Daily Archives: March 21, 2015

The SSDI Physical and Other Stuff

Today was my Social Security physical exam. I was up way too early and so heavily caffeinated that my blood pressure soared into the 160s, and on top of it I was nervous. Not because of the physical itself—I’ve had three of them since my hospital stay—but because I was afraid the doctor would be gruff and accuse me of malingering. This exam may very well make the difference between being approved or denied…..I figured it would be tough and possibly traumatic.

I needn’t have worried. The doctor was maybe 30, easy on the eyes, and very nice. As he put me through my paces, he didn’t make me do anything that hurt or that I knew I couldn’t do. I did the best I could at what I was asked to do—no faking pain when there was none, no exaggerating it when range of motion tests did hurt. I have no idea what his determination will be, but the honest truth is, I really can’t do very much. Between my back pain and all the joints with arthritis, any sort of physical labor is out, and of course we all know what my mental illness has done to my ability to handle professional-level work.

However…..I’ve begun to doubt the actual seriousness of it just a bit. Maybe that bipolar 1 diagnosis was a knee-jerk reaction to what the attending psychiatrist found in Dr. Awesomesauce’s notes, or maybe the fact that I “saw” cats in the ER prompted him to think I was crazier than I really am. I’ve read so many stories about people with BP 1 having these huge manic episodes in which they thought they were God or royalty, or hopped on a plane bound for Europe at the drop of a hat, or stripped off their clothes in the middle of a busy street. I’ve never done anything like that. How is it that I came to be lumped in with the really psychotic folks?

The fact that I am indeed bipolar is not in question. EVERYBODY agrees with that diagnosis. And obviously it’s much more important to treat the symptoms than a label (and Heaven knows I’m on a buttload of meds). But now that it’s been a few months since I was hospitalized—and time has blurred the memories of those days somewhat—the BP 1 designation seems a bit overblown, especially since it’s splashed indelibly all over my medical records,

Of course, someone will come along and tell me I’m in denial again, and who knows, I might be. I’ve been on a little upswing of late and the rose-colored glasses look pretty good on this late-middle-aged face. In fact, I feel more optimistic now than I have in over a year. It’s Spring, after all…..time for life to burst forth and make all things new. Maybe even me!

grief & grieving

When we talk about love, we go back to the start, to pinpoint the moment of free fall. But this story is the story of an ending, of death, and it has no beginning. A mother is beyond any notion of a beginning. That’s what makes her a mother: you cannot start the story. (Meghan O’Rourke, The Long Goodbye)

All quotes in this post are from the source above. I wrote this earlier today and then my wifi crashed for the rest of the day.

Yup, two years down the track and the loss of my mother still hurts like fuckery. Of course it does.

The people we most love do become a physical part of us, ingrained in our synapses, in the pathways where memories are created.

Mothers and daughters always have complex and turbulent relationships with their mothers. If they don’t, they’re probably repressing something uncomfortable. Mine drove me batshit and I returned the favour. The tumult pointed to incredible closeness and likeness. Not physically, I look nothing like her, but in one of those finish each other’s sentences kind of ways. Same taste in many things too. Naturally, there were plenty of widescreen differences, some calm, some clashing. And when I wasn’t amassing troops and loading RPGs, I thought she was the best mother in all of time and space. Of course she was; she was mine.

When you lose someone you were close to, you have to reassess your picture of the world and your place in it. The more your identity is wrapped up with the deceased, the more difficult the mental work.

I also suddenly had nobody to ask about almost anything. The woman had a library in her cranium. There’s nobody to identify scraps of classical music for me. There’s nobody to throw tantrums at or weep all over. There’s nobody left on earth with so many of my quirks. And yes, I’m glad to hold those similarities and the bits that were carbon copies, but obviously, just like anybody else, I’d trade vital organs or my life itself to have her back. There’s nobody left who loves me as much as she did. She would have given her life for nextofkin and I.

So nextofkin and I stood in front of a specialist, in one of those hospital corridors that shift and blur and sharpen and brighten depending on your own mood. He told us that the renal failure was a result of one of the cancers and naturally, nextofkin and I volunteered kidneys immediately. And the specialist told us that all of her organs were going into failure. No dialysis, no transplant – nothing but death.

The first systematic survey of grief, I read, was conducted by Erich Lindemann. Having studied 101 people, many of them related to the victims of the Cocoanut Grove fire of 1942, he defined grief as “sensations of somatic distress occurring in waves lasting from twenty minutes to an hour at a time, a feeling of tightness in the throat, choking with shortness of breath, need for sighing, and an empty feeling in the abdomen, lack of muscular power, and an intensive subjective distress described as tension or mental pain.”

Somatic just means physical rather than mental.

I think that piece of research is absolutely spot on, for me anyway. I was relieved to read about the sighing, because I sighed and sighed and sighed.

Sighs matter. And those ones are the sound of a heart breaking.

The symptoms are all easily recognisable to anyone with PTSD or an anxiety disorder. There are times when I can’t tell the difference. Intensive subjective distress … nobody really gets all the way past that and into your consciousness at first.

Studies have shown that some mourners hold on to a relationship with the deceased with no notable ill effects. In China, for instance, mourners regularly speak to dead ancestors, and one study demonstrated that the bereaved there “recovered more quickly from loss” than bereaved Americans do.

That, I think, is the sort of pivotal theory that has the potential to help a hell of a lot of people. There’s a western sort of a mantra of get over it, which has always seemed harsh and insensitive to me. Personally, I reckon that all that leaping over things is nonsense and I’d rather focus on getting through them. Why on earth should anyone ever get over anyone anyway? Once you and time have held hands and navigate through loss, you can put your loss carefully somewhere and live with it quite peacefully. Some times we gotta fight and sometimes we just gotta drift.

Think about the surface tension of water a little.

I planted impepho for my mother – it’s a kind of helichrysum if I remember right, and a sangoma told me to talk to her through it. It mattered at the time and after a while, when the plants all died, that was fine too. Some people (I know it’s a Chinese thing too) write letters and burn them, letting the smoke carry the words. Some people will make a sigil, put it up somewhere obvious and when they stop noticing it, it’s time to take it down. I talk to my mother in my mind and sometimes when I am alone, aloud. It feels right.

Without death our lives would lose their shape: “Death is the mother of beauty,” Wallace Stevens wrote. Or as a character in Don DeLillo’s White Noise says, “I think it’s a mistake to lose one’s sense of death, even one’s fear of death. Isn’t death the boundary we need?” It’s not clear that DeLillo means us to agree, but I think I do. I love the world more because it is transient.

Western developed cultures have mostly lost respect for death and replaced it with terror. Gotta look younger, live longer, leave something to guarantee intangible immortality. Gotta run from the jaws of death till the end. If we don’t run fast enough, unacceptable notions may creep in. Run …

Maybe life is death shaped and death is life shaped.

It’s not a question of getting over it or healing. No; it’s a question of learning to live with this transformation. For the loss is transformative, in good ways and bad, a tangle of change that cannot be threaded into the usual narrative spools. It is too central for that. It’s not an emergence from the cocoon, but a tree growing around an obstruction.

So there it is, that loss, the tree growing around a boulder and holding it tightly. It’s never alright, if we could, we would all summon our dead in a heartbeat. There’s nothing we can do to change it though; death is the coldest, hardest and most unforgiving fact of life, but a tree and a rock entwined, hold more beauty than distortion.

I miss her. Such a simple, gentle statement, cloaking the abyss. There’s no changing it. I’m trying to work on it the way I work on self harm. Because it’s a reflexive punch for me, I decided that I needed to locate the split second between trigger and reaction. To do that, I had to identify the trigger/s. Once that is done, it’s possible to work on increasing that split second space, to take back some power. So the way this all makes sense to me, is that it’s perfectly okay to grieve forever, but the spaces between bouts of grief need to grow big enough to accommodate my own life again. It can and does alter me and my perspective, but it can’t continue to define me.

Too many losses turn the world bleak and blurred. Sometimes I feel as though I’m a particularly lugubrious looking vulture, hunched over corpses, staring and shifting things about with my beak, desperately looking for life. Sometimes I just resign myself to the corpses.


Restless Mind Syndrome

My mood is…meh. Not great, not bad. Just…I’m here.
The anxiety is low enough to just be irritating like a clock ticking in the background.

What’s really sucking today is…my mind is restless. I want to DO something. With my brain.Write, read, create. DO something. I tried the get up and move around thing. Floor swept and mopped, dishes done, cat boxes cleaned.
But my brain continues to spasm (like restless leg syndrome) and nothing alleviates it.

The logical answer would be to TRY to do something.

Unless you are a writer, then you don’t realize writer’s block is akin to the chick in Misery hobbling her hostage.
Desire to write has nothing to do with it.
It’s truly a star, sun, moon alignment thing. Kinda like my mental dysfunction.
I want to read. I get a page or two in and my mind is off in so many directions I have to go back and reread things because it didn’t sink in through all the bullshit thoughts.

I want. I want.
But this brain thing is maddening. I’m used to the usual abuses, my mind plays them on an endless loop. “You’re lazy.” “You’re using your mental illness as a cop out.” “You just don’t want to make the effort.”

Which ranks right up there with the shrink who told me I didn’t want to be happy and that’s why the Zoloft wasn’t helping. I am so fucking magical and all powerful I render a medication impotent with my mind alone.

I am so sick of being surrounded by idiots.And that’s not meant to be some “I’m superior” thing. Maybe it’s not idiocy so much as ignorance on their part. But stupid is just kind of perpetual. Ignorance can be helped with a little bit of education. Sadly, no one around me can be bothered. Perhaps expecting them to be bothered is me being unreasonable and demanding.

I mean, if I go buy this idiotic thread from Reddit yesterday where someone with schizophrenia was lamenting how all their old friends had gone away…
And of course, 90% of the helpful replies were all about how people can’t handle another’s mental illness and it’s hard on them and we’re wrong to expect them to deal with it.We essentially drag them down under with us thus they are not bad people for walking away. But ya know, we have an illness we didn’t ask for and don’t control, so we’re the bad people.

This is not to say I don’t acknowledge that my illnesses affect those around me. Perhaps if I were refusing to take meds, see a doctor, or make an effort to get better, then they’d have just cause to abandon ship. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves.
But here I am, pumping myself full of all these meds, TRYING desperately to become what I am expected to be.
And the pathetic part is, I don’t want to be anything but stable. I don’t need money, fame, men, blah blah blah. (But a 1973 Pantera would be awesome.) I just want to be stable year round instead of bobbleheading constantly.
If I had singular diagnosis, I’d probably be on a good med and it’d all be under control. But because I have multiple diagnoses and all the meds have to work in concert together and keep working…I am always going over that precipice into almost madness.
Anyone who thinks that’s pleasant or a choice is a dumbass.

So here I am, open weekend before me. Sans constantly complaining child, nothing traumatic is going on.
But my mind is just a swirling vortex of thoughts and I can’t focus and bring any of them to fruition.
And my misanthropy has returned full force after the two weeks of manic episodes (ish.) I remember now that I hate people. I love mankind but I hate people. Or I am just surrounded by people not merely on another page, but in another book entirely, and we’re just not talking about the same thing.
Fuck if I know.
And now my kid has confessed she’s been eating pencil erasers. No wonder she’s feeling unwell.
My question is, since we only have one pencil in the house and it has no eraser…Why hasn’t her teacher noticed she suddenly is using pencils in class with no eraser?
Oh, right, because even when she’s there under their supervision, I am supposed to be psychic and suspect my kid is EATING ERASERS.

Okay, pretzel gut has arrived. I handle stress so gracefully. And it’s totally my choice to process anxiety this way because there is nothing more dignified than running to the bathroom every five minutes with a churning stomach.

I really have to stay away from Reddit. I swear it was that whole thread blaming the mentally ill person for running people off that sent me off into misanthropy rage land. I am soooo sick of hearing how hard it is on those around us.
When the fuck is anyone going to pull their head out of their ass and think, hey, if it’s this bad for me on the outside, what kind of hell must it be for them to have to live with it 24-7?

You ditch a friend who’s mentally ill…You ARE a bad person. Fuck you, Redditors. You all suck.
End rant.
For now.

What do YOU Blog About?


blog with computer


I thought it might be fun to share a bit on here about each other’s blogs. Don’t be shy! Advertise on here and pick up a few new readers (and maybe a new follower or two). Tell us about what you do in the comments section. You don’t have to be a follower to participate…everyone welcome! If you have a friend who blogs, invite them to join us.

I figure if we all like the stuff on this blog, we may like the stuff on each other’s blogs. We do have a lot of mental health bloggers, but also a fair share of all sorts of topics. Here’s a sample of a simple comment you might make:

“Hi…I’m Lily and I blog on bipolar disorder and recovery. Most of my posts are on my personal experiences. I also have a little fiction going. Hope you’ll drop by! https://lilypupslife.wordpress.com/”

Okay, so all you regulars out there…help me make this a success. My goal is ten blogs listed…let’s see if we can do it! 🙂



Headed to day two of training for NAMI’s “In OUr Own Voice” program without much time to blog about yesterday.  I’ll fill you in on the full details of the training starting Monday when I talk about NAMI and what it’s all about.  Think about me as I write my presentation materials and learn how to interact with the multimedia format.

Who Cares Who Sees What’s at Night

I don’t get to stay up too late too much anymore. 9:45 and I’m checked out on most nights. It...

The post Who Cares Who Sees What’s at Night appeared first on Pretending to be What We Are.

a bipola-rage linkdump

I collect relevant links over a week or so, and the moronic and annoying ones are always the majority by a mile. As an exercise in … something or other, this time I’d like to show you what really gets up my nose. Without showing you my nose. Don’t read the rage category if you’re feeling shitty, it’ll only make you feel worse. In fact, just don’t click any links. I like a good rant, it’s very therapeutic.

Ah humanity … (I will do a totally cheerful one next time; now there’s a challenge and a half.)



Jonathan Malkin: man tells world how depressed and bipolar people are ideally qualified to succeed in business entrepreneurship. Man fails to tell world his exact diagnosis and the severity of his illness. blahpolar is mildly irritated and links it purely to be passive aggressive about its inadequacy and generalisations. One wonders if man has psychopathic traits as well.

Why am I talking like Tarzan or a racist spaghetti western version of an American Indian?

Treatments more complicated for people with multiple mental health illnesses (video)
And in other breaking news: water is wet.

Yet another shitwitted description of bipolar weather. Need I say more? Thought not.

Bipolar solicitor lost €242k in a ‘classic scam’ no need to mention his bipolarity at all. The cause of it was stupidity. Who the fuck hands over any cash at all to people from a country hugely notorious for 419 scams, without doing all the research in the universe first? Has he been living under a rock in a desert?



Fux News fux up again, by panic mongering about Stevens Johnson Syndrome being a side effect if Lamotrigine (Lamictal), without a) giving the info that it’s also a rare side effect of ibuprofen, some antibiotics and so on, and b) spelling it correctly. The fault lies with whoever prescribed the meds for not saying in the incredibly unlikely event of your developing SJS, you will very quickly get blisters in places like your mouth and eyes. If this happens, get to ER asap. That’s how my psychiatrist put it anyway – no GP has ever mentioned it, however. It is also wise to habitually research the meds you are taking. FFS.

Home remedies for bipolar disorder – not only are they irresponsible enough to make no mention of consulting an MD, they claim that bipolar can be cured by herbs. There isn’t even any evidence of herbs fuckingwell alleviating bipolar. People like that … eh, I’ve done this rant many times already.



There are no words strong enough to express just how unjust, abhorrent, racist and heartbreaking this is. This is nothing like the heartrendingly frequent reports of suicide by cop. This is evil. The family released a video of it. Don’t watch it.

Dallas police shot a mentally ill black man on his doorstep because he was holding a small screwdriver, a newly released video shows.

‘Aggressive’ East Surrey Hospital nurse struck off for bullying bipolar patient once again, I have no words. Okay there’s one. Bitch.

And remember – bipolar is never awesome, and only bipolar people get to make bipolar jokes.


On My Road to Recovery


By Lois Caniglia

On My Road to Recovery

I have written about my historical struggle with bipolar; when I became bipolar, the damages I’ve caused, and when I was finally treated. In this past year, my therapist has given me the thumbs up as being “okay”. As long as I stay the course, I’m fine. It’s crucial that I maintain my treatment plan and continue to see my therapist. 

I do feel fine. Reaching recovery as a bipolar is like any other chronic illness. Stay compliant with my medications, keep my doctors appointments, follow up on my regular lab work, exercise, and eat healthy. There is no ah ha moment for being ‘cured’. While my treatment has been effective, the world around me seems less chaotic. My family and friends seem much happier, less stressed, and doesn’t appear to walk on glass. 

These are my signs that I am well. The objective signs is my primary signal that I am certain to be balanced. Balanced as much as any other human-being, that is. In my state of illness, I wasn’t aware of my inappropriate state. That is to say, not until the damage was done and guilt set in. My shame only added to my destruction in relationships. During my uncontrollable manic episodes, consequences were inconceivable. My depressed states was more different for me. I still feel unwell, lost, and hopeless during these break-through lows. The difference is that I am able to set off a yield sign and recognize that I need to regroup. 

The key is to recognize that a self-care intervention is required. Recovery is no less exhausting than living untreated. This takes work on my part. It isn’t as easy as it sounds but it is a rewarding indicator that I am on my way to recovery. I’m not prepared to label myself as a bipolar ‘survivor’ . I am proudly comforted that I am on the road to recovery.

Too Freaking Much

Ever have a day where despite your best efforts to deal…There’s just too freaking much outer stimuli to keep your shit straight?
That was my day. The school sent my kid home again. I took her to the shop with me. She proceeded to bitch and moan over every tiny thing yet there was no fever, no vomiting, no lack of energy. The school and their wussy policies has me at the end of my tether. And of course, I come off looking like a shit mom for sending her to school but she told me, insistently, that she was fine to return and wanted to do so.
Not to mention she’s missed so many days now I have to take her to the doctor if she misses even one day. Easier to let them send her home.
Dealing with the school system…Not a highlight of parenthood.
Nor is dealing with a whining drama queen.
I did my best to be compassionate and warm and fuzzy but…I can only handle so much drama. If you’re well enough to throw a tantrum for cookies, well…
Yeah, harsh, whatevs.

Then I got hear R and Kenny bitching about her “Mommy Mommy Mommy” every five seconds. Sorry I had no sitter since ya know, my mom was having a lump removed from her breast today. It’s all about how inconvenienced the men are. Idgets.
Though I do have fun bantering with Kenny and we talk classic cars a lot. I do like classic cars. Besides, he gets the entire point of banter. Sometimes that is lost on R.
But needless to say, after 5 hours of the kid beckoning every ten seconds, complaining about everything,R being unfocused and cranky, and Kenny mocking my kid thus making her whine even more…All the while they’re testing a surround sound blu ray player at eardrum shattering volume. (And it was a Lovejoy dvd, wtf did I ever do to deserve British TV from the 80’s?)

So at hour 5, I did my bidding and told him I’d hit my wall. And he snarkily said to my fussing kid, “You always get your way, don’t you.”
I don’t think it even crossed his mind it was him bitching about her that was the unnerving part. I’m accustomed to her incessant yapping. I’m not accustomed to a man with three kids and three grandkids being such an impossible grump about my kid being irritating. Idget.

Had to make stops to get cat food. The line was slow moving and I blurted out, “For fuck;s sake!” I got dirty looks but they can bite me. By then, I’d been outside my bubble six hours and the crazy was knocking. Panxiety.
Then another stop and the music in there was so loud I thought my brain was going to burst into shards.
Followed by a ten second drop off at Fed Ex for R.
Back home.
More fussing from my kid, even though her illness didn’t prevent her from eating supper or keeping it down.
Followed by much needed Xanax (first one in almost 20 hours) and decompression from too much stimuli.

It amazes me how much it bothers me. I mean, we’re talking to the point of irritable bowel syndrome level physical effects. I can do three, four hours outside the bubble on a good day but…Today was just too much.
And it was the adult that had me more stressed than my kid because yeah, she’s fussy, overly dramatic, and can be irksome. Big fucking deal. Get over it.
Men can be such babies.
Or I just waited so late in life to have a kid all my friends are done raising theirs and have lost patience and their memory of just what children can be like. I doubt mine has the market cornered on theatrics, babbling, and being an all around pain in the butt. It’s a kid thing. I don’t stress too much unless I have asshole impatient fucks making me stress out.

Too freaking much.
I am gonna need the whole weekend to recover.
I’m not saying getting out isn’t a good thing.
Just saying perhaps for my mental health, it should be short trips every couple of days. Because if everyday were like this one…I think I might just go Brenda Spencer and decide I don’t like any day ending in d-a-y.

Unlikely but hey, crazy is as crazy does.