Daily Archives: October 9, 2015

Hell in Paradise – Part Two – Seeking The Real Aloha

Our family in front of the Kona Inn Restaurant in Kailua-Kona at sunset, November 2013 To read the revised version of Part One please visit here December, 2013 I know it sounds ridiculous to complain about being in Hawaii, but anyone who has experienced bipolar depression can empathize with this seemingly narcissistic attitude. No matter where … Continue reading Hell in Paradise – Part Two – Seeking The Real Aloha


So, tribe, how are you doing? We might be the only people who can ask each other that and just tell the truth. No pretence, no sinking feeling, no feelings of guilt when the truthful answer is, “up to shit” more often than not. Here we all are, intense and extreme people, people who other…


So, tribe, how are you doing? We might be the only people who can ask each other that and just tell the truth. No pretence, no sinking feeling, no feelings of guilt when the truthful answer is, “up to shit” more often than not. Here we all are, intense and extreme people, people who other…

Now, I’m Worried

NAMIWalks Needs Your Support

Goal: $175,000. Raised: $98,469. 56% of Goal Achieved.

I know, I know. I’ve been harping on and on, begging really, for money for NAMIWalks.

This is why: 1/3 of NAMI Orange County’s operating budget comes from NAMIWalks. Tomorrow is the walk. As of today, we have raised only 56% (or $98,469) of our $175,000 goal.

Last year’s walk was a success. Apparently Robin William’s suicide aroused sympathy, but mass shootings somehow make addressing mental health anathema.

Demand for NAMI’s signature programs exceeds supply. People, like me, wait for openings in courses. Their programs help. We need your support.

Thank you to those who have raised money so far. Hufsa is my team leader. She rocks! Our team is the Stigma Smashers.

Top Individual Fundraisers

NAMIWalks Top Individual Fundraisers

Top Teams

NAMIWalks Top Teams

Filed under: NAMI, Psychosocial Education, Recovery, Support Group Tagged: #namiocwalker, NAMIWalks, NAMIWalks Orange County

Veronike: Daisies and Darkness

I was only 15 when I woke up in a hospital room with tubes down my throat and restraints around my scarred wrists, in a haze of confusion. They had […]

Veronike: Daisies and Darkness

I was only 15 when I woke up in a hospital room with tubes down my throat and restraints around my scarred wrists, in a haze of confusion. They had […]

Now We Have A PRoblem

My husband’s company just switched insurance companies, and they are refusing to cover my Abilify, generic or brand name.  THe prescription is close to $1000/month without insurance.  So I am meeting my doctor to see if we can find something equivalent to try.  There is a process to try to get them to cover it, but the office manager at my psychiatrist’s office flatly refused to do it.  She said it was just a process they set up so they could cover themselves denying it anyway.  I absolutely do not know what to do. There doesn’t seem to be an equivalent mood stabilizer out there., I don’t’ want to jeopardize my remission by messing with my cocktail right now. I’ve been on Abilify since the beginning at a higher dose then, but I just don’t’ know what will happen if I have to do without it.

WEnt back to my surgeon and he said everything seemed to be healing. So that was some good news.

Hope everyone has a good weekend!

Bipolar’s Worst Side Effect: Loss of faith in yourself

I will be the first to acknowledge that bipolar distorts everything. It is no one’s fault, it just is.

The down side is erosion of self confidence because you DO lose faith in yourself when your every thought runs the risk of either being valid or being a byproduct of some bipolar/depressive facet. There is no way to know, really, and those around me, cash in on this to mask their own deficiencies. A therapist might call me paranoid, but I see it time and again. I try to express myself in an honest non emotional manner but if the person I am talking to views it as an attack…I am placed right back into the spot of being “the crazy one” who apparently has zero legit emotions. I am the one with an iron clad mental case file, it could not possibly be anything other than me and my illnesses.

Fully medicated with mood stabilizer, I’d say they might be 40% right.  Not on a mood stabilizer, that could rise to 70%. Which still leaves a certain percentage of time where my feelings are real yet dismissed just the same. It’s maddening, demoralizing, and it DOES make me wanna stab some people in the eye with a spork. “Why do you have low self esteem, Niki?” Hmm…Get Robert Stack’s ghost, it is indeed an unsolved mystery.

This last week has given me lots of opportunities and incentive to ponder my own distortions. I freely admit, in public posts, my mind can change in the course of an hour. While for some this may be simple mercurial personality, for me it is not. I want continuity. Either all depressed or all up, if I can’t have the happy medium of stable. None of this mixed shit where I never know if I am coming or going, if I want company or am trying to assimilate to the notion of “normal”. I am tired of the guessing games with my own brain. It needs to be killed with fire.

It’s a fine line to walk, bipolar. Like a tightrope act with no net and you have shit balance. Few of us are actually violent or psychotic. Few of us aim to manipulate or being controlling or nasty. We want our bipolar considered, just not to the extent where those around us feel the need to invest in a cart and mask ala Hannibal Lecter. Tightrope act from hell.

Right or wrong,I think I have unintentionally divided my life into segments. There’s the 13 years pre proper diagnosis in which I was given meds that made me manic for longer periods thus seeming I was well…Then The Nardil Incident which involved brain damage…Then there is after the Nardil, with mood stabilizers.

I look back on everything from birth til 2000, see how volatile and illogical I was, and  feel ashamed. I put some people through hell they didn’t deserve and it truly wasn’t my fault any more than one can be blamed for a car crash due to undiagnosed diabetes. I still feel shitty about it. I also have an amount of resentment for how popular I was during the long manic periods of hypersexuality, lack of inhibition, and sheer elation without reason. All those vapid people who adored me while manic yet bailed when the depression made me a non functional husk. If that’s loyalty and friendship, I shall remain alone and misanthropic.

Think the big point there is, I feel bad for what I did but couldn’t control and those people still feel justified in discarding me.

After the Nardil Incident, I tried my best and still flew apart into a husk. I think had it not been for the brain damage, my disability would never have been granted. Maybe it was my doctor’s way of making up for the fact that the damage occurred because I didn’t receive proper treatment from the local hospital until four days after the fact I went…catatonic and drooling. I just know, I used to land on my feet for awhile, but after that Nardil thing…Nothing’s ever been the same. I lost 20 IQ points, developed more confusion and mental deficiency…

Then came the post mood stabilizer period. Being diagnosed bipolar made everything seem much clearer. I understood all my behavior others called personality, yet I never believed it was. Mood stabilizers changed my life. Yes, it sucked that the highs were hindered. It ruled that I was no longer flying off the handle over every tiny thing, crying for days on end, hiding in a closet…It was a double edged sword.

And that is how my recall of my life is segmented. Before diagnosis, after brain damage and after proper diagnosis.

Which leaves so much room to feel shitty and guilt trip and be grateful anyone speaks to me still. It also leaves much room to feel resentful and downright furious for those who discarded me for something I didn’t choose and don’t control.

They, in addition to the mental stuff, make me doubt myself at every turn. I no longer feel certain when I am angry or my feelings are hurt, not because I truly doubt my feelings…But it’s so easy for someone “stable” to throw out my bipolar so I am never sure what’s legit and what isn’t.

The loss of faith in myself is damaging beyond words and people don’t even give a damn but question your “low confidence” and accuse you of self pity.

Imagine studying for a test, only to be given the wrong study materials and failing. Would you not feel screwed over? Like you could only operate on the information given and it’s not your fault it was wrong?

Welcome to bipolar.

Being ill is no fun. Not being able to believe in yourself and having those around you amplify that…is living hell.

It’s 6:49 am.

It’s 6:49 in the morning. Got up at 6:15. The deal on Thursdays and Fridays is that I take my niece to school and pick her up afterwards. It’s one of the ways that I contribute to the household. Yeah. I’m a stupid ass. I VOLUNTEERED to do this. Mornings like this one after a night where I woke up every hour, on the hour, I am reminded of what a grandiose and generous shit I can be. And I’m not the kind of person who can get up ten minutes before, throw some water on my face, and run out the door. Oh no! It takes me awhile to wake up. So I have way earlier than our departure time. Oh goodie grunt shit I cannot WAIT until the snow flies!! Then this will REALLY be a party! Well it’s not Nieceie’s fault, so I won’t be an asshole to her. I’ll enjoy some concentrated time with her. We usually hop in the car, right on time or two minutes late, and she promptly commandeers the radio and both cell phones, ready for any and all radio contests. She and her cousin have already won once, tickets to a corn maze eighty miles away. Those tickets were dutifully picked up by me, one hour’s drive in each direction, but have yet to be redeemed. The parents are fighting for the right to drive to that one. Ha. The name of the station is The Party, nickname The Taylor Swift Station. Oh how I love it!!

As I eat my morning granola which is as hard as teeth, I think it’s time to switch to a new breakfast. Some pain doctor last week suggested the dreaded words no one wants to hear: Gluten Free. I am still thinking about it. I should say researching it. That is how intelligent people procrastinate.

Well it’s off to school and then an adventure to Denver to look at granite for my sister’s countertop. LIFE JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER AND BETTER! I hope I don’t poop with the excitement. See you soon, my friends. Keep eating those peaches!!

Filed under: Bipolar Tagged: Bipolar

Present, Tense

Cycling is all about being in the present moment. When you are on your bike you are in your body, not your – too often troubled – mind. Or so the experts say.

Me included.

What the experts are getting so excited about is a meditative practice called Mindfulness. The practice of Mindfulness has never been more popular. Books and tapes abound. Celebrities are proud to admit to using the techniques. Just ask comedienne Ruby Wax, she even wrote a book about how it has helped her. In 2011, at my psychiatrist’s suggestion, I completed an 8 session course.

For those of you who have somehow managed to miss all of this Mindfulness mania, here is a snapshot of what is at its core. The point is to calm, what the person who ran the course I attended, called the ‘monkey mind.’ The basic practice is to focus on one’s breath. The reason for this is twofold. First, obviously, it is a neutral, ever – present physical reflex that has no psychological meaning. It is a vital part of everyone, something that outside of vigorous exercise, or actual breathing problems such as asthma or emphysema, goes unnoticed. The second is that it provides a focus for calming the mind that requires, literally, nothing else. It is the most ultimately portable technique, no other apparatus, lycra or gym membership required. So, it’s cheaper than counselling.

Being in the present moment, whether aware of my breathing or not, means that I am concentrating what is around me right there and then. It’s the same if I am cycling in traffic on the way to the station, or spinning along country lanes chasing butterflies.

But, for me, being in the present moment, can be a serious problem. Just as I can be sitting by the side of the road taking in the view, I can also be deep in thought. Too deep.

It’s not what you’re thinking. I don’t mean morbid thoughts. I mean really, really interesting thoughts. About, well, anything. This morning it was musing on the Spanish civil war, the couple of books that I, over the years,  have read on the subject. And there’s the poetry of the era, too. Or dwelling on the books I have read, not the stories, not the themes or characters, but the blur of them rushing past like a river to the sea. As energetic and as unstoppable as they are featureless.

Being In the Present Moment at times like this is a thrilling experience, throbbing with energy and possibility.  I am living in the French Alps, at the top of the iconic Tour de France climb up the Alpe d’Huez with its 19 hairpin bends, the fabric of my lungs and legs tearing as the air gets thinner and the end moves ever further away. The shopping in my panniers gets heavier and heavier as I approach my street on the edge of town and realise that I have forgotten to buy the toothpaste.

from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old . . . I grow old . . .
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

T.S. Eliot (1888 – 1965)