Daily Archives: October 24, 2015

Divine Dissatisfaction

There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others. - Martha Graham


Filed under: Mysticism, Theology Tagged: Blessed Unrest, Divine Dissatisfaction, Martha Graham, Martha Graham quote, quote

Un-super-natural

Time for me to ramble about fiction soup for the soul…Just watched this week’s Supernatural. LOVE that show. I’ve had a cat or two named Castiel. They both died so in the future I think I am gonna use the demon names, the angel name seems to have bad juju. I could get lost in that show, with the sarcastic humor and the “based on religion but not the least bit preachy thing.” Hell, I’d rather be a hunter of supernatural monsters than what I am now. They can be killed, no penalties. Human monsters, well, you can’t stake ’em or decapitate ’em cos of that pesky prison thing…Oh, yes, fiction soup for the soul is gooood. Plus, I lust for that ’67 Impala. My first car was a ’78 Impala, not classic or sporty, but the v-8 engine MOVED and it was like a tanker. Lasted me 11 years. Do love my old cars, possibly the only positive thing my father instilled in me. Classics rock, new cars suck.

So I had my alarm set for 8, was gonna rise and not shine but get some housework done before the spawn’s return. Yeah, I hit snooze more times than I can count and by ten…the bladder demanded I get up. From there I turned on music, checked e-mail, did my iced tea and chain smoking ritual. I ventured out briefly into the dish, intending to go to Aldi cos I want pork chops…I saw the packed lot and it was like NOPE. Go back when it’s less busy, I don’t need any extra triggers. So that exercise in futility sent me back home, all the while realizing how dangerously low the gas gauge is when considering I still have about six days of getting my kid to school plus trick or treating…Grrr.

So I called mom to ask if my sister could bring the spawn home…And the crazy bitchbeast snapped at me, “Why can’t you come get her?” I explained. She snapped, “Well, that’s not enough gas to get her to school all week, what are you gonna do?” I don’t know but I will figure it out even if it involves asking R to drop her off on his way to the shop in the mornings or something. My mom is sheer evil at times. Problem is, I never know which version of her I am gonna get. (Which gives a modicum of credence to when the donor said the same about me, difference being, my mom doesn’t think anything is wrong with her, I admit I am wonky.)

(Ugh, kid’s been returned with a stuffed dog that sings “Sexy and I know it”. Least it’s not the frozen theme.)

I had this whole thing I wanted to write…Now I’ve gone blank because the chaos is back. And I am glad to have my kid back, but…It was nice not having so much chaos outside my own brain. Now I am getting it both barrels.

Bipolar is not so super and it is not fucking natural.

Give me the demons and monsters any day.

And the car. Sexxxxy.


Un-super-natural

Time for me to ramble about fiction soup for the soul…Just watched this week’s Supernatural. LOVE that show. I’ve had a cat or two named Castiel. They both died so in the future I think I am gonna use the demon names, the angel name seems to have bad juju. I could get lost in that show, with the sarcastic humor and the “based on religion but not the least bit preachy thing.” Hell, I’d rather be a hunter of supernatural monsters than what I am now. They can be killed, no penalties. Human monsters, well, you can’t stake ’em or decapitate ’em cos of that pesky prison thing…Oh, yes, fiction soup for the soul is gooood. Plus, I lust for that ’67 Impala. My first car was a ’78 Impala, not classic or sporty, but the v-8 engine MOVED and it was like a tanker. Lasted me 11 years. Do love my old cars, possibly the only positive thing my father instilled in me. Classics rock, new cars suck.

So I had my alarm set for 8, was gonna rise and not shine but get some housework done before the spawn’s return. Yeah, I hit snooze more times than I can count and by ten…the bladder demanded I get up. From there I turned on music, checked e-mail, did my iced tea and chain smoking ritual. I ventured out briefly into the dish, intending to go to Aldi cos I want pork chops…I saw the packed lot and it was like NOPE. Go back when it’s less busy, I don’t need any extra triggers. So that exercise in futility sent me back home, all the while realizing how dangerously low the gas gauge is when considering I still have about six days of getting my kid to school plus trick or treating…Grrr.

So I called mom to ask if my sister could bring the spawn home…And the crazy bitchbeast snapped at me, “Why can’t you come get her?” I explained. She snapped, “Well, that’s not enough gas to get her to school all week, what are you gonna do?” I don’t know but I will figure it out even if it involves asking R to drop her off on his way to the shop in the mornings or something. My mom is sheer evil at times. Problem is, I never know which version of her I am gonna get. (Which gives a modicum of credence to when the donor said the same about me, difference being, my mom doesn’t think anything is wrong with her, I admit I am wonky.)

(Ugh, kid’s been returned with a stuffed dog that sings “Sexy and I know it”. Least it’s not the frozen theme.)

I had this whole thing I wanted to write…Now I’ve gone blank because the chaos is back. And I am glad to have my kid back, but…It was nice not having so much chaos outside my own brain. Now I am getting it both barrels.

Bipolar is not so super and it is not fucking natural.

Give me the demons and monsters any day.

And the car. Sexxxxy.


‘Tis the Season(al) Affective Disorder


 
 
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

With the kids jingle-belling

And everyone telling, “Be of good cheer!”

 
In the right (read: black and bleak) frame of mind, this Christmas carol can sound, to someone who is depressed, like the most banal, irritating, foolish advice.  That season again, when I’m wandering, zombie-like, around Big Lots, in search of bags of cheap Halloween candy (no deep pockets, so no Darth Vader or Disney Princess gets a King-sized Hershey from me), 24-packs of toilet paper, and weird boxes of Belarusian cookies.  Jolly holly carols blare from the loudspeakers, all with the underlying message: Try smiling!  Think positive!  It will all work out!  Tell that to the squashed chipmunk I sidestepped on my walk this afternoon through the cemetery, a deliberate destination that helps me remember that at least I’m alive.

Tis’ the season.  Not that season, not yet anyway.  But what has become a seasonal trek in search of a new psychiatrist.  This time, just when I found a doctor with the right combination of bio-psychiatric smarts and therapeutic warmth, he has an “inappropriate” relationship with a patient.  His license was suspended, and I’ve been waiting out the suspension for months, willing to overlook his transgression because he was that good.  This week he closed up shop for good.  Truth be told, I’m not sure I could have seen him again.  Instead of waiting for him to ask, “How are you?,” I would have shouted, “How could you?”  Maybe even shook my fist.  (Mood erratic?  Feeling a little out of control?  No--his transgression just hits too close to home.) 
So yesterday, I saw my primary care physician for medication refills.  I’ve only met him once before and so tried to act brave and nonchalant when he asked questions about my mental health history; I shrugged off my twenty hospitalizations, and told him I was feeling “mostly fine” considering the past year—divorce, betrayal, a-thus-far--futile job search.  Circumstantial rather than biological depression. 

He looked at me carefully, assessing my sarcasm.  “Do you have thoughts about harming yourself or others?” 
I laughed, “Aside from the everyday ones?” 

For a moment, I thought he might press his stethoscope to my temple to listen to the chatter in my brain.  “Really,” I said, “nothing atypical for Bipolar disorder.” 
Later, when I told him about the (literal) pain in my butt from running (piriformis syndrome), he slowly worked his thumbs down my spine.  Ahh, I thought, he is an osteopath.  Maybe he’ll try some sort of adjustment, shifting my spine and brain back into alignment.  And, too, I thought, with some shame, this is the most intimately I’ve been touched in years.  I wanted him to run his thumbs down my shins and up my forearms, to palpate my stomach, thump my back.  Alternately, I thought I could go see a massage therapist—it was clear why some people might pay for sex or professional cuddling.

But the exam ended, my spine, indeed, as straight as ever.  I left with my prescription refills-what are necessary to keep it all in balance, but what cannot cure a broken heart.    

 

Asylums & Libraries: “Unheard Voices of High Royds”

Leeds City Centre: Oct 2015

Lion’s Eye View: Leeds, Oct 2015

“Laziness … Mental Excitement … Novel Reading …” – Reasons for Admission 1864 – 1889

The first time I visited someone in psychiatric care, they were in Wayne County Hospital, in Westland, Michigan. Known throughout the state as “Eloise“, I went there in the late 1970s (1) to see my grandfather, who was suffering from senility.

I only went once.

Nearly 40 years, and four psychiatric admissions of my own later, on Friday I visited “Unheard Voices of High Royds”, an exhibition about the Leeds equivalent of Eloise. The asylum opened in 1888, and didn’t close until 2003.

The exhibition consists of photos old and new, information specific about High Royds, and about related topics such as the history of ECT, and lithium, plus poems, a striking sculpture, and this film. It includes a contribution by one of the Kaiser Chiefs, who wrote a song about High Royds.

“Religious Enthusiasm … Bad Habits & Political Excitement …” – Reasons for Admission

I’ve titled this “Asylums & Libraries” in part because the exhibition is currently in Leeds Central Library. Part of Leeds Municipal Buildings, the library is an amazing place, raised in the glory days when public buildings were like temples.

Interior: Leeds Central Library

Interior: Leeds Central Library

At their best, asylums such as High Royds, and Eloise, were refuges where people could make sense of the world, and their minds. For me, libraries were, and are, such refuges: places of quiet, and reflection. Unlike asylums, and wards, you don’t end up spending months, years, or even decades there. Nor have I ever been bored in a library (2).

The mixed blessings of asylums are among the many things I took away from the “Unheard Voices of High Royds” exhibition. Another was the message of stigma, a key theme of “Time to Change Leeds”, which commissioned the exhibition. According to a psychiatrist interviewed in the film, even potential patients asked to be admitted to St James Hospital, rather than High Royds.

What do we make of a place, and an era, which admitted people for reasons like these?

“Death of Sons in War … Time of Life … Snuff Eating for 2 Years … “

Glass ceiling: Leeds Central Library

Glass ceiling: Leeds Central Library

Or this?

“The War … “

Go to Leeds, and visit “Unheard Voices”. It’s Remembrance Day soon: you can buy a poppy, whilst you’re at it.

Leeds War Memorial: Oct 2015

Leeds War Memorial: Oct 2015

(1) Thanks to this film, I’ve realised that I must have visited Eloise within two years of it closing.
(2) At least one of the people interviewed in the High Royds film talks of the boredom of being on a ward.

Asylums & Libraries: “Unheard Voices of High Royds”

Leeds City Centre: Oct 2015

Lion’s Eye View: Leeds, Oct 2015

“Laziness … Mental Excitement … Novel Reading …” – Reasons for Admission 1864 – 1889

The first time I visited someone in psychiatric care, they were in Wayne County Hospital, in Westland, Michigan. Known throughout the state as “Eloise“, I went there in the late 1970s (1) to see my grandfather, who was suffering from senility.

I only went once.

Nearly 40 years, and four psychiatric admissions of my own later, on Friday I visited “Unheard Voices of High Royds”, an exhibition about the Leeds equivalent of Eloise. The asylum opened in 1888, and didn’t close until 2003.

The exhibition consists of photos old and new, information specific about High Royds, and about related topics such as the history of ECT, and lithium, plus poems, a striking sculpture, and this film. It includes a contribution by one of the Kaiser Chiefs, who wrote a song about High Royds.

“Religious Enthusiasm … Bad Habits & Political Excitement …” – Reasons for Admission

I’ve titled this “Asylums & Libraries” in part because the exhibition is currently in Leeds Central Library. Part of Leeds Municipal Buildings, the library is an amazing place, raised in the glory days when public buildings were like temples.

Interior: Leeds Central Library

Interior: Leeds Central Library

At their best, asylums such as High Royds, and Eloise, were refuges where people could make sense of the world, and their minds. For me, libraries were, and are, such refuges: places of quiet, and reflection. Unlike asylums, and wards, you don’t end up spending months, years, or even decades there. Nor have I ever been bored in a library (2).

The mixed blessings of asylums are among the many things I took away from the “Unheard Voices of High Royds” exhibition. Another was the message of stigma, a key theme of “Time to Change Leeds”, which commissioned the exhibition. According to a psychiatrist interviewed in the film, even potential patients asked to be admitted to St James Hospital, rather than High Royds.

What do we make of a place, and an era, which admitted people for reasons like these?

“Death of Sons in War … Time of Life … Snuff Eating for 2 Years … “

Glass ceiling: Leeds Central Library

Glass ceiling: Leeds Central Library

Or this?

“The War … “

Go to Leeds, and visit “Unheard Voices”. It’s Remembrance Day soon: you can buy a poppy, whilst you’re at it.

Leeds War Memorial: Oct 2015

Leeds War Memorial: Oct 2015

(1) Thanks to this film, I’ve realised that I must have visited Eloise within two years of it closing.
(2) At least one of the people interviewed in the High Royds film talks of the boredom of being on a ward.

I’m seriously in love with Philadelphia!

IMG_9214 IMG_9244 IMG_9260 IMG_9276 IMG_9293 IMG_9294 IMG_9319 IMG_9326 IMG_9329 IMG_9330 IMG_9331 IMG_9332 IMG_9334 IMG_9336 IMG_9337 IMG_9340 IMG_9343 IMG_9356 IMG_9357 IMG_9359 IMG_9361 IMG_9362 IMG_9363 IMG_9364 IMG_9371 IMG_9372 IMG_9381 IMG_9384 IMG_9385


I’m seriously in love with Philadelphia!

IMG_9214 IMG_9244 IMG_9260 IMG_9276 IMG_9293 IMG_9294 IMG_9319 IMG_9326 IMG_9329 IMG_9330 IMG_9331 IMG_9332 IMG_9334 IMG_9336 IMG_9337 IMG_9340 IMG_9343 IMG_9356 IMG_9357 IMG_9359 IMG_9361 IMG_9362 IMG_9363 IMG_9364 IMG_9371 IMG_9372 IMG_9381 IMG_9384 IMG_9385


My talk in Philadelphia (video)

I was invited to give a talk about my story of bipolar d/o and my experience with medications for bipolar d/o. The invitation was extended by Healthline.com and the talk was for Astra Zeneca drug reps and ad reps. This is a video of this talk, I made it with my iPhone. The talk was given on October 22nd, 2015, in Philadelphia. My talk was really well received :-) There were also two other bloggers, Jon Pressman and Julie Fast, who gave talks as well. After our talks, we had a question and answer period, where the Astra Zeneca people asked us many questions about the illness and treatment and what patients needed from them. It was a singular experience, drug companies don’t usually talk to people who suffer from illnesses for which they make medications! Even more singular for them to speak to people who have a mental illness. I commend them, and really thank Healthline.com for putting this together and allowing the drug companies and we, people who suffer from bipolar d/o, to convene and discuss issues that are important to us as patients, and to voice our opinions about what drug companies need to do to ensure better health for us. We, with all our experience and insight into this terrible illness, were given the opportunity to speak to a large pharmaceutical company such as Astra Zeneca, and they listened! And we were taken seriously! Phenomenal!

I fell in love with Philadelphia, it is such a beautiful city! I’ll post pictures I took there in another post.


Survival at what cost?

Friday night, 9-ish p.m., another week with the metastatic anxiety devouring me daily and a heaping helping of depressive anhedonia survived. The sunshine spewers would barf rainbows in my face. “See, you made it! You just tell yourself you can’t do it but when you really put your mind to it, you can!”

Yes.

At what cost?

I served no more than four hours in the dish today. I did fuck all at the shop but fetch lunch and do a bank deposit. I dropped my kid off at mom’s five mins after school let out. I went to two different stores for human food and cat food. Came home. Crashed and burned like I’d run a marathon. I swear even my bone marrow aches.

I did it, but now…I’ve got nothing left. Nothing left for myself. I watched my shows and stuff (irksome with Hulu’s incessant buffering) and nuked some lasagna which ended up sucking because for whatever reason, people have this idea that cottage cheese belongs in a lasagna and IT FUCKING DOES NOT. It throws off the flavor and the texture, and I swear last time I got it, it did not have cottage cheese aka curds of curdled cow boob juice up in it. Must everything be frustrating and disappointing? Like that does a thing to help recharge my overly taxed brain and body.

People laugh when you say that. How could you possibly be exhausted when you don’t do much of anything? Anxiety and bipolar depressions are the cancer of the mind, both of them metastatic, eating away until you’re a husk with a head full of “I wanna do…” but you’re too depleted to do a damn thing. Even when forcing yourself to go full tilt. It just makes it worse when you can’t meet that mark.

If we had a physical illness, we’d be encouraged to take it at a slower pace, rest up, recover, “you deserve an award for suffering from a legitimate illness I can see and the lab work can confirm”.

Mental illness? Yeah, right.

So my kid free night of “I wanna do…” is ending in me taking my sleep meds early and curling up in bed. I’m beaten down. I can’t even muster the energy to do something I would normally find enjoyable.

This is the price for functioning at a level I cannot keep up with.

So again, I ask…Survival, but at what cost?