Daily Archives: January 15, 2015

The Support Vehicle



Cars – well car drivers – tend to get a hard time on these pages. Not this time. No professional road race of any significance on the professional calendar could operate without the team support vehicle. Easy to spot with spare bicycles strapped to the roof, mechanics leaning out of the window stretching over to tweak a gear lever or a loose bolt, as the rider comes alongside. A word or two from the team’s Directeur Sportif.

As you may know, I earn a living as a peer supporter by offering support to other people with enduring mental health problems. I dabble in the black market, too. From time to time I run workshops on the theme of Wellness Recovery Action Planning (always known as W.R.A.P.) In a nutshell it is a tool for helping us to manage our mental health, pre-empt relapse and stay mentally healthier for longer.

Well that’s what the advertising department would have you believe. One of the most challenging parts of constructing such a plan is when we need to decide who we want to share this plan with. That is to say, who do we want to know when things are on the slide. And, just as important, who do we want kept in the dark. For many people it brings into focus the lack of people they can lean on, be it day to day, or when things take a turn for the worse ( and they usually do ….eventually.) For some their supporters are all paid to be just that. Unresponsive G.P.s, unavailable Community Psychiatric Nurses, and those most invisible of the species, psychiatrists. That in itself is a hurdle in its own right. It leads to social isolation, a recurrent theme in mental health crises.

It’s my job in such a session to tease out specifics. What needs doing most urgently? Over the years I have heard the following: walk/feed the dog, pick up my prescription, give me a lift to the Accident and Emergency department, listen to my ansaphone messages, put the bins out., ring my boss.

And can you please pick the kids up and take them to school please because I cannot. I cannot see the day. I cannot be their Dad right now. I cannot … be.

That last one was me, regularly, in 2001 – 2. My Long Suffering Spouse was out at work and it was my job to …… some days it was my job to brush my teeth and get back into bed and gaze out of the window at the sky, like I was looking after that when I couldn’t look after anything else.

A friend, one of the parents whose kids went to the same school, drew up by the kerb outside our house on the days I had called her and told them  …..  in what ever dialect I was gurgling on those school day mornings she understood. If I made it to the school gates thinly disguised as their Dad at the end of the day to pick them up she understood. There were no concerned looks or enquiries about how I was feeling. There was just the car horn outside in the street in front of the house. That was enough. That is what I – we – needed. I didn’t need concern, empathy, interest or a shoulder to cry on. I needed someone to take the kids to school and bring them home again when I couldn’t. From time to time. At short notice. And that’s what they did again and again.

Those school runs weren’t psychoanalysis (I had 2 years of that.) They weren’t 300mgs of Venlafaxine (around 9 years of those.) They weren’t regular psychiatrist appointments (I am one of the lucky ones.) But they made a bigger positive difference to us than the Mind Meddlers and all those folks at Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline put together.


How to Approach the Ill

Approach us assertively, try not to
cringe or sidle, it makes us fearful.
Rather walk straight up and smile.
Do not touch us unless invited,
particularly don’t squeeze upper arms,
or try to hold our hands. Keep your head erect.
Don’t bend down, or lower your voice.
Speak evenly. Don’t say
‘How are you?’ in an underlined voice.
Don’t say, I heard that you were very ill.
This makes the poorly paranoid.
Be direct, say ‘How’s your cancer?’
Try not to say how well we look.
compared to when you met in Safeway’s.
Please don’t cry, or get emotional,
and say how dreadful it all is.
Also (and this is hard I know)
try not to ignore the ill, or to scurry
past, muttering about a bus, the bank.
Remember that this day might be your last
and that it is a miracle that any of us
stands up, breathes, behaves at all.

Julia Darling (1956 – 2005)






Suicide Prevention for Our Military and Veterans


Here is a great post from Kitt O’Malley. Suicides of veterans are a huge concern, as is the plight of veterans in general. Let one of us know what you think.

Originally posted on Kitt O'Malley:

Support our wounded warriors. Support the The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) ActCall your Senators today. Thank you.

To learn more about the life and death of Clay Hunt, watch this 60 Minutes episode in honor of him (transcript of video included): The life and death of Clay Hunt – CBS News

This is the story of one: Clay Hunt from Houston, Texas, a Marine veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. After four years of a downward spiral, he took his own life in 2011. You’ll see him in videos during some of his best times and hear him talk about some of his worst. Hunt loved being a Marine and serving his country and though he had been out of the Corps for two years when he died, Clay Hunt was a casualty of war.

via The life and death of Clay…

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What Are You Smoking, Doc?

I swear, sometimes I wonder what the hell Dr. Awesomesauce is smoking when we have our sessions. This was a particularly positive visit, not only because not only did Will and I find a place to live and get settled in, but I’m well and, for the most part, reasonably content. OK, maybe I was a little effusive in my comments on our improved circumstances, but in the context of escaping homelessness, I thought it entirely appropriate.

So I went to check my online chart for any new remarks a couple of days later, and what did I see as the reason for the encounter? Manic behavior. MANIC BEHAVIOR??! What the F? I haven’t even been hypomanic since last spring. Where on earth did he get the idea that I was even a tiny bit manic?

At any rate, we’re not changing the magic med formula until the summer, because winter sucks and spring is when I tend to go totally ape shit. It would be great to reduce the medication burden somewhat, but I’m not holding my breath for it. No bipolar can plan that far out because we don’t know how we’re going to feel in six DAYS, let alone six months.

So it seemed odd for Dr. A to mention “manic behavior” in his summary when all I was doing was sharing my joy at the turnabout in my fortunes. He even advised me that he’d leave me on my increased dose of Celexa until summer as long as I didn’t buy another neon toucan shirt. And if I did, I’d damned well better call him.

Oh well. Maybe he saw something I didn’t, which tends to be the case with me and mania. But I don’t feel at all manic, and even better, I’m not depressed any more. It’s about time!

bipolar poets and stephen fry and poetry

In my (mere) six months blogging about bipolar, I have noticed a lot of poetry being written. Now, I am a lesbian and the song of my people is free verse, so it’s a familiar environment to me. The difference between bipolar poets and lesbian poets, is that the bipolar ones rhyme much, much more. What they have in common is that there isn’t a lot of evidence that work and editing and bleeding, sweating and tearing took place. Stephen Fry informs us that this is not a phenomenon limited to bipolar, lesbian and bipolar lesbian poets and that it is in fact, infesting the entire modern poetry scene. He wrote a book about it.

A tour of the poetry archive with Stephen Fry.
Book: The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry.


Before you beat me up, please remember that I didn’t say all – and that for all you know, you might be one of the poets I like (Alex, for example). And quite frankly you ought to have enough confidence in your work not to give a damn what I think anyway.

Haiku for the Bipolar by Roland Frye. I’m linking you to that because it exists and maybe it’s your thing. It is so not my thing.

A bipolar sonnet by Steve Huff (I do like this one, effort has gone into it). If you want a forensically diagnosed sonnet poet, try Gerald Manley Hopkins.

Here is a sonnet about Facebook by native american bipolar poet and author, Sherman Alexie. More of his poems here and here’s his official website.

Here’s a good ‘un, by Spike Milligan, that gets spread all over the net without his name on it.


It doesn’t take much google fu to get lists of famous bipolar poets; there’s lots to learn from and enjoy. By the way someone needs to write a limerick about bipolar.

Why Does The Next Day Suck

I feel like hell today. Actually physically I haven’t been feeling very good at all the last couple of weeks. Just general crap. Last night I managed to push through it and go out and by the end of the night I was feeling better. Well I felt like it at the time anyhow.

Today I feel horrible. Right back to the way it was and I find it very frustrating. I know once I lose weight I should start feeling better. Not just sitting on the couch every day will help. I’m kind of stuck in a rut. I feel like shit so I can’t do anything but if I don’t do anything I’ll feel like shit. Ugh.

I swear my blog is for whining. I’m annoyed with myself. I don’t even feel like going out and looking at the house, what’s up with that?

Maybe tomorrow will be better. maybe..

3011 Views of Bipolar1Blog!

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I started Bipolar1Blog on August 2nd, 2014 and today I have 3011 views of my blog posts! Thrilled and floored!

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Today I am too tired to cry. Some of it is mental tired, but a lot of it is physical tired.

So a bit of housekeeping: I am still taking the Blogging 101 course and am hanging in there. I’ve completed all the assignments but the current one, which has to do with linking posts from other people’s blogs. I keep looking at it and it just doesn’t gel. So I may just skip it or hope they come around to it again.

I’m going to do Uncle Matt #3 as my next post and that will finish that up. I’ve been hearing from him a lot since he is out of prison. He calls me about every three days just to see how I am. I don’t think he likes to hear that I am not doing too well. My husband says he just wants money and is mad I won’t come over and give him some. (I think it’s probably a little of both.)

I wanted to write a full post today and catch the blog up. I’m trying to get my mind a bit more organized.

Oh, my nephew Jack is having a bit of a rough time with the chemo. He says he feels pretty “crummy”. So keep good thoughts for him.

This might sounds strange but I actually came up with a spreadsheet to keep track of my recovery. So I can give it a glance and know how I am doing in all the areas I am trying to reach. It’s pretty slick, if a bit annoying. It sort of reminds you at (too quick) of a glance at your progress. Here we go:

In the first 14 days of January, I have exercised 3 days. Woohoo! This was 2 days of walking and one of yoga.I think I need to improve a bit here. I keep reading about how 30 minutes a day (no more) will do it for the depression. It seems so simple and yet is so hard. I just have no excuse and wonder if it ever will happen.

I have had 3 or 4 of my diet shakes every day and have greatly increased my water intake. Now this is not a perfect result, but it is an improvement. I need to keep being faithful to the shakes and water. I feel lots better on the water than I do on any soda. My tummy doesn’t like a lot of anything since my new meds.

I have cooked dinner EVERY night this month except for three nights when we had other plans. I made a monthly menu for this month and send my husband to the grocery once a week. I send him to the big warehouse store once a month. This is all going very well. When I don’t feel well, I make him sit with me while I cook.

Canceling out on stuff: I have cancelled on something 6 days out of 14. This includes doctors appts, friends, support groups…anything I was “supposed” to go to. This needs to improve.

I had texting contact with my best friend 7 days this month. I talked to her once on the phone.

I’ve been doing well on my devotional studies. I have done them 11 out of 14 days. It’s really becoming a habit.

Weekly stuff….stuff to get done about 4 times a month. Missed church for two weeks but took some stuff in for missions. I really should try to get there this week. I saw a friend last week. I have lots of people to see but no energy. I hope to maybe see another friend or two by the end of the month.

My support groups: ditched my women’s support group the last two weeks. Need to get back as this is a group that “feeds” me. Missed one but went to the other bipolar support group. Was glad I went to it. I also get fed there.

I’ve done my school volunteering twice this month so I am on track there. My volunteering is doing my daughter’s math lesson plans for her class. She has a mixed 1st and 2nd grade class so has to make two sets of plans for everything. So I told her I would do the math. She teaches special ed so needs all the help she can get.

I went on one date with my husband! Since we are now both basically retired, I made this a goal. Go out for a meal, or a movie, or a little hike, or something a few times a month. I looked over my friend list once to see who I need to schedule something with. Problem is I am too tired to schedule anything. But I certainly could text a few folks to say hi.

Monthly stuff: I talked to my therapist and my psychiatrist appt is next week. I gave myself credit also for seeing another doctor for random stuff. My book club is coming up next week and I have read the book. So…will I get there? Not sure. My favorite monthly activity is getting a massage. (I read somewhere this was good for depression so am giving it a shot.) I have an appointment.

I’m supposed to get weighed in twice a month at the weight doctor but have not gone yet. I want to try to make it at least once.

I have so many good things and opportunities set up. I have very few excuses (other than my mental health) for not doing what I need to to live a healthy happy life.

I am giving myself a little credit for a few things: I’m cooking dinner and doing devotionals regularly. I went to my bipolar group and talked to therapist Tuesday and went to doctor yesterday. And I did the math lesson plans and wrote this today. It’s progress…even though I am sooooo tired.



I Would Fix the Other 10%

In reply to the WordPress Daily Prompt Jan.15, 2015 Brain Power Let’s assume we do, in fact, use only 10% of our brain. If you could unlock the remaining 90%, what would you do with it? ______________________________________   In continuation of my uninspired, non-writing week, my simple answer would be that I would then not have to rely on an… Read more →