Monthly Archives: December 2015

Public healthcare sector blues

“This is the worst I’ve seen you in almost a year.” I wasn’t so bad though… The patient ahead of me wore bright yellow overalls stamped ‘remand/detainee’ and clanked past […]

Back From The Beach, Feeling Like A Bitch!

Dec 2015

Did you even know I was away? Well I WAS!  At the BEACH!  In FLORIDA!  And it was SPECTACULAR!!!  It was a one-week reprieve from the wicked Seasonal Affective Disorder I suffer from.  It was like magic!  Andddddd I came home to 16°, grey skies, snow on the ground, snow on my car, and so help me Jeebus, I didn’t cry, but I wanted to!  BAD!  Now I am fighting a Level 11 out of 10 bad fucking attitude and I don’t know what to do to get out of it.  I am sitting in front of the therapy light 1-2 hours per day and working out every day and still pretty much hating life.  DAMN this fucking cold weather!!  So help me GOD this is the LAST winter I spend in Colorado, I SWEAR!

To counteract that last paragraph, here are some positive things: 1.  I had a great Christmas in Florida, spent several hours at the beach, and swam in the ocean.  2.  We had a Christmas cookout and only one of my friend’s friends got drunk enough to ask me to pop out a boob.  Not too bad.  (Boob not popped)  3.  Upon return, the family Christmas #2 celebration on 12/27 went off without Dad losing his shit even once.  4.  I still have these awesome henna tattoos on my hands that make me look like a bad bitch!  These were done in Florida of course and they’re my souvenir.  Especially when I work out and have a t-shirt on, I feel like a beast, but in a good way.  5.  I met a sizzling-hot giant guy (I fucking love giants) at a party in Florida and it reminded me that I LOVE MEN and sort of put into perspective that I’m not an old lady yet, and I need to get my dating game back on point.  SO!  On to 2016 with a little bit of hope and a bit of a focus on where I want to go in the next year.  Which is, basically, fitness and fucking.  Ok!  Have a day.  Let me know how you are!


Filed under: Bipolar, Bipolar Exercise, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Bipolar, Hope, Humor, Mental Illness, Psychology, Reader

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,500 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


20 Mental Health Resolutions For The New Year

resolutions

4: I will challenge myself to say “yes” to the things that scare me.

I might be in the minority on this one, but as I’ve gotten older, New Year’s Eve has become one of my favorite holidays.

I am a lover of fresh starts – an empty journal, a big move, a new career – and I thrive on this feeling of possibility. There is nothing quite like the year turning over, and with it, the promise of good things to come.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always taken the New Year as an opportunity to reflect. With that reflection, I do make resolutions, too – though I’m a big believer that our resolutions should come from a place of loving ourselves rather than trying to “fix” ourselves, as resolutions can so often imply.

For me, my resolutions often center around my mental health. Since bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety are my constant companions, I take the New Year as a moment to check in with myself and decide what I might do differently (and what should stay the same!) to ensure that I’m taking care of myself.

This year, I want to share those resolutions. Here are 20 that I hope will inspire you to prioritize your mental health this coming year (with some f-bombs thrown in here, for good measure, brace thyself):

1. I will only invest in people who invest in me. I will not pour my energy into a relationship that is one-sided; I will not offer my time to someone who does not meet me halfway.

2. I will ask for help when I need it. Fuck this struggle bus that I ride for weeks on end, thinking that I should pull myself up by my bootstraps and deal. I’ll call the hotline; I’ll give my psychiatrist a ring; I’ll message a friend.

3. I will take my medications as prescribed. Someone told me recently that bipolar folks have the worst med compliance of any group. Based on my history, I believe it.

4. I will challenge myself to say “yes” to the things that scare me. Because letting anxiety rule over my life keeps me from pursuing amazing opportunities that could bring a lot of happiness into my life.

5. But I’ll also say “no” when I need to, without judgment. Sometimes saying “yes” to everything can be just as harmful as saying “no.” So I’ll seek out a balance.

6. I will stop putting off that phone call. I avoid a lot of things because, well, anxiety. But in doing that, I end up creating more panic than it’s worth. So when I’m able, I’ll push myself to be proactive.

7. I’ll get enough sleep. Because, let’s face it, sleep is critical and getting an early start to my day helps me to be more productive.

8. I’ll stop placing a moral value on food. Food is just food. No more “this is so bad of me” or “I’m being so good right now” when I’m talking about cheesecake and salads. When we judge our food, we by extension judge ourselves. And I don’t need that kind of toxic bullshit in my life, controlling what I can and cannot put on my plate, letting the food I eat decide if I should feel guilty or happy today (or ever).

9. I will focus on being resilient. I have a history of codependency, and knowing this, I’m going to continue my commitment to building up my self-care practice and expanding my support network to ensure I am not putting too much weight on my partners’ shoulders.

10. I will not punish myself for having bad days. Sometimes when my mental health is suffering, I feel that I am personally to blame, as if I made this happen. But the last thing I need is to guilt myself when I’m already struggling. I’m going to opt for kindness instead.

11. I will find a form of movement that I love and incorporate it into my self-care. Not because I want to lose weight, not because I need to exercise to be a “good” person, but because physical movement can be really good for our mental health and can feel great.

12. I will take a break when I need it. Not “when I finish this,” not “if I find the time,” I will take a fucking break if I need one, as soon as I possibly can and as often as it’s needed, because no assignment or task is as important as my mental health.

13. I will buy the latte or go out for dinner with friends, even if money is tight. If I can swing it, I need to get out of the apartment. Frugality at the expense of my mental health is total nonsense. I won’t let myself feel guilty for spending money on “luxuries” if it means that I’m more stable.

14. I will spend less time responding to negative comments and more time responding to positive ones. I’ve spent way too much time replying to negative comments on my articles and just “liking” the positive comments. Guess what that’s accomplished? Literally nothing.

15. I will spend as much time on social media as I fucking want. There are all these ads and memes about going outside and “living.” But truthfully, my online community has helped me through some of the most difficult stuff I’ve ever been through. They give me life. So if being on social media makes me happy, I’ll tweet to my heart’s content.

16. I’ll stop judging myself based on how “productive” I was that day. Guess what? It turns out that we’re not robots. Who would’ve thought?

17. I will shut down the voices in my head that tell me I’m not good enough. Or I’ll try, anyway. Because if I had listened to them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

18. I’ll indulge my inner fangirl. I’ll watch a new show on Netflix for four hours and spend another four hours reading up on all the existing conspiracy theories about the show. I’ll take up a new hobby and let myself get lost in it. I’ll find a new musical artist and read their biography eight times. It doesn’t matter how silly it seems – it’s okay to geek out on something that brings you happiness (as long as you’re not manic, obvi).

19. I’ll dance more. Dancing is literally the best thing. Why don’t I dance more often? I have no idea, but that has got to change.

20. I will vocalize what I need. Sometimes I’m afraid to ask for the things that I need. This year, I won’t self-silence out of a fear that I might be a burden.

No matter what 2016 brings, I hope that you’ll be prioritizing your mental health – not just because it’s important, but because you absolutely deserve to be well.

What are your mental health resolutions for 2016? Share them with me in the comments (and I’ll try to respond, haha: see #14).


PA Commemorates Perpetrators Of Stabbing Attacks

http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/8919.htm


Rest In Peace, Lemmy

As a long time metalhead, I feel it must be posted that Lemmy, of metal staple band, Motorhead, has passed on at age 70. While I was never a fan girl, I liked their music and I liked how Lemmy made appearances mocking himself, ego be damned. Allow me to share one of my favorite scenes from the hair metal movie, Airheads.

 

Lemmy IS God. Rest in peace, my friend, your contribution to heavy metal will not be forgotten.

As for me…After a four day recovery period from my helliday dish time I dragged my ass out of my bedroom crypt long enough to wash an ass ton of dishes and start on an ass ton of laundry. (Poor people like us should NOT have this many clothes, ffs.) All the while thinking it was Wednesday cos the holiday fucked me all up so I missed trash pick up and both cans are overflowing with garbage as well as packaging from my kid’s Christmas lottery. I am sure waiting another week for the next pick up will result in a strongly worded letter from the landlord.

Whatever. I am taking the term “trailer trash” to new heights, fuck off.

So I am going to finish watching San Andreas, then I am gonna go to bed for I am getting cold, my head is starting to hurt, and it’s just really sad that Lemmy is gone.End of an era, people. Whether you like metal or not, Motorhead, and Lemmy, made a great contribution to the genre of rock music.

You may return to your insipid Taylor Swift music which cheers you up all the while giving me cavities in teeth I don’t have and causing my brain to impl0de because once upon a time, music was about talent, not image.

Forward are all hatemail to [email protected]

LEMMY IS GOD.


Cautiously peeking around the corner

It is appropriate that my mind has come out of its detox fog for the last week of the year. Last night I had to clarify that I did not feel well physically, since I have a cold. I’m so used to saying I feel like crap (meaning mentally), I felt that a qualifier was necessary. My mind is clear, and I am neither depressed nor manic. Feeling optimistic is something with which I am not comfortable, however that is exactly how I feel.

Two appointments with my mental health team are scheduled for the first two weeks of the new year. This will be the first time that I will bring up the question of the validity of a mental illness diagnosis. I have a great deal of apprehension about these forthcoming discussions. After several conversations with a person who has done a great deal of research on Asperger’s Syndrome/Autism Spectrum Disorder in adults, it has become evident that I need to bring up this possibility with my psychiatrist and therapist. This could be an explanation as to why no medication has ever worked for me.  Unfortunately, this is somewhat disconcerting since mental illness has been a major part of my identity for so long.

On the other hand, it’s also possible I may just be experiencing a period of stability which tricks so many people with a mental illness into a false sense of well-being. I am not medicated, I happen to feel stable, therefore I do not need medication. I find myself getting into a circuit of overthinking this subject, and at times it has become overwhelming. I feel ridiculous when I imagine the beginnings of the conversations I will have, as well as the judgmental looks and responses I expect to receive.

  • I have had numerous conversations with a non-professional which make me believe my initial diagnosis is wrong.
  • I have taken several online tests which seem to make it evident that I have Asperger’s Syndrome.
  • Could it be possible that you made a mistake in your diagnosis?
  • Perhaps I agree with the definition of bipolar disorder simply because it somehow fits, in retrospect (but then could the same be said for the Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis?).

So you see, while feeling optimistic I am simultaneously uneasy.

Tagged: Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, diagnosis, medications-psychiatric, mental health

Wake-Up Call

I asked Bob this morning what time we went to bed last night because I feel more human this morning than I have in  the mornings in a LONG time.  So we will see if we can replicate it tonight.  I really hope I’ve hit upon the perfect amount of sleep.

Long day ahead of us–two hours driving up, about an hour-and-a-half there, then two hours back.  WE’ ve already planned for the oldest to do the driving because I’m not sure what kind of shape I will be in afterwards. So we will see how it all goes.

I need to go wake everyone else up so that my cleaning ladies can work once they get here this morning. Pray fo r us today with all that we have to do.  I appreciate it.

 


Another “Almost Was”

Used to be a phrase among my particular hippie circle: “That almost was an almost was.”

That is to say, it was a close call.

This line of storms that has caused all sorts of mayhem, from strings of tornados to floods to blizzards, has been washing over western North Carolina, where I am stuck at a campground waiting for a service appointment on Wednesday.

Yesterday I was studying the sky, watching a wall cloud slowly rotating and thinking, why, that could develop into a tornado if there was more wind shear.  I was glad it was going away from where I was, in case things progressed in a bad way.

So imagine my surprise when my mother called, just as I was leaving the vet’s office in Asheville.

As usual, no matter where I am when she calls, she screamed,
“WHERE ARE YOU???”

“I’m in Asheville, why?”

“Can’t you hear the radio???”  She always has the radio on.  Always.

I couldn’t hear the radio, but I could hear the unmistakable National Weather Service robot voice gravely announcing something or other.

“What’s happening, Mom?  Why is there a weather alert?”

“WHERE ARE YOU??”

“I’m in Asheville, why?”

“You stay there.  You just stay there.  Do you have a strong building you can take shelter in?”

Then I knew what the alert was: tornado.

“Is it a watch or a warning?”

“CAN’T YOU HEAR THE RADIO??”

“No, I can’t.  Tell me what it says.”

Finally she calmed down enough to repeat verbatim what the alert message said.  The tornadic radar signal showed significant rotation, moving north at 30 mph (!!!), with the campground where I’ve been staying directly in its path.  I thought of all those people in their campers, motor coaches, and especially a young family in a flimsy pop-up, all out in an open field.

“Is it on the ground?”

No, not yet.

“Well, I’ll just stay here in Asheville tonight.  One or another of the stores will let me stay in their parking lot.”

Mom was relieved.

I had to replenish my supply of canned nutrients, so I went to the nearest grocery store and stocked up.  The manager kindly gave me permission to park my camper overnight.

I got on my NOAA weather app, and sonofabitch, there it was, the characteristic  bright red “hook” signature of a developing tornado.  My weather warnings app gave the usual urgent instructions for taking shelter, getting as low as possible with as many walls between you and the outdoors as possible.

I thought ruefully of the photos of the aftermath of the F4 tornado that hit East Texas the day before yesterday.  No walls left to protect anyone.  Amazing that only…I think 12 or 14…people were killed, although there are still some missing.

This is the same storm front that spawned that string of 11 tornados, in December, for crying out loud.

I don’t care what people say the cause is…when it’s 70 degrees in December, and the weather has gone crazy, it’s global warming.

I’ve been studying tornados ever since I lived in the Mysterious Midwest and had run-ins with several.  One was huge and threw a good deal of Toledo, Ohio into Lake Erie.  One went over our heads after I convinced my then-husband to please stop watching it and jump in this handy ditch with our infant son. 

And one buzzed through my yard at night and snatched the kids’ trampoline.  It ended up in a soybean field several miles away.  I found that out when the farmer showed up with our crumpled trampoline in the back of his truck.

“This yours?”

“Yep.”

“Thought so.”

The kids dragged it out of his truck, took it apart and put it back together again.  It was fine.  They launched each other off of it until one of them broke his arm, then I took it apart and hauled it to the dump.

My son grew phobic about tornados.  In the spring, the sky was full of rotating cells.

His step-brother used to torment him:  Look!  A tornado!  There’s another one!

My son leaned over and threw up in the manure spreader.  For years after that, every time the sky looked threatening, he got sick.

When I heard there was a potential tornado heading for Marion, of course I wanted to jump in my van and go chase it…But it was getting dark, and there’s nothing more dangerous than a tornado in the dark.  Maybe a tsunami. 

So here I sit in the grocery store parking lot.  Atina’s head rests on my knee.  She snores, oblivious to the fierce wind and rain. 

The radar shows a nasty squall line, but nothing to get excited about.

But when it comes to weather, you never really know.


Medzzzzzzz…

I had like 3 fucking meltdowns over Christmas weekend which is sorta normal for me but this year was probably worse than previous years ‘n I don’t really wanna talk about it right now, not because I don’t wanna revisit that shit but because I’m sleepy as fuuuuuck…..

My doc and I decided to halve my Welbutrin dose ’cause I think neither of us is 100% sure that I still need it. I tried it a long time ago, pre-bipolar diagnosis as a treatment for depression and that didn’t really work out, obviously (see LBD: antidepressants). Then a couple years ago, while on mood stabilizers, my doc prescribed it again to help me quit smoking because I have like zero willpower and I get upset a lot and it’s super easy for me to rationalize breaking my tobacco fast if I’m really, really, really upset (so, like, often). Welbutrin makes smoking really uncomfortable (I frequently liken it to trying to inhale a large marshmallow I picked out of bag of wet garbage) and also disrupts your brain’s ability to enjoy nicotine so you may as well just be smoking the paper for all the good it’ll do in terms of calming you down.

The other reason we went with Welbutrin is that it’s kind of an upper – not in the same way that speed or even caffeine is, but among its peers, Welbutrin is the most likely to give you a little boost. All my other meds are sedating so the intention was to sort of counteract that problem with more meds (I’ve written about medicating my medication before, but probably not thoroughly enough, remind me to get back to it).

This time around, I don’t think I’ve been prescribed Welbutrin specifically to combat depression, but if it happened to do that, then yay? So last week, my prescription ran out and I was talking to my doctor about it and we thought maybe cutting to dose in half might be fun (ahem: a medically sound choice that is reversible if it happens not to work out). I didn’t start taking the smaller dose until after my Xmas meltdowns because I fucking hate the holidays and I didn’t wanna start experimenting until they were over. Which turned out to be, probably, a really good idea.

This is either day 2 or 3 of the halved dose and I’ve been a fairly drowsy. Which, I mean, is unsurprising considering the drug’s invigorating properties. I suspect I’d feel similarly if I switched from coffee to tea or something – which will never fucking happen, when I die, I wanna be ground up like coffee beans and served, hot or iced, to all my mourners (no I don’t, that’s gross, Laura). 

So, like, I spent the day fucking around with my roommate’s mandolin and working on some poems just for fun, and I think I paid off the balance on my Target card. Like, I got some shit done. I taught myself this song on mando:

Don’t get impressed or anything, it’s not a super complicated song, just a really good song and a fun one to sing and play. But now my fingers hurt ’cause mandolin strings are a little more ouchy than guitar or banjo strings ‘n I’m not really used to them yet. But I did like, at least one or two things today and I didn’t actually have to do anything today, so good for me. Fine.

But it’s me, so I worry a lot about these specters of things that are pretty unlikely, chiefly here: I’ll be sleepy forever. Before my various Christmas freakouts, I had been doing really well. Depakote seems not to have given me the stupids like I worried it would. My moods were pretty even, almost predictable (!!!) and I was feeling good about myself and having all these neat ideas for creative projects which, at this point, I haven’t been neglecting as severely as I usually do when I have good ideas. Good. Cool.

But I wanna take as little medicine as I can get away with and Welbutrin, among my other meds, is the easiest to play around with, so here we are. Slightly less medicated, but markedly more sleepy. This should go away. I mean, if I were taking Welbutrin and nothing else, I’d be about 100% sure the drowsiness would wane after the physical withdrawal was over, but that’s not the case ’cause, like I said, I’m on other meds, 3 others exactly, and they all sometimes make me very tired. More specifically, they shorten my battery life. It’s not that I’m evenly sedated throughout the day, it’s more like I only have energy for one or maybe two activities in a day and I don’t like to stay out late anymore.

So right now it’s a little after 4 p.m. It’s rain-snowing like the goddamned apocalypse outside and I’m legit afraid my power will go out. I’ve run out of shit to do except take a shower which is only necessary because it’s my habit to shower daily, I’m not actually dirty enough right now to warrant bathing. After that, it’s very likely that I’ll get high and watch cartoons or something. Maybe reread my poems a few hundred more times. They are part in Italian and I’m like real stoked on that point. But that’s about it. I don’t have energy for much else. I could:

Clean something, like my desk maybe (nah…)

Investigate the meaning behind the text I just got from my sister which simply reads: “Butt fun?”

Learn more mandolin chords and maybe develop some muscle memory and build tougher calluses

Mulch Arturo more thoroughly (Arturo is my pet blueberry bush. He lives on my patio and should be able to withstand a northern Midwest winter storm but he almost died this summer so I worry about him a lot)

Play some solitaire chess. Gotta stay sharp ‘n whatever.

But I totally won’t do any of these things (except maybe find out what the deal is with “Butt fun?” ’cause there is zero context for that text and it’s fucking funny). I’m probably just gonna return my roommate’s mando to his room, take my evening meds (including the ones I prescribed to myself), move from the office to the couch, watch some Jaclyn Glenn youtube videos, lazily entertain sexual thoughts about this woman who I only know through her Etsy shop but who seems like my kinda people even if I can’t quite see what she looks like or tell how old she is from her tiny picture, and maybe see which of the cats is more amenable to being used as a pillow today ’cause one of them will usually let me do that, but it’s not always the same one. All eminently slothful pursuits.

Anyhowl, getting back to things, I’m gonna give it maybe another 7-10 days of grogginess before I decide if the new Welbutrin dosage is right for me. Like, fingers crossed real hard, I guess, ’cause, like I said, the less medicine I can get by on, the better. In the meantime, jammies ‘n couches ‘n…”Butt fun?”

-LB

Tagged: atheism, bipolar disorder, bisexuality, Butt fun?, Christmas, creativity, energy, Italian, Jaclyn Glenn, laziness, Mandolin, marijuana, meds, music, Neko Case, poetry, sleep, Welbutrin, writing