Daily Archives: June 18, 2016

I Was A Different Person Then…

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I used to think of myself as a competent person. I started my first business in my early 20’s and created several more over the years, ending with a non-profit Healing Arts Center I founded in 1991. I thought I’d found my place in the world and would be working at it for the rest of my life. But it didn’t work out that way. I finally got “caught out” and had the worst breakdown in my life at 44. I was diagnosed with Bipolar and was forced to take a hard look at my life. What I found was that I hadn’t really  been as competent all my life as I’d thought. I was just Hypo/manic.

I don’t mean to say I never accomplished anything good. I did some good community service work and created some beautiful landscapes and gardens. But it was my headspace that messed me up. I’d thought I was good at what I did, and I guess I sorta was. I got by anyway, mostly by being a good bullshitter. I was good at projecting competence, even when it wasn’t real, as so often happened. People accepted me for who I said I was and who I pretended to be. I was good at it.

Now I look back at the work I did and see how much of it was fueled by mania or sometimes just hypomania. I doubt I ever had any real competence at all, tho I knew enough to get by, as I said. I was a con man, tho I never would have said I was or thought it at all. I always thought I was doing good work and helping to make the world a better place. And I did. But the cost was enormous. And not just to me. I cringe when I think of some of the gardens I planted that weren’t as good as they should have been. People live with my mistakes even now. It drives me nuts.

I know that hiding ourselves is a big part of being Bipolar. (Having bipolar?? – whatever…) A lot of us hide who we really are because we somehow know we’re not quite “right”, even tho we don’t know what’s wrong at the time. I always thought I was just a high energy, hyper person who was very creative and able to do amazing things that other people couldn’t do. I was a bright sparkly light in the darkness at times and I relished it so much. But there was a darker energy lurking just under the surface.

It didn’t stop me tho. I did a lot of good stuff and created some amazing entities. I did so much that was wonderful and I thought I was a pretty neat guy for doing it. I transformed the places I worked at. And the ones I started myself were unique and treasured. I got lots of compliments and good strokes on what a good role model I was for striking out on my own and creating good things for my community. It made me high I’ll admit. Too high sometimes… And we know where that can go don’t we?? Whoa!

I’ve always been a rapid cycler, tho I didn’t know that’s what it was of course. I’d do a big job and then I’d crash and burn for awhile and then I’d get it back together and try again. And the damn same thing again, and again, and again. What a mess! Those down times were awful, often going clear down to suicidal ideation and one time going even farther when I tried to off myself. A bit extreme but it fit my life at the time. Luckily I got caught – but not diagnosed correctly of course – not for years…

I have a diagnosis now – several of them fact. BP I, PTSD, Dysthymia, Chronic Intractable Pain, and more I won’t go into. It’s been 20 plus years since I got that initial Dx of BP and in that time I’ve been mostly a mess so that I really couldn’t function too well. I lived in public housing for over a decade until I met Louie and moved into his home. I’m lucky now but I wasn’t always so lucky. I’ve had to accept that who I am now is Not who I used to be. I just can’t pull it off anymore, and maybe that’s a good thing.

I think I’m more real now than I’ve ever been. More true to who I really am. But those hypo/manias are a thing of the past for the most part. I still get too high/angry sometimes and have to down myself with drugs, but mostly I’m more depressed than manic and stay at a low level of energy and interaction. I’m doing some volunteer work for the city right now and I try to keep something of a social life, tho I lost most of my friends when I had the breakdown and afterwards. But that’s mostly OK. I miss having more friends, but the ones I have are good ones.

I’m still a decent guy I think. I try to live a good life and not mess the world up too much. In fact I try to help it when I can. I garden a lot and teach people about trees and the like. But I’m so much more cautious now. I’m so scared that I’ll screw up again like I did so often in the past. I’m afraid most of the time in fact. That old Impeding Doom thing so many of us have. It’s so debilitating at times I can’t even function. I walk carefully through the world these days.

It really does make life more difficult and I look forward to the day I heal from this attitude I have now that nothing I ever did was really real or that I was real myself. I know that can’t be true but it sure feels like it. Those damn feelings again. Not rational at all , but so overwhelming that you can’t ignore them and it feels like they’re all there is to life. I get caught in this so much. I’m afraid to even act much of the time for fear I’ll blow it. I’m not like I used to be at all really, when I had so much courage and self confidence to do such incredible things. I miss that.

That guy is gone and good riddance. He was a braggart and a poseur and a con artist and I’m none of those things in my heart. I’m not who I used to be tho I still have a core of Self that will always be inviolate and that will keep me OK forever, I hope. It’s real now, not some false mania or hyper action that I jump into without thinking of the consequences. I may still do that and I sure still make mistakes, but I feel like they’re really my own now and not some unreal thing I manufactured to get by and get ahead without knowing the results completely. I understand more now.

Yes, I was a different person then. A good one but not always solid and real and true to myself. I was so confident and I miss that confidence a lot. But was it real confidence or just mental illness? I guess it was a little of both, but I think it was tilted toward the illness. Now that I know what I’m dealing with I can do it better. I can’t always control my life, but I try hard and I try to be as real as possible. It seems to be working to some extent and I’m in better shape than I have been in a long time now. So I’m glad I’m different, but I miss the highs and the bravado and most of all the self confidence.

I’ll just have to get used to it, eh?

Steve


Filed under: Aging, Bipolar, Chronic Intractable Pain, Community, Depression, Emotions, Hypo-Mania, Illness, Mania, Mental Health, Pain, Rapid Cycling, Suicide Tagged: Aging, Bipolar, chronic intractable pain, Illness, Invisible Illness, mental-health, Suicide

Transitions

Seriously, who the crap am I?

Transitions are tough.  Even when the new state of being is positive.  Even when the other side is wonderful.  The change can be difficult.

I remember reading that transitions are especially dangerous mental health territory.  Well, I already have mental health issues.  And now I'm in the middle of several transitions.  What a surprise I'm having a tough time.

My youngest child just graduated.  I was so focused on all the pain-in-the-butt things that were going away that I didn't look much further ahead.  And now I find myself on unsolid ground.  Not sure of my footing.  Staring at a bunch of building materials with no idea what I want to create.

My oldest will be twenty-six in a few months.  For over twenty-six years (I'm including my pregnancy), my whole life has been focused on my kids.  Their safety.  Their happiness.  How to help them be good people.  That's a long time in one job.

My youngest will be eighteen in a little over a month.  And as my kids have become adults over the last few years, my role has changed somewhat.  They're in charge of, and in control of, more of their lives.  They're responsible for their choices, whether they act responsibly or not.  In a little over a month, I will not be legally responsible for anyone but myself.

And I'm having some trouble processing that.

The transition has happened slowly, in theory.  One child at a time.  A couple years in between each one.  So why does this moment feel so shocking?

Because she's the last one.

I've been a stay-at-home mom for most of their lives.  Significantly longer than I was single and childless.  When I no longer have minor children at home, but still choose not to work, what am I?

And what do I want to be?

See, here's the thing.  I have all the choices in the world.  My husband has no desire for me to work, for both physical health and mental health reasons.  Although he would support me if I chose to work.  Because he supports me in pretty much anything I want to do.

And that's the key phrase.  What I want to do.  And I have no idea.  What do I want to do?

My health is better than it's been in years, but it's still a day to day thing.  There are still days I can't get out of bed.  Still lots of fatigue and pain.

But there are other days.  Days when I feel pretty good.  Days when I feel powerful.  Days when I believe I can conquer the world.

I'd love to be able to plan out my life.  I'd love to live by schedule.  I'd love to know how I want to spend my days.  To write it all down and live by it.  But with the freedom to set it aside if a friend needs me.  And I'm just not sure how to balance that.

I yearn for structure.  I've always been a planner.  But when my health fell apart eleven years ago, I had to stop committing to things.  I had to stop planning.  Because it just felt so bad when I let others down, when I had to cancel at the last minute.  When I couldn't do that one thing I'd so looked forward to and worked to make happen.

I'm scared to plan again.  I'm not sure why.  And I guess I've planned all along, just on a different level.  I'm not sure why this feels so different.

Yes, I am.  I don't want to waste.  I don't want to use my time badly.  I don't want to just pass through day after day.  I don't want to look in my rearview mirror and see emptiness.  Days of nothing.

Before now, even if I did nothing else all day, I still parented.  I still did something productive, just by keeping people alive and on task in their lives.  When that's not my job anymore, what value do I have?  Especially if my days are spent just doing whatever I want.

I know I'll find my footing.  I always do.  And it will be great.  And I will be happy.  But right now I feel like I'm dancing on quicksand.  In an earthquake.  With a tornado approaching.

And I have to decide whether to hunker down or face the storm.

Kudos – A Challenge of Positivity

I haven’t handed out kudos for, well, way too long. Today, it very deservedly goes out to Tony of The Tony Burgess Blog. With all the death and sadness in the world this past week, Tony is challenging himself and … Continue reading

Just A Little Interaction

Just a little interaction helps improve my mood. Also my little friend came with that interaction so I am much more relaxed than I have been in days.

I’m still trying to figure out what to do about making a difference but I’ll figure it out. I think that I might just give up meat for starters. I know it would require some serious discipline but I think I can do it. I just can’t stand it anymore.

I do have a new art project I thought of that I think might turn out interesting, if I like it I’ll post a picture of it. Today I’m painting though. I’m trying to paint a flower. Not realistic or anything just something that I like. It’s going OK so far.

Wanted to do my blog before my alarm today, it always makes me go ugh even if I end up enjoying the writing.

 


Reblog – The More You Connect, the More You Grow!

Originally posted on Dream Big, Dream Often:
Leave me your social media links in the comments and I and others will LIKE, FOLLOW, PIN and CONNECT!  There are around 170 bloggers that have left their social media links in the…

How Do We Not

Death

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The reverse side also has a reverse side – Japanese proverb

It’s why when we speak a truth
some of us instantly feel foolish
as if a deck inside us has been shuffled
and there it is – the opposite
of what we said.

And perhaps why as we fall in love
we’re already falling out of it.

It’s why the terrified and the simple
latch onto one story,
just one version of the great mystery.

Image & afterimage, oh even
the open-minded yearn for a fiction
to reign things in –
the snapshot, the lie of the frame.

How do we not go crazy,
we who have found ourselves compelled
to live with the circle, the ellipsis, the word
not yet written.

°

“The Reverse Side” by Stephen Dunn
What Goes On: New & Selected Poems

My Dearest Uncle, On The Shoulders of a Giant

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My beloved uncle.

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My handsome uncle.

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A more recent picture of my uncle and aunt❤❤

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My cousin, my baby brother and me.

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Me in the blue dress and my cousin in pants and brown sweater:-)

After my mom got divorced in 1965, I was just about 5 years old and my baby brother Farooq was not even 1 years old yet. After her divorce from my father, we went and lived with my aunt (who was my mother’s oldest sister and her husband) my uncle and their two children. My uncle, what can I say about him? He took me and my brother in just as if we were his children. He singled out my brother, who was very traumatized by all the divorce proceedings and showered him with love. He took him on his daily walks, my brother rode on his shoulders:-) He bought him ice cream cones and jokingly told my brother not to say anything to us other children, and the first thing my brother did when they came back was say he’d had ice cream! :-)) He favored my little brother and showered him with love and affection, as well as all of the three of us too. We played Scrabble with him, I still to this day love playing Scrabble because of our times with my uncle. He took us on long walks with him, he took us to work (he was a journalist) and as a reward for sitting quietly while he worked, he would take us to Lintott’s, a bakery where we would get our pick of delicious pastries. The first time I realized how handsome he was was when I was 13 years old and my 14 year old best friend saw him and exclaimed “Your uncle is so extremely handsome!” And I looked at him with new eyes and thought, Oh yeah, he is handsome! To me, until that day, he had simply been an extremely loving uncle…:-)

I think there was no better man than the tall, dashingly handsome, über loving, super intellectual uncle that we were fortunate enough to have. Dearest Amma Begum, thank you for marrying him!

He is 89 years old now and has dementia, and lately his health has been failing, he was in the hospital for a few days. He is home now, but not doing very well at the moment. My heart is hurting to think of my dearest uncle not doing well. I love him very dearly and hope he will recover completely, and soon. Earlier this year when we were in Pakistan, I told everyones that we will be back to celebrate my uncle’s 90th birthday in 2017. May my words be carried to the gods and be proven true.


Reblog – I get by with a little help from my friends.

Originally posted on The Self-Actualized Life:
https://youtu.be/Sr3XHHMtrHw This one is going to be easy! Today, for day 10 of the challenge, we are to share links of 10 bloggers we like and say why we like them. A toast to…

Temptation

Today we went to the Celebration of Life for Hubby’s uncle who recently passed away. He was a very sweet man; however, we learned things about him that we had never known when he was alive. Things that endeared me … Continue reading

I Live Below Frankenstein

I live below Frankenstein, or as he may also be known, my fourteen-year-old nephew, and I spend a lot of my day and most of my night listening to him CLOMP-CLOMP-CLOMP around.  He is in some sort of training to be a great big oaf, I swear!  CLOMP-CLOMP-CLOMP goes the boy, oh and did I mention that he PACES because he’s on FUCKING ABILIFY (I curse thy name!) and FUCKING ABILIFY can give you hyperkinesia, or excessive movement for you dummies!  CLOMP-CLOMP-CLOMP is the background narration of my LIFE!  And it’s not like I can SAY anything to him, right?  Because I can’t ask the poor kid to censor his very movements so the Ol’ Broad Downstairs can have a little peace, can I?  No.  The answer is No.  Any other answer is assholian.  So can I just say that I’m a little bit happy that he’s going on a trip to see his Deadbeat Daddy tomorrow for eleven days?  Can I say that I will relish the peace every moment of every day?  Fuck yeah I can!

I can work in peace.  (See how I worked that little detail in?  I’M WORKING.)  I can read in peace.  I can make jewelry in peace.  Theoretically, I could masturbate in peace.  Theoretically.  Best of all, I can BE in peace.  And quiet.  DAMN when did I become such an Introvert?


Filed under: Bipolar, Bipolar and Work, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Bipolar, Blogging, Hope, Humor, Mental Illness, Psychology, Reader