Daily Archives: April 2, 2015

diaries of a broken mind

A BBC3 documentary (1hr28mins) in which mentally ill British youngsters film and tell their own stories. They discuss all the usual topics and interview their loved ones. I’m not doing a very in depth review of this one. I think what is relevant to it, is the age of the participants and the home movie format. The other thing that is glaring, is that the participants were overwhelmingly female and Caucasian. I find warts ‘n all, first person stuff fascinating; it isn’t the best doccie I’ve seen, but it’s certainly not the worst.

Watch it on YouTube.

Here we go …

Participants:
Abby – bipolar ii, anorexia
Tilly – anorexia nervosa
Bex – agoraphobia
Jess – dissociative identity disorder
Ashley – bipolar i
Sophie – emetophobia, anxiety
Tom – anxiety, depression, addiction
Klera-Rose – social anxiety disorder (pictured below)

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Klera-Rose

Questions posed:
When did you notice your condition?
Is there a stigma attached to mental illness?
Do you take medication?
What do you miss out on due to your disorder?
Would you get rid if your condition if you could?

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I feel old.

a-z challenge: c

Well now. Day 3 of the challenge and all I could think of for C, is a delicious and delightful thing that I cannot use, because I didn’t mark my blog as having adult content in the signup process. That’s fair enough,  but I was stumped. I did the c word crowdsourcing thing and friends mentioned calcium, coffee, chocolate,  caracals, chalk circles … good stuff, but I was struggling to join love and a word count with those topics. And the answer was right there all the time, blowing smoke in my face. Cigarettes!

C for caveat: if I had it all to do again, I’d never start smoking. If mixed episodes didn’t kick my ass every time wellbutrin gets me off them, I’d quit. Even my psychiatrist told me not to quit at this stage. Blah blah smoking kills blah breastfeeding blah blah cancer and also, cost. Those are all utterly valid and so kids, if you don’t smoke now, don’t ever do it. Use the money on sex and rock n roll instead.

Have you heard Rufus Wainwright’s Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk? I love that song, it’s the only song that contains smoking that I love and it suits me down to the ground.

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I smoked socially from age 20 to 22, and then my bro died and I smoked like an addict from then on. These days I justify it, by telling myself that having given up alcohol, sex and coffee, I deserve a vice. I drink decaf occasionally and caf much more occasionally and I have no idea whether celibacy is forever – that is a C word that I do not love. None of those things were difficult to ditch though, so my rationale is irrational. Without justification, the truth emerges. I am addicted and I don’t want to give up enough to wrestle through the addiction and the mixed episodes enough to follow through with it. If someone says I’m trying to give up or I’ve given up or you should give up, I instantly feel a major urge to light up, inhale and continue blackening my lungs and my prospects.

I’m so sorry if that distresses anyone who has lost someone to lung cancer or emphysema – I really am.

Onwards with the polluted truth … smoking ain’t glamorous or wise or healthy and it costs a bomb. I’d never recommend it to anyone. But I do it and I’ve done it for 22 years (half my life) and although I would like my shrink to help me quit … well who knows. I’d like to stop spending money on it; I do not want to lengthen my life. The oral gratification pleases , and I am foolishly deluded enough to believe that it reduces rather than increases stress. I love smoking. I will smoke a cigarette for any/all of you that tell me to stop.

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I know I’ve contradicted myself, I know that it’s incredibly stupid. I just don’t care enough.

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So many C words, so little logic.

Help – The Beatles

Just because we all need a little help!

What I’m Actually Upset About

I’m having a hair problem. It’s bugging the crap out of me. I stopped straightening my hair like maybe 10 years ago because I realized I actually really liked my natural texture. I had these really nice, uniform, loose spirals that behaved perfectly with almost no styling. Like I’d just wash it and forget about it and be left with this awesome head of long, flowing curls that changed colors according to the season: strawberry blonde in the summer and a deeper auburn in the winter. Killer. Loved my hair. Embracing your natural hair texture is kind of a big deal for girls and women because so few of us have tresses that align with conventional, Western beauty standards, so we torment ourselves with expensive products, cumbersome tools and wasted time to achieve attractiveness (which is ultimately bullshit, but really hard not to buy into). I was pretty haughty about my ability to skip that nonsense.

So my curls are gone now. I dunno how or why. I started noticing it a little over a year ago and started going to greater and greater lengths just to get my damned Adonis hair back, but it’s gotten to a point where it just kind of hangs in these sloppy, uneven waves. It looks dumb. My hair looks super dumb. I’m pissed. I asked my sister-in-law about it because she’s a hairdresser and she said that sometimes it just happens. She said it’s usually meds or hormones, but for some people, your hair texture just changes. She followed her comments up with, “I know that’s probably not what you wanted to hear.” It really, really wasn’t. But I appreciated that she took those feelings into account. Since it’s been so long since I’ve had to style my hair, I don’t really know how to do it anymore. I don’t have tons of hair and it’s not very long anymore (about to get even less long next week when I actually let a professional touch it, which I rarely do because I NEVER HAD TO WORRY ABOUT IT BEFORE), but it takes me like a full hour just to blow dry it into a shape I can live with, only to have that shape unfurl into a sad, limp mess 30 minutes later.

I’ve tried every weird tip and trick I could dig up on the Internet. In the last week, I bought a curling iron, a diffuser and some way too expensive products, all of which was a waste of money which I know I can’t really afford this month, but I’ve become obsessed. Last night Husband had some of our gaming friends over to play D&D. I didn’t participate. I didn’t even greet them when they showed up. I holed up in the bathroom with a whisky tonic, some T. Rex and a curling iron trying not to burn myself and trying not to cry and then lamenting my choice of tunes because Marc Bolan had this going on:

Marc At The BBC

And the whole while I was grappling with this searing hot curling iron, I was like, FUCK YOU SO HARD, MARC BOLAN WITH YOUR GODDAMNED CHERUB CURLS, YOU ASSHOLE. Because at that point I was starting to forfeit some of my rationality, which was probably resultant of the whisky and the iron burns. Good. Productive.

But truly, I am becoming obsessed. And, in my estimation, my hair is too frivolous to spend this much energy on, but, as I’ve said many times before, I’m pretty vain, so my fixation is becoming emblematic of everything in my life I see as a failure. Things could be so much worse.

Things are so much worse.

Last week, we found out that one of the cats needs surgery to correct a badly healed femur she broke when she was a stray and probably still a kitten. She has arthritis (she’s only 3) and is probably in a good deal of pain. The surgery will cost us about $3,000. That’s a lot for us. Realistically, we might have to cancel our honeymoon which we still haven’t taken even though we’ve been married for over 6 months. We already bought plane tickets and planned a 5 stop itinerary from central to southern California. Awesome. My grandmother was admitted to the hospital two days ago because her kidneys decided to take a nap or something and the buildup of whatever your kidneys are supposed to filter out (I’m not good with human anatomy, I’m just relating what I was told) caused her to develop type II diabetes, which has its own set of complications because she weighs 98 pounds and has almost no body fat, so there are very few places on her frame that can support an insulin injection. Awesomer. One of my uncles-in-law was, this past weekend, given 6-12 weeks to live after years of battling brain cancer. He does not want to be resuscitated. He’s going and very soon. THE MOST AWESOME.

I’ve been crying a lot. I reached a breaking point the other day after a phone call from my mom became an exercise in masochism as I let her start yelling and arguing with me when there was nothing to argue about. Mother’s day this year falls on the 8th anniversary of my dad’s death and my mom just can’t handle it.So we agreed to celebrate the day before, primarily for my grandmother’s sake who really, really deserves to be celebrated this year. I mentioned to my mom that my mother-in-law pointed out (without resentment) that last year my family got my husband and me for both Easter and Mother’s Day and she’d really appreciate it if we could be with her family for one of those holidays this year. I also pointed out that she’s about to lose her brother, so it’s important to me that we spend time with my in-laws. Even though there was no scheduling conflict, Mom started raising her voice as if I was trying to weasel out of something, even though I made it clear that we will be seeing her for Easter, we will be celebrating Mother’s Day with her on May 9th and Mother’s Day with my in-laws on May 10th (I declined to point out that this arrangement is going to be extremely emotionally taxing for me because I didn’t want to give her another foothold in her concocted conflict that she didn’t seem to realize was completely one-sided). What I did say was that, while I recognize that May 10th will never be a happy day for anyone in our family, over the years I’ve learned to cope. Her response: WELL I HAVEN’T.

Oh yeah, and as long as I’m enumerating my current misfortunes, I just remembered that 4 days from now will be the anniversary of the death of my childhood best friend who was killed by a Taliban suicide bomber in Afghanistan while she was working as as diplomat for the State Department. She was on her way to deliver books to some schoolchildren when her caravan was struck by a car bomb. She was 25 and was moving up the ranks in her department at such an unprecedented rate that I have little doubt she could’ve been Secretary of State or even President one day. She was one of the smartest people I’ve ever known and the world is a shittier place without her.

So I’ve become fixated on my hair. Because my hair is superficial. Because my hair doesn’t yell at me. Because I can waste time fucking around with it, channeling all my frustration into garbage pile that’s hanging off head right now and not think about the forfeiture of my honeymoon, my grandmother’s faulty organs or my uncle’s impending death. I don’t have to think about how I lost my dad and my friend prematurely if I’m focused on avoiding another curling iron burn. That shit gets REALLY hot.

There are 2 things I wish I had available right now. I wish I’d bought a 100lb heavy bag (punching bag) for the basement like I was gonna so I could practice my MMA technique (i.e. punch and kick the crap out of it) to blow off some steam. And I wish I still had therapy twice a week. I had to start going once a week because, in light of the money problems we’re looking at this month, I can’t afford two session every week. I would be getting out of therapy right now, actually. I might be running into one of the homeless dudes I chat with when I’m in that neighborhood. Those dudes are so goddamned friendly and so goddamned positive and I almost always get a hug and I could really use a fucking hug right now, even knowing that it would probably make me start sobbing, but I know they’d be cool about it.

So, right now, because I wasted most the of day in bed recovering from a migraine, I’m gonna finally get into the fucking shower. I’m gonna try to avoid fucking around with my hair. I’m gonna try to spend some time playing my cajon (it’s a Peruvian box drum that you can play with your hands, if you didn’t know) because I think the tactile sensation of hitting something coupled with the aural sensation of the massive booms I get out of that thing (my cajon kicks ass) will do me some good. But, frankly, I’m probably gonna cry in the shower because I’ve been feeling a monolithic sob welling up in me the whole time I’ve been writing this and if it doesn’t come out soon, I might end up barfing instead of crying. If I had a dollar for every time in my life that I said, “when it rains, it pours” I could probably afford that second day of therapy. I guess I just have to stick it out.

-LB

Tagged: anxiety, beauty, death, depression, family, grief, hair, Marc Bolan, mommy issues, money, music, obsession, psychotherapy, sadness, T. Rex, therapy

A Bipolar’s Slavery

  

Passover commemorates “the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery.” Tonight opens the “true freedom” that our ancients gained. They did not choose slavery, they were born with it. Sounds all too familiar to me.

 

 As an unmedicated bipolar, I know the entrapment preventing happiness. I was locked away from my true yet unfamiliar personality. Marcus Aurelius wrote, “to live happily is a true act of kindness.” Imagine, me, kind. As a recovering bipolar, I am capable of forgiveness of others, as well as, myself. Imagine that. Of course, not always, it is a constant struggle. A mountain I must climb everyday but I am better able to accomplish now that I am medicated.

I’ve been diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar, type 1 which comes with a tremendous challenge to achieve a balanced mind. Staying true to my medication regimen keeps those mood swings under control but the side effects has chained me with a new slavery. Which are:

-an unsteady feet/gait

-being a scattered brain

-a short term forgetfulness/memory loss. Such as  leaving an important article sitting on a retailer’s counter. Not realizing I have lost the article, I was pretty lucky to find it back at the store.

-and a constant exhaustion that only sleep can bring relief. 

It’s the price that a modern day bipolar sacrifices to be a nicer person, forgiving, peaceful, and easily conformed within our pop-culture. There is an isolation that comes with change. Not leaving my house is one of them. A new enemy, if you will, a kind of Ponticus Pilate lurks in a new form of slavery. How do I to deal with the side effects of my medications, my Roman Empire? 

Somehow I must find a solution for freeing myself from the side effects of the medications and empower myself towards a new freedom. 

Happy Passover and Easter to my readers. May you find happiness from freeing your own bondage(s) having a peaceful holiday. 

Tangle

I'm told the trouble lies deep in my synapses both spider and maze embedded and threaded, the warping of my weft

Feeling Wordless on WordPress

Nothing I want to say? Nothing I want to rant about? Weird. Usually when I blog I have a topic, something I’ve been thinking about, or doing, or some mental health isses pops up on my feed and YOU KNOW I got to blog about it! This time, I have really nothing. Other than the […]

Still Raging On

My FIL is still here and I’ve decided that I actually like to be alone during the day. It may get lonely sometimes but I can dress how I like, do what I like and not feel like I am constantly under someone’s gaze.

Last night the top of my back was out and hubby cracked it for me. Sadly it threw my lower back out and I couldn’t move for a good 20 mins at all. It didn’t hurt so much as it was locked. Today it is tender but definitely feeling better.

My mood has been surprisingly good despite everything. I’ve found something I thought I lost which is enjoyment. Hubby and I have been playing on the computers when we can and are having a good time doing it.

I’m still cooking every day and walking at least a mile. The diet is going fairly well despite the fact that someone has entered my lair.

Only 3 more days to go….


Countdown to New Psych Doc Time

It’s 9:42 a.m. My appointment with the new psychiatrist is at 2:30 p.m.
Suffice it to say, I am literally sweating bullets, my gut is doing pretzel mambas, and there’s this mixed sense of dread and hope settled down into my bones.
All kinds of questions swirl about. Will he be a jerk? Will he be open to hearing me out? Will he just follow the notes of his predecessors? What if he’s dismissive?
I can handle about anything but dismissive. I have walked out on a shrink before because they were condescending and dismissive.(Zoloft doesn’t work because you don’t want it to work???? Really, this is a professional saying something so ignorant?)

To add to it, I have cramps and my spine feels like it went ten rounds with Pinhead, courtesy of menstrual dysphoria and all. I feel low but solid at the moment, mood wise. I am terrified one wrong word from him and I will either burst into tears or go full on pissed off manic. Neither state is optimal because I become irrational and run on emotion that is amplified by all the chemical and hormonal imbalances.
It’s bridge burning territory.

On the plus side, I guess, is my daughter is having a sleepover at Grandma’s tonight so if the shrink appointment turns to shit…I can come home, bawl, and lick my wounds without worrying about her seeing me come apart.
It really is post traumatic shrink disorder as opposed to pessimism.
I have had so many shit doctors and one decent one. It leads to serious trust and faith issues.

I have made a list (a rather incoherent one that makes sense only to me) to take with to the doctor appt. I know he doesn’t have a lot of time so I have prioritized the list in my own sloppy way.
Lamictal works great.
Xanax works well, could be raised until whatever this current anxiety plague resides.
Prozac…Willing to give it more time, but that mid day crash sucks.
The disturbed sleep thing definitely needs to be addressed, if only to explain why I am so exhausted all the time.

The primary focus today will be my memory/concentration issues. I have to get my point across on this one. Like the medication is not covered by insurance and I will be paying out of pocket which I can’t afford so I wouldn’t be asking for it if I didn’t know how much of a difference it had made in the past. I am willing to do it on a week by week basis, and if it doesn’t work this time, fine.
But for three years I’ve watched my life turn to absolute chaos because my mind can’t focus and organize and retain information due to all the swirling thoughts.
I need help.
It’s so bad you get replaced at volunteer jobs for friends, well, seems to me something a doctor would pay attention to.

I am literally sweating. Palms, armpits, neck. Anxiety is a fucking scourge. I have yet to get dressed because well…Um…I don’t even know. It’s that whole mental restraint thing. I know I need to, have to, but I am a deer in headlights, frozen and the car ain’t stopping and I am ain’t moving.
I have an ass ton of housework I’ve gotten behind on and I don’t even know where to start on that.
I’ve been drowning for so long and these doctors are supposed to be my lifeline to stay afloat. Epic fails. I can only do so much if the chemicals aren’t aligning properly. Being made to feel like I’m just not trying hard enough is counterproductive. Professionals should know that.
I’ve always said though, top of the med school class doesn’t end up in this armpit of a town. Can only get what is there. I get Dr. Chihuahua and Dr. Osteo run-up-and-down-the-stairs-to-cure-depression.

I’m also scared that this switch to in person doc may result in him taking away my Xanax. The new order doctors are just so biased against it. They push this clownapin and it does fuck all for me.
I could be making things worse for myself here.
It’s said, “You miss a hundred percent of the shots you never take.”
I suppose.
Then again, Sartre says, “Hell Is Other People.” It’s been the background on my desktop for three years now.

GRRRR.
I would have less fear if I were attending a tea party with Michael Meyers, Jason, Vorhees, Freddy Krueger, Pinhead, Leatherface, and the sadistic fuck from Saw.
I know they’re out to kill me.
This new doctor…is unknown.
That’s petrifying.


Clean Sweep

broom

Does a messy, cluttered home (or office) make you anxious and cranky, or is cleaning something you do right before company comes over?

So you might be wondering what on earth this has to do with bipolar and recovery? I’ll try to lead you in as best I can.

Let’s talk first about an office. I was a teacher, so we are basically talking about a classroom. When I went back to work after raising my kids, I didn’t find a job right away, so I subbed. And I was amazed at the filth. The ratio of dirty rooms to clean ones was about 6:1. I’m talking heaps of junk on the teacher’s desk so bad there was no where to write. Papers all over the floor. Dead goldfish on the floor. Microwaves that were too filthy to use. Bowls and cups on the teacher’s desk with mold growing in them. And, whoa, on the cupboards! You open one for some construction paper and were attacked by a pile of stuff that came tumbling down. Refrigerators that should have been condemned. It was bad.

When I got my own classroom I was anal. I enlisted 5 adults and 2 of my kids to help clean out the dirty room the previous teacher had left behind. We took THIRTY black trash bags of stuff out of the room. (I lined them up in the hall and the janitor passed out.) We scrubbed every surface. We brought in clean everything. We went to the supply closet and found some stuff we needed and put it in.

I kept my room clean. There were never stacks of paper on the floor. There were in baskets and out baskets. You could easily find supplies and know how much you had. I cleaned one side of the room every week. I just looked at everything along that wall and cleaned it up. I had fresh bulletin boards. My room was colorful and attractive. My lesson plans were done. My microwave and fridge were immaculate. No messing around. I don’t think I was hypomanic, just feeling “normal” at this point.

Now I have read several studies that say that bipolar people like neatness and not clutter. (I don’t have links to those studies…I’m not a scientific writer.) I think our minds get cluttered enough and it helps to keep things simple. I totally agree with this.

So on to my house. Now please don’t think we are rich because we’re not. But we do have a big house. We have lots of closets, cupboards, and storage. We have 5 bedrooms and 4 baths. (I don’t know what I was thinking…if you have 4 toilets…you must CLEAN 4 toilets.) Right now, we have my husband and I and two adult kids at home. But my husband is a collector. He collects rocks (the rock show!) comics, books, Star Trek stuff, shirts, baseball cards, stamps, and coins. Oops, I forgot board games. He’s got one bedroom and four closets FULL of his stuff. It’s all put away or displayed very neatly, but it has just taken over the house, in my opinion. It really stresses me out. I see a shelf and might want to put four or five books on it so there is room for more later…he’ll put thirty on it. I have to fight for every square inch of space that’s mine.

I’d really bitch and complain more about this if he wasn’t such a good husband, father, and provider. And nurse. He has taken care of me through this latest massive depression.

Now he will clean out cupboards and closets and purge stuff, but it’s never the spaces I want cleaned. For example, we have a big laundry room with lots of cupboards. And they are filled to the gills. I can’t figure out what is in there. I’ve asked him to purge in there but he’s not interested. He says he “needs” everything in that room.

Our kitchen is not bad. Since that is “my” space, he loves to go in those cupboards and clean. I can’t tell you how often he’s held up a platter and said “When did we last use this?” I pick up stuff at garage sales I like, such as glasses or unique plates. I guess that’s what I collect. He is quick to point out if anything seems too crowded.

Thank god we have the bathroom we do. We each have our own sink, cupboard, and medicine chest. I clean mine regularly and just have the basics in there. Lots of empty space. It’s my bipolar brain. I have about ten items of make-up. Only what I actually use every day. If I’m going somewhere special I just put more on.

My clothes closet is interesting. I go through it about every three months and get rid of stuff. I never save anything hoping I will get smaller or worrying that I will get bigger. If I don’t like it and it doesn’t fit today, out it goes. I’m trying to really simplify there. I read another blog where a woman had 30 pieces of clothing including shoes and purses. And she worked at a job!

I did get hypomanic a few years back. I cleaned everything in the house. Every cupboard, every baseboard, every shutter. I did touch up painting everywhere. It was amazing. I scrubbed like crazy. And you know, years later I still see the results from that today. Many areas still look pretty good from that burst of energy.

As far as cleaning goes now, I will confess I have a cleaning person. She is the mother of one of my former students. I worked in a very low income school and this works out great as she needs the money and I need the help. She goes directly from our home to the grocery store and gets the weekly groceries for her family. I’m not going to mess with that.

When company comes over, we have to do three things: 1) clean off the kitchen counters as everyone deposits everything on there all week 2) clean up the den as that is where I have my “nest” and it can look like a pit 3) check the downstairs bathroom. If we do that we’re good. Guests never go upstairs. We don’t make beds in this house, so although it’s not dirty up there, it can look messy.

So when you come over, give us a half hour to clean up. If you want food, give us a day. That’s a whole other deal!