Daily Archives: May 13, 2016

Even Busier

I ran around a lot today.  Went to PT, then lunch with a friend, then to get my middle one out of school for the year.  Helped my oldest unpack her car when she got home from school for the year and then helped her repack to go to Scotland on Monday. Then took the youngest to dance and came home.  SO I’m finally able to type.  I turned my story in to the magazine this morning and  really feel good about it.  It’ll be months before I hear back on it.  We will see.

Very tired after all this business. Wish I could rest tomorrow but the oldest has some last minute shopping to do for the oldest to get ready for her trip.  SHe’ll be gone a month.  I hope it’s everything she’s wishing for.  SHe’s been working towards this for two years and I just want it to go well for her.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Next Day

Yesterday I did so well. No xanax and going out with my SIL, but today is a completely different story.

I woke up feeling a little sick but I figured it was because I was hungry so I ate breakfast took all my pills and promptly threw everything less than 15 mins later. Hard to get your meds when you don’t knows how much actually stuck.

Going to try and eat some dinner and drink some water hopefully it sticks. Wish me luck.

Week in Review: Positivity and Thankfulness in the Face of Extreme Sleep Deprivation

I went from posting six times last week to not even touching this blog this week.  My thoughts have been super disorganized the past several days, due to a lack of sleep which is coming about thanks to problems with my CPAP machine (device that treates sleep my extra-severe sleep apnea).  So, while I HAVE been lying down for three or four hours at a time, I have been waking (according to the technician who downloaded my unit today) multiple times a night because I am, well, jeez, I’m just not breathing, consistently.

That kind of sleep deprivation is something of the worst kind, because while you *think* you are sleeping, you aren’t getting even close to any sort of sleep that is restful.  This leaves one with disorganized thoughts, gaps in time and memory, and a feeling that some sort of slow-growing mold is encasing the brain, rendering the little electrical impulses normally found there to be quite subdued.

To all of the bloggers I follow, I’m sorry to say that I just deleted my inbox full of notifications, feeling that I had to give myself a “re-do” for this week, and that I couldn’t do that with all of those unread posts making me feel guilty.  So, I’ve missed some of what y’all had to say this week…my bad, but sometimes it can’t be helped.  I *am* going to go back and answer comments on my last two posts here in the next day or so, but I thought it was prudent to throw a post up here so that anyone who noticed I was *back* last wouldn’t think I’ve totally dropped off again.  Just not the case, at all.

Some really great things happened this week, and remain unmarred (mostly) by the trials and tribulations of sleep deprivation.  I had a really good therapy appointment this week, and I also made peace with my peer support specialist.  It is amazing what can happen when you just ASK for what you NEED, and when you are also communicative about what your expectations are and just very HONEST about every single thing you can think of.

My schedule has now straightened itself out to the point where it is the exact same every week.  There will be no more panicked thoughts (I hope) in the middle of the night, thinking there is somewhere I am supposed to be at such-and-such time the next day.  Now, everything has been set up to repeat, and I can just roll with it (and hope it *mostly* stays that way).

This is a huge relief, because it was one of the things I have been so bent out of shape about.  I also found a great place to meet in the community with my peer support person…a small cafe that is very empty midday, has very comfortable furniture, is bright and full of windows, and lacks the dark and trendy feelings of most coffee shops.  I love it so much, I might hang out there sometimes, even when we are not meeting.  They also have really inexpensive drinks and desserts, a plus, no doubt.

I have further cleared things up with my peer support person (who really needs a blog nickname, what I have so far is The Trucker’s Wife, what do you think?) by using F.A.S.T. (a DBT skill in which you ask for something but keep your self-respect, as in no over-apologizing or the like) and just good ol’ common sense.  I have decided to give her another chance, and would probably actually give her many more, because, while she is not the best at returning phone calls, she IS good at returning emails (yay, a way to communicate!!) and she does appear to care, and she is quite kind and understanding, and is letting me do the self-help book more on my own.  It appears that this will all be working out, quite well.

I have several other things, which I am quite grateful for at this present moment, and which I’m going to list-post, because, yeah, I know that no one really wants this post to go past 700 words (least of all me):

  1.   Celebrating good use of DBT skills this week in interacting with others.  A few arguments were avoided, my anxiety was calmed more than once, and things just feel more level, even *with* the sleep deprivation.
  2. I do have the insurance to monitor and fix this sleep deprivation problem.  The problem right now is getting in to be seen at the sleep center, because they are so backed up.  I do have an appointment on Tuesday, and my medical supply store RT offered to help me on Monday, if I need it.
  3. People can be really decent to you when you treat them with more respect than what they are expecting to get.
  4. The relationship between LarBear and I gets better by the minute.  We have laughed our butt’s off this week at many different things, as well as spent a lot of good quality time, several productive discussions, and he is really just everything I ever wanted out of a significant other, and always thought that I could never get.
  5. Thinking about what I might do post-DBT…maybe become a peer support for the group.  Just throwing that out there as a wild and crazy idea, and that is also way down the road (about a year), but I think it might be really cool.

I found this photo/word/thingie on FB, and thought it was just exactly how I feel about my life right now, so I wanted to share it with y’all.  It’s with this that I’m out, off to celebrate number 6, which was finding some really nice steaks in my freezer!


Filed under: Collection of Thoughts Tagged: Bipolar, blogging, CPAP, DBT, dialectical behavior therapy, mental illness, mental wellness, mental-health, peer support, recovery, sleep, sleep apnea, sleep deprivation, Therapy

Being Non-Binary and a Trans Guy Isn’t a Contradiction

When we think about non-binary folks, we often think about agender, neutrois, or “gender neutral” people who do not identify with the categories of man or woman in any conceivable way.

Those folks are real, and absolutely deserve visibility and validation.

But I also think this is a very limited understanding of what it means to be non-binary. If we only think about non-binary identities on these terms, we fail to encompass the diversity of this community and the radical ways of doing (or not doing) gender.

Non-binary is defined as someone who does not identify exclusively as masculine or feminine. This can actually include quite a number of people and (a)genders.

But we forget sometimes that non-binary can encompass more than just someone who disowns the binary altogether – it can include someone who reclaims it for their own ends, expression, or performance.

For me, I am a very femme and genderqueer trans guy, who occupies masculinity and femininity and androgyny in a pretty equal and eclectic measure.

My non-binary identity is important to me – but so is my identity as a trans guy. They are totally inseparable.

My experience of my gender is fluid and moving, non-linear, queer. So while I do identify as a trans guy, my masculinity and my body are experienced through a very queer and non-binary lens.

In other words, I can be a trans guy and be non-binary simultaneously.

I do not exist in an exclusively masculine, binary space. I can embrace all the queer, femme, glittery, tender, and alien parts of my gender while simultaneously honoring the masculine identity that they are wrapped up in.

And I would argue that if we held more space for folks identifying as men or women to queer their gender and expression, we might find that non-binary community exists in more places and in more ways than we’d ever thought possible.

I don’t believe that being non-binary is about rejecting the binary out of hand for every single person. For some of us, it’s taking back the binary from oppressive and rigid social norms and breaking down those expectations.

I think that there is a way to take what is meaningful, resonant, or beautiful about what we’ve uncovered within the binary and take back what’s rightfully ours, making it our own.

For me, there are elements of being a “trans guy” that speak to my experiences – but it’s not quite enough to hold all the other queer, femme, and fluid aspects that make me who I am.

Non-binary, for many of us, is a placeholder because nothing else could contain us.

And at the end of the day, who’s to say that there aren’t men and women that are so queer, so infinite that they need that space held for them, too?

We should talk about the power dynamics and privileges embedded in how aligned someone is with the binary, sure. But that’s a very different conversation from the ones I’m being asked to have.

I have found a certain amount of skepticism of my non-binary identity since I started claiming “trans guy” as an identity as well. Many folks felt these categories were at odds, and that I shouldn’t call myself a non-binary writer or seek to represent the community if it wasn’t my experience.

But I believe that non-binary is a spectrum of experiences that can be held by people of many (a)genders, and that we can make room for all of those experiences without stepping all over each other or denying someone a label that really resonates with them.

If non-binary is to mean “not exclusively masculine or feminine,” we should be open to the possibility that anyone of any gender – especially in a binary system in which few, if any truly fit – might find themselves looking for language that gives them permission to be who they are.

And really, we should always be cautious and self-critical if our skepticism of someone’s truth is turning into identity policing. Denying someone the right to identify as non-binary is simply upholding the binary and imposing it onto someone else.

As non-binary, isn’t the imposition of that binary the last thing we want to be participating in?

I don’t believe that non-binary men or non-binary women are contradictions at all. If anything, it’s an indication that people are catching on.

The binary, on absolute terms, serves very few – and at least for me, being non-binary is about making room for every part of myself. I’m not surprised that others feel that way, too.

Crisis Text Line.

There is a text line for crisis situations, for people who are feeling too low even to make a phone call. Just text GO to 741-741 and help will be available! Below is information about the text line.



Millions of people are quietly suffering every day. They struggle with depression, bullying, substance abuse, relationship problems, suicidal thoughts, and much more. Many people feel like they have no one to turn to and nowhere to go.

The solution is beautifully simple: Crisis Text Line provides crisis support, 24/7, to people through a medium they already use and trust: text.

  • Text messages offer a discreet, familiar, and accessible form of communication. Crisis Text Line enables anyone with any mobile phone that has SMS capability to access free support at their fingertips.

  • Live, trained specialists who have extensive training in crisis intervention provide emotional support to anyone in crisis, as well as safety planning and referrals.


Our vision is that that Crisis Text Line will be as a widely known as 9-1-1 for anyone in crisis, so that everyone can get the support they need to overcome life’s challenges.

Your donation can help make this happen.


Lithium Beats Newer Meds for Bipolar Disorder


I’ve been on Lithium since 1986, (except for a disastrous period between 2001 – 2008) so this comes as no surprise for me. I am now on 600 mg Lithium Carbonate ER per day and 100 mg Seroquel daily. My mood is stable, my symptoms are totally under control. I don’t feel flat, I still feel things, still have sadness and happiness. I have been stable for one and a half years, a record for me, as I used to cycle at least a couple of times a year. This is attributable to Lithium of course, but also to the fact that I am no longer on an SSRI (Zoloft), which causes people who have bipolar disorder to cycle and have mixed phases, which is exactly what I was experiencing. Mixed phases, hmm, the best way to describe them is you experience mania and depression symptoms at the same time, also with a huge amount of anxiety. Not fun! So not being on Zoloft and yes being on Lithium has been the best thing for me as far as mood stability is concerned. I admit, the scary depth of feelings led me to be more creative as in writing poems, stories, etc. But I gladly give that up for relative peace of mind. I don’t care if I never write “creative” poems that have much too much emotion in them (mostly sadness and anxiety,) I choose to be stable mood wise, I’d rather not visit those dark, frightening dungeons where bipolar monsters live.


Lithium can affect your kidneys, so regular tests are needed to ascertain that the kidneys are woking well. Also, it can affect your thyroid, cause hypothyroid, so again testing is needed to make sure that your thyroid is fine. My thyroid stopped working a few years ago, we thought it was because of the lithium, but it is in fact Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disease, whereby your own immune system basically kills your thyroid, so now I take Synthroid, synthetic thyroid hormone, to replace what my thyroid no longer makes.


Lower rates of self-harm, accidental injury seen

By Dennis Thompson

THURSDAY, May 12, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Lithium outperforms newer mood stabilizers in the treatment of bipolar disorder, a new study has found.

Patients taking lithium had lower rates of self-harm and unintentional injury compared to those taking other bipolar drugs, such as valproate (Depacon, Depakote), olanzapine (Zyprexa) or quetiapine (Seroquel), said lead researcher Joseph Hayes. He is a fellow of psychiatry at University College London.

“This is important because people with bipolar disorder are 15 times more likely to die by suicide and six times more likely to die by accidental injury than the general population,” Hayes explained.

People taking one of the alternative mood stabilizers were 40 percent more likely to harm themselves compared to patients on lithium, Hayes and his colleagues found.

And people on valproate or quetiapine were 32 percent to 34 percent more likely to fall victim to unintentional injury, most likely while experiencing a manic episode, the researchers said.

“Lithium still is the gold standard for the treatment of bipolar. We really haven’t had a medication that surpasses lithium, as far as we know,” said Dr. Raphael Braga. He is physician-in-charge of the Center for Treatment and Research of Bipolar Disorder at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y., and was not involved with the study.

Hayes noted that lithium has been used for more than half a century to treat bipolar disorder, but it’s still not clear how the drug stabilizes a person’s mood.

Bipolar disorder, which used to be called manic depression, is characterized by extreme mood swings ranging from emotional highs to depressive lows.

The researchers undertook their study following evidence reviews and studies that suggested lithium might be better than newer medications at preventing suicide and self-harm.

These studies have contended that lithium achieves these results by reducing symptoms such as depression, aggression, risk-taking and impulsive behavior, according to background notes in the study.

Lithium can be hard on the body, the study authors said, increasing a person’s risk of kidney and thyroid disease, but even that may have a positive side in bipolar patients. Because patients must be closely monitored for side effects, they are in more frequent contact with doctors who can pick up on emotional problems that lead to suicide, the researchers contend.

To compare lithium against newer medications, Hayes and his colleagues collected medical data on nearly 6,700 people diagnosed as bipolar and prescribed only one of the drugs — lithium, valproate, olanzapine or quetiapine.

The investigators found that people on lithium were less likely to harm themselves, either intentionally or by accident.

The suicide rate was lower in the lithium group, but too few suicides occurred to allow accurate risk estimates, the study authors said.

The findings were published online May 11 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Lithium can cause kidney disease and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland), Braga and Hayes said.
Doctors need to carefully weigh benefits versus harm when prescribing lithium to people with kidney or thyroid problems, and “if these are severe, it should be avoided,” Hayes said. “Lithium [also] needs to be reviewed on an individual patient basis before pregnancy.”

Braga said psychiatrists often require patients taking lithium to undergo lab tests every three to six months, to make sure their kidney function hasn’t been compromised.

Even with this, lithium is much cheaper than the other medications in the study, Braga said. Hayes noted a 2008 study that found lithium was nearly $500 cheaper per month compared with olanzapine.

“Lithium is a great drug,” Braga said. “It’s definitely a drug every clinician should think about when prescribing for bipolar disorder.”

Caregiver’s Bill of Rights

National Aphasia Association logo

National Aphasia Association Caregiver’s Bill of Rights

I have the right to take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will give me the ability to take better care of my loved one.

I have the right to seek help from others even though my loved one may object. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.

I have the right to maintain facets of my own life that do not include the person I care for just as I would if he or she were healthy. I know that I do everything that I reasonably can do for this person and I have the right to do some things just for myself.

I have the right to get angry, be depressed, and express difficult feelings occasionally.

I have the right to reject any attempt by my loved one (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt or anger.

I have the right to receive consideration, affection, forgiveness, and acceptance for what I do for my loved one as I offer these attributes in return.

I have the right to take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it has taken to meet the needs of my loved one.

I have the right to protect my individuality and my right to make a life for myself that will sustain me in times when my loved one no longer needs my full-time help.

I have the right to expect and demand that as new strides are made in finding resources to aid physically and mentally impaired persons in our country, similar strides will be made toward aiding and supporting caregivers.

Quoted from http://www.aphasia.org/aphasia-resources/caregivers-bill-of-rights/

Filed under: Family, Mental Health, Stroke Tagged: aphasia, caregiver, caregiving, national aphasia association, self care

Do You Know the Signs of Mental Illness?

You never know when you, a loved one, or a stranger on the street might have a mental illness.  In a time where mental illness is a huge problem in our society, it is important that every citizen does their part in helping prevent future tragedies at the hands of someone who has a mental illness.

The mental health system is in crisis!   There is a shortage of hospital beds that result in people not getting the treatment they need. This results in homelessness, them being jailed, or ending up doing something awful that hurts themselves or others.

People don’t get help many times because of the stigma that is attached to mental illness. Most people with a mental illness can recover with the right help and it is important that someone suffering with a mental illness gets the help they need.

A huge part of what all individuals need to know is where a person can go to get help.  Before that, however, they need to know what signs and symptoms to look for.

Today I came across a very promising initiative.   It encourages people to learn the 5 signs of mental illness.  They are asking people to join others in signing a pledge that they will learn these signs and share them with everyone they know.

Please join The Campaign to Change Direction in learning these signs. You could save a life!

Five Signs



Picture Credits: The Campaign to Change Direction


Sorry To Disappoint You

It has happened once again. I have fallen down the rabbit hole, cried uncle, admitted my limitations…and rather than a pat on the shoulder in support, I am told…”You’re a disappointment.” Excellent. I can’t even work up the emotion to be tearful or particular outraged. It’s just so par for the course it’s become redundant. I can’t even fathom making someone else’s illness about myself, about how they fail me, disappoint me, don’t try hard enough…I can’t imagine being that big of a douchebag.

Yet I am surrounded by the motherlode. I guess they think poking the bear will result in some amazing turnabout where I spring out to prove what a badass I am.

I AM a badass. If I weren’t I wouldn’t be shoveling all these fucking pills. I’d just crumble, let mania take me to the dark places I can’t return from. Instead I am being a good girl, doing the med thing, trying, trying, trying. Communicating, telling people, hey this is what’s going on.

Instead of, “How can I help?” or “Take some time til you feel better.” I am just a disappointment who is lazy, demanding, a user, and the worst person ever.

Depression is the fucker that just keeps on giving. The illness isn’t enough, let there be fallout left and right. And even more awesome, when I do spring back, let these fuckers constantly remind me “you can do it, you just didn’t want to at the time.” No way this could be corrosive to one’s psyche.

Corrosive. Yeah, last night was my kid’s school carnival. I didn’t take her. Two hours before she asked if she could go play with the devil girls and I said no. She went OFF. Screaming. Kicking. Hitting. Hissing and snarling like a wild animal. She ripped a curtain down, threw her glasses at me, hurled a kleenex box at my head. It was insane. Fortunately, I am so numbed by lithium I just feel nothing but exhausted. It lasted for over ninety minutes and she kept saying if I’d take her, she’d calm down. I refused. And she physically attacked me all over again.

I rode it out, what choice do I have? And ya know…she nagged a bit, but we ate supper together, watched The Middle, and played with the kittens until bedtime. Which was a half hour earlier for her because she had just ripped out whatever signs of life i had. But I did NOT cave. She’s also grounded for a week from friends and youtube and grandma’s house.

I shouldn’t have to deal with my six year old physically attacking me. This is ridiculous. It’s been awhile since she went quite that bonkers but still…And of course, her little friends who say, “Don’t tell at Spook, I’ll go home.”

Um. Yeah, I asked calmly six times for you to go home. By the seventh time the satan voice is coming out and blackmailing me cos you know my kid is gonna punish me with a fit just proves what devil children you are..

But no, it’s the crazy mommy.

If I get through this kid’s single digits, I wanna be nominated for fucking saint hood in the church of the flying spaghetti monster.

Today I am definitely pms-ing. My back hurts, I am crampy, and I came back from taking her to school and slept three more hours. Without having a glass of tea or even a single smoke. When I am that non functioning, the Jaws theme should be playing.

Now…my goal for today is to shower. It’s been five or six days. I really try, I guilt myself, I sunny side up things but…Depression. It’s the closest simile to being crippled as one can come. Sorry if some find that insulting but it really is a debilitating disorder of the mind. Mental hobbling.

Six days before summer break for the spawn.

I predict she will be grounded a lot. Punishing me as much as her.

Though my allergies are doing that already. I’m allergic to frigging life.

Brain – Lock


A few weeks ago my bike lock gave up the ghost. It was what we professionals call a D lock – with a little imagination they kind of look like the letter D. It happened at a most inconvenient time. I was trying to lock my bike up before getting the train to work. Luckily, they allow bikes on the route I take at that time of the morning – it’s not a major commuter line. Once I arrived at my destination I rode to the nearest bike shop and enquired as to the future possibilities for said lock. The knowing look on the face of the mechanic told me all I needed to know. £44.99 later I was the proud owner of a cumbersome  chain – lock.

D Lock Chain Lock

So, these heavy duty, pricey bike locks are pretty effective. It’s a case of you get what you pay for. But that has never stopped me from worrying. Every time I lock up my bike – and this has been going on for as long as I can remember – I don’t trust myself. Did I lock it properly? Was I in such a rush (running late for my train in the morning) that I just forgot. Or – in my mind – I just wrap the lock round the frame of the bike, without actually looping it around the bike stand. I walk away to catch my train/go to the shops/visit a friend, glancing back to see that I actually tied it up right. I’ll go back to double check, jerking the lock about just to be sure. Once I rang my son from the train and asked him to get out of bed, get on his bike and go and check that I had actually locked it up (I had, he texted me a photo.)

Now I want to make one thing very clear. I am absolutely not claiming O.C.D. for myself. I am certainly not trying to suggest that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is on some kind of a spectrum. Nope. I do not think for one moment that the anxiety I feel about whether or not I have locked my bike up makes my thoughts into some kind of disorder. But what I do think it does is give me some insight into what folks who are plagued by O.C.D.

These thoughts, uncertainty don’t apply to anything else. I never worry that I have left the cooker on, or that I forgot to lock the front door.

According to the American psychiatrist Jeffery Schwartz, this compulsion which says ‘I just want to make sure’ is what drives the disorder. He talks (and writes about) the technique of re -labelling to help manage these intrusive, demanding thoughts that so constrain the ability of sufferers to lead fuller lives. He gives an example of this approach to challenging obsessive thoughts in the following way. He suggests that the person who is having such obsessive thoughts leading them to check and re – check, to clean or wash repeatedly, instead of distraction techniques should notice what is happening and acknowledge it. So, one might say ‘I’m having an obsessive thought that is making it feel like ….. ‘

He follows this with the idea of re – attributing these compelling feelings as being symptoms of a disease. So, for example one might say, ‘It’s not me that’s feeling worried, it’s just my O.C.D.’ I don’t know much else about his work, and as I have said earlier, I am no authority on this topic. However, I wonder if elsewhere he challenges the notion, implicit in the quote above. that we own our mental illnesses. Isn’t there a danger that we see it as an intrinsic part of ourselves and that just makes it harder for us to disconnect from the troubling symptoms?

Out There

Do they ever meet out there,

The dolphins I counted,

The otter I wait for?

I should have spent my life

Listening to the waves.

Michael Longley (1939 – )