Daily Archives: August 23, 2015

Looking For New Blogs!

It’s that time of the month again…..

If you have a blog and are looking for readers, add your link and a brief description of your blog to the comments below.

Last month I met eight new blog buddies. Am looking to meet YOU!

hugs, lily

Looking For New Blogs!

It’s that time of the month again…..

If you have a blog and are looking for readers, add your link and a brief description of your blog to the comments below.

Last month I met eight new blog buddies. Am looking to meet YOU!

hugs, lily

What the Headache

IMG_3473

No idea why the blister pack is so freaking huge for such a tiny pill…

Amongst the assorted uses for Depakote, it’s supposed to be good for migraines. I get migraines sometimes, so I was okay with this. Instead, I’ve got headaches. Hrmph. You’d think something good for migraines would help with headaches, but whatever. And the last day or two my little eye twitch tremor has come back. I’m not particularly stressed or overtired, so we’re guessing that maybe the weather is causing it. Who knows. It doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t affect my ability to see, but it’s just that little bit annoying.

Grump grump, grump grump.

And yeah, the weather. Summer seems to be trying to take one last vicious slash at us. While friends back in the States sort of sneer at us out here in the UK complaining about high 70s/80s, they also neglect to account for access to air conditioning. Our house is fairly well set up with several ceiling fans, and good air movement with open windows, so that helps if there’s actually a breeze to be caught. But really, it’s enough to make us grateful for the rain when it comes — Brits, adopted or otherwise, aren’t made for sunshine!


 

Past that, I’m a combination of tired and… happy? I’m always wary of the word happy, since most of my lifetime associations with happy was likely hypomania (and we’re talking like, a couple of days a year sort of deal). The golden warmth that I mentally associate with my periods of hypomania persist, but like… it’s mainly associated with my family. I figure it’s probably a good thing, that oxytocin connection we’re supposed to have to our flesh and blood that I didn’t feel when my eldest was a baby. It could be bad though and a sign that I’m stuck on up. Who knows with bipolar, right? ¬¬

Ah well. At least I’ve got my knitting and my games and I still take pleasure in them both. Also a possible sign of an up rather than a down, but ah well. It’ll do for now.

Hope that everyone out there is doing as well as they can be.

<3

 

“Just The Way You Are”- Dyane Serenades Lucy the Collie

  I can’t thank you enough for the comments regarding yesterday’s post “Just When Things Are Getting Better, Here Comes Death”. I’ll respond to them over the next couple days.  This morning, unexpectedly alone in the house with Miss Lucy, I … Continue reading

I Want to Go Home to Bed With My Kitties

Kittens.
Jumping.
I want to go home to bed with my kitties.

These are my mantras. Or something.

I repeat these phrases, under my breath if anyone is around who doesn’t know I do this. At least I think it’s under my breath. I have at times walked out of a restroom stall to see people looking at me strangely.

My husband says they are “grounding statements,” though I understand proper grounding statements are usually more like affirmations – “I am safe.” “I can handle this.” “I am a good person.” How I ended up with mine I don’t quite know.

I do know that I mutter or say them when I am anxious. “Kittens” indicates a general level of anxiety, while “jumping” is reserved for increased levels. “I want to go home to bed with my kitties” is an all-encompassing statement of stress or dissatisfaction, and the only one that I can say nearly out loud around people with only mild looks of incomprehension.

A very few people who know me well are used to this phenomenon and even have responses. When I say, “kittens,” my friend Leslie says, “puppies,” and my husband says, “Do you like them?” When I say, “jumping,” he says, “up and down?” and my friend Robbin says, “You must really be nervous.” My husband occasionally joins me in a chorus of “I want to go home to bed with my kitties.” (The extended version is “I want to go home. I want to go to bed. I want my kitties.” The short form is “Home. Bed. Kitties.”)

I know that I use these vocalizations a lot when I have anticipatory anxiety, or after a protracted spell of having to be competent, social, and appropriate. I say them a lot in my car, or after coming home from braving the outside world. In a crowded, noisy space like a restaurant, I say them in a very matter-of-fact manner, as if I’m having a conversation with my husband.

I can accept the idea that they are non-standard grounding statements. What I know they’re not are “clang associations,” despite the fact that these can be associated with bipolar disorder. The psychotic kind. Which I do not have.

(“Clang associations” means “linking words together based on similar sounds rather than coherent meaning” – for example, clang, bang, pang, sang, singe, binge, bandage. See http://www.everydayhealth.com/bipolar-disorder/clang-associations-in-bipolar-disorder.aspx. I never say “jumping, pumping, lumping.”)

The National Mental Health Association says, “People with obsessive-compulsive disorder try to cope with anxiety by repeating words or phrases.” Fair enough. I do have a few OCD-like traits.

But to me the grounding statements explanation makes the most sense. I would argue that for me, home, bed, and kitties are all things that remind me of safety and bring me comfort. How jumping fits in, I’m not sure, except that I have hyperactive nerves and do a fair amount of it. But it certainly isn’t associated with safety or comfort. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Speaking of kitten therapy (which I was, sort of), a recent New York Times story (http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/fashion/how-a-kitten-eased-my-partners-depression.html?referrer&_r=0) was a personal account of how a kitten helped ameliorate a man’s depression.

I can testify to the truth of that. Cats or kittens have stayed up with me through bouts of insomnia, snuggled when I needed touch, purred when I needed quiet, demanded attention when I needed engagement, broken up fights when we needed distraction, and yes, even jumped when I needed amusement.

Is it any wonder that they are my touchstones, my co-therapists, my mantras?

Queen Louise

Dush

garcia:yoda

Toby


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: anxiety, being overwhelmed, bipolar disorder, cats, friends, grounding statements, husband, mental health, my experiences

The Walking Wounded

I think “walking wounded” describes depression pretty accurately. No one would think twice about you being listless, down, and not being able to be shiny and keep up with the mundanes if you had a gunshot wound or knife wound. But because depression is “invisible” and met with such skepticism by society, we shamble about, wounded, bleeding out but never dying, we’re the walking wounded.

Yesterday was an exercise in futility. I got my spawn and came home, but the anxiety never did let up so I took a double dose of Xanax. Which did what…Oversedated me. I was so depressed about losing another kitten. My kid (fed Hostess cupcakes for breakfast by my brilliant mother) was on high gear. I let her bring a half grown kitten home since it seems okay with her punishment (spare my cats) so I thought she’d be occupied with  Socks. (Lame ass name.) Nooo, she was still talking loudly a mile a minute, critiquing everything I did. I asked repeatedly for some quiet and she just turned up the volume. Like a shark smelling a drop of blood in the water, she latched on. I tried to explain I was sad about Kimodo’s death, she doesn’t care. She’s a sociopath with no empathy and it reminds me of the donor. Maybe it’s genetic.

I ended up retiring to my bedroom crypt around 2 yesterday. I was groggy from all that Xanax (which finally tapped out the anxiety) but even then, the kid was in my face. She yelled at me for “sleeping” when in fact I just had my eyes closed, trying to do some visualizing exercises to soothe myself. (In addition to all the kittens dying, now Willow and Nightshade have gone missing, escaping through a window screen and I’ve seen neither in days.) But the three hours in my crypt did some good, I got up and fixed supper and showered.

I got her to bed, took more Xanax, and I slept eventually. I was packing Arsenic around the whole day, scared to let him out of my sight. Absinthe and Socks curled up in bed with me too, which I found far more comforting than sleeping next to a man. Voodoo headbutted me awake at 2 a.,m to fill the food dish. I woke a couple more times, once at six a.m. and that made two days in a row. WTF. The thought of being awake at that hour without having to be drove my back to sleep. Only to be rudely awakened by more spawn chatter and demands and criticisms. Her know it all-ism pisses me off and she doesn’t back down. Even on a commercial this morning, it says “Hotwire” and she is still insisting it’s “Awkward”. She doesn’t change I have a feeling lots of people are gonna slap her. It’s annoying to be around people who can never be wrong.

I have soo much housework to do I feel buried alive. For now, it’s more CSI and Arsenic is sleeping on me. He’s been my conjoined twin for two days now, I am so fearful of letting him out of my sight. Neurotic, yes, but not without logical cause. Normally I can’t stand being pinned down by people nor cats constantly. Now I cling to him. Maybe I’m not entirely dead inside yet. I feel it, though. Disconnected. Overloaded. Hopeless. High functioning week hangover. Tis a mystery why I don’t delight in living that way.

Note sarcasm.

Now it’s time to turn around and do it all again when in fact, I feel like I need three more days to recover. The thought of being asked to even accompany P out to the stores has me wanting to sign myself into a hospital because I am so close to the edge. I need to take a step back. Maybe ten steps. Life isn’t gonna cooperate, I just know it. Which brings on nausea and pretzel gut and no matter how hard I try to talk myself off the ledge with sunshine  spewage…

Epic fail. Story of my life, or at least the depressive anxiety riddled parts.


Do mental illness labels matter?

I’ve been thinking a lot about diagnoses and whether or not the label of a mental illness really matters. Within the mental health community and advocacy work, we like to separate the person from the disorder. We encourage people to say: “I have bipolar disorder,” instead of “I am bipolar.” You would never say “I’m cancer,” but you […]

This is Not Art, and I am Not Here

Top of the Yurt to you!

Top of the Yurt to you!

What was Yoko Ono playing at, writing “This is Not Here” above a door, and calling it art? And how do I go about making some dosh myself, putting a sign that says something like, “This is Not a Penguin” with a pointy arrow, and placing it over a towel rack, or perhaps an old wireless?

What if I were to paint an entire canvas yellow – edge to edge, the whole shebang – and title it “Purple”? Would that be art?

What is art? And who gets to decide? Critics, other artists, the Great Washed and Unwashed alike?

A few days ago, I received some cards through the posts. The original prints are by Jo Cox, the artist mother of Tom Cox, author and creator of the “My Sad Cat” and “My Smug Cat” books, Twitter accounts, and photos.

I’m thinking of framing one of them, probably “Sad News on the Radio”, as my monthly radio show has been such a positive thing in my life for over five years now. And the August, September, and October shows are very much on my mind.

Sad News on the Radio" - card from a print by Jo Cox

Sad News on the Radio” – card from a print by Jo Cox

I don’t tend to think of our house as having a lot of art, possibly because we have family down in Devon who have loads of original paintings, by a variety of artists. The last and so far only time I stayed, I asked if they were collectors? No, came the reply, we just know a lot of artists.

One of my relatives, Richard, is an extremely talented print maker, and has created some fabulous cards, prints, and notebooks featuring some of his local trees. Once, when he stopped over with us, Richard said we should charge admission, there was so much to look at.

Lots to look at? I don't know what you mean ...

Lots to look at? I don’t know what you mean.

I think we’re both frustrated artists, he and I, as well as both being writers. This explains why so much of the wall space is covered with pictures, photos, and objet d’art.

It gives the house – which is Victorian – a Victorian look, at least downstairs, though we’ve not got what the British call “stuffed animals” (1), ie, taxidermy.

I’m with Ace – one of my favourite Classic Who companions – when, in one of my favourite Doctor Who episodes, “Ghostlight”, she disdainfully refers to taxidermy as “dead things”. And yet, I’m as fascinated as any naturalist whenever I come across the flotsam and jetsam of the natural world: a blue egg shell, possibly from a starling; the skeleton of what I fear was probably one of my favourite birds, a blackbird.

Eggshell found in garden, April 2015.

Eggshell found in garden, April 2015.

Many years ago, a friend and I stayed in a teepee on a laird’s estate, near Balmoral. We rented it from a Danish woman who had married a chap from Leeds, and later moved up to Scotland. She made the teepee, as well as a variety of North-American style objects, some of which – such as dreamcatchers, and pipes – she constructed from roadkill she found on the little lanes around the area, which had litle industry save the local distillery.

She showed us round her workshop, and commented how unphased we were by her collection of skulls, teeth, and other bones, as well as feathers, and fur. Many visitors, it seemed, were distressed by these things. But, as it happened, my friend and I were – and are – both vegetarian.

The explained a lot, she said.

Back to Yoko, and the door that “is Not Here”. How much more useful to be able to create a sign which says “I am Not Here”, attach it to a pole, and hold it above my head, on those days when it all gets too much? When I could – if I only drove, and could afford the petrol – just jump in the car, and head up to Scotland, and that Danish lady’s Balmoral teepee?

To go where the only thing breaking my peace isn’t other people, or car alarms, or someone else’s choice of music, but a peacock who’s desperately trying to get the attention of a couple of peahens?

Where art is a sunset, and there’s all the time in the world to sit, and to write. To sleep near a fire, under the stars, then wake up, and to write, then to write some more.

This is Not Normally Here: Yurt by the "Pixies", Donny Pride, 2015

This is Not Normally Here: Yurt by the “Pixies”, Donny Pride, 2015

 

 

 

 

upping the anti with meds

I was nattering about meds with a woman called Jack, when it occurred to me that the meds I’m on are all anti something, anti-depressant, anti-psychotic, anti-convulsant and anti-anxiety (autocorrect suggested ‘anti-aircraft for the latter). Taking a trivial thought a little further into triviality, are all meds anti-somethings? (No, autocorrupt, not anti-Semitism tyvm.) Anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, […]

I’m Back and I’m Exhausted

I’m back from NAMI California‘s annual conference, held this year in Newport Beach (an easy commute from my home). Now I’m laying in bed completely exhausted. Met lots of great people. Younger adults and people of color underrepresented unfortunately. I’m one of the many older (mature) white folk in attendance. I alternated between volunteering at tables for the conference and attending presentations.

Emily Truong and Kitt O'Malley

Got a chance to meet the colorful and creative Emily Wu Truong wearing mental health awareness lime green. She’s a sweetheart with a strong commitment to reaching out to young adults and the Asian community. Plus, she posted TONS of pics of folks at the conference on Facebook.

When I felt exhausted on Sunday, I visited the Welcome Center NAMI California had set up and drew this doodle.

Detailed colorful felt tip doodle

Tomorrow I’ll write more about some of the presentations I attended. Or, perhaps I’ll get around to it next week, or who knows…never? (more likely tomorrow or next week)


Filed under: About Mental Health, NAMI, Recovery, Stigma, Volunteering Tagged: adult doodling, NAMI California