Monthly Archives: April 2018
One of the most common things you will hear from people with mental illness, is how adept they have become at hiding how they feel. The thing about being sad all the time is not just that you get tired of people asking what is wrong, but people get tired of you being sad all […]
This is the best news I’ve heard as far as the environment goes, for a very long time! Maybe our oceans and Mother Earth have a chance after all!
Last week I blogged about “Running Away From Home” (aka the geographical cure) https://wp.me/p4e9Hv-F9. This week I want to talk about actual travel – for business or pleasure. Travel was one of my greatest joys and one of the things I’ve missed most since bipolar stole so many parts of my life. I am delighted to be able to say that I am beginning to reclaim it.
I know that many people aren’t able to travel at all because of their bipolar disorder, but for those who can, here are some tips to make it easier.
The basic thing to remember while traveling is this: self-care. You may find it hard to do while on the road, but it is essential to keeping yourself functional. Just give yourself permission to do the things you have to do. And find ways to avoid the things that trigger you.
Business travel is the most difficult, and something I’m no longer able to do at all. Oh, I can drive an hour for a half-day training session, but I want to be back in my own house and bed when it’s over with. But the kind I used to do – four to seven days, with coworkers (sometimes in shared hotel rooms), and especially with booth duty – are simply beyond me. There’s no time or space for self-care.
If you must travel on business, however, I recommend bringing along a comfort object (https://wp.me/p4e9wS-k9) such as a small plush animal, a favorite pillow, or toiletries that have a soothing scent like lavender. Fuzzy slippers may have to do as a comfort object if you have to share a room. It’s also a good idea to bring along portable snacks such as nuts or raisins in your purse or briefcase, as regular meal schedules are often thrown off by meetings and other events.
“Me” time is hard to arrange, but do try. One trick that works for me is to find an unused function space and sit there with a pad of notepaper. Zone out. Then if anyone comes looking for you, claim you were just consolidating your notes.
Avoiding arguments is one of the particular challenges of visiting relatives – particularly in-laws.
On one of the first visits I made to my in-laws’ house, I noticed that they shouted a lot. When that happened, I would go into the kitchen and make myself a cup of tea. That’s a strategy I have often used. It’s also a grounding method I can use when things are spinning out of control. When everything around me is chaos, the simple, familiar, soothing action of heating a pan of soup or a teakettle can bring me closer to stability. Whether I really want soup or tea is not the question.
My husband noticed that I kept skipping out to the kitchen and asked why I kept making tea. “Because you’re all shouting at each other,” I replied.
“No, we’re not,” he said.
“Listen to yourselves.”
Just then an argument broke out over where to go to get some sandwiches. “You take the 422 to Souderton, then turn…” “Nah, you follow Cowpath Road then cut over to the 309. That’s shorter.” “But there’s more stoplights!” With each comment, the volume grew. Dan and I went out and got the sandwiches and when we got back, the family members were still arguing about the best way to go. Dan had to admit that I had a point. He just couldn’t hear it until I shifted his perspective.
Another technique you may find helpful when hit with nosy questions from relatives is the “Boring Baroque Response,” described here – https://wp.me/p4e9wS-cY.
My friend Robbin says that when you travel, the only things you really need to have in your carry-on are your meds and some clean underwear. Anything else you can buy when you get there if your luggage doesn’t manage to arrive when you do. It’s also good to talk to your pharmacist beforehand and make sure you have enough meds for the scheduled length of the trip. (Do not do what I did and take your entire supply of meds and then leave them at the bed-and-breakfast.)
Once I went to DisneyWorld https://wp.me/p4e9Hv-2K. (Okay, twice, but the first time was epic.) Surviving it was an exercise in self-care. The things I learned there are applicable to almost any travel situation.
It helps if you go with a person or people who understand your disorder and your needs. When you’ve exhausted yourself, it’s good to have someone who can think of options – “Of course, we can go back to the hotel now, if you want, or we could sit in this café and have a cold beverage while you rest your feet for a while.”
The point is, you don’t have to go on what a friend calls the Bataan Fun March – you don’t have to ride every ride, see every scenic overlook, visit every church or castle. Give yourself permission to take a nap or read a book or lounge around the pool, if that’s what you need to do. (If you’re on a guided tour and want to skip an event, let the tour guide know, so the head count doesn’t come out wrong after an event or stop.)
Finances tend to prevent the kind of leisure travel I used to do, but at least now if I can ever afford it, I can also survive it.
This week’s theme is angels and while there are hundreds of applicable songs, one stood out to me immediately – “Concrete Angel” by Martina McBride. Now, this is not your average angel song and it is by no means a happy one. It is about a girl who is beaten regularly by her mother and …
Kat’s recounting of dreams quashed and others coming true with hard work is very humbling and inspiring. Chronic illness hits us all hard; however, it is what we make of our lives in spite of it that matters. Lydia!
Well I should just call this the Bipolar Job Blog because that’s basically all I write about anymore. But job dilemmas continue to dominate my life. So out of nowhere this week I got a call from a recruiter about a contract job in my town that pays $3 an hour more than I’m making now, and I said “Yes, please” after about ten seconds of thinking about it. He sent my resume over and they said they wanted to interview me. This was kind of tricky because I had to miss all of Monday getting a broken car window replaced (thanks, Safelite Auto Glass, for coming with the wrong window first thing in the morning and making me wait all day for the right one!). Anyhoo, an interview was setup for Wednesday morning bright and early and I put on my favorite purple dress and my least favorite thing, tights, and went on over there, and I have to tell you, it doesn’t sound like the best situation. They are horrendously understaffed, like, when I come on it will be three people supporting 1300 computers which is ridiculous. But I weighed that against my terrible commute, and being tired ALL THE TIME, and I decided to go for it. By the end of the day I had a job offer, and I said Yes!
It was hard giving my notice at the current job because they’re just so damn nice. I did it yesterday, and my Supervisor said that the Contract job is going permanent in July, and I had a twang of “Am I doing the right thing?” but then I thought, I really don’t want to sign up for long-term Desktop Support, I want to keep pursuing the Security field. And I don’t want to move closer to Denver and further away from my family, because my family ties are so strong. So, I will work this short-term contract here in Longmont, and keep trying to get a Security internship or on-the-job training through the Workforce Center. I let my landlord know that I will be staying in my apartment through the end of June (when this new job ends, unless they extend it) and if I’m jobless then I will move in with Mom and Dad and renew the search. Having such an unsettled life is hard, but at least I’m working, and I’m grateful for that.
I’m also grateful for the weekend!! And sleeping in! And Spring! And now I will get to enjoy it more, since I won’t be schlepping up and down the highway morning and night and just sleeping in between. Also, totally unrelated, but I weighed myself this morning, and I have lost twenty pounds. And I think it was all in my stomach!! I don’t have the giant pregnant stomach any more! Yay!! I am super-grateful for that. Using the LoseIt! app has helped me a lot to be aware of my caloric intake and exercise.
The final thing I have to say I’m grateful for is that I have been able to work this job like a totally normal person. I haven’t had any erratic or jagged edges to my mood at work, and I come across as a nice, steady person. Can you imagine that?! I am really excited about that. I hope this steady mood continues. It makes me happy that I can do well on the job and be consistent. What more could I ask for?
I hope you are all doing well. I look forward to hearing from you in the Comments! Peach out!
The old saying goes “It takes a village to raise a child”. Well, it takes a network to raise up those with chronic illness and I am very happy to be part of The Chronic Illness Bloggers Network (CIB). The network, started by Julie Ryan of Counting My Spoons and now helmed by Jenna Farmer …
Love, love, love this quote! Just what I needed right now! Hope it helps all my readers as well.
Well, if there was ever a time to be reminded of the necessity of my continuing existence, yesterday was it. It was one of the BESTEST DAYS EVER! Not only was the weather perfection itself, I got to go to lunch and I heard from different people during the course of the day who made me feel that my life really matters.
First of all, I spent most of the day and evening texting back and forth with my oldest daughter, who is going through some tough stuff following the sudden, grisly death of her father-in-law. She never really knew him, but the circumstances of his death are so sad that it really got to her, and it made me feel good to have her reach out to me in her distress. She has so much compassion and she’s all about family, and I love the fact that this amazing woman is my daughter. We didn’t always get along so good when she was a teenager, but at 35 she has long since forgiven me my transgressions as a mother, and I think everyone should have someone like her in their life.
Then I got a Facebook Messenger message from a childhood friend I haven’t talked to in some time who, for some reason, was thinking of me. She lost her son 11 years ago, and we share the bond of mothers who have had to say good-bye to a child. She proceeded to tell me I was an inspiration to her, having lost my husband as well and surviving as best I can, and ended the conversation by thanking me for letting her vent and being a friend. We go back to the third grade, though we weren’t that close in junior high and high school, but we found each other on Facebook several years ago and she is one of the people I admire most. Needless to say, this made my day.
So did the post from a complete stranger in my online bipolar support group. The question in the original post asked if we felt ashamed of not being able to work, to which I answered honestly. I went on to note that I used to be a nurse, but the only thing I’m capable of now is writing, and even that is hard to commit to. This fellow responded by saying that as a nurse I’d already given the world plenty of my time and talents, and that I was helping people in another way by sharing my story. He also said even my simple post was well-written and hoped I would go on to write for publication in a larger market. This didn’t hurt my feelings either.
The capper to my awesome day was a private message from an administrator at my nursing website, where I’ve been for over 15 years and am a site guide. (I used to be a moderator there, but bipolar got in the way and ruined things for me.) She wanted to know if I would like a free shirt from the company. These are nice collared polo shirts that the admins wear to nursing seminars and expositions, and they don’t give them away. I was flattered that she had thought of me and said I’d love to have one. Now, this administrator and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye, and once she gave me an official warning for insulting another member. Which I indeed had done, and I deserved the warning, but I was angry about it for months. This was just prior to being diagnosed. Eventually I got over it, and she got to where she felt she could trust me again, but this gesture of friendship years later means a lot.
So, that was my day. I just hope I can remember it the next time I get down on myself and/or depressed. It doesn’t get much better than this!
I’m back in the lab that is doing research on Bipolar disorder. Starting out with a literature search on Lithium, Glutamate, the NMDA receptor/s, etc.
Went for a walk during lunch and of course saw many photos waiting to be taken.