Daily Archives: December 21, 2014

Offensive Comments are Frustrating

Maybe it is just me but I am sensitive when it comes to my bipolarity and depression. While I can appreciate that everyone suffers differently from it I don’t like to hear any of the following sentences.

“She is sicker than you.”
“Their depression is harder on them then yours is.”
“They’ve tried to kill themselves more than you.”
“They’ve had to be hospitalized.”

I just find it so offensive that someone thinks they know what I am going through cause some fucking movie star starts telling their story of bipolarity.

My mother in law often compares my illness to that of Catherine zeta Jones and it pisses me off. I hide the way I feel from everyone but my husband, so I am so incredibly hurt when she says things like that. I don’t know what to do about her insensitivity. Right now I am just sitting here stewing over it. Which honestly helps no one. Yet I know that I can’t say anything to her about it because of the kind of person she is.


Family Matters

No one in my family understands me.

Actually, no one in my family understands my illness.

My mother-in-law doesn’t believe that mental illness exists. And in a way she has a point. If she hasn’t experienced something, for her it doesn’t exist. Most people are a bit like that sometimes, especially regarding mental disorders. There are only a few varieties of broken arms, and when you’ve got one, you know it. When you’re talking synapses and neurotransmitters, thoughts and feelings, it’s obvious why “invisible illnesses” aren’t obvious or well understood.

I didn’t understand my disorder at first, either. I remember driving past a building with a sign: South Community Mental Health. I didn’t know what I was feeling, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t mentally healthy. I went in and began the journey.

My family had the following reactions when I told them I was going into therapy and when I first started taking medication:

Dad: Just as long as I don’t have to go.

Mom: I’ve heard Prozac is a ticking time bomb.

Mom (later): I thought you would feel better after you found a good job.

Sister: Why should you spend $100 a month just to talk to someone? (The clinic was on a sliding scale, so I actually paid only $5 per visit.)

I understand some of those reactions. Dad had heard about how psychologists blame parents for messed-up kids and he wasn’t going to someone to be told he was crazy, and a bad parent besides. And his fear was not that unreasonable. Dysfunctional kids often do come from dysfunctional families. But underlying my disorder was brain chemistry. I never asked him to join the couch gang.

Mom watched Phil Donahue (for you youngsters, think Dr. Phil). And there was at first over-prescribing of Prozac and suicides once the patients gained enough energy. Plus she thought my depression and anxiety were reactive and would clear up when my living situation was more stable.

My sister, I don’t know. I don’t understand her either. I’m sure she has psychological problems too, of one sort or another. But I’ve been diagnosed, so I’m the crazy one.

My husband, who has a background in psychology, “got it” a little better once he stopped trying to “fix” me. But he never understood in a visceral way until he had his own first meltdown.

“You know how you’re feeling now?” I said. “Try feeling that way for a couple of years instead of a month.” Later he did. So at least he knew what half of bipolar was all about. He still hasn’t felt the rapid cycling or the constant roller coaster or the extreme physical and mental battering of going on and off medication after medication, hoping the next one will do more than make his hands shake worse or his memory turn into Swiss cheese.

Still, it’s better to be partly understood than completely dismissed, and to have a family that tries. And to have a family of choice that does understand, because a lot of them are in the same leaky, patched boat.

I could have done a lot worse.


The Question Column

question marksOkay, readers, we did it! We got a couple of questions! Our first question comes from emwell:

“When you have an important decision to make and you have a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach, do you listen to your gut? How has that worked out for you?”

I think the best way to answer this is to give some examples of situations I’ve been in. I’ll start off with relationships. If there’s one thing I feel uneasy about, it’s being at odds with someone. I think because of my bipolar, I tend to blame myself for any friction or problems I run into with anyone. Do you remember my friend Lori? I had the decision to make whether to dump her out of my life or not. I was sort of feeling sick about it. I was really wondering what I had done. I just didn’t listen to my gut because my gut is not always very accurate. So I did what I often do, I got advice. I asked my husband what he thought and I also asked you guys…do you remember? Everyone advised me to forget her and move on. And so I did. And I felt better. Of course, now she is back and says she wants to be social but I am being very cautious. I don’t want to get hurt again.

When I am manic, watch out. Any feelings I have in my gut or my mind fly right out the window. I can KNOW in my head and my gut that what I am doing is wrong and just do it anyway. That is a weird feeling I can tell you. A part of you (very small) is despairing that you are being so stupid but the mania is like a drug…you cannot overcome it.

Let me give you another example. I was teaching and was struggling mightily with depression. I had a sick feeling in my stomach every day. I knew I needed to make the important decision to quit and go out on disability, but I just didn’t know how I could leave my class. But I knew in my gut (although I was sick about it) that I wasn’t doing the kids any favor by staying there and trying to teach. I was also TERRIFIED of maybe having some sort of breakdown in front of the kids and just crying or something. At that time I was also having occasional visions of things. Not during the day, but I did have fear about it. So although my gut was sick, I knew it was time to go.

Honestly, my best advice when facing tough decisions is to get other opinions from people you respect, especially when you are feeling less than your best.

Thanks for the question, em!

Next question is from bpnurse:

“Here’s a question for you: What have your hospitalizations been like? Some people benefit (myself being one of them) while others don’t do well and even get worse. What did being hospitalized do for you?”

Oh boy! Now here is a question. One I can’t probably even answer well.

I’m 55 years old and am thinking I have been hospitalized 5 or 6 times in the last 30 years. Now I do have some memory problems on my current meds, so I am going to do the best I can.

I never remember going into the hospital calmly. You know, where we were all sitting around at home or at my psych’s office and we all decided “Yes, good idea to go to the hospital!” The times I remember going to the hospital vary, but a couple of them I know I was crying so hard I could barely breathe. Another time I went I was seeing talking trash cans. I remember a nurse talking me down from that one. The other visits I don’t remember exactly why or how I got there.

I do remember that most hospitalizations had some things in common, so I will talk about how those helped me or not.

GROUPS: Ick! I firmly believe that my bipolar is the result of some physical brain problem. It’s not situational. I don’t have any more problems in my life (other than bipolar) than anyone else. So I hated sitting around listening to how everyone hated their mother or their wife. It got really boring. Plus, there were usually some snot nose psych students “sitting in” to judge the whole thing.

ART THERAPY: Uh, no. I am not creative. There was always a totally gifted artist in my group who made me feel like crap.

EATING: Loved it. You could eat all you want and I didn’t have to cook or clean. However, I always gained about 5 pounds a week.

SMOKERS: I don’t smoke and always felt like the unpopular kid cause I didn’t go out on the patio during smoke time. I just couldn’t breathe out there.

INDIVIDUAL THERAPY: Not bad, but nothing I wasn’t getting outside of the hospital.

MEDS: This was the benefit. They tried me on a bunch of different meds really fast. This was I could figure out which gave me seizures, which did not allow me to be conscious, etc. It saved a lot of trial and error on the outside.

VISITORS: Hated this except for my husband. I’d send him off each day with a list of stuff I wanted and he would bring it. Other visitors absolutely wore me out. I got tired after about two minutes.

THE STAFF AND THE OTHER PATIENTS: Sometimes it was hard to tell who was who. They were all crazy.

SUICIDE WATCH: They checked me every 15 minutes. I was safe.

So when I was in a crisis and could not handle myself, the hospital was good. They kept me from self-harm and got me on the right meds. My guess is I probably will have to go back at some tine, but I sure hope not.

Thanks for the question, bp!

Hooray, got my assignment done.

Am planning to write a Christmas entry so will see you then.


The Inappropriate Giggle


I have a confession…I have a terrible affliction.

The Inappropriate Giggle.

Oh, God. It’s a bad case. My family will back me up. If there is ever a time in my life where IT WOULD BE REALLY INAPPROPRIATE TO LAUGH. I laugh.

I even hear this voice in my head (just to clarify this isn’t one of my “voices”, it is way too sensible for that) that says “Rachael. The worst possible thing you could do right now is laugh. For the love of God. Do. Not. Laugh.” And then I do. And then I want to smack myself. But I don’t because I’m already being inappropriate enough.

To give you an idea of the calibre of situations I laugh in: I laughed when my cat got his tail run over and the Vet told us it may need amputation. I laughed when my Mum’s dog died. I laughed when my Mum’s living dog decided to get into an altercation with a potentially deadly snake and almost died. I laugh when people yell at me. I laugh when I yell at people. I laugh when I get told bad news. I laugh in solemn occasions – particularly religious ceremonies. I laugh during exams. In elevators. When something really crappy happens. You name it, if it is inappropriate. I laugh. In fact, I laughed while writing this paragraph just thinking of the inappropriate times I have laughed. As you can see. IT IS AN ISSUE.

And obviously, you know, I don’t REALLY think any of this kind of stuff is funny. Bipolar I may be, but pathological sociopath I am not. But it’s like a reflex reaction that I’ve had for as long as I can remember. I promise you I am not really the cold/heartless/incredibly annoying person that this giggle makes me out to be. I’m just really bad at controlling my emotions.

Tell me I’ve won the lottery and I’ll be all “Uh. Ok. Well that’s nice. Thanks.” Tell me the world is about to, I don’t know, DIE, and I’ll probably laugh. Laughing is my default reaction when I feel anxious, afraid, awkward, or pretty much any negative emotion. The stronger the emotion, the greater urge I have to laugh. Why, yes. I do annoy myself.

But you know, I guess it’s a part of me. And something, obviously, I need to work on before I raise another generation of Inappropriate Gigglers. So I had a think, and in the interest of saving time if I ever desire a career change, I compiled a list of occupations that I simply cannot do as a result of my Inappropriate Giggle.

- Medical doctor
– Lawyer
– Spy
– Funeral Director
– Personal Trainer, particularly if it was on The Biggest Loser
– Anything involving live TV.
– Badass criminal
– Bra fitter
– Anyone who repeatedly needs to sack people
– Teacher (ironically my first serious career choice. It all went wrong from the moment I unwittingly selected the book describing how babies are made to read to my five year olds  at story time. Of course I didn’t laugh. I’m totally mature.)
– Politician
– News reader/Journalist
– Telemarketer, army officer, or pretty much anything that has a likelihood of me being yelled at.

Now that list depressed me. I mean, dude. My desire for the gangsta life is officially off limits. Back to the drawing board. So I decided to put a positive spin on things and create a list of future occupations that I COULD partake in. The fact that I have neither the qualifications or attributes to do any of these jobs is irrelevant. The important thing is that I won’t offend the masses by laughing at inopportune moments.

- Dog Trainer
– Farmer
– Chef
– IT (or perhaps not….)
– Athlete
– Librarian
– Janitor
– Eccentric artist
– Rock star who can do whatever the hell she wants
– Comedian
– Plumber/Electrician/Builder
– Graphic Designer
– Pretty much anything similar to my current role which involves sitting at a desk all day, communicating mainly by email and composing myself for the occasional meeting.

So there you have it. My little not so secret secret. The Inappropriate Giggle is not a laughing matter. Except when it is.

Are there any of you out there with this terrible affliction? Or am I laughing (in a rather awkward manner) alone?

ritual sans religion

Sometime around 4pm, sweating under a blazing sun, I did some gardening, put out the trash and then lit a fire. I have a hollow dug out of the lawn, with rocks from the beach round it. I burned the impepho I’d pulled out, it made very orange flames and very blue smoke. I’d planted it on the advice of a sangoma, who told me (by cellphone) to plant it and tell my mother anything I wanted. So I did and occasionally I’d flick cigarette ash or chuck some coffee grounds. That would have been her top two requests, followed by a cheese sandwich. We had a few weeks of intense summer rain and my poor impepho drowned. Dried, it’s burned inside sometimes, to banish negative things (angry spirits).

The Planet Grief. An incalculable number of light years from the warmth of the sun. When the rain falls, it falls in droplets of grief, and when the light shines, it is in waves and particles of grief. From whatever direction the wind blows–south, east, north or west– it blows cinders of grief before it. Grief stings your eyes and sucks the breath from your lungs. No oxygen on this planet, no nitrogen; the atmosphere is composed entirely of grief. [By the Time You Read This, Giles Blunt]

I don’t want to write about it much tbh. I’ll just tell her now, like I did when they took the body; hamba kahle, mum.

Longread Linkdump ii

epinephrine and cortisol and dopamine, oh boy

why some people respond to stress by falling asleep zzzzzzzzzzzz …
fuck you anxiety, both my middle fingers are up!
forced lobotomies for wwii soldiers with ptsd (USA)
how to land your kid in therapy (written by a therapist)
my life in therapy (by a patient)


a conversation with allie brosh (hyperbole and a half)

reddit ama with allie brosh – some really cool random stuff as well as serious answers.

“The best thing I can say is don’t try to fix it for them. That can be hard because it’s natural to want to help, but clinical depression doesn’t really have a reason behind it or a clear solution, and all the helpful advice almost makes the depressed person feel pressured to pretend they feel better so they don’t frustrate the people trying to help them.” (Allie Brosh)

Almost? (Blahpolar)

stuff at a slight tangent:

nonagenerian says it’s silly to be frightened of death but dying is another matter.


blue 52: the loneliest whale in the world


what makes us happy?

Longreads are love. They’re quiet spaces in the infostorm. Also, better writing and content.

Happy solstice, if that’s your thing and enjoy the longest or shortest day of the year, depending  on what hemisphere you’re in.

The Biggest Gift I Could Receive from Divorcing Parents

I have been doing better here lately, there is no doubt about that.  Unfortunately, over the last week or so, I have started to do things like, a) not be able to sleep or b) cry uncontrollably for hours on end, and c) deal with suicidal ideation.  The sleep has been better in the past three days and I am hoping it stays that way because that just makes it all the more difficult.

Holiday times have always been important in my immediate family.  There have always been big lunches and dinners and the tallest Christmas tree that can be found and cookie baking and house decorating and prepping recipes and menus for days on end.  I mean, they were huge for us.  This year has been a stark reminder of just how upside-down life is right now.

For one thing, there is no QoB and Big Dawg.  They won’t even talk to each other, nevertheless see each other.  I mean, I guess I should have seen this coming, but they absolutely hate each other, if the words they say are true.  Words that I am pretty sure I don’t want to listen to but end up hearing all the (fucking) time anyway.

I don’t think they understand how devastating that is, to your child, to disparage your soon-to-be ex-husband or ex-wife in front of said child.  No matter that this child is 33 years old and Ab is 32.  There was all this drama in the beginning and then they were both adamant that I be kept out of it.

It is slowly creeping back in.  I understand (not really) that they can’t stand each other, but they both need to keep the shitty remarks, comments, insults, etc out of my face.  And its not one doing it more than the other, although Mom is trying harder not to do it around me.  But as with anything, you inadvertently get either of them on a roll, and it’s all downhill (for me) from there.  No one wants to bash their mom or their dad.  If the parents want to, then they need to call a friend or find a therapist.  Actually, they could both use a therapist at this point, and that is me being generous, because they both really needed one long ago.

So what am I to do?  Well, the correct answer should be — support your parents while they are going through this hard time.  And you know, I can still in a lot of ways, but in some ways I can’t.  At different times, they are so upset that they can’t even be in the same room with me, nevertheless talk with me or even text over the phone.  Ok then, there goes two major supporters.  The two peop;le that have been there for me all my fucking life, now as if they have disappeared off the face of the Earth at times.

And that’s not to say they don’t try, because they do.  But they are both in such a bad place, both so unhappy, angry, anxious, stressed, heartbroken that they aren’t always able to be there and I really do get that.

Frankly, I can’t handle this level of stress in my life.  Even when they keep it to themselves, which is definitely not all the time, I am just barely making it.  I am letting household duties fall by the wayside, I am not practicing my DBT skills well or often enough, and all I want to do is distract, distract, distract.  In fact, I have pretty much distracted since August of this year, right before my birthday, when things really started getting ugly.

So, no, I don’t want my parents to get back together.  I want them to TRY to heal instead of being stubborn and thinking they can do everything on their own.  I want them to take the advice they would give me in the same situation.  I want there to be more common sense and less anger.  Maybe even a bit of being polite — I do see a tiny bit of it from both parties.

But more than anything, I really don’t want to hear anymore negative speeches, from one about the other.  No more snide remarks, comments, jokes.  I am your daughter, and I deserve that much respect.

Filed under: Family, Relationships Tagged: anxiety, Bipolar, Christmas, depression, divorce, divorcing parents, holidays, negativity, suicidal ideation

Late Night Musings with Rosa 12.20

Perhaps my favorite video of Tom Petty singing my favorite acoustic version of “Walls.”  This has been a weekend so far, of thinking.  Good things have happened, bad things have happened, and I need time to reflect.

Right now I am taking things in, because I notice that I have not been noticing life around me as I should.  I have not been being mindful and I have not been introspective.  I have been selfish with my needs and wants, yet overly helpful to those around me — often reaching out further than I really should, and perhaps what they needed me to.

This little thing called life that is going on right now, this piece of the puzzle, this particular scratch in the record — it will pass.  It must.  It must.  It must.  What lies over the horizon I can’t even begin to predict, and I know that is part of what is killing me bit by bit.  I am a planner and an organizer and I want to know what is going to happen when and with who and (sometimes) the why or how of it.

All of this uncertainty, from things as small (ha!) as what do for Christmas as to if I will still miss DSB and not want to get my heart broken again in the new year to what my nephew will be like as he grows from a baby into a toddler to if I will ever be able to lose the weight I want to lose.

And when?  And how?  And why?

It occurs to me now, as I sit typing this, how I have once again slipped into willfulness and am not letting mindfulness and patience and simple observation take me down the path I was meant to be on.  I am trying to control things that I have no control over, I am trying to change things that cannot or will not change, I am beating my head against a brick wall and wondering why I have a headache.

When I feel really bad, as I have for the last while (but not so much anymore), I tend to stop doing all of the things that make me feel better and that make me the Rosa that people like to be around.  I don’t particularly think that I am that Rosa right now to all people, but I know I am really enjoying my dad and my sister.

I fully admit that I can be hard to be around, that I can be too intense or too sad or anxious or too demanding.  Not everyone sees it that way, however; I can think of two people right off the top of my head that I intrinsically know don’t feel that way, that want my company.

But does that ever happen to you?  That important people in your life seem to want to take a break from you?  Does this mean that the love or friendship or whatever it is, is not there unconditionally?  Or does it mean that this is just people being human?  Or does it mean that you have overstepped your bounds somewhere, and this is all your fault?

I think the answers to all of this are:  “who knows” and “all you can do is improve yourself and change for the better.”  Goddess of Mindfulness has a funny idea about all of this, that she has been sharing with me since I was a teenager.  It is often the people that are messed up AND seeking help who are the most balanced, the most introspective, the most thoughtful, the most likely to change ill habits.

So here I am, “the crazy one” in a sea of “normal people” and I am by far acting the most sane.  That’s just how it is here in Topeka, Kansas.  App;arently I haven’t been drinking the water, because I don’t currently have the crazy.  But that doesn’t mean I am not actively every day seeking to improve and feel better and be more stable and independent.

The hardest thing for me to see is a person I care about suffering, who will not utilize the help that is available to them.  People have to really REALLY want to change in order to change almost every behavior or circumstance, and I am baffled when peop;le who are adamant with me that I seek help, won’t seek it themselves.  Because “that’s different.”  Well, no, it’s really not.

In closing, you do not need to be mentally ill to seek assistance and ask your friends/relations/neighbors/;pastor/anyone for help; in getting through what you need to get through.

I would like to remind that while this post is written as a general musing, it can easily be directed at many in my life.  I am purposely not calling anyone out on the rug, but I want people to think.

If you need help, ask for it.  It will almost always be given, in some form or another.  You do not have to suffer alone and in silence.




Filed under: Collection of Thoughts Tagged: Bipolar, blog, blogging, Christmas, depression, dysfunction, Family, friends, mindfulness, rambling, relatives, sadness, Therapy, willfullness

Sorry I Haven’t Been Answering Comments And Such

I have been running my Internet off an iPhone, so it is extraordinarily slow. I haven’t forgotten anyone. I simply have to wait about 15 minutes for the page to load, and that’s when it actually works. I am due to be back up and running on Tuesday. Hopefully. I deeply apologize for not answering […]

NAMI Advocacy Update: December 2014

December 19, 2014 email entitled NAMI Advocacy Update: December 2014

Congressional Budget Bill a Mixed Bag

This past weekend Congress passed the “Continuing Resolution – Omnibus” spending bill (HR 83) for the remaining months of fiscal year 2015 which runs through Sept. 30, 2015. The measure is now waiting for the President’s signature. This bill contains good news and bad news for mental health. The good news: HR 83 provides a small increase in funding for mental illness research. Bad news: the bill includes a small reduction for mental health services.

Read more.

Mental Health Investment By States Slowed in 2014

NAMI just released a report highlighting what went on in state legislatures in 2014 across the country when it comes to mental health issues. The report, State Mental Health Legislation 2014 shows that investment in mental health services slowed from last year and that when progress was made around specific policy issues much of the legislation felt like it only skimmed the surface.

Read more.

Write to your Governor and State Legislators! Urge them to make mental health care a priority. Click here to send a message.

NAMI Submits Comments on NIMH Strategic Plan 

On December 11, NAMI submitted comments on the proposed five-year plan for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The plan includes a range of ambitious goals for mental illness research including:

  • Defining the biological basis of complex behaviors.
  • Charting mental illness trajectories to determine when, where, and how to intervene.
  • Striving for prevention and cures.
  • Strengthening the public health impact of NIMH-supported research.

View NAMI’s comments on the NIMH 2015 Strategic Plan.

View the NIMH Strategic Plan.

Veterans Suicide Prevention Bill Fails, but Mental Health Screenings for Active Duty Passes

Legislation to bolster veterans’ suicide prevention has failed in Congress after outgoing Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) placed a hold on it. Known as the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act (HR 5059), the $22 million bill would increase access to mental health care and expand the VA workforce. Coburn said the bill d uplicates existing VA efforts, but NAMI will work with other advocacy organizations to work towards its reintroduction and passage in the next Congress.

At the same, Congress did include an important new set of requirements for the Department of Defense (DoD) to undertake annual mental health screenings for Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve service members as part of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (HR 4435). This legislation has cleared both houses of Congress and will soon be signed into law by the President.

The final agreement on the defense bill includes a Senate provision – sponsored by Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) – that requires DoD to provide a person-to-person mental health assessment for Active Duty and Selected Reserve members each year. The amendment would also require the Secretary, through 2018, to provide person-to-person mental health screenings once during each 180-day period in which a member is deployed.

Happy holidays! We grateful for your advocacy year-round!

Filed under: Mental Health, Mental Health Advocacy, NAMI Tagged: Mental Health, NAMI