Daily Archives: April 3, 2016

Playing Mommy

You may or may not know that I live with my sister and her two kids, who I love dearly. One of my great regrets is not having kids myself, although I think with my illness, it was definitely the right thing for me.  It gives me great joy to love and nurture this niece and nephew of mine, and I feel such pride that my sister has gone off to a three-day conference and left them in my care.  That she trusts me with these bright little souls, says a lot to me.  As I sit here on the couch with them, they are both playing video games (14 year old boy and 11 year old girl) and my niece is singing a song she made up about the dogs.  They feel safe and loved with Aunt BPOF and that makes me happy.  Here is another chance for me to be present for others, not thinking about myself or ruminating on my many worries as I make their pizza or pasta.  Here is a time that I am called upon to be my best self, to rise above my broken, half-working side and be there for these kids.  I am both challenged and uplifted by this chance.  The weather buoys me with glorious springtime temperatures and I know I’ll get out and enjoy that over the next few days.  I hope to live up to the faith that has been placed in me. More to come….


Filed under: Bipolar, Bipolar Coping, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Bipolar, Blogging, Hope, Mental Illness, Psychology, Reader

Who’s a Spoonie?

With all the talk about cultural appropriation lately, I’m hesitant to wear Kokopelli earrings or eat at the Chinese buffet. I understand that some people object to Canadians playing Englishmen who are pretending to be Japanese for a production of The Mikado is offensive or racist. I don’t always agree, but I understand the principle involved. Even I, a WASP, find Mickey Rooney’s character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to be egregious, appalling, and insulting to everyone involved, including the audience.

Hand XrayBut recently there’s come the claim that those who are not entitled to it are appropriating Spoon Theory language. And in this case, “entitled to it” means someone with an “invisible illness” – chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and other conditions that do not announce themselves to the public with visible cues such as wheelchairs, crutches, missing limbs, or guide dogs.

If you don’t already know Spoon Theory, you should. You can find the explanation here: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/. Basically, “spoonies” have only a limited amount of energy units per day, represented by spoons. Spoonies must use a ridiculous amount of spoons to get through tasks that others accomplish normally in the course of life – showering, driving to work, driving home, fixing dinner, et endless cetera.

In fact, on any given day a Spoonie may not have enough spoons to get out of bed and get showered and dressed. It’s not that Spoonies are lazy; they may have only three metaphoric spoons that day, compared to a non-Spoonie’s typical, oh, I don’t know, 20? 30?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about whether bipolar disorder and other mental disorders are invisible illnesses: https://bipolarjan.wordpress.com/2016/03/06/is-bipolar-disorder-an-invisible-illness/. (I said they mostly are.) As far as I’m concerned, we’re Spoonies and “entitled” to Spoonie language. Most of us have had the experience of not having enough spoons to spend on a morning shower, having to choose between hygiene and, say, eating breakfast.

So now, apparently, the general public is picking up Spoonie language – saying “I’m out of spoons” when they simply mean “I’m tired” or “That was an exhausting day. I’m done.” And some Spoonies resent that. See http://m.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-culture/stop-appropriating-the-language-that-explains-my-condition-20160113-gm4whc.html

I have two things to say about it. The first is that language is always growing and changing. But it does it on its own, without our control. (Unless we’re France. France at least tries.) We may wish to eradicate the “n-word,” but we can’t. It’s less socially acceptable to use in polite company, but you know people still use it. Read the comments section on any social media post about President Obama if you don’t believe me.

The second thing is that at least Spoon Theory and language are entering the mainstream. People without invisible illnesses are at least getting a clue of what it means. They may not have the details right, but at least now when we explain it to them, they won’t be starting from scratch.

And after all, isn’t that how Spoon language started – as a way to begin a conversation on what invisible illnesses are and how they affect our lives? Not a secret language that only those who know the password and handshake can use.


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: being overwhelmed, bipolar disorder, coping mechanisms, mental health, mental illness, mutual support, my experiences, physical pain, public perception, Spoon Theory

Who’s a Spoonie?

With all the talk about cultural appropriation lately, I’m hesitant to wear Kokopelli earrings or eat at the Chinese buffet. I understand that some people object to Canadians playing Englishmen who are pretending to be Japanese for a production of The Mikado is offensive or racist. I don’t always agree, but I understand the principle involved. Even I, a WASP, find Mickey Rooney’s character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to be egregious, appalling, and insulting to everyone involved, including the audience.

Hand XrayBut recently there’s come the claim that those who are not entitled to it are appropriating Spoon Theory language. And in this case, “entitled to it” means someone with an “invisible illness” – chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and other conditions that do not announce themselves to the public with visible cues such as wheelchairs, crutches, missing limbs, or guide dogs.

If you don’t already know Spoon Theory, you should. You can find the explanation here: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/. Basically, “spoonies” have only a limited amount of energy units per day, represented by spoons. Spoonies must use a ridiculous amount of spoons to get through tasks that others accomplish normally in the course of life – showering, driving to work, driving home, fixing dinner, et endless cetera.

In fact, on any given day a Spoonie may not have enough spoons to get out of bed and get showered and dressed. It’s not that Spoonies are lazy; they may have only three metaphoric spoons that day, compared to a non-Spoonie’s typical, oh, I don’t know, 20? 30?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about whether bipolar disorder and other mental disorders are invisible illnesses: https://bipolarjan.wordpress.com/2016/03/06/is-bipolar-disorder-an-invisible-illness/. (I said they mostly are.) As far as I’m concerned, we’re Spoonies and “entitled” to Spoonie language. Most of us have had the experience of not having enough spoons to spend on a morning shower, having to choose between hygiene and, say, eating breakfast.

So now, apparently, the general public is picking up Spoonie language – saying “I’m out of spoons” when they simply mean “I’m tired” or “That was an exhausting day. I’m done.” And some Spoonies resent that. See http://m.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-culture/stop-appropriating-the-language-that-explains-my-condition-20160113-gm4whc.html

I have two things to say about it. The first is that language is always growing and changing. But it does it on its own, without our control. (Unless we’re France. France at least tries.) We may wish to eradicate the “n-word,” but we can’t. It’s less socially acceptable to use in polite company, but you know people still use it. Read the comments section on any social media post about President Obama if you don’t believe me.

The second thing is that at least Spoon Theory and language are entering the mainstream. People without invisible illnesses are at least getting a clue of what it means. They may not have the details right, but at least now when we explain it to them, they won’t be starting from scratch.

And after all, isn’t that how Spoon language started – as a way to begin a conversation on what invisible illnesses are and how they affect our lives? Not a secret language that only those who know the password and handshake can use.


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: being overwhelmed, bipolar disorder, coping mechanisms, mental health, mental illness, mutual support, my experiences, physical pain, public perception, Spoon Theory

Who’s a Spoonie?

With all the talk about cultural appropriation lately, I’m hesitant to wear Kokopelli earrings or eat at the Chinese buffet. I understand that some people object to Canadians playing Englishmen who are pretending to be Japanese for a production of The Mikado is offensive or racist. I don’t always agree, but I understand the principle involved. Even I, a WASP, find Mickey Rooney’s character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to be egregious, appalling, and insulting to everyone involved, including the audience.

Hand XrayBut recently there’s come the claim that those who are not entitled to it are appropriating Spoon Theory language. And in this case, “entitled to it” means someone with an “invisible illness” – chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and other conditions that do not announce themselves to the public with visible cues such as wheelchairs, crutches, missing limbs, or guide dogs.

If you don’t already know Spoon Theory, you should. You can find the explanation here: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/. Basically, “spoonies” have only a limited amount of energy units per day, represented by spoons. Spoonies must use a ridiculous amount of spoons to get through tasks that others accomplish normally in the course of life – showering, driving to work, driving home, fixing dinner, et endless cetera.

In fact, on any given day a Spoonie may not have enough spoons to get out of bed and get showered and dressed. It’s not that Spoonies are lazy; they may have only three metaphoric spoons that day, compared to a non-Spoonie’s typical, oh, I don’t know, 20? 30?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about whether bipolar disorder and other mental disorders are invisible illnesses: https://bipolarjan.wordpress.com/2016/03/06/is-bipolar-disorder-an-invisible-illness/. (I said they mostly are.) As far as I’m concerned, we’re Spoonies and “entitled” to Spoonie language. Most of us have had the experience of not having enough spoons to spend on a morning shower, having to choose between hygiene and, say, eating breakfast.

So now, apparently, the general public is picking up Spoonie language – saying “I’m out of spoons” when they simply mean “I’m tired” or “That was an exhausting day. I’m done.” And some Spoonies resent that. See http://m.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-culture/stop-appropriating-the-language-that-explains-my-condition-20160113-gm4whc.html

I have two things to say about it. The first is that language is always growing and changing. But it does it on its own, without our control. (Unless we’re France. France at least tries.) We may wish to eradicate the “n-word,” but we can’t. It’s less socially acceptable to use in polite company, but you know people still use it. Read the comments section on any social media post about President Obama if you don’t believe me.

The second thing is that at least Spoon Theory and language are entering the mainstream. People without invisible illnesses are at least getting a clue of what it means. They may not have the details right, but at least now when we explain it to them, they won’t be starting from scratch.

And after all, isn’t that how Spoon language started – as a way to begin a conversation on what invisible illnesses are and how they affect our lives? Not a secret language that only those who know the password and handshake can use.


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: being overwhelmed, bipolar disorder, coping mechanisms, mental health, mental illness, mutual support, my experiences, physical pain, public perception, Spoon Theory

The Sound of Your Own Wheels

All quiet on the twilight front.

All quiet on the twilight front.

“I am not you, thou art not he or she; they are not they.” (1)

This is the song that came on the radio, whilst I was sitting in a cafe earlier this week. Somehow, it seemed apt

Gods bless The Eagles.

Some might say I had been taking it easy: I’d been off work for nearly two months. But then, they’re probably the sort that don’t understand the difference between “anxiety” and ANXIETY, between “depression”, as in “I’m feeling a bit blue”, and the black hole that is clinical depression, or bipolar depression.

The mere fact that I was in a cafe, by myself save for the owner, was significant. I hadn’t been much of anywhere during those months, unless of course you count several weeks in hospital, and I certainly hadn’t been alone much. Even more significant was that I was killing time whilst waiting to go to the first shift of my phased return to work.

Overthinking in Bradford: photo by K. Hartley

Overthinking in Bradford: photo by K. Hartley

I can reflect now on three – admittedly short – shifts at my main job, and an hour or so at my other, once a week job. It’s good to be back, and good too to have the weekend – and nights – off for the time being. Cross fingers, it won’t be long before I’m back to doing regular shifts, including some weekends, and nights.

“Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy …”

… is a poetic, but accurate, way of describing my run up to, and experience of, my recent illness. I was so wrapped up in what was worrying me, I couldn’t hear anything else but “the sound of my own wheels” – what I sometimes describe as “the hamster on the wheel”. The hamster is so intent on its wheeling that it loses sight – if ever it did have sight – of the fact that it is/was getting nowhere.

And so with me. I am *not* claiming this is what it is like for other people with bipolar. (2). For me, it seems to be a case of first overthinking/dreading things, then those feelings being fueled by my illness until the sound of my own mental wheels drives me, if not crazy, then very, very ill.

Shelf of glory, Dec 2012

Saved by some books.

Once again, it was reading fiction that started to bring me out of my mental hell hole, and writing & editing my own stories that seemed to complete the job.

“Hello hypomania my old friend …”

I thought I’d waved ta ra to the highs of bipolar, but it appears not in the case of hypomania. Within a few days of feeling more like myself, three people – two close relatives, and a close friend – pointed out that I was talking a lot, and fast, too. So I spent several days trying to ensure I had conversations with people, rather than subjecting them to what one friend describes as “a download”. Having said that, the house hasn’t been this tidy in months, and I didn’t need much sleep, either.

Today finds me more like myself: that’s to say, weird, but not especially wired, or low. Although, if anyone has a suggestion on how to kick the nightmares in touch – not just mornings, but after naps, too – it would be very gratefully received.

Wishing you all the best with the sound of your own wheels.

Window, Conisbrough Castle, S Yorkshire.

Window, Conisbrough Castle, S Yorkshire.

(1) Evelyn Waugh, “Brideshead Revisited” Not entirely sure what Waugh meant by this phrase. I’m using to say my experience of bipolar is not your experience, or anyone else’s.
(2) That would be both arrogant, and inaccurate.

 

 

Tagged: anxiety, bipolar, depression, hypomania, mental health, reading, The Eagles, writing

Westward Ho! Day 7

Our last day of classes.

I skipped breakfast this morning to write about yesterday and ease into the day.  The Fort has a little coffee shop, so I stopped there for a latte and scone before heading to Jesse’s class; a quiet walk through the morning mist to the other side of campus with only my bag’s wheels grumbling on the asphalt and the gulls calling overhead.  Lots of crows here, too.  And owls.  The Flying Ones offer lots of singing practice.

I think Jess’s class was my favorite.  We worked in black and white acrylic paint using a fan brush and our hands.  Primitive mark-making.  And like Michael deMeng’s class, we started looking for areas of interest and larger images.  I loved the energy and immediacy of it.  Black and white felt so much easier than color.  And Jesse was a hoot.  He told stories in different accents, so of course I loved him.

IMG_0412

Details from the pages; lots of little Mr. Bills getting out of the thorny, pregnant monster’s way.

IMG_0413IMG_0414

After lunch, it was finally time for Tracy Moore’s class.  This was the watershed moment. Could he teach/inspire/goad me into art journaling?  Was there a way to incorporate art into my daily journal practice?  Or were these two modes of expression forever separate for me?

Tracy’s very low-key, but passionate about art journaling.  He just wanted us to keep our hand moving over the page, doodling, trying different simple shapes while he told stories about his own process.  He talked about how journaling for him is a social experience, hanging out in coffee shops and bars with his journal and pens, inviting people he meets to draw something in them.  Some of his pages have lots of text, some don’t.  He admits that he gets bored easily and switches things up.

He also gave us a list of his favorite stuff; pens, techno doo-dads, stamp-making tools, online stores.  I made a list.

IMG_0416

Later I talked to him about being a writer who also does art and whether I could combine the two.  “Keep it simple,” he suggested.  “Try it and see what happens.”

So at the Last Night Party,  I sat with everyone else and wrote in my newly minted art journal and pondered this question.  The Seattle band, Surrealized, provided mood music and the door between my words and my art cracked open.  Is the separation illusion?  If both are allowed to play together, what else might join them?  What else might have been sacrificed to my bipolar scramble for survival?  What else waits for room?

I’m willing to push the door open a little wider and invite everyone to come play.

 


Westward Ho! Day 7

Our last day of classes.

I skipped breakfast this morning to write about yesterday and ease into the day.  The Fort has a little coffee shop, so I stopped there for a latte and scone before heading to Jesse’s class; a quiet walk through the morning mist to the other side of campus with only my bag’s wheels grumbling on the asphalt and the gulls calling overhead.  Lots of crows here, too.  And owls.  The Flying Ones offer lots of singing practice.

I think Jess’s class was my favorite.  We worked in black and white acrylic paint using a fan brush and our hands.  Primitive mark-making.  And like Michael deMeng’s class, we started looking for areas of interest and larger images.  I loved the energy and immediacy of it.  Black and white felt so much easier than color.  And Jesse was a hoot.  He told stories in different accents, so of course I loved him.

IMG_0412

Details from the pages; lots of little Mr. Bills getting out of the thorny, pregnant monster’s way.

IMG_0413IMG_0414

After lunch, it was finally time for Tracy Moore’s class.  This was the watershed moment. Could he teach/inspire/goad me into art journaling?  Was there a way to incorporate art into my daily journal practice?  Or were these two modes of expression forever separate for me?

Tracy’s very low-key, but passionate about art journaling.  He just wanted us to keep our hand moving over the page, doodling, trying different simple shapes while he told stories about his own process.  He talked about how journaling for him is a social experience, hanging out in coffee shops and bars with his journal and pens, inviting people he meets to draw something in them.  Some of his pages have lots of text, some don’t.  He admits that he gets bored easily and switches things up.

He also gave us a list of his favorite stuff; pens, techno doo-dads, stamp-making tools, online stores.  I made a list.

IMG_0416

Later I talked to him about being a writer who also does art and whether I could combine the two.  “Keep it simple,” he suggested.  “Try it and see what happens.”

So at the Last Night Party,  I sat with everyone else and wrote in my newly minted art journal and pondered this question.  The Seattle band, Surrealized, provided mood music and the door between my words and my art cracked open.  Is the separation illusion?  If both are allowed to play together, what else might join them?  What else might have been sacrificed to my bipolar scramble for survival?  What else waits for room?

I’m willing to push the door open a little wider and invite everyone to come play.

 


Westward Ho! Day 7

Our last day of classes.

I skipped breakfast this morning to write about yesterday and ease into the day.  The Fort has a little coffee shop, so I stopped there for a latte and scone before heading to Jesse’s class; a quiet walk through the morning mist to the other side of campus with only my bag’s wheels grumbling on the asphalt and the gulls calling overhead.  Lots of crows here, too.  And owls.  The Flying Ones offer lots of singing practice.

I think Jess’s class was my favorite.  We worked in black and white acrylic paint using a fan brush and our hands.  Primitive mark-making.  And like Michael deMeng’s class, we started looking for areas of interest and larger images.  I loved the energy and immediacy of it.  Black and white felt so much easier than color.  And Jesse was a hoot.  He told stories in different accents, so of course I loved him.

IMG_0412

Details from the pages; lots of little Mr. Bills getting out of the thorny, pregnant monster’s way.

IMG_0413IMG_0414

After lunch, it was finally time for Tracy Moore’s class.  This was the watershed moment. Could he teach/inspire/goad me into art journaling?  Was there a way to incorporate art into my daily journal practice?  Or were these two modes of expression forever separate for me?

Tracy’s very low-key, but passionate about art journaling.  He just wanted us to keep our hand moving over the page, doodling, trying different simple shapes while he told stories about his own process.  He talked about how journaling for him is a social experience, hanging out in coffee shops and bars with his journal and pens, inviting people he meets to draw something in them.  Some of his pages have lots of text, some don’t.  He admits that he gets bored easily and switches things up.

He also gave us a list of his favorite stuff; pens, techno doo-dads, stamp-making tools, online stores.  I made a list.

IMG_0416

Later I talked to him about being a writer who also does art and whether I could combine the two.  “Keep it simple,” he suggested.  “Try it and see what happens.”

So at the Last Night Party,  I sat with everyone else and wrote in my newly minted art journal and pondered this question.  The Seattle band, Surrealized, provided mood music and the door between my words and my art cracked open.  Is the separation illusion?  If both are allowed to play together, what else might join them?  What else might have been sacrificed to my bipolar scramble for survival?  What else waits for room?

I’m willing to push the door open a little wider and invite everyone to come play.

 


Check My Brain

Yeah, now that Alice in Chains song is stuck in my head.

Frick.

My daughter is having a sleepover at Grandma’s, per grandma’s request, not me shirking parental responsibility. Not having to tow her around had me out in the dish running several errands, not because I wanted to but….

Because splat is inevitable and when I go down that rabbit hole, every thing becomes “I forgot” until one day I realize my power is gonna get turned off cos I forgot so long while inhabiting the dark recesses of the depressive abyss..

I’ve had multiple headaches today. The current one is dying down, thanks to far too much acetaminophen. (Like my cheap ass would spring for brand name Tylenol!)  Thing is…I seem to get a headache every time I drive the death trap. And while my idiot surroundings like dad and R would convince me I don’t like the car so it’s some sort of affect…Between the exhaust leak and the car flooding itself with gas and the ensuing fumes combining…I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s poisoning me. I keep asking Spook if her head hurts or if she feels sick after being in the car. She swears she doesn’t. It’s still irking me.

So if I go without posting three days in a row, it’s safe to assume the death trap killed me with its gas and exhaust fumes. I wish I were being dramatic.

I laid down at 8 o’clock due to the headache. I need dim light, low noise, warm blankies, when my head hurts that way. It’s almost like a migraine with the nausea. I thought with all my activity I was entitled to curl up and go to sleep early even if it makes me an old person.

Ha. Scumbag brain has other ideas. Round and round it is swirling. I am breaking out in itchy hives. My stomach intermittently churns painfully.

Why can’t I shut my brain off? I took xanax, it’s not doing fuck all.

Earlier I heard the term “behavioral medicine clinic” in reference to someone with borderline who tried to killer herself. Committing someone who wants to die sounds like a good plan, IF your goal is to protect them from themselves. But “behavioral medicine” makes my skin crawl. Like they flog you with ramen noodles until your behavior shapes up. NO.  Mental illness comes with enough stigma and now it’s being lumped in with behavioral problems.

My brain being out of control is not my behavior. I have done everything to identify my contributing behaviors that make dealing more difficult. I have made great strides.

What I cannot do is make my brain get on fucking board.

I wish I could just check my brain at the door sometimes. Not like it’s doing me any good holding onto it.

Having a headache, feeling so anxious, exhausted and down, on a rare kid free night when I could be doing so many things, things I like, things that need to be done…Instead..I am trapped in this brain with its misfiring chemicals telling me everything is shit and I damn well know that it isn’t but I can’t shake it off.

Fuck my brain.