Daily Archives: September 20, 2016

Let’s Go Catch Stars

Last night I told my husband we should go catch stars.  Oddly, I think one of the main reasons I remember this is because he said, “You should probably go to bed now…you’re not even going to remember this in the morning.”  I generally have memory gaps when I get psychologically weird.

When he said that, I obviously thought, “Shut up, you sane person!  I WILL remember this!  Because this is my BEST IDEA EVER!”  And I willed myself to remember that moment, which I did.  So ha.  I win.

I’m not exactly sure why I thought catching stars was a great idea.  Every once in a while, I enter a psychological vortex that feels like the opposite of a panic attack.  It’s where I have a super great idea that we should go do right exactly now, but it usually ends up being something quite weird (when I remember it at all).  Last night it was catching stars.

When you think about it, catching stars really does sound fun (you know…if it was possible).  I believe I said that they’re just “hanging out up there” and “why don’t people ever go get them?”  They could keep them in jars like fireflies, and they could take one out whenever they need a wish!  I think then I said something about what I would wish for, but I don’t remember what I said (my husband didn’t challenge me to remember that).

Having a mental illness mostly sucks, but think about it – for a few minutes, I lived in a world where catching stars was possible.  Was it healthy?  Probably not.  Exciting?  Heck yeah.  It’s worth mentioning that sometimes my world is even more fun than reality, but I guess reality is a safer place to live.

Maybe I can’t literally catch stars, but I’m sure I could squeeze a “go for your dreams” metaphor out of that situation.  It practically writes itself.

Go catch your stars.  Metaphorically only.


I just found out one of the new girls in my MFA program is also bipolar.  She and I have been talking about various things today, sharing our stories.  SHe’s very open about it, like I am.  She’s doing a stage performance of a piece she wrote about it coming up soon in Oklahoma City, which is where she lives now.   So proud of people  standing up and talking about such an issue.

Otherwise, today has been pretty dead.  I have my interview with my buddy up in Madison WI for a class project I am doing tomorrow.  I hope  I don’t forget about it–but we have a plan in place if I do.  I have to interview someone in a Q&A format a la The Paris Review.   So I am going to interview him about becoming a Holocaust scholar.  I think it will be interesting.

I still don’t feel my best, but I am improving.  Thanks be to God.


Blue Skies


Today was really a good day. I got a lot done. My husband and I started off by driving a ways out-of-town and going hiking near an Indian ruin. Now I have hiked there before, but always gave up about halfway to the ruins. Today I made it all the way there! I was really proud of myself.

I also did devotionals, got some sewing done, got out a couple of get well cards, read, and went to my bipolar group.

Several of the people in my bipolar group are going to naturopathic doctors. I’ve never been to one. They are on special diets, etc. One girl said she has had no anxiety since getting on her diet. Another is trying to get off of her meds. I have never been to one, but I shrink at the idea of getting off my meds. Frightening.

A couple of people shared about how much happier they are since they’ve gotten a job. Even part time work really seems to help with their self esteem. I know what they mean. But fortunately or unfortunately, I am on both SSDI and private disability. I cannot make ANY money or the private disability goes away. So I guess I will have to get my self esteem in other ways…maybe through volunteering.

So I stuck on my diet and exercised. Today was a normal day.

Wed: (early morning)

Well, it’s four o’clock and I’ve been awake since about two or so. I took a Klonopin to see if it would help me sleep but no luck so far. I’ve been having trouble staying asleep…it’s easy for me to FALL asleep.

I think about all kinds of things when I can’t sleep. Mostly the past. I know my husband thinks about current stresses when he is awake at night, but I don’t. I tend to wander through my past and come up with memories…some good, some bad. Some memories are both good and bad at the same time. Strange!

We are going on a little trip this weekend to see some friends for a couple of nights. I have known these people a long time…she was my maid of honor at my wedding. I used to teach school with her when I first started. I also went to college with her husband. It doesn’t seem like thirty years ago that all this happened.

Things are a little better with Danny. We decided just to do and say nothing about the pot. I think he is relieved. My husband is still not thrilled, but we want him to get through school. He’s new at work and they haven’t been busy lately, but it will pick up soon. I am hoping he’ll get more hours and be busier. It always seems to improve his mood. The good news is: he seems to like both school and work.

Update: Wednesday was sort of a waste. I tried and tried to go back to sleep and finally managed about 6pm. I noticed I was getting a sore throat and a headache. I felt so exhausted that I cleared my calendar for today (Thursday). I didn’t really cancel on anyone….I just rescheduled my CBT therapist and my weigh -in.


It’s kind of a bleary, tired day. Just worn out and have a sore throat. My goals today are to maybe iron some quilt squares and get a shower later. I have a full day tomorrow: a morning walk, my regular therapist, lunch with Danny, and getting my nails done and hair cut. I’ve got to get ready for our little weekend trip. Tomorrow sounds sort of overwhelming.

Apparently I am still in that rhythm of two or three good days, then a tired day.

Update: As the day goes on, I am feeling a little better. I feel like I could probably have gone to my appointments today, but maybe a day of rest is best. I do need to get some laundry done today. I got a good shower and got my clothes ready for my walk tomorrow. I am doing great taking showers. That problem is definitely looking up.


Feeling a lot better. I think resting yesterday was the right decision. Today I have a walk, therapist’s appointment, lunch out with Danny, getting my nails done, and getting my hair cut. That’s a big day for me.

I’ve been making good progress on the quilt. Should have it laid out on the floor by next week and can give you all a picture.

Leaving tomorrow for our friends’ house. Not nervous at all at this point about riding up. I plan on driving to my therapist ALONE this morning. Will have to see how I do.

Have developed a bad habit of chewing on my nails till they are very short. Don’t know where this came from (nerves?). Annoying.

On the good news front, I have purchased tickets to TWO different concerts in October. I am very excited to go and just pray that I don’t wake up those days really depressed or something. I have been sick so long am ready to join the world.

Victory today! I drove all by myself to the therapist, out to lunch, and to get my nails done. Really a good day.


Had a good drive on our trip yesterday…wasn’t nervous at all. Did take two Klonopin at the beginning of the journey, so that probably helped.

Got to our friends’ house and took a nice walk. Nothing like fresh mountain air. We then went to a college football game at my old alma mater. It sure brought back a lot of memories to see the football field, band, cheerleaders, and players much as it was 35 years ago. Honestly, not a whole lot has changed. Of course, this is a small college. On top of all this fun, everyone in our section won a free chicken dinner at a local restaurant! Woohoo!

We came home and gabbed till I got tired and went to bed at 8. Everyone else kept talking, but it was a pretty full day for me.


I just don’t get around like other people. I don’t know if it is the bipolar meds or what.

We got up and took a mile and a half walk. Then we went downtown and sat on a balcony at a restaurant, had drinks, and sat and watch the cars and people below. We then headed for our chicken dinner and back to the house for a pro football game on TV.

After that we out for dinner. I was good…had a little chili and cornbread. I stuck on my liquid diet pretty well, which is almost impossible when you are traveling.

Another night of collapsing at eight.


Got up at seven to head back home. Rode all the way and was not scared. (I did take the two Klonopin again.) Made it home safely and collapsed on the couch.

I’m overall doing very well, just get way too tired too early. Went to bed at 8.


Ack! Not a good day. Got up and just couldn’t face a shower…I rescheduled my weigh-in. The good news is that according to my home scale I have lost about 2 pounds. I weigh next Monday and hope to be able to add a couple more in there.

I got situated on my couch and made a long list of phone calls, meditating, organizing things, and writing from the couch. So I am getting stuff done. I have to take a shower at noon. I have my bipolar group at 3 and then my CBT therapist at 5. I could skip the bipolar meeting, but my CBT therapist charges me $70 to cancel. My husband would uh “pass” a brick.

I seem to just get exhausted when I take a trip. I need to clear like two days and just do home stuff for those days. I’d love to go to New Orleans, or a European cruise, or even a cruise with the kids (a cheap one), but I just get too exhausted. I wonder if it is me or if it is the drugs. So many people invite us on trips and activities, but I just get overwhelmed. I feel like I am holding him back. Although I have encouraged him to take my daughter to Chicago next summer to see his brother and see the sites. His brother has prostate cancer so it s a good time to go.

Am hoping to lay out my new Christmas/ winter quilt and give a pic of it next week. It won’t be all sewn together, but it will give you the idea.

Thanks for being here and reading.




Things I’ve Had to Let Go

Sometimes life just doesn’t go the way it’s supposed to you want it to. For instance, I’m supposed to have Bradley Cooper’s looks, and Bill Gates’ money. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but I’m learning to accept that neither are, or will be, true. What can be harder to swallow are the hopes and dreams that aren’t so pie…

The post Things I’ve Had to Let Go appeared first on Insights From A Bipolar Bear.

Decisions, Decisions Part Two

I decided to break this up because the decisions I have made are so very different that they need their own space. The second decision was a difficult one because if we are moving, we need to save money; however, … Continue reading

The Justice League—Bipolar Style

Merely AgogI’ve been in trouble for a while now, mental health-wise.  The amnesia that comes with severe symptoms keeps me from remembering that this is normal.  My brain yammers that I’m getting worse, that my social skills are devolving, that all my tools are useless, and that, maybe, by brain is starting to liquify.  But, the reality is I’ve been here before.

One of the many vital roles my therapist assumes is that of Archivist.  She starts a sentence by saying, “When you’ve been like this before…” and suddenly I can breathe again.  I spend so much energy and attention on navigating the whip-quick changes of the rapid cycling aspect of my illness, it’s very hard to pull focus and take in the larger picture.  Shifts happen in the slow time of seasons.  My Richter Scale rarely registers a catastrophic event, but like earthquakes, the tension builds over time to an inevitable break.

Recovering this larger perspective helps.  I’ve survived 8.9 quakes before, so how do I do that again?  Before, I would check into Mercy Hospital’s Out-Patient program (day-care for the neuro-diverse), but like so many other mental health care programs and hospitals in Iowa, it no longer exists.  The programs that are left focus on folks who need functional help.  I don’t need help doing my laundry (usually).

My Integrated Health Caseworker said something like this yesterday, “You’re so high-functioning, you fall through the cracks.”

It’s a Catch-22, being a Bipolar Bad-Ass.

img_0977Friday, I went early to my therapy appointment.  I brought my wheely cart of art supplies and camped out at their little corner table in the waiting room.  They thought that was a brilliant idea, and invited me back whenever I felt the need.  So, I went again yesterday and stayed all day.

There’s no therapy, no expectation of interaction beyond a quick hello, but it’s a safe place that’s quiet and welcoming.  Sorta like going to a coffee shop, except the baristas love and understand me.  I call it “Out-Out-Patient Care.”

My therapist and I are also exploring alternatives.  What about a Mindfulness class that would provide structure and an emphasis on Doing The Work?  What about some sort of retreat?  These things cost money, so we pulled in my caseworker to help hunt for grants.

I am grateful everyday that I function as well as I do.  AND it’s hard work to find services that fit me.  AND it’s hard to think outside the box when thinking is most difficult. But, I have an actual team helping me now—my own little Mental Health Justice League.  I’m not feeling much like Wonder Woman at the moment, but with a little help, I might be able to find that lasso.



I always do this thing where I think, “I feel rock bottom shitty, at least it can’t get worse.”

Then it does get worse.

Like three days without internet service. THREE DAYS. Followed by reloading my phone with talk time, only to use it ALL on the cable company’s 800 number being on hold, in line, directed by an automated voice, and begging for a LIVE PERSON.

So in addition to no net for those days, I spent about thirty bucks on phone time for a call that should be free.

It can, and always does, get worse.

I had a lovely Friday night with my kid at my mom’s. No brat neighbor kids stalking me. I just chilled.

Saturday she returned and in under an hour, she was back to having a stomping screaming fit. Like I could make the internet work. She hit me. Then her friends showed and she was okay an hour before she started getting in their face and waving her fist.

The neighbor kids cause me a lot of stress.

That day I realized…MY kid causes most of my stress. Because I am at a loss as how to deal with her. If this is behavioral, then all the grounding, loss of privileges, etc, it should be making a dent. But it doesn’t and now she’s turning on her friends. She’s making my life a living hell.

I thought it’s just cos I am hormonal thus super sensitive. But…No. My life with Spook is a battlefield and I don’t know what weapons to bring. She actually kicked me in the head the other day. I took away friends, games, etc…Nothing. She just doesn’t care.

The doctor doesn’t care. Oh, wait, my kid hasn’t actually seen the doctor in 2 years, it’s always practitioners these days. They won’t take my concerns seriously until the teacher fills out a form. Well, the teacher never seems concerned.

Which leads back to me and it must all be me except…NO. I do not believe on any planet it is normal for a 7 year old to have such violent rages and lack empathy or learn from doing the same bad behavior again and again and getting disciplined but never changing.

Something is at play and I feel trapped. The professionals won’t help me. Until my home life becomes less of a nightmare, my depression and anxiety aren’t going to improve. I came to that realization over the weekend with tears and a lot of “I am a shit mother” guilt. It’s true, though, no child should have the power to terrorize you and make your home life miserable.

The difference is, I don’t believe it’s because she’s a bad kid. I think, like our entire family, there is something off in her brain chemistry. But because she is so young, only ADHD will be diagnosed and if they don’t even see that in her…I am a prisoner here.

I am going to talk to my shrink next month. Maybe have a tearful breakdown. I can’t plan this shit, it usually just happens when it will mortify me the most. Maybe he knows a way to bypass all this molly coddling “just a child” shit and get her in with him to see if maybe she needs some pre-bipolar counseling or medication.

It just sucks to realize that of all my stress, the money, the house falling apart, my brain falling apart…the worst part is the stress my kid places on me with her unacceptable behavior. I can’t believe I am expected to deal with a kid who hits me. I can’t spank her, though. But I can’t defend myself, either.

Something’s got to give.

The system just doesn’t work all around. Not a newsflash, but I just want the best for my kid and if I can’t even get her care from a doctor until she’s going into her teens…The system is very much broken and responsible for all the “bad kids” out there. Treat them before they go bad, for fuck’s sake.

In other news…The net is fixed, I’m still hormonal, and episode 1 of American Horror Story season six did not impress me. I am almost afraid to watch Z Nation lest it make me so disappointed.

Hopefully, Superstore will give me a giggle Thursday.

Clean up, aisle 6, the zombies ate all the customers again….


On the Naming – & Reading – of Cats

You can call me what you like, it doesn't mean I'll show up.

You can call me what you like, it doesn’t mean I’ll show up.

The naming of cats is a difficult matter …” – TS Eliot

This is Al, aka The Cat Who Came to Dinner. So inevitably, today’s song is this one. No cat references, but lots of Al ones. I love most of Paul Simon’s work, and whilst I’m not a big Chevy Chase fan, I think he’s fab in this video.

Around a dozen cats have padded and slept through my life so far: I’m hoping many more will mew, purr, and yes, occasionally barf in my home, and garden. (1) That’s not counting friends’ cats, or the cat who lives near my work, and likes to say hello whenever I pop to the shop, or the pillar box.

The black and white cat pictured below is the late, great Jake, from whom the name Sgt Jake Cat comes from. Jake’s original name evolved considerably from a ridiculously long and indeed ridiculous name, to Jake, though his Sunday name was Jacob.

Big cat, big heart, big personality

Big cat, big heart, big personality

Thomas the cat: Brave, and sunny natured, if a bit thick.

Thomas the cat: Brave, and sunny natured, if a bit thick.

Speaking of names, at a recent writers’ group, I read a bit from my current work in progress, “A Yorkshireman in Ohio”. In it, I referred to the fictional Jake as “Sgt Cat”. This resulted in a somewhat surreal discussion about cat surnames.

Talking of cats, here are my top five favourite cat books:

  • Close Encounters of the Furred Kind” – Tom Cox (non fiction / humour) More than just a cat book, this, and Tom Cox’s previous book, “The Good, the Bad, and the Furry” are funny, beautifully written, and touching. The final section of “Close Encounters of the Furred Kind”, about a homeless cat named George, contains some of the most moving writing I have ever read. Highly recommended. I interviewed Tom on “Book It!” earlier this year. It was such a pleasure, as was going to see him in Sheffield this summer. I can go a bit fangirl when discussing his books, so I’ll move on to the next book.

    Tom Cox at Sheffield, August 2016

    Tom Cox, August 2016

  • The Door Into Summer” – Robert A Heinlein (sci fi) This is a lovely book for cat and science fiction fans alike. Published in 1957, I first came across it as a teenager, and loved it. book It’s about time travel, cats, and love, in almost equal measures. Heinlein went a bit strange later on (2), but when he was good, he was very, very good.
  • The Silent Miaow” – Paul Gallico (non fiction)Beautifully written, with beautiful photographs by Suzanne Szasz. Sadly I don’t own a copy, perhaps I need to correct this. By the author who wrote the beautiful, “Snow Goose“.
  • It’s Like This, Cat” – Emily Cheney Neville (children’s lit) I have fond, if hazy, memories of this one. I have a feeling it’s one of those books I borrowed time after time from my local library. This was a Newbery Medal winner in 1963. I suspect it would be classified as Young Adult (YA) if it was published today.
  • Why Cats Paint” – Heather Busch & Burton Silver (humour) One of the strangest books I’ve ever owned, read, and loved. I think my copy was a gift from Mum. Subtitled “A Theory of Feline Aesthetics”, it features beautiful photographs of cats, er, painting, as well as commentary on how and why the cats approach their artistic works. Includes cat tray art.

    Happy reading! Remember, winter is coming: it’s an ideal to curl up with a book, and, if you’re fortunate, a cat on your knee, or lap

    Bookless at bedtime: Al

    Bookless at bedtime: Al

    (1) I’m not a fan of barf, but sick and hairballs are part of the price you pay if you share close quarters with a cat.
    (2) “Number of the Beast”, anyone?

Tagged: A Yorkshireman in Ohio, Book It!, Books, cats, Close Encounters of the Furred Kind, fangirl, It’s Like This Cat, names, Paul Gallico, Paul Simon, pets, reading, Robert A Heinlein, The Door into Summer, The Good the Bad and the Furry, The Silent Miaow, The Snow Goose, Tom Cox, top cat books, TS Eliot, Why Cats Paint

Tummy Trouble

My tummy has been acting up all day. I hate that I don’t feel well when I have to go out Weds and Thurs.  Plus I am so stressed out. My mood has been meh. Not bad but not good. Feeling like crap definitely doesn’t help. I don’t know how much of it is in my head where I’m stressing out or what’s real. Between that and the hot flashes it’s just unbearable.

I did go out with hubby to pick up food today so that is my daily accomplishment. Feeling bad and going out willingly is still a lot different than having to go out unwillingly. I’m so dreading going out this week. I’m having nightmares every night. I hate my brain so much.