Daily Archives: December 22, 2014

Let’s Kick’em While They’re Down!

I’m a Bipolar Mama married to an OCD Daddy. While it is great to have someone that understands where you are coming from with a diagnosis it’s hard to be down when there is someone not in control of their feelings who kicks you emotionally.

I manage the finances and with two people on disability and three children, Christmas can prove to be difficult. I was able to do a layaway and complete my two younger children but my older son who unfortunately has more expensive taste hasn’t been purchased for yet. He knows about the Christmas Truth but I have to rely on my mother, thankfully, to help me. This is very stressful for me. I have so many emotions going on right now and it all came tumbling down today.

Not helpful is my defensive husband who gets mad at me for being upset and stressed and then lashes out at me which sends me spiraling into bad places. So here I am, a couple days before Christmas, hiding in my basement with my old friend Clonipin, waiting for it to kick in, trying to talk myself into some form of coherent thought. UUUGGGGHHHHH. No wonder I have an ulcer


Let’s Kick’em While They’re Down!

I’m a Bipolar Mama married to an OCD Daddy. While it is great to have someone that understands where you are coming from with a diagnosis it’s hard to be down when there is someone not in control of their feelings who kicks you emotionally.

I manage the finances and with two people on disability and three children, Christmas can prove to be difficult. I was able to do a layaway and complete my two younger children but my older son who unfortunately has more expensive taste hasn’t been purchased for yet. He knows about the Christmas Truth but I have to rely on my mother, thankfully, to help me. This is very stressful for me. I have so many emotions going on right now and it all came tumbling down today.

Not helpful is my defensive husband who gets mad at me for being upset and stressed and then lashes out at me which sends me spiraling into bad places. So here I am, a couple days before Christmas, hiding in my basement with my old friend Clonipin, waiting for it to kick in, trying to talk myself into some form of coherent thought. UUUGGGGHHHHH. No wonder I have an ulcer


Storm Chasers – Jenna Blum

“Their breath is agitation, and their life/ A storm whereon they ride.”
Byron

Is it a book review? Is it a therapy session?*

Charles is a bipolar (type 1, rapid cycling, psychotic features) stormchaser, who disappeared for two decades. His twin, Karena gets a phone call from a psych ward, but by the time she gets there, he’s vanished again. She joins professional stormchasers on a bus tour to look for him. Plot and flashbacks happen.

I was compelled to write about bipolarity in a storm context, to explore through Charles and Karena these “storms in the mind’s eye.” These mood storms and their consequences comprise the heart of the novel.
Jenna Blum

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Watching bipolarity happen in a storm context made me wince at times. I’ve read more first person than onlooker descriptions … it’s all rather sobering. Maybe some relief there too, that it isn’t about me.

Of course, the present is where the narrator must stand, looking back and forth and trying not to get whiplash. In books, shadows must always be faced. A tragedy, a secret, a suicide attempt, a love story.

“This is not safe,” Karena says. “They are all fucking crazy. This is not safe at all!”

You’ll learn plenty about storms; the author is a stormchaser herself. She communicates the thrill and the fear well. What the reader learns about bipolar is often a bit stilted, she’s not bipolar and she doesn’t always quite get under its skin the way a novelist like Miriam Toews does.

Ironically, it is when Charles is coming out of a depressive period that he must be watched most closely, for then he is capable of more than suicidal ideation. Then he has energy enough to carry out the act.

Infobytes like that are too textbook, not enough novel. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an enjoyable read. I’m nitpicking. Mania transforms Charles into the djinn, the Stranger, who exists on a spectrum anywhere from obnoxious to dangerous. Something distresses me about that. He calls depression the Black.

“But you always come out of it,” she reminds him. “Right?”

“So far,” Charles agrees. “But every time I’m so worried I won’t. That I’ll stay there forever. Death is totally not scary in comparison.

Ikr? As ever, manic depression’s collateral damage is enormous.

Yes, Charles is a genius, and he loves his manias. But Charles’s disorder is the gift nobody wants to get given. There is no cure for it, no solution. Either Charles takes his medication and suffers, or he doesn’t and everyone else does. It is colossally, sickeningly, definitively unfair.

It’s very interesting to read stuff by people who love people with bipolar. Sometimes it’s also very hard. The mania especially, is ugly and frequently nasty. I’d be interested in your opinions of that if you read the book.

Tiff and Kevin are right. Her brother will destroy her.

I wish the above wasn’t a possibility when talking about bipolar, but without the right boundaries and support in place, it very much is. Even if there isn’t total destruction, there’s still some horrible attrition. The subplot of romance that winds through the book lightens things and is welcome for it. In all, it held my attention right the way through. Not a remarkable book, but good reading nonetheless. And I liked the offbeat and feelgood aspects.

perfect storm
noun
a particularly violent storm arising from a rare combination of adverse meteorological factors.
an especially bad situation caused by a combination of unfavourable circumstances.

*or just a lazy quotefest?

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monday bloody monday

Whattaday. I spent it with my neighbour, first in the ER waiting room, then in Cardiac ICU. Serious heart failure and it’s the second time I’ve taken her to hospital with it this year. Cancer meds ate her heart muscle (they’ve since been withdrawn from the profiteering mafia market). I’m gonna blog about me me meeee though, since I can keep my head jammed up my ass on my blog.

I fucking hate that hospital with a passion. My mother started dying there and I remember my clear focus everywhere except the last corridor, which sort of telescoped every time I walked down it. Why the fuck that chain of hospitals paints so much red idk. Psychologically, it apparently denotes energy, passion, anger … it makes my eyes go like this: @@

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Wtf was I talking about?

Oh.

Today a doctor, a nurse and a specialist who looked after my mother went past me at various times. I was so fucking manic back then, but at a good level. I didn’t fuck my entire life and everyone else’s up till months later.

I am saying fuck a lot. I swear horrendously pretty much all the time, except when I’m truly angry.

The hospital antipathy wasn’t the primary issue today. The fucknutted whoredog minibollocked issue, was my neighbour. (I don’t often get my priorities right, so it’s worth noting.)

I sort of inherited my neighbour as a friend from my mother, they were great friends and my neighbour was very much there when she was dying. We were never close, the neighbour and I, but obviously we went through that together and some more stuff since. Suddenly I realised I really and sincerely, genuinely do give a shit. Tears prickled. I babbled. Well here we go again … I haven’t gone completely into orbit though. I sat and shook some, leaned on a friend virtually some and then pulled myself towards myself and got practical and sensible again. Somewhere in the middle of it all, my psychiatrist answered an email from last week, telling me not to feel bad about starting smoking again. *chainsmokes*

Now, after a fairly long day, I am home, scatterbrained and eating cold pizza.

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Mixed episodes, srsly, fuck you. Your mother was a blowfish. Fuck injured hearts, fuck loss, fuck hospitals and fuck xmas.

PS – I’m happy now, just heard that she’s doing a ton better and the problem isn’t as hectic as it seemed at first. Blogging my bitching and whining anyway so that I can: –
a) Take you on an emotional roller coaster for nothing; or
b) Keep tracking this whole bipolar mood shi(f)t.

You pick.

(I now cannot undo fasteners or cry.)

The First Semester

I met that first class in January 2011 with a little fear.  I had planned it so they would spend most of the time writing in class, an exercise called diagnostic writing where I could assess their strengths and weaknesses and address them as a class.  I went over the syllabus, had them all introduce themselves, and then set them to writing for the rest of the hour and fifteen minutes we had left.

They were an interesting bunch. I had a few older non-traditional students, but most were freshmen one semester removed from high school.  Some were very competent writers, and others were a little below average.  I had some veterans of Gulf War II. I had a mix of races as well, some white, some African-American, and some Hispanics also.

As far as my teaching went that semester, let’s just say we were all learning together.  I had to reacquaint myself with the routine and the classroom management while dealing with a different type of student than I had taught at Mississippi State.  This school had students who did not have high enough college entrance scores to go to a four-year college, and they were much less versed in the literary tradition than the students I remembered.  I had to go over concepts in more detail in class so they could understand them.  By the time I got their first papers analyzing fiction and saw how they were struggling, it was over a third of the way through the semester.  I tried to catch them up, but my style of teaching kept some information just out of their reach.

I remember teaching one extremely funny play that depended on the students having at least a passing knowledge of Franz Kafka, John Milton, Jonathan Swift, William Shakespeare, and the infinite monkey theorem to get all the jokes.  A fellow named Chris just looked at me and said, “All I know is they’re talking about a bunch of books that I haven’t read,” while I was trying to explain the play.  That was humbling for me—I couldn’t assume they were getting the material if they didn’t ask questions since at times they were too confused to know what questions to ask.  Somehow we all stumbled through the semester without anyone failing the course due to my inadequacies.


Breaking the Habit — Talking About Joy and Gratitude

joys

RANDOM GRATITUDE LIST

1) The youthful exuberance brought to my two best friends by increasing exercise and having a companion.  The barking DOES get a bit obsessive, though.

2) 2014 is almost over and I have not been in the hospital since the summer, although it is likely a few times I should have gone.

3) Deciding to rededicate myself to meditation and mindfulness.

4) Making concrete plans and seeking medical advice to lose weight in 2015.

5) Becoming more serious about the few things in my life that I can pinpoint as activities that really DO matter in the overall scheme of things.  Must, however, find more of these things.

6) Making a conscious decision not to lose sleep over things I can’t change.  You have to turn that over in your mind again and again.

7) Being brave enough to reach out to people I am at odds with.

8) Better place to blog and do other computer tasks.

9) New-to-me car to replace the PT Cruiser I totaled a month ago (not my fault, was struck by a driver not yielding to a stop sign).  The new car is a bright blue 2006 Chevy HHR and it is CUTE and fun to drive.  And if anyone needs help hauling a dead body, it also has a huge cargo space.

10) Feeling a certainty that I can make my life better, regardless of the status of the lives around me.

Question of the day…

Do you think you are addicted to talking about your problems?  Sometimes a little thankfulness goes a long way!

PS to my wonderful readers — turns out as I  publish this, it notifies me this is post 590.  600 posts seems HUGE!  I will bring cookies, someone grab a bunch of egg nog.  :)


 


Filed under: Life Worth Living Tagged: gratitude, gratitude list, list, positive thinking, thankful

Depression and its treatment

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From: http://www.nature.com/neuro/multimedia/depression/index.html

Around 10% of people will, at some point in their lives, suffer from depression, a mood disorder characterized by long periods of sadness, loss of motivation, excessive fatigue and a lack of interest in once-pleasurable activities known as anhedonia. Brain imaging studies demonstrate that many of the brain regions responsible for normally regulating mood show disrupted function in depression, which can be reversed by antidepressant drugs or behavioral and cognitive therapy. Researchers have turned to animal models of chronic stress to learn more about the neurobiology of depression. Chronically stressed mice show some symptoms that are similar to those of depressed humans: high levels of anxiety, less social interaction and anhedonia. As in humans, chronic stress in mice can lead to altered plasticity in various mood-related brain regions, including the hippocampus, amygdala, nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex. These changes in plasticity can be reversed by some antidepressant drugs, including ketamine, which has rapid antidepressant effects in patients. In this animation, we explore the neural circuits affected in depression and illustrate the molecular and cellular changes thought to underlie the effects of chronic stress and its remediation by antidepressant drugs.


This Is About Where I Am At……

“Velvet Morning” Yes It’s been long And yes I still feel strong Into the half light Another velvet morning for me, yeah Time Stands still As you take Your last pill Into the half light Another velvet morning for me And now I’m trying to tell you About my life And my tongue is twisted […]

Reversal of Fortune

It’s a Christmas miracle: We have a place to go!

Sweet are the uses of Craigslist. I’d put Will and me on there as a desperate measure, advertising us as a “clean, quiet older couple” (well, we are). By the grace of God, a nice lady needing to rent one of the rooms in her house saw the ad and responded within a couple of days. We met at a McDonald’s, liked each other right off the bat, and made an appointment to see the room on Saturday.

The room is big enough for us to fit some of our furniture in. The landlady also told us we can move our living room furniture in if we want; she has a storage unit and is willing to put some of her things in it. She wants us to feel at home, which is a big plus, and we have full run of the house including the kitchen and a nice big fenced yard where I can plant flowers come spring. She didn’t even require a deposit; thanks to contributions from people on GoFundMe, we had enough to pay whatever we needed to in order to secure our place. So I confidently wrote a check for January’s rent and we are good to go.

To say that this is an ENORMOUS relief would be the understatement of the year. I think my blood pressure has dropped by 20 points. We won’t be homeless. We won’t have to live in shelters or the car in the dead of winter. We won’t even be cramped into a tiny room in an apartment. Yes, we’ll feel cramped for awhile—anything other than this expansive house and acreage would seem closed-in—but we’ll deal with it, and happily too.

I have not told “Lisa” about Will’s or my health problems. I wouldn’t have given our current landlord a med list or a computer printout of all of our diagnoses, so I don’t see the need to disclose them to this one. I’m sure that at some point I’ll have noticeable symptoms and may have to explain myself, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

In the meantime, we’re moving on New Year’s weekend. It’s a good time to make a fresh start. Maybe it’s also time to re-read that forgiveness letter I wrote myself back in November, to remind me to stop blaming myself for everything that’s gone wrong. I wasn’t thinking of that the other night when I was feeling so terrible about it all and wrote that post in which I excoriated myself—again—for being ill. I’ve got to stop doing that; it solves nothing and makes me feel like crap in the bargain.

All that matters now is that we have a home. A warm place where we can hang our hats and do what we do best, which is being a husband and wife…..and maybe building a few models and writing blog posts. :-)

 


Panic Disorder Equals Social Suckage

I was awake til nearly 4 a.m. I couldn’t get comfortable. The clock was ticking and I knew soon, it would be time to get up and take my daughter to her Sunday School program. Tick, tock. The more I told myself I needed to sleep, the more the anxiety built. So I tried the no pressure approach, telling myself it was just one more night, no big deal, go to sleep, relax…
Epic fail.
So when the alarm did go off…My get up and go was…um, gone.
But, my determination was strong and so we got dressed and went.

The first bolt of panic hit when I saw the packed parking lot. Breathing was no longer automatic, I had to remind myself to do it.
Entering an unfamiliar place set off the next round of panic.
Realizing I was in a church for the first time in nearly twenty years…Third bolt of panic.
But, hey, my self deprecating humor was in tact, because as I stepped inside, I thought (really) “Hey, nothing’s blown up or burst into flames.”
Found a seat. K, the lady who has been so kind to us, find us immediately and introduced me to my “buddy” who would walk me through the regime. Nice nice lady, but very very serious about her religion. Ya know, tearing up and almost sobbing during a prayer.
My comfort level was um, non existent. I don’t agree with church teachings, I just don’t. So in additional to discomfort, I was also feeling guilty because it felt like me having my own opinion was somehow an affront to those who have faith.
My child was squirming, climbing, yapping, complaining.
My buddy commented how inquisitive Spook is. Well, that’s a positive spin for asking “why’ every two seconds.
I would have been more at ease facing Pinhead, Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers, and Leatherface than a crowd of people who have beliefs I don’t share.
It’s not a spoiled brat thing.
I just felt like such a fake for being in this place, with these kind people, and their solid faith and not sharing it.
But I kept reminding myself, as my stomach churned, my breath escaped me, and I broke out in nervous hives…This is for my daughter.
It was embarrassing and funny at the same time when the kids did their bit. She was wearing these big angel wings, up on stage, bopping around, waving, blowing kisses, hamming it up. The little girl next to her kept wadding up the skirt of her dress, pulling it up to show undies.
Much as I was amused, the panic was creeping in. And I just wanted to fade into the woodwork.So of course, my darling daughter stands up there, points at me, and yells, “Mommy!”
Humorous. Good for mommy ego. Mortifying for panic disorder.

After the kids’ did their thing, there was a break for people to get refreshments and socialize.
And that was when I hit my fight or flight moment. I didn’t feel comfortable with the hymns and standing and yet, I allowed my buddy to guide me and made an effort to participate.
I even managed without a freak out when my kid started acting out noisily.
But people in masses gathering for cake and coffee and yapping…I tried, I tried so hard. I had juice, took a xanax, smiled forcibly…
But it was my breaking point, I couldn’t do another ninety minutes. I felt like I was smothering.
Thankfully, K had warned my buddy about my panic issues and there was no drama about me being disrespectful by leaving early. It’s really lovely when people can respect your disabilities without judging you.
I did feel bad, though, for not being stronger. But considering I did two major public events in less than six days…I also felt like I had been successful.

After that the day was mercifully less tense. Dad took Spook off my hands for a couple of hours. I ran errands, stopped by the shop, actually didn’t want to stab R with a hot soldering iron. (Honestly, it’s mind boggling how imbalanced hormones taint your emotions and views, it’s like being possessed.I still don’t like the way men act like it’s a woman’s fault, we didn’t ask for this crap.)
Came home. Dad decided to keep Spook overnight, which is really cool because I think I am due a break, especially in light of getting so little rest last night. I am going to vegetate and do very little. I may feel slothful for it, but I’ve EARNED it. I have spent all week doing for my daughter and I am not holding a grudge for it, I am supposed to do for her. My conditions just make it a triple difficult task.
And it drains me.
So rest is good.

Drained as I may be…I feel good. I went, I semi conquered, but I made the effort even at my own discomfort. I am TRYING. Honestly trying, not just deluding myself with lies by saying I am trying when deep down, no effort is being put forth.
I am putting forth effort.
It comes with a price, but I am rising above my own limitations. Maybe in a limited way, but I am evolving.

Which brings me to one final conclusion for this post and this day and maybe, this holiday season.
There ARE kind people out there, people who will help and support you and understand or at least try to do so.
I am grateful that they have wandered into my (our) lives.
Very grateful.
It is, however, not their responsibility to make me happy and carry the burden of my (our) needs.
I need to make my own way, with the support offered. Even if it terrifies me and I am clueless as to which direction to go.
I am trying. Sooo very hard.
I am even applying for a part time job this week. Not that I believe I have a chance because my work history is so (bipolar) spotted and my stability is always an issue…
But it’s working with cats and I know without a doubt if they’d give me a chance, I could so do a good job.
Cats are my therapy. Earning money as well would just be icing on the cake.
Unfortunately, my checkered past of flakiness is always the hurdle I never make it over.
I am gonna try, though.

When all is said and done…All any of us can do is try.
Success is not signified by money or possessions or even achieving your goal.
Success is having the courage to take a chance, make the effort, and if it doesn’t turn out…
You dust yourself off, get back up, and try it all over again.

Life can suck. I hate being bipolar, I hate panic disorder, I hate the fact my mother decided not to buy me anything for Christmas yet had the money and thought to spring for a pair of boots for a pothead guy not even related to us.
Yet, when all is said and done…
My daughter and I have what we need.
And maybe part of it was because kind people helped us, for which we owe a deep debt of gratitude.
There’s much to be thankful for, even in a world replete with darkness and misery.
It is that reality I cling to.