Daily Archives: November 6, 2016

Bicycle Thieves #3

To mark the theft of the front wheel of my bicycle this weekend, I repost this edition first published in 2011

What more dispiriting experience is there for a cyclist than discovering that their bike has been nicked?  This has happened to me twice.  The first time it was the first bicycle I owned as an adult.  I had been given it by a friend who lived in London who had been put off riding in the capital after a friend of his was knocked off his bike. The second time it happened was last Friday, which is what prompted me to reblog  this edition.

The first time it happened it was stolen from right outside where I  lived back then.  I used to chain it to the railings at the front of my house.  The chain I used was no match for a handy pair of bolt cutters, apparently.  That bicycle had particular meaning for me. Apart from being my first bicycle, it also accompanied me in what I was going through at that time.  It was the bike I owned when I was first diagnosed with depression.  I never rode very far on it. Before I recognised that I was depressed I used to get up early and cycle down to the beach before going to work in London. I would cycle along the seafront watched by homeless people who  sleep on the benches, and in shelters that dot the beach front, as they were waking up.

I was signed off sick for 3 years starting in the summer of 2002. It was around that time that I put my bicycle  out of sight in the shed at the bttom of the garden.  It stayed there for a year, while I hibernated in bed, barely able to function. I remember the first time I took it out  and tottered around the block on it, riding on the pavement, before putting it back in the shed once more and retreating inside to recover…for months.

The day after that bicycle was stolen my wife drove to work and came home with  a new bicycle for me.  I clearly remember coming out of the house and crossing the road to where her car was parked with the new bicycle strapped to the bike rack.  It felt like a symbol of hope that I could find my way back to who I was, and what I wanted to become; someone had faith in me that I could  find my way back, and recognised what I needed to do so. When I told her what had happened last Friday she immediately reminded me that I had turned down her offer of a new bicycle for my birthday last July, saying that I was happy with my bicycle and that I had a strong emotional attachment to it. I have been to the bike shop that I have been visiting since 2000 and I have my eye on the bike I want. Like the the first bike I had that was stolen, this bike had a very strong emotional connection for me. I wrote about it in a previous post which you can read here:

https://puncturerepairkit.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/tarmac/

Back in the autumn of 2010 I was riding that bicycle when I took a tumble taking a corner too fast and before my left knee had hit the tarmac I knew that something was seriously wrong. Not long after that I was diagnosed with Bi Polar Disorder (I much prefer the old moniker Manic Depression, mind you.)

I took the title of this instalment of my blog from the title of the Italian film of 1948 ‘Ladri di Biciclette’.  The film revolves around the main protagonist’s search for his stolen bicycle which his wife had pawned their bedsheets so that he could redeem it from the pawn broker and  secure a job putting up posters around the city. Although the film ends on a despairing note, as he tries unsuccessfully to steal a bicycle, the film resonates with me because of the idea that the bicycle offers him hope of a better life.  For me, it highlights the sacrifices, and the lengths that we need to go to attain that goal.

Earlier that same year Gino Bartali won the Tour de France for the second time (he also won the King of the Mountains jersey that year).  It was the Italian’s second win after a gap of ten years.  The length of time between those victories also carries a message of hope for me.  In the 1948 race Bartali was on the point of giving up, but inspired by a phone call from the Italian prime minister that a victory would reunite a country on the brink of civil unrest, he rode on to victory.

It is possible to return to our best selves and reach our potential – even after a long gap, even when we feel like giving up on life, it is possible to succeed in whatever we choose to do.

Sea-Fever
I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
By John Masefield (1878-1967)
(English Poet Laureate, 1930-1967.

Hunkering Down: Wise Advice From an Even Wiser Friend

A rough few days had left me feeling emotionally raw, reactive, completely in emotion mind.  Without a shred of reason to be found within  my decidedly ailing body, mind, spirit, I phoned a friend.  Kind of like you can do on that show, “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” although I’m not sure that show is still on or if it’s still played that way.  Either way, the premise is the same — unsure of yourself, phone a friend and get some insight.

I didn’t directly ask for advice, but she knows me pretty well and she told me something she has told me time and time again — not everything is because of mental illness, a lot of it is just life.  Life sucking, maybe, but just life, not a symptom.  Not something to have a med change over or make any sort of drastic change over.  Her advice to me:  hunker down, a lot of it will pass.

And she’s right, a lot of this will pass.  A lot of the bad feelings are from having several major changes and being uber-busy, and now the settling comes.  We are moved, settling in, the house is set up, settle down a little more, make new routines, practice better habits, interact more or less or not at all with certain people.  Change, a lot of it, over the past few months, and change, even more than that, over the past couple of years.

It’s time to settle down, let the dust clear, see what shakes out.  Feeling bad doesn’t necessarily mean I need to have a med increase or a routine change or for anything AT ALL to happen.  My friend’s wise words, “hunker down,” made so much sense when she said them.  They made even more sense when I sat on my front porch in the fresh air, with the sun shining warmth on my face, contrasting with the cool breeze through my hair.

It was funny when Dad said almost the same thing not even an hour later, except he said, “I’m glad you were able to defend in place today and keep from going to the hospital.”  He said that, because this morning I was feeling terrible enough that I was thinking of going to the hospital, and I cancelled on seeing him or my nephew.

So, defend in place, hunker down, that’s what is going to be happening for me.  Can’t hurt, might help.

Image result for pass like a kidney stone meme


Filed under: Daily Tagged: anxiety, avoid, Bipolar, blogging, DBT, depression, dialectical behavior therapy, feel better, friends, hunker down, internet, mental health, mental illness, mental wellness, PTSD, shelter in place

If Only I knew…

I turn the music up. I turn it down. Turn it off. Turn it on. Change the station. Maybe I should focus on a task, so I set out to clean the house. I don’t know where to start. I roam around armed w cleanser and a towel. Eventually I just sit on the couch and stare out the window. I don’t know if I am actually looking at anything. My gaze is steady, but nothing registers. Perhaps I should take a shower. Perhaps I should take a nap. I SHOULD exercise. But, I do none of these things. I have no energy. No desire.
I don’t know how I feel. I don’t know what I need. My husband makes a suggestion but I cannot hear him. I see his lips move, his eyes impassioned. His words fall short. Don’t reach me. I miss his message. I’ve gone inward. I can only seem to hear the echo of the voice in my head, which is stunningly mean and decisive. But, also makes perfect sense.
I put on my trusted headphones to drown out the barrage in my mind. Meditation? Classical? Nature? I can’t make the simplest of decisions right now. I don’t know how I feel. I don’t know what I need. Am i in a void? An abyss? Time is standing still. The lovely purple sage bush out my window is awash in the fog. The minutes creep by. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Its only 3 o’clock? How in the hell can it be 3 o’clock!
If only I knew how I felt. What I need. Maybe you could help me through this invisible pain.


2nd Day of 3 Quotes for 3 Days. 

Rules are below and my three nominees are below. 

Rules:Do 3 quotes for 3 days.

Display 3 quotes a day on your blog.
Nominate 3 bloggers per day for 3 days.
Notify each of their nominations on your blog.

Here are my nominees:

1) https://justplainolvic.com/

2) https://anglophyl.wordpress.com/

3) https://writeintothelight.org/

Thank you my loud bipolar whispers for nominating me! https://myloudbipolarwhispers.com/2016/11/05/inspire-to-inspire-three-day-quote-challenge-day-one/


I Forgot the Crake

Mom: Are you picking your nose?  Kid: No, I’m scratching a bug bite that’s in my nose.

Why can’t I be that clever?

I’m visiting some family in Kansas, and I’m glad that I like them so much because there’s really no other reason to visit Kansas.  For real.  I asked my cousin what there is to do around here, and she said, “We do have a museum about our varieties of prairie grasses.”  I blankly stared at her after she said this.  Was she joking?  Nope, not joking.  Oh boy.

When you’re hanging out with five kids aged eight and under, you really don’t need activities (especially prairie grass museums).  They say quite enough to keep you entertained.  Yesterday we played in the backyard and tried to make a pile of leaves, but my cousin doesn’t have a rake.  This conversation ensued:

C (six years old): Hazel, do you have a crake?  (note: he calls a rake a “crake.”  I don’t pretend to know why).

Me: Yes, I do, but it’s back at my house in Michigan.

C: Can you go get it?

Me: Um, no.  I would have to get on another airplane.

C: Just take our car!

Me: I wouldn’t be back for another day!  Sorry dude, I can’t go get it.

C: *sulking* You really should have thought about bringing your crake while you were packing.

Now that I think of it, I have never seen anyone with a rake on an airplane.  There is no way that’s legal.  I wonder if anyone has ever attempted it.

Kids are so much fun.  I submit that they’re the best and worst possible thing for mental health.  When an eight year old hears you walk in late at night, and she has to run out of bed and sprint across the kitchen to give you a hug goodnight and say she loves you…well, there’s not a lot that’s better than that.  I’ve heard that having your own kids is not always so awesome, though, so maybe it’s good that I’m just visiting (even though I didn’t bring my crake).


Advice for the Bipolar Writer

Writing can be therapeutic – and more.

Writing can save your life – or someone else’s.

Every one of us, depressed, manic, or bipolar, has something to say.

I say, “Say it!”

Although I’ve never been one to respond to that ancient exercise in which you express your unspoken thoughts to an empty chair, I am a proponent of expressing your unspoken thoughts. I just think writing is a better way to do it.

Getting your thoughts and feelings down on paper or preserved in pixels is a positive, life-affirming action, even if your thoughts might not be. Giving voice to your inner workings can help you understand yourself and your brain better.

And if you choose to share them, they can help others too.

There are many different kinds of writing you can explore and experiment with until you find the one or ones that are right for you. Here are a few you can try.

Journaling. Many therapists recommend journaling to keep track of your moods and mood swings. You can also keep track of your exercise and sleeping and eating patterns in your journal. These factors may help you pinpoint physical symptoms that accompany your emotional ones. And you can get a read on how your meds affect your symptoms and how troublesome the side effects are.

Unsent letters. I have a separate file in my computer for these, just so I remember not to send them. I write letters not to send when I need to vent at or about a person, but am not sure whether I’m overreacting. I can express my feelings without taking the chance of ruining a friendship or hurting a loved one.

Sent letters. Sometimes, after you’ve let those letters or emails sit for a while, you decide that you do need to send them – or at least parts of them. Letters or emails are often the best way to communicate regarding difficult topics because you can think about what’s important to say, consider the best way to say it, and revise if your thoughts are not coming out the way you want them to. You still might want to wait a day before you send them, though.

IMs and comments. When you read someone’s post or a comment that really resonates with you, don’t hesitate to let that person know. If you don’t understand something in a post, just ask. If you disagree, feel free to do so politely. These are chances to open a dialogue, get more information, or correct misconceptions. They can lead to friendships if you comment regularly, but even a word or two of support or thanks can mean a lot to the writer.

Blogging. I started blogging because my journaling was boring and whiny, and I decided I had more important things to write about. There are basically two kinds of blogging about bipolar disorder. One is to share your experiences – your mood swings, your triggers, your relationships, your healing, your thoughts and meditations. The other is to write about issues related to bipolar disorder – treatments, stigma, social policy, news items, books, or opinions. Of course, you can combine both types of writing in your blog, which is what I try to do.

Blogging is powerful. It lets both professional and untrained writers speak their truth and share their thoughts. A blog about bipolar disorder has a “niche” audience – people interested in the subject themselves or because they have a friend or relative with the disorder. This means that you will likely never rival the Bloggess in numbers of readers, but you can touch the lives of hundreds of people.

Blogging does not have to be difficult. You can post every day or every week, every month, or just when it suits you. You can write informally or in a more academic vein. There are a number of platforms, such as WordPress and Live Journal, that make it easy for you to get started, and to make changes as your blogging needs evolve. You can add illustrations and video clips, and links to news stories or other blog posts. Eventually, you may want to have your own personal web page to host your blog.

Fiction and poetry. If you don’t want to put your own experiences out on the web for anyone to see, you could try transforming them into fiction or poetry, or inventing characters and plots that resemble you not at all. Many magazines and other outlets use short stories and poems, and works that feature bipolar characters and themes are not common. Fiction and poetry can be ways to reach an audience that might otherwise never learn about the reality of bipolar illness and its effects on people and relationships.

Longer works. You could even write a book (which is something I’m trying to do). There are many genres to choose from, including nonfiction, memoirs, and novels. Aside from Abigail Padgett’s Bo Bradley series of mysteries, there isn’t much fiction featuring bipolar characters that are true-to-life and not stereotyped. These are long-term projects and, truthfully, you (and I) may never finish them or have them published. But just the effort is worthy.

Whatever form of writing you choose, get started! Whether you write for yourself or for a larger audience, you can make a difference. And if you feel the desire, you should definitely try.


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: bipolar disorder, blogging, fiction, journaling, mental health, mental illness, my experiences, poetry, public perception, writing

Aversive and Reinforcing Opioid Effects

I’m glad to see this. There’s more behind “drug liking,” and I hope to see it surface in the literature. In fact, I think the work might have already been done. You might know of it.

My curiosity was initially piqued by conversations I had with addicts who told me that the first time they took an opioid pill, it was as if they felt like their genuine self for the first time. They had always felt somehow empty, incomplete, uncomfortable in their own skin, and then they broke their toe or something and got some Percodan and, wow! The lights came on in color. And their lives ever since kind of revolved around keeping that going.

So I made the assumption that this subclass of homo sapiens must have a genetic problem in the endogenous oipiate department, felt sorry for them because they couldn’t for some reason get that amazing rush and long-lasting well-being that I got from running, and forgot about it until the recent out of control lunacy.

I do believe there are people who really can’t produce their own endogenous opiates. What a misery! I can’t imagine.

I hope the science will be better understood so that these people can be treated for their medical needs without being stigmatized, abused, marginalized, punished….

EDS Info (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome)

Aversive and Reinforcing Opioid Effects: A Pharmacogenomic Twin Study | Anesthesiology. 2012 Jul | Free Full-text PMC article

The clinical utility of opioids is limited by adverse drug effects including respiratory depression, sedation, nausea, and pruritus. In addition, abuse of prescription opioids is problematic.

Gaining a better understanding of the genetic and environmental mechanisms contributing to an individual’s susceptibility to adverse opioid effects is essentialto identify patients at risk.

While more and more studies are showing how frequently and thoroughly genetic differences affect patients, the CDC is denying all this science to arrive at arbitrary “standard” doses of opioids.

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Postcard From The Ol’ West

Hi!  We’re having a delightful stay in the sleepy, sleepy, sleepy, sleepy, sleepy (KNOCK IT OFF, DORMOUSE!) border town of Deming, New Mexico.

People come here to be where it’s warm in the winter and cheap all the time!  It’s so cheap here, the K-Mart had to shut down because, well, there isn’t enough money for both a Wal-Mart AND a K-Mart in this town, pardner.

But it has roadrunners!  Lots of roadrunners!  I been trying to get a video to post for you, but those sonsabitches run like the devil was after ’em.  Stay tuned.

No tarantula sightings yet.  Guy I met yesterday says his dog catches the bastards, rips their legs off, and eats the bodies.  Says he finds piles of hairy giant spider legs he has to sweep up.  Put me in mind of the mess after a pile of wings.  With hair.

That’s about it for now.  Did I mention it’s cheap?   

I just rolled in after a few harrowing days on the road, a bit on the depressed side, everything is filthy and I have forced myself to rest on the Sabbath so that I can devote tomorrow to unloading my Silver Toaster so I can clean, clean, clean.  I hope to feel better fast.

I just found out why this place is so rotten with roadrunners.  The people here hand feed them with raw hamburger.  Meep, meep!