Daily Archives: January 29, 2015


Cycling – wise, I am lucky. I live less than half a mile from the countryside. Think of the views. The rolling fields, farms, villages …. and the sea – that’s the English Channel if readers in Chile, Egypt and South Korea were wondering.

Some days I see nothing of it. I see dark grey; a long, winding strip of, well, dark grey. Like today. I was pedalling in the winter sunshine through the countryside. After a couple of hours it occurred to me that it wasn’t the beauty of nature that I was seeing. Hunched over my handlebars I was looking (mostly) at the asphalt in front of my front tyre. Sometimes smooth, sometimes rough, but grey, always dark grey. One reason for this is the posture that the handlebars force us to assume. On a Tourer like mine ‘the drops’, handlebars that curl downwards, can force you into a hunched, more aerodynamic posture. It also means that I’m not sitting up admiring the beautiful surroundings. I see grey. And after a while my back starts to hurt. Even holding the top of the handlebars only makes a small difference.

So, cycling’s not that much fun, then? You might be right.

Nothing’s much fun when I’m unwell. ‘Unwell’, that’s the mot du jour amongst the great and the good to describe someone who is mentally ill (off sick from work, too ill to work, unable to leave the house, in hospital.) I prefer ‘ill’ every time. I’m not talking about a high temperature and stomach cramps, unpleasant as that certainly is. No, I’m talking about the front door bell ringing and ringing unanswered. The phone messages ignored. Food tasting like fuel. Sleeping 20 hours a day. Sleeping 2 hours a day, for days.

Those of you who have been following these finger – wagging diatribes will know only too well that my day job is door to door sales. I peddle hope. Hope that recovery is possible, that life does not have to be ever thus. But let me share with you a Trade Secret. I don’t believe half of what I say. The most deceitful falsehood that I, and legions of mental health workers, doctors, nurses, and psychotherapists repeat is ‘try to continue with your usual activities.’ My usual activities, hmmmm ….. If I could do that, well I’d be just dandy; I’d be ‘fine’.

I am paid to deliver ‘recovery – oriented’ workshops. Eat Well, Stay Well; Coping with Stress; Managing Anxiety. You get the picture. I am paid to tell people ‘Don’t you get it? All you have to do is ….. and you will be a fully paid – up member of, well, everyone else.’ Like they eat fresh fruit and veg every day, drink four pints of water daily and practice Mindfulness 30 minutes a day. Mindfulness!!!! I swear if I hear someone else mentions ‘paying attention to the breath’ helps to quiet the mind I will, I will ….. probably suggest it to one of the peers I support.

Jaded? I’m looking at too much asphalt.


Brief Reflection on the Word Pain

Wittgenstein says: the words “It hurts” have replaced

tears and cries of pain. The word “Pain”

does not describe the expression of pain but replaces it.

Thus it creates a new behaviour pattern

in the case of pain


The word enters between us and the pain

Like a pretence of silence.

It is a silencing. It is a needle

unpicking the stitch

between blood and clay.

The word is the first small step

to freedom

from oneself.

In case others

are present.

Miroslav Holub (1923 – 1998)

Fried – Just Fried

Today I went to a writers’ meetup, and now I am just wiped out. Social stimulation exhausts me. I had a great time, but I’m just not up for it. Just not up for two hours of conversation. Damn fucking…

More Calling of Light is up!

If you’re into fiction, check out the new chapter of A Calling of Light. I’m having trouble linking so go right to the top of this page and click on the title. If fiction is not your thing, skip it. If you’re new to the blog, this is a story I wrote during a manic phase about ten years ago. Feedback welcome!

I, Too, Am Not Okay

Yesterday I wrote this response to Tempest Rose’s post It’s Okay for Me to Not be Okay on STIGMAMA.COM: I, too, am not okay, and I’m okay with it. Often other people do not understand what they cannot see. For…

Is This The Way You Get To Hell?

My kid is rocking out to “Is this the way you get to hell” by stitched up Heart. I am an awesome influence. Hey, the song rocks. I endured the Frozen theme, I have done my time in G rated hell. Bring on the metal.

I want whiskey. Actually, any alcohol I can choke down.
It is the only thing that makes my brain stop spinning.
It sounds like a lame ass excuse to be a drunk and yet…It is my truth. My brain just moves so fast I can’t keep up. I am overwhelmed without any outward triggers. This is all my own mind.
When I was on higher dose Xanax or Focalin, it was a non issue.
I don’t have those now so it is an enormous issue.
My lack of focus comes off as mercurial, selective, flaky.
I hate this shit. I hate the fact I fantasize more about alcohol than romance or even lust. I just want a quiet brain. Since the professionals severed my ability to quiet my brain properly…It leaves legal stuff like booze.
And I can’t afford to pay attention so even that is unobtainable.
I fantasize anyway.

The noise in my head is agonizing.
It hinders the most basic things. It makes me irritable, depressed, hopeless.

Sick Puppies-Poison
“Here’s a pill, why don’t we take it…’cos I heard it makes everything okay.”

Sometimes, it’s not a simple snarkasm. Sometimes, it’s fact.

I am depressed today. I am anxious. My mind is on hyper drive.
I don’t need more stress and yet here I am, taking more on because I…don’t wanna be like the shallow assholes who castigated me for being less than perfect.
I had to reach out to my dad and to R for assistance. It devoured my soul and made me feel like I need a shower.
But then isn’t that my life.
I swallow my pride because I have no other options.
Then spend days loathing myself.
I made a mess of my life and this is the hand I’ve been dealt.
Thank you, cyclothymia and anxiety disorder.
I am not without blame, but you can’t get to the right place if your map is a misprint, so I’m a bit salty that I am expected to get to the right place with a faulty brain.
Of course, it’s an excuse. I get that drummed into my head at every turn.

I want a salt lick of valium and a keg of whiskey.
I want to not want that.
It’s like being in a hell and I just keep asking, “How did I get in this hand basket?”

If a pill stops the torture within my own mind…
I’m good with that.
I can live with judgment as I’ve known little else.
This daily madness where my mind spins so fast I fear my sanity is slipping away…
I’d gargle bleach and lick nine volt batteries if I thought it would make me feel well mentally.

Mental illness.
This IS the way you get to hell.

20 Days of Valentines—Day 2

Suck it Up

Revisiting Resilience


Sorry to post yet again, but this is an awesome post. I need to read that book.

Originally posted on Out of a Great Need:

resilience I am sharing a passage from the book Resilience.  I keep returning to it over and over again.  This is a quote by Sander (the author’s son) during one of their family’s public speaking engagement for mental health advocacy.  It deeply touched my heart and brought me to tears.

“I’ve always thought that the more sensitive a person is, the more susceptible they are to mental illnesses. A sick joke in our universe is that the more it allows a person to see its beauty and deep connectivity, the more difficult it becomes for that person to maintain good mental health.

In our culture, we tend to treat this tradeoff with a fierce double standard. As long as they are sharing with us beautiful insights into humanity, we will love and cherish them as heroes, but if they fall into substance abuse, depression or any other form of mental…

View original 78 more words

A Full Year

Well today I have officially been writing my blog every day for a year!! WOOT!!

I didn’t think I could ever do anything for this long and I plan to keep doing a daily post. I just won’t feel guilty if I miss a day or two when  I move into our home.

My mood today is kind of meh. I seem to be stuck here. I didn’t really accomplish anything yesterday and today I am aching all over. I have a feeling I am getting a cold again!

I get to visit with my BFF when I go to Dallas, it will be the first time we meet face to face. I’m excited and nervous about it.  We’ve known eachother about 12 years now so I don’t know why I am afraid of.

I’ll be spending most of my time alone in a hotel room but at least I get to sleep with hubby instead of being by myself for 4 nights. Plus I love a road trip, over 9 hours driving to get there and another 9ish hours back. Bonus.


I’ve posted this video before, but I never get tired of it. Mary Lambert is my new idol. In my opinion, she ranks right up there with Carrie Fisher.

The post Secrets appeared first on Insights From A Bipolar Bear.

a grief

I’m sorry I’ve been crappy about answering comments lately. By the time I’ve written the occasional meaningful (to me) blog post, I get a bit reticent and stuff. I’m still reading your blogs and I’m still really pleased when you comment on mine.

I feel rough (rough as a badger’s arse). Sleepless and hypervigilant, somewhere between 2 and 3am this morning, I suddenly had a flashback to my mother when I’d just told her that her cancers and organ failure were too far gone to treat. I guess her words will be burned into my brain forever. I guess I mostly block them out. The flashback punched out of my mind like some kind of horrible roaring, rushing thing. I felt as though my ribcage was too small, I felt hot. I got out of bed fast, on to the stoep. The sky was dark, clear, the stars seemed to hang low and peaceful. It sorted my mind out pretty quickly.

The dogs and I were on the beach just after 5am, in time to watch the sunrise. Pastel pink clouds, deep pink sun and then bright, blazing yellow. The beach is lovely when even the fishermen haven’t arrived. Big expanse of hard sand, a lively sea while the tide goes out, then birds start to make themselves heard. Plough snails creep along the tideline, looking for dead jellyfish to hoover up with their almost translucent probosces. The dogs chase birds, sniff ghost crab hideouts, pee on flotsam. The sea is good at rinsing a tired and fried mind.

Longevity is really good in my family; I’d thought about it many years before and figured cheerfully that my mother would make 80-90. She was tall, strong, determined. And full of unseen cancer. It’s time for me to let go of the cancer anger. Fuck off, both of you and the horses you rode in on.


She’s dead. As much as I mourn that fact, she is dead. My strange mind just started squawking the Monty Python dead parrot skit. It’s funny – if you haven’t heard it, you really should. My mind wanders off, musing upon the distance between digital everything and those old vinyl comedy records, that could be listened to over and over, and were because things like Netflix hadn’t been dreamed yet. We got a lot of mileage from cherished records. Ahem. Pleasant digression, I almost started in on casette tapes.

She’s dead. As angry and alone as it makes me feel, that is the reality. My reality.

Some local fools killed a night adder this morning. They can give a nastyish bite, but really not that bad. Could’ve left the poor bugger to snack on his frog in peace. Bah. Scale: the frog is roughly the size of an adult hand, small snake. Muscly, but short.


I’d have caught it and let it go, we have enough conservation land in the area. Eh, we probably have more than enough night adders to, but still … I googled (of course), Causus rhombeatus is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

My mother was very freaked out by snakes, I guess because she grew up in England. Brave enough though; she scooped me up and saved me from a black mamba when I was three (I have a little scar under my bottom lip from tripping), she said it struck and spat at the glass door when we were inside. That was in Zambia. One day while we walked down to the beach here, a puff adder was lazily crossing the dirt road and I pulled my mother back by her shirt collar to stop her unwittingly stepping on or over it. A puffie won’t kill you as long as you get the anti-venom fairly fast, but it is the fastest striking snake in Africa. I hadn’t thought of it till now – we saved each other from snakes, 40 years apart. That’s very cool. I have a lot of snake stories, I think we all do here.

And progress, I think, that I just wrote my way blindly to a happy memory. With the past four posts about grief, by this stage I’d have a tennis ball full of tears in my throat and a few leaking down my face.

Sidenote: apart from rescues, I am very, very, very opposed to snakes in captivity. If you don’t make friends with something in the wild, you shouldn’t have it as a pet.

I’m weary and sad and clenching my jaw hard. Fuckit but I miss her. Perhaps this is the start of acceptance though.



For years, I couldn’t listen to the Beatles ballad that’s indelibly linked to my mother’s death. Then my one-year-old daughter helped me start to make it better.
take a sad song and make it better

‘A speechless sadness’
– Osip Mandelstam*

A speechless sadness
opened two huge eyes.
A vase of flowers woke:
splashing crystal surprise.

The whole room filled,
with languor – sweet potion!
Such a tiny kingdom
to swallow sleep’s ocean.

Wine’s slight redness,
May’s slight sunlight –
fingers, slender, and white,
breaking wafer-fragments.

*Russian poet, dissident, died in a gulag.