Daily Archives: June 12, 2016

Faith-Full Sunday – “The Voice of Truth”

I have been feeling a little small and insignificant lately. I think it is just the pain, fatigue and insomnia and maybe a bit of the enemy trying to break me down. I have had this feeling many times before … Continue reading

Distracted Driving

My sister made me promise not to drive and videotape myself at the same time because that is driving while distracted. There’s one problem with that, and that’s that I’m more distracted when I don’t articulate my thoughts. Because they race through my head, and I can only speak or write so quickly.

No matter how quickly I speak or how fast I type or write, it’s not nearly as fast as my thoughts. And, it actually slows me down. So, I am less distracted. Hard to understand if you don’t have thoughts that go really fast. Thoughts that are kind of a press of ideas. Too much. Too much. So anyway, that’s it.

Filed under: Bipolar Disorder, Hypomania, Mental Health Tagged: bipolar thought process, distracted driving, driving, speeding thoughts, thought process

Forced to Face My Fear

A little while ago, I posted about my severe dental phobia (http://wp.me/p4e9Hv-cG). So of course fate pushed me to the wall and left me no choice but to confront it.

tooth fairy illustrationHere’s the backstory. My teeth are awful, and my dental phobia has a lot to do with it. Realizing this, we borrowed some money and put it aside for my dental work. The reason that we had to borrow that much money was not just because we’re broke (we are) or that our dental insurance is so crappy as to be nonexistent (it is), but the fact that the last time I got any dental work done (years ago), I was so terrified that I had to have a traveling anesthesiologist brought in to put me completely under. And that approximately doubles the cost of already-pricey, though necessary, procedures.

Then another disaster ate the money we had put aside. There was no choice in the matter. The dental money had to be sacrificed.

Then fate stepped in. Last Saturday I got a toothache. Of epic proportions. Not realizing that the dentist had a 24/7 emergency number, I toughed it out till Monday, when my face was hideously swollen and the combined powers of Anbesol and Tylenol were insufficient to let me sleep. I got in to see the dentist on Tuesday.

That one tooth was definitely going to have to come out and the abscess drained (did I mention there was an abscess?). And there were a few other highly recommended procedures that needed doing as well. None of which the crappy insurance would pay for.

But that wasn’t the real problem, or at least not the only problem. The traveling anesthesiologist was out. The dental slush fund no longer existed. Normally (that is, for normal patients) the dentist offers “oral sedation,” which turns out to be triazolam (Halcion). But since I already take lorazepam (Ativan), that wasn’t considered safe.Apparently the two don’t work and play nicely together.

“You’re going to do this without anesthesia AND without oral sedation?” the dentist said.

“I have no choice,” I replied. He had given me Vicodin for the pain (as well as an antibiotic for the abscess), but I couldn’t really take that long-term. And so I was cornered. I had to have the procedure, no matter what. (My husband offered to get a rubber mallet and knock me out, or knock the tooth out, or something. I politely declined.)

The plan we worked out was this: On Thursday, when they were to do the procedure, I would take two Vicodin and increase my lorazepam from .5 mg to 1.0 mg. (with my pcp’s permission). Then I would have nitrous oxide, which had never worked for me before, but hey, worth another try, right?

And I would have my husband there in the procedure room, as my comfort animal. He had to stay out of the way, but was able to reach over and pat me on the ankle. Which was comforting, actually.

Double Vicodin (I was permitted two but had been taking only one) and double Ativan (plus one prophylactic Immodium) left me suitably stoned. I was totally confused when the hygienist asked me, “Bubble gum or orange creamsicle?” I was stoned, but that made no sense. Turns out nowadays they have scented nose cones for the nitrous. (I chose mint.) I could barely feel the numbing shots, and the extraction went smoothly. I didn’t hear/feel the terrifying, sickening crunch that went from my jaw directly through my brain when I had my wisdom teeth out. My husband said I didn’t even flinch. He patted my ankle anyway.

Then we paid about the same as we recently had for two vet visits for our ancient cat, but nowhere near what we had borrowed, put aside, then spent.

I didn’t even disgrace myself, though I had spare underwear in my purse, just in case.

All in all, it went way better than I expected. Have I conquered my fear? I don’t honestly know, and probably won’t until the next time. (And there will be a next time.)

But at least I’ve proved that I can do it. I can have a dental procedure done without anesthesia and without oral sedation, if it’s really, really necessary. Pain is surely a great motivator. I am no longer a huge wuss, I guess – just a regular wuss. I do hope, however, that when the clot heals and the infection clears up, and the swelling has gone away, that I do not have to go through this again for a very, very long time.

(At least this time I did better than when I faced my apiphobia (http://wp.me/p4e9wS-7H).)


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: anxiety, bipolar disorder, dental-phobia, husband, mental illness, my experiences, physical pain, support systems

Welcome Home, Old Friend


Rage seems to be intrinsic to my flavor of bipolar disorder.  In a mixed state, where symptoms of both depression and mania manifest, my “manic” is some form of agitation—anxiety, compulsive behavior, or rage.

I made the journal spread above in the midst of anger so black and sharp I could barely breathe.  I painted over the picture on the right—mini-me with my dog, Rebel—then slashed at it with a steak knife.  The violence stunned me, violence aimed at myself, at the innocent and vulnerable part of me.  I painted in the gouges, then echoed the savagery on the opposite page.

I left it that way for several days, coming back to take in the images and process the layers of Truth I’d uncovered.

I used to believe there must be a reason I got so mad.  I used to sort through all the old betrayals, snubs, and layers of unfairness in my cheesecloth memory.  But, there’s no reason for my rage other than funky brain chemistry.  Trying to justify it only throws napalm on the fire.

Rage is just another part of me, like the creeping hopelessness that sits on the other end of the spectrum, like my blue eyes, like the way I put words or colors together.  And like everything else, the only thing to do with it is welcome it home.  That’s when I pulled Thich Nhat Hahn’s Anger off my bookshelf and found the words my Rage needed.

Today, this moment, contains no rage.  This morning I wrote in my journal next to The Dalai Lama:

Dalai Lama

“When the symptoms are big, there’s always this base undercurrent of failure, a deep Mariana Trench of wrongness, that awful and vague sense that I should be doing something else/more, that I should be something else/more.  It negates all that I do and all that I am.  It robs me of any satisfaction or sufficiency.  Maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to these journals now.  They are so immediate.  The rush of rightness washes over me without any censor.  Pictures together tell an immediate story.  Color bypasses thought.  The soft texture of the Pan Pastels signals instant comfort, and I feel masterful… I feel incredibly lucky and grateful for this tool.”

Yes, I do.

The Adventure Continues.


ECT update

So my ECT got delayed yet again. I went into hospital on Thursday to have it on Friday, but the nationwide taxi protests resulted in things like felled trees burning across roads and so doctors didn’t get to the hospital… To cut a long story short, I left on Saturday and refused to go back. … Continue reading ECT update

ECT update

So my ECT got delayed yet again. I went into hospital on Thursday to have it on Friday, but the nationwide taxi protests resulted in things like felled trees burning across roads and so doctors didn’t get to the hospital… To cut a long story short, I left on Saturday and refused to go back. … Continue reading ECT update

Tribute – Her “Voice” Will Be Remembered

A few years ago I was looking for a song on Youtube and found a cover version by a teenager named Christina Grimmie. She blew me away, so I subscribed to her and watched many of her videos. The song … Continue reading

How I Learned to Give Up Fighting the Moment

live in what is happening

I find that this is where most of my anxiety comes from:  thinking things should be a certain way, and being unwilling to accept that they are actually the exact opposite.  I fuss and I tussle and I tumble with “the way things are,” trying every day to bend it to my iron will.  Newsflash to those who might need it — the world doesn’t work that way, and it probably never will.

The way I see it, the way DBT teaches it, we really shouldn’t be trying to bend any thing or any person to our own will.  Life is meant to happen, and it is us railing against the facts of the world that make us so unhappy.  In many situations (not most, not all, but not just a few), there is very little we can do about any given situation, other than control our reaction and response to it.

For example, I may or may not have a small road anger (it’s not true RAGE, I mean, c’mon) issue, but I have been trying to practice radical acceptance in most matters, and have recently been applying that to driving.  It has been interesting.  This morning, someone honked at me because I didn’t move at a green arrow a half second BEFORE it changed.  Normally, I would have flown the bird high out the window, but today I gritted my teeth and thought, “gee, I wonder what that guy’s problem is…he must be having a hard day…thank you baby Jesus, that I am not that impatient or angry, amen.”

I felt pretty good about not flipping the angry man the bird, and felt so good about it, in fact, that I let some cars in front of me at a construction site.  My grandpa taught me over two decades ago that this was common courtesy.  Grandpa would be shocked at how people drive today, but that is besides the point.  After letting in three cars (and then moving because the light turned green), I couldn’t help but notice that I had invoked a spitting-mad, yelling tirade in the woman behind me, ,because she had to wait for the light to turn green again.

A few months ago, I could totally have been the pissed off honking man or the cursing impatient woman.  Thanks to DBT, ahem, the PRACTICE of DBT skills, I find myself no longer trapped in anger at situations where I have no control.  My mind is open and willing, and my patience for *most* people has greatly increased.

Practicing accepting situations beyond our control, as a matter of distress tolerance, is a mighty valuable tool.  I do have to turn things over in my mind repeatedly to get there, but I have been able to better manage my hostile, off-the-cuff reactions to other people’s inadequacies.

I have learned that I do not control the world around me, and I do not control the people around me, so what is best for me is to roll with the circumstances, and when things get too heated or when I start getting upset and to the point where I feel like my values have been stepped on, then I remove myself from said situation.

I really do think that radical acceptance is the hardest thing to practice in DBT, but I also feel it is most important (or at least as applied to my life).  When we can accept things for what they are, and not struggle and fight, life overall becomes much easier, much less painful.  I wish this is a skill I could stick in my back pocket and just pull out when I’m feeling like putting out the effort, but it is something that is best practiced daily, along with a heaping dose of nonjudgemental stance (and yes, I mean nonjudgmental stance toward oneself, as well).

Filed under: Daily Tagged: control, DBT, depression, dialectical behavior therapy, giving up control, radical acceptance, skills, toolbox, wilfulness, willingness