Sometimes, my courage amazes me.
25 Feb 2015 4 Comments
22 Feb 2015 16 Comments
in art, bipolar disorder, cats, exercise, health, mental health, mixed-media art, money, relationships Tags: compulsive spending, daily plan, diet, Integrated Health Services, journaling, sleep, support
Yesterday a crack opened in the bipolar depression that’s been at me for weeks. Enough to let me remember to return to basics. Because I’ve looked in the mirror every morning and said to that shocked face, “We’re not going to the hospital this year. We’re not.”
First a call to the group I worked for this past summer—Integrated Health Services. Their whole mission is to keep mental health clients out of the hospitals and emergency rooms. I know I need more support now—I’ve been hearing from my providers all year that I don’t have enough in the best of times. I’m not sure what IHS can do, but I made an appointment for Monday with Rosario, my care coordinator, and with Allison, my peer, to sit and figure that out. They are both kind, heart-centered women. I feel safe going to them. The fact that I was just able to make the appointment helped. Doing something, anything, sometimes helps.
Today I will start using my Daily Plan sheet, the one I created after my partial hospitalization last spring. It will help me focus on small goals and remember to do every day tasks that get waterlogged by the swampy emotions.
I looked at how much money I’ve spent this month and cut back to the essentials. Today I’ll figure a budget to get me through to May (February is just the beginning. March and April can sometimes be even worse). I’ll try to make it something I can live with, not something that will punish me for being sick.
I cleaned out my refrigerator of all the liquefying vegetables and bought a few simple groceries. I swam at the Y. I sat with my fading bedspread for a while and sewed a blanket stitch around the frayed edges with gentle music playing and the cats behind my head on the chair. Henry’s belly makes a gurgling, crackling sound when he’s digesting, and I pressed my ear against his fur to listen while he slept.
My apartment is a sickroom now. No sudden moves. No grand expectations. Everything deliberate and gentle. I must tend to my sleep, get to the Y every day, maintain my journal, plan quiet visits with friends, try to eat fresh food. I will try to keep the structure sound while the storm carries on inside. I will treat myself as someone worthy of care and respect, as someone that I love.
21 Feb 2015 Leave a comment
In a room without a window, there burnt a fire, guarded by a high and strong fender, and a lamp suspended from the ceiling by a chain… In the deep shade, at the further end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight tell… — Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
20 Feb 2015 18 Comments
There are days like today when there is nothing for it. The darkness is real and thick. The thoughts are alien and weird. Nothing helps. Nothing hurts. It is a day for soft music and sleep.
17 Feb 2015 17 Comments
It’s a little after 3:00AM now. I’ve been up since 1:30 after four hours of sleep—despite my never-fail sleep cocktail of Xanax and Benadryl. It’s February.
The one good thing about nights like this, when rapid cycling and mixed states turn my days and nights inside out, is that I don’t have to worry about getting up to go to work. I remember, years ago, trying to talk myself back to sleep. Before any diagnosis told me this might be part of my “normal,” before doctors, and my work ethic, and the State agreed that I was no longer employable, I fretted over my sleeplessness and dreaded the morning. I know most of us have had nights where we finally drop off at 5:00 in the morning only to have the alarm go off at 6:00. It’s a horrible, rock-in-the-gut feeling.
Now I just get up. Open the windows to let the cold, fresh air wash the stale taste of insomnia out of the apartment, stick my favorite mug in the microwave and sip chai while I putter on the computer. In a few minutes, I’ll close the windows and pull out my plush throw, rearrange the cats on my chair, and read for a while. When I get sleepy, I’ll go back to bed. It doesn’t matter anymore when that happens.
That freedom is exquisite. The absence of that particular stress is like a Christmas present, an emotional gift card that keeps on giving. It makes the discomfort of this spell easier to bear.
I’m trying to be more conscious of how winter torques my bipolar disorder. Fellow blogger-friend, Kitt O’Malley (and what a foin Irish name, that is) just posted a clinical piece about the relationship between BP and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It was the first thing I read when I sat down with my chai. (Synchronicity is alive and well in my spinny corner of the world.) It’s always nice to know I’m not alone in my otherness, that there are folks who go through the same kinds of extra grief this time of year, that a committee somewhere labeled it.
It’s the little things that help me keep going when I really don’t want to, little comforts, little efforts. I give my light box one more try and sit down to make a card—like the one at the top of this post. I haul my ass to the laundromat, normally a place I love, but now just one more chore I can’t quite accomplish. But I do it, and the gentle rhythm of the dryers, the warm scent of clean, comforts me. I let Richard Armitage read to me in the car, his facile voice assuming dozens of characters in a novelization of Hamlet, and it comforts me.
Now the chai and the soothing motion of fingers on a keyboard, the wandering off to read a bit of Rumi, the quiet trust of my sleeping cats all conspire with the space I’ve made for acceptance. I feel sleep sliding up behind me. It’s 5AM, and I don’t own an alarm clock anymore.
There is always something to be grateful for.
12 Feb 2015 3 Comments
Please take a few moments to contact your Congressmen. It’s super-easy.
Originally posted on Kitt O'Malley:
ACT NOW TO PROTECT SSDI
Tell your Senators to protect Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits! The Social Security Administration (SSA) has projected that without a reallocation of funds, the SSDI trust fund will not be able to pay full benefits within 2 years. Unless the Senate acts now, monthly cash SSDI benefits could be cut by as much as 19%.
Reallocation would mean a temporary shift of Social Security revenues to the SSDI fund reserves. This move will extend the SSDI fund for almost two decades, without cutting Social Security coverage, eligibility, or benefits – and without increasing taxpayer contributions.
Last month the House of Representatives passed a change in the rules that would create a budget “point of order” to prevent reallocating funds between Social Security trust funds. NAMI joined a…
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09 Feb 2015 18 Comments
All of these valentines I keep posting and adding to my Etsy shop, the snappy comments and sass, they’re just spackle over the cracks that open up in February. It’s the hardest month. It always has been. I forget that. Every year. If not for my piles of journals, I never would have made the connection. I’m in danger in February.
I forget how the cold and the dark take up residence, even while North America is turning back toward the sun and the snow melts. Inside me, the cold and dark stay. Even this year with a light box. There’s no escape from February.
I forget how my skin grows burrs on the inside that snag and startle. I’m so uncomfortable in my own skin. Even murmuring words of kindness and acceptance to counter the sudden self-hatred, I can’t get out from under the briars. I feel bloody and raw from the inside out.
I forget how strong the wrong-thinking gales blow through me, knock me down, rip off my flimsy protection. I drown in panic and confusion as that storm snatches away each breath. There’s no shelter, no leeward side to center and regroup, just the unrelenting force of despair screaming through and around me.
I forget how lonely February feels, locked in this dungeon, a barred window between me and all the people passing by on the street above. I see them, can almost touch them, but I can’t get out. And they can’t get in. Some speak gentle words. Some take parts of me for safekeeping until I can remember that I’m human. I don’t make sense to them, and they sound silly to me. Or infuriating. I’m safer not talking at all, which makes me more alone.
I forget that even with my huge collection of tools and skills February drains them of any meaning. Days become a string of distractions, tiny moments of relief swallowed up by February’s vast pain. It’s instinct that drives me—a wrong-headed survival mode that grabs and clutches at whatever floats by in the roaring floodwater.
It’s probably not a coincidence that I started blogging four years ago at the beginning of February—screaming from the heart of the maelstrom, “I’m here!”
05 Feb 2015 19 Comments
It’s A Mind Divided’s fourth anniversary. Seems like I’ve been shooting off my bipolar mouth forever. Also subjecting the ethers to my fan fiction and weird art. My, how time flies when you’re rapid cycling!
Hallmark says gifts of fruit and flowers are appropriate for the fourth anniversary.
25 Jan 2015 11 Comments
The UU service in Des Moines this morning sounded interesting—a teen talking about trans-gender issues. I’d missed the last couple of Sundays, so my intent last night was to shake off the bipolar ennui enough to get there today. I was a little late, so grabbed a frappuccino out of the cooler at the gas station instead of standing in line at Starbucks. But it was snowing, and slushy, and the roads hadn’t been cleared well. On the road, I debated whether to keep going or turn back and watch the rest of Season One of Hannibal instead (I’m preparing for next season when Richard Armitage joins the cast—yaay!).
As I pondered, I shook my frappuccino. The lid flew off, and sugared coffee doused me, my windshield, and everything else with me (purse, dash, floor). Dumbstruck, then laughing, I grabbed at Kleenex and mopped my face.
“Okay, okay, I’ll turn around!”
After scrubbing out the car (sticky, but what a yummy smell!), washing my coat, purse, book bag in the tub, and sticking my head under the faucet to get the coffee-sugar out of my hair, I watched the snow plows rumble by. That’s okay. Sometimes I do have to get hit over the head to get the message. Or, at least, splashed in the face.
Are you ready, Dr. Lecter?
20 Jan 2015 19 Comments
It’s how I describe my state in the worst of my bipolar symptoms. It feels more positive than saying, “I’m having a bad day” or any other way of answering the question “How are you?” But, after almost four years of blogging, I’m still hesitant to announce it. As a rapid cycler, the icky way I feel now will change soon, so why carp? Why give the demons a voice? Then, the mood changes again, so I’m right back where I started. To tell, or not to tell, that is the question.
Yesterday was one of those days where I didn’t dare pay attention to my own thoughts. I went to the movies instead. It’s a kind of meditation, giving the thoughts a padded corner to fuss and do their gymnastics while I turn my attention to the soft darkness of the theater, the popcorn, and the old friends up on the screen. I went to three movies in row, seven hours of peace, seven hours of safety. The twisted thinking and sorrow waited for me outside the theater. We went to a nice dinner together where I ignored them with my journal and pretty fresh strawberries with whipped cream. I forgot to take my sleep aid, so they woke me up early for another day together.
This is just the way of it. There are days of moving forward and days, like these, where standing still is an enormous victory. I’m thankful that I don’t judge either any more. I’m grateful that I can simply accept being brain-sick. It’s almost as comforting as returning to Middle Earth. Almost.