Daily Archives: September 22, 2013

Feeling Suicidal? Change the Channel.

Things have been going in a dismal spiral that has been threatening to turn into a full-blown tailspin.  For the last three days I have ruminated night and day about death: fervent wishes for a speedy natural death, and in the absence of that, turning to my old faithful suicide plan, painless, tidy, nothing to clean up and nobody’s trauma.

There is no good reason for this, if you discount the deep spell of depression.  Here I am in the Holy City of Jerusalem at the holiest time of year, and especially now that it’s sukkot:  the happiest time of the year for us Jews.  So what’s the deal?

OK, so I have had to move twice in two months because of the bedbug plague that is sweeping the city.  Bedbugs get me down.  They give me more than the creeps, little bastards sucking your blood all night and hiding out in your underwear drawer during the day!  Chutzpeh!

I had the second apartment exterminated three times, each time involving leaving for 10 hours, then scrubbing the floors and all the surfaces multiple times so as not to poison myself and my dog.  Nevertheless I have had a nasty headache for weeks, which has gone away after moving to the third apartment which so far (please G-d) does not have bedbugs like the first two.

Along with all the other bedbug mitigation work, I have to wash and dry everything over and over.  Right now everything I own is on the roof baking in the sun (they can’t stand heat and drying), which was fine until it rained the other night.  I have not had the strength or ambition to climb back up on the roof and undertake damage control.

So circumstances are getting me down, yes.  It’s an overlay on the bipolar depressive phase.  But it could be deadly, because just a few hours ago I was planning when and where.

And then I broke my policy of strict isolation (because when I’m like this I am such a zombie, flat affect, flat voice, no reactions) that it freaks people out and is very unpleasant for me.  And if they’re people I like, I might just burst out crying and that just makes things worse.  So isolation it is, and yeah, I know, it’s not good.

So this evening a very special event was planned in my congregation in honor of this day being the passing of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, in the year 1810, who was a revered spiritual leader, and is the guiding spirit of many members of our congregation.  I had to go.  I wanted to see everybody, hear what the rabbi had to say (even though I only understand about every third word of his Hebrew) and generally be with my peeps.  I did not set myself a time limit: if I got uncomfortable, I gave myself permission to leave at any time.

Not only that: since my Hebrew birthday falls out tomorrow, I booked myself a massage tonight.  Yeah.

When I got to the party I was feeling pretty low and didn’t know if I would be able to handle it.  But there was singing and someone was playing a djembe (African hand drum) badly, and I saw another djembe that didn’t have anyone playing it.  Now, I happen to have studied djembe for four or five years, and played with an African dance troupe.   I have stopped playing because of severe issues with my hands, but since I was planning to die I didn’t care if I fucked up my hands more so I picked up the free djembe and warmed up quietly, getting the feel, and then the old feeling came back and I popped right back into the common West African dance rhythm BADA bada BADA bam, working the bass and the slaps and tones and rim shots just like old times.  And for some reason, I didn’t break blood vessels in my hands or hurt my two bad wrists or any of that.  And feeling the groove of the people singing and getting underneath the inexperienced drummer and giving him a boost so he could ride my wave was intoxicating.

I forgot all about suicide.

Then I went and had a 90 minute massage.

Now I’ve taken my meds and am going to bed, with a lot to think about.

I’ll think about it in the morning.  At Tara.  Or maybe in the Old City.


I’ve barely left my bed in the last 24 hours. I only get up to go to the bathroom. This morning, I tricked myself into getting dressed: a bra, clean underwear, pants, a shirt. I hoped fresh clothes would catalyze the reaction. The activation energy is still too high for my meager supply.
The noise outside my window irks me like everything else does. I don’t shut the window because I want to stay connected with the universe that expands outside my dorm room. Or I’m too lazy. Comfort in discomfort.
I know there is work to be done, reports to be written, bibliographies to be assembled. My sheets cradle me like a spider’s web. The threat lies in how benign it seems. Inaction siphons away my blood.
I don’t want food or water, gifts or pleasant words. I want company. I want someone to crawl into bed beside me and to stroke my hair until this mood passes. I want someone to trace pictures on my back to remind me that I exist. I want this lonely paralysis to end.

Don’t Cross the Seams!

Once again, I am a sucker for pop culture reference. I can’t help it — the lack of filtering ability bipolar comes with means I absorb pop culture like a sponge. While it makes for a stupid human trick of remembering all sorts of pointless things, it also eats up a lot of spoonage because it’s hella intrusive.


This week was definitely about seams though — I finished the little sweater! I had to do the sleeves first, which was all sorts of stripy, Freddy Krueger-gone-patriotic cute:

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Doing the seams was definitely a bit of the mixed bag thing. I found a great tutorial on horizontal mattress stitch, and as you can see, it made for a very clean join:

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Though I can’t say the same of the darker areas, hee hee. The seaming on the sleeves and shoulders are functional at best, and when I was picking up stitches around the neck, I pulled from the wrong side of the piece. It’s fine functionally, and not horrible visually… hopefully I’ll get it more correct next time. But on the other hand, I sort of got the hang of normal mattress stitching on the sides as well, so it’s all progress in the right direction. I used this video for my side seam guide, if anyone was interested. Even with the sound off (one reason I don’t watch videos on my computer; I dislike it making noise at me ever), the quality of the video and the demonstration makes sense.

The finished product:

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IMG_2182The next pattern in the book is a matching hat. I meant to let myself have a break before starting it… but I failed in that regard. I definitely have a full-blown knitting addiction at this stage, hee hee. But then, I also have found myself wondering — perhaps this is seriously the limit of what my spoons can do right now. And in that, I’m maxing out my productivity in a hobby that is fulfilling and not terribly wearying. It doesn’t require nearly as much thought as writing, and it doesn’t necessarily require me to deal with other people (e.g. – social networking, which I think can fairly be considered a hobby).

Or perhaps depression is trying to trap me in an isolation bubble, and I’m enjoying myself too much to keep my guard up. I managed to easily talk myself out of going to the last Stitch ‘n Bitch meeting, though I was basing that on a valid medical reason (slept all day). At work, I’m always in this haze that excludes everyone else. I don’t know whether that’s a depression thing, or a self-preservation thing, but it means that I couldn’t tell you the name of anyone else in that building who I’m not related to (only a slight exaggeration). Having said that, it could just be a side effect of my mind being so wonderfully still by comparison to the before times. So maybe it’s that relaxation thing that I’ve heard so much about, ha ha. I don’t know — I’m just continuing to muck through each day as they come, trying to eke out what enjoyment I can!

I hope everyone out there is having a good weekend.



The post Don’t Cross the Seams! appeared first on The Scarlet B.

Quote of the Day

“Others imply that they know what it is like to be depressed because they have gone through a divorce, lost a job, or broken up with someone. But these experiences carry with them feelings. Depression, instead, is flat, hollow, and unendurable. It is also tiresome. People cannot abide being around you when you are depressed. They might think that they ought to, and they might even try, but you know and they know that you are tedious beyond belief: you are irritable and paranoid and humorless and lifeless and critical and demanding and no reassurance is ever enough. You’re frightened, and you’re frightening, and you’re “not at all like yourself but will be soon,” but you know you won’t.” 

Busy DIY Weekend!

Not much to write about besides my DIY projects. Working on the nightstand I purchased about a month ago and finished a burlap autumn wreath. More projects to follow as I gear up for the holidays!


Here’s my first attempt at making a wreath.


And here is the nightstand, which is still in progress. Love the feeling of accomplishment I have and both projects less expensive than I realized!

Have a great weekend!

Filed under: Crafty Tagged: budget, crafts, DIY, home improvement, rustic

Excuse Me, Is My Bipolar Showing?

Is there lettuce in my teeth? Can you see my patterned underwear through my leggings? Is my bipolar showing?
Each day I try to avoid showing my symptoms to others. I’m always monitoring my interactions: am I talking too fast, getting overexcited, or making bizarre, childish comments? Am I looking sad, acting bored, or avoiding people? I worry that people will think that I’m bipolar. I’m almost constantly concerned their perception of who I am will be tainted by the diagnosis that is printed in black pen on my insurance claims. 
Knowing I’m bipolar because I personally told them or because they read my blog is completely different. When I tell someone that I’m bipolar, I’m relieved when they tell me that they never would have no. To me, that means I’m not claimed by symptoms. It means that I am Jenna first and bipolar a distant second, third, or even tenth. 
I try to present myself to the world as a BIC – bipolar in control. I get out of bed every day, shower, and take my medicine. I have friends. I function. Episodes are unwanted threats to this carefully constructed label. They jeopardize the most critical component – control. When I succumb to mania or depression, I feel so weak. I feel like my brain chemistry has overcome my personality and my will to live normally. 
My dream is to be an intelligent, well-adjusted teen with nice teeth and shampoo commercial hair, and bipolar doesn’t really fit into that equation. It’s like having a handmade jigsaw puzzle, and all of the pieces fit except for one grotesque piece that refuses to work anywhere. Does this one piece ruin the whole puzzle? Of course, the answer is no. Roses are beautiful with their thorns, dalmatians are cute with their spots, and many men and women function with their bipolar. 
Everyone has minute insecurities that can translate into worry or panic. But for people with mental illness, there’s an additional issue that occupies mental realty. I think this is because we perceive mental illness with so much stigma – we think that we could be doing more to control ourselves and our symptoms. When someone has lettuce in our teeth, we don’t change the way we think about that person. We usually just tell them and continue our conversation. We probably don’t even remember the next hour, let alone day. With mental illness, the way we feel about the person exhibiting symptoms may change. We get frustrated or angry with them, almost as frustrated and angry as they are with themselves. These thought processes help no one.
I believe that it will be easier for individuals with mental illness to accept themselves and their symptoms if others can accept them, too. Everyone needs to start seeing the illness separately from the individual – myself included.
So yes, there will be days when my bipolar shows, just like there are days that you can see the pink polka dots of my underwear through my leggings. There will be days when everyone can tell that I am manic or depressed or numb or angry, and that’s okay. Because that’s the funky little puzzle piece I carry in my pocket.