Daily Archives: December 10, 2013

The Icarus Project

I have found the mecca of free thinkers surrounding mental health. The Icarus Project.

Here is an introductory video, a TEDx talk by Sascha Altman DuBrul.

I am hopeful to gain an audience with Sascha and talk about his amazing work with this project. More soon…

Understanding Depression

From the wonderful Stephen Fry…a quote for you all to enjoy and pass along. He is a wonderful example of what it means to be “out there” with bipolar, but also not be defined by bipolar. He has led a rich and colorful life, bringing humor and intellect to the masses, though his many television appearances. I was introduced to the British phenom during my summers in Ireland many years ago. I didn’t know that he had bipolar at all until I began research for this project. His work with many bipolar advocacy organizations is admirable to say the least. There’s just so much more to his life than his diagnosis, which I respect fully. Like so many of us, he has many diverse talents and has dabbled in a wide variety of subjects. Thankfully, we can share in the experience because it’s been captured on film.

A Most Unwelcome Visitor

Late last night

I’d a terrible fight

With a Wild Gazite

With eyes of white

And he gave me a fright

When he gave me a bite

But I fixed him, all right–

I turned on the light.

–Shel Silverstein

Well.  I wish it had been some imaginary bogey-creature that vanished when the light went on, but it wasn’t.

What it was, (past tense), was an arachnid the size of my hand, give or take.  On the door.  The door by the refrigerator, the one I have to pass by in order to get to the overhead light switch.  

I was on my way over there to do just that: turn off the light.

That was when I saw….it.

It was frozen, probably with fear of me, halfway up the door, right at eye level.  I jumped back, spine tingling like mad.

I hate spiders.  Especially gigantic ones.  And most particularly, gigantic ones that invade my living space.

I have had conversations with them in the past, that go something like this:

“Spider.  I know that you have a job to do, and that you are, in truth, my servant.  You eat other creatures that I don’t want in my living space.  I appreciate that, and I encourage you to continue, as long as you do not invade my space, and most importantly, as long as I don’t see you.  Because, spider, if I see you, you will die.  Guaranteed.”

I think this approach works, somewhat, because I seem to see fewer spiders after such a speech.  I think that spiders are actually quite intelligent, and that they pay attention.  They have to, to make a living, and keep from being killed.

I live in a building that used to be my father’s pottery studio, until he became too disabled to work, and I cleaned the place out (sort of) and moved in.  It’s quite….rustic here (no plumbing except for one spigot), and pretty well closed in from the outside elements, but there is an established spider population, because before I moved in it was damp, cool, and dark: just what a spider loves.

The first thing I did before moving in was to thoroughly bomb the place with anti-spider poisonous gas.  It worked pretty well.  Looks like it might be time to do it again, eh?

So.  Back to last night’s arachnophobic encounter.

After I got myself together from the initial shock, I ran for the big orange can labeled “Spider Killer,” which I have to keep turned around so that I don’t see the horribly explicit picture of a huge spider on the front of the can.  I sneaked up on the monster from behind my clothes rack (shudder: what if it had….never mind).

There it was, still on the door, but having tiptoed a little to the left, trailing a thread of silk.  I felt kind of sorry for it, but not for long.  I aimed the nozzle of the Spider Killer at it, and fired!

The can kind of fizzled and got Spider Killer all over my hand.  Cursing softly, so as not to alarm my prey, I washed my hand thoroughly under the one spigot and returned to the fray, having made sure that the nozzle was now functioning properly.

I aimed again and fired, this time covering the arachnid with a thick coating of white Spider Killer.  She jumped (the huge ones are always female) and kind of drew in her legs a bit.  Good, I thought, now the poison will quickly kill her and I can think about something else.

But no.  She picked herself up, and letting out some more line, shuffled in a diagonal fashion across the door, leaving an image of herself where I had sprayed the white substance on her: a nice spider-shaped stencil on the door.

I had at her again with the Spider Killer.  I sprayed her until she was totally white, like a spider snowman.  She stopped moving and looked a little sick, but in no fashion dead.  In a state of low-grade panic, I cast about for something to fatally whack her with.

The studio is full of every kind of tool, including a mattock and a machete (I am SO glad that I forgot about my .22 Ruger pistol that I keep under the bed), but the only thing I could imagine that would actually murder a spider at a distance without causing damage to my living space was the broad side of the broom, followed up by whacks with the dust-pan if necessary.

And that is what I did.  I gave her a tremendous whack with the broom, one that I hoped would cause instant death, not caring whether I had to clean the aftermath off the door.

But no.  She was a very tough customer.  Although she did fall **plop** on the floor, she was neither squashed nor dead, and in fact picked herself up and groggily tried to make a getaway.  It took several more smacks with the broom and frantic whacks with the dust-pan to reduce her to a pile of spider debris, which I triumphantly swept into the dust-pan.  I grabbed the door handle, planning to throw her remains outside, but my hand just slipped and sloshed around, because the handle was covered with Spider Killer (indeed!).  Cursing out loud now (the spider being beyond hearing me), I rushed once again to the spigot to wash the Spider Killer off.  It didn’t kill the spider, but who knows what it would do to me???

Armed with paper towels, I wiped the door handle down, and also the door which now boasted two spider stencils.  And then, holding the dead spider in the dust-pan in my left hand, I opened the door with my right.

Only it didn’t open.  It was stuck.  It does that sometimes, from the humidity.  There are advantages and disadvantages from living on a cliff 500 feet above a Scenic River.  Humidity is a Disadvantage.

I put the pan with the spider down and wrestled with the door.  It took a pretty good whack to get it unstuck at the top, where it always sticks.  I really need new doors in this place.

At long last I stepped out onto the bridge that connects the studio to what used to be the kiln room, and dumped the crumpled corpse over the side.

Then I had a whisky while I waited for my meds to take effect, tranquil in the aftermath of battle.

The Black Dog

A friend of mine posted this video on Facebook yesterday and I just had to share it here. This is a video about depression that was put out by the World Health Organization. Your thoughts?

DBT Debrief: Distress Tolerance

Distress tolerance was the first DBT skills module I encountered (after mindfulness, of course.) I knew I needed help with …

Continue reading »

Bipolar Me

And now, back to our regularly scheduled topic: bipolar disorder. Mine, in particular.

Since I got the news that I’ve been hired for the state inspector position, I’ve undergone a seismic shift in the way I feel about my life and my illness. I’m not saying the sky’s the limit—and I’m sure as hell not saying I’m cured!—but this has given me a badly-needed lift and it’s turned my thinking around on a dime.

I am NOT done. I still have possibilities. I desperately needed to know this.

So I’ve taken a couple of measures to keep my “nonconformity” a little more private. I’ve already changed my name and profile picture on Facebook, and I’ve resolved to never disclose my bipolar at work. It’s just too big of a risk. I’ve been burned twice now and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let it happen a third time if I can help it. Which means I’ve got to avoid becoming manic at all costs, because that’s the hardest mood state to hide. With depression, I just become quiet and withdrawn…..but we ALL know what happens at the other end of the spectrum.

In some ways, I resent it that I can’t be forthcoming about my illness. If I had to take insulin every day at lunchtime, I wouldn’t think twice about taking my kit with me into a private area and injecting. But with a brain disorder—something that strikes at the very heart of a person—one must keep it to herself or risk being branded. I know this better than anyone. I don’t know HOW I’m going to hide it, or how I’m going to remain stable when I’ve been all over the map for two solid years. Nor do I know how it’s going to be different this time……but I’m going to do my best to make sure that it is.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not as confident as I appear on the surface. Inside, I’m scared to death that my superiors and co-workers will find out, of decompensating and being unable to hide it, of being seen as unstable and unreliable. These are all things that have happened to me before, so I think I can be forgiven for being a little anxious. BUT…..I am sick and tired of living in fear. I have had it up to my hairline with the “what if’s”. I am just shy of 55 and this is the best chance I’ve got to find out what I’m really made of—bipolar or not.

A couple of family members and friends have expressed some concern with my taking this job, which I understand because they’ve been right alongside my husband and my doctor, picking up pieces of my shattered being off the ground and patching me back together. They’ve seen me go down in flames, only to rise and dance on the moon, and then crash again. I really don’t know how to address their concerns, except that I MUST try this last time to reach for the proverbial brass ring, rather than settle for my current circumstances—which are pitiful indeed—or worse.


Nomination: Most Influential Blogger Award

Thanks to a wonderful blogger, Bradley, whose blog is Howisbradley, I have been nominated for the Most Influential Blogger Award. It is both humbling and an honor that he would think of my blog for this award. Thank you so much! I truly enjoy your blog, and have found it to be an honest look […]

The Bad Place

I am in the bad bad bad place in my mind right now. Paranoid, suspicious, nervous, SCARED. I am literally scared to leave my home. I feel fragile and like everyone is out to get me. No amount of logic and reasoning is helping. I think I am losing my mind.

My skin is crawling off my bones.

It’s been such a bucket of suck day mentally. My brain is not working properly. It is sending messages that are wrong.

So if I am cognizant enough to figure that out, why can’t I talk myself out of all the bullshit going on in my head?

I’ve gotten two texts and I am TERRIFIED to even open them. I don’t wanna be criticized, bitched at, or questioned by R. I pissed him off again and rather than just leaving me be, he continues to engage and I just want him gone. Out of my consciousness. Because the LAST thing I need as I sit here thinking I am losing my mind is an unsupportive bully making me feel even worse.

How is possible to feel this shitty without leaving the house? I think it kinda blows that idiot counselor’s borderline diagnosis out the door because borderline responds to thinks that are happening. My mood changes for no good reason. Random. Nothing bad even happened to send me to The Bad Place.

I have GOT to become functional again or they will take my kid away. And aside from not taking her to school, I am tending to her needs. She is fed, bathed, clothed, has her medication. But the world doesn’t accept sort of functional. It requires full functioning. That isn’t me right now. It will pass, bipolar has taught me that. But when? And how many bridges will I have burned by the time I return to my right mind?

I hate this more than anyone can possibly know. It’s beaten me down so far I don’t even care if I live or die anymore. I’m useless by the world’s standards because I can never be the one thing it needs me to be:stable. So I will never measure up, seems stupid to even bother trying.

I watched a show tonight and it said “Play your own game, then you won’t be worried about someone elses game and be on the defensive all the time.”

It makes sense.  But what IS my game? Survival. Just trying to stay afloat. And how do you not think about the games belonging to others when getting by in society depends on successfully interacting with others?

I don’t get the social thing. At all.

My ear is itching.Someone is talking about me.


I did come to a conclusion tonight. I am my own worst enemy. Because in a way, intentional or not, I do sabotage most relationships. All my life I’ve been barraged with what everyone thinks is wrong with me. So I put in all those years in counseling changing everything but my eye color but everyone around me got to remain the same and keep all their shitty qualities that make me nuts. It’s made me rabid about people making an effort to change when they have flaws. And I guess my expectations are the catalyst because most people dont even think they have flaws let alone want to fix them.

It’s fucked up. “Don’t expect others to change to please you.”

But all I get is, “You’d be awesome if you’d just not be depressed…don’t panic…You’re great but you…”

I think I have earned every ounce of fucked upness I have considering the ass trash people around me. Oh, wait, I’m shirking responsibility by blaming people for their shitty behavior.

Fuck social stuff.

And fuck whatever is in my brain sending these damn messages making me too paranoid and scared to open the front door.

Bipolarly 2013-12-10 01:02:00

“What’s wrong?”  No one asks this, but they imply it.  And I feel compelled to answer by not answering.  It’s the only way I can truly fit in all the words, to not say them at all.  I stare off until the colors of what I’m looking at grow tired and as heavy as my fake smile.  

What’s wrong?  I don’t know.  Everything.  Nothing.  Everything.  

Quote of the Day

“Somewhere in the world there is a defeat for everyone. Some are destroyed by defeat, and some made small and mean by victory. Greatness lives in one who triumphs equally over defeat and victory.” -John Steinbeck