Daily Archives: November 24, 2013

Stigma: A Family Tradition

I think this “SAD light” is helping.  Whereas before I had it, all I could think of was classier and more refined ways of offing myself, now I find myself thinking about ways to get back on the ol’ horse and ride.

Sadly, a return to medical practice is not an option.  Too much time has elapsed since I did my last official doctoring (I say “official” because I take care of the odd mild emergency here and there, without charge).  The face of medicine has completely changed, and to tell you the truth, I want no truck with it.  Doctors now are nothing but machines.  I’m an old-fashioned country doc, and I know it’s a waste but I’m stuck with what I’ve been dealt.

But wait: I have other talents yet to be tapped!  I have a Master’s Degree in Medical Anthropology.  I have spent the past eight years studying Hebrew cosmology, in Jerusalem!  I think that gives me a set of credentials unique enough to shop myself as a visiting professor in some humanities department at some university.  I love to teach.  And what fun!

Good heavens, there’s a university practically next door to me, University of North Carolina at Asheville.  And another one in Johnson City, Tennessee, only an hour away.  It’s worth a try, anyway.  Hell’s bells, they’re still teaching the Bhagavad Gita over there, and the Epic of Gilgamesh, and no doubt Beowulf, and certainly Plato’s Republic, Sophocles, and the rest of the cast of thousands representing contrasting world views.

But I have never, ever seen Hebrew cosmology taught in any curriculum save programs in Jewish Studies, and even there, it’s not presented from an Anthropological point of view, but as pure theology.

And people, the Cosmology I’m talking about is not your Jewish Grandma’s matzo ball soup.  It’s Hebrew physics: a sophisticated body of theoretical systems that explain how the world was created as “some-thing” out of “no-thing,” and continues in its trajectory of creation even now.  In essence, it runs exactly parallel to modern wave/particle theory, and other theories in modern physics and astronomy.

So I had this chiddush (“ch” as in “Bach”), which means “brand new light-bulb-type idea,” while sipping Turkish coffee flavored with cardamom this morning.  I got addicted to the stuff in Israel, and it is one of the things I stuff a suitcase with whenever I come back to America.

So yes, I had this chiddush.  Why don’t I make an appointment with someone important in the Humanities department in Asheville, and pitch my idea to them?  I could even wear my normal everyday Israeli clothes, which do look a bit odd compared to American clothes, but they are authentic and might add a flavor of genuineness to my demeanor.

Since I always call my mother at 11 am to check on how their night was, I did so this morning.  And since I was rather hyped up by my chiddush, I told her about it (minus the Israeli clothes, since she thinks they are bizarre and wants nothing to do with them).

She oohed and aahed over the whole idea, since the fact that I have been on disability is awkward for her; when people ask what I am doing and she has to make up some lie because she doesn’t want to tell the truth.  She is embarrassed by the reason for my disability: mental illness.  She wouldn’t mind so much if it were cancer or MS, but mental illness–disgraceful.

And so it was that right in the midst of her ecstasy at the thought of my doing something “productive” again, she stopped dead and hissed, “Don’t you tell them why you haven’t been working.  You’ll shoot yourself in the foot.”

“What!  Are you telling me that you think an educated person would not hire me because I’m bipolar?” I fairly screamed.

“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m talking about!” Quoth she.

“Let’s look at this thing,” I said more calmly.  ”Twenty years ago a gay person wouldn’t dare come out and say they were gay.  That’s because they were IN THE CLOSET, afraid to come out because they were afraid of losing their jobs, among other things. And now being gay is just part of who someone is.  You’re telling me now that you think that I should stay in the closet because I’m bipolar?  Bipolar is a part of who I am.  It’s me, and I’m not going to deny who I am.  Of course I’m not going to shake hands with the program director and say “Hi, I’m Laura and I’m bipolar, anymore than I would say “Hi, I’m Laura and I’m bisexual (only my mother chooses to “forget” that I’m bisexual, so she doesn’t get that part).”

But, if the interview goes well and we get down to nuts and bolts, and the director wants me to teach an 8 o’clock class, then I’ll certainly come out and tell her that I have a health issue that limits the times that I can work; and if the vibes are appropriate, I’ll tell her what it is.

If the truth be known, there’s a huge LGBT population, both in the student body and in the faculty, at UNCA, and I’m sure that like anywhere else there must be a significant percentage of people at the University with various mental illnesses.  I’m hoping that since sexual preference diversity is so much out in the open, that neurodiversity might be well accepted too.  I’m hoping.

Oh, look!  I’ve already made the assumption that they’re going to get all excited about my syllabus and hire me straight away!

“Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!”–Admiral David Farragut


I don't know why I feel so cross at the moment. I just feel angry but I don't really know why. I think I've come to a bit of a standstill and I don't know how to move forward. Sometimes I feel incredibly sorry for myself. Then I feel incredibly guilty as I know my little life and problems are pretty insignificant in the scheme of things. I get so wrapped up in my own world when really I'm not that important. Things have changed so much over the last few months and I don't really know how to handle it. I need to move on but I'm not sure how. There are some things I have no control over but there's a huge amount that I do and that's frightening. 
I think I've finally come to the conclusion that there's nothing I can do about my son. The police have a warrant for his arrest and he has gone AWOL. I can't help him if I don't even know where he is. The only time he's called me is to beg for money. I don't know if he is back on the heroin. I know he is in trouble and I know that he's blown his chances of help from the rest of my family. It's not good but I'm powerless to do anything. I feel like I've let him down but in reality he has let himself down. I know I should just let him get on with it but he's always there in the back of my mind. Of all the things I wished for my son, to be a drug addict was the last thing I ever imagined. 
Yesterday I had to go to the meeting to finalise termination of my employment. It was awful. I didn't realise how awful it would be. Even though I knew it was coming it still upset me more than I imagined. Having to sit in front of a panel of managers and listen to the report that had been compiled about how I'd had recurrent bouts of absence due to my ongoing mental health problems. How I'd been employed by them for 23 years but since 2007 I'd had over 20 episodes of sickness and over 1,200 days absent. How I'd had input 
from occupational health, the mental health team and various other agencies. How the organisation had done everything in their power to try and help me keep my job. How after due consideration they could no longer support me in my role. I tried to keep my head up but the tears just flowed as I listened. I couldn't help it, I felt so pathetic.They asked me if I had anything to say. What could I say? It was there in black and white. For the last 6 years I'd been off sick more than I'd been at work. I felt like a freak. They were very nice about it and they made it clear that it was in no way a disciplinary action and that my ability to do my job and actual performance was never in question. There was never any question that I was excellent at my job but in reality it doesn't make a shits bit of difference wether I was good at my job or not. I feel like I'm now probably unemployable. That's another huge part of my life fucked up.
I'm missing having someone to be intimate with. I know it was right to stop it but I do miss him and I do miss the sex. I don't always feel safe now. I know what I'm like when I get high and sex is on my mind. It frightens me. I really don't want to do it with just anybody. I know I'm going to have to be really careful and stay away from certain people and certain situations. 
I'm probably in the worst shape I've ever been. When I look in the mirror I hate what I see. It's one of the few things I know I can easily do something about. I am trying but it's just so hard to find the motivation. 
I still can't seem to make a clean break from my ex husband. He still messages me and I still reply. He still insists that if I was ever in "that dark place " I could turn to him. He means if I ever wanted to kill myself. He was one of the main reasons why I wanted to do it in the first place so I don't see how that works? 
My medication is still not right. My moods are all over the place. It's just never ending. 
It's coming up to Christmas, which is the worst time of year for me. Too many bad memories. This year has been unbelievably hard and I know I shouldn't wish time away but I really will be glad to see the back of it. I felt exactly the same this time last year and probably the same for the last 6 years. I don't deal with change very well. I know things can't stay the same forever but I just wish for a bit of stability. All I want is to be well and be happy. What I don't want is to upset anyone or cause any problems, which is what I seem to do constantly. I feel like I'm always taking and never giving. I keep telling myself things can't possibly get worse. Surely next year has to be different. 

Medication Woes and Wonders

I just read this quote, from a fellow member of a group I belong to. I felt it so beautifully summarized how I, and many others, have felt about medication usage.

“I remember when I would listen to a beautiful song and cry to its majesty. Now I listen to a beautiful song and, if I cried, it’d be for the memory of how intensely I could feel when I heard a beautiful song.
It’s never been the same when taking Lithium (not even talking about the other stabilizers). But honestly it’s much worse when not taking it. Although living conditions have improved, can’t help but long to feel as purely as I used to. Such is the price of living “normal” in an abnormal world I guess. Family’s taking a respite though, so are the finances. So I reckon it’s worth it.”

-Robert García Cooper

I feel as though the larger society thinks bipolar is simply “solved” by taking medication, and they can’t understand why people go “off” medication. Most people have no concept of the ravaging side-effects that can occur with medication. For all of us, it is a fine-line balancing act, and one that is derived out of trial-and-error.

When the benefits outweigh the repercussions one is headed in the right direction, in my humble opinion. But this can only be determined by the individual. We all have different goals, accept different standards of impairment, and have alternate feelings about being “well”. But there is no simple answer when it comes to medication, hence the common med-go-round that everyone seems to experience.

The question of quality of life comes to mind. For me, it is clear, medication makes my life far better, but it is not without a cost. I wish Robert all the luck in the world as he decides what drug regiment does the most good with the least number of undesirable side-effects.

Keep trying until you get it right everyone! Until we have a better system than trial-and-error, just keep putting your head down, researching possibilities, and be open and honest with your care givers, and those who surround you. You do not have to accept every icky nasty life devouring side-effect that comes down the pipe. Chances are you will accept some level of side-effect in order to achieve the mental stability you crave. That’s simply truthful. There is no miracle pill, but there may be a better pill for you!

Live in certainty that you can improve, regardless of where you are today… but not without effort and courage. Keep searching!

Alternative Therapies

I’m composing a list of non-traditional therapies to explore for people with bipolar disorder. Below is what I have come up with so far, all of which will be exhaustively researched, and some of which will be attempted by me. The results will be depicted in the film. I’m wondering if people could kindly tell me if I’m missing any possible avenues worth researching? What have you tried?

  • Accupuncture
  • Massage
  • Chinese Herbs
  • Marijuana
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Yoga
  • Dietary Changes – Example: Gluten Free, Low Inflammation Diets
  • Dietary Supplements – Example: Glutathione / Tumeric
  • Meditation
  • Hakomi Therapy
  • Somatic Therapy
  • Shamanistic Healing
  • Color Theory / Aura Readings
  • Chakra Healing
  • Reiki
  • Life Coaching
  • Religious Intervention
  • Aromatherapy & Essential Oils
  • Light Therapy
  • Service Animal
  • Behavioral modification via education / books
  • ECT
  • Pranic Healing
  • EFT – Emotional Freedom Techniques

I know I can Find More Out There… someone teach me something new! Oh, and as a general disclaimer, I don’t endorse any of these methods personally. I am simply going to investigate them all, and present the information to the community, so individuals can see what resonates with them personally.