Daily Archives: January 17, 2016

Cooking up a storm 

Not only good for your stomach, also good for your soul 😊 
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Freaking Out

Once again I accidentally skipped a medication dose. Thursday evening I forgot to take my divalproex (used to treat seizures, migraines and bipolar disorder), making me less stable, more irritable, short-tempered with my husband, overwhelmed, emotionally fragile, raw and vulnerable. F*ck. So that’s a bit of background for how I felt Friday and Saturday.

Am I doing right by my parents? Am I failing myself and my son?

Friday Texts to Owner of Board and Care

Kitt: My mother’s speech therapist told me to work with my mom daily. I’m not up to that b/c I have bipolar disorder and my son gets sick, migraines, depression & anxiety. I must protect myself and my family’s well-being. I do not think that the caregivers are up to speech therapy exercises. Maybe I underestimate them.

Owner: Hi, Kitt, I completely understand your concerns & your concerns for your family. I agree with your assessment that caregivers are not really well qualified to do that, but they can try doing it, & we will see how it goes. It will get better.

Friday Texts with My Sister

Kitt: FYI, the speech therapist today said I should work with mom every day on speech therapy exercises. Staff at board and care are just “caregivers.” They cook, clean, help with bathing. I talked dad into showering today with mom’s help. Mom refused to shower.

Sister: I wonder why mom won’t take a shower? You do not need to follow the demands of a speech therapist. You can do the speech therapy exercises when you are available. They will not control your life. You will control your life and time.

Kitt: This is what she wrote. Do not know what she meant.


She is having trouble with receptive speech, with understanding what is said to her or asked of her. But she knew we wanted her to shower b/c she gets gestures and if restate putting in context.

Sister: Do you think she needs a chair in the shower?

Kitt: I bought on. It’s in their shower.

Sister: Maybe she wants it out then? Or she’s worried dad is going to jump her?😳love in the shower?

Kitt: If she wanted it out, she could take it out.

Sister: Yeah. Probably more the second idea?

Kitt: Thanks for the smile. I’m pretty stressed. I know you are, too. On the positive side, she made huge strides after one session with this guy.

Sister: Good!

Hope that Speech Therapy Books Will Help

  
Purchased these books online. Hope that I can delegate exercises for my dad to do with my mom. He has moderate stage dementia, so not sure how it will go. I know he wants to help, though. It will give them something to do together that will benefit them both cognitively. Obviously, I’ll have to break it down simply. Will get them a calendar with instructions (page x in book y),  shower schedule, and physical therapy and speech therapy schedules.


Filed under: Bipolar Disorder, Bipolar Parenting, Dementia, Disability, Family, Hypomania, Medication, Triggers to Mood Cycling Tagged: anxiety, aphasia, elder care, Sandwich Generation, speech therapy, stroke rehabilitation

And on the flip side of boohoo…

Yes, boohoo is fine and dandy, but there is another side to being upset. And it is being unbelievably grateful that I am sitting here, fine, able to do everything as I could before the concussion and the car accident. I mean to say that I am very lucky that I walked clean away from both. So, no more boohooing, even though I do miss my car…

I have a new car, a V6 Honda Accord, 287 horse power! I like it a lot, I would love it if I wasn’t missing my old one. Ah the vicissitudes of having a mood disorder… and getting attached to everything and everyone… bah… Zen Buddhism anyone?

 

My new car, I almost love it.

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My old, beloved little car, this was all the damage it had, but the insurance company totaled it :-((( I was going through a green light when I was struck by the car below. Hondas are warriors!!!

 

 

The car that hit me, it blew up like it had been bombed!!! It did hit me hard.

 

 


Over 20,000 views for Bipolar1Blog!

Voilà! After 17 months of blogging, I have reached the 20,000 views milestone! Pretty excited about it :-) First there was no blog, then I started bipolar1blog, and now? Now it’s been viewed over 20,000 times. Pretty amazing! Onwards and upwards!

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Double Edged Swords

Courtesy of Lithium, I’ve not been a hormonal teary mess this week. Flipside, I woke this morning with such back pain and cramps, I wanted to beat the ovary oompa loompas with a cast iron skillet. It took me an hour just to get out of bed and make my way to the kitchen for some Tylenol. This certainly explains., though, why the last two kid free nights I’ve been exhausted and in bed before 9 p.m. Shark week usually does embalm me so that I am the walking dead. So yay, no teary bitch syndrome. Boo for the cramps and such still being in full force.

Another doubled edged sword..Though it’s really a good thing, IF I don’t think about the flip side: Since I didn’t get that bday card in the mail on time, by chance I happened to remember my uncle’s number so I called to wish him a happy bday. He truly seemed shocked that I remembered his birthday (really, not hard, his is Jan 16th, mom’s is 19th, mine is 22nd). For five minutes I felt like I’d done something good. I know my uncle thinks I am self absorbed and avoid him but truth is…He still lives in that piss ant town where I was tortured for so many years and it’s 40 miles away, so in addition to my past trauma not wanting to be revisited I can’t afford the trip. It’s not really personal. I wish I could go there on  occasion, they have miniature ponies and stuff and I am gaga for animals.

Shortly after calling him, my dad called me and told me to call my uncle back, for he knows of a country lawyer he’s worked with who he’s willing to cash in his “credit” with so that I can make payments and not need a retainer up front. I talked to the lawyer, he sounds pretty nice, he took some info. He is going to draw up paperwork for a divorce hearing as well as retroactive support AND holding the donor at least partially responsible for legal fees. He will meet me at the courthouse Friday.

Hells, yeah. I will be armed with a high class friend AND a 6;7 lawyer with the appropriate documents and he will address the judge.

Of course, playing devil’s advocate is my thing and knowing this lawyer’s rates for drawing up papers and court appearances…If I don’t get retroactive support and the donor isn’t held accountable in part for the fees…I am so screwed. I’ll be paying it back for the rest of my natural life even if it’s done in two hearings.

I know, I know- be thankful for this major victory (makes me wonder why it took my uncle four years to offer this idea up).  I can’t not think of consequences, though. If I can’t repay this lawyer, then him working with my uncle presents bridge burning territory and that’s a lot of stress on my unstable ass.

I can’t deny that it feels good to know the lawyer will be there with appropriate legal docs. Less chance of the donor steamrolling me with his good acting skills. Maybe the divorce is about me and him, but this retroactive child support is about our child. Her rights should be legally represented. (And I told the lawyer the state only intended to pursue one month retro support, he said we are definitely going for more than a month as the donor seems to be a chronic deadbeat.)

Flip side: I am a nervous wreck pondering this whole thing. Hell, I can’t even go into a bank without feeling out of my element, let alone a court house. Just going there for a copy of a birth certificate freaked me out. I doubt I will breathe until after it’s done. Only to probably get another date and have to do it again. Yes, I will have Mrs. R for support but the thing with panic attacks is…no one can talk you out of the heart palpitations, the sweating, the trembling, the dizziness…I will double my Xanax before going but (and I am contemplating not wearing my glasses so even if the donor glares at me, I won’t be able to see it let alone get psyched out.) I am still gonna be a basketcase. Just the condition the donor likes me in so he can play with my mind.

I also worry in this rural area where all the judges are male about getting some dude who had a bad divorce where his ex got support and he still holds a grudge so he won’t award a dime over the law’s minimum. This probably sounds crazy to city people but in small old boys’ club towns..It’s very real..

I guess I am resting up, thank you shark week for draining me. Spook was at mom’s Friday night, then yesterday dad showed up from the blue and said they wanted to take her maybe for one or two nights. When this low, I hate being alone, I need her noise and vibrance to remind me I am alive.BUt I couldn’t crush what she wanted just to make myself feel less lonely.

Very depressing nights, for rather than get anything done…I was zonked before 9 p.m. both nights. Of course, it was like this before I ever had a child around shark week time so I can’t say it’s unusual. It’s the norm.

I went to the library Friday and checked out some Skippyjon Jones books for Spook. She just loves those books about a siamese cat who fantasizes about being  a sword fighting chihuahua. (And of course, there;s some lobby out there calling the books racist, which makes me wanna stab those idgets with sporks, cos the books are absolutely adorable, even I like reading them.) I am trying to push the book thing cos she made the comment the other day about feeling sorry for people who “had” to read books. Nope. When all technology dies, books will still be there. They are not punishment. They are to be appreciated and treasured. I will drive that into her skull if it kills us both.

I need to drag my ass out into the dish today because they are calling for -1 tomorrow, meaning the car likely won’t start. (And mom is back on my ass about getting it transferred from her name to mine and I keep telling her it’s gonna be about two hundred dollars between transfer and getting insurance and she said she’d try to “help” but I am using pennies to buy bags of cat food, so where does she think I have a spare cent, as if I don’t have enough stress right now). I need to get more cat food (dollar bags don’t go far when feeding over ten cats and no, I am not gonna starve the outdoor strays cos it saves money), I need some groceries which means, ugh, Aldi. I need to go to the shop to print something out but he and Kenny are always there and I don’t feel like dealing yet mom’s bday is Tuesday and I need that print out so I can make her an Elvis collage…

Cloak of invisibility really should be a thing. So I can just go unseen on days where my brain is being more scumbaggy than usual.

On a good note…My cat Voodoo, who vanished last year, came back yesterday. He’s the last of my bobtail line and oh, I was over the moon that he came back and didn’t hiss. He went back out this morning but I am hoping he knows to come to the door if he gets too cold. My boy came back to me, just like my Willow girl did. If only I could bring back bella and Abby and Arsenic from the dead…

On a very ewwww gross note..I don’t think I’ve showered since Tuesday. I have no legit excuse other than laziness and simply forgetting. I still use deodorant and all, so it’s not like I reek. My hair is pretty gross but I keep saying I am gonna put on the hair dye and the dirtier my hair is, the more likely it is the color will cling…

Or maybe I am batshit.

I don’t know anymore.

My meds are still in a state of flux, though, so it’s to be expected. Raising that Lithium to 1200 after only being at 600 for a week makes me very nervous.

I think the fact I’m not all teary and hormonal pre shark week speaks volumes as to how effective the Lithium is.

It’s all a doubled edged sword, even the good stuff leads to strife.

Get me a pill that does away with that shit.


I Chose Fat Over Misery

I was a skinny kid who grew a lot less skinny.

Do my bipolar meds have something to do with that?

Probably.

Do I care?

No.

I’ve noticed a lot of people with bipolar disorder panicking over the topic of weight gain. “I know I need meds, but I’m afraid of weight gain.” “What meds can I take that don’t cause weight gain?” “I tried X med but I quit because of the weight gain.”

It’s true that mental health and physical health are linked – what affects one may affect the other. And it’s true that medications have side effects, among which may be weight gain.

What I don’t get is why some people are so afraid of weight gain that they would sacrifice their mental health to avoid it.

Actually, I do sort of get it. There are ads everywhere that promote thinness – even to the point of illness – as the ideal for both feminine and masculine. There is a “War on Obesity” and plenty of people who will tell you that your body mass index is the most important number that identifies you. There are fat people jokes and gags that could not be told about any other group, be it race, sex, ethnicity, or religion. Plenty of comedians have made a good living making fun of fat – even their own. On TV, the fat character is never the hero.

Now back to the skinny, scrawny, bony kid I was. Undiagnosed and untreated. Aware that there was something wrong with me, but no idea what.

I had mini-meltdowns and major meltdowns. I had anxious twitches. I burst into tears when certain songs came on the radio – and not necessarily sad ones. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” tore me up. “I Am a Rock” could leave me sobbing. I took walks in the rain till I was soaked to the skin. I would laugh out loud for no reason that anyone else could see.

I was a mess. But a thin one.

It’s relatively recently that doctors and scientists have explored the connection between psychotropic medications and weight gain. Some have speculated that people who are depressed don’t eat much. Then, when their meds kick in and they feel better, their appetites return. In my case, I ate more when depressed and less when anxious. By the end of my undergraduate years, I was drinking banana milkshakes so my parents wouldn’t worry about how thin I was when they saw me at graduation.

Slowly, I got better with therapy and meds. Slowly, I gained weight. At first I didn’t notice. Then I did. I tried prescription diet pills and Lean Cuisine, which worked – for a while. But eventually, as is true of most dieters, I started piling the pounds back on. If one of my psychotropics was to blame, I couldn’t pinpoint which one, what with going on and off so many different ones and the cocktail of several I ended up with.

But as I got better and gained weight, I also started making friends, going on dates, finding lovers, and eventually meeting the man I would marry. Some of them were overweight, too. But that wasn’t what mattered most to them – or to me. Oh, I suppose there were people who were turned off by my well-padded physique. Maybe some of them were marvelous people, and maybe I would have enjoyed their company if they could have seen past the weight.

But the fact is, I now have plenty of close friends who just don’t give a damn about weight. Sometimes one of us will need to lose weight for a specific health reason like diabetes, and the rest of us will offer encouragement. But for the most part, we are who we are and love each other that way.

Given the choice – and I do have the choice – I will take the psychotropics that keep me reasonably stable and happy and productive. And yes, overweight. I remember the misery, the despair and pain, and no matter how I look, I don’t ever want to go back there. Self-esteem, for me at least, is better if it comes from the inside out, not the other way around.

The bottom line?

I’ve been skinny. I’ve been fat. Either way, I’m still me.

 


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: bipolar disorder, childhood depression, drug side effects, mental illness, mutual support, my experiences, psychological pain, psychotropic drugs, public perception

It is Margaret We Mourn for: a Poetic Blog

Doncaster Museum exterior, January 2016

Doncaster Museum exterior, January 2016

Margaret are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves like the things of man,
You, with your fresh thoughts care for,
can you?

Spring and Fall“, Gerard Manley Hopkins (1880)

As a morbid adolescent, I fell in love with this poem the first time I read it. Unlike the rest of Hopkins’ work – at least, what I came across in anthologies – it seemed both beautiful, and short, and to the point. I even recorded it, on a GE tape recorder (1), as I read the poem aloud to my cat.

Pretentious, as well as morbid.

The people from the Get a Grip Dept. (GGD) – in Yorkshire, they’d be telling us “frame yourself” – have been busy this past week, telling people not to be so upset about the death of David Bowie (69, cancer) and / or Alan Rickman (also 69, also cancer: I do hope the GGD aren’t opening their gobs around those of us who are 68 or 69).

I’ve been surprised by both the depth of my grief over Bowie, and my relative lack of it with regards to Rickman. Alan Rickman, you see, has long been on the list of slightly older, well known, and extremely talented actors who I, as an anti-cougar, fancied from afar. Emphasis on “afar”: I’ve never gone to the effort of meeting him, or any of my other silver fox fancies.

Several people far cleverer than I have pointed out that when we grieve over an artist, we are often also mourning the times in our lives, and the people, who we associate with a particular song, album, film, etc., which they created, and/or starred in.

As Manley Hopkins says at the end of “Spring and Fall,” it isn’t just the “worlds of wanwood [which] leafmeal lie” that trouble Margaret:

“It is the blight that man was born for
It is Margaret you mourn for.”

Tree, sunflowers, and autumn light: Chatsworth, 2015.

Tree, sunflowers, and autumn light: Chatsworth, 2015.

When I think of Bowie, I think of the friend mentioned in the first part of the poem below. Whilst it sadly lacks the power of Manley Hopkins’ verse, Bowie’s lyrics, or Rickman’s power with words, I’m putting it out there anyways. It’s a slight rewrite of a poem from 2010.

For you, Cyndi. And you, Jake. And, as almost always, the Beloved.

Fish and Chips Once

i.
I thought I saw her
this morning,
on the 08:13 to Sheffield:
the woman had
her face
her build.
Even the specs
were right.

Which is odd, as
last I knew,
she had moved to New York,
and was dead.

ii.
I lift him out of the box.

Padded feet dangle,
fuzzy legs extend
like questions marks,
trailing the five Ws and one H
so beloved of my journalism teachers:

Who?
What?
Why?
Where?
When?
How?

And, even as I exclaim
over expressive eyes,
and whiskers,
I know that one day,
in a decade or two,
I will place him
in another box,
and that
will be that.

iii.
Sometimes, you waltz
around the subject:
thanks to that knee,
it’s practically the only dancing
which you do.

Others, you meet head on
as though we were in a shop
full of costly Wedgwood,
and you a feisty Taurus.

That day was the latter sort.
We learned of a young teacher
who didn’t go to work,
but won’t be requiring
a sick note.

And even as I sympathise,
I think: will it be you first,
or me?

If me, will I be able
to see myself through
a half life of fish and chips once,
Yule cards which no longer require
a second signature,
no one to share
the weekend bathwater with,
or to hold a cat
whilst I shove a hated pill
down its unwilling throat?

That which survives: Conisbrough Castle keep, Sept 2015

That which survives: Conisbrough Castle keep, Sept 2015

(1) I was a phenomenally uncool kid.