Daily Archives: August 3, 2017

Bipolar & Dementia

I fear dementia. Both of my parents have dementia and live in a memory care community. They love one another and seem happy where they are now, but it took a while to make that happen. They wanted to maintain…

Summer In The City

Whew, is it hot! In a part of the country where it struggles to get to 90 degrees during much of the summer, it was 107 yesterday and it’s expected to be just as warm today. Luckily I live in an air-conditioned house and am not suffering the effects of the heat; I went outside yesterday afternoon just for the hell of it and it was like walking into a blast furnace. I also got a lungful of smoke from the forest fires burning upstate, and it promptly sent me into an asthma attack. There’s a reason I lose my happy thoughts when it gets over about 95 degrees.

Otherwise, it’s been a perfect summer thus far. Temps consistently in the 80s, and no rain for almost two months. I love it. I could live under these conditions all year round. Which is why I wonder sometimes how Will and I could have ever left San Diego, although I have to admit I love the autumns here with all the beautiful trees that turn orange and red and gold.

My mood is good and I’m very, very stable. There is no hint whatsoever of either mania or depression, which makes it hard to write about bipolar, but I’m happy to be right where I am. I look back over past blog entries and am amazed at how much things have changed for the better; it’s been almost three years now since my last major episode, for which God be praised. Sure, there are the predictable hypomanic phases during the spring and mild depression in late fall and winter, but nothing I can’t handle. I’ll start using my light box in September to ward off the depression before it begins. Dr. Goodenough may not be Dr. Awesomesauce, but he knows his bipolar stuff and this suggestion was one of the best I’ve ever been given.

And of course there’s the trip in December to look forward to. We’re going to places where it’s summer all the time, which will be a much-needed vacation from the gloomy winter days here. I have developed a major fondness for Caribbean islands and wish I could live on one for the rest of my life (even though there are hurricanes). Then, there’s Orlando where Disney World is located, and that’s going to be so much fun! I can’t wait to see my son-in-law Clark with Mickey Mouse. He loves everything Disney and some of his anticipation has already rubbed off on me. Personally, I can’t imagine anything better than Disneyland in California (where I’ve been many times), so I think I’m in for a real treat.

I’m so happy I get to travel now. I never had the opportunity before. I love it that I’ve been to Honduras and Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, and other amazing places. I’m also glad that I’ve lost enough weight to make these things possible. I still get tired fairly quickly, but I can stand and walk much better than I could 90 lbs. ago, and I’ll be able to go on rides at Disney for sure. I’m a long way from where I need to be, but I’m already at a weight I never dreamed I’d see again, and for now that is enough.

Happy Summer!


Late Posting

So I’m late posting because my parents came to visit today and they just left. It was an okay visit–we talked about different things, mostly politics which suits us while my youngest daughter and her younger cousin went upstairs to my youngest one’s room to play together

SO I haven’t gotten anything of substance done this morning.  I need to do my husband’s laundry and see about it.  I’m very tired and want to lie down but really can’t afford to with having to do that.  Got about half-packed for New Orleans–still have some stuff to get together but will have it done before I go to bed tonight.

I hope my mood gets better tomorrow because I want to have a fun trip.  I’m just really sleepy and  not feeling well.  I hope I’m not coming down with something.

Got some good news today–my middle daughter has already landed a research assistant job in the chemical engineering department at Mississippi State University helping a graduate student with their research, so that is such a good start to hopefully a good career path for her.  She called and told us this afternoon.  So we are happy about that.



Finally Posted in HuffPost Again




08/03/2017 02:06 pm ET

Something’s wrong. Since March of 2017. That was when my son got attacked by gang members in a convenient store parking lot and had to literally fight them off with his bare hands for his life. Then his car window got smashed by, presumably, some kids. A few nights ago, he was approached by some menacing people again, bringing his PTSD from the March attack to the fore, again. In the mean time I have whacked my head against a cast iron pipe so hard that I have a concussion. Also broke my little toe. Also accidentally got sliced on my arm by a very sharp knife. And yesterday was the kicker! My son’s apartment building’s roof got struck by lightening, a fire broke out in the attic. He was asleep. He smelled the smoke, NONE of the fire alarms worked! He awoke because his nose is so sensitive. It was late morning. Being on the top floor, his apartment was filling up with smoke. He searched for his cat, so very fortunately found him, threw him in his carrier and legged it out of there. His carbon monoxide level was 4 parts per million. With thoughts of his own mortality, and again, extreme danger, on his mind. But everyone made it safe it and sound. The firefighters put out the fire. The Red Cross was there, ambulances, fire trucks.

What? What is going on? This many disasters in one family? How do you tolerate the stress of one after another, yet another, yet another disaster? The what if’s are always what kill me. I know there is no such thing as what if this had happened, because very simply, it DIDN’T happen. Of course when you survive disasters, you feel fortunate and grateful. But what if he hadn’t found his cat, what if he hadn’t woken up, what if a million times over! And not just what if, but also Now What? What’s going to happen a second from now, an hour from now, a day from now? I don’t want to, but I am living in fear and anxiety and so is my son. He doesn’t sleep at night and yesterday he was saying he wishes this spate of bad luck would end. He was seeing a therapist after the March attack but stopped and doesn’t want to see her anymore. I know she was helping him, so I don’t understand why he won’t talk to her. PTSD is a bitch, she attacks you when you least expect it, anxiety levels soar, fear punches you in your solar plexus, and the rumination doesn’t leave you alone, and being on guard, hyper vigilant all the time. Too much stress, too much anxiety and with my family history, I am afraid, very afraid.

Time for Ativan? Sure, I can dull my feelings of anxiety with an Ativan, but how will that make us safer, how will it stop these bad things from happening to us?

And this brings us to one more scary thing, how much control do you really have over anything in your life? At this moment, I would say very little.

And yes I know, what happens is not the important thing, Our Reaction To What Happens Is!

Yes I am grateful that, although things could have been far worse, we survived them. I mean I could have been lying face down in a stairwell in New York City, dead from a brain bleed when I hit my head against the pipe. But I survived. My son is unharmed. Fine and good, I know that. Looking at things positively doesn’t mean you have no fear, or anxiety, you do have those when bad things happen to you. And when a string of them happen, and seemingly keep happening, then what?


My fervent wish, my solemn prayer is that these strange, negative things stop happening to me and my family, and we live our lives in safety, peace, harmony and love. Amen.

That Drunk-But-Not-Drunk Thing Called Hypomania

Sigh. Yesterday’s hypomania sort of became a stretch and after 5 days without a phone, I was kind of giddy to use the new phone and call my family. Not good. They assume mania means I am drunk. 30 years they’ve watched me cycle from depression to hypo to full blown mania and always…Niki must be drunk. FFS. Read a goddamn book or article on bipolar and LEARN something. If I had cancer, I bet they’d want to know what kind and what treatments and how to help. But because my illness is invisible and mental…Nope. I MUST be wasted.

Mania, hypo or full blown, mimic drunkeness so much it’s hard to discern and I get that. I just think 30 years of the patterns and episodes they would buy a vowel and get a clue. I hate being accused of something I’m not guilty of.

I get…a little too happy and friendly during some hypo episodes and I talk too fast and too much and maybe I called after ten-thirty which is inappropriate but…mania. Least it’s hypo and not full blown, otherwise I might be blowing bill money on internet shopping like I did with credit cards and catalogs back in the 90’s.

Today has been productive. I’d paid rent, internet, gone to Dollar Tree, and then to the school to fill out her paperwork by ten thirty. Also picked up my meds only to find out they failed to give me the Trintellix which means an extra trip for me and the car is having its fits again so…maybe tomorrow. I gotta take my kid to get her ears pierced, anyway, that is what she asked for from me for her birthday. (And she has other little things, but we’re all pretty broke and besides, three birthday days of activity, she should consider herself a very lucky child, but she doesn’t.) Ear piercing with this kid is gonna be an ordeal, she can’t commit to anything and of course, ear piercing comes with a little pain and maintenance and healing period…Oh, well. Gotta give her a chance to try it.

Still a little hypo today but I can feel it dwindling. The Bad Thoughts keep peeking behind the curtain, whispering their nasty little thoughts on how inept I am as a parent, what a failure at life I am, etc. I have to erect a brick wall with soundproofing to ignore them even while hypo and doing half okay. If it dwindles and I start heading toward splat…I can only hope it’s a brief depressive bout as opposed to the start of a long cycle. I can handle a couple of splat days. They suck, but I can deal. Long cycles suck out my soul and I lose my will to live. Not a fan.

But I guess I will go with the therapy party line about not creating a problem before there is a problem because worrying will just make it worse and possibly self fulfillng prophecy. Oh so much psychobabble and of so little use when the skeletons in the mental closet start rattling their chains and banging about.

On that note…I have to contend with a butt hurt child whose ‘friends’ ditched her to go play with the devil girls who, again, are banned from playing with my kid and of course, I am the devil and ruining her social life. Yep, all me. Not that she has shitty taste in friends. Not that they’re just poorly parented kids with no morals or loyalty. All me.

Pretty sure I kidnapped the Lindberg baby in a previous life and likely was on the grassy knoll, too. All before I ever existed. I ROCK.

Smart Phones Make Me Feel Dumb

So I upgraded to a ZTE Majesty Pro smart phone after the dumbass “oops, I lost my flip phone” debacle…

Thing is, I kinda like this new phone. I and I mean “kinda”. Because all the permissions and me accidentally denying them cockblock me, or text block, me anyway…it’s frustrating.

BUT I got my personalized ringtones (30 Seconds To Mars “The Kill” for calls, AC/DC “Back In Black” for texts, and oh, yeah, Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘N’Roll” for an alarm) and I got the keyboard for fat fingers and a skull background…and OMG, soooo much easier than that other ZTE I had for a whole month cos service was so pricey thus I gave it to my spawn to destroy and she did…This Majesty is…Less convoluted.

Still, makes me feel less stupid, but also, dumb. Thank you, Google Gods, for letting me find the answers the stupid manual doesn’t have.

Is this post relevant? Nah. Important? Hell no! But…Change for me is very very very uber difficult. When I manage it without a meltdown…I DO want to shout it from the mountain tops.

What is so weird is I am self taught on computers and multiple Windows OS (with a little friend help) but smart phones terrify me more than any desk top, lap top, tablet, Windows OS or even Android. You live with a ‘dumb phone’ for 17 years, and sending a text becomes an exercise in frustration because you “denied” permission without even knowing what you were doing so you can’t send a simple bloody text…GRRR. Not a fan.

I am trying, I am managing. Best I can do.

To my special friend who commits random acts of kindness for my spawn and me…You are so appreciated and loved. Thank you for remembering her birthday and remembering my broke ass couldn’t even afford brake fluid for the car. You are a stellar person and even the Flying Spaghetti Monster agrees. Pasta deity says it’s true, it’s gotta be!

Now I am signing off, because the hypo mania happy fun pants thing is gonna fade and I’d like to end this post on a…well, happy fun pants note. May you britches bring you giggles and good times way longer than my happy pants mood swings do for me.

Crazy Talk: My Anxiety Makes Me Give Up Too Easily

Crazy Talk is an advice column powered by your donations on Patreon, written by Sam Dylan Finch (that’s me!), and hosted by your fave queer blog, Let’s Queer Things Up! While I’m not medical doctor, I am a card-carrying member of Club Crazy, living the good life with a mood disorder, anxiety, and complex PTSD (gotta catch ’em all!). We’re talking all things mental health — trauma, happy pills, mood episodes, and whatever else you tweet me about. I’m kicking the stigma where it hurts, one question at a time. Check out last week’s column here.

Hey Sam,

For my whole life, I’ve been the kind of person that, if I’m anxious that I’m not good at something, I give up almost immediately. When I was a kid, I quit piano lessons after just two weeks because I got frustrated that I wasn’t good at it. As an adult, I find it difficult to do my work because I get discouraged very quickly, which leads me to procrastinate, blow deadlines, and flake out. I’m tired of being so hard on myself. What do I do?

I’m going to kick off this column the way that I often do: with a story.

Recently, I had the opportunity of a lifetime come up. A job opportunity, in fact, that I wanted so badly I couldn’t see straight. My first interview went better than I could’ve hoped for. And then I was asked to complete a written test, to show off different skills that would prove I could do the job.

When that test appeared in my email inbox, I froze. It was lengthy, involved, intense. And I only had a few hours to do it.

Immediately, I thought to myself, “I can’t do this. I better find a way to email back and graciously decline.” I started drafting that email in my brain, despairing about how such a perfect opportunity was slipping out of my grasp.

And then I stopped. “Old Sam would’ve given up on this because he was afraid to fail,” I told myself. “But what is New Sam going to do?” 

I’ll tell you what “New Sam” did. He opened up that test and took it a tiny step at a time. He accepted that it might not be perfect, but that this was an opportunity worth fighting for. He used all of the productivity apps and strategies that he knew of, reminding himself that “New Sam” came prepared for this. He held his nose and worked through it. He turned in that test.

Not even twenty minutes later, he– well, I, had a second interview lined up.

A few days later? I got the job.

I keep thinking about what might have happened if I’d listened to my gut and backed out before I’d even tried. And I have to wonder how many amazing opportunities I’ve let slip away because I was too afraid of being imperfect.

But lately? I’ve been more scared of not reaching my true potential than I am of making mistakes. Yes, I still hear that voice trying to steer me off-course, but I’ve crafted an alter ego to talk back to it. Whenever I hear that self-doubt echoing in my brain, I repeat to myself, “Yeah? That’s what I used to think. But that’s not what I believe now. I believe that this is something worth doing.”

Beyond finding concrete tools to help me deal with procrastination (which, I can’t emphasize enough, is really important), I needed to shift my perspective. Doing something imperfectly has way more opportunities for self-insight and happiness than just throwing in the towel. Embracing that has really helped me push through a lot of my doubts.

I’ve found a new kind of joy in the process, even if things get messy, because I know these are experiences that have real value and potential.

And building on each success — Doing The Thing, whatever it is — has helped my confidence grow. Because now, when I encounter moments in which I want to give up, I remember landing that job, or that cool thing I published, or that project I was so proud of, and I’m reminded that life is so much more exciting when you give yourself permission to participate, however imperfectly.

As the incomparable Jenni Berrett pointed out in this article, this isn’t about you being lazy or incapable — you, my dear reader, are just scared. And knowing that this is about fear, you can approach this like any monster under the bed. You can grab your flashlight (i.e., get whatever tools you need), take a deep breath (short inhale, long exhale), and look under the bed (or at least, take some small step in the right direction). You have to realize that there’s nothing to be scared of.

(And yes, sometimes we need to call a friend and ask them to remind us.)

Prove to yourself that this Horrible Scary Thing that will happen if you’re not perfect isn’t actually real. Prove to yourself that there are risks worth taking, even if it’s scary at first. Prove to yourself that you can do this so that, the next time you feel doubtful, you can remember the truth: There are no monsters under that damn bed.

You’ve got this.


Essential readings to pair with this advice: 

ADHD Survival Guide: How I Stopped Procrastinating and Got My Sh!t Together