Daily Archives: August 1, 2015

Who’s More Glamorous?

Who’s more glamorous in their senior high school graduation photo, Jenny Lawson The Bloggess or me? Judge for yourself.

Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess in big Texas-style curled hair and a fur stole
Jenny Lawson The Bloggess
Big Texas Hair and Fur Stole

Kitt O'Malley High School Graduation Picture. Long slightly wavy hair. Burgundy crushed velvet stole.
Kitt O’Malley
Class of 1981

Manhattan Beach, California vs. Texas. Fur stole? Nope. We wore crushed velvet. Big hair? Nope. I probably didn’t even blow mine dry. Why? It dried on its own. When I wore it long, it did take hours to dry, especially since it’s foggy at the beach. Still, it does eventually dry. Plus, unlike Jenny, I’m pretty sure I’m wearing my bra under the crushed velvet stole.

Filed under: Photos Tagged: humor, Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess, throwback

Podcast Preview

SeaTread Studios and image of polar bear

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Adam Lennon of SeaTread Studios. Adam, like me, lives with bipolar disorder.

In April of 2014, Adam had a severe manic episode after taking medication that should have been complemented with a stabilizer. This “woke up” his bipolar genes, which would ultimately have devastating consequences for his family. ~ Our Story – SeaTread Studios.


Adam sent me a list of questions to prepare for the podcast. I wrote up these talking points in response to his questions, but didn’t read them verbatim as we spoke. When Adam edits and posts the podcast, I will let everyone know.


ADAM: On your site, you mention that you had convinced yourself that your family would be better off without you. I commonly use the quote about depression, “The monster speaks to you through your own voice.” What does this idea mean to you?


  • Dark side reminiscent of the demon Screwtape in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. Lewis referred to the human being tempted and deceived as the Patient.
  • When I read The Screwtape Letters a couple of years after I had experienced suicidality and survived a living hell, I felt as though he perfectly captured the struggle in our minds when our thoughts turn against us. It’s insidious and deceptive.
  • Cognitive restructuring under a UCLA psychologist helped me to stop those deceptive and destructive thoughts, wrestle with them, and prevail.


ADAM: Can you explain your first manic episode? You equate it to a trance-like state.


  • When I was 21 my grandfather died, and I had the honor of giving his eulogy. My grandfather was a kindred spirit. He loved telling stories and public speaking.
  • On my way back from the airport upon my return, as I was driving across the Bay Bridge, I started to have an out of body experience, which worried me, for it wasn’t safe. There was no place to pull to the side. I was on a bridge. So I used my turn signal to change lanes and verify that I was aware of my surroundings and able to drive safely, which I was. Then, I felt an energy being pushed out of my body and being replaced with a cleansing light energy. I felt grounded.
  • When I got home to my roommates I declared that I had just experienced a spiritual orgasm, for that was the closest metaphor I could come up with. At the time, my roommates and I were interested in spirituality.
  • I went on to go in and out of trance-like states at will by staring into a candle flame. Unfortunately, sometimes the experience felt grounding and other times I went somewhere I feared, somewhere I wasn’t sure I could return from. Somewhere I believed insanity was.


ADAM: You considered your experiences mystic. Can you tell us a little bit about Christian mysticism and being called by God?


  • Christian mystics, all mystics for that matter, directly experience God. Mania feels like a direct experience of God, a communion with God. The ecstatic high is often experienced as religious.
  • I chose, and I use that term purposefully for it is my way of reframing my experience, I chose to interpret my experience as God calling me to something, to some purpose. I just wasn’t sure what that purpose was. I was not churched growing up, but I was baptized Roman Catholic and felt an affinity to that faith in spite of my differences with the Church. So, what I ended up doing in my twenties was attend what’s called RCIA or Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults, but I never could get myself to take that final step and confirm my faith as a Catholic, for I believed that I was called to seminary training and ordination. I ended up confirming as an Episcopalian in the midst of my psychotic break at St Paul’s Episcopal Church in Benicia, CA – a wonderful, loving community.
  • I have since twice attended and twice quit Fuller Theological Seminary, a multi-denominational Christian seminary. I enjoyed my studies, but my illness and life transitions, such as moves made it too difficult for me to continue and complete my degree.


ADAM: During your first psychiatric breakdown, you mention that you couldn’t get out of bed. This is extremely common among those with mental illness. Why is this particular action so difficult?


  • Well, I was suicidal at 18, but hid it well. I did get therapy and continued therapy throughout my 20s for depression.
  • At 30, my grandmother had recently died, a dear friend from high school died of AIDS, and a client threatened to rape me during a therapy session. By that time, I had completed graduate school in psychology and was a licensed psychotherapist working with severely disturbed adolescents.
  • I’m don’t know the science behind it, but depression doesn’t just attack one’s thought processes, it also attacks your body. I felt leaden. I simply could not lift my body out of the bed. I called my parents and asked that they come up for I just couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t do the work. I couldn’t face the day. I couldn’t even get out of bed.


ADAM: Tell us about your full blown manic episode (5 days of no sleep, thinking in binary, chaos theory, etc…)


  • When I was 30 and fell into a deep depression, I sought medical attention for the first time was put on antidepressants. Eventually, I became manic, psychotic even. Streaming speeding thoughts did not allow me to sleep for five days. I simultaneously thought in binary (zeroes and ones), about chaos theory (physics), and about Christian mystics (with whom I identified and honestly, still do). My friend ended up calling my Episcopal priest and my father to get me help. When the priest arrived, I called the psychiatrist who prescribed me antipsychotics for three days. The antipsychotics put an abrupt stop to the racing thoughts.
  • At 30, I kept trying to get back up and I kept falling back down. Finally I moved back into my parents’ home to recover.


ADAM: How important was it to have supportive parents who were able to get you back on your feet?


  • My parents were my God-send. I couldn’t have done it without them. Plus it healed anger and resentment I had toward them. In years of psychotherapy I was told that my depression was anger at my abusive childhood turned inward toward myself.
  • My parents’ actions showed me beyond any doubt that my parents loved me and would do anything for me.


ADAM: How did motherhood change things psychologically for you?


  • I had to be healthy for my son. I could not dismiss manic or hypomanic symptoms. I could not lose my temper and fly off the handle.
  • Unfortunately, I had internalized stigma against bipolar disorder. For some reason, I thought nothing of depression. Yet, once I was diagnosed bipolar, I believed that I could not be a good enough mother for my son. I believed that he would be better off in someone else’s care, so I put him in daycare and went back to work. There is nothing more painful that thinking you are not adequate to parent your child because of an illness you have.


ADAM: When did you decide to start a blog? What was that process like? Have you had moments where it seemed overwhelming? How did you end up with thousands of followers?


  • I started because I simply had to. My father-in-law developed sepsis when he was traveling in Canada. My husband and his siblings rushed up to his bedside. The stress of worrying about my husband’s parents, how it affected my husband, my son and me triggered hypomania.
  • I started out slow, intermittently posting short prose poems. Then I started to attend local writers’ Meetups. The other writers welcomed me and treated me with respect. That was the start of coming out of years of isolation.
  • What overwhelms me is trying to read other blogs. There are so very many excellent mental health, writing, photography, and art blogs. I simply cannot keep up. I become a social media addict, overstimulating myself.
  • I ended up with my followers by diligently following and commenting on other blogs, by becoming actively involved in multiple social media platforms, by sharing others’ great work on those platforms, by aggressively following others and commenting and sharing their work.


ADAM: Who are you without your illness? Or have you fused together?


  • With or without my illness, symptomatic or not, I am Kitt.
  • My illness does not define me. It may in some ways limit what I can and cannot do.
  • But I believe, or I choose to believe, that this illness gives my life purpose.
  • I have it so I take my education and my experience to help others.


ADAM: What do you hope to accomplish by being vulnerable and letting people into the most intimate parts of your life?


  • I’m not being vulnerable. I’m just being me. I’ve always been open. I may have hidden my suicidality at 18, but I thought I had to be perfect back then. Being suicidal is not perfect.
  • I want others to know that they are not alone.
  • I want to defy stereotypes. I am a confident accomplished woman, for the most part, aside from the psychiatric disability and all.
  • And…I’ve always been something of a diva. I love being the center of attention, on stage. I hope to eventually speak publicly. For now, I write.

Filed under: Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Family, Mania, Mental Illness, Mood Cycling, Mysticism, Psychosis, Recovery, Stigma, Vocation, Writing Tagged: Adam Lennon, SeaTread Studios

the pinkdump linkdump

Bless me, bloggers, for I have sinned. I am queer. I am bipolar. It’s taken me a year to even think of doing a post about those two things. Actually, it’s more stupidity than sin; it took me 17 years to work out that, “if I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me,” had any meaning besides holding a grudge. And it’s not as though I didn’t think about it, it puzzled me sporadically the whole time. I’m the most intelligent moron I know.

I actually wanted this to be a page of resources and I will still do that, but I need some time to research one that’ll be properly global (after an English speaking fashion). I won’t list resources by country, because it’d take me a thousand years and I’d get bored within 24 hours. I want to find sites/pages that’ll help anyone, anywhere,and so that’s the approach I’m taking from the get go. I’d love some help.

So let’s talk about two of my tribes…


Kidding, kidding… sorta… Okay here we go:

NAMI – Perspectives and Voices

I wrote “we need to talk about bipolar lesbians,” because of the very, very nasty bad press we get. So the first question to address here (for all of us on the not so heterosexual spectrum), is a fuckwitted assumption (yet another myth about bipolar, as if there weren’t enough already).

Is there a direct link between being queer and bipolar? Nope, but stress is a significant contributing factor, so like many other populations, discrimination and social marginisation mean that we queers are at an increased risk for its manifestation.


“Being gay does not make you bipolar, being bipolar does not make you gay.” source

(Pity, I could do with some of either category around here.)

“People with a diagnosis of bipolar often talk to me about the the way they are affected by judgements (or perceived judgements) and expectations. Sound familiar?” Reflections of a Gay Counsellor (Australia)

For solid evidence of the above, I shall cite the following source, which appears to be a academia’s final word on the subject.

“The negative effects of social marginalization can be found in adolescent and adult MSM, for example, research has shown that MSM and other members of the LGBT community are at increased risk for a number of mental health problems.[1] Research also has found that, compared to other men, MSM are at increased risk of:
Major depression during adolescence and adulthood;
Bipolar disorder; and
Generalized anxiety disorder during adolescence and adulthood.”

Cochran, S.D. & Mays, V.M. (2008). Prevalence of primary mental health morbidity and suicide symptoms among gay and bisexual men. In Wolitski, R.J., Stall, R., & Valdiserri, R.O., Unequal opportunity: Health disparities affecting gay and bisexual men in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press.

As for the rest… Higher Risk of Mental Health Problems for Homosexuals

(They always, always research gay men before and more than anyone else in the acronym, there’s always more funding for them, *sigh* just another injustice and a demonstration of how minorities stomp on the minorities within the minority. Inception! It’s like a dog stepping in its own shit. Anyway, that’s that damn question answered; let us proceed.)

Help, Support, Resources, Research

A great starting point, even for people outside the USA is this article by NAMI.
Queer Mental Health Community for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Two-Spirited and Genderqueer People (they’re looking for volunteer writers btw)
Mental Health Issues Facing Gay Men
Activist, writer, speaker Sam Dylan Finch & owner of Let’s Queer Things Up
How to tell if your lesbian teen has bipolar disorder.
The Queer Agenda: how to support someone with bipolar.
Card Carrying Lesbian: tips for helping a bipolar partner.
Psychiatric Morbidity among Homosexuals and Bisexuals
The Interplay of Bipolar Disorder, Trauma and Addiction in the LGBT Community

The Arts, Darling


Tarnation (Caouette)


The Hidden Gem is an observational documentary based on the life of an aboriginal-australian transgender named Jemma.



(I’ve only read and reviewed one author on this list and sadly, it wasn’t a great experience. Hopefully I’ll get hold of some more queer, bipolar books.)
Maria Bello – Whatever…
Glitterland & Glitterland Aftermath, Alexis Hall. My review.
Beautiful Wreck: Sex, Lies and Suicide, Stephanie Schroeder
The Province of Hope Mark Lee Kirchmeier
Leaving The Hall Light On Madeline Sharples

Lou @ the No Evil Project
Photographer Luis Pedro de Casto: Portfolio and  Blog.


Art & Installation
Ras Steyn (digital artist/surrealist)
“Bipolar Disorder Has Its Ups and Downs” by David Feingold

Through the Fire: The Story of an Intersexed, Bipolar Queer Kid Who Rocks: podcast


Coming out as mentally ill, or coming out as gay – which is harder?
Lifting the Veil off Mental Health: Life with a Bipolar Partner
Invisibly ill: Notes on Being Academic and Bipolar and On Coming Out as Bipolar in Academia
Surviving College as a Transgendered Bipolar Student
Confessions of a Bipolar Ex Club Kid
Being Gay, Being Bipolar
Jay Ralko – Bipolar Disorder and the Suicidal Dangers of Testosterone
Bipolar and Bisexual – Living with Labels
On Allies and Anger
She’s Just Being Bipolar
On Being Crazy and Brave While Dating
Excuse me while I piddle

LGBT and Bipolar Celebrities


Alive and bipolaring:
Stephen Fry
Mary Lambert
Patricia Cornwell
Ellen Forney
Kristy McNichol (she finally came out)
Drew Barrymore
Alison Moyet
… and of course, famous bipolar blogger, Natasha Tracy

Chris Kanyon (wrestler)

Deceased people whose bipolar or sexuality is unconfirmed:
Nina Simone
Virginia Woolf
Jackson Pollock
Marilyn Monroe
Dusty Springfield

Dear, delightful readers of all shapes, sizes, conditions and persuasions…

If you’re queer and bipolar and have a blog/site, I’d like to make a blogroll of them on my blog, so please comment and tell me a) whether you are and b) whether you’re happy for me to list you in public. Warning: I’ll have my peepers peeled for things you’ve written, to feature in a future pinkdump.

If you know of more sites I should take a look at, gimme those links too. Effusive thanks are already on their way.

I add videos to posts exactly the same way, but lately it seems that some show up and some don’t. Annoying. The links under the film and doccie section are both to the full films.


Life Apparently Wishes Me Hell

I fell asleep last night…And woke up 47 minutes later. Yes, 47 minutes, because after awhile of clock watching, you start to notice the numbers. It was like, wtf, why even let me fall asleep if you’re gonna wake me up so quickly, brain? I was itching to death so I took a shower, then went back to bed. Kept waking up.  To the point by the time the sun came up, I didn’t want to fucking get up. Fuck yard sales, fuck the whole consciousness thing. I was forced to become coherent when Spook wanted her dress buttoned up. I have a hard enough time with buttons with my glasses on and brain not cobwebbed. It took me five minutes to do four buttons. GRRRR.

I was determined to go to a few yard sales but once out, with the spawn constantly yapping (and she makes me a dangerous driver because she won’t stop talking and expects me to drop everything to pay attention to her and whatever she’s on about, throw in some panic and it’s an accident waiting to happen) and the sun and the heat…I actually started breaking out, from the sun. I am allergic to the sun, which makes sense, as my mom breaks out from direct sunlight too. Yayness. I must have driven ten miles only to hit two yard sales and spent fifty cents. Spook kept yapping and asking questions and I was grinding my teeth and just felt so damned hostile and furious and triggered…Because I tried repeatedly to explain that her noise made me nervous and I needed to focus on driving but she wouldn’t let up a fraction and it was just like WHAT THE FUCK DO I HAVE TO DO, PUT DUCT TAPE ON YOUR MOUTH? Is it illegal to muzzle a child? Jebus.

I stopped for cat food, let her get Twizzlers just so she’d have a mouth full of food and stop talking, and came home, deflated and angry and anxious and stressed, yet my brain kinda wants to go back to sleep. Yes, anxiously lethargic. I’m special.

I figured it’d be like this, though the way the anxiety metastasizes into blinding anger worries me. Five straight days in the dish and now I am…I need a time out. I don’t want to talk to anyone, see anyone, or do anything. (Yet the overgrown lawn mocks me.) Yesterday, I was feeling it. Today I’m not. And this is not some mercurial personality thing. This is “I can’t handle any more sensory overload”. And I’ve noticed, by tracking things through my blog, that when I have limited dish outings during any week, I’m not as freaked out and worn down at the end. But when I am in the dish every day, day after day, it takes a toll.


So I am putting myself in a time out and hoping some sensory deprivation  will do the trick since my circuits are overloaded and fried.

Would it be asking so much if life would just cut me some fucking slack and on occasion let things go well instead of turning to hell?


I am a chameleon

Malagasy giant chameleon, Furcifer oustaleti, Sharon Jones, http://sharonjones38.daportfolio.com/

I just realized that in my last post I referred to this post, which hadn’t been finished…oops.

Up until about 10 years ago, who I was and how I acted was closely choreographed. My mother wanted me to be the person she never was able to be, my ex wanted me to be some bizarre form of what he felt the perfect woman was, and when I finally escaped with my children (I was 47) I was taken under the wing by some well-meaning women. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize I was still so used to being told who I was supposed to be that I just went along with the one who had the strongest personality.

Although I could feel someone deep inside struggling to emerge, I just kept tamping her down because I had no idea who she would be and how much trouble she would get me into. That’s right, trouble. Throughout my previous life, if I dared to stray from the person someone wanted me to be, there would be consequences. My parents took the hands-off approach, they were into Transactional Analysis (TA), and even had a book called TA for Tots. It’s where the term “I’m OK You’re OK” comes from (a Baby Boomer thing). No rules, no punishment, no boundaries…fend for yourself. On the other hand, if I didn’t do what was implied to be correct, I was a disappointment…very confusing. Than I married someone who was just the opposite, strict rules for everything; but that’s another story.

I was so good at being a chameleon that when I could no longer hide my depression/mental illness at work, co-workers were flabbergasted. Every one of them said “I had no idea there was anything wrong.” Same with most of my peers. I was a high functioning Office Manager by day, barely functioning adult by night.

When I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, that seemed to have given me a bit of a guideline of who (or why) I was. Of course, that makes sense, I have a mental illness. I was always told I was crazy, moody, wild, etc. Then I found that people in the world around me weren’t comfortable with that persona, so if I wanted to keep friends I had to keep it to myself. Well that didn’t work well, I didn’t escape from control to allow myself to be controlled. For a while I adopted what I call the Popeye philosophy “I yam what I yam,” but that was uncomfortable as well. The proper lady/perfect wife ideal was so ingrained into my head that when I was around other “normal” people I had a hard time. Feeling fearful that I would make a mistake, or say the wrong thing, or do something embarrassing, I began to isolate. It is so much easier to just be alone.

Oops, I fell in love. But again the Popeye philosophy took over, and lo and behold I am loved. A bizarre new experience, this unconditional love, I stupidly fight it almost everyday. Unfortunately this hasn’t spilled over into the rest of my life. I’m getting better, although I’m still not sure what my identity is, which seems to be important.

When my diagnosis was recently changed it threw me for a loop. All of a sudden I figured I must be someone different, but that makes no sense. As my therapist explained, “a diagnosis is the number we code on your bill so the insurance company will pay for your visit.”

Friends in the real world (outside of the Social Media) are still elusive to me. I do have a few who see me unmasked, but for the most part when I volunteer, attend Rotary, or go to a social event, I’m the competent-self-assured-Sheri. But then while I’m lying in bed at night, I tear apart everything I’ve said or done in public and wonder if others noticed what a stupid idiot I was. Most of the time I feel lonely (no pity parties please-I choose this), but I’m afraid of making friends, never mind the fact that I still feel socially inept and don’t even know how to meet people as “me.”

Who the hell am I? I still don’t know, maybe I never really will. Maybe it’s a Baby Boomer thing to need to know who we are, that self-discovery shit, the classic middle-aged crisis.

Maybe it’s not important to define myself but just be.

Tagged: mental illness, personality, self-discovery

I don’t have time for this.

Doctors, therapists, self help books all say the same thing: “make time for yourself”, “treat yourself”. What?? I don’t have time for that. Life for the most part is too busy, money is too scarce to flash, and I am … Continue reading

I don’t have time for this.

Doctors, therapists, self help books all say the same thing: “make time for yourself”, “treat yourself”. What?? I don’t have time for that. Life for the most part is too busy, money is too scarce to flash, and I am … Continue reading

I’m here but seriously lacking in abilities right now…

Hello??…..  Anybody in there…..???? I stare at my screen and have absolutely nothing to say.  (Scratch that, – I have plenty to say, but just no words at present.)  I always have lots to say, but it’s mostly for myself.  … Continue reading

I’m here but seriously lacking in abilities right now…

Hello??…..  Anybody in there…..???? I stare at my screen and have absolutely nothing to say.  (Scratch that, – I have plenty to say, but just no words at present.)  I always have lots to say, but it’s mostly for myself.  … Continue reading

“A Bread-and-Butter Town”: Yorkshire Day

Mansion House, Doncaster: taken on Election Day, 2015

Mansion House, Doncaster: taken on Election Day, 2015

“Tha can always tell a Yorkshireman, but tha can’t tell him much.” – Anon.

Warnings for: unashamed flag waving, and patriotism of the adopted-county-kind

Today is Yorkshire Day: 1 August. It’s a date which is also significant to me, as a Pagan, as Lammas. Also known as Lughnas, and various other names, it has ties to both the multi-talented god Lugh, and to the harvest.

Harvests can be literal or figurative: personal, or collective. I went out for a run today – more of a walk and jog – and saw, and ate, my first bramble. No, I don’t have a picture of it: I ate it.

I did take a picture of this:

Greeting the light: Doncaster, Yorkshire Day, 2015

Greeting the light: Doncaster, Yorkshire Day, 2015

The phrase “a bread-and-butter town” is how a newspaper editor described Doncaster to me, when I interviewed for a job on a local paper. It was so long ago, I don’t remember which one.

And, whilst I didn’t get the job, the description has stuck with me. I think I know what he meant, that old Yorkshireman.

We are a practical town, trying to reinvent ourselves in order to thrive, to survive. Sometimes, we get it wrong. (1) Or we lose our way: hardly surprising, considering we have pit villages without pits; young people struggling to find jobs, and purpose.

But we haven’t gone away, and we haven’t shut up. Our voices can be heard just as much through poetry and song, through laughter, as through despair, and distress, and, at times, even violence.

Dancing on the rooftops: "The Lovers", Waterdale, Doncaster

Dancing on the rooftops: “The Lovers”, Waterdale, Doncaster

Doncaster is a town bursting with art and artists of all kinds: sculptors, musicians, painters, poets, fiction writers, dancers, you name it. And of people who love art. Who, for example, got truly excited when word got out that “The Lovers” was returning to public display.

We got our cameras out for the “DN Weekend” in June. We raise our glasses and voices at the Brewery Tap, and the Masons: both part of the regular folk calendar in town. We even have a record shop again.

Doncaster has lost a lot of its heritage, but we’ve kept a lot, too.

Christchurch, Doncaster

Christchurch, Doncaster

We love art, but are bemused by artiness. And yes, I meant to write “we”. I am a Doncastrian now, as much as I am a Michigander, or a Detroiter.

I wrote part of this piece about my adopted “bread-and-butter town” whilst eating bread and butter purchased in one of Doncaster’s several Polish shops. And that is so very Donny, indeed.

This year, Doncaster is the official site for Yorkshire Day. And by gum! They couldn’t have chosen a finer town.

More than just a racecourse: Doncaster

More than just a racecourse: Doncaster

(1) If you’re local, or know the town, think “The Dome”.