Daily Archives: July 19, 2015

Still Insecure

#BeReal Image of me without make-up on left, wrinkles and turkey neck evident. Image of me with make-up and hair blown dry straight on right, no wrinkles or turkey neck in evidence.

Hastywords asked me to participate in her #BeReal campaign. On my first response to one of her questions, I showed my insecurity rather than my confidence. Both are just as much a part of me. Just as real. I am not without self-doubt or self-loathing. I am both confident and insecure.

Here is her question and my first response. (I rewrote it and sent her a more confident response for publication.)

Q: What do you think most people think about you by just seeing your picture?

A: Left-hand image: middle-aged, fat, plain, sex-less. Right-hand image: white privileged bitch.

Honestly, I have no desire to analyze my response. Only want to put it out there. Sometimes I feel good about myself, other times I do not. I am not as sexy as I once was.

I do not present myself as sexy, for that would be inappropriate. My son would die of embarrassment, and my husband prefers that I present that side of myself in private only to him.

I am aware that I am privileged. I know that. I look like the educated, upper middle class suburban mother that I am. When I speak, I often use big words, which can be offputting. Not everyone likes me. So be it.

Filed under: About Mental Health Tagged: insecurity, self image, self loathing, self-love

Sugar Sweet


Thank you all for the good thoughts on the air conditioner. It is fixed, thank god.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know I have a problem with my weight. I seriously don’t want to die fat. I’m trying something new to deal with it.

I was told by a friend about Overeater’s Anonymous. The meetings looked too far away and I didn’t want to try to get to a meeting anyway. You know how hard it is for me to get out a lot of days, although it has been better lately.

My friend told me about phone meetings. You just call and listen in. You can share if you want but you don’t have to. I called into one and was pretty impressed. It was organized and to the point.

OA (Overeater’s Anonymous) is a 12 step program based on AA. I’ve never had an alcohol problem but had heard of AA. Who hasn’t? But I wasn’t sure how it related to food.

At the end of the call, you can give your first name and phone number if you like. I did that and long story short, I wound up with a sponsor. “Sue” is in Texas and is working the program herself. Part of the idea of OA is giving back so Sue says I am helping her too. I’ve talked to her three times in six days so this gal is SERIOUS.

I don’t want this to turn into some preachy OA blog and it won’t. But since I talk about my recovery on here, I thought I should cover what I am doing to get well. Losing weight is definitely something I need to do to get well.

If you’re unfamiliar with the 12 steps, that’s okay. I’m going to talk about how I am doing on them and what I think.

STEP ONE: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction-that our lives had become unmanageable.

Oh boy. I am seriously in this group. I am definitely addicted to food. What I put in my mouth occupies a lot of my time and thought. I feel guilty about what I eat. I feel guilty that I don’t eat some things, like vegetables. I love sweets. My main thrill of going to a wedding or baby shower is that they will have cake. And I can usually get away with having two pieces without someone knowing.

I like pie. I will eat a LOT of pie if no one is watching. Since there are four people in the household, no one knows who ate it. Let’s talk doughnuts. We don’t get them often, but when we do, they are gone fast.

I gobble my food. Yesterday I was eating a bagel so fast I choked on it. (I’m just being honest here, folks.)

Is my life unmanageable? In the arena of food, it definitely is. I always want more food and love restaurants. After all, they will bring you whatever you want if you just ask for it.

So when Sue asked me about Step One, I said “yes”. I was ready to do something about my food addiction.

STEP TWO: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Well, heck. If you’re a regular reader, you know I have a spiritual side. I’m not saying everyone should go to church but I like it. I found one that is accepting of just about anything. They haven’t blinked an eye about my bipolar. (Of course, they haven’t seen me manic yet.)

Do you remember when I went to that religious retreat last year? There was a women’s support group formed out of that and I attend. We talk a lot about Christ there so I guess I believe in that higher Power. I read a devotional and a Bible passage every day.

So I suppose I have a higher Power. Do I believe God/Jesus is watching my food intake? I wonder about that. Do I believe God can change my behavior if I make the effort to trust Him? I don’t know about that either. God has let me down (in my opinion) at times when I was suicidal and depressed. So will He come around now?

I do know one thing. I am willing to try. I am willing to put some faith in something higher than myself to see about this food addiction. At least I have a higher power I pretty much believe in and know is good for me.

I want to be in the Christmas pictures this year. I don’t want to hide anymore. I want to buy “normal” sized clothes. I want to have fun at activities instead of thinking about how much food I can eat without people noticing. I want to know it is okay to feel less than stuffed. I want to remember I will live if I don’t eat everything in sight.

I don’t think you are supposed to focus on weight in OA. I THINK (am not sure) they believe if you work the steps the weight will come off. But I know since starting I have lost 7 pounds. It’s so motivating.

I’m also doing an app that is a food log. I just try to eat to my calorie goal for the day. That’s probably as much of a help as OA at this point.

Yesterday I was hungry. It wasn’t time to eat or snack. I asked God to help me forget about food for a while. I made it through.

So if you believe or not, maybe you will find my journey interesting. I’m interested to see how it goes, myself.

Anxiety Trigger 5,000: Why I Hate Phones

phone doomIs this logical? Nope. Is it a little insane? Yep.

It’s my truth. I am triggered by noise, by the unknown, by things I can’t control and catch me off guard, hearing bad news, being asked to do things, invited somewhere…

The phone is the device that sets off every single trigger.

Mind you, it wasn’t always this way. Oh, no, I was a normal kid/teen/twenty something. I loved talking on the phone. Phones didn’t scare me then. I am not sure when it started except after the Nardil interaction that hospitalized me…That was when I suddenly became psychotically triggered by noise, even normal noise others don’t notice. For me, it’s all coming through a bull horn.

Seems obvious. Put the phone on vibrate. I can do that with my cell. The home phone doesn’t have this feature. Unplug the phone? Then I get people coming to my door, which is just as traumatic.

Bottom line is, I just don’t like phones. That’s why the advent of chat rooms, instant messaging, etc, was a savior for me. Being able to conduct business on line via real time chat meant no awkward panicking waiting on the phone to make payment arrangements. If my mood was shit and someone wanted to talk, I could fake my way through and not have my every vocal fluctuation and micro expression analyzed.

In keeping with my own neuroses being neurotic…I can’t stand texting. I mean, it’s not like a hard trigger. It’s just that my prepaid plan costs a lot of money and I can’t spend ten hours bouncing back fifty texts (even if it would keep me calmer than a call).

So, where did this “phones are evil” rant come from?

One damned call. R called this morning (and prior to this, I was feeling meh, not freaked out or morose). That ONE damned call, for whatever reason, knocked my entire Jenga tower down. It something to do with a towel left at their house with blood on it, they thought someone was living in their basement. I had to explain no, that was the night the power went out and I was outside getting eaten alive by bugs so I went inside their house, in the dark, and grabbed a towel to dab off my itchy legs. Which I had apparently scratched to mega bloody trails and stained the fancy towel. Sorry. And he was cool about it cos he made a comment the other day about how bad my legs looked from the bug bites and me digging at them til they were bloody and scabby.

So if he’s not pissed about it and all is cool…

Why am I so off kilter? It wasn’t an act of malice. Had I not been in pitch blackness I’d have noticed I was streaming blood and searched for tissue instead of a nice towel. My bad. Oops. I feel shitty and embarrassed now. Guess my invite there is going to be rescinded for ruining a twenty dollar bath towel.

I was OKAY.

Thinking positively about what I might get done in spurts today since it’s cooled down enough.

One call and now I feel like such a leper I want to crawl into the closet because my panic disorder has set off all the fight or flight alarms and I feel…scared. Of what? It makes no sense.

Xanax took the edge off but…On what planet would any person, with mental issues or not, look favorably upon a device that can so easily send their tenuous stability crumbling down around them?

Now I just feel paranoid, anxious, lost, and I don’t care if I do nothing all day but sit here and stare off into space. The professionals would call it my personality and propose sitting me in a room with a hundred phones ringing all at once to “prove and rewire” me to know the noise is not going to kill me.

I don’t worry about hurting myself. When triggered so completely, I worry about that fight or flight thing causing me to inadvertently hurt someone else. That’s not relevant to the powers that be because they can rewire me to have impulse control.

I wish they’d wrap those wires around their own necks. Rewire that, assholes.

Phones are my kryptonite.

A Response to the Dalai Lama

This Friday, my Facebook newsfeed included a quotation from the Dalai Lama.

Depression seems to be related to fear, anger and frustration. When you’re in a bad mood, even if you meet with your friends, you don’t take pleasure in their company. But when you’re in a good mood, even if things go wrong, you can cope with them without difficulty. This is why putting yourself in a good mood, making a point of developing a sense of loving kindness gives you greater inner strength.

While I respect and admire the Dalai Lama, on this subject he is wrong.

I wrote a blog post to tell him and his followers so. I posted it on Blogher.com. (Blogher is a site for women bloggers that sometimes syndicates content. It is more general than what I usually post here, so I wrote something special for them.)

As I researched, trying to find when and where the Dalai Lama said this (I couldn’t), I discovered several articles about research into depression and Buddhist principles and techniques.

One was an article by Kathy Gilsinan at The Atlantic
(http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/07/dalai-lama-neuroscience-compassion/397706/). It talked about “high-amplitude gamma-oscillations in the brain, which are indicative of plasticity.” What that is or has to do with depression, I don’t know. It sounds like “handwavium” to me.

One that made more sense was this, from Jeanie Lerche Davis at
WebMD: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/07/dalai-lama-neuroscience-compassion. (The feature was reviewed by Louise Chang, MD.)

While meditation can help many who are depressed, it’s not a sure-fire cure, [Charles W.] Raison [psychiatry professor and co-director of Emory’s Collaborative for Contemplative Studies] tells WebMD. “In fact, many people with mood disorders find they can’t do meditation when they’re depressed.” Their thoughts are too overwhelming. They are anxious, nervous, and can’t sit – and likely they need antidepressants, he says.

That’s more like it.

In my response to the Dalai Lama, I said,

Real, clinical depression is not about being in a “bad mood.” It’s true that a truly depressed person does not find pleasure even in ordinarily pleasurable things, such as meeting with friends. But we cannot simply put ourselves in a good mood.

That’s the hell of depression. We want to enjoy the good times. We want to put ourselves into a place of inner strength. But we can’t. Not without help.

In fact, your advice is hurtful to depressed people. Too many times we have been told, “Cheer up.” “Smile! You’ll feel better.” “Think about someone else for a change.” “What do you have to feel bad about?”

Don’t you think we would if we could?

Remarks like these remind us that we have an illness and we cannot cure ourselves by willpower alone – no more than a person with hepatitis or tuberculosis or even schizophrenia can. We need help, and most of us need medication.

You do a disservice to people with depression when you tell them to put themselves in a good mood. You, an enlightened spiritual leader, may be able to do it, but we can’t.

Certainly we can benefit from practicing loving kindness and developing inner strength.

But without treatment for depression, how many of us can do that?

It angers me when people say that depression – or any mental disorder – is something people can or should be able to cure with an attitude adjustment. I’ve heard it too many times from people in my life, and I’m sure you have too.

What’s really disappointing is that someone like the Dalai Lama, with his legion of followers and enormous credibility, is perpetuating this old way of thinking.

This lie.

Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: acting "normal", being overwhelmed, blogging, Blogher, Dalai Lama, depression, mental health, mental illness, mental illness in the news, news stories, public perception

bipolar self portrait linkdump


Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, 1889

Medicuration time, my little cuckoos. For your delight and edification, I have once again trawled the Internet to find contemporary self portraits by people with manic depression. It’s all mixed up (no mixed episode jokes please) and so the known rub shoulders with the unknown and the only common denominator is my subjectively critical eyeballs. I haven’t included any of the great painters with their posthumous diagnoses, except the one on your left. I’m sure you’ll agree that it absolutely could not be left out. There’s a small selection of kids’ art, some videos and, as per usual, so many links that if you joined them up, they’d reach the moon.

Click to view slideshow.

Featured artists:

Luis Pedro de Casto
Psychedelic Weapons
Gabriel Marquez
Bryan Lewis Saunders
April Mansilla
Josephine King
Si Clark
John Poole
Emma Price
Kim Novak
James Pasternak
Jen Douglas
Adi Aguilar
Jaqueline Mak
Katie Chandler
Alex M Smith
Little Miss Bipolar
Ellen Forney
Daniel Johnston
Liz Obert
Alex W

Along the way, I stumbled across some self portraits by children with bipolar disorder and was impressed, depressed and touched by their expression and emotion. Images from Storm in my brain: art by kids with mood disorders.

Click to view slideshow.


Mentally Ill Will – the Ballad of Sweet Willem (watch it, or I’ll cut you… out of my will).

Near Death Experience – Bryan Lewis Saunders (he’s the dude who did 50 self portraits, each under the influence of different drugs/meds/substances, remember?)
Jen Douglas – One of Four
Voices Documentary: The Art of Children, Adolescents and Young Adults Touched by Mental Illness.
Art Therapy for Depression and Bipolar
Daniel Johnston – Story of an Artist

Read all about it:


click to enlarge

Jonah Lehrer meets Stephen Fry: the paradoxes of bipolar and creativity. (this one’s for you, frywhores!) There’s a follow up post – Madness ain’t all it cracked up to be.
Using artwork to understand the experience of mental illness: Mainstream artists and Outsider artists (Terry A. Rustin) (brilliant article, I can’t recommend it highly enough)
Van Gogh and Mental Illness (brainpickings)
Psych Meds Prevent Artistic and Creative Thought (Natasha Tracy) (it’s not as simple as the title implies)
The Selfie: A Social Trend or Mental Illness?
Suffering for art is still suffering (Neurocritic)
Art Therapy in a Patient With Bipolar Disorder: Pictures Speak More Than a Thousand Words. (image on the left)
Missy Douglas – 2:365, 365 days of unmedicated bipolar art. (personally, it does absolutely nothing for me)

I’d really, really, really love to see your self portraits. If you show me yours, I’ll show you mine. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a gallery of us here? When I’ve done one. I’m gonna do one.