Daily Archives: April 24, 2015

a-z challenge: u

& I think a lot.

& I think a lot.

So here it is, the final … something or other … of the a-z thingy and oh look, it’s UVWXYZ … what a sneakily perplexing way to end an alphabet.

You’d think I’d have picked unicorn, right? Well, despite all the unibanter here, they’re not actually my favourite mythical beasts. I like them well enough, but it isn’t love. I have a love/hate relationship with the universe, and I’m fussy about which underwear I love. I don’t even like umbrellas when it’s raining. I love underdogs. Because bitches love underdogs. (Oooh didja SEE what I did there?) Long, tedious story short, I’ve been unable to rustle up more than 100 words about anything starting with U.

acb8ede5c2480c641ac8a4d4fa51f395But wait! There’s not much more.

How did the arrogant looking unicorn get in here? U may well be for unicorn, but not now, not here … my personal relationship with the species isn’t nearly good enough. Id probably just mess up human-unicorn diplomatic ties for, like … ever. Unicycle, I could’ve done that, but apart from an ex who has a son who owns and rides one, there’s no traction there either.

U UUU u u u uuu … thinkthinkthink …

Gottit.

eff u.

eff u.

If you enjoy things of a Robert Zimmerman and Sixto Rodriguez flavour, it is quite likely you’ll like Kenneth Stirling …

From Out Of Nowhere: Panxiety Attack

In the last hour or so, my anxiety level has climbed up. For no reason. Now it has morphed into that “cloud overhead” panxiety. The fragile space where I feel unsafe and I don’t know why. My phone rang and I’ve ignored it. Unless it’s the school calling about my kid, I cannot take on dealing with mundanes right now.
I feel vulnerable. Fragile. Almost trembling to the bone marrow.
I don’t like when I get hit with these “attacks”, although it’s more like this gauzy film of paranoid anxiety wrapped around my entire being.
It’s disconcerting. It defies logic.
Mental illness defies logic. Action/reaction.
But so often, there are no triggers for me. It’s just very random. The moods and anxiety are like ninjas sneaking up on me.
It’s making my stomach churn.
I try to distract myself. “Don’t focus on it, ignore it. You’re feeding it by acknowledging it.”
To no avail.
It’s still there and it’s like having a bag tied around my head. I can’t breathe. I’m actually scared to breathe. Not as in not taking a breath, but this looming sense that even a simple thing like taking a deep breath and letting it out will cause the world to implode.
I know it’s not rational.
Unfortunately, the flood of whatever brain chemicals cause this don’t give a fuck about rationality.
Is it just my personality? Am I so fucked up I have the mental ability to make myself have physical responses to stress?
No. Because the same stressers that happen when I am manic don’t even phase me.
Personality does not change at the drop of a hat.
Mood shifts do.
Anxieties flow freely, especially after a week of overwhelming stimuli. I am on overload and this is my mind and body’s way of telling me I need to step back. Pushing myself is only going to make it worse.
Not to mention, it’s very difficult to be around people when your brain is sending you a flood of “fight or flight, everyone is out to get me” messages.

I am home alone. Broad daylight. No one here. No triggers.
And I am freaking out.

How fucked up is that.


Mentally Chill: A Blog About Mental Health and Stigma: Loss

Thursday, April 23, 2015 Loss A tremendous light has just gone out in this world. She was one of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met, and it truly is a tragedy that she was taken from us at such…

People’d Out

It is social feast or famine in my life. Either weeks pass without so much as a smoke signal to check my well being, then boom, I’ve got four invites to hang out in a week. For someone with anxiety who can’t process too much outside stimuli…
It’s a weird place to be. I’m good socializing once a month.
Because honestly, I am people’d out. I’d planned on spending today just vegetating since my kid’s at school then spending the night at grandma’s and for once in weeks all my housework is done. Read, watch some shows, get a decent night’s sleep, without a squirming blanket hog invading.
And R’s wife invites me over, she misses hanging out and chatting. I politely declined but I feel guilty as it’s been almost a month since we hung out. At this juncture in time, the last thing I want is more people time. And honestly, R’s neediness this week has me wanting space from him, too. (Yeah, I know, rich, coming from needy ole me.)
The catch 22 is, I spend all day alone and by this evening, I may want to socialize. It doesn’t sound possible but with rapid cycling bipolar…It’s a distinct possibility. It’s not like I’m warned about my moods, they just kind of happen.
And because today is gloomy and cold, which affects my mood severely, I may be going stir crazy later.
I just don’t know.
Making commitments is hard for me.
People don’t view it as a bipolar mood shift. Nope, they just view you as fickle and flaky. Obviously people have no clue what it’s like to be bipolar. I wish I were just fickle and flaky. This disorder wreaks havoc over everything in my life.
And I am soooo sick of the sunshine spewing “Take control of your disorder and your life” spiel.
If I could control any of this, I wouldn’t be shoveling ten pills a day in an effort to simply stay afloat. Hell, my side effects have side effects. It’s to the point where I wouldn’t know if something was wrong with my body because so much of what bothers me can be tied right back to the meds that keep me sane-ish.
This is not really choice. Meds are necessity.
And if people even knew me in the slightest, they’d know what an independent control freak I am, I would NEVER bow down and be defeated by something that were within my control.

It’s so much ass trash and clown shoes.

I think the Focalin has affected my appetite. I mean, I eat, but for three straight nights, I’ve “forgotten” supper because, well, my body wasn’t telling me I was hungry. Since I am fluffy and could stand to lose some fluff, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Just a deviation.
But hey, I’m one of those who can starve themselves for weeks and still gain weight, so I’m not seeing any silver lining. Stupid junk dna. Used to, we blamed our parents for screwing us up mentally. Now we can also blame them for sticking us with their particular blend of screwed up genetics, too.
In my fantasies, I have no mother and Alice Cooper is my dad.
Mainly because I’ve never really met a woman I’d want to be my mom. One evil real mom is enough trauma. And by evil I mean, borderline as fuck. Except she blames everyone but herself. Not admitting to the problem makes you worthy of my disdain.
I’ve gone off on a tangent.
Oh, well. isporkacorns.
Nothing really major going on so this is just written spewage, anyway.

I need to mow the lawn. Again. It’s so cold and gloomy I don’t see it happening. I think my seasonal affect thing goes to the bone marrow.
But I used to love gloomy days.
I’m telling you, whatever my spawn did in utero, she rearranged a bunch of stuff in there ‘cos everything’s different, including the mental shit. It got worse.

On a final note…I’d like to indulge my love of fictional characters and bid farewell to Dr Derek Sheppard from Grey’s Anatomy. That was a sad episode. No more McDreamy and Meredith drama.
Yes, I watch Grey’s Anatomy.
It’s not as shameful as my sister watching Jersey Shore. UGHHHH.

Now I am going to ponder putting socks on ice cold feet, and fetching a sweater, and maybe I’ll do the food thing. Because I don’t think five little pieces of pepperoni constitutes breakfast.
Bitch of it is, I’m hungry and that makes me woozy but thanks to all my pills, food makes me gag.

Life is beautiful.
If beautiful means Twisty The Clown from American Horror Story: Freak Show.
Heebie jeebie city.
This new season better not suck like that one did.
See, already thinking about the new tv season and this one’s just ending. Of course, the new season starts as my seasonal disorder kicks in so I probably shouldn’t look forward to it so much.
Meh. I’m addicted to TV. I don’t live or die by it. But it’s a needed distraction. I mean, if I am crying for McDreamy’s demise, then I’m not crying about some shit situation in my mind or life.
That’s my idea of positive thought.

And btw…Watching TV with R is as irritating as it is with my kid. He begged me to watch Arrow last night. When he’s already seen it…He’s awful. “Did you get that? Did you see that…Oh, pause, I gotta tell you the backstory…Hey, back it up, I think you missed that…”
Grrr.
But he didn’t do that last night.
No, he kept talking. And talking. About busted shit. And my kid kept talking. And it’s like, seriously, people? This is why I watch my shows alone. So I can actually WATCH them.
To further agitate my Arrow issue, I got a Hollywood Reporter email the night it aired and I opened it…AND IT WAS FILLED WITH SPOILERS.
Great, why bother watching it now that I already know what’s gonna happen. You suck, Hollywood Reporter.
(Face it, I’d have watched it no matter what ‘cos…Oh, right, I can’t give spoilers, that’d make me suck, too.)

Socks. I need socks.
Oh, just to toot my own horn (god, that phrase is so cheesy) I bathed my kid AND myself last night.
Housework and bathing in one day? OMG, that’s miraculous. Like pegacorns and isporkacorns.
And that one day of high functioning is probably going to cost me four days of recovery.
If there’s one thing about mental illness that pisses me off the most…
It’s how it makes you feel so utterly weak. Which leads to self loathing, self bullying, self judgement.
Chain reaction.
Clown shoes.
Yeah, clown shoes. It’s my new version of “fuck” that I can use around my kid without being charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Socks.


Owwww. . .

Been developing a horrible toothache over the past couple of days and have just now gotten the courage to call the dentist.  I have a phobia about going to the dentist.  I knew it was bad when I broke down and took some Tylenol, but that didn’t even dent the pain.  So I wound up taking my heavy painkillers left over from my surgery so I could sleep, and it took away the bone ache in my jaw but not the tooth pain, which is making it where I can’t even eat.  So now I have an appointment and have to miss Awards Day for my middle daughter.   Double fun.


I don’t even know what happened….

I lost my mind!!

That is the only thing that explain the way I treated my husband yesterday. I thought I had been doing so good. We had been handling things mostly well and I think I was starting to get comfortable in believing we were out of the woods. 

SLAM…..not so much!!

My husband and I quit smoking this week. Always a hard thing to do and my husband has always done better than me whenever we have tried in the past. Well, a friend was over that smokes and I was going to smoke one cigarette. My husband “encouraged” me not to and I proceeded to be a completely hateful lunatic to him. Next thing I know he contemplating our marriage. 

I don’t know what happened. I do know there is nothing in this world worth losing my husband over including cigarettes. He went and bought me a pack yesterday. I did smoke a couple, but you know what? The pack sits in the other room this morning and I have zero desire to smoke one. I know that probably sounds strange but in many ways I have often been backwards. 

I know that I can quit smoking. I also know that I could have one cigarette a day for the rest of my life and no more. I don’t know why I jut could. Being on medication has allowed me to look more closely at my actions. And I honestly am sitting here wondering what the crap happened to me. It was totally bizarre and off the charts out of proportion. I am so so sorry that my poor husband was on the other end of my unraveling. 

He doesn’t deserve that. He has given me more chances than I deserve and when I thought I had lot him forever he gave US one more chance. I did not treat him well. I wasn’t a good steward of his heart and I am beyond ashamed at the way that I acted. He is such a good man and deserves better from me. He takes care of me and our kids and for the most part doesn’t complain or gripe. I know these things in my heart. I don’t just say them I believe them with all of my heart. I just lost it and there is no excuse. 

When I started my meds and they seemed to be helping I guess maybe I thought it wouldn’t be so hard. And in many ways it is not. But I have some work to do when I get mad. I can’t be acting like that, even if it’s only once or twice a year.  It’s completely ridiculous and uncalled for and not only I am better and strong than that but my husband deserves better. There is a never a time no matter what he has said or done in which he deserves that. I am completely ashamed. Behavior like that is not who I am and it only cancels out so many good things when I can’t figure out how to control myself. 

I am hoping I can take this with me going forward. That I can remember that no one in my life deserves treament like that. Least of all my husband who loves me and is there for me and who has been patient and kind and helped me get on the path to being more mentally healthy. My heart is heavy this morning. And sleeping all day seems like a good idea. But that’s probably the easy way out and I need to face both the day and life because I have a lot of work to do. 
Thanks for listening. Be blessed!!


My Son

Aral and me May 1991Aral 6

This is in response to a post I read (http://thelithiumchronicles.org/2015/04/22/you-cant-have-kids-youre-bipolar/) which was actually written in response to someone asking the author why she didn’t feel guilty for having children because the she has bipolar 1 d/o.

This hit close to home for me too. Although I have NEVER thought I shouldn’t have had kids, I love my son more than anything in the world, I understand where the person who asked this question is coming from. It isn’t easy in the best of circumstances to raise a child, let alone raising a child when you have a mental illness. Yes it is difficult at times. And yes I have lived in fear of having passed this down to my son, at this point in life, my enormous anxiety about that is under control. But, although we have gone through some very difficult times, we have also recovered from these difficult times. That is the stuff that strength and resilience (my favorite word, of late :-) ) are made of. And besides that, we have also had some very good and happy times. If someone says that to a person with mental illness, what about people who have the genes for early onset alzheimer’s, or cancer, or autoimmune diseases, or ALS? Which one among us is genetically perfect? There is no guilt on my part from having my son, he has brought me untold, unfathomable happiness and the love I felt for him, as soon as I saw him, as soon as I saw him, after the doctor handed him to me after the C-section, cannot ever be measured. Truly, it is a love that is bottomless, fathomless, and endless. I would never have not had my precious son, never.

Anyway, my answer is below:

I have son and he is the love of my life! I would never have not had him. Anyway, your child doesn’t have a 100% chance of getting bipolar d/o, the chances are 30% max, that your child may inherit this infernal disease. Yes there were hair raising times, (a few) when parenting him was hard, yes he may have been exposed to some things that a child of a parent who is not mentally ill would never be exposed to. But he is a marvelous human being, compassionate, passionate, and he is in second year Law school. I wish him only love and laughter in his life and I am his biggest fan, and of course being his mom, worry incessantly about him. But to not have him here now, how sad that would have been.


Fat by Choice: Happy (And Healthy!) At the Intersections of Size and Mental Health

The illustration features a place setting with breakfast foods, and two hands: one clutching a spoon, the other clutching a bottle of pills.

Illustration by Jessica Krcmarik.

Almost two years ago now, I began taking a medication with the hope that I could finally manage the aggressive symptoms that came with mental illness. I was experiencing despondent, suicidal lows; I felt panicked, paranoid, and inexplicably angry.

But by far the worst part of what was happening was the feeling that I wasn’t a “somebody” and, instead, the host for this parasite known as bipolar.

And it was this feeling – the feeling that I was no longer a person but rather, a shell – that compelled me to try a medication that had not been around for very long.

To the surprise of both my doctor and myself, it worked. It worked astonishingly well. As the months progressed, I began to level out. The loud noise in my head began to dial back. The hopelessness gave way to a hesitant, fledgling optimism. The anger dulled and I was able to problem-solve without coming undone. I began to feel human again.

I remember thinking that it was too good to be true. In every fairytale I’d ever read, miracles like these came with a trade-off. You could have effortless beauty, but give up your first born; you could have strength or immortality or riches, but there was always the fine print.

Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy, but when I noticed my body beginning to change, I was convinced that my day of reckoning had come. I could be mentally healthy, sure, but in return, the universe was going to issue me a new challenge.

I know what you might be thinking. No, gaining weight was not the challenge, though at first I thought it was. Gaining weight is not inherently a bad thing. Bodies themselves are not inherently bad.

The challenge was dealing with the internalized fatphobia I didn’t even know I had.

I was a good little feminist. Wait, wasn’t I? I had no problem with fat. In fact, both my parents were classified as “obese” and I had some idea, as someone who considered themselves very committed to body positive activism, of what it might mean to occupy space as a person of size.

And yet, when I went from being a tiny, petite little queer to being a member of the Chub Club, I reacted in such a strong, visceral way, that it became obvious that this body change had come with a lot of baggage – and I’m not just talking about physical weight, I mean, the weight of internalized oppression.

Because, holy cow, the words that flew out of my mouth? I’d look down at my round and protruding belly and say something like, “This is disgusting. I’m disgusting.”

I’d glance at my stretch marks and say something like, “I failed. I should’ve been dieting. I should’ve been exercising. This is my fault.”

As if the fat on my body made me inherently bad, some kind of failure; as if being fat makes me some kind of disgusting and unlovable human being. These are the ideas I swore I’d never think, let alone say about someone, and yet here I was, taking a shit on myself.

Being thin had allowed me to bury the fatphobia and leave it unchecked. But having highly visible fat, rolls, stretch marks – the whole shebang – finally brought to the surface what was there all along. As thin, I had the privilege of not confronting my fatphobia. But sixty pounds later, I had no choice but to examine my attitudes, because there was nowhere to hide.

I not only could see the fatphobia in myself, but I saw it in others around me.

When I was thin, no one had ever questioned whether or not I was healthy. Now that I was “overweight,” people around me started to ask if I was “okay.” As I received my official classification as “overweight,” and doctors began to suggest taking away the medication that had finally stabilized my life, I was disgusted.

Disgusted because it was as if my mental health counted for nothing. At my heaviest, I was undoubtedly at my healthiest – I was mentally sound, happy, eating well, stretching my legs. I had never been this whole, never felt this human. I was able to live my life without the constant, looming threat of bipolar, putting my life in danger and turning me into something I could not recognize.

And yet, the idea was that it was better for me to be thin and suicidal than it was to be fat and mentally healthy.

At times, horrifying as it is, I found myself thinking this same thing.

Many people around me, doctors included, ignored the psychological aspects of health and the risks associated with a relapse of my disorder and, instead, obsessed over my weight. Everyone around me was more concerned for me when I was heavier than they ever were when I was depressed, empty, and thin.

Thankfully, there were good doctors in my life, too, just as there were good people, who assured me that health was more than just a number on the scale. I began seriously investing in my practice of self-love, challenging the fatphobia when I felt it kicking in.

I became an advocate for myself, and discovered what it meant to put body positivism into action – not just as a way to boost my feminist cred, but when I face myself in the mirror and decide if I will smile back or pick myself apart.

To this day, I am still on that same medication that transformed my body. This is my choice. I will proudly remain a member of the Chub Club, and rock this curvy, chunky, fabulous body with pride.

I refuse to return to the days when the thought of ending my life was as mechanical as brushing my teeth in the morning. I refuse to return to the days when depression was a given, and happiness was a stranger. I refuse to return to the days when I had no hope, no desire, and no purpose.

And moreover, I refuse to buy into the idea that health is not possible at every size. I’m healthy in all the ways that count, and I know better than to equate thinness with wellness; I know better than to equate fatness with bad, with ugly, with less than, with harm.

When I look at the stretch marks, pink and fresh and new on my body, I’m reminded of all that I’ve weathered to get to this place of health, wholeness, and happiness.

Why would I ever apologize for that? And why would I choose any differently?

Sam Dylan Finch is a queer activist and feminist writer, based in the SF Bay. He is the founder of Let’s Queer Things Up!, his blog and labor of love. With a passion for impacting change through personal narrative, Sam writes about his struggles and triumphs as genderqueer and bipolar with the hopes of teaching others about his identity and community. When he isn’t writing, he’s probably eating takeout and dancing to Taylor Swift.

Connect with SDF: Website ; Facebook ; Twitter ; Tumblr

Editor’s Note: We use the word “fat” in the title to be an alternative to “overweight,” as we believe that “overweight” suggests a normative weight and upholds the privileging of some sizes over others (hence placing it in quotations throughout the piece). We in no way seek to undermine the struggles of folks who actively identify as Fat and are perceived as fat in the world, which Sam only experiences to a very limited extent.