Daily Archives: March 12, 2015

A Little Progress

Yesterday’s outing with dad was tiring, but fun. I’ve been a bit depressed but it seems to be clearing up. Not sure if it’s the sun finally appearing, if it’s me taking time to take care of myself or both, but I’m feeling a little better. One of the first signs I’m getting depressed is I just stop caring what I look like. As you might remember, I used to review green/natural/beauty products and I really enjoyed it. It just got to be too expensive and when I didn’t care what I looked like, I felt like a fraud talking about looking good. I don’t know I’ll be starting to review the items again, but I am at least using them again. For months, it was basic shampoo and soap in the shower, not even putting lotion on in the frigid cold, which dried my skin out something terrible. I simply felt too exhausted and didn’t care. I didn’t wear makeup, even to work and I wore my hair in the same simple style day after day.

I’m sure my crush at work has something to do with my renewed interest in looking good, but it also feels good to do something selfish, like pamper my skin and hair. So, I found a few new organic beauty lines with affordable items to try and I’m back to taking the time to look like a lady. I updated my hairstyle a few days ago and started using real, actual facial cleansing balm. Taking the effort has improved my self esteem a little bit, I was told yesterday that I still pass for a teenager!

I’ve also started to use my essential oils again. I purchased some doTerra oils from Jenn over at bipolarmomlife.com and the lavender is really helping me sleep. Anyone with chronic illness or depression knows that sleep doesn’t come too easily, so glad to say applying some lavender to my feet before bed is definitely helping. I believe I will be taking the lemon with me to work to help me find focus during that midday slump. I am also looking into the Bach Rescue product line for other relaxation aides. Big thanks to my darling Jenna at jenna-kahn.com for her post on aromatherapy items/other non medication sources of help a few months back!

Still struggling with the pain of fibromyalgia, but I think the key to this is to learn to pace myself. I’ve become very good at removing myself from stressful situations, and saying no when something isn’t helpful for me. But I tend to move at about 1000 mph, and I need to learn to slow down or I’ll wear myself out and bring on another flare. I’m also stretching nightly and intend to get back into my full pilates sessions once I finish titrating up on my fibromyalgia medicine.

So, readers, what non-medication sources of relief and relaxation do you use to help cope with mental/physical illness? And how can you tell when things are starting to take a positive turn? Please share in the comments!

Filed under: natural-organic beauty, Wellness Warriors Tagged: aromatherapy, beauty, bipolar disorder, depression, self care, self esteem

Anxiety knocks, crazy is on the other side of the door

To say I am crawling out of my skin with anxiety would be understatement of the year. It’s been progressively getting worse since 11 a.m. My mind keeps wandering, I try to focus and yet…No sooner than a number is rattled off I find myself totally blank. I started itching and breaking out in hives so I demanded R check my hair for bugs.
It’s apparently all psychological, yet it manifests physically.
How this is no big deal escapes logic.
It is a big deal.
It is the hindrance holding me back even when I deny it permission and challenge it to take its best shot. It knows the pressure points and it takes me down but good and fast. Maybe I don’t stay down but the damage adds up. One day I may not get back up. That’s what I fear. I’ve seen it happen to people less screwed up than I am. Everyone hits their wall. Living in fear of it doesn’t control me, but it’s like a phantom toothache, whereas the tooth may be gone but the pain isn’t. My fear of hitting the wall doesn’t control me but it’s that dull ache reminding me…it’s possible.

So yeah…Anxiety knocked on the door, I answered it, and it was crazy.

And my stomach never did let up. Even now after the petri dish time has been served, it’s still tense and knotted.
I have bad juju, I can feel it in my gut, in my bones.
Something bad is coming. It’s going to bring about my own apocalypse. And while I am big on helping myself…I am trying so very hard but with no support system and it just leads to failure after failure.
I’ve done some serious soul searching. Is this just personality? Is this just laziness or lack of coping ability?
The bottom line is, the cycles are all the same, even if they don’t repeat verbatim. Manic, functional, manic, depressed, functional, six month depression…Rinse, lather, repeat. I feel like I am walking on an escalator that never reaches the top of bottom, just keeps going and going.

To add to the crawly skin and tin foil ear thing, the weather has warmed up significantly and it is staying out longer which means parents have let their kids off the winter leashes and now they are running feral and noisy all over the place. If only I could put a dome over my place that was soundproof to block it all out so it doesn’t metastasize my pre existing conditions.

I can feel that short patience bitchiness kicking in because I am wound so tight.
Didn’t help that R was in a bitchy mood and taking it out on me. You need a pogo stick to jump through his hoops and that’s just being his friend.
And I think that’s where I have seriously gone wrong.
I have tried so hard to be social for my own good because it’s the party line one size fits all mentality…I’ve lost myself. I am playing in a sandbox that’s filled with quicksand and I keep sinking further down. The less I can meet the expectations of those around me the more I slip down.

Very dramatic sounding and yet so accurate a description.

It may be time to step back. Shut down, shut out. MUch as I can. Get back to being myself. When the world moves too fast, it means I either step back or crash and burn. I don’t wanna crash and burn. The splat is bad enough.

Ugh, sweaty palms, itchy skin, and cringing ears over the knocking next door,the barking dogs, the screaming kids, the noisy cars…And my kid smells blood in the water so she is having fits every time I say the word no.

I’m tapped out.
I felt so hopeful earlier, even had this loose idea for a story, kind of a Supernatural-esque thing. Had a title, an idea…I was actually getting this spark of hope and maybe inspiration.
And now…It’s gone, lost amongst the flotsam and jetsam of a wandering mind, screaming nerves, and a kid throwing a tantrum.
Splat is coming early.

Unfortunately, splat comes with or without a trigger, that’s the bitch of it. Identifying triggers and avoiding, removing, or changing coping mechanisms can be attempted.
When it all comes from nowhere, then the triggers amplify it…

Crazy’s at the door.


RIP, Sir Terry

Rhianna Pratchett @rhipratchett
5:06 PM – 12 Mar 2015

AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.

Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.

The End.

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Have a Good Rest of the Week!

I’ll be on hiatus for the rest of the week due to our little vacation.  So feel free to wander around in the archives and see more of what I’m about while I’m gone.  Happy Spring Break, everyone!


Little Known Fact: Mental Illness Causes Physical Illness

Got a bad case of pretzel gut this morning. And I haven’t eaten anything to disagree with me nor have I encountered any triggers. It’s just overall anxiety. The doctors call it “generalized”. I wonder if they’ve ever opened a dictionary to understand what generalized means.
It’s not contained to one aspect.
It’s in charge.
The General.
It makes me ponder how “mild” an issue it would be if people had “generalized” stomach aches or headaches every single day of their lives.
Mental illness truly is the bastard child of the medical world. Just because it can’t be seen on a slide doesn’t make it any less real or serious than any other chronic condition. So why do I always find myself leading the charge to convince people it’s the real deal? Maybe because someone has to speak up and speak out. It may be a pebble tossed into water but the ripples could eventually cause some change.
Or am in grandiose manic phase?
Probably the latter.
But I am an outspoken person so manic or not, I’d still be doing my rebel yell thing.

Yesterday and last night were…interesting.
Not because anything happened.
It was what didn’t happen.
I was manic, but it was a good hypo mania. I got all the laundry done and folded. Six baskets that have been stalking and haunting me and I did it all. Well, I work in spurts, which is probably why the job thing is so different for me. You have to complete tasks in a timely fashion. It’s not in my skillset to work on a schedule. I can barely keep up with my kid’s school schedule. I manage but only because I’ve gotten the truancy letter. I think without that, I’d probably drop the ball more often and say “Fuck it, let’s take a sick day.”
I digress.
I eventually crashed down from the manic high but…the splat wasn’t as bad.
Until I started trying the sleep thing. Then the anxiety and paranoia went off the charts and the stomach ache started back up.
So…I had this 99 cent bottle of wine and thought…I’ll have this and maybe it will calm me enough to sleep.
I took two sips. It was putrid. The rest went down the sink drain.
I am a bad alcoholic, if I am indeed one. If it doesn’t taste good, I don’t want it. It’s gotta be plain swill for me to dump good booze.
Oddly…I wasn’t crawling out of my skin for alcohol.
I think maybe the mania is slowing down. The anxiety sure as hell isn’t but I think having seen someone in worse shape than me, totally out of control and not even caring anymore…I think it was a jar back to reality for me.
I’ve been through shit that would have made most people kill themselves.
I am a badass.
I can weather this storm.

Or so I keep telling myself. Maybe I will start to believe my own lies and self delusions.

The power of suggestion…That, too, is killing me. My kid said the school has been doing scalp checks, which means someone has lice. Suddenly we are both itching. But we both have dry scalp so itching is our norm. This has just…metastasized.
Lice is the scourge of the earth.
And not because I think it means people are dirty, it’s got nothing to do with that.
It’s just so hard to get rid of, especially since I won’t use the chemical crap. And with poor eyesight and no focus, it takes days of combing to get all the fuckers.
So I have become petrified and paranoid.
One more thing to add to the list of suckage.

I am due in the petri dish soon. I don’t want to be since I am expected to be. Also, my stomach is in such bad shape, I may end up needing a carton of milk and a lay on my stomach on the floor til it dies down break. Hard to do out in public.
Not to mention the paranoia.
I watched CSI:Cyber and it’s enough to make you (almost) throw out your computers and run screaming from wifi. We have acquiesced so much control, turned over so much of our lives, to the computer deities. We will pay the ultimate price, dramatic as it sounds.
Makes me glad I have a prepaid cheapie flip phone, a 1988 car, and nothing to hide even if I did get hacked. (Ha ha, couple years back someone got my debit card number and tried to buy a bunch of shit on Newegg…I doubt they were happy to find out it had a thirty two cent balance, ha ha ha.) Being broke and having bad credit are a good thing when it comes to hacking.

Okay…Now I’m just rambling.
Time to pretend I want to get dressed and go be functional.
Pretzel gut sucks.

On a final note..I’d like to hear from anyone who reads my drivel on how their mental illness affects their daily lives. Is it just me who’s so messed up? How are so many other bipolars so high functioning? Why can’t I shake this monkey on my back? What am I doing wrong? What am I doing right?
What do YOU do to cope?


Right to Brag

college 2This post is in response to a Daily Post prompt: “Tell us about something that a person close to you has done that has made you really unabashedly proud.”

Okay, well this one was not hard. It’s the turn around of my youngest son, Danny.

Danny is the youngest of my three kids and was a happy baby. He loved having an older brother and sister and they loved him. I was a stay-at-home mom and with my depression, we did a lot of stuff together. We’d hang out in the bed and tell stories and play. We’d walk to the park and swing for two hours. We were low key when Danny was a baby.

When Danny started pre-school we had trouble. The teacher told me he wasn’t “ready”. I knew he was as ready as the other two had been. What she meant was that he wasn’t cooperative. I moved him to a Montessori school where he had more freedom. It was better but Danny never quite got the hang of group discipline. He wasn’t in the teachers’ faces, but he had other things on his mind. Once he started elementary school, ick! As a former teacher, it was hard to hear that my youngest wasn’t making it, behavior wise. A couple of teachers even implied that I wasn’t a good parent. I didn’t believe that, because my older two were perfectly behaved.

Danny got involved in Cub Scouts and we were the den parents. Since we were right on top of him, he behaved. He thrived in Scouts, and even though we had a few bumps, he did receive his Eagle. That’s something to brag about right there.

Danny struggled in school…his grades were always okay, but forget the behavior. He was finally diagnosed as ADD. (You’ll notice there’s no “H” in there…he was never hyperactive.) We put him on medication and he did improve.

After the hell of junior high, he went to high school. It was an incredible grind. The classes were tough. This was the kind of high school where everyone went to college. Danny was working hard for C’s. He was no genius, but he was smart enough to pull B’s if he made the effort. He didn’t. He  just never bought into the educational system.

He somehow got involved with pot. Big surprise. We didn’t know. Then he swiped two Klonopin from my purse, took them, and went to school. His teacher had the janitor haul him to the office and they called my husband. The principal gave him two days of suspension and mandatory drug classes. Things were looking bleak. All of this was also not exactly helping my mental health.

Danny had a friend going to an alternative high school and he started pressuring us about it. It was an online approach…they had teachers there to help you…and you only went for half the day. Reluctantly we agreed. I feared he would drop out entirely if we didn’t let him move. He started there and the principal, Mrs. Reston, was an angel. She loved Danny and bent over backwards to help him. He had his share of poor behavior there but he knew his limits with her. He limped along and finally graduated.

It was the most meaningful and beautiful graduation ceremony I have ever been to. I never thought I’d see him walk across that stage.

About this time, Danny made friends with an absolute pothead. This kid talked Danny into moving out and in with him. Against our wishes, he moved, took his bed and computer, and worked at McDonalds. He rode the bus back and forth and smoked a LOT of pot. Sometimes he ran out of money and we’d take him to the grocery store. His dad was SO angry at him for all of this. I was despondent. No one wants their kid to grow up to be a pot smoker.

I guess things went south with the roommate. He brought a girlfriend to live in the apartment and it got crowded. He stopped speaking to Danny. Danny had to hang out in his room all the time. He got lonely. He was finally told he had to move out. We heard all of this from his older brother. We felt pretty bad.

My husband and I talked and talked. He was still pretty angry with Danny. But we came up with a plan.

We took Danny out for lunch. He really did look depressed. We made him an offer. He could come home to live and try to go to community college. We would give him a car to get around. We’d provide everything including a hot dinner. (This brought a smile.) We would pay for school, books, and tutoring. He would not have to work. His job would be to go to school. We’d give him $60 a week to spend. It really was a sweet deal.

For his part, Danny had to maintain a 3.0 GPA. He had to let us know when he was struggling and agree to go to tutoring. He had to do some chores at home. There was to be no pot or booze or police. (At least around the house.) He had to have polite behavior around us.

Honestly, we didn’t think Danny could give up the pot. We offered to get him any help he wanted but he said no, he could do it.

So he moved home. And we signed him up for one class in summer school. He got a B. He kept moving through it semester by semester and with summer in between. He has not had a “C” the whole time. It’s been amazing. Apparently, he has grown out of his ADD.

Now he has had a wonderful math tutor the whole time. She is 67, taught high school math for a million years, and does not mess around. Danny loves her. He texts her after every test to let her know how it went.

He’s got some nice friends. He makes music on his computer and plays computer games and studies. He goes to concerts once in a while. I assume he probably smokes some pot, but he never looks high, and I don’t smell it on him or in his car.

He’s not too good at doing the house chores. We’ve had a few “discussions” about that.

Danny turns 21 in one month. He’s got two years of college under his belt and will be transferring to the state university to finish his degree in Applied Computing. We live close enough to the university so that he can live at home and drive. Since we don’t have to pay for housing, we can pay cash for his tuition and he’ll get out of school with no loans. He is a lucky kid.

So there you have it…my unashamed bragging. Thanks for reading. I really enjoyed writing this one. Miracles do happen.

 

a linked quote-dump

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, people I hadn’t heard of near the start, people I have heard of below them, and arty stuff at the end. Not all of the links are fresh, but they are all cool (at just the right temperature). Irreverent and frequently irrelevant commentary by me sprinkled all the way through.

A looong and winding post … and for something curated and waffled by me, quite cheerful too.

A short list of links with varying degrees of relevance, from ‘scraping the barrel’ to ‘zomg genius’, and a title that is unnecessarily almost longer than the list itself:
West African: We talk about mental illness the way whites talk about Africa – Doc Ayomide
South African: Mortified! I know the owners of this site, which has a review with a stupid title. Okay, ‘mortified’ is too strong a word, but I felt like using it. Only bipolar people can say bipolar coaster, mkay?
USA: Charles Hamilton talks overcoming depression and bipolar disorder.
UK: Another link which has nothing directly to do with bipolar disorder, you might enjoy this cover of Mad World by Bipolar Sunshine and Jazz Purple.
UK: What was the truth about the madness of King George iii? – speculation about whether he suffered porphyria or bipolar.

Gratuitous and euw sidenote: a friend was once tested for porphyria – she had to um .. go to the bathroom with the lights off and a thick black plastic bag, and give a stool sample. True story.

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Quotes with links and a terse title:

  “To Hell with the stigma of mental illness! In the words of John Lennon, I am “crippled inside,” and to hide that fact is to do me harm. It’s not for me to be ashamed for being mentally ill. It’s for you to be ashamed if you pass on the street someone made homeless by mental illness and do not feel outrage at the collective failure.”
  “I am frequently shocked at how ignorant the general population is when it comes to mental health issues. Someone once told me that I should be able to talk my way out of being bipolar. I suppose I could cure cancer by kissing the Blarney Stone.”
Nicholas O’Mahony Out of the Mental Health Closet (also available as audio)

How the suffering f… would anyone even attempt to ‘talk their way out of bipolar’? I don’t even understand the notion. Help.

Beyond the revoltingly unjust stigma around mental/neurobiological illness, I think that we (the collective we, society as an amorphous whole) are stuck in the evolutionary concept of survival of the fittest. Just a thought.

“When an illness becomes fashionable, something is very wrong. Bipolar disorder is now so well known that were it a celebrity it would have its own chat show.”
Garan Holcombe

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My imagination kicked in.

Good evening, I’m Bipolar Disorder, but you can call me Bastard. Welcome to my new chat show, we have FABULOUS (yet tormented) guests and INCREDIBLE sideshow attractions *holds earpiece closer, inclines head slightly and nods* I mean side effects. Call 0800-HELP-ME at the end of the show to stand a chance of winning a lifetime’s supply of meds that could kill your skin, your liver and your love life, with absolutely NO GUARANTEE of doing any good at all! And now please join me in welcoming my first guest, the artist formerly known as something else, but currently languishing in the deep despair of a depressive episode, ladieeeeez and gentlemen I give you – VINCENT VAN GOTH!!!11!!!!!1! *canned applause for depressed audience, real applause by the manic ones*

(van Goth is def not an original idea of mine. Damn.)

“You know I live every day with these symptoms, paranoia, hallucinations – both auditory and visual – manic highs from bipolar disorder and depressive lows and panic attacks. And that’s okay, I’m alive.”
Kevin Hines – Story of an Unlikely Survival

I assume that the key to his saying “it’s okay,” is his faith, as well as the value placed on survival? Respect to him for it, because he survived a jump from the Golden Gate Bridge as a teenager.

“For a long time I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was difficult to be with, I was a complete a**e a lot of the time. God knows how the other boys put up with me. I’d never heard of bipolar, but when I was at my lowest I read an article about it and cried because I knew that was me.”
Tom Fletcher (of boyband McFly) – Battle with Mental Illness | YouTube

Throughout her possession by that uncannily evil monster, manic depression, with its deadly ever-tightening spirals, she retained her own individual canniness – an ability to disguise her true mental condition from almost all except me, for whom she could hardly be expected to take the trouble.
Laurence Olivier on Vivien Leigh

I am trying so hard not to make a Scarlett O’Hara/Blanche DuBois/bipolar joke. I googled and found a couple of negative comparisons though.

“… Vivien was more [like] Blanche herself. She had a more tenuous relationship with reality.”
“Vivien didn’t have to be polite, or even civil; after all, she was Scarlett O’Hara.”
Karl Malden on Vivien Leigh

“I’ve survived.  I’ve beaten my own bad system, and on some days, on most days, that feels like a miracle.”
Patty Duke – Working a Miracle (an article all the way from 1992)

I only found out fairly recently that Patty Duke is Samwise Gamgee Sean Astin’s mother.

PATTY DUKE, MACKENZIE & SEAN ASTIN on “20/20″  2004 (YouTube)

Florence heard voices and experienced a number of severe depressive episodes in her teens and early 20s – symptoms consistent with the onset of bipolar disorder.
Kathy Wisner on Florence Nightingale

The next quote is from a discussion that refers to retrospective diagnosis as ‘bigotry’ further along. Is the speculation that she may have suffered brucellosis bigotry too, one wonders … *sigh* Of course not. Physical illness – no problem, mental neurobiological illness and people are getting offended on behalf of a dead person. I’m not suggested that anyone ought to be thrilled by any sort of diagnosis, but stirring up stigma and making others feel shit about it is nasty and unnecessary.

… historian Dr. Lesley Hall – note Wellcome affiliation – describes retrospective diagnosis as “a parlor game.” If so, it is a game in the sense that throwing Christians to the lions was a game in the Roman coliseum. In this case, the victims are persons suspected of having disabilities.
A New Christian Martyr? Diagnosis as a Game

A prayer to the book pirates: Arrr pirates, who art in oceans … okay okay, perhaps that could be read as blasphemy idk. Anyway! I really, really, really want to read this book and if I get my sticky virtual paws on a digital version, I shall review the hell out of it.

“I curse the stupid course that my trail has followed,” he wrote, exhausted. “I cannot feel the meaning of it. I am lost.” Dr Perry Baird
He Wanted the Moon – Mimi Baird

And from the woman responsible for some of the finest and most lyrical books ever …

“My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery – always buzzing, humming, soaring roaring diving, and then buried in mud. And why? What’s this passion for?”
Virginia Woolf and Her Madness

And this wonderful, though ultimately sad anecdote …

“A telegram arrived at the HMS Dreadnought, the flagship of the British home fleet, advising the Admiral of a visit by the Emperor of Abyssinia and four of his entourage. The dignitaries were given the red carpet treatment and the visit went off without a hitch, except for the fact that the real Emperor happened to be back in Addis Ababa. One of the “Abyssinians”, decked out in flowing robes and dark greasepaint, turned out to be a youthful Virginia Woolf.” John McManamy

And this wonderful thing too …

According to Dally, who is a psychiatrist: “Virginia’s need to write was, among other things, to make sense out of mental chaos and gain control of madness. Through her novels she made her inner world less frightening. Writing was often agony but it provided the ‘strongest pleasure’ she knew.”

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My absolutely second most favourite artist in the whole wide world and one of the most beautiful women (all of her life) that ever lived:

“One day seven years ago I found myself saying to myself — I can’t live where I want to — I can’t go where I want to go–I can’t do what I want to — I can’t even say what I want to –….I decided I was a very stupid fool not to at least paint as I wanted to.”
Georgia O’Keeffe

“In the art world, there’s an idea that only artists who suffer can produce great art. These days it’s often presented as a correlation between mental illness and creativity, wherein mental illness is the price artists have to pay for what they do. It’s not true and the idea is actively harmful to artists. O’Keeffe was mentally ill*, but the result of her illness was not anything creative. The experience did not contribute to her art or lead her to new insights. It stymied her for a freaking year. The reality of the art world is that most artists produce their best work when they’re healthy, not when they’re sick.”
source

* usually referred to as a nervous breakdown or psychoneurosis, her hospitalisation and temporary inability may have been depression due  to factors such as her husband’s alleged affair.

More arty links:
Lynn Taetsch – Being a contemporary artist with bipolar disorder.
10 great painters who were mentally disturbed. Mentally disturbed? Describe me that way and I’ll fuck you up seven ways till Sunday, you disrespectful oik. If that sentence doesn’t demonstrate my British background, nothing ever will.
Are creativity and mental illness linked – not a new topic, but an engaging read nonetheless.

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