Daily Archives: November 1, 2015

Dear Kitt

Kitt, you fuel your rage by seeing a psychoanalysist one to three times a week, exploring over and over how you had been abused as a child. You deepen your depression by studying psychodynamic theory in graduate school. Doing so defeats you and undermines your mental health. Yes, therapy will enable you to work through issues you have with your parents, but what is left unsaid is the fact that your parents love you.

Of course they are not perfect. Nobody is perfect. We are all “dysfunctional” to some extent or another. Yes, it is difficult to grow up in an alcoholic household, but your family loves YOU. Believe me, loving you is quite difficult.

Do not defensively rage against your father when he suggests that “wouldn’t it be great if you could just take a pill and feel better.” He was right. He merely suggested a medical solution to your long-standing struggle with depression, and you jumped all over him.

Your bipolar disorder, what was then diagnosed as depression and interpreted as aggression turned inward against yourself, is not caused by abusive parenting. You have a biological disorder of the brain. You did yourself no favors by smoking pot from seventeen years-old to the time you completely came undone at thirty. You did yourself no favors by taking shrooms, dropping acid, or on one particularly stupid occasion snorting cocaine. You did yourself no favors by drinking alcohol. You damaged your fragile brain. You may very well have tipped the balance.

Your childhood was not perfect. No one’s is. Your parents have had their own struggles. Now you know, mood disorders are genetic and often self-medicated with alcohol. Working with families as a therapist, you learned compassion for your parents. You saw the love these parents had for their children as they struggled to parent them. You shook your head when staff vilified adoptive parents of children with severe mental health and behavioral issues. You knew it was not the adoptive parents’ fault that their children had brain disorders, in utero exposure to alcohol and drugs, or extreme child abuse and neglect by others. Still, clinical staff judged the desperate adoptive parents rather than show compassion and offer support.

Kitt, if only you had used your Kaiser insurance for mental health treatment, rather than pay out of pocket to see an analyst. If only you had seen a psychiatrist at a younger age, your life would have been different. You would have properly cared for your fragile brain earlier in your life. Your loved ones would have been spared your rages and mood swings. Perhaps. Perhaps, to some extent. Then again, perhaps not.

I cannot change the past. I can only move forward from here. I must forgive the Kitt who blamed her parents rather than see a medical doctor. To all the many therapists who saw me and never recommended that I see a psychiatrist, what were you thinking? They, too, I must forgive, for I did not “look bipolar” as I’ve been told on more than one occasion. My worst behavior is reserved for those I love the most.

Kitt, forgive me for not being proactive, for not taking care of your brain, for blaming others for something over which they had little to no control.

Filed under: About Mental Health, Acceptance, Atonement, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Family, Hypomania, Medication, Writing Tagged: spoken word, video

An Open Letter To My Brain and Whatever Universal Powers That Be

Pardon me, but when did I pee in your Cheerios and make you so vengeful? How did I step on your toes to make you so determined I not find a moment’s peace? Am I really so wretched a soul that I deserve this constant state of flux and torment inside my head as well as outside my head?

My favorite day of the year was ruined. I even tried to force it, fake it, by falling asleep to documentaries about the slasher classics- Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers. No true joy, only a sense of relief that I managed not to entirely fail my kid even if wound up feeling like I’d gone ten rounds with Tyson and lost an ear, my nose, and tongue. Even my fucking gums hurt today.

Today I wanted to recharge, but nope, can’t have that because I’ve gone through an entire box of tissues gagging and choking on allergy drainage. (As has my spawn) The pressure in my head and nose is about to make my skull implode. Sitting hurts. Standing is excrutiating. Forget accomplishing housework even if I WANT to rip that bandage off and get it done. Nope, can’t even allow me to feel that accomplishment.

Instead it’s just one more shit thing to add to a long list of shit things so I feel like a pathetic, weak whiner.

For every time a kind soul says, “You’re not weak, you’re struggling but still muddling through..” I’ve got two people telling me to suck it up and get over myself. So instead of feeling empowered to embrace how lousy I feel, I just feel more pressure to be “normal”.

My entire support system is on line. I love my virtual friends, who have restored some of my faith in humankind with their kind, supportive gestures, words, thoughts. This is all fine and dandy until you need to lean on someone in your support networks. As it happens, laptops and desktop computers will not stay upright when you lean on them nor will they give you a much needed a hug, a snarky comment to make you smile in spite of it all…


If desire counted for anything, I’d be a badass. God, I want to get the housework done, I want to organize shit, I want to write again, I want, I want…

The myth of “just trying harder” continues to haunt and hound me daily. If I had any more to give, don’cha think I’d be giving it to myself for the things that fortify my soul? I’ve got nothing left from the necessities even for myself.

I am not weak. I am not a whiner.

More than anything else on the planet, I want my brain to just WORK PROPERLY.

And I am sorry but when given an Amazon gift card by R to buy my new keyboard for this laptop I’ve needed for six months…And I don’t even have the energy to do that…

Cut me some fucking slack here, brain, universe, deities, whatever.

To quote Linkin Park…”I’m one step closer to the edge and I’m about to break….”












I am Ashamed

Dusty Lamp

I’m ashamed. Ashamed of the dust. Ashamed of the clutter. Ashamed that I do not, that somehow I cannot, bring myself to keep my house clean.

This afternoon, as I sat working at our dining room table, my husband just touched the dusty lamp above me, and I started coughing, choking, asthmatic that I am.

My son suffers with eczema, with asthma, as do I. Still I leave the dust undisturbed, afraid of another asthma attack.

Too ashamed to ask for help. Too ashamed to hire help. Too ashamed to let anyone in. Too overwhelmed to attack the job myself.

Now my husband Nick chokes and coughs himself, as he cleans the lamp of its dust. Thank you, Nick, for all that you do.

Filed under: Bipolar Disorder, Disability, Family, Health Tagged: anxiety, asthma, dust, eczema, housekeeping, overwhelmed, shame, social anxiety

Forever Starting What I Don’t Finish — Except This Time

Cheers to all of the NaBloPoMo bloggers out there!  Blogging every day in the month of November is no small feat, and one I have accomplished only once in my long, but not illustrious stint on the blog-circuit.  I did make an attempt last year, but it was quite pitiful, and, as the title of this post suggest, was left unfinished.

Rather than vowing to blog every day this November for NaBloPoMo, I think I am going to change it up a little and do it Rosa-style.  Knowing that this part of the year can be rife with painful bipolar cycling and ventures to the dark-side of things, I think I will pledge instead to simply blog as much as I can handle.  Because if for nothing else, it makes me feel better, even for a short bit.

My physical at-my-desk space for blogging has greatly improved, and my mood is currently *mostly* stable.  Surely, with those two things in hand, I can hit “publish” semi-regularly.  In addition, I have several people I follow who are participating in NaBloPoMo, and they are all fantastic writers and I’m sure they will leave me feeling inspired, if not just plain itchy to write my thoughts down.

And in gearing myself up for this time of accelerated and enhanced writing, I read back through the last several entries I had made.  I am pleased that, even in times of great sorrow and despair, I didn’t appear to wring my hands and “oh-poor-me” it…it seemed that I often had a solution that I was working on, or at least something of a game plan.

What I realized when I was reading all of these back-entries, is that, without writing, I generally make very little game plan as to how to handle my current mood or situation or circumstance.  Of course, I talk to myself in my head, but it does seem that goals get carried further when they are down on “paper.”  Of course, the other beauty of having things written down is that I can go back and look through these ideas and see patterns, which is ever-helpful in changing how I think and how I behave and how I *do*, in general.

So yes, a bit more writing is in order, because as I have been reminded, dark days of winter are a’coming, and they can be downright tricky.  Whatever I can do to help myself feel better and to help myself figure things out, is what I need to be doing.

For anyone reading, I wonder…have you ever taken a somewhat-extended hiatus or period of inconsistency from blogging, only to come back to it successfully?  I would really love to know, so I can direct myself through this most efficiently and effectively!


Filed under: Collection of Thoughts Tagged: behavior, Bipolar, bipolar disorder, blogging, depression, emotions, Goals, mania, mental illness, mental-health, mixed episode, NaBloPoMo, patterns, stability, thoughts, writing

Dangerous – Michael Jackson

Because I had to…

Dangerous – Michael Jackson

Because I had to…

Welcome To SAD Season

Welcome to SAD season, where Daylight Savings Time has officially ended and Seasonal Affective Disorder has officially begun.  The uphill battle/fight to stay out of the mental hospital and stay off ECT has also officially begun.   Here’s what I am doing to fight the good fight:  sitting in front of my therapy light for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon; walking mile after mile to get that exercise in and those good endorphins flowing; getting support from and staying in touch with others on the blogosphere; and maintaining this consistency day by day the hardest of all.  There’s also the givens:  Daily doses of mood stabilizers and anti-depressants, and weekly therapy.  For the most part, these are things I don’t want to do. In fact, I don’t want to do anything. I feel like a total slug. That is why this is a fight. My definition of self control is simply this:  Doing what I don’t want to do, knowing it’s good for me.  By contrast, it could also be defined as: Not doing what’s bad for me.  Just as hard.  But, by doing what’s good for me, I have a better chance at abstaining from the bad stuff (excessive sugar, marijuana, alcohol).  Just like the alcoholics, this is a one-day-at-a-time proposition.  So, for today, I have one good thing done so far, sitting in front of my light.  Next on deck, I have plans for exercise.  Knowing that I will be filling out my self-monitoring spreadsheet kind of motivates me.  I want to be able to say that I did good things.  And I want that Beck score to be low.  Or at least not too high.  I’m going to allow myself a super-caffeinated drink, then I’m off to the hiking trails.  What’s your plan for winter survival, Stan?  Peaches!

Filed under: Bipolar, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Bipolar, Bipolar Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD

Eff Saving Daylight Time, SAVE MY EFFING SANITY

Why oh why oh why did I have to leave the warm soft comfort of Vanilla the blankie to face the day? I was all ensconced and comfy and felt safe and…Blah. The sun is shining today. My kid is shoveling candy (because I am an awesome mother that way). I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. I still keep losing my voice and choking up on allergy drainage. Is it never gonna end?

I think what I need is a solid stretch of  ME time. No kid,  no R, no appointments, no expectations and demands. Not likely to happen but I think I need it more than any pill. Selfish? Perhaps. But I can’t take care of everyone else’s demands if I myself have gone under. This is psychological quicksand. And with the time change and cold coming it’s only gonna get worse.

I always envisioned not some dull traditional relationship of spousedom but having a counterpart. One who would indulge my control freakism when I am able, then step up when I come apart. Kinda like tag team wrestling.Unfortunately, it’s never worked out that way in any relationship. Closest I’ve come is when Bex was here last year and if  I needed to run from my spawn for a break, she’d take over, she’d cook, she’d clean. I didn’t put it on her too often but it was nice to know I could tag out. (And her liking girls and me liking guys, neither of us even had to put out for this arrangement ;) Twas the same with my friend Shane back in the 90’s, we’d pick each other up from work or whatever if a panic episode ensued, if he or I needed company, we’d just huddle under the covers together and sleep. Not an issue cos he liked guys and so did I. I apparently just suck at romantic entanglements but do quite well with gay people. Of course, that’s less with them being gay and more with them knowing, even without mental health issues, what it’s like to be treated poorly for simply being who you are.

One would think I could turn to my family and just be honest. “I’m struggling with the mental stuff and I just need a night or two off from spawn screamapalooza.” And don’t get me started on R, the man who worked five days with a broken hand before going to a doctor thus everyone should be as  badass (idiotic) as him and never ever need a break from social stuff or work or kids. There are times I really do wanna smack him with a shovel with his optimism shoved in my face all the time. Really, anyone who is truly that happy would NOT need to drink 90 plus ounces of beer seven nights a week. Hell I am ready to snap from anxiety and even I can’t drink that much that frequently. Day or two and alcohol makes me gag, I gotta take a break. So ya know, getting life lessons from someone of that ilk is a bit irksome. Get your own shit together before you judge mine and spew advice.

Oh, it would be nice if I ever wrote a short optimistic post, wouldn’t it? Ha, be even nicer if anything in my life ever went smoothly enough to warrant such a post. That is not “woe is me”, either, it’s just plain frustrating to try your best only to get your ass kicked by the inner stress and the outer stress of everything going wrong. And even when something good does happen, you’re so beaten down from the ten bad things prior to it, there’s little true relief or joy.

And the mindfulness thing “live in the moment” continues to make steam come out of my ears. Because you can move on from the past, heal from the bad stuff, but there are always going to be reminders. I was watching AHS this week…And they were serving Absinthe. So I get walloped upside the head with the crushing memory of fighting so hard to save Abby- cat (named Absinthe) and losing her anyway. Followed immediately by losing Arsenic. I didn’t burst into tears but the tear ducts twinged to let me know they are still there.

And letting go of your past doesn’t mean others will. I tried for a job at a cattery (kennel for kitties) cos it was only like ten hours a week cleaning up and stuff, I thought all the kitty cuteness would be like therapy…And I was told I’d make an excellent candidate EXCEPT their policy is not to hire anyone with any sort of arrest record, misdemeanor or felony. And so that shoplifting conviction from ten years ago, after my best friend died and I went off the rails (not an excuse, just a factor) bites me on the ass again. I let it go, I’ve spent ten years trying to be better, do better, atone for my poor choices…Fuck you, mindfulness. I should have committed murder, people look on that with less disdain than  misdemeanor theft.

This has turned into quite the incoherent off topic rant…Fuck. I wish I knew how to not do it this way but alas, I do not and this is….well, mental chaos. Exit the ride at any time to the left..oh, wait, to the right or the bipolar coaster will hi- SPPPLLLLLAAAT.

My bad. Clean up on track two!

People (the shrink) tell me it will get better but I don’t think any of my doctors or therapists have ever taken the time to read any of my file. If they had, they’d know for the last 15 years, my worst time is the hellidays. All that family jazz. Mainly because my dad left my mom right before Thanksgiving, thus splitting us all into factions. Him, his new woman and their kid. My mom living with sis, her husband, and their kid. And then lil old me, going through my own divorce (not very traumatizing cos as I have stated, I don’t connect well or get too attached to people, just cats) and trying not to piss off mom or dad but talking to dad or his gf or my half brother resulted in my mother going off the reservation and calling me a traitor who approved of his cheating on her. I was in a no win situation. Right at…the holidays.

I used to love Christmas. (Never Thanksgiving, like the food, hate the boring day and parades and ball games and having to socialize, icky.) I wore my Santa hat every day up til Christmas,even to my job, and I had the light up bulb earrings. I was gleeful and good will to men. Inevitably the day after I would crash cos the family would inevitably get into some drama and all the money and stress amounted to fuck all…But at least for a few weeks I was good.

After mom and dad split up…Nope. And it wasn’t the divorce that bothered me, those two should never have been together in the first place. It was being 27 years old and being in a tug of war with my mother demanding absolute shunning of my father while for once, my father was reaching out to us and there was my little brother who I didn’t want growing up feeling like his older half sisters are beasts for shunning him…While over the years a semi peaceful accord has occurred, where we ALL gather at mom’s for the holidays (inc dad, his woman, and their kid) but…It’s never been the same. It’s just ass trash.

Maybe if the doctors saw all that, they’d understand why I circle the drain at the holidays. It’s just more stress with little reward for me. Not so much as a hug or a “you look nice.” Just…drama and stress. There was war at the Easter shindig cos stepmonster scraped Spook with her watch and my kid went to screaming to my mom how stepmonster had cut her and my mom went off on everyone and they all left expeditiously…

Throw in depression, anxiety, and why wouldn’t I be circling the drain.

Totally off topic and on a psychotic tangent…Oh, well. This is what I am facing so optimism really isn’t on the menu. Mom’s already started in on how cheap dad and I are when it comes to Spook’s Christmas gifts. My kid breaks or loses everything so I fail to see why my bills should be let go, the fridge should be empty, so she can have a half hour of thinking I’m awesome before starting into “what else did you get me”. Let mom and sis blow all the money  and starve for a week to impress a fickle six year old. I will get her one big gift and a bunch of dollar store stuff and she will be just as happy. Hell, I could tape a picture of Elsa and Anna onto a roll of toilet paper and she’d be thrilled.


Today I am cryptifying and rotting my brain with more tv shows. Fuck it all. I’ve earned a respite, brief as it may be. If it makes me lazy I am okay with that. Ya know, if people really wanted to get me a gift for Christmas that is desperately needed, they’d get me a couple of months of a cleaning service.

On second thought…I am a control freak, don’t like dish dwellers in my bubble, and can’t stand to have people touch my stuff, it feels like rape of my possessions…

Helper monkey it is. I shall kiss him and hug him and pet him and call him George…

No, I hate that name. He shall be…Mr. Monk. Just hopefully not as germaphobic and OCD. He could solve the mystery of the missing socks and field all phone calls. People pay so little mind to what I say, I doubt they’d even distinguish the monkey sounds from my voice.

In which case…Mr. Monk will remove his diaper and fling poo at them.





The Bloggess and Mental Health

I met the Bloggess (aka Jenny Lawson) recently at a book signing for Furiously Happy, her second book. (Her first book was Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.)

Back row: Rory, the Furiously Happy Raccoon; middle row: me, Jenny Lawson; front row: Erma the Armadillo

Back row: Rory, the Furiously Happy Raccoon; middle row: me, Jenny Lawson; front row: Erma the Armadillo

The space at the bookstore was full to overflowing. (People had driven for as much as five hours to see her.) Jenny read two chapters of her new book to riotous laughter and applause. There was a brief Q&A session. (I figured she got the same questions all the time and wanted to ask her something that no one else had. I imagine that writers on tour need a little variety.So I asked: If you could be any animal, what would you be and why? Her answer: A tapeworm, because I could just not move and have people feed me.)

I joined the signing line (#17). She signed my copy of her book (“Our story is not over.”) and I showed her the semicolon tattoo that goes with that saying. She also signed my armadillo purse (Erma) and a piece of glass for my husband, who wants to put it over a picture of her or of a vagina; he hasn’t decided which. She laughed. He was one of the many that ask for perhaps her most famous – or at least most quoted – phrase, “Knock knock, motherfucker.” (It comes from her story about leaving a giant metal chicken on someone’s doorstep. There were also a lot of metal chickens she was asked to sign.) The bookstore personnel made sure that everyone knew it was okay to ask for that. In fact, they announced it just before the signings, reassuring the shy or inhibited.

The title of her new book, Furiously Happy, is Lawson’s way of telling depression to fuck off: If part of her life is misery and pain, she’s going to damn well make the most of the parts that aren’t. And while she’s at it, she’ll spread the word that mental illness is not a thing to be hidden or ashamed of.

This is not to say that her mental disorders are cured or that she no longer suffers from them. She was clearly anxious when reading aloud the two chapters, and visibly relieved when that part of the evening was done. Her strategy is to laugh at mental illness, joke about her meds, and speak bluntly to those in the audience who also suffer or have a person in their life who does.

Furious Happiness is a worthy goal, and her out-there enjoyment of life leads her into some of the hysterical situations she has written about in both books. These are the stories that make you say – only you, Jenny! Then she turns around and tells you that you are just like her in the ways that count.

The readers of her books and her blog – thebloggess.com – have formed an odd mutual support community. Although we may feel alone, Jenny rallies us to be alone together. Since one of the major difficulties with being a psychiatric patient is the feeling that no one else understands or experiences the same feelings, bringing people together in the virtual world or between the covers of a book is a valuable form of networking, especially for those who can’t network any other way.

Myself, I can’t manage the Furious Happiness. Too long dealing with the black dog and relatively little experience of even the mild highs of hypomania have left me depleted. Jenny will just have to do it for both of us. This is not to say I don’t love her or her work. I do, despite the blog post that I wrote, “Seven Reasons I Hate the Bloggess” (http://wp.me/p4e9wS-56). I can see myself in her and her in me, but for the moment I’m not able to follow her exuberant example. But she gives me hope. And I’m sure that’s one of her most important goals.

Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: being overwhelmed, blogging, depression, Furiously Happy, hypomania, Jenny Lawson, mental health, mental illness, public perception, reading, stigma, support systems, The Bloggess

Living with anxiety

In terms of mental illnesses, I think anxiety should be the easiest for people to understand. Everyone’s experienced some form of anxiety at one point in their lives. You’ve probably experienced butterflies in your stomach or tightness in your chest. Anxiety’s that feeling you get right before a presentation at work, a big exam, or even a hot date. These […]