Daily Archives: July 14, 2015

Pros & Cons of Quitting DBT Group

In September 2014, I started DBT with my individual therapist, using material from Moonshine Consulting.  I hated it.  In January 2015, I reluctantly joined a DBT group using material from Marsha Linehan’s book.  I hated it more.  Over time I’ve found that the skills I’ve learned actually are helpful, and at some point I switched […]

A Love Letter to Anyone and Everyone with a Mental Illness

loveletterConfession: Sometimes I feel unlovable. Sometimes I feel unworthy.

Sometimes I look at the scattered marbles strewn across my mind and think to myself, “Who could love something so disassembled, something so broken?”

In this society, we are taught that the worst thing for a lover to be is “crazy,” and that being “crazy” makes us deserving of our loneliness and our longing.

To be “crazy” is to be unworthy, to be unwanted.

Confession: Sometimes I want to run away. Sometimes, even after getting married and even after a thousand “I love you, I need you, I want you’s” – written, spoken, texted, felt – I fantasize about taking the train as far away as I can go, up the coast where no one can find me.

Sometimes in our desperation, we isolate ourselves, fearful of what it means to be seen, to be visible, to be known.

Confession: I am often afraid that having bipolar disorder means that, if someone gets too close, they’ll get burned.

But then my lover holds me and I see that they are still whole – not a single burn, or scar, or wound – and I realize this impulse to run is yet another lie, another deception of a disorder known for its deceiving.

Maybe you are like me. Maybe you are afraid, too.

Confession: We are, and have always been, staggeringly, astonishingly, magnificently beautiful and worthy of good things.

You and I – we deserve good things. We deserve love. We deserve happiness and we are worthy of the people who make us happy.

The gears of our minds may turn a little differently, but it makes us no less worthy of that happiness than anyone else.

Whenever I feel that instinct to run or to hide, I affirm myself as an act of resistance.

And I put passion into my resistance, I resist with my whole being. When I hear the dark voice, echoing from the corner of my mind, telling me that I am not enough – I straighten my spine, curl my fists and say, “No. I have always been enough.”

Because, confession: We are enough.

Which is not to say that we don’t make mistakes, which is not to say that we are perfect, which is not to say that we have arrived at our destination, exactly as we’d like to be.

But we are human.

So long as we are committed to being the best versions of ourselves that we can be, and so long as we hold ourselves accountable as we go along, we should be gentle with ourselves.

Gentle, like putting a bandage on a hurting child; gentle, like placing a baby bird back into the nest. We should be tender with ourselves, we should be soft, we should be kind – we deserve no less than kindness, especially when we are sore, especially when we are hurting, especially when we are lonely.

Mental illness can make us so sore. Sometimes we resist love because we are hurting, because we only know what it means to hurt.

But there are other ways of being.

Confession: Kindness is difficult when we are acutely aware of our shortcomings.

So every day, I practice. I write love letters to myself. I remind myself of when I’ve done something good. I light candles for myself. I take long showers and afternoon naps. I go to the beach and dig my feet into the sand. I drink lots of water. I smell the roses and the eucalyptus and the daisies.

And at first, I didn’t know how to be nice to myself. I’d spent years practicing the exact opposite. I knew all my worst mistakes by heart. I could rehearse every imperfection. It wasn’t difficult to pick myself apart.

Sometimes, though, we must do the more difficult things because they are also the most important.

In a world that tries to reduce you to “crazy” – a world that tries to tell you that you are inherently flawed – it is necessary to do everything you can to build yourself up.

It is powerful to be loving in a world that tells you that you should not be loved.

Because, confession: Letting yourself love and be loved is a radical act.

Which is to say, you are enough in this moment and you always were.

Which is to say, mental illness does not make us damaged goods.

Which is to say, mental illness is a part of us but it is certainly not all of us.

We are not enough “in spite of,” we are not enough “all things considered.” We are enough, full stop, human in every sense of the word.

We are bright, we are luminous.

 Sam Dylan Finch is a queer activist and feminist writer, based in the SF Bay. He is the founder of Let’s Queer Things Up!, his blog and labor of love. With a passion for impacting change through personal narrative, Sam writes about his struggles and triumphs as genderqueer and bipolar with the hopes of teaching others about his identity and community. When he isn’t writing, he’s probably eating takeout and dancing to Taylor Swift.

Connect with SDF: Website ; Facebook ; Twitter ; Tumblr

Join our (rad, amazing) community at LQTU’s official Facebook page!

the bipolaugh linkdump

“A glance at the comments threads on any of these works reflects how much they’ve helped readers who relate feel less alone. But also, by choosing the traditionally “light” medium of comics, the authors make the dark themes more accessible to outsiders. An inherent reality of any mental illness, including addiction, is that “normies” just don’t ever seem to get it—which of course makes the sufferer feel even worse. So it’s gratifying to see the thoughts and feelings you couldn’t begin to articulate illustrated in a way that makes you say YES YES THIS. So much this. This is what I have been trying to say to you.”
How Can Comics Help The World Understand Mental Illness?

I, the curator of all things bipolar, have carefully selected for you, o best beloved readers, a collection of cartoons and comics. The word curator is there to let you know that they’re all my own subjective choices rather than a comprehensive directory. They’re not traditionally funny, they’re things to identify with and things to file as gallows humour.


Mental Status Examination: Depression and Mania Illustrated and by the same artist, Classification of Delusions.
Beth Evans (I love her toons)
Depression Parkour. (you know this one well). Check out the video playlist too…

Never Say it’ll All be OK – Julia Scheele (an awareness style toon about her partner’s diagnosis)

Click to view slideshow.

Webcomics & Graphic Novels

Look Straight Ahead (Canadian. Available as webcomic and hard copy.) Here’s the documentary about the author’s battle with mental illness…

Marbles: Ellen Forney (my favourite graphic novel about bipolar and probably yours too)

Psychiatric Tales – Daryl Cunningham
Depression Comix (the navigation is a pain in the ass, click the numbered images twice)
MS Paint Adventures (my review)

Hyperbole and a Half: Adventures in Depression – part 1 & part 2. (you know it, you love it, I do too). But wait, there’s more…

Bipolar Dragon (The layout is like a children’s illustrated storybook. Sadly unfinished, but beautiful.)

Click to view slideshow.

And just because it’s lovely…

50 toons

Click to view slideshow.

Graduate School

Rutgers University was my first choice for graduate school for my MSW (Master's in Social Work). Unfortunately, they did not accept me :(

However, I was admitted to the other three schools I applied to: NYU, Fordham, and Kean.

Three out of four ain't bad.

I've decided to attend Fordham University in NYC. In 2012 their MSW program was ranked at number 11 in the country. (NYU was ranked at 16, Rutgers at 26, and Kean at 172). I don't really care all that much about rankings, but it is good to know that I'll be attending a top program.

I start grad school in a month and a half. I'm not as excited as I could be though. I'm trying to tell myself to live in the moment and enjoy the experience. But I just want to be done with the degree already so I can work as a social worker.

With that said, I am looking forward to the two internships I'll have. I'm hoping I get assigned to either a hospital, outpatient program, or a college campus. My dream social work job is to be a therapist at a college. My bipolar disorder surfaced in graduate school. And I did not receive good care from the campus therapist. I'd love to work with this population, to provide the kind of care I wished I had received. I also wouldn't mind working in a hospital or outpatient program. I really liked attending group therapy as a consumer. And I think I'd be good at leading group therapy as a clinician. It seems just like teaching and facilitating. I've done both for 5 years. And if I must say so myself, I am a great teacher.

A Fine Vintage Of Bitter

(Thank you to Shadow for inspiring this title, as well as my new description of myself.)

I have spent far too much time in the dish the last two days. Which my idea of too much would barely be a full work day for the mundanes but for me, it’s overdose, systemic poisoning, I AM CRYING FRACKING UNCLE! And what did I do that was so taxing, aside from being outside my bubble? Um…Sat on my ass at the shop watching conspiracy theory videos with R, fetching smokes for us both, and getting a free lunch. Some would call that socializing. Some would consider it fun.

I am not some. Don’t get me wrong, I know I have to force myself out of the comfort zone for my own “sanity” because isolation feeds depression. The trade off is, I came home today with a churning stomach ache, pounding heart, and sense of a black cloud over my head. Damn conspiracy videos and Jade Helm and government and…Call me self centered but I really do not have the psychological resources to ponder all the ugliness going on in the world. I believe in government conspiracies, mind you. I am fairly certain we are all doomed. I just CANNOT handle the anxiety it induces when I’m already drowning in anxiety from my meager existence and self limited exposure to things of petri dish. Though…Watched the trailer for a movie that was in development called Gray State, and omg, I must see the whole movie. Which isn’t gonna happen because whatever footage is out there is being removed promptly but I must…see…it. (Don’t bother telling me to put on a tinfoil hat or watch what I say, I am sure I’m already on government watch lists just by associating with R and his obsession with them.) But seriously…I want to see that movie. I don’t even like movies. That’s gotta indicate how much my interest was piqued. Of course, it would probably be detrimental to my mental health issues but, damnit…Trainwreck. Can’t look away.

Off the tinfoil hat soapbox.

We had a huge storm last night, lost power for hours. Which in a humidity laden sweat box is akin to being in the fires of Hell. I went and sat out in the rain, it was so hot in here. I even brought the kittens out of their safe seclusion because they were so warm, their fur was damp. Oddly, storms don’t really freak me out. When the tornado alarms sounded..I went and took a shower. My kid was safely at mom’s so I wasn’t even all that nervous. Sitting in the rain was wondermous. I kept hoping to get hit by lightning. Well, not really, but it was a spectacular lightning show. I have this bizarre fascination with dangerous things that could kill me yet are still beautiful to me.

Hours. No fans, no wifi, nothing. I couldn’t find a fecking flashlight anywhere. So I went around lighting candles, only to realize I had no holders for taper candles so I had put together a makeshift one out of aquarium gravel as weight and a long stemmed vase as the holder. *Note to self- it’s been three damned years and the plastic is still on that nice LED lantern dad bought you…BUY SOME FECKING BATTERIES ALREADY, DUMBASS, AND YOU WON’T HAVE THAT PROBLEM.* Wait, I spent all my battery allowance on my kid’s toys. Priorities, ya know. LeapPad is a wonderful baby sitter.

Eventually went to R’s after he popped by to bring me something, felt how hot it was in here, and ordered me to come to his house before I got heatstroke or something. He had no power, either, but we sat outside smoking in the drizzle waiting for it to come back up. He dispatched me to fetch smokes. Man never has cash and the credit card machines were down. That irked me cos it meant going back to see if he had cash, then another trip into the dish. Dished the fuck out here.

Eventually power was restored, storm died down, life went on. Except I had to restart my slave computer so everything else would come back up. I tried to return my dad’s calls from last night and my MagicJack informed me I couldn’t make that call because I don’t have an international calling plan. I realize he lives in Bumfuck and all, but I am fairly sure 12 miles out of town is not international. WTF, MagicJack? Storm had everything all wonky.

The last two days I’ve been forcing myself into gear by jumping into an ice cold shower. Thirty seconds. Ice cold. It’s that hot in my place. I took FOUR showers yesterday because I was just so overheated and sweaty. Guess I’m making up for all those days during winter and spring when I couldn’t be arsed to shower but a couple of times a week. It’s helping right now, but that dark undertow in my brain is telling me not to get cocky and think it’s a long term improvement. I don’t know what that undertow is about. I literally do not find things fun anymore. Not comedy shows or movies. Not going out, not the remote chance of being able to face an amusement park and ride roller coasters (which I used to love). I enjoy nothing. Total anhedonia. It’s not conscious, it’s not pleasant, and I sure as hell don’t like it. I don’t know where it’s coming from but if an anti depressant is helping with that aspect, it’s not doing a very good job, even if I am remotely functional (for a couple of days, anyway.)

In other news…I’ve got that thing going on where my PH is imbalanced and I get these rash type spots on  my arms and torso from where my own sweat is viewed as some sort of invader by my immune system. I am itchy and bruised-feeling constantly. It goes away during winter, but summer, when it’s sparked by perspiration, is miserable. Throw in all the bugs and getting flea bites outside, I need a loratadine the size of a semi hubcap. And I swear, I do not go seeking things to make me miserable just for the joy of complaining. I’ve had this allergy thing since childhood, summers are a misery for me. Factoid.

I haven’t done fuck all by way of housework. Too hot.  I think it’s gonna cool off slightly tomorrow, I’ll tackle it then. After so many hours in the dish and the mounting anxiety (in spite of a xanax)…I am due a break. I give myself permission to do absolutely nothing today.

And for the morbidly curious with the stones to face reality based fiction (Call me Orwellian)…The movie that most likely never will be and yet should be. May the director and his family rest in peace. (Murder-suicide my ass.) DO NOT WATCH THIS IF IT COULD BE A TRIGGER. I am just a fan of contagion/disaster films so this trailer really hit me where I live.


Zero Hour Approaches

It is 4:40 a.m. and I am getting dressed to go to the hospital.  It should be against he law to have to get up so early.  Bob is staggering around like he’s punch-drunk.  But we’ll get there at 6 am. and hopefully get this show on the road.  Think about me if you have the notion today.  Hope everyone has a good week!

gif responses to search terms

Does what it says on the lid. Caution: contains moving parts.

Rather not talk at all


Killing false self


I just can’t go on like this


I came across some feelings but I brushed that shit off.


If greeting you it’s a mistake


Thanks for sharing your thoughts on sex. Regards.


Fuck bipolar.


When bae isolate you


Mulishly xxx

Good morning tbh


death and what comes next


bipolar 1 lesbian wife


now that i’m gone


Bipolar owl


viagra vs livetra




Give Yourself a Break

You know what’s weird/sad/funny? It’s so much easier to forgive another person for their transgressions and faults than it is to forgive ourselves. It’s widely reported that social media is contributing to our feeling “less than”. It’s not just one area that this applies to. We’re all feeling bad over our parenting skills, dietary choices, music likes or dislikes, bodies, sexuality and so on.

In an attempt to help myself feel better despite my chronic health conditions, I recently took up yoga. I was drawn to it not just for it’s physical benefits, but the emotional and mental benefits as well. But sadly, even in this community, which one would think would be hippie dippie zen, there is fat shaming, posture shaming and alignment shaming. It’s hard to go to classes as a disabled middle aged woman when I’m surrounded by thin, lithe 20 somethings clad in their spandex and little bra tops. So I usually just follow a yoga DVD I have here at home, where only my cat can see me.

I experienced similar issues when I was a runner. I constantly compared myself to the super speedy runners, those without health concerns. I wound up losing my passion for running because I was putting so much pressure on myself to measure up. I am a slow runner, I’ll never win any age group awards, never run a 20 minute 5k, so I gave up. And that makes me sad. Sad I let other people’s opinions of me cloud my own. Sad I didn’t realize everyone else was worried about that same thing, too caught up in their own worries to concern themselves with me.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m feeling bad about the weight I have gained due to my medicines and my decreased physical activity. I’m watching calories, choosing healthier foods and trying to move as much as the pain will allow. But when the scale isn’t moving, I get frustrated. I’ve always had “big” thighs- they’re muscular and got even bigger when I was running. But with all the hype around thigh gaps and size 00, I look down and feel miserable. I avoid wearing shorts, I’m self conscious about how pants fit so then I just put on sweatpants and feel bad.

I’m sure about 90% of you readers have felt the same at one point or another. I’m working hard to accept myself as I am. I may not be a size 00, but I’m certainly not obese. I understand the concept of a “healthy weight”, but I really think there’s too much pressure to lose weight everywhere you look. So I have decided that as far as my weight and my mental health goes, I’m going to start giving myself a break. Viewing myself as a valuable, attractive and awesome person isn’t easy, but I’m getting there. Rather than obsessing over how many calories I’m eating and burning, I’m going to eat foods that I enjoy that are good for me (or at least not complete junk). I’m going to stop viewing my body as flawed and ugly and appreciate all that it does for me. Instead of being ashamed that I have bipolar disorder, I am going to ramp up my activism for causes I believe in, especially mental health.

Feeling a bit more self love and self acceptance isn’t going to happen overnight, but it’s something I’ve committed to. Surrounding myself with those who build me up helps me immeasurably. I’m lucky to have a great guy friend who reminds me that while I may not completely love my curvier figure, he does. I have fantastic co-workers who let me know that my work matters and that they appreciate me listening to them. I am blessed with friends and family who never give up on me. I guess it’s all about perspective. You can dwell on the bad, or you can look for the good.

Additionally, I want to thank a beautiful young lady by the name of Britanie for showing me (and all her readers) the meaning of beauty, both within and on the surface. She’s come a long way in accepting herself and inspires me to do the same. You can read her blog (and gaze upon the most beautiful natural eyebrows ever) at beautybybritanie.com

Dear readers, if you have any thoughts or experiences you’d like to share regarding comparison, the shaming trends, or your own journey with self acceptance, please share them in the comments.

Filed under: Self Discovery Tagged: acceptance, beauty, bipolar disorder, chronic illness, comparison, depression, emotions

It’s Hot!


It’s hot at my house today.

This all started on the day we left for vacation last week. My husband noticed the downstairs was a lot warmer than the upstairs. He held his hand up to the vent and pronounced “the air is broken”. This was not totally unexpected news.

Our house is 18 years old. We live in a very hot climate. Air conditioners don’t usually “live” 18 years in our neck of the woods. But our old ones have been trundling along.

We have one for upstairs and another unit for downstairs. Since the bottom one went out, the top one has been carrying the load. Oh, boy!

My husband had the foresight to purchase a home warranty policy. They are supposed to fix your appliances, etc. if they break down. This is a good idea in theory, but I knew it wasn’t going to be simple. My husband has been living in fear of these units going out…they are about $7000 apiece.

So anyway, we are headed out of town and my husband calls the home warranty place and the repairman. My daughter is luckily at home to let him in. He takes a couple looks at the things and announces “your freon is leaking and the coil is bad”.

Now leaking freon is not a big deal other than the fact that the government hates our kind of freon and has kicked it up to $70 per pound because it is the old kind. (New type freon is $10 a pound). The problem is this nasty coil.

A coil repair is supposedly around $3000. So we are glad we have the warranty. We are pumped because how hard can it be to get a coil and replace it? I’m glad you asked.

Our unit is so old that they do not make coils for it anymore. Hence, our company embarks on a nationwide search for this coil. We are now three days into no air conditioning in our downstairs. Fortunately, we are still on vacation and only my daughter and the pets are suffering.

It’s only 84 in the hot downstairs and the dogs are doing fine with fans and ice water. The cats stay upstairs anyway. But the whole place is just hot.

Eureka! They found a coil in Memphis. (Doesn’t that sound like a book or song?….They found a coil in Memphis…..) But Memphis is a ways off and it takes time and money to ship a coil. The home warranty place is currently deciding if it will pay to have the coil expedited or not. So it could be something like Saturday before the coil is in and we are cool again. And that’s assuming that the coil fixes the problem.

So I am hot. And please don’t tell me to go to the mall.

I was brave today. I went to my women’s support group and then to a meeting with my Jenny Craig consultant. I am still not losing weight at my goal of one measly pound per week. My weight is getting out of hand. In my defense, we have been doing a lot of traveling and eating out. And last night I had a 60th birthday dinner for my husband.

My Jenny Craig person was really nice about it. Of course, I guess she is paid to be. She says she’d like to see progress next week. Boy, me too.

A good friend of mine from when I was teaching sent me a text today. I can honestly say this person is one of the best teachers I’ve known. She is single with two kids and really depends on the income. She told me she is thinking of quitting as the paperwork, principal, and stress are squeezing the joy out of teaching. This is EXACTLY how I felt right before I went out on disability. So I felt a little vindicated. I was feeling that same stress, only in bipolar mode. I’m getting together with her to talk on Wednesday.

Tomorrow I am having a low calorie breakfast with my young bipolar friend I sort of mentor. She’s doing a little better with money but still struggles. She has doctor bills and credit card bills. Her parents help her out with a place to live but they are trying to get her to stand on her own feet, money wise. She has a good job, and although she is manic as hell, she seems to be holding her own.

So my husband is getting a movie from Redbox for tonight and I plan on drinking lots of ice water, having the fan right on me, and maybe taking a sleeping pill.

It’s hot.