Monthly Archives: April 2013

Mega-Huge Comment-Related Apology!

Okay, so, I’m bad about checking what comments go into spam. Apparently, ALL the comments were going into spam — whups! All the legit ones should have been marked as such now, and I will endeavour to go back and respond appropriately.

An especial thank you to Brain Eats Brain for pointing out that something was rotten in the State of Denmark. I’m a touch slow sometimes about connecting the dots!


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I Need Some Hope

I am getting very ‘in my head’ and need some distraction…but I cannot handle just anything. I have wrecked the car, Social Security is questioning my disability, the school is questioning my FAFSA, my medication is not working, and I have already had too much sleep. I need something to read. 99% of what I have stacked against my bedroom wall is too painful…too stressful. I cannot handle characters dying or battling disease. I cannot take slapstick either. What I need is something gentle but influencing…something like the lilacs in bloom outside my bedroom window.

Several years ago I clung to the Mitford series like it was fresh water. There were conflicts and even crises but the dark was never too dark and never as dark as my own mind. Living through the diabetic coma with Father Tim was a little discomforting, but survivable. Then more recently I have devoured Alexander McCall Smith’s The New No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. Mma Ramotswe is even ‘traditionally built.’ How satisfying is that! Her father’s ordeal in the mines was very difficult to get through and may have been a bit out of place but, again, the series as a whole was never too dark.

The situation is this…when we are spiraling down, caught in the squirrel cage of our minds, or mired in the dark muck and in need of comfort, there may not be anyone there to bring us a cup of tea…or a cutting from the lilac. We may know we need some hope but not know where to find it. These are just some thoughts I had.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

This week’s photo challenge theme, culture, provided an interesting challenge for interpretation. And I have quite the heartfelt interpretation today… …

Continue reading »


Who decides if I am disabled?  The Social Security Administration thinks it does.  If I work too much, then I am no longer disabled...or so they say.  Bull $#+!.  Just because I took too many shifts at Chicos, against my better judgement, does not mean I am not disabled.  As far as my doctor is concerned, I shouldn't be working at all.  The idea that one's condition is decided and defined by bureaucratic convention is ludicrous. 

 As much as I am loath to say it, I am disabled...not able.  Not able to cope.   Not able to function normally.   I feel guilty saying it because there are times when I feel ok...but something happens and I get confused, disoriented, shaky, and forgetful.  I need lots of sleep and down time.  I need structure and simple tasks.  During a rather memorable manic phase in my forties, I was able to multitask on several webpages, projects, reports, and tasks...brilliantly.  Not any more.  I'm tired, burned out, my circuits are fried.

Does the SSA ask me about that?  No.  They just see that I earned $50 more than the allowed amount one month and decide that I am no longer disabled.  They cut off my benefits and say I owe them $8466.05 in back pay.  I don't have that.  I'm struggling to make it...which doesn't help my stress level.  Do they care what they've done to my life? Of course not.

I have since quit Chicos and work two days a week addressing envelopes at a financial investment firm.  It has been eight months since the SSA cut off my benefits.  I have applied for reinstatement.  In the mean time, they are accepting small payments towards what they say I owe them.  I call weekly to ask the status of my request for reinstatement and I'm told the agent is "working the case."  I used to work for the Federal Government and resent derogatory remarks about the bureaucracy...but I must admit, this is ridiculous.

So the struggle continues...who decides whether or not I am disabled.  The SSA may decide if I am entitled to benefits or not but the fact remains, I am unable to deal with the normal stresses of an everyday life.  I can't do it.  I am not able.  I am disabled.

The sleep deficit grows

R assigned me a rather risky endeavor today to do for one of his friends’ computers. I have tried to tell him that it risks destroying the entire hard drive but he is insistent. He wants me to do this software shit but he overrides all my input. Very nerve racking.

Which is why I slept like shit last night. I was awake literally every 2 hours. Over and over and over, to the point I wanted to claw my own eyes out. I have a lot of nights where I wake up, but it’s been awhile since it was that bad. And I know it’s anxiety and a little bit of anger. It’s like handing a kid a pencil and telling them to write their own name, they have to do it for themselves…Then taking the pen away and doing it yourself. Why am I even making an effort? It’s pointless. Every day I become more bitter because this software bit is not what I want to do. I find it utterly boring. I know what I know because I spent 13 years learning on my own, without anyone prodding me and telling me what to do. Now instead of a learning experience it’s become one more soul sucking “i have no choice” task like housework.

But of course, the brakes are failing on my car and I need the brownie points for car repairs so I will make like a nice little minion and if he destroys the fucking thing, so be it. I will do an “I told you so” dance. Though if I can hem and haw and stall, I’d like to try to find a better solution than software crossbreeding. Too many little variables to put all the eggs in one basket. Or maybe he’s right and I’m wrong. I don’t like to take chances because it makes my panic skyrocket. I still stand by my assessment that what he wants to do is far riskier than beneficial.

So…No decent rest. Anxiety eating my nerve endings alive. On the plus side, my mood seems to be on up side of level, but I did just take my meds so it could be that temporary lift, things could go to absolute “die in a fire” shit soon. It’s never a given and I don’t view it that way, but I am wary as it has happened so many times.

I  hadn’t been through the door four minutes last night, was going pee and trying to change clothes, when that little neighbor girl was at the door. I am getting really sick of that. I told Spook no company, period, and it was a brief tantrum but I had shit to do. The air conditioner is going in soon, this place is a sauna, and I have to have the outlet looked at and I wanted to rearrange the furniture for summer since I didn’t get a chance to do it all weekend. It’s a shame parents have so little supervision on their kids that this child is basically allowed to stock us seven days a week at all hours.

But I am finding my backbone and I think it’s time to lay down some ground rules. Like, NO company before 5:30 pm during the week, period. Like no company before 2pm on weekends, because a month now I have had to put my plans on hold or listen to a tantrum because my kid wants to play with someone who knocks on the door before 10am. Sunshine spewer is right. I have to lay down rules and stick to them. I don’t know why this proves so hard with my child. Maybe because I want to make her happy and not screw this mom thing up. Everyone else I simply don’t care about displeasing.

True, I don’t want to disappoint them, but that is more me atoning for my past of fuck ups than me wanting to make them happy.

The whole R situation is heading for a blow up at some point. It will be ugly and he will play the injured party but once I crack, there is no turning back. Which is why I beg people not to make me feel like an animal backed into a corner. The outcome is never good and it burns bridges. At this point, I am just “so be it.”

Honestly, what kind of future do I have at that shop if I get all this training and he’s just gonna second guess and override my decisions?Not to mention if he should keel over, the shop goes to his kids and aside from the youngest, those older two want me gone. They’re too polite to admit it, but they have dropped so many hints it’s like an anvil on the head. R sees and hears what he wants to because his kids can do no wrong for if they did it would reflect badly on him as a parent.

I doubt I will ever be that way with my kid. I know she is a demon spawn, she comes by it naturally. My calling a spade a spade mentality has not changed since reproducing. No one gets absolved with me. Personality flaw? Perhaps. But so much rejection based on a condition I can’t control has helped me become this not so good person and I am not inclined to go back. Least now I see the knives coming instead of being surprised when they land in my back.

Wow…this was supposed to be a short post.

Way I see it though is no one edits their diary and that is what a blog is, a diary. Sometimes you let other people read it in hopes of support and input.

Okay, I must shower.

I don’t want to, but I must.

And it’s these moments when I want to revert to being a three year old and stomping and screaming “I don’t wanna, you can’t make me!”

My inner child is a mean little bastard.

This Wasn’t a Good Idea


Corner, Sweet Corner, my refuge from the rest of the (working) world.

Whelp and howdy from work, folks. Have a picture of my corner, sans me — it’s my little office-based shelter-ma-bob.

I’m not feeling particularly great about anything today. As I expected, my mother-in-law’s bright and surprised, ‘Oh, hello!’ was akin to being punched in the face with energy. I managed to mainly shrug it off, but I consider that a miracle — the entire ride over was filled with intrusive racing thoughts of the worst kind. I managed to drown it out, but yanno, that still completely lacking in energy thing.


On the outer door of our office pointing my way. It predates us moving in, but amuses me nonetheless.

And, of course, the whole not eating or drinking much means that I feel especially useless and evil today. Because we didn’t stop at the store for food or beverage en route, the chances of me eating or drinking are very low now. There’s a great shop on the corner… but it has people in it. It would require me talking to people. I can’t talk to people right now — I don’t have the energy for it. I made the mistake of presuming we’d stop at the store with the self check-out and no need to interact with people, but I was wrong. And now I get to suffer for it, and then feel like the world’s biggest ass because my brain is being stupid and inflicting of what I can only surmise will be a huge stupid guilt trip. Which I also can’t handle ’cause I don’t have any energy and my anxiety is jagging and all of that crap. Gotta love it when the brain locks itself into Lose/Lose mode. ¬¬

And as it’s probably thoroughly implied, there’s a lot of fixation trying to screw itself up into a tight ball of crazy-anger, so yanno, can’t even crack my mouth without risking letting it all fly out and nuke the entire world around me. It sort of reinforces that staying home was the smart thing to do, and will probably continue to be the smart thing for the nearest future.

So yeah, fun. Not.


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Why is it that the tiniest thing will set me off spinning out of orbit?  I went over to Facebook to look up a rabbi I want to visit when I am in Jerusalem next time, and there on her wall was a comment from that guy I had an affair with last year.  Well, I had high hopes (actually was completely convinced) that it was “the real thing,” but it turned out to be an affair.  So I though I was over it, and was really quite proud of myself for getting out of an abusive relationship before it became addictive (yes, I have a tendency to become addicted to abusive relationships.  Has to do with the way I was raised, according to my psychologist).  Various anniversaries of benchmarks in the relationship came and went, and some I made note of in a casual way and was pleased that I didn’t have a reaction to them, and some I sort of reacted to but not badly and talked it out with my therapist.

Enter Facebook, that double-edged sword of connectedness, whether you want it or not.

I saw his name, and his comment, and a sly comment to a former lover of his who had also commented…..and suddenly (flashback) he was in my bed getting ready to force his cock down my throat, and I freaked out, because unbeknownst to him I had been raped that way, and besides he should have asked before doing something so invasive, and he stopped, and I thought oh, what a good man because he stopped.  Never thought of it that the fact that he would do such a thing “on our first date” was an outrageous disrespect of my SELF, and what I should have done was to throw his ass out of my house and my life then and there.

But I didn’t.  And why?  Because my self image is still where it was forty years ago when I was living on the street for a living and taking pot luck.  Telling some dickhead “no” was not an option.  So that might be why, when push comes to shove,  my reflex is to thank the bastard for not violating me.  For not raping me.

There had been signs, during the long-distance phase of our relationship, that he wanted what he wanted, and objected to my having my own priorities.  But I ignored them and pretended they didn’t exist, for the most part, except for one extreme boundary violation that sent me to bed for three days with a violent PTSD reaction.  But I got over that one too, and soldiered on with the relationship.

Fast forward a few months, and I was in his bed, halfway around the world.  We had just lain down, no contact yet really, and he grabs my hand and pushes it toward his cock, without asking, without any tenderness at all.  That triggered me bigtime. because how many times has that happened to me in the past, against my will or without my wanting it?  I drew back my hand.  Angered, he then grabbed my wrist and forced my hand downward.  I ripped my hand out of his grasp and laid it on his belly.  I should have read him the riot act and gone to sleep on the couch, and taken a cab out in the morning, but instead, “You know,” I whispered in my best whore voice,” you’ll like it better if I do it my own way.”

“Go to hell with your fucking game-playing!” he said, and rolled over, farted, and went to sleep.  I was left shaking, in a cold sweat.  The next morning I packed my bags, but I didn’t leave yet.  I tried to talk to him about the sexual stuff, but he just shouted at me that I was playing games and would not engage with me.

I stayed another week.  We didn’t have sex at all after that.  I was constantly reprimanded: I left the faucet dripping; I left foot prints in the bathtub; I used the wrong knife to cut up fruit (that was a big one, precipitating a screaming fit on his part), I this, I that.  So, since I hadn’t unpacked my bags, I arranged a ride to the other end of the country.   As I was leaving, he staged a scene:

“Are you leaving, just like that?”


“Don’t you want to talk about it?”


“Do you really want to leave it this way?”


“We’ll keep in touch, right, we’ll keep this dialogue going, won’t we?”

To this one, I lied “Yes,” because I knew that if I said no he would launch into something that would keep me standing at the door when all I wanted was to walk through it and be gone.

I wonder now, whether I have the capacity to identify a truly good man.  I met a few, during my time on the streets, but they belonged to somebody else.  I’ve met a few since then, but ditto, married or in a relationship.  I think I might be able to see one, but so far my longing for someone to fit the picture I have in my mind and my heart has got me into more trouble than I can begin to describe.  I think the factor of unavailability helps me to see the goodness in a man, because my subconscious believes that a good man is not for me.  Therefore the attractive ones are the “bad boys” who abuse me and do me wrong.

There are exited prostitutes who manage to focus on the nice, sweet guys, I guess, from what I’ve read.  And yes, I did have encounters with nice, sweet guys, and all of them were married, and I don’t know what they wanted with me in the first place, but there you go.  Unfortunately, my life was peppered with rapes of different kinds for so many years, that it’s hard for me to disengage from them enough to pick a guy who is not a brute.  I sometimes fantasize about having a relationship with, say, a paraplegic, someone for whom sex is impossible, but then I remember that all abuse is not sexual, not by a long shot, and it would be just my luck to get into a relationship with someone who was platonically abusive.

I hate to think of living the rest of my years alone, aging and dying alone with no one to share the “golden years (hah!)” with.  Getting old is not for the faint of heart, said my grandmother, crazy as a bat but wise in her way.  But now that I have become a true recluse, I have no idea how to meet a truly good man to share life with.  An interesting one, with quirks I find endearing.  I’d like one who loved me for who I am, craziness and all, who respected and even adored me, and made love fully in mutual agreement.  Is that too much to ask?

The What Ifs

I thought I was being pretty clever in the summer of 2010 when I chose the title for my blog.  I also thought the picture of my upside down bicycle was a neat metaphor. Over the past few months I haven’t been on as many rides as I would have liked.  Last week, on a lovely sunny Spring day, I opted to go to the cinema instead of heading for the countryside a couple of miles north of where I live.  I enjoyed the movie, sure, but there was something else going on, too.  It was what psychologists and psychiatrists like to call ‘displacement activity’. Freud – not a cyclist as far as I know – coined the term. Basically, we employ our unconscious to redirect our mind from unpleasant, or dangerous thoughts to ones that are more acceptable, less challenging.

What’s so unpleasant about cycling? I hear you ask.  I’m a keen cyclist, after all, taking pleasure in the humblest of rides to the station to catch a train to work.

It’s anxiety. What if I  get a puncture? I always keep a couple of puncture repair kits and a pump in my panniers, so what’s the problem? I’m a cyclist, mending punctures is part of the skill that goes along with riding a bicycle, right?

Not me.

Yes, I do know how to fix a puncture.  But the stress it causes me! It’s not the removal of the tyre and inner tube. By and large it’s not the actual locating the hole and applying the patch. It’s getting the inner tube and the tyre back on the wheel that gets me cursing my sore fingers and making me pinch the inner tube and puncturing it again, just at the point I have managed to get the tyre back on the wheel. Watching others fixing a puncture doesn’t help.either.  It just makes me think of how hard I find it.

So, lately my rides have been spoiled to some degree by the thought that ‘what if…’

In mental health parlance this is called catastrophising – finding the worst case scenario – and being unable to see think about the situation in question with any degree of detachment.

Even knowing all this, loving cycling, recognising how good cycling is for my mood – none of this has stopped me from becoming just a little bit obssessed with the thought of getting a puncture and how it will make me feel – quite apart from the practical consequences. Even writing about it is giving me butterflies.

I know that this kind of thinking is unhelpful, unrealisitic, mostly untrue and shouldn’t stop me from doing one of the things I most love.

But it is.

Usually – well always – these posts involve me writing about my feelings, the kinds of feelings I and others feel – and their consequences. I also write about how I cope with my feelings and the trouble it can get me into. It never feels like this.

This feels like live commentary on my current state of mind – not considered thoughts on a range of topics, however painful, offered with a little ‘professional’ detachment. The anxiety that started about getting a puncture is blossoming into a general fog – not focused on anything particular any more, but obscuring the whole view.

This can’t just be about the annoying possibility – however unlikely – of getting a flat tyre. It’s about the (much scarier) possibility of getting sick again. For months now I have been telling anyone who will listen – and some of them have been stifling yawns – that come 1st May I will succesfully have completed 2 whole years without a single sick day. I have been thinking about how I will mark such a milestone. I have already taken an extra day off this week to savour the achievement; but this run up to the anniversary of when I started my job as a Peer Supporter, and jump – started my recovery, is taking its toll. What if I didn’t make it? If I fizzled out with a bout of something as mundane as the ‘flu? Regular readers will now that last autumn I relapsed, sought treatment, and was able to steady the ship with a temporary increase in my tablets without having to take time off.

Becoming so focused on the goal of making it through 2 whole years without time off (I had three years off work 2002 – 5) has taken its toll.  I have put too much pressure on myself and – I now realise – have been staggering to the finish line.  While it is an achievement to have done what I have done over the past couple of years, recovery is not an endurance sport.  I think I may have mistaken it for being one over the past few months.

I know that recovery is not a goal in itself – like making it through another year as I have done. It is a process, a way of being. I tell people that all the time. I just forgot to remind myself that it applies to me, too.

I have been telling people, as this anniversary approached, that I have no plans to be sick anytime soon. That remains true.

I need to sit up in the saddle a bit more and start to enjoy the view once more.

‘I stepped from Plank to Plank’

I stepped from Plank to Plank

A slow and cautious way

The Stars above my Head I felt

About my Feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next

Would be my final inch -

This gave me that precarious Gait

Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)

The Best Bradley I Can Be

I’ve had many good things in my life. I have much to be grateful for. However, life has been hell. The confusion, memory loss, insecurities, manic episodes, depressive episodes and all the negative self talk made for some miserable times.

I was relieved when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Finally it had a name. Finally, many things in my life could be explained. Finally I found out that, yes, I am crazy, however, I am not entirely insane. Thank God for better living through chemistry and therapy. I’m healthier and happier. Unfortunately, I’m not “fixed,” and, unless some miracle drug is developed, I never will be.

Today, and everyday, I will be the best Bradley I can be. My only problem is that I don’t know what that is. What is the best Bradley? Who is the best Bradley? Can the best Bradley drive a car? Can the best Bradley attend classes? Can the best Bradley go to work? My doctors have given me the green light on two of those: driving and school. I’d like to think I can do more. Sadly, I’m not so sure I’m capable. Currently I’m thinking that even school may be more than I can handle.

Should I be attending college right now? Well, my doctors gave me the ok, but weren’t 100% sure it was time.  It hasn’t been going well. I’ve dropped so many classes that currently I’m on academic suspension. Basically that means I need to do well this semester or I’m out of there. That thought alone continually triggers my anxiety, therefore, making it hard for me to focus, therefore, becoming a self fulfilling prophesy.

Is it too soon? Is it too soon for me to return to work? My doctors seem to think so. I seem to think so. But, what about going back to school? What about being on numerous committees at church? Have I pushed beyond the limitations that I currently am able to handle? Have I pushed beyond the limitations that I ever will have? This isn’t normal self doubt. This is way past that. Everyone second guesses their decisions at one time or another. For someone like me it’s debilitating.  Every day I have to ask myself, “Am I being the best Bradley, I can be?”

Am I happy or am I manic?  Do I have the blues or am I depressed?  As my pdoc said to me, “Those are the big questions.”  Not real helpful there, Doc.  But he’s right.  Now that I am mostly centered it’s hard to judge my moods.

I have a very difficult exam tomorrow.  I am not prepared for it.  I have so much to study and I’ve barely scratched the surface.  I’ve had way too much distraction.  Have I been procrastinating?  You bet your ass I have. But it’s not the type of procrastination of the type that I just don’t feel like studying. I know that studying is not fun, I know that studying is boring, but I also know that studying is necessary to pass this exam and possibly this course.  Yet, I’ve felt paralyzed.  Studying was never my strong suit, so it’s not anything new.  But, as my therapist says, I’m not the guy who struggled with undiagnosed bipolar disorder.  I’m passed that, he says. He emphasizes that the new me doesn’t know what my potentials are. I don’t know, yet, what my abilities are.

What does the best Bradley I can be look like? I don’t know all those answers yet. It will probably take some time. Until then I’ll have to live by one simple rule: Be the best Bradley I can be right now. If I keep that rule, I’ll be okay.

Crazy sane?

Is it possible to be both crazy and sane at the same time?

Because part of me feels sane but a huge part of me feels like I am slipping away into the abyss of the mental darkness and the pulling-out-hair-in-clumps anxiety.

Truth be told, the part of me who thinks I am sane is more a byproduct of what others want me to be. Even my dad jumped on the pressure cooker wagon this weekend about me getting that certification.

What none of them seem to realize is that’s their dream for me, it has absolutely nothing to do with me. Yes, I want to do better for my kid and myself. But I wanted to take community college courses, get into computer graphics, something where my creativity could be put to use. Somehow what I want always gets washed away by what others want for me. Usually resulting in a complete mental meltdown, and nothing every happens, they don’t get what they want, and I dig my heels in because I am too busy trying to survive mental illness to have the energy or presence of mind to “rise above it”. I need breathing room. I need to work at my own pace. I need to do it for me, not everyone else.

Right now, I am walking a fine line, questioning my sanity on an hourly basis. Because some of my responses to outside stressors seem off. I should be stressed, but I should not be viewing everyone as a threat to my sanity. Yet I do. I am getting agoraphobic again. Opening the door means letting people near me and thus far, trying to press my limitations and step outside my comfort zone is what is helping me come undone. I really need to lower my standards, no one is perfect, least of all me. But rudeness is something I have never been able to live with.These kids who want to play with my kid are rude. Well, the girl is, the boy is okay. Of course, that could just be my bias. I was stabbed in the back so many times by women that I learned to gravitate toward male friends. Men are pigs in physical relationships, but they make decent friends. And maybe I am being unfair to Sam.

I just don’t know anymore.

I know between all the kid noise and the noise in my head from the influx of emotions, moods, and anxieties, I am sliding. And while I feel I can confide in my counselor, I don’t feel I can tell the shrink the truth. She really seems to be getting fed up with me. How do I explain it? In a way that won’t get me locked up in a looney bin?

I think what has to be done is I have to find a way to overrule the panic that is keeping  me in this submissive insecure state and remember that I am an assertive person, always have been, even to my own detriment. I need to make rules and stand by them. I need to do what is best for myself as well as my kid and to hell with these other people who don’t even care enough to ask me what I want. They just tell me what they want me to do.

I think I may take a mental health day from  the shop. I am just in a pissy mental space and he doesn’t like me in these moods. I don’t like anyone in these moods. I wish I could just “get over it.” And I will likely cycle out of it later on but right now, it clings to me like the stench of a decaying corpse.

So…crazy or sane or both?

Anyone want to give an objective opinion?

Because I am all out of my own.