Daily Archives: December 3, 2015

Oops, I Did It Again

About a year and a half ago I detailed my first car accident in Life Experiences That No One Needs.  I didn’t need it the first time, and I definitely didn’t need it again. To start at the beginning, I went to work at the hospital at 7 am Tuesday.  Around 9:30 the phone rang […]

The Sharp Pointy Things in Life

Whether you live with a mental illness or not, there are all sorts of events, large and small, that happen in life, that can sometimes come along and poke at the protective bubble you hold around your mind, your heart, your spirit…and sometimes, the bubble can burst.

I have been experiencing quite stable mental health for a briefly extended period, but the sharp pointy things in life today have me feeling quite down.  I have been furiously patching holes and strengthening weak spots and doing the time-honored “keep as busy as possible” routine.  Some days, that is just not enough.

I have been without one of my medications for two doses, without another for one dose.  This might not seem like a big deal, but, to me, it is HUGE.  A few missed doses can send me in a tailspin.  A few missed doses can mean the difference between a productive and upcoming Christmas-ing weekend, and a weekend spent hiding out in my couch bunker.

Still, I’m trying and pushing through.  I had the piss-poor idea to get on Facebook about an hour ago, wherein I learned of the sudden death of a former co-worker, made all the more sad because linked to that page, was the page of the obituary two years ago of her fiance, who I was also friends with at my last job.  He was killed in the line of duty on the police force.  I’m not sure what happened to her.  I know they both had very small children, and I know they both seemed like really nice and special people.

Of course, that also got me thinking about my former life working in the women’s prison, and working in mental health in general…and there was a pang in my chest and a tear in my eye and I clicked all of that mess shut and shoved it under the figurative bed.

Sadness, angst, horrific things on Facebook.  Sometimes I wonder why I belong.  Sometimes I wonder why every sad animal abuse story is on my feed, or why I pay any attention to the news.  It is distressing often, upsetting frequently.  And then there are the people, and the things they post, and the fact that I am often just shaking my head, thinking, “Hmmm, why do I even ASSOCIATE with these people?  People that could say these things, do these things, are interested in these things.”

I really think sometimes that Facebook brings out the worst in people.  I do find great inspirational sayings and funny things often, but the negative…wow, sometimes I think it really outweighs the good.

People often say, you must be careful what goes into your head.  This is why I don’t read certain books, don’t read certain magazines, listen to certain types of music, speak with certain people (at least very often).  I am, in general, very vigilant about what I feed my brain.

Except Facebook.  I let it in, every time, even when it punishes me for doing so.

Today has not been the best day.  I have fought all day to get a few prescriptions filled, and have had just ridiculous anxiety about the fact that I can’t seem to get them all taken care of.  The sharp pointy things of the day have deflated my balloon.

I’m not getting ready to go burrow my head in the covers and cry for my mama.  Instead, I’m sitting (as prescribed) in front of my sun lamp, and then I’m going to go to my aqua exercise class.  After that, who knows.  We baked a ham today, and the house smells good.  I am going to focus on that.

I am going to say:  Rosa, how can you possibly be in a bad mood when your house smells of finely roasted pig and you have family that loves you and a boyfriend that would do next to anything to make you feel better?

How, indeed?

Filed under: Life Worth Living Tagged: anxiety, bipolar disorder, cooking, death, depression, dying, Facebook, funerals, insurance, mania, medication, mental illness, mental-health, mixed episode, social media, stress

Care-taking Update #dementia #stroke

Quick video update as I run errands and juggle caring for my mom, dad and son. Don’t forget I’m married and live with bipolar disorder. Thank God I’m holding it together so far.

Video Transcript

Okay, folks, so here’s the deal. It is Thursday. My mom had a stroke… hmm… probably three weeks ago, maybe the Friday (sigh) before Thanksgiving, and uh… or two weeks… I don’t know. I lost track… a week before Thanksgiving.

It’s a week after Thanksgiving right now. I’m exhausted.

My sister and I have been tag-teaming and teaming to take care of our parents. Just drove my sister to the airport. Said goodbye. She’s going back to her family who need her.

And I just went shopping for some things for my mom to help her with her stroke recovery. You know, crossword puzzles not that should be able to do them yet. But to reminder her of what she used to do she’s a big crossword puzzle player. Different pens. I wanted to get some connect the dots, and we ordered something on Amazon we gotten that yet.

But, anyway, I got her some stuff some activities to keep her busy in rehab. They’ll be doing lots of work with her in rehab.

Brought my parents closer to where I live, so I can go back to taking care of my son and living at home.

So all of your support and well wishes and prayers are greatly appreciated. Thank

We’re continuing… we’re continuing. My mom has a long road ahead of her, and I’m just gonna help her to the best I can while taking care of myself and my son.

So I just wanted to give you an update. There you go.

Filed under: About Mental Health, Acceptance, Bipolar Disorder, Bipolar Parenting, Dementia, Family, Gratitude, Health Tagged: aging, dementia care, Sandwich Generation, senior care, senior housing, stroke, stroke rehab, stroke rehabilitation

New News

I’ve been asked to guest post again over at defyingshadows.com, this time about mental wards.  I already had a bit written about it, I just reviewed it a bit and made a couple of tweaks.  I also revised my bipolar story in pictures project for New Media, adding one more incident and another picture,  for the same group and they’re going to publish it under a new feature called “Bipolar Diary” that comes out every Wednesday.  SO I’m looking forward to that.

I have an idea for a nonfiction Christmas story that I’ll likely be working on in the next few days–it’s about me and my dad building a nativity scene out of my Barbie doll collection when I was a kid.  It’s really funny and hopefully touching at the same time.   I thought it up last night.

Last night I couldn’t fall asleep.  I just lay there with my mind spinning around. I don’t know what that was about.  It was like the time I was at my class and stayed awake so long one night, only I couldn’t get up and work on anything without waking up BOb.  SO I just thought a lot and did some of the projects today.

Have my late teleconference for my college class tonight.  I should run up on theses people again next semester but it will be a different grouping and a different dynamic in my nonfiction workshop class. Different instructor, too. I hope I get to have Dr. Dunkelberg again before I finish because he has been so good and understanding this semester.


Bad, Badder, Baddest

Bad, Badder, Baddest

Bad, Badder, Baddest

Reach Out and Gift Someone

OK this is a text test:  How many of you are old enough to remember the jingle, “Reach Out and Touch Someone?”

Don’t everybody jump up at once, now!!!

It was the telephone company, AT&T, fondly known as Ma Bell, before the telephone conglomerate was broken up, and waaaay before cell phones were imagined, except for James Bond’s rad Wrist Communicator, which Apple has now made available for gifting.


I said “gifting.”

Since I don’t watch TV or pay attention to anything modern that doesn’t have wheels, these things come as a shock.

The first time some unsolicited caller announced that she was “reaching out to me” for a donation to my Alma Mater, I thought she was joking.  She wasn’t old enough to remember Ma Bell.  Hell, she probably didn’t even know who James Bond was!

Then I got into a fight with Duke University over some very shoddy treatment I received in their hospital’s ER, and someone from there “reached out” to me, and for all the good that did they could have reached up their own ass, because I am still getting bills from them, in spite of having paid already.  I think the time has come (the Walrus said) to “Reach Out” to a lawyer.

I suppose that if language did not change to keep up with the times, we’d all be speaking Old English.

My linguistics professor hammered it into our brains that “Language IS culture.”

Language both defines and expresses cultural norms and attitudes.  Language expresses the character of culture.

If you’ve learned a foreign language or two or ten, you have experienced an eye-opening phenomenon: language encodes culture, and other cultures don’t think like we do.

We’ve all heard about how the Eskimo people (Inuit) have hundreds of words for “snow,” each describing subtle nuances and characteristics of different kinds of snow.  English has a few, especially if you’re a skier, but not more than twenty.

I was amazed to find, when I learned Hebrew, that there are at least 15 words for different kinds of love, at least that many for beauty, but only one for death and one for hate.  And if you want to say you don’t like something, you say, “it’s not nice, for me.”  Or, “That doesn’t find grace in my eyes.”

Getting back to reaching out and gifting something to someone–it bothers me.

It bothers me because what we might gain in new and kind of pretty language, we lose in directness. 

Don’t tell me you’re reaching out to me to collect money.  Tell me you’re calling me.  I’m calling to tell you that your bill is so overdue, we’re going to gift you by reaching out to your credit report. 

What is this “gifting” shit, anyway?  Who started it? 

You want to give somebody something?  Just haul off and give it to them.  Don’t get all hoity-toity.  Just go ahead, wrap the damn box, put their name on it, and give it to them!  Are they going to stick their nose up in the air, hand the damn toaster back, and say “Noooo, uh, I only accept things that are GIFTED, not GIVEN.

Fine.  Give me that box.  I’m gonna haul off and RE-GIFT it to someone who actually wants a toaster.

How To Recover From Infidelity

…And after
the first minute, when I say, Is this about
her, and he says, No, it’s about
you, we do not speak of her.

“Unspeakable,” Sharon Olds

How do you recover from infidelity?  You don’t.  At least, not quickly.  Every day I wrestle (narcissistically) with the questions: “Why wasn’t I enough?” and “How could I not have known for all those years?”  Naively, I trusted my marriage contract, that vow to faithfulness (often dismissed by recent researchers who say that we are hard-wired for infidelity and shouldn't expect more from our genes).  Even when an open marriage was suggested (and I said “no”), I attributed that to mid-life fantasy (rather than an actual woman my husband was furtively seeing).  In the New York Times article, “Great Betrayals,” psychiatrist Anna Fells writes, “Frequently, a year or even less after the discovery of a longstanding lie, the victims are counseled to move on…But it’s not so easy to move on when there’s no solid narrative ground to stand on. Perhaps this is why many patients conclude in their therapy that it’s not the actions or betrayal that they most resent, it’s the lies.”  Lies, yes.  I found out about the affair through a third party who wanted to tell me about my then husband’s extramarital relationship years ago, believed I deserved the truth, but my husband and the other woman convinced him that if he told me, I would kill myself.  Do I need to comment on this self-serving assumption?

For months now, I’ve been mired in grief.  Someone attributed this to my mental illness, rather than, say, to my divorce, not yet a year in fact, or to my discovery that my ex-husband had been having an affair for the last three years of our marriage with a mutual friend.  Easier to point to my Bipolar disorder as the reason for difficult, unshakeable emotion.  That attribution is a reflex, even for me—checking and rechecking in with myself and trusted friends about the legitimacy of what and how much I should feel.  Certainly, before stability, before the balancing effects of Lithium, my moods flipped between free-wheeling suicidal despair, anger, and mania.  In recovery, I ask friends, “Is it okay to still be depressed over the divorce?  Is it okay to be angry that the other woman sits on the sidelines at my kids’ games and eats off the china my grandmother gave us for our wedding?  Is it okay that I’m not okay?”  
It’s easier, more ladylike to write about grief over the end of a twenty-year relationship.  Every day (especially at night), I feel like I’m in a UFC cage with Ronda Rousey, pummeled to the floor until I’m knocked out.  It’s easier to write about the loneliness of being on my own, without a partner, without filial love.  Easier to write about my guilt over my years of illness as the cause of marital collapse.  “I’m sorry,” my then-husband said when we first talked of divorce, “but your illness changed the way I saw you.” 

I wasn’t angry when he said this because I agreed not-loving-me could be the only rational consequence of my illness.  Could I really expect his continued love after he hid knives and medications from me?  After he followed me to the toilet after meals, making sure I didn’t purge?  After he visited me in the psych ward over and over, eventually believing, as most, that recovery was impossible?  Similarly, who would blame his infidelity with a crazy wife like me?

“People said I should leave you,” he said.  Again, I wasn’t angry but grateful since shame annihilates self-worth.  But would this same counsel be offered for an unremitting physical illness—cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s?  Mental disorders are often misrepresented as acts of (ill)will: you can choose to think better, act better, feel better, but you don’t.  
I’ve been afraid to write about anger.  Anger is dangerous and disruptive.  Angry women are seen as irrational bitches (“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”).  Women worth loving keep quiet, ride out the storm, placidly smiling even though the boat is sinking.  But my anger is not about being scorned but about being lied to. 

The last time I was inpatient, over four years ago, I was on the hospital pay phone, listening to my then-husband tell me that this was my last chance to tell the truth to my treatment team, that our marriage depended on it.  Ironically, at the very same time he was demanding my honesty, he was with the other woman who had come on a clandestine visit while I was in the hospital. “You lied first with your drinking and eating disorder,” he said in later explanation.  A screwy logic but one that comes back to the acceptable, mutually agreed upon source: my illness, and thus, also my responsibility.
Most of my anger, though, is about revision.  Though my memory’s hard drive was wiped out by electric shock treatments, a few scenes surface and repeat, ones that I’ve held onto as evidence that married love survived those years of pain: our shared rhythm at the end of the day, managing kids and meals and dogs and cats; lying next to each other on the beach in Greece or Jamaica; sprawling on the couch watching movies, eating pizza, relieved that our life was again reliable.  And of course, I recorded here, on this blog, all his assurances of love and fidelity and our shared future, which in painful retrospect, were lies, as simultaneously, there were secret phone calls, emails, and meetings with her. 

All of these memories are now corrupted.  My version, representing fused, marital time, is in retrospect, false: he was not with me, but already with her, and I just didn’t know it.  No way to trust my narrative because after we watched those movies, said goodnight, (“Love you, Love you”—the short cuts of reassurance and recommitment), and I went upstairs to bed, he called her, and they talked of love and desire and their future together.
Eventually, I’ll move towards forgiveness, but for now I’m trying to banish shame and acknowledge anger.  Living in truth is always the hardest choice.

How many times before

We institute any kind of gun control? How many people dead, before we institute gun control? How many prayers and condolences do we send out to families before we institute gun control? Look at Australia and Great Britain, they have cut their mass shooting rates down by instituting strict gun laws. For goodness sake, we must do the same. This year, there have been more mass shootings than days that have passed! How can the politicians continue to let this happen without laws that control who can buy a gun and who can’t? How can background checks not be required? Life is precious. Are we not a civilized society? Are we just going to allow anyone to get their hands on a gun and do with it as they like?