Daily Archives: January 5, 2015

Taking the 101

Now I'm Taking Blogging 101Now, after having blogged for about one year and four months, I’m finally taking the WordPress Blogging University course Blogging 101: Zero to Hero. Today’s assignment is to write and publish a post about who I am and why I’m here. Here goes. Obviously, my name is Kitt O’Malley. I mean, my name is at the top of the page, in the URL, tied to a bazillion or so social media presences, so that is who I am. As my tag line implies, I live with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. To find out more about who I am, you can read About KittMy Story, or read about my “mystic” psychotic break.

The prompts for today’s post are:

  • Why are you blogging publicly,rather than keeping a personal journal?
    • I blog publicly (but I’ve also started to journal again), for I have a message to share. Blogging can be a powerful way to affect change – both positive social change and personal change. I started my blog because of a trigger to mood cycling. I found myself blogging for I felt a pressure to write – to get thoughts and words out of my mind. Why share them publicly? Well, I suppose I need support, I need an outlet, I need an audience. I greatly enjoy the company and mutual support in the blogosphere, and in the WordPress mental health blogging community in particular. There is a strong community of mental health bloggers who offer each other positive support. My focus has become clearer as I have written, and as I have engaged with other bloggers. I am a mental health advocate. I am a member of a community of mental health advocates. We not only offer each other support, but we educate each other and the public about mental health issues and work to overcome social stigma attached to mental illness.
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
    • From my answer above, you can pretty much deduce that I write about mental health, specifically about living with bipolar disorder, but I do not limit myself to that subject. I have written about other subjects, and I sometimes I take photographs, mostly of flowers, which I occasionally post.
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?
    • Write to support, advocate, educate, destigmatize, and support with regard to mental health issues.
    • Hone my writing voice. Write more often and more prolifically.
    • Maybe start weaving together what original content I have written into a book. Who knows?

Filed under: About God, Bipolar Disorder, Mental Health, Mysticism, Psychosis, Writing Tagged: #Blogging101, bipolar disorder, Blogging 101, Mental Health

Trigger

In reply to the WordPress Daily Prompt for Jan.5, 2015

Daring Do:

Tell us about the time you rescued someone else (person or animal) from a dangerous situation. What happened? How did you prevail?

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I remember the day when I realized what I had to do. The day I knew I had to reveal my life’s biggest secret. The secret that had daily turned my stomach into knots upon knots of tied-up tension and worry. The secret that had nightly made my heart beat so loud from the memories, I could hear it pounding like haunting music in my ears. The secret that had delivered its daily dose of stress and anxiety, to the point where I honestly cannot remember a single day of my youth when I did not feel fear. I was terrified that the one other person who knew my secret would reveal who I really was.

One day, as I looked around at all of my family and friends in the crowd, I realized that all of these people would eventually find out this sin that I was hiding. I looked around, my heart pounding out of my chest, realizing that he was right – I was going to die for what I did. I envisioned the day of my execution.  Right before God himself put me to death for my sins, he would reveal my secret for the world to know. I would finally be uncovered as the monster I had been hiding all this time. All of these people swirling around me would know I deserved this punishment. After this particular episode of panic, my mother had to take me to the chiropractor. I could no longer move my neck. It had been frozen with guilt.

Several years later came the day when I realized what I had to do. The one secret I daily worried would be revealed by somebody else – I was going to be revealing myself. I was 16 years old, standing in the shower – tears mixing with the water running down my face – praying to my God that somehow, in some way, he had to help me make the words come out. I knew I had to do it. I knew he would want me to do it. There were people I had to protect – one person in particular. The stress was indescribable, and I felt mute in the face of my fears. I remember processing my thoughts while staring out of my parent’s bedroom window. I would often stare out of windows – looking outside until my eyes lost focus, and I was no longer there.

It took me almost a full week to finally sit down with my parents and reveal the truth I had been hiding for so many years. It was while I was staring out of their bedroom window that my dad came up to me and told me not to be afraid – that I could talk to them about anything. My dad has this wonderful softness to his personality. He has an almost superhuman ability to read people – especially when they’re in pain. For several days, he knew that something was wrong, and that I was hurting. He knew there was something I needed to say, but just couldn’t – and he finally convinced me to feel safe enough to do what I was so petrified of doing. He was the answer to my prayer. If he would have just turned his head and ignored what he knew was wrong, I honestly don’t think I would have been able to do it. But he opened the way. And as I went to sit on my parent’s bed, safety pillow in my lap, I knew this was the point of no return.

I remember my voice reverting back to that of a little girl, speaking in childlike sentences. I remember I couldn’t believe the words were coming out of my mouth. I felt like I wasn’t even speaking – like I was off in the distance. I remember my parents asking me when it happened. For how long? And then came the question that was the hardest to answer – who was it? I couldn’t bring myself to say the name, so they tried to lighten my burden by saying it for me. But it was so much worse than their innocent guesses, and I finally had to tell them the name that I knew would crush my dad. It was his father. I remember my dad’s reaction – almost as if he collapsed under the weight of the reality that would forever haunt, not only me, but now him. He immediately drove to his parent’s house in order to confront his father. He wanted to hear his father admit it. My dad stuck up for me. He was fighting for me. He was my hero.

Ever since I was little, I could see the seething jealousy that my grandfather had of my father, as he tried so hard to cover it with his venom – quietly spewing underneath an already monstrous personality. Maybe it was because my dad was his polar opposite, and he wished so badly that he could be the person who everybody loved. Whatever lack of humanity my grandfather possessed, my dad was bestowed with an overdose. He is the most human human of anyone I know. He feels things more than others. My grandfather preyed on that vulnerable and precious quality that can only flourish under delicate care. When my dad was a little boy, his father would make him cry every night at the dinner table – just because he could. He hurt my dad for the sport of it – trying to kill off the sensitive and loving nature that my father inherited from his mother – doing so because he secretly wished he could be so good.

You will notice that I often write about my father on this blog. Nobody will ever be able to understand the bond that we have, or the struggles that we both share that originated from the same enemy. I adore my father with every ounce of my being, and I understand him better than anyone else on this earth. I have one memory of my dad, sobbing and heartbroken, telling me “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” – with an almost quiet plea for forgiveness – as he held me tightly like a frightened little child that I tried my best to comfort. But it wasn’t his fault. It was never his fault. And the lack of approval that his father kept him captive by never had to be earned, as he was duped into believing, since he actually already owned it. My grandfather’s psychopathic eyes revealed his overwhelming approval of my father – in his own sick nod of secretly wishing he could be just like him.

My dad would literally not hurt a fly. I have seen him rescue a spider inside our house – luring it onto a piece of paper, and gently setting it back outside on the ground. The one time my dad went hunting and shot a deer, he cried, and he could never do it again. The beast-like qualities inside my grandfather couldn’t stand the fact that he would never measure up to his own son. My dad was well-loved by everybody. He built a successful business out of nothing. He owned a large beautiful house, and had five beautiful children. Consumed with jealousy over what could never be his, my grandfather went after the one thing he knew would hurt my dad the most. Years before, he had already stolen my father’s most precious possessions right in front of him. And his secret theft lived on for 16 years because he threatened that favorite person of mine. He told me he would kill my father.

But now, here was my dad standing in front of him – exposing the monster for all that he was – and my father wasn’t the one being killed. The barrel was now at my grandfather’s temple. Safety off. Finger on the trigger. Of course, he vehemently denied it at first. But my father would not leave until he confessed, because he knew I was telling the truth. And eventually he did confess. He admitted it. He did it. The nightmare that I feared every night of my youth was now his, and it had only just begun.

My grandfather told me we were both going to die for what we were doing. He told me we were both bad. He was the biggest threat that I knew, and he petrified me every day of my young life – even when he wasn’t around. Little did I know that his power that was so convincingly real was only a projection of the power he wished he owned. In the end, I was the one with the power. I was the one who pulled the trigger on his life’s biggest secret. After I revealed him for what he was, he turned into a pathetic, mute hermit. He wouldn’t talk. He wouldn’t leave his house. He just sat in his chair, next to his window, and stared outside. From then on, it was a slow descent to death for him. I don’t even remember how he died. But he died alone and without sympathy for the life that he lost but never deserved.

Aside from brief moments of empowerment, the sad fact is that no matter how much work I put into healing, it just never quite does. The triggers that my grandfather had set at such an early age continue to go off at random, and for no apparent reason. Even though I know I did the right thing – and I would do it all over again – the truth brought with it it’s own set of consequences. My parents took on the guilt that never belonged to them, and my family fell apart – along with my father’s business. We eventually had to move out of our large beautiful house into an investment-property-gone-wrong that my father had purchased – coincidentally sitting right across the street from my grandparent’s house. I could see that window every single day, as I looked out of mine – haunting me with the memories of what went on behind that thin pane of glass.

There is one victory in all of this: I saved my little brother from my grandfather’s predatory grasp. My brother was everything to me, and I felt a motherly instinct to protect him. My mom once told me that I pretty much took over as soon as she came home from the hospital with him. I was 14 when he was born, and I was completely in love with that boy. I still am. He was only 2 when I revealed my secret, and to this day I’m not sure he even realizes what I did for him. He was the biggest reason I told my scariest secret, because I knew I couldn’t live with myself if I stood back and allowed the monster to get to him. I rescued him. I fought for him. And I pulled the trigger.

Happy New Year from your LTD Carrier

Well here is to a great start to 2015. A letter from my LTD carrier arrived letting me know that they were estimating my social security payment leaving my monthly payment a whopping $245. 😐

Now I am the main income of my family of 5. So when I checked my bank account to withdrawal my monthly rent, I was unpleasantly surprised to see my dad looking balance.

This whole experience has left me feeling like disability carriers and assistance really want to see how far they can push a person before they finally fall.

All I know is they left this bipolar mama teetering along the edge. Booo


Happy New Year from your LTD Carrier

Well here is to a great start to 2015. A letter from my LTD carrier arrived letting me know that they were estimating my social security payment leaving my monthly payment a whopping $245. 😐

Now I am the main income of my family of 5. So when I checked my bank account to withdrawal my monthly rent, I was unpleasantly surprised to see my dad looking balance.

This whole experience has left me feeling like disability carriers and assistance really want to see how far they can push a person before they finally fall.

All I know is they left this bipolar mama teetering along the edge. Booo


Happy New Year from your LTD Carrier

Well here is to a great start to 2015. A letter from my LTD carrier arrived letting me know that they were estimating my social security payment leaving my monthly payment a whopping $245.

This Mantle.

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Bipolar disorder. This is not the mantle I would have chosen to put on my shoulders.

This is not the cause whose voice I would have liked to be.

Although my shoulders are broad, my shoulders are strong. I have to wear it.

My voice is pure and carries far, I have no choice, I have to sing this song.

So I do, I wear the mantle and I sing its song.

I would have preferred something softer, lighter, airier, sky blue in color.

Not heavy and dark, with terrifying images and a sharp, cutting, bloodying texture.

I had no choice. I inherited it.

And so I go on, I hush the fear in my breast, I quell the anxiety.

I quiet my mind and I go on.

For the people in my life whom I love more than life itself.

My son, my brother, my sister, my nephew, my niece, my husband.

These are my rocks and in return I am theirs.

No matter what I go through, no matter how lost I feel, no matter how much of a shadow of my former self I am. I go on, I wear my mantle, I sing my song and I live for them.


Ah So Familiar! “The Secret Dual Lives of People Living With Mental Illness”

Steph.jpg.CROP.

I just read an article called “The Secret Dual Lives of People Living With Mental Illness” at http://www.slate.com/blogs/behold/2014/10/28/liz_obert_dualities_looks_at_the_hidden_and_visible_worlds_of_people_living.html?search=sign+up#&wp_login_redirect=0 The pictures in this article of people with bipolar disorder are so familiar. One is taken when the person is feeling well and happy and functional. The other is taken when they are in a depression, feeling like nothing, feeling like a “shadow of themselves.” This is what bipolar does, it takes a happy, healthy, active, productive person, and it makes them into nothing. Either depressed and really nothing, or manic and flying high but pretty much non productive. Looking at these pictures made me feel like I was looking at pictures of myself in the different phases I go through.

In the comments after the article, someone asked if bipolar depression couldn’t simply be treated by cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)! Really? Would you treat a brain tumor with CBT? Would you treat severe diabetes with CBT? Would you treat liver cancer with CBT? Come on! Bipolar disorder is a deadly, complex, severe disease of the brain, it along with other severe physical illnesses cannot simply be treated with CBT and easily wished away. Would that it was so. I am sure that CBT would help but it cannot replace medication.


Seasonal Affective Disorder

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Seasonal Affective Disorder is a mood disorder – a type of depression that is related to the changes in the seasons. Most commonly S.A.D. presents in the late fall and lasts throughout the winter. Generally symptoms start off mild and worsen as the season continues.

Some Symptoms of S.A.D.
Trouble concentrating
Irritability and anxiety
Low energy
Social difficulties
Oversleeping
Craving carbohydrates
Weight gain
Lethargy

You don’t have to have bipolar disorder to get S.A.D., but people with bipolar disorder are at an increased risk for developing it. For example, many people with bipolar disorder can recognize a pattern in their own cycle where they become depressed in the late fall and become manic in the spring/summer. Keeping a mood diary can help you to identify your own cycles.

S.A.D. is caused by a lack of sunlight – as is generally the case during fall and winter months in most parts of Canada and other countries. This lack of sunlight effects your circadian rhythm and the hormone melatonin, which is why sleep is so important. It also reduces the serotonin level in your brain, which is directly linked to depression.

Suggested treatments include full-spectrum light boxes, exercise, outdoor exposure, proper sleep and sometimes medication. Light boxes appear to be the treatment of choice and can be quite effective. However, for those people with bipolar disorder, care should be taken as the light can sometimes trigger a manic episode. A light box should be used under the direction of your doctor. Anti-depressants alone can also trigger manic episodes.

S.A.D. Should be taken seriously, especially if the following symptoms occur:
Suicidal thoughts or actions
Social withdrawal
School/work problems
Substance abuse

My worst time is late October. It seems to hit me every year, yet every year I’m surprised. When I finally get around to looking at a calendar and realize it’s October, then I understand. Then I can go to my psychiatrist and have my medication adjusted. I’ve heard good things about light boxes. Maybe I’ll talk to my psychiatrist about getting one. Something else to add to my arsenal.

(Photo: pivotcon.com)
(Sources: Mayo Clinic, WebMD, Fix.com)


For further information on S.A.D., click here.

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Rookie of the Year WEGO Health Activist Award.
If you like this blog, please click here and “endorse” me for the award.
Thank you for your consideration and support.


to answer a mockingbird

Because this.

1. If I was standing at the top of a hillside, alone, and I wanted to shout until my throat hurt, what would I shout?

I love you. It’s the one thing that should be said more (eros, agape and all their little friends). Well, that or take your damn meds. Maybe they’re the same thing.

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2. If faced with a situation that made me uncomfortable emotionally, would I stand my ground or run?

If I (take the time to) think, I generally want to run. I don’t run though. I stand my ground, sometimes very unwisely, because the worse I feel, the calmer I get and ultimately, the more cruelly I behave. Not good. You know how it goes right? You start off bulletproof … and then it’s some kind of cruddy cocktail of shame, regret, contrition. I loathe conflict. I am very, very bad at dealing with it without breaking my nose and heart. Taking on conflict to stand up for someone I care about doesn’t cause me any emotional discomfort until I’m thigh deep in corpses.

image

3. If I was a social butterfly and I could walk uninhibited into any place and do anything – what would that people and those things be. Have a gas? A quiet coffee? A dancing marathon? What? With who? Why?

Oh boy. I can … it takes hypomania or mania for the full butterfly effect and depending on the position on that *expletive deleted* spectrum, it could start with me monopolising the conversation and end with me attempting to rule the world. Bulletproof again … total *tons more expletives deleted* charmer (in my own mind), anything goes, anything is possible till

it

all

comes

crashing

down.

Social butterfly? I’m a social airforce. With anyone, everyone, because suddenly I’m *seriously it’s better these expletives are deleted* twinkletoes the tapdancing terrorist twins on speed.

Note to self:

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I don’t often think, but when I think, I overthink.

Anti Professional Blogger

Awhile back a comment was left saying something to extent of “Too bad we can’t get paid for our blogs.”
It set me off on a Google quest. Do people get paid for mental health blogs?
Actually, they can and they do.
But to be a “professional” blogger you pretty much have to audition like a cheerleader, only wave your writing examples instead of pom poms.
Count me out.
I can’t stay on topic because this blog isn’t meant to be about anything but MY mind. I can’t get handed a topic and just write a 500 word post about it. My writing has never worked that way. I’m better at freestyle and verse. Without wild inspiration, I churn out only disjointed drivel. Okay, worse drivel than is my norm.
If I have to bank my living on my ability to perform on command and stay on topic…I’m screwed.
Not to mention what I am sure people consider misspellings, improper punctuation and grammar, and oh, my, the swearing.
My spelling is actually fairly impeccable and usually no spell check used.
I do, however, have an issue with writing things that I am actually hearing in the background, I have noticed, in some posts. Like I will write “wear” when I meant “where” because usually I have a yappy chihuahua of a child in the backgound who never stops talking and if she sees me doing anything other than worshiping at the altar that is her, she yaps even more.
So she will be having a fit about “I want to wear this dress tomorrow.”
And thus where becomes wear.
Ass trash.
I do it in my other writings, too, something in the background will alter the word I meant to put. Like “there” when I meant “their.”
Focus is not my strong suit.
Not with a kid and cats climbing me and yowling at me constantly.

So I think the pro blogger thing is a no go for me. Which I’m actually okay with. Back in the days when I had an agent and all that for my fiction novels, it sucked the joy out of my writing. The editors made it something barely mine. I’d rather leave the integrity of my writing in tact than use it for lunch money. So I slammed the door on submitting fifteen years ago and haven’t really given it much thought. Some may write for the sole purpose of making money.
I write because, well, it’s like breathing for me. Even as an 8 year old I was always writing stories about cats and such. It’s like I can’t not write. It’s a drive, a compulsion, spontaneous.
It works for me.I’d actually feel a little bad if I made people pay to read my writing. I mean, I’m nothing special and I’m not saying anything earth shattering, so why should I charge anyone to read my rantings?
Sometimes, I think my small town rural upbringing really ruined me for the opportunistic real world. The American Dream is all about fleecing anyone for whatever you can. Money is king.
I live in a world without monarchy. Money, to me, is on the same keel as a toilet. Necessary but not the center of life.

Classy sentiments like that…wow, I should be paid thousands for such wisdom. (Sarcasm.)

So, yeah…I am the anti professional blogger.
I talk about the banal, the mundane, I rant, I vent, I bounce from topic to topic. I swear. I have unacceptable displays of illogical emotions. My sarcasm is sharp enough to slice lemons.
I am content this way.
Maybe my photoverse pieces I could sell in good conscience. Because it is work and it makes sense to get paid for work in which both ends receive something.
This blog…
The quality here is so iffy, I wouldn’t even feel good about calling it the “every post is a dollar” blog.

What it lacks in quality, though…
It more than makes up for with honesty, humor, and reality.
Things that should always be free for everyone to enjoy, hate, complain about, rave about, whatever.
I’ll leave the professional blogging to the professional bloggers.
I’d rather talk about random subjects my bipolar mind spews. It’s authentic as fuck.