13 May 2013 10 Comments
I’m a little late with my wishes, O Moms of the Blogosphere, but heartfelt all the same. Hope your day was filled with bowing and scraping from your offspring.
08 May 2013 13 Comments
“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Reblogged from Flowers, Trees and Other Such Gifts of Nature
07 May 2013 11 Comments
We’re drivin’ this herd through familiar territory, but found some new trails. Took us to pastures we’d never seen. Some o’them trails was mighty hard to find. On the range long enough though, a feller gets a nose for trails that’ll lead to good grazing.
We got our old gear, molded to fit our grip with sweat, heat and hard work. But, we picked up some new-fangled too-dads in the city, too. Feel a might awkward in our hands, can’t quite get the gist of ‘em yet. But if y’squint just right, you can see how they might get useful.
Had to dump the old supplies. Too much weight, nothin’ we could use there. Still got a few bits hangin’, but once we whet the knives we oughta get that sorted.
Had to let a few hands go. Ijits couldn’t drive a steer if’n their momma’s begged ‘em. That’s all right. Found us a couple of new hands look to be the genuine article. Put ‘em behind a thousand head with the sun burnin’ their backs, and they’ll show true colors soon enough.
We got us a long ride ahead. Lots of territory to cover. Best get some shut-eye now. Sun’ll be up before you know it.
02 May 2013 4 Comments
Speaking of drugs, my conversation with the hospital shrink was quite satisfactory. She was the one three years ago who told me pharmacology had nothing more to offer me, which set me on my Bipolar Bad-Ass course. I thanked her for that, which caused some wide-eyed blinking and mention of new meds I might try. Thanks, but no. But after two more nights of only three hours of sleep and no opportunity for a nap during the day, I agreed that a sleeping aid was in order.
Changes is one’s sleep pattern is an early warning sign of mental distress, but I wasn’t paying attention. It’s too easy for me to just take a nap during the day if I’m tired. I’d been doing this for so long, I forgot it wasn’t healthy. So now I have to retrain my body and brain to the required eight consecutive hours. It will take a little time and tolerance for the morning hangover.
Fatigue makes me irritable and intolerant. Concentration splinters and I lose my sense of humor. Sitting in group all day with other people jangles all those weary nerves. I try to watch as my irritability bubbles up, take a deep breath, and wait for the froth to settle before speaking. So far, so good.
It helps to be working with interesting material. Tuesday we spent the day on self-esteem. Yesterday we started on boundaries and anger management. More on those topics today.
Here’s part of a video we watched from Jack Canfield, the author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. I managed to stay awake for this one.
30 Apr 2013 16 Comments
Yesterday was my first day in the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). This handout was the first bit of business our group worked through. In Parts One and Two, we marked the items we’ve experienced in the past three months. Then we marked the items we experienced more than three months ago. This was to help us see patterns of distorted thinking, isolation and a victim mentality. In looking at Part Three, we were asked to pick the one item we felt was most important to our mental health.
I think this bodes well for the week.
Steven James’ Totally Subjective, Non-Scientific Guide to Illness and Health
How to Get Sick
- Don’t pay attention to your body. Eat plenty of junk food, drink too much, take drugs, have lots of unsafe sex with lots of different partners and, above all, feel guilty about it. If you are over-stressed and tired, ignore it and keep pushing yourself.
- Cultivate the experience of your life as meaningless and of little value.
- Do everything you dread or hate and avoid doing what you really want. Follow everyone else’s opinion and advice while seeing yourself as miserable and stuck.
- Be resentful and hyper-critical, especially toward yourself.
- Fill your mind with dreadful pictures, then obsess over them. Worry as much as possible.
- Avoid deep, lasting, intimate relationships.
- Blame other people for your problems.
- Don’t express your feelings or opinions. Other people wouldn’t appreciate it. If at all possible, don’t even know what your feelings are.
- Shun anything that resembles a sense of humor. Life is no laughing matter.
- Avoid making any changes that might bring you greater satisfaction and joy.
How to Get Sicker (If You’re Already Sick)
- Think about all the awful things that could happen to you. Dwell on negative, fearful images.
- Be depressed, self-pitying, envious and angry. Blame everyone and everything for your illness.
- Read articles, books and newspapers; watch television programs; and listen to people who reinforce the viewpoint that there is no hope. You are powerless to influence your fate.
- Cut yourself off from other people. Regard yourself as a pariah. Lock yourself up in your room and contemplate death.
- Hate yourself for having destroyed your life. Blame yourself mercilessly and incessantly.
- Go to see lots of different doctors. Run from one to another, spend half your time in waiting rooms, get lots of conflicting opinions and lots of experimental drugs, start one program after another without sticking to any.
- Quit your job, stop work on any projects, give up all activities that bring you a sense of purpose and fun. See your life as essentially pointless and at an end.
- Complain about your symptoms, and if you associate with anyone, do so exclusively with those who are unhappy and embittered. Reinforce each other’s feelings of hopelessness.
- Don’t take care of yourself. Try to get other people to do it for you, and then resent them for not doing a good job.
- Think how awful life is and how you might as well be dead. But make sure you are absolutely terrified of death, just to increase the pain.
How to Stay Well (Or Get Better if You’re Not Well to Begin With)
- Do things that bring you a sense of fulfillment, joy, purpose and that validate your worth. See your life as your own creation and strive to make it a positive one.
- Pay close and loving attention to yourself, tuning in to your needs on all levels. Take care by nourishing, supporting and encouraging yourself.
- Release all negative emotions—resentment, envy, fear, sadness, anger. Express your feelings appropriately, then forgive yourself.
- Hold positive images and goals in your mind, pictures of what you truly want in life. When fearful images arise, refocus on ones that evoke feelings of peace and joy.
- Love yourself and everyone else. Make loving the purpose and primary expression in your life.
- Create fun, loving, honest relationships that fulfill your needs for intimacy and security. Try to heal any wounds in past or present relationships, such as with old lovers or family members.
- Make a positive contribution to your community through some form of work or service that you value and enjoy.
- Make a commitment to health and well-being. Develop a belief in the possibility of Total Health. Develop your own healing program, drawing on the support and advice of experts without becoming enslaved to them.
- Keep your sense of humor.
- Accept yourself and everything in your life as an opportunity for growth and learning. Be grateful. When you mess up, forgive yourself, learn what you can from the experience, and then move on.
28 Apr 2013 16 Comments
“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” ~ Pema Chodron
Reblogged from Flowers, Trees and Other Such Gifts of Nature
18 Apr 2013 23 Comments
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My mood tanked a few days ago. That’s why I’ve been posting videos. I’m at that place where I’m sure no one could possibly tolerate my whingeing or have any interest in my detailed suicide plans. Such are the torqued thoughts that needle into my head. But, when I started this enterprise two years ago, I promised to be transparent—the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly all laid out for inspection like a mental yard sale.
This would be the Bad. Okay, maybe also the Ugly.
I’m labeling this a Severe Depressive Episode, so severe that I considered asking my therapist to get me checked into the Day Treatment Program at Mercy Hospital. But, she was completely booked today, so I didn’t see her. And I was too exhausted and brain-fried to ask to see another therapist or to declare an emergency. I just ate Ben & Jerry’s, watched a couple of episodes of Firefly, and went to bed.
Or, I will go to bed as soon as I post this.
I’m trying not to think, just find a warm hole to crawl into until the worst of this passes. All the usual symptoms are in play. Wikipedia lists them if you’re curious. Just scroll down to Depressive Episodes. That’s me. Except for hallucinations. I haven’t rung that bell yet.
Okay. That’s all I can manage.
13 Apr 2013 10 Comments
on my way to the pond
I pass the lightning-felled,
hundred-fingered, black oak
which, summers ago,
swam forward when the storm
laid one lean yellow wand against it, smoking it open
to its rosy heart.
It dropped down
in a veil of rain,
in a cloud of sap and fire,
and became what it has been ever since—
a black boat
in the tossing leaves of summer,
like the coffin of Osiris
upon the cloudy Nile.
But, listen, I’m tired of that brazen promise:
death and resurrection.
I’m tired of hearing how the nitrogens will return
to the earth again,
through the hinterland of patience—
how the mushrooms and the yeasts
will arrive in the wind—
how they’ll anchor the pearls of their bodies and begin
to gnaw through the darkness,
like wolves at bones—
what I loved, I mean, was that tree—
tree of the moment—tree of my own sad, mortal heart—
and I don’t want to sing anymore of the way
Osiris came home at last, on a clean
and powerful ship, over
the dangerous sea, as a tall
and beautiful stranger.
11 Apr 2013 11 Comments
I met a friend the other day for coffee. It’s a rare occurrence these days what with my Zero Money Initiative. I felt rather posh, actually, pumping the Sugar Free Vanilla Syrup. Simple pleasures.
My friend was in town with the sad task of attending to his late mother’s estate, so we talked about executor duties and sorting through a lifetime of accumulated stuff. But, he needed distraction from all that, so we quickly moved on to other topics.
What I discovered while talking to him is that I don’t know much about the wide world anymore. I don’t read the newspaper or watch TV. The only news I see is what zips by on Yahoo as I scroll through to my email. To keep my stress low, I avoid unpleasantness such as last week’s discussion topic at our Unitarian Universalist gathering on Human Trafficking. I have enough horror in my life as it is.
As my friend and I talked about Illegal Immigration and The Economy, I wondered for a bit if I was failing in my duty as a citizen, if I should try harder to keep up with current events. But, really, does anything change that much? There’s a war somewhere—probably more than one. There are groups and individuals doing horrific things to other groups and individuals. Congress must be fighting over something or other. And I’m sure we’ve discovered new and exciting things in space and in scientific research. People carry out kind and inspirational acts in obscurity. The environment is still threatened. Babies still get themselves born. I don’t think I’m missing all that much.
Talking with my friend did show me how the parameters of my life have shrunk. I move mostly within a few blocks of my apartment, with occasional excursions farther afield, and the now-rare trek to The Big City. I spend most of my time alone, with a daily dose of polite chit-chat at the Y or the library. I facilitate my two meditation groups and plan one or two deeper interactions with friends or family a week.
I exercise, eat, write, make a little art, watch some DVDs from the library, and read. I talk to my cats. I put gas in my truck and get groceries. I look at the stars at night, and I listen to the rain on the sidewalk. I don’t really go anywhere or do anything. And that’s just fine.
I used to miss doing stuff—going to concerts and plays, eating at interesting restaurants, taking classes. I used to worry about being “productive,” about contributing to society and finding meaningful work. I used to gobble up information. I used to crave interesting people with views and lifestyles different from mine. I used to want a lot more.
With a small life, much of the wanting falls away. At least it has lately. And without the wanting or the stress of a larger life, my rapid cycling seems to find equilibrium a little easier. The cycles still happen, and the symptoms are just as rabid, but I’m granted a little more time to breathe between swings. Who knew that simplifying to the point of nothing might be the best strategy?
Well, I guess those Zen monks knew. But, who wanted to listen to them?