Daily Archives: September 18, 2014

Pain In The Membrane

Day started out decently. Told R I’d be spending the day with Bex, and since he had nothing for me to do but sit there entertaining him…I didn’t feel bad about it.
Bex mowed the lawn while I did the dishes and cat boxes and laundry.
It was going beautifully, even if I was a little uninspired and restless.
After we fetched Spook from school…
I got hit with a migraine from hell. It was awful. I never sleep during the day but today when Bex asked if I wanted to lay down for awhile and she’d watch my kid…I was so nauseous and so sensitive to light and sound, I did lay down. I catnapped, off and on, for about an hour. Felt better when I woke, but the migraines, rare as they may be for me, pack such a wallop that it’s much like a hangover.
I cooked supper then batcaved.
I’m still bone tired and nursing some migraine aftermath.I can’t wait to succumb to sleep, the brain needs a reboot. Migraines are a bitch.

Figures on a day when my mood is decent, my anxiety is low…I’d get my ass kicked by a migraine and feel too shitty to enjoy my rare mental stability.
It’s all so much ass trash.

Mental Health Stigma

Unfortunately there is a stigma associated with mental illness. This stigma leads many people to suffer in silence. Or worse, to not seek help.

This week a friend called me Hester Prynne. You know, the heroine of Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic The Scarlet Letter. For those of you who slept through American Literature in high school, Hester committed adultery and a few  months later she birthed a daughter out of wedlock. The novel is set in Puritanical New England. So the society was big on shame and punishment. Hester did some time in jail, and when the baby was born she had to stand on a pillory for a few hours. For the rest of her life she had to wear an A emblazoned on her chest. But Hester was a seamstress. And a strong woman. She was not to be shamed. She designed an elaborate A. And instead of wearing it as a badge of shame, she took this as a chance to own her sin while simultaneously showing off her craftsmanship.

So my friend called me a modern-day Hester. Instead of shrinking from the stigma of having bipolar disorder, I have embraced it. I don't know why I don't feel the stigma. But I just don't. But I want to be the voice for those who do feel the stigma and are silenced.

I am reminded of a quotation from Audre Lorde: "When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak." Lorde, the self-defined "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet." Silence does not protect you.

My goal of becoming a bipolar spokesperson has been coming to fruition. By next month, I will have had three interviews (two Internet radio interviews and a blog interview) I blog here and at Huffington Post. And I'm in the midst of writing my bipolar memoir. This whole process has been incredibly therapeutic. And I hope that my life and story has been a blessing to others.

NAMI Family Member Guest Speaker

Yesterday afternoon at NAMI Peer-to-Peer Recovery Education Program, we had the pleasure of listening to Steve Pitman, Board of Directors President of NAMI Orange County, who shared his experience as a family member of those living with mental illness.
Here is a video of Steve Pitman giving a similar speech at The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church at Saddleback Church last March:

You can watch videos of the conference on the Mental Health and the Church YouTube channel:

Last March, I attended the conference and heard Steve Pitman speak. I briefly wrote about my experience on my blog post: The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church. The conference was a joint effort by Pastor Rick and Kay Warren of Saddleback Church, Bishop Kevin Vann of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, and NAMI Orange County, as well as other faith and community leaders. The conference was:

a one-day event designed to encourage individuals living with mental illness, educate family members, and equip church leaders to provide effective and compassionate care to any faced with the challenges of mental illness.


NAMI FaithNet

For many years NAMI has reached out to faith communities through FaithNet.

NAMI FaithNet is a network of NAMI members and friends dedicated to promoting caring faith communities and promoting the role of faith in recovery for individuals and families affected by mental illness.

NAMI FaithNet is proud to offer two programs and guides to assist NAMI Affiliate and State Organization grass root leaders with their faith outreach efforts. Learn more about Reaching Out to Faith Communities and Bridges of Hope.

Filed under: About God, Acceptance, Family, Mental Health, NAMI, Posted Thoughts, Psychosocial Education, Recovery, Stigma, Vocation Tagged: mental health ministry, NAMI FaithNet, NAMI Family-to-Family, NAMI P2P, NAMI Peer-to-Peer, The Gathering on Mental Illness and the Church

Blah blah blahhh

I read bipolar blogs and lots of bloggers say that they sleep a lot. I read advice for bipolar people online and it says sleep enough, sleep more. When the medication facilitates it, I sleep enough. When I can, I sleep a lot. Panic attacks knock me out. Fear knocks me out.

My mother was always so worried about the chemical cosh for me; I am glad she can’t see me right now. Dead eyed despair.

Fuck it gets better right up the ass with someone else’s syphilitic … er nevermind. But yeah. Fuck that Pollyanna bullshit. How can it get better when you’re guaranteed it getting worse again? All the hallelujahs of modern medicine and the best help we can expect is remission, which means relief from the two poles of our emotions and strands us blandly between them.

Time for some radical acceptance.

There are three parts to radical acceptance.  The first part is accepting that reality is what it is.  The second part is accepting that the event or situation causing you pain has a cause.  The third part is accepting life can be worth living even with painful events in it. 

1. Yeah.
2. An indefinable/unproven one.
3. Hahahahaha.

The cause of bipolar disorder is not entirely known. Genetic, neurochemical and environmental factors probably interact at many levels to play a role in the onset and progression of bipolar disorder.

Life can be worth living. No problem with that, I’m sure it can. It has been, often. Totally not ready to think past that though. It’s in the pending tray and I might not ever get to it.

This Is Something Cool About Boulder

Bears!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLAxAqX0SF8

That is all…

Filed under: Bipolar, Bipolar Disorder, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Bears In Boulder, Bipolar, Hope, Mental Illness, Psychology, Reader

Alrighty, Then

Gee, You Look Old

You’re minding your own business, washing your hands at the bathroom sink, when you look up in the mirror and freeze.  Is that really what I look like now?  Holy Methuselah, Batman!  You lean in, touch the flesh, pull it tight, let it flop back into place.  You bare your teeth.  That’s not the color I remember.  Leaning into the sink gives your back a twinge, but get close and look into the eyes (not the bags around them).  You see something familiar.  Blink.  Look again.  Ah, there I am.

With a deep breath, you can straighten up.  And Ace Ventura comes out of your mouth:

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

The best brains spin the most. (Derren Brown)

Yeah and of course the spin cycle is a sign of stuff bipolar people have to guess and second guess and fight and medicate and regret. It is not a simple matter. In fact, it’s throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Subthreshold symptoms (hypo/mania doesn’t have a prodrome the way psychosis does – yet another factor that makes management fucking tricky) can be the most productive you’ve ever been and the most fun you’ve ever had. Alright, so apparently it’s all too much, too intense, but when your point of reference is you (and regarding emotions, what else could it be?), then finding out that it’s actually disordered is, to put it bluntly, shit.

The process is not easy and for those of us with ptsd and hell behind us, it’s bizarre. Suddenly, instead of fighting self loathing and battling for self esteem, it’s perfectly ok to launch into Mao-era style struggle sessions (self criticism sessions). Brutal, baby.

The I have/I am bipolar dichotomy rears its slippery head again. So much of who I am hinges on who I am when I’m hypomanic. And now I am medicating it and I fear it. It’s all blahfuckingblah perky on the surface, innit? Don’t fret! Bipolar is manageable! Yeahhh … successful medication changes worlds from colour to greyscale and frequently murders the creative spark. The alternative is an incredible amount of very real pain (the type of pain that I wish people with no mental illness would stop fuckingwell saying they can relate to, because they fuckingwell can’t. It’s like heterosexuals who demand pride marches of their own).

The bipolar is manageable bandaid eh? It actually isn’t, it’s treatable. Something incurable with possible remission and built in relapse, ain’t manageable. It’s as predictable as the sea or a pissed off lion in a cage. If bipolar got managed immediately after diagnosis, the last deep emotion any manic depressive would feel, would be grief. Because after that, the meds take the edge off. That might sound fine to you if you’re a baseball bat, but it’s soul destroying when you’re a sword.

Let me tell you about heartache and the loss of god … (Jim Morrison)

I don’t have a nice, neat solution and you don’t either. I don’t think there is one.

Creating and Complaining

I am absolutely cranky every day until I get out of the house. Once out my mood is lifted and I am in a good mood for rest of the day.
We went to Michael’s and I got some pencils and a few mores brushes for creating on my canvas’. I’m excited to start working on them.

My mom in law is thinking of moving out into a home that is the same model as the one that we will live in. It will be interesting to see how we each decorate our homes. We re both very different. She is even considering a lot right next door. You would think that it would bother me but I think it would be kind of cool. Would make holidays a breeze :D.. Ooh we could do an amazing two lawn Halloween decoration.

Tomorrow is therapy, I look forward to it a great deal and even my weekly lunch with my mom in law. Also we meet with the builders for our home, woot. I am so excited.

Hopefully tomorrow I don’t wake up cranky again. However it seems to be the norm. C’est la Vie.

Dying On The Low Road


When I walked into Dad’s room at the nursing home, he was writhing in agony and moaning.  He had succeeded in getting his hospital gown off, and was working on the rest of his attire–his diaper–and had the bedclothes tightly twisted around his legs so they stuck out at an unnatural angle.

I threw off my backpack and ran to him.

“Hi Dad, what’s wrong?”  I unravelled the sheets and put his top back on him.  He grabbed my hand and smiled, kissed my hand over and over, then a pain struck him and he rolled from side to side, moaning.

“Where does it hurt, Dad?”

He managed to get his good hand up to his head.

“You have a headache?”

Nods.  He has a hell of a concussion after his horrid fall a month or so ago.  I can relate, having had several bad concussions.  They give you a headache for a long time.

“OK, let me get the nurse to give you some Tylenol (Acetaminophen, Acamol, Paracetamol, etc.).  That will help your headache.

He looked at me skeptically, but assented with his eyes.

Since his last fall, Dad, who had been having difficulty speaking after a number of small strokes in the speech area of the brain, is now “locked in.”  He can understand a lot of what is said around him, but he is unable to produce meaningful speech.  It’s a horrible state to be in.

The nurse was very busy passing pre-dinner meds, but she knows my dad, and if he says he is in pain, he is.  She crushed up the tablets in applesauce and I fed it to him.  It tasted vile, and he gagged on it.  At least I was able to get some water into him, in the form of big mouthfuls to wash the taste of the nasty medicine out of his mouth.

The Tylenol did take his headache away, but it didn’t fix whatever was causing him to writhe and groan.

I called his nurse, and we made the joint decision to give him his morphine, which he has on order every 4 hours if needed, and it was clearly needed.

Thankfully, the morphine was just a few drops from a tiny syringe.  It seemed to help for half an hour or so, then the writhing and groaning began again.

I searched my mind and looked at the picture with soft vision.  I saw it.  He had to go to the bathroom!

I asked him.  “Maybe,” he says.

I called the Nurse Assistants, and the put him on the commode.  I stepped out for modesty’s sake.  Jewish children are forbidden to look upon their parents’ nudity, as we learn very early in the Torah where Noah gets drunk and takes off all his clothes.  One of his sons looks into his father’s tent, sees him lying there drunk and naked, and laughing, tells his two brothers.  The brothers get a blanket and, throwing it over their shoulders, back into their father’s tent and, not looking at him, drop the blanket on top of him, to cover his nakedness.  So I do not stay in the room whenever the nurses are doing anything that normally we consider private.

Now that we have opened the Jewish Thing, I want to talk about a concept that has been Jewish and Vedic and I don’t know what else, for 5,000 years more or less, that has recently been backed up by medical specialists in the art of assisting dying people.  Yes, there are such physicians.  They minister to hospice patients, for the most part.

The Jewish tradition, backed up by medical observation, is that there are two roads to death: the High Road, or easy death, like people who simply up and die in their sleep, just go to bed like normal and don’t wake up.  We call that “mavet be’neshikah,” or death by a kiss.  Whose kiss?  The kiss of the Master of the Universe, who says, “it’s time to come home now,” and that’s that.  Aharon ha’Kohen and Moshe Rabbeinu both went that way.  I pray that all of us go that way.

People who die like that have finished their soul’s purpose on Earth and will not reincarnate, usually, unless it is into a body that just needs a bit of  touch-up.  These are the babies who die very young, or in the womb after 4 months gestation.

Death on the low road is another thing entirely.  It is a slow and painful death, one that makes the sufferer long for the relief of suffering that death brings.  It seems as if the soul is having a struggle with the Malach ha’mavet–the Angel of Death.  They beat themselves up dying, like a moth beats itself to death on a lightbulb.  It’s not that they don’t want to die, although some of them struggled against Death out of fear of what awaits them on the Other Side.

My father is one of these.  He is a World War II Veteran, and saw and did some horrific things.  He is terrified that he will be held accountable for these actions, which he deeply regrets and spends each night living them over (he has classic PTSD), such that sometimes my mother would have to go sleep in the guest room in order to avoid being a partner in hand-to-hand combat.

The unfortunates who get Death on the Low Road suffer and suffer, and experience all of the unpleasantness and pain of slow death, even to the end, where they have the agonies of air hunger, hallucinations, thick secretions, and even seizures.

What does this mean?

In the Jewish mystical tradition, Death by the Low Road means that the apparently unfortunate sufferer is actually engaged in a process that completes and cleanses the soul from the difficult life it’s been through, and the suffering atones for misdeeds done in life, even if they had a good outcome.

For instance, my father once walked up a small hillock that happened to be on the battlefield of Alsace-Lorraine, and on reaching the top, found himself looking straight into the eyes of a German SS soldier.  For a brief moment, the two teenagers looked into each other’s eyes and saw…themselves.  They saw normal young men who liked to drink beer and chase skirts.  In other circumstances, they might have been buddies.  Then the German pulled his duty pistol, and my father ran him through with his bayonet before the other teenager could fire a shot.

To this day my father regrets that action.  He really, really regrets it.  And by taking the Low Road out, that necessary transgression will be cleansed and forgiven, so that his next incarnation will not be dealt with as that soldier was dealt.  We are held accountable for our deeds, for better or worse, and the blemishes in our pure original souls that these deeds cause must be repaired in one way or another.  This kind of Death is one way of doing it, and in the end it is a much more pleasant way of repairing one’s Godly soul.

But we can’t know.  Take me, for instance.  I did some pretty unsavory things as a young person, and even as an older person.  None of these were intentional or premeditated, and most of it was due to my undiagnosed, untreated Bipolar Disorder.  Yet according to our tradition, these blemishes must be cleansed in some way.

With the Days of Awe, from Rosh ha’Shanah  (the Jewish New Year, the Day of Judgement) through Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement, almost upon us, I am trying to make a Heshbon Nefesh, a close examination of my character and deeds, so that I may, through the Days of Awe repent of my misdeeds, whether intentional, whether accidental, whether hidden or revealed, please my G-d look into my heart and find it clean.

And please, please, Master of the Universe, grant me a judgement for a Death on the High Road, b’neshikah.

As it turned out, Dad’s pain was indeed caused by stomach cramps.  After relieving his intestines of their burden, he fell into an exhausted sleep.

I took my leave then, fiercely warning all of his nursing staff NOT to wake him for vital signs or anything else until the next time they had to turn him in the bed, another two hours.  Whether they did that is anyone’s guess, because Dad can’t tell me.  God help us all.

BAD example!

I forgot to take my meds this morning. I didn’t even oversleep, if anything, I was up earlier than usual. But I am sooo not a morning person and getting the kid ready then myself is just…hard work. Yeah, laugh at me, it sounds asinine, but it’s truth.
So by 1 pm, my mood was in the abyss.
I took my meds and… WHAM. In spite of a stressful outing to a busy store, my mood went up.
I am a BAD example. Let this be a lesson to others. No matter how busy/destracted/comatose you may be,don’t forget to take your meds. It does make a difference.

I’ve had an uneventful two days as far as outside stressors go. Inside stressors…it’s been a roller coaster ride from hell. Up, down, in between, way down, way up. Way down. Normal prelude to the season change. Especially since it’s been wayyy colder than is the norm for this year. One minute, I can see light at the end of the tunnel that isn’t an oncoming train. Next minute, I am pretty sure I should kill myself as a service to society. Then there are the mixed episodes, the level periods.
*It’s frustrating beyond words and the fact there are *some* that think I swing up and down on the mood spectrum on purpose…makes me violently mad.I don’t want this. I HATE this.

Tonight was supper and early batcave. I am trying to fight the need to ensconce myself in the safe space of my bedroom since I spent eight months in that mindspace last year…It’s just difficult.I like my desktop pc, I like listening to/watching whatever I want. And it’s not Becca, she’s very reasonable and willing to compromise so we are both satisfied.
This is me. This is my seasonal affect disorder pulling me under and I fight it and lash out rebelliously but…it’s starting to kick my ass.
Thankfully, Bex gets it. No one else does. I worry sometimes I hurt her but I like to think she knows it’s not meant that way. I mean, we batcave but we still talk on IM so it’s not some total shunning.

That’s all I’ve got, I’m not feeling real lucid, atm, I just need to…vegetate. My brain is swirling with thoughts and I need to determine which ones are valid and which ones are…nutsy kookoo.
Yeah, that’s a technical term.
If they can ponder being introverted as a disorder for the current DSM, then nutsy kookoo could totally be a technical term.