Monthly Archives: April 2016

Fractured Personality

Sometimes I feel like different people live within my body.  The strong Rosa, the weak Rosa, the angry Rosa, the meek Rosa, the funny Rosa.  There are more, but those are the ones that come out the most.  I’m not suggesting that I have multiple personality disorder, I am merely stating that I can feel so markedly different from moment to moment, that I don’t know how else to explain it.

I want the tough and strong Rosa to always persevere, but sometimes it feel like she won’t.  Sometimes the flailing Rosa takes over, and any sense of hope is lost.  It’s that Rosa that’s drowning in a foot of water, and just needs to stand up.  Sometimes she can hardly be convinced to stand, even get on her knees, even though that would “save” her.  This Rosa has easy access to the “give up” button, where every small and inconsequential thing is exceptionally difficult.

I find myself stuck in this mode far too much of the time, and the only thing that brings me out of this particular funk is to write down on paper all of the “evidence” I have for not remaining in this frame of mind.

And then the tough and strong Rosa gets to break ties with the flailing Rosa, and all can be well for a bit.  The funny Rosa that likes to tell jokes and be sarcastic and get others to laugh even makes an appearance, for awhile.  I wonder, as I am writing, what I could do to make all of the different Rosa’s into one more cohesive persona.

So much of my problems are black and white, this or that, all or nothing.  This is a way of thinking that has plagued me forever.  I rarely see any middle ground on an issue.  I am all in or all out, and then vacillate between the two, never landing in the middle.  This is the dialectic, so they say.  This is why DBT works for me, this is why I must constantly strive to put the fractured Rosa back together, to make her whole.

This is why I do this, this is why I write — to straighten these things out in my head, and to marry the parts of Rosa back together.

“The Scientist”

Come up to meet you, tell you I’m sorry
You don’t know how lovely you are

I had to find you
Tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart

Tell me your secrets
And ask me your questions
Oh, let’s go back to the start

Running in circles
Coming up tails
Heads on a science apart

Nobody said it was easy
It’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard

Oh, take me back to the start

I was just guessing
At numbers and figures
Pulling the puzzles apart

Questions of science
Science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart

Tell me you love me
Come back and haunt me
Oh, and I rush to the start

Running in circles
Chasing our tails
Coming back as we are

Nobody said it was easy
Oh, it’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard

I’m going back to the start

Oh [x4]


Filed under: Collection of Thoughts Tagged: anger, anxiety, black and white thinking, DBT, dialectic, mental health, mental illness, personality

Pictures from Jockey Jim.

Opening night is tonight! Going to read my lines, take a shower and relax till then.:-)

IMG_2336IMG_2311IMG_2344IMG_2314IMG_2327IMG_2328IMG_2331IMG_2334IMG_2335


Pictures from Jockey Jim.

Opening night is tonight! Going to read my lines, take a shower and relax till then.:-)

IMG_2336IMG_2311IMG_2344IMG_2314IMG_2327IMG_2328IMG_2331IMG_2334IMG_2335


Integration

IntegrationTwo weeks since I returned from my cross-country sojourn, and I still can’t find the words.  But, that’s never stopped me.  Words come.  They tumble down the nerve bundles from brain to fingertip and hit the keyboard all by their lonesome.  My mistake is in thinking I have to go looking for them.

A small part of taking this trip was curiosity.  ArtFest, my destination of record, was a gathering of art journalers.  I’ve tried art journaling in the past, even made my own journals, but it never stuck.  I journal—a fast, Artists Way kind of brain dump that vomits everything onto the page as fast as possible—and I make collage art—a multi-step process that can take days or months.

Could I find a way to combine the two forms?  I went to Port Townsend without a need to make it happen, just a willingness to keep an open mind and play with fun toys.

The question followed me from that creative crucible, down through the Redwoods, and into a conversation with my friend, Robert.  That’s the thing about people of a Buddhist persuasion—if there’s a question lurking in the back of your psyche, they’ll winkle it out of you, one way or the other.

So, in the course of our conversation, I blurted out that my real Work was to Be Me—to be in the world as mindfully as I could, to use all my parts (nefarious, broken or skilled), to accept them all, and just show up.

I almost looked around the coffee shop to see who was talking.  Words tumbled out of my mouth, prompted by nerve bundles attached to a question tucked in my gray matter.  Words I obviously had no control over.  Words that made absolute sense.

Travel Journal CoverI was talking about integration.  And I could feel it happening, like a broken bone knitting together or a spider spinning a fragile web across space.  And as I left Durango, the sensation continued.  I talked to it, held it gently, never pushing or setting expectations.  I wanted to see what it would do, not me.

So, I continued to work in the journal we made at ArtFest, pulling everything about my trip into it, creating something new, something more.  At the same time, I dug out the journals I’d made years ago and wondered what might happen in them.  And I pulled out my SoulCollage© materials, because they were another piece of this emerging creative process.

In a few days, the severe depression that usually peaks this time of year arrived—another part of me accepted and welcomed.  Not that the despair and hopelessness are any easier to ride.  I felt them drain my energy and confidence.  I heard all the old fears and horrors settle into their usual corners.  And as I sobbed with my therapist on Thursday, I also knew the pain and darkness as a valuable part of me.  This, too, Tara Brach might say.

Robin & Albert

I’m comfortable being the brave, battling, Bipolar Bad-Ass.  Proud, even.  But it’s much harder to let others see my seriously brain-sick self.  I feel too vulnerable, too liable to hurt myself or others with my pain, too out of control.  It’s part of the illness to want to hide, to keep the truth of it on a leash, to just wait until the cycle shifts and I can present as more-normal.  Instead, I joined my spiritual study group on Thursday—exhausted, incoherent, weeping—and felt the truth of integration even then.

My showing up touched each of them in different ways.  Etta called it a gift.  Martha said, “We want you with us, no matter what state you’re in.”  Chuck, whose daughter also struggles with BP, wishes what I have for her.

This is the path, then.  To use it all—in the world and in my creative efforts.  No need to look for words or have a plan.  I’ve got everything I need.


I Want to Go Off My Meds. Somebody Please Talk Me Out of It.

Well, I do. I admit it. I’m tired of taking fistfuls of pills twice a day and I wish I could stop. Just as an experiment, of course…even though the last time I neglected to take my nighttime meds, I experienced the entire bipolar spectrum the next day and it took two more to straighten myself out. It’s SO not worth the risk.

But, it’s springtime and I want to shake things up. Make life a little more interesting. Maybe even get some motivation to write that book or work on some articles for my nursing website. That little burst of hypomania I had that lasted from late February into the early part of this month gave me some extra energy and I have really, really missed that. Even now, it wouldn’t take much to boot me back into high gear, and if I were at least to cut down on meds I might get through this episode of scrivener’s constipation and be able to produce again. I’ve sadly neglected this blog and I feel bad about that…four posts in a month just isn’t enough to keep readers interested and my statistics are really suffering. But what do you write about when there’s absolutely NOTHING noteworthy going on in your life and you can’t concentrate long enough to put together something coherent?

I can just imagine what Dr. Awesomesauce, Kathy my therapist, and Sarah my p-nurse would have to say about that. The three of ’em would be lined up waiting to kick my ass into the middle of next week, along with my nearest and dearest. Coming off meds would change the family dynamic, in which I’m often the one who stays calm, and even somewhat detached, when the rest of the household is going ape shit. None of these people, with the exception of my son and husband, have ever seen me full-blown manic and it would be better if they never do. So there’s another argument against stopping meds…but still I dream of it.

No, really—I had a dream about it just last night. In the dream I was happy, breezy, and physically active, putting in a garden in the yard I don’t have anymore thanks to the havoc wrought by my last few bipolar wingdings. I wasn’t taking any meds because I was cured and didn’t need them anymore. Forget the awful highs and lows and the dreaded bipolar 1 diagnosis: it was as if I’d never had it in the first place. And when Will came in to wake me up this morning, I asked for another half hour of sleep because I wanted to find out how it all worked out. Alas, when I went back to sleep my mind had already moved on, and if I dreamed after that I don’t remember it.

Of course, I know all the pitfalls of going off psychiatric drugs, and of course I will almost certainly keep toeing the line because I’m too afraid of the potential consequences. I would HATE to end up in the hospital again. And the experts say that the meds aren’t as effective when you restart them as they were before you stopped, and as much medication as I’m on, that risk would be enormous. But oh, on these warm, sunny days when everything seems possible—even though I can’t do much of anything physical anymore—on the inside I can feel all my nerve fibers thrumming with energy and excitement, and I want nothing more than to let go and enjoy it to the fullest.

Then I remember what things were like before the diagnosis and meds, and it makes me grateful for them because they not only explained so much about my earlier life, but gave me tools to make my current life better. I’d have to be literally crazy to go back to the way I was.

I can’t promise forever, but I can say for now that I won’t go off my meds. One day at a time, just like with alcohol. And I’ve been pretty successful along that line.:-)

 

 

 

 

 

 


I Want to Go Off My Meds. Somebody Please Talk Me Out of It.

Well, I do. I admit it. I’m tired of taking fistfuls of pills twice a day and I wish I could stop. Just as an experiment, of course…even though the last time I neglected to take my nighttime meds, I experienced the entire bipolar spectrum the next day and it took two more to straighten myself out. It’s SO not worth the risk.

But, it’s springtime and I want to shake things up. Make life a little more interesting. Maybe even get some motivation to write that book or work on some articles for my nursing website. That little burst of hypomania I had that lasted from late February into the early part of this month gave me some extra energy and I have really, really missed that. Even now, it wouldn’t take much to boot me back into high gear, and if I were at least to cut down on meds I might get through this episode of scrivener’s constipation and be able to produce again. I’ve sadly neglected this blog and I feel bad about that…four posts in a month just isn’t enough to keep readers interested and my statistics are really suffering. But what do you write about when there’s absolutely NOTHING noteworthy going on in your life and you can’t concentrate long enough to put together something coherent?

I can just imagine what Dr. Awesomesauce, Kathy my therapist, and Sarah my p-nurse would have to say about that. The three of ’em would be lined up waiting to kick my ass into the middle of next week, along with my nearest and dearest. Coming off meds would change the family dynamic, in which I’m often the one who stays calm, and even somewhat detached, when the rest of the household is going ape shit. None of these people, with the exception of my son and husband, have ever seen me full-blown manic and it would be better if they never do. So there’s another argument against stopping meds…but still I dream of it.

No, really—I had a dream about it just last night. In the dream I was happy, breezy, and physically active, putting in a garden in the yard I don’t have anymore thanks to the havoc wrought by my last few bipolar wingdings. I wasn’t taking any meds because I was cured and didn’t need them anymore. Forget the awful highs and lows and the dreaded bipolar 1 diagnosis: it was as if I’d never had it in the first place. And when Will came in to wake me up this morning, I asked for another half hour of sleep because I wanted to find out how it all worked out. Alas, when I went back to sleep my mind had already moved on, and if I dreamed after that I don’t remember it.

Of course, I know all the pitfalls of going off psychiatric drugs, and of course I will almost certainly keep toeing the line because I’m too afraid of the potential consequences. I would HATE to end up in the hospital again. And the experts say that the meds aren’t as effective when you restart them as they were before you stopped, and as much medication as I’m on, that risk would be enormous. But oh, on these warm, sunny days when everything seems possible—even though I can’t do much of anything physical anymore—on the inside I can feel all my nerve fibers thrumming with energy and excitement, and I want nothing more than to let go and enjoy it to the fullest.

Then I remember what things were like before the diagnosis and meds, and it makes me grateful for them because they not only explained so much about my earlier life, but gave me tools to make my current life better. I’d have to be literally crazy to go back to the way I was.

I can’t promise forever, but I can say for now that I won’t go off my meds. One day at a time, just like with alcohol. And I’ve been pretty successful along that line.:-)

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mental Illness A Family Disease

This past week I have come into contact with several people who have loved ones who are struggling with mental illness.  I can understand their pain because I have lived the experience myself.

I remember the day when I was 19 years old and found out my mother had almost died during a mental health crisis.  I had just arrived home from a rather tumultuous freshman year of college, my Olympic dreams nearly shattered and my mother, my biggest supporter unable to help me and in fact needed me to help her.

When someone you love has a mental health crisis you don’t have a lot of time to come up to speed on all the terminology that healthcare professionals start to throw around.  Psychosis, manic-depressive, schizophrenia, involuntary commitments, state hospital vs. private institution, etc..etc…etc.

We didn’t have the internet over thirty years ago, so I packed up my notebook and headed to the library.  (After all these years I have still kept my notes). I was on a crash course to understand a jargon that was foreign to me.  Cancer I understood.  Mental illness I could not comprehend and yet I had to find a way to help get my mother back again.

It was one of the most difficult times of my life.  People who do not have a loved one with mental illness cannot understand the enormous amount of pressure it is to keep secrets about why someone is or is not available.  In some ways it is like their lives get erased, if only temporarily.  

For me in all my youthfulness, went about telling people that my mother had a mental breakdown.  Most often I got surprised and shocking looks and often a change in conversation because people did not know what to say.  

The sad thing is here we are over 30 years later and things have not changed much.  We are still talking about the stigma of mental illness, our society continues to fear what they do not understand and people living with mental illness still live in secrecy and shame.  And those family members with loved ones still don’t have a basic understanding of mental illness.  

The only way I know how to help with change is to talk about mental illness and continue to share my personal journey in the hopes it may help other people.  I dealt with my difficult situation the only way I knew how which was to talk about it.  It helped even if most people did not understand.

One of the most unsatisfying lessons has come full circle.  Someone who I had admired most disappointed me the most during my mother’s illness.  But sadly years later this person who showed no compassion would be struck with her own mental illness.  

There is no mincing words:  mental illness is a cruel disease that affects the entire family.  The best thing we can do is be kind to one another.  You never know if your family will be affected by mental illness too.


Can’t Touch This

Up and down and all around, as you know if you’ve been reading.  The past two days, the depression has really stabilized, but I have been left with soul-crushing anxiety.  Anxiety that absolutely nothing touches — not a single DBT skill has gone untried, a PRN gone untested, a theory, a trick, an avoidance, nothing.  I don’t remember the last time I had such intractable anxiety.

Usually, there is something that will work.  I can fool my brain for long enough to fall asleep or sweep the unpleasantness far enough under the rug that it doesn’t peek out for a few hours.  I haven’t been able to do this lately, and the added near-unbearable irritability that has come with it…well, I just don’t know.  I just don’t know about anything right now.

Well, that’s not altogether true, I suppose.  I know I’m not ready to give up and I know I’m determined to not hurt the people around me who love me most with this irrational irritability and anxiety.  I’ll keep trying this and that because, all it takes is one thing to ease it for awhile, then maybe I can sleep for awhile, or at least rest, and then the irritability can go away.

The anxiety has been the worst in the mid-morning and the beginnings of the evening.  I keep find myself trying to find reason behind a most unreasonable emotion.  As if I am dissecting anxiety, and if I can figure out how it’s heart beats, then I can clip the right blood source and it will die.  I am far too rational, too logical, too black-and-white in my thinking.

Perhaps there is no what/when/why/whatever to this, and my trying to dissect it further makes it worse.  Perhaps that.  The thought that I am making this worse by all of my struggling seems to hit home, and I ponder to myself that maybe I need to rest and float upon these waves of anxiety, instead of trying to kick my legs and flail my arms in an attempt to stay above water.  You know, like JulieTwo always said, depression is an ocean, and if you float you survive, and if you fight, you die.

Food for thought, right there, and maybe QoB was right in suggesting that I spew it all out here on this blog.  Because, the fight or float thing makes sense to me, but I need to retrain myself to float.  Floating is hard, y’all.  Maybe this is also just like my most recent favorite gem — that it is so frustrating to watch someone flail in knee-deep water, believing they will drown, when all they need is to stand up.

I’m gonna try that.  I’m gonna float and I’m gonna stand up, and I will persevere in the end, mostly because I am too stubborn not to.

“Rosie’s Lullaby”

She walked by the ocean,
And waited for a star,
To carry her away.

Feelin’ so small,
At the bottom of the world,
Lookin’ up to God.

She tries to take deep breaths,
To smell the salty sea,
As it moves over her feet.

The water pulls so strong,
And no-one is around,
And the moon is looking down.

Sayin’,
Rosie – come with me,
Close your eyes – and dream.

The big ships are rollin’,
And lightin’ up the night,
And she calls out, but they just her pass by.

The waves are crashin’,
But not making a sound,
Just mouthing along.

Sayin’,
Rosie – come with me,
Close your eyes and dream,
Close your eyes and dream,
Close your eyes and dream.


Filed under: Mental Health Ramblings Tagged: anxiety, Bipolar, depression, evening anxiety, hypomania, live music, mania, mental health, mental wellness, mixed episode, mood swings, Norah Jones, recovery, Rosie's Lullaby

Can’t Touch This

Up and down and all around, as you know if you’ve been reading.  The past two days, the depression has really stabilized, but I have been left with soul-crushing anxiety.  Anxiety that absolutely nothing touches — not a single DBT skill has gone untried, a PRN gone untested, a theory, a trick, an avoidance, nothing.  I don’t remember the last time I had such intractable anxiety.

Usually, there is something that will work.  I can fool my brain for long enough to fall asleep or sweep the unpleasantness far enough under the rug that it doesn’t peek out for a few hours.  I haven’t been able to do this lately, and the added near-unbearable irritability that has come with it…well, I just don’t know.  I just don’t know about anything right now.

Well, that’s not altogether true, I suppose.  I know I’m not ready to give up and I know I’m determined to not hurt the people around me who love me most with this irrational irritability and anxiety.  I’ll keep trying this and that because, all it takes is one thing to ease it for awhile, then maybe I can sleep for awhile, or at least rest, and then the irritability can go away.

The anxiety has been the worst in the mid-morning and the beginnings of the evening.  I keep find myself trying to find reason behind a most unreasonable emotion.  As if I am dissecting anxiety, and if I can figure out how it’s heart beats, then I can clip the right blood source and it will die.  I am far too rational, too logical, too black-and-white in my thinking.

Perhaps there is no what/when/why/whatever to this, and my trying to dissect it further makes it worse.  Perhaps that.  The thought that I am making this worse by all of my struggling seems to hit home, and I ponder to myself that maybe I need to rest and float upon these waves of anxiety, instead of trying to kick my legs and flail my arms in an attempt to stay above water.  You know, like JulieTwo always said, depression is an ocean, and if you float you survive, and if you fight, you die.

Food for thought, right there, and maybe QoB was right in suggesting that I spew it all out here on this blog.  Because, the fight or float thing makes sense to me, but I need to retrain myself to float.  Floating is hard, y’all.  Maybe this is also just like my most recent favorite gem — that it is so frustrating to watch someone flail in knee-deep water, believing they will drown, when all they need is to stand up.

I’m gonna try that.  I’m gonna float and I’m gonna stand up, and I will persevere in the end, mostly because I am too stubborn not to.

“Rosie’s Lullaby”

She walked by the ocean,
And waited for a star,
To carry her away.

Feelin’ so small,
At the bottom of the world,
Lookin’ up to God.

She tries to take deep breaths,
To smell the salty sea,
As it moves over her feet.

The water pulls so strong,
And no-one is around,
And the moon is looking down.

Sayin’,
Rosie – come with me,
Close your eyes – and dream.

The big ships are rollin’,
And lightin’ up the night,
And she calls out, but they just her pass by.

The waves are crashin’,
But not making a sound,
Just mouthing along.

Sayin’,
Rosie – come with me,
Close your eyes and dream,
Close your eyes and dream,
Close your eyes and dream.


Filed under: Mental Health Ramblings Tagged: anxiety, Bipolar, depression, evening anxiety, hypomania, live music, mania, mental health, mental wellness, mixed episode, mood swings, Norah Jones, recovery, Rosie's Lullaby

Bipolar For Dummies

I am feeling better today.

I stress this because every time I have a day or two where I don’t want to drink bleach, some jackass thinks it means the depressive bout is over thus my bipolar is managed and all but cured.

If only  it w0rked like that, DUMMIES.

Or shall I say…ignorant folk. Because contrary to popular belief, “ignorant” is not the same as “dumb” or “stupid”. See, if people had been ostracized their entire lives they’d have had time to read the dictionary for fun like I did and know these little differences. (Mrs R has a master’s degree and even she thought ignorant meant stupid.) Ignorant simply means you are not knowledgeable on a topic and face it…Unless you are bipolar, this is not exactly something you know. That’s okay. I can forgive ignorance.

I simply cannot abide the way so many of us suffer through this shit while those around us plead ignorance or inability to understand when ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS ASK US. There’s a plethora of research on line. Read mental health blogs. LISTEN to what we have to say. You’re confused by it all? Try being on our sucky side of the fence. Yeah, we’re real bummed you have to deal with us and our mental health accessories (thanks for that one, Blah) but if you really want to know what it’s like to be “bummed”…Walk in our shoes.

Point of my blathering is…It was better today. Not great, but better. I wrote 14 pages. I ran errands. I did battle with my death trap basically stalling in the road multiple times. My kid had a playdate at my mom’s and my mom was actually civilized and supportive of my parenting. (Ha, guess that three week freeze out did wonders. Bow down to me, bitches, bow down!) I mowed half my lawn before my give a damn gave out and it was like, fuck it, let the landlord send out the yearly notice about messy yards, I’m done.

It is a spork thing. I start out with X amount of sporks and everything I have to contend with costs me a spork. By the time I got to mowing the lawn, I knew I only have a couple of sporks left for cooking my kid’s requested spaghetti supper and getting her settled down for the night. Lawns can wait, kids cannot. Spork management is crucial in this bipolar depression deal.

I’ve had two R free days, which is helpful. Aside from him texting yesterday to tell me the shop computer wouldn’t let him place an order. Well, yeah, I’ve been bitching about how slow and fucked up that thing is for weeks but there’s never a time someone’s not on it so when shall I run a scan? Fuck me, right? Anyway, it took me ninety seconds to order the part from home and he was whining about why it wouldn’t let him do it at the shop. IDK, maybe Kenny’s mommy porn fetish has the computer infested with malware and viruses? But it kind of makes my case for me, pretty much every favor he asks of me to earn cat food or whatever can be done from my home computer, and way faster. Fact is, he can’t be alone, he just wants company. Which is dumb because then he ends up buying me smokes and lunch so it’d be cheaper to leave me at home in my safe bubble.

I try to fathom being that way because my kid is just like him, she needs constant companions and entertainment. I can’t relate to that and I think it makes it harder for me to relate to both of them. I like being alone. I LOVE solitude, it’s not some sad pathetic loner thing. I mean, if I invited you over and you assumed we were gonna go out or just hang out but I spent the entire time at my keyboard writing…would that be fun for you? Exactly. My hobbies don’t require other people to be present. Still, I wish I could relate to the desire for constant or even frequent companionship.

Truth be told, I need alcohol to be around people for long stretches. Yes, I NEED it. I don’t always want it. But if I am to be social and fit into “polite” society…I need liquid courage.

And then sometimes, after a particularly trying week of depression and anxiety, I treat myself. Tonight, with my pasta, I have a nice velvet red, made by St. James. And before I get any nasty comments about mixing meds with wine…My former shrink refused to give me sleeping pills and told me to have a glass of wine at bedtime. So the fact is, while probably not optimal…everyone in the psychiatric community has some cockamamie opinion we’re supposed to follow blindly as we get bounced from shrink to shrink for whatever reason.

If I am going to hell, I shall have wine along the way. Period. Keep your judgment and advice.

But the wine has me mellow, the spawn’s not spewing pea soup, and while my mood isn’t fabulous due to the gloom and coming rain which will ruin my yard sale weekend even if anxiety and depression don’t…I’m better, for now.

Oh, dear, in what is probably a monumental example of mother of the year, my daughter overheard the term “sex change operation” from my show and now she wants to be a boy. HOW do we not have a reality show yet. I am rocking this white trash bad influence mom thing.

Maybe tonight I will write more. Maybe I will just crash, exhausted and spent. I should put a shower on my to do list, I think it’s been three or four days…Maybe? IDK. I bathed my kid last night. She’s the priority. Depressive inertia has deemed me completely irrelevant. I realized earlier today in my baggy sweat pants with my gray roots showing…I must look like a fucking fright, and not in a cool way. I need to get my shit together.

And this is where we learn, in Bipolar For Dummies, that wanting and needing…

Mental health and all its accessories give ZERO fucks.