogance. I err when I oversimplify. I close my eyes to what is really going on when I ignore subtleties that elude definition. And, I arrogantly play God when I try to control my environment, imposing on it an order that is not necessarily there. Still, I convince myself that making these distinctions somehow empowers me. But the definitions, the distinctions, the categorizations I make become cages, and I find myself, not the objects I define, behind the bars. For in limiting what is limitless, in trying to contain what will not fit into any box or cage, I limit and imprison myself.


This piece of prose poetry means a great deal to me. It still resonates. Retyping it now makes me question why I would submit it as a writing sample for legal assistant, counseling, and business positions. The piece is perhaps a bit too telling. Guess I’ve always been I. My questioning and open nature, my love for ideas, my ambivalence for language, my theological bent, are part and parcel of who I am. Have been and still are.

Too bad I didn’t save more of my writing, that I pitched it all in an attempt to clean house. This piece, though, I kept in my résumé file.


Filed under: About God, Mysticism, Poetry, Theology, Writing Tagged: #ThrowbackThursday

Video Blog, Enjoy!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xC0VJOeml_Q


On The Subject Of Madness

  Words, like the chisel of the carver, can create what never existed before rather than simply describe what already exists.  As a man speaks, not only is the thing which he is declaring coming into existence, but also the man himself.    – Martin Heidegger What exactly is madness? Is madness the result of words, […]

Teaching

For the first time since I started back teaching, it’s been a real struggle this semester.  Early during registration, my department head called me and asked if I would take on another section of Composition I.  I was already scheduled to teach two sections, as usual.  I was excited and ready to go back to school anyway, and one more class couldn’t be that difficult to take on, I thought.  I told her if she could schedule it at 8 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesday, I would be glad to take it on.  I was already teaching at 9:30 and 11 a.m. on Monday and Wednesday, so I thought all it would do was make my day start a little earlier.

However, I did not reckon on the additional burden of 25 more papers to grade every other week.  With almost 75 students, grading papers quickly became an overwhelming job.  I managed well early in the semester, but as we got further in, I realized that I was having a harder and harder time fitting the time to grade into my daily schedule. Finally the inevitable happened–the day came to give the appears back and I hadn’t finished grading them.  In fact, I had barely started.

That perceived “failure” on my part made me realize I had bitten off more than I could chew.  That began a chain reaction–I would dread grading them and put it off, only to rush at the last minute to finish them.  That did nothing to ease my stress levels about teaching as I began to realize that my goal of eventually teaching full-time was quite possibly not going to be realized–if I couldn’t handle three classes two days a week, there was no way I could teach a full load five days a week.

That realization sent me into a mini-depression, which made doing the job even harder.  If I couldn’t work towards my goal, then I suddenly didn’t want to teach any more at all.  Which was a problem considering I had already signed up to teach three classes in the spring as well.  I talked with my counselor, with Bob and with my psychiatrist about these issues.  All agreed that before quitting altogether, that I needed to go back to teaching only two classes for a while and see how I handled that again.

I called my department head and spoke to her about the difficulties I was having and respectfully asked to be able to let go of the one Composition I class I was signed up for and to just be able to teach the two Composition II classes I had agreed to.  She was open to that, although disappointed because registration had already started and I had waited so long to tell her.

So please think about me next semester as I go back and regroup to see what kind of future I have in teaching.  I don’t want to be part-time for the rest of my life, but I’m going to have to either get a lot stronger in handling my bipolar or find a new goal to work towards.  Thanks you for your support.


#reverb14 Day Four: Take Good Care

Reverb BB (2)

We are all lightning rods, conduits for that which

the Universe wants born into this world.

What energies did you channel this year?

As in many years, perhaps every year since I realized I was not going to “beat” the mental illnesses I live with, or even “ignore them into in in-existence,” I spent 2014 “taking care:”  Taking care means a variety of things.  It means I slip-slide from preventing symptoms to managing symptoms to minimizing symptoms to just white-knuckling it.

Taking care, for me, means staying on a time schedule, making sure days are structured, taking medications, attending doctor’s appointment after appointment, keeping up with my physical and emotional health, setting good boundaries, and many other things.

It often means sacrificing what I really *want* to do for what I *must* in order to stay well.  This was especially true when I was younger, as in I couldn’t (without extreme consequences) go out and party all night or drink excessively (without mood shifts and worse).

I have tasted the freedom and joy and peace, however briefly, that comes with a period of markedly fewer symptoms.  If you have lived a life of hell, and are then introduced to a world where the ground is steady under your feet, you will do whatever possible to keep that state going.  That being said, I am highly motivated to do what it takes to find evenness in life, to find a balance, and to sort out the rest of the world when I get there..


Filed under: Reverb14 Tagged: anxiety, Bipolar, blogging, depression, mental illness, mental-health, prompts, reverb14, self-care

Letter To Myself: On 2014

wpid-img_20141204_154030.jpg

Hey there, chick.

So it’s December, and at the closing of a year we like to do that thing where we reflect on what we have done, the achievements we have made, all the awesome stuff we did in 2014. You know the thing. Everyone does it.

But the thing is, 2014 wasn’t an awesome year. It wasn’t even quarter to an awesome year. It was downright miserable.

I know you had all these plans for 2014. You were going to start your PhD, you had been offered a scholarship that only 10 other university students received. You were going to present your research findings at a big interstate conference. After all these years of struggling you were finally making some money. You were going to have a baby. Or at least have fun trying. You were going to look at building a house. Everything seemed to be going right. 2014 was going to be your year.

Well, that didn’t happen.

I know that you look back, and you try, but you can’t see anything particularly positive about 2014. I mean, yeah, you’re alive. And yeah, the rest of your family is healthy. But everyone around you seems to be going on fancy holidays (or even unfancy holidays), building houses, having babies, getting promotions, actually being able to eat out at new restaurants without having to come home to barf. Living their lives, basically. And you’re sitting here now, typing in bed, with a fever, a queasy stomach, and a new script for Lithium, just like you have been for the past 11 months.

But you see, I think you’re looking at it all wrong.

Yeah. It was a shit year. But that doesn’t mean it was wasted.
You see, you learned a lot this year. You learned how to treat your body and your mind, and what happens if you ignore your health. You learned to put yourself first. You learned what changes are necessary for recovery. You learned what you are allergic to. You learned what medication and treatments work for you – and which ones don’t. You learned about your diagnoses. You learned the value of health. You learned who your true supporters are. You learned that your marriage can make it through the toughest of times, and you can still laugh together. You learned how resilient and strong your son is. You learned that stigma is still ever present, and this fuelled your passion to pursue stigma reduction research . But most importantly, you learned that YOU CAN DO IT. You can get through it. You can survive. Because you did.

You’ve come a long way, baby. Less than six months ago you were in a locked ward, periodically being shocked (as in electroshocked…although I’m sure you witnessed various shocking events as well. Actually, looking back. YOU were probably the one instigating the shocking events) and medicated. You were hallucinating. You couldn’t keep down, like, ANYTHING. You were being fed cans of formula. Dude, you could barely even walk. You were so sick.

And now, look! You can walk. You’re even exercising. You’ve withdrawn from fifteen of the seventeen medications that you were put on – a feat which is pretty damn amazing in so little time. Yeah, you have the odd vomit attack, but you can eat a whole lot more than cans of formula, chicken and rice. You’ve lost nearly 6kgs of your medication weight gain in the last three weeks.

And as for the other stuff…chill. You’ll get there. Stop trying to DO everything and BE everything when you’re barely out of hospital and still dealing with chronic illness. Give yourself a little breathing room.

The house? It will happen. You know you are an expert at making things happen. It will just take more time than expected. The baby? Relax! You’re 28 years old, the biological clock does not have to start ticking yet. So what if your kids have a big age gap? That’s life. And it totally saves on daycare fees (and quite possibly, sanity). The PhD? You’ll go back in January and it will work out or it won’t. If it doesn’t, if you are too unwell, you can ALWAYS go back to it in a few years time. You could work somewhere. Or you could become an awesome stay at home mum. It’ll work out. And however it works out will be for the best.

So cut yourself some slack. It was a crap year for sure. But you have picked yourself up, dusted yourself off and are ready to try again. And that perseverance, that determination, that positive attitude that I know you have at least SOME of the time. That’s what counts.

Life isn’t a competition, and it isn’t a race. You’ll get there, chick. It’s just been one helluva set back. But don’t forget –  EVERYBODY has their struggles.

2014 isn’t a year that should be commiserated. 2014 is a year that should be celebrated. Because you did it. We all did.


H


My Brain Is Confused

I cancelled all my therapy sessions but made an appt for the hair dresser. I’m getting it all cut off. Probably will lose another 2 pounds there since I’ve let it get so long. I found this super cute cut I want and hopefully it will be flattering to my face. I know it will give me much more ease of wear. Plus I get to go back to vibrant red as opposed to boring dirty blonde.

My mood has been better today it seems like things are taking an upswing and hopefully it keeps that way. My meds should help me through the anxiety of going out and doing things and looking better should help me feel better about going out. Hopefully it will ease all my anxiety I have been having lately. I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow and maybe I will put up a pic of the new hair too!

 


The Truth About Scars


 
 
I was sitting on my daughter Sophia’s bed and we were having our nightly chat, running through the day, giggling over silly things that happened at school, wondering whether the beginnings of puberty might be as angst-ridden for her as it was for me, and regarding the divorce, that yes, it was absolutely okay to feel sad and angry and confused. 
And then Sophia ran her fingertip up my forearm and said, “How did you really get all these scars?  It wasn’t really from a cat, was it?”

The cat.  The crazy, mysterious unnamed cat had been my demonic perpetrator every time Sophia had asked about the cross-hatching of scars on my forearms.  Of course, no cat could have methodically clawed me in such a brutal, linear fashion.  More like the regular rings of a tree or the centimeter marks ticking up a ruler than any irrational, frenzied clawing. 
But because Sophia has herself been scratched up by her own kitties.  Because Sophia has always been so young and innocent and believed that I would tell her the truth.  Because Sophia wouldn’t know that it would be conceivable to pick up a razor, a shard of glass, or a knife and cut into your very own self why would she think my scars come from anywhere else?

“Well,” I said, “no.”  She was old enough, now, to know.  I live in truth and my relationship with my daughter is one based in appropriate truth.  If I did the calculations, by the time I was her age, twelve, I was already edging toward my descent into depression and two years away from my first drink and first time cutting.  She needed to know I’d been through it and come out on the other side and that she could come to me if in peril.
Sophia ran her finger over my scars.  “Did you get them from cutting?”

I held my breath.  No.  I couldn’t breathe.  What I was most afraid of—that she would know—and she could see—and I had to get this moment right because so much was riding on it.  She would remember if I would tell her the truth so in the future she could come to me and speak her truth.
“I did,” I said.  “I went through a really hard, long time when I thought that would make me feel better.”

“We learned about it in Health class,” she said.  “But I still don’t understand why someone would cut themselves.  Why did you?”

“Oh honey, it’s hard to explain.  But I’ll try.  When I started out, when I was a teenager, I was really depressed and alone.  And I thought feeling the pain of cutting myself would help me feel better.  Feeling the pain on the outside would make the inside pain feel real.”

“Couldn’t you talk to your parents or friends?”  She leaned her head into my shoulder.  I wrapped my arm around her.
“At the time I didn’t think my parents wanted to hear about how I was really feeling.  They thought if I tried to be happy, I would be happy.  And my friends didn’t really want to hear about how I really felt either.  And after a while, cutting myself became a way of dying a little bit.  Does that help?”

“I just don’t like thinking of you like that.  It was like when you used to go away all the time to the hospital.  I missed you so much.”
We looked at each other, both of us crying.

“Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve been in the hospital?  Almost four years.  My medicine has been working and I’ve been working to stay in a place that is stable which means I get to stay here with you.”
Sophia hugged me and then sat back.  “Remember what you told me about the scar on my eyebrow?  It gives me character.  You just have a lot of character.”      

The Truth About Scars


 
 
I was sitting on my daughter Sophia’s bed and we were having our nightly chat, running through the day, giggling over silly things that happened at school, wondering whether the beginnings of puberty might be as angst-ridden for her as it was for me, and regarding the divorce, that yes, it was absolutely okay to feel sad and angry and confused. 
And then Sophia ran her fingertip up my forearm and said, “How did you really get all these scars?  It wasn’t really from a cat, was it?”

The cat.  The crazy, mysterious unnamed cat had been my demonic perpetrator every time Sophia had asked about the cross-hatching of scars on my forearms.  Of course, no cat could have methodically clawed me in such a brutal, linear fashion.  More like the regular rings of a tree or the centimeter marks ticking up a ruler than any irrational, frenzied clawing. 
But because Sophia has herself been scratched up by her own kitties.  Because Sophia has always been so young and innocent and believed that I would tell her the truth.  Because Sophia wouldn’t know that it would be conceivable to pick up a razor, a shard of glass, or a knife and cut into your very own self why would she think my scars come from anywhere else?

“Well,” I said, “no.”  She was old enough, now, to know.  I live in truth and my relationship with my daughter is one based in appropriate truth.  If I did the calculations, by the time I was her age, twelve, I was already edging toward my descent into depression and two years away from my first drink and first time cutting.  She needed to know I’d been through it and come out on the other side and that she could come to me if in peril.
Sophia ran her finger over my scars.  “Did you get them from cutting?”

I held my breath.  No.  I couldn’t breathe.  What I was most afraid of—that she would know—and she could see—and I had to get this moment right because so much was riding on it.  She would remember if I would tell her the truth so in the future she could come to me and speak her truth.
“I did,” I said.  “I went through a really hard, long time when I thought that would make me feel better.”

“We learned about it in Health class,” she said.  “But I still don’t understand why someone would cut themselves.  Why did you?”

“Oh honey, it’s hard to explain.  But I’ll try.  When I started out, when I was a teenager, I was really depressed and alone.  And I thought feeling the pain of cutting myself would help me feel better.  Feeling the pain on the outside would make the inside pain feel real.”

“Couldn’t you talk to your parents or friends?”  She leaned her head into my shoulder.  I wrapped my arm around her.
“At the time I didn’t think my parents wanted to hear about how I was really feeling.  They thought if I tried to be happy, I would be happy.  And my friends didn’t really want to hear about how I really felt either.  And after a while, cutting myself became a way of dying a little bit.  Does that help?”

“I just don’t like thinking of you like that.  It was like when you used to go away all the time to the hospital.  I missed you so much.”
We looked at each other, both of us crying.

“Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve been in the hospital?  Almost four years.  My medicine has been working and I’ve been working to stay in a place that is stable which means I get to stay here with you.”
Sophia hugged me and then sat back.  “Remember what you told me about the scar on my eyebrow?  It gives me character.  You just have a lot of character.”      

#reverb14 Day Three: How to Love an Imperfect Life

Reverb BB (2)

It’s all too easy to put off loving where we are until everything is perfect.

What can you love about where you are now?

I would like to add that it is all to easy to put off LIVING in the space we were meant to be if things are not ideal.  We may have a hard time fulfilling our desires of ABC because XYZ is not going well.

There is something in life that I personally must accept and reevaluate and remind myself of every day — everything is not ever going to be perfect ALL AT ONE TIME.  This has been so true for me as of late.  When my (non-existent) romantic life was going perfectly (in that it was not existing ever-so-quietly and I was very happy with being single), I was not able to fully appreciate it because there was stress and imperfection and strife in other areas.

Something Goddess of Mindfulness has been saying for years — “this (XYZ) is not just a bipolar thing, it’s a HUMAN thing.”. As in, my reaction to a certain stressors is not because of my history with trauma or because I am bipolar — it is an average human reaction.  It is important to find these and sort through them, because failing perfection means failing to truly love where we are in the moment and guess what, Rosa… not a bipolar thing, when I had always thought that the case.

So what can I love about where I am now?  I have the strongest relationship with my mother, my dad, and my sister than I have ever in my life.  There was a lot of pulling together that came from the stress of the past few months.

I can accept that I am not “perfect” and still love where I am, who I am, because the people I care most about have made it so very clear that I am not broken, something to be fixed.  That I am human and deserve love and attention and empathy and support and assistance.  After building our relationship up very carefully over time, I honestly love that I feel as if I can call my sister up anytime, whether I am doing well or am in crisis, and that she will be there to listen and problem-solve with me.

And its the same with my dad.  We have painstakingly worked on our relationship, and while it isn’t perfect, I still love it, still treasure it, sometimes revel in awe of it.  And Mom — we’ve always been close but I feel like I have been able to be there a bit for her like she has been for me for so many years.  Not in the same way, but I can be supportive…I have that capacity now and it is nice that I, at times, feel like I am able to encourage her as she has encouraged me for my whole life.

So yes, family and family relationships are what I think of for this prompt.  Many areas of my life are imperfect in some way, even flawed and miserable.  What keeps me loving where I am at are those three beautiful people.  Even without this so-called perfection, my family makes my life sparkle and shine even in the spots that are dark and cobwebbed.


Filed under: Reverb14 Tagged: #reverb14, anxiety, Bipolar, blogging, dad, depression, Family, love, mom, perfection, prompt, relationships, sister