Daily Archives: October 4, 2015

Trigger Warning Revisited

Monday afternoon while shopping at Party City for some sugary treats for my son, in front of me in line stood a teenaged girl with wrists covered in fake blood depicting gory razor slash wounds. She told the older woman she was with, “I don’t see why the school says it’s offensive. It’s just makeup.” I was tempted to step in and educate this young woman, but I did not. Perhaps I should have. She was completely oblivious to the effect she might have on others, specifically on those who suffer or have suffered from suicidality and those who have loved and lost someone to suicide. Her special effects make-up I consider constitutionally protected speech. Unfortunately, she was completely unaware of the power of that speech.

Driving home from my writers’ group Tuesday night, after having drafted this post, I remembered how flippant and irreverent I was in high school. My friends and I anonymously published and distributed around our campus a treatise entitled, “A Beginner’s Guide to Suicide.” As I recall, our “underground” collection of stream-of-consciousness writing contained no instructions for how to kill oneself. The title just suited our non-conformist New Wave quasi-punk teen angst. We meant it sardonically. One of my friends got in trouble for the publication. He managed to protect those of us who had high collegiate aspirations. I, for one, hoped to go to an Ivy League school and could ill-afford disciplinary action. That same year I wrote an article in our school paper in which I imagined receiving a rejection letter from Harvard. In the short fictional article, I wrote that I reacted by hanging myself with an attached suicide note saying something to the effect that life was not worth living if I couldn’t attend Harvard. As fate would have it, I was rejected by every Ivy League school to which I applied. UCLA, in fact, informed me that I had to attend remedial summer school before my freshman year because my SATs totaled under 700. Apparently, the Educational Testing Service had screwed up and sent the wrong data to all the prestigious schools to which I applied. That freshman year at UCLA, I experienced deep and unbearable depression and suicidality. My satiric article was prescient, but I had been completely oblivious and insensitive to how deeply painful it was to be depressed and suicidal.

Although I would never take away the right to offensive, objectionable, or insensitive speech, I do believe that we should be aware of the effect we may have on others, or at least listen to the responses we provoke and show compassion. As a teenager, I, like the girl with the fake slashed wrists, was completely in the dark as to the objectionable or offensive nature of my speech, of my writing. As an adult, I failed to engage the young woman in a conversation about depression and suicide, and how her make-up might cause pain to those whose lives have been affected by depression and suicide. Instead, I rushed to finish my errands before picking up my son from school.

Many mental health bloggers offer trigger warnings before presenting disturbing material. I argued in an earlier post that I do not, nor would I do so, that my blog’s title says it all. But, I get it. I understand the consequences of my speech, and I understand the importance of showing and teaching compassion. On the one hand, we must speak the truth; on the other, we must show compassion.


Filed under: About Mental Health, Bipolar Disorder, Writing Tagged: compassion, free speech, suicide, trigger warning

Depression Help

Take an anonymous self assessment and get help. 

http://helpyourselfhelpothers.org  
   
   

 
Help yourself. Help others. 
http://helpyourselfhelpothers.org


The Twister That Is My Brain-Attention Deficit Disorder

twister irfanviewTHAT is what my brain is like at any given time. A twister. A cyclone. A force of nature to wreak destruction and blow cows through the sky. (The cow was always my favorite scen e from Twister, not cos the moo gets hurt, but because it was…well, not factual thus funny.)

My shrink says attention deficit is a common secondary problem of bipolar. Our minds spin so fast due to the mood swings that it becomes a lack of focus then metastasizes to attention deficit. We look flaky, like we are lazy and don’t want to pay attention but it’s hard to do when your brain is firing off a dozen thoughts all at once. I am on Focalin and even it isn’t helping at times, my brain is just too….clusterfucked.

It worked wonders initially, but being med resistant…It makes sense that seven months at the same low dose would become less efficient. Still, it took me 7 years and five doctors to find one who’d even attempt to help by prescribing Focalin. Can’t really rock the boat. And besides, I’ve started to wonder if between that, and the hypomania inducing Cymbalta, are why my anxiety has become so heightened. I like the energy, I like being able to focus better (though certainly not at any level the McMuggles deem optimal).

Oh, how the thoughts swirl today. I could do this, that, knick knack paddy whack, give the dog a bone….

Yet in spite of coming up with projects to do, my salad of a brain can’t pull a single thought out of it all to run with. It’s all so fleeting, like blowing a bubble and it’s nice and big and you think you can catch it on your finger but then ,poof, it’s gone.

For a more accurate description, though I’ll be damned if the shrink didn’t get it and looked at me like I had two heads…It’s like trying to pull in one radio station but for whatever, you’re getting two fuzzy stations on the same frequency. So while your brain tries to follow the rock and roll station, the talk radio station keeps distracting you.

I hate this shit.

By the time I get a chance to do the “agenda” my tornado brain has created…I won’t have the energy. So when I have the energy, I can’t focus enough to do it. When I can focus, my energy is gone.

WTF brain.

 

 


Cats. Go Figure.

bookCats are a puzzlement. I’ve lived with them my whole life. Some of my earliest memories are of searching the barn for the litters of spring kittens hidden like furry contraband by their mams. And after all these years, I still can’t predict or even hazard a guess about how they might behave.

I’ve read books, talked with vets, consulted other dedicated cat keepers. We’re all mystified. We might get to understand one cat a tiny bit—enough to keep from constantly pissing them off—but the next feline, like the next human, will be completely different.

sudokuThis is actually one of the joys of sharing space with cats. Learning their quirks, recognizing their different personalities, even devising unique methods to discourage unwanted behavior pose a fun challenge akin to Sudoku. The purrs, and blinky-kisses, and intellectual conversation are more than worth it.

I enjoy dogs, too. There’s nothing like a dog’s flat-out joy or unconditional loyalty. But where dogs are Captain Obvious, cats are Greta Garbo. Subtle, slit-eyed, cats rarely show all their cards and generally “Vant to be Alone.”  Or at least companionable on their own terms. Breach feline etiquette at great risk—a disapproving cat will make you pay.

knottsSo, I’ve tried not to make too much of Emmett’s nearly-constant state of anxiety this summer.  I know he’s the Don Knotts of kitties—bug-eyed and jittery with nerves, ready to bolt at the slightest hint of… well… anything.  But, it seems like he forgot who I was, where he was.  Nothing registers in his little brain except some awful soundtrack from one of the Friday the 13th movies.

I spent the last three days in Minneapolis playing with friends.  Driving home last night, I wondered how Emmett navigated my absence.  Did it stress him out even more, or was it a relief?

When I got home, he was tucked under the comforter of my bed—a good sign, a normal sign.  And then he hissed at me when I peeked at him.  A very good sign.  I’ll take hissing over paralyzed submission any day.

SharingAnd then this morning, after Henry stole my chair and I had to drag over the footstool to catch up on email, this happened 

Emmett got up behind me and fell asleep against my backside.  And he let me take a picture.

He looks a little mangy, but I’ll get the comb out tomorrow.  One miracle a day is all I can handle.

Cats. Go Figure.


Cats. Go Figure.

bookCats are a puzzlement. I’ve lived with them my whole life. Some of my earliest memories are of searching the barn for the litters of spring kittens hidden like furry contraband by their mams. And after all these years, I still can’t predict or even hazard a guess about how they might behave.

I’ve read books, talked with vets, consulted other dedicated cat keepers. We’re all mystified. We might get to understand one cat a tiny bit—enough to keep from constantly pissing them off—but the next feline, like the next human, will be completely different.

sudokuThis is actually one of the joys of sharing space with cats. Learning their quirks, recognizing their different personalities, even devising unique methods to discourage unwanted behavior pose a fun challenge akin to Sudoku. The purrs, and blinky-kisses, and intellectual conversation are more than worth it.

I enjoy dogs, too. There’s nothing like a dog’s flat-out joy or unconditional loyalty. But where dogs are Captain Obvious, cats are Greta Garbo. Subtle, slit-eyed, cats rarely show all their cards and generally “Vant to be Alone.”  Or at least companionable on their own terms. Breach feline etiquette at great risk—a disapproving cat will make you pay.

knottsSo, I’ve tried not to make too much of Emmett’s nearly-constant state of anxiety this summer.  I know he’s the Don Knotts of kitties—bug-eyed and jittery with nerves, ready to bolt at the slightest hint of… well… anything.  But, it seems like he forgot who I was, where he was.  Nothing registers in his little brain except some awful soundtrack from one of the Friday the 13th movies.

I spent the last three days in Minneapolis playing with friends.  Driving home last night, I wondered how Emmett navigated my absence.  Did it stress him out even more, or was it a relief?

When I got home, he was tucked under the comforter of my bed—a good sign, a normal sign.  And then he hissed at me when I peeked at him.  A very good sign.  I’ll take hissing over paralyzed submission any day.

SharingAnd then this morning, after Henry stole my chair and I had to drag over the footstool to catch up on email, this happened 

Emmett got up behind me and fell asleep against my backside.  And he let me take a picture.

He looks a little mangy, but I’ll get the comb out tomorrow.  One miracle a day is all I can handle.

Cats. Go Figure.


Stress Plus

Mental stress plus physical stress = Stress Plus.

The mind and the body are part of the same system. What affects the one affects the other as well. When the body is stressed, the mind suffers. When the mind is stressed, the body suffers.

When both are stressed, you get Stress Plus.

Here’s how it works for people with mental disorders. You feel depressed or immobilized and you don’t get up and move around. Your body responds by becoming lethargic and flabby. Your mind responds to that by becoming discouraged and self-blaming. What you have there is a feedback loop.

My body and brain have been going different directions of late. My mood disorder has lessened and my brain doesn’t seem to be trying to kill me at the moment. This is good.

However, my body is experiencing all kinds of unpleasant disorders and sensations. Some – the thinning hair, the jowls, the weakened eyesight – are simply functions of aging. This does not make them any easier to deal with. They are wrapped up in my self-confidence, my sexuality, my identity, how others perceive me, and how congruent my self-image is with reality.

Stress symptoms have affected me at least since junior high. I developed a tic in which my chin would jerk up and to the left, making it hard for me (or anyone sitting behind me) to study. My doctor put me on Valium, which stopped the tic, but did no good, I’m sure, for my then-undiagnosed bipolar disorder.

Other physical ailments and disorders are the result of specific events or diseases. I have a bad back, which required two operations, the second because I irrationally thought it would be a good idea to ride an Arabian horse bareback. The experience has left me with nerve damage in my left toes – idiopathic radiculopathy, they call it – and an unsteady gait that sometimes necessitates the use of a cane for balance. It does not make me look or feel any younger.

Also, my hands shake. My neurologist called this an “essential tremor,” which means it’s caused by nothing in particular. He noticed that I often sit with my hands folded in my lap to call less attention to it. Between this and my balance issues, sometimes I stagger and shake like an old street rummy. A friend, God bless him, once told me I had a long way to go before looking like a street rummy. It was nice to hear, no matter what my brain tells me.

When my brain was acting up the worst, it also gave me the worst physical symptoms. My reflexes were hypersensitive and that included the reflex that empties my bowels. Just imagine the literal shitstorm I created in the bathroom of a bookstore one day. Then imagine how much of my self-esteem got flushed along with the rolls of toilet paper I used to try to clean it up. Imagine the humiliation of telling a store clerk, “Someone’s been very sick in the bathroom and you probably need to send a janitor.” I’m sure she knew it was me, because of how embarrassed and sickly I must have looked, but we both pretended that I was simply informing them that an accident had occurred.

Needless to say, all these conditions make me not want to go out amongst people, which adds to the isolation that my bipolar disorder already exacerbates. And when I don’t get out, my body doesn’t get moving, and I become even more immobilized – both physically and mentally.

Like I said, Stress Plus – a vicious circle.


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: anxiety, bipolar disorder, bipolar type 2, my experiences, physical pain, psychological pain

Stress Plus

Mental stress plus physical stress = Stress Plus.

The mind and the body are part of the same system. What affects the one affects the other as well. When the body is stressed, the mind suffers. When the mind is stressed, the body suffers.

When both are stressed, you get Stress Plus.

Here’s how it works for people with mental disorders. You feel depressed or immobilized and you don’t get up and move around. Your body responds by becoming lethargic and flabby. Your mind responds to that by becoming discouraged and self-blaming. What you have there is a feedback loop.

My body and brain have been going different directions of late. My mood disorder has lessened and my brain doesn’t seem to be trying to kill me at the moment. This is good.

However, my body is experiencing all kinds of unpleasant disorders and sensations. Some – the thinning hair, the jowls, the weakened eyesight – are simply functions of aging. This does not make them any easier to deal with. They are wrapped up in my self-confidence, my sexuality, my identity, how others perceive me, and how congruent my self-image is with reality.

Stress symptoms have affected me at least since junior high. I developed a tic in which my chin would jerk up and to the left, making it hard for me (or anyone sitting behind me) to study. My doctor put me on Valium, which stopped the tic, but did no good, I’m sure, for my then-undiagnosed bipolar disorder.

Other physical ailments and disorders are the result of specific events or diseases. I have a bad back, which required two operations, the second because I irrationally thought it would be a good idea to ride an Arabian horse bareback. The experience has left me with nerve damage in my left toes – idiopathic radiculopathy, they call it – and an unsteady gait that sometimes necessitates the use of a cane for balance. It does not make me look or feel any younger.

Also, my hands shake. My neurologist called this an “essential tremor,” which means it’s caused by nothing in particular. He noticed that I often sit with my hands folded in my lap to call less attention to it. Between this and my balance issues, sometimes I stagger and shake like an old street rummy. A friend, God bless him, once told me I had a long way to go before looking like a street rummy. It was nice to hear, no matter what my brain tells me.

When my brain was acting up the worst, it also gave me the worst physical symptoms. My reflexes were hypersensitive and that included the reflex that empties my bowels. Just imagine the literal shitstorm I created in the bathroom of a bookstore one day. Then imagine how much of my self-esteem got flushed along with the rolls of toilet paper I used to try to clean it up. Imagine the humiliation of telling a store clerk, “Someone’s been very sick in the bathroom and you probably need to send a janitor.” I’m sure she knew it was me, because of how embarrassed and sickly I must have looked, but we both pretended that I was simply informing them that an accident had occurred.

Needless to say, all these conditions make me not want to go out amongst people, which adds to the isolation that my bipolar disorder already exacerbates. And when I don’t get out, my body doesn’t get moving, and I become even more immobilized – both physically and mentally.

Like I said, Stress Plus – a vicious circle.


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: anxiety, bipolar disorder, bipolar type 2, my experiences, physical pain, psychological pain

Accursed

Wednesday and Thursday I was in such pms agony with cramps that went straight through to my spine..I laid in bed watching tv shows both days, going out only to deliver and fetch the spawn from school. Having had a blue and a purple already for talking in school, she had black on Wednesday, which is one step from detention. Yet no note from the teacher, no approach when she saw me at pick up. Seriously, if my kid is misbehaving to this point, shouldn’t she want to talk to me? Of course, my mood was vile and one of the other teachers kind of chastised me for being impatient with my good (her habit of interrupting people just irks me, cos yeah, she’s a kid, but kids who don’t get taught better become adults who constantly interrupt, like my dad, grrr.) and first it made me furious, then teary.

Nope, wait til the tempest passes before I broach all that.

By Friday I was accursed but no time to further lull in bed. Bills had to be paid.That day about killed me as I was forced to be uber functional for super long in the dish. A list of what I did that day:

Stop one, gas in the car. Stop two, smoke shop cos my lighter conked out on me. Third, drop off spawn. Four, ATM for cash. Five, drive three miles to pay internet bill. Six, a stop for cat food as the cats were out. Six, home to feed the monsters. Seven, pay rent. Eight, another store for cat litter. Nine- to the shop. (I forgot the trip to Walfuckingmart because I needed a shower mat that wasn’t so slick it was basically trying to kill us.) Ten- pick up drinks at Jiffistop, then lunch at Arby’s. Eleven- go to office of Liheap to get an appointment for winter power assistance as their phone had been busy for two days. Twelve- pick Spook up early for doctor appt about the cough. Thirteen- trip to Dollar Tree. Fourteen- pay rent. Fifteen, get nose pieces replaced on Spook’s glasses. Fifteen, gas station for a drink. Sixteen, pharmacy for my meds. (Oh, and a trip to mom’s to repay her the gas money I borrowed the week before, geesh.) Oh and a yard sale cos I was told they’d have cheap clothes for Spook but apparently my stepmonster and i have different ideas of cheap.

Yeah…Maybe that is normal for muggles but for me…That’s enough activity for a month. By the time I got home, the dish had thoroughly drained me and I was freaking out.

The day was further stressful because R asked me to the shop to kind of return for him fixing the faucet…And he got all pissy cos his stepdad came in, wanting  me to show him how to do certain things on the computer. (He gave me ten bucks, so I am not complaining.) Oh, THEN in came the master’s degree appointed helper girl and…I can’t understand a word she says. Not a word. Nasal, slurred tone hindered by so many piercings. And um, she’s goth as fuck, which is kind of why I get irked when people assume me wearing black makes me goth. Um…No. But even I in all my rebellious glory would not show up for a “job reference” dressed quite that…goth. I tend to leave my spikes and concert war paint at home for local jaunts.

R informed my I was being judgmental. Um..Well, gee, it’s all I’ve ever known, guess it makes sense I’d turn it back on someone. Seriously, though…You’re hard pressed for cash and need a reference to get a “real” job…I’d tone it down a bit. I’m not one for dress codes and I do looove to rebel but assimilation, sucky as it is,is sometimes a necessary evil. I suppose though some of my get up (from, ya know, the rare times of not being too depressed to get out of the slobwear I slept in) might have been deemed inappropriate. Not much I can do about all my pants having holes in them. A year is about what you get out of ten dollar Wal-Mart leggings. It’s not that I want to look like a baglady. I just have no money to get pants without holes in them, sorry. It’s crazy, cos I have shirts coming out my nostrils. I have an awesome t-shirt collection, a lot of them in perfect shape. But pants…Since Fashion Bug closed and I had to start buying Walmart shit (same price yet quality is very different)…I can’t seem to stockpile any pants. And I am very picky, I will only wear black leggings. Hate jeans and slacks, hate hate hate.

Hmm…I am judgmental cos I kinda do my own thing without regard to social conformity. Well, when R starts paying me I’ll start giving a fuck. He showed up the other day wearing jeans that had one butt cheek poking through the hole in them and he could buy new clothes so I guess my poverty hole laden wardrobe isn’t a sin. I make do with what I’ve got.

Once done with the dish Friday, I pretty much went to Zulu land. Just vegetated in front of my shows, but then, I remember none of them, my brain was too exhausted to truly focus and get into it. All I have to say is, the brain better get on board this week. It’s the start of The Flash,Arrow, American Horror Story, Supernatural, et al…Do NOT fuck this up for me, scumbag brain, or I will stab you with a spork.

Yesterday Spook and I hit some yard sales. Only cos R’s stepdad gave me that ten, which didn’t come out of my tight budget, so I didn’t feel so shitty spending it.And it was worthwhile, I found a cheap cat condo which I have wanted for years. One sale had stuff for fifty cents, that had never even been removed from the package. Though I had to come back home after the first one. I’d gotten all excited that morning cos it’s boot season, I can wear boots without my legs sweltering…Except… this.

bye bye bootsOkay, so I’ve had them sixteen months and they only cost sixteen bucks, seems cheap, right? Unless you don’t have it, and with book fair and school pix, I don’t have it. I have two other pairs of boots I love, but oh, wait…This is happening to one pair and Shoe goo ain’t fixing it, and the other pair has a zipper out and the local shoe repair place doesn’t do zippers. SEE. This will teach me too look forward to anything, even something as inane as boot season.

When Spook went to mom’s yesterday, I came home and basically laid in bed. I’ve been in mega pain, like labor pains, for four days. Today is better but but last night, I went to sleep cos the Tylenol wasn’t making a dent. Though I woke at ten til seven this morning, so I don’t have good vibes about this gloomy cool day. And my kid decides to remind me why by acting out cos she lost her green crayon and I won’t give her my new ones. Tough.

The seasonal is kicking up. Monday was eight degrees, shorts and tank top weather. Friday morning people were wearing gloves. No real segue, just an abrupt drop into cold. Fuck. And one week it’s getting dark at seven thirty, the next it’s 6:45…All this change sucks. And the doctor did get back to me, prescribed ten mg Prozac (he called me himself, which is a rarity, they usually have the minions do it). I’ve only been on the prozy two days now, but it can’t make things worse. I am doing all this light therapy, surrounding myself with all the happy novelty lava and glitter lamps that once made  me so happy…Trying to battle this SAD but it boils down to being cold all the time. And I discovered, when Pantera managed to somehow get trapped inside, that my ductwork is all fucked up and I cansee  dirt under the trailer which means…the ducts are not attached. Jebus, I have asked the maintenance people to fix it every fall for seven years now and they’re too lazy to get under there, they just tighten the siding up. I get three hundred dollar heating bills and still freeze to death. Idgets.

Woo hoo, I’ve been in a sitting position for ninety minutes now, which is more than I managed for four days. Oompa Loompas must be preparing to go on a vaycay. (Such a stupid term.)

In another act of suckage…I got the wrong prepaid card for my stupid phone, er smart phone, and they won’t make good on it. So service expires tomorrow and I am out twenty five bucks I did not have to spare. FUCK. I don’t think I will be dealing with Net10 anymore, I’m going back to Tracfone. Plans may be a little pricier in the long haul but service is better. And I own the phone (ten dollar smartphones are cool) so I can probably transfer. At another time. Whatever. Just be nice if something would go right.

I hate that damned thing as a phone but I like being able to check email easily. I am a conundrum.

No plans for today. I think I did enough dish time in the last two days. If I go out today, it will be by choice, not necessity.

And I guess that concludes today’s rant. Oh, no…One last thing. IF YOU TAG YOUR BLOG, AND ITS HEADER, AS BEING ABOUT BIPOLAR…MAKE IT ABOUT FUCKING BIPOLAR!!!! I despise blogs that send out multiple posts a day and NONE of them are about what I signed up to read about. That’s why I made separate topic specific blogs. Just…Duude…If you sign up for a food blog that spends all its time talking about lumber and home repair, wouldn’t you be a bit irked?

Must just be me.

 

 


Day Three: Quote Challenge

“Pull the wings off a fly….watch it suffer and die…And I’ll never get out of this life alive…drenched in blood, with no alibi…And the crowd goes wild at my demise…”

“My Demise”- Wednesday 13

Now, you may wonder why I chose this lyric. It seems morbid and ghoulish, if you don’t get the metaphors.

As a bipolar person, I feel like that fly…Bipolar is pulling off my wings, watching me suffer and die.

None of us get out of life alive- period.

Blood, no alibi- I feel guilty for being the way I am with no true explanation, which is…bipolar.

And the crowd, bipolar, cheers as my soul dies.

I guess it’s dark, and my interpretation is my own, but I find it meaningful and comforting. I think many mistake my “darkness” as some sort of pessimistic ghoulishness. Quite the opposite. I find metaphors I can relate to in the dark lyrics and it explains my feelings better than I can.

That and Wednesday is just my person. He is awesome. Whereas others may find it disturbing, dark, etc…I actually find his music humorous. Except for a couple of ballad-esque songs from the album Skeletons…Yep. He’s funny as hell. But much like me, I suppose he’s an acquired taste.

Depression robs me of so much. Finding little slivers of happiness this way is what keeps me going.


Just Stop

Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA:

Josh has hit the nail on the head. He has put words to the thoughts that rage through my brain every time one of these horrible massacres occurs, and the press and its hand-picked interviewees start up the old saw: “Mentally ill..he must have been mentally ill…”

Originally posted on My Friday Blog:

Hello dear reader(s)!

Stop saying the shooter was mentally ill.  I would like to see your psychiatry credentials.  I would like to see your social work degree or your psychology degree.  I would also love to know how you feel you can diagnose someone after their death.

Mentally ill people are far more likely to be the victims of violence as opposed to the perpetrators.¹  These assumptions that any of these mass shooters was mentally ill is simply offensive.  People are attempting to justify the things they can’t understand by assuming the people must be mentally ill.  I have read posts today about depression being involved and how these shooters just “snapped”.  Snapping is not a symptom of the mentally ill.  It is a symptom of the mentally weak.  It is also hard to say that someone snapped, when they premeditated a murder.  If depression were the reason, how come…

View original 765 more words