Daily Archives: August 30, 2017

“Is bipolar disorder contagious?”


I’m driving home from the store with my 82 year old mother and we start talking about my book, “Bipolar Disorder, My Biggest Competitor,”  In many ways the book has unleashed good ole’ Esther.  Since I wrote about some of her struggles with bipolar disorder, she has talked more about it in two weeks, than I believe I have heard in more than 30 years.

Tonight she says, “People need to understand when you’re psychotic you don’t know what you’re doing.  But people don’t understand.  They think there’s something wrong with you and that they’ll get it too if they hang around you.”  “Mmm…is bipolar disorder contagious?” I asked jokingly.  “Some people think it is.  Like you have some horrible disease and if they come around they’ll get it.”  I laughed and we continued our drive home.

Then it hit me, after 30 years my mother finally articulated how bad she felt when her relatives stopped coming around.  They literally stopped inviting her to their houses.  She became an outcast.  The “crazy” sister.  Shame on them.  It’s not like all their lives were perfect either.

So, as a family member of a loved one with mental illness, I’m quick to defend my mother and sister.  But when it comes to me living with a mental illness and becoming an outcast myself, I sort of just give everyone a pass.  I suppose it’s because for so long I felt like I caused my own suffering.  It was my fault I had those episodes.

I ask my mother, “Who was there when you went through your first tough time?”  “You were,” she answered.  “Your dad didn’t know what to think.  But he would come in the house and ask me if I was doing alright.  He didn’t understand it, but he tried.  I’ll give him that”  I smiled and said, “There were a few people who I could have thrown under the bus in my book.  They did some not so nice things.  But I wanted to take the high road.  And truthfully, I didn’t want to spend time having a pity party for myself.  My life is far too blessed to feel sorry for myself.  I am exactly where I am supposed to be.”

However, as we drove further down the road I realized Esther really did have a point.  Some people treat bipolar disorder like it’s contagious.  As if a brain disease can magically rub off.  Perhaps that’s why they stop answering calls, not returning text messages or give you all your pictures and press clippings back, as one uncle did with me.  He had become ashamed of who I was, and when I needed him most he turned his back on me.

At the end of the day I just move on and say, “I’m not crazy, just contagiously bipolar.”  Whatever that means.



Just When I Thought I Was Out – A Mid-Afternoon Mental Moment

Have you ever felt like you finally got out of, or beyond something, then suddenly found yourself right back in the middle of it, whether by choice or by accident?  Was it somewhere you thought you might never be again?

Positional Asphyxiation

What would you do if a friend threw a curveball at you and placed you in an impossible situation? Where helping them could totally scew you over in numerous ways, but by not helping, you are considered a lazy unsupportive traitor? What would YOU do?

I find myself in a position that has me feeling like I am suffering from loss of oxygen…If I help my friend, it places me in a spot I can’t handle and am in no shape to say I can, but he doesn’t listen or care, he just wants me to cooperate with his agenda or I am being a lazy traitor.

At the same time, he is requesting of me stability and strength I simply don’t possess at this time. Not with seasonal affective disorder looming and me already coming undone in small ways. (I found I couldn’t even remember what clothes my kids wore to school, I entered the same part number 30 times today and still had to refer to an email to remember it, fairly sure bugs are living on my skin and they are invisble-not good!!!)

Then come financial issues because hey, you want someone to basically work part time yet can’t pay even minimum wage and that all has to be documented and reported and I lose benefits yet it’s not increasing money for my kid, it’s actually going to take away. Not to mention even if I could pull off 24 hours a week…well, bam, I am obviously cured so disability goes away but I’m still too much of a wreck for the doctor to sign off even if the government cuts me off and no one will hire me because, HEY, UNSTABLE CHICK WALKING.

I WANT desperately to help my friend, I so do. But he wants an indefinite commitment that will harm my precarious financial situation as opposed to help and it escapes him how this is possible because, hey he’s never had to work with the damned system.

I am NOT lazy. I am NOT wallowing. I am NOT ‘giving in’ to my mental demons. But they are pounding on the door and it’s just a matter of time before they bust it down.

My solution, of cpourse, was snark first, then point out negatives for both of us (his other job doesn’t pay enough for him to pay me minumum, hello???) but he just kept poking, like I am being some sort of backstabber who wants to sabotage instead of help. My loyalty first and foremost is to my child and myself, our situation. If helping him actually costs us, then I’m sorry, it’s not worth it. And here I am saying, I’m prolly gonna go down the rabbit hole soon anyway, cos seasonal is a disorder, after all, but…deaf dears.

I said come talk to me, maybe we can arrange something. Ya know, like people call to make an appointment, I go open the shop, help them haul in or out their item, write a ticket up… I am in zero shape to spend my only sane hours-while my kid is at school- out in the petri dish where my anxiety and paranoia rampage and rape my mind. FFS, if I were *there*, I’d be groveling around town for a dishwasher job or toilet cleaner, whatever at least pays minimum. I think I am doing a service admitting my limitations and yet I am treated like disloyal lazy scum.

What would YOU do in this position?

Positional. Asphyxiation. Keep friend and lose sanity and stability or burn bridges and get blacklisted?

Can’t. Fucking. Breathe.

8 Things Transgender People Do Not Owe You

It gets tiresome to have to explain our lives and trauma repeatedly just so cisgender people can 'get an education.'

Book Reviews: fAdE tO bLuE and mOnOchrOme

fAdE tO bLuE by H.M. Jones fAdE tO bLuE is H.M. Jones‘ prequel to mOnOchrOme. Those of us who read Monochrome met the fascinating character Ishmael. This prequel gives us Ishmael’s back story and explains more about how the hellish world of Monochrome works. Monochrome…


Turns out I assigned too little of Beowulf–we did finish it in one class period and so I had to make up a homework assignment on the spur of the moment and have them pick out their favorite passages and tell why they liked them, and we will read them out loud in class.  SO that should take care of Friday.  Then we have Labor Day, another reading, then the test.  I hope my plan for the test works well.

Feels like a long day already.  I have some people who are connecting with the reading and with me but others are just there.  Maybe once we get out of the complex stuff we will get more response. I had four people add since Monday and only two of them showed up.  I guess I need to email out the homework assignment and make sure everyone knows about it since it’s not on the syllabus,.

I go see Tillie today and see if we can’t head off whatever thus is at the pass.  I still feel much better but still have some existential lethargy going on.  I need to get into my laundry and sort it out for fall– see what I can wear and what I can’t. I get the feeling I will need black pants for my birthday.


Dancing can reverse the signs of aging in the brain

Love this article! Dancing is one of my very favorite things to do, and it is wonderful that it can have such beneficial effects upon our health!


August 25, 2017

As we grow older we suffer a decline in mental and physical fitness, which can be made worse by conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. A new study, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, shows that older people who routinely partake in physical exercise can reverse the signs of aging in the brain, and dancing has the most profound effect.

“Exercise has the beneficial effect of slowing down or even counteracting age-related decline in mental and physical capacity,” says Dr Kathrin Rehfeld, lead author of the study, based at the German center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Magdeburg, Germany. “In this study, we show that two different types of physical exercise (dancing and endurance training) both increase the area of the brain that declines with age. In comparison, it was only dancing that lead to noticeable behavioral changes in terms of improved balance.”

Elderly volunteers, with an average age of 68, were recruited to the study and assigned either an eighteen-month weekly course of learning dance routines, or endurance and flexibility training. Both groups showed an increase in the hippocampus region of the brain. This is important because this area can be prone to age-related decline and is affected by diseases like Alzheimer’s. It also plays a key role in memory and learning, as well as keeping one’s balance.

While previous research has shown that physical exercise can combat age-related brain decline, it is not known if one type of exercise can be better than another. To assess this, the exercise routines given to the volunteers differed. The traditional fitness training program conducted mainly repetitive exercises, such as cycling or Nordic walking, but the dance group were challenged with something new each week.

Dr Rehfeld explains, “We tried to provide our seniors in the dance group with constantly changing dance routines of different genres (Jazz, Square, Latin-American and Line Dance). Steps, arm-patterns, formations, speed and rhythms were changed every second week to keep them in a constant learning process. The most challenging aspect for them was to recall the routines under the pressure of time and without any cues from the instructor.”

These extra challenges are thought to account for the noticeable difference in balance displayed by those participants in dancing group. Dr Rehfeld and her colleagues are building on this research to trial new fitness programs that have the potential of maximizing anti-aging effects on the brain.

“Right now, we are evaluating a new system called “Jymmin” (jamming and gymnastic). This is a sensor-based system which generates sounds (melodies, rhythm) based on physical activity. We know that dementia patients react strongly when listening to music. We want to combine the promising aspects of physical activity and active music making in a feasibility study with dementia patients.”

Dr Rehfeld concludes with advice that could get us up out of our seats and dancing to our favorite beat.

“I believe that everybody would like to live an independent and healthy life, for as long as possible. Physical activity is one of the lifestyle factors that can contribute to this, counteracting several risk factors and slowing down age-related decline. I think dancing is a powerful tool to set new challenges for body and mind, especially in older age.”

This study falls into a broader collection of research investigating the cognitive and neural effects of physical and cognitive activity across the lifespan.