24 Sep 2016 6 Comments
20 Sep 2016 22 Comments
in art, Bipolar Bad-Ass Training, bipolar disorder, distorted thinking, management, mental health, mental illness, mixed-media art, quality of life, symptoms, TV and Movies, video Tags: crisis, Integrated Health Services, Justice League, memory loss, mental health care, mindfulness, partial hospitalization, rapid cycling, Wonder Woman
I’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 broader 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.
Friday, 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.
13 Sep 2016 19 Comments
Joy must be courted.
Shy, elusive, hesitant,
she shrinks from brash grasping.
The desperate and the howling miss her timid whispers.
Joy cannot be commanded or held fast.
She slips into the quiet space
opened for her by breath
Joy must be wooed
with no expectation of relief or transformation.
She comes in small ways
and in small acts;
a moment of forgetting,
lost time in the act of creation,
a companion’s purr.
And though our instinct is to clutch at her
to keep from drowning,
we must let go,
and allow her to hold us
in her own way.
25 Aug 2016 24 Comments
One of the things I did when I returned from ArtFest was repurpose my old, barely-used sketchbooks into art journals. This is the one I’m in now. It’s small (9X6), so I thought I could use it for funky lists and teeny collage bits.
It’s been a hard summer, bipolar-wise. The rapid cycling twirls like a toddler in a tutu. The mixed states tumble around like Bingo balls. I’m a little dizzy from all that brain-flux. And discouraged.
I’ve learned a lot from all these years of Bipolar Bad-Assery and Radical Acceptance. I’m much kinder to myself and able to be whatever my brain chemistry dictates. But some days are just God-awful. Period.
So, I wanted to use my journal as a more deliberate form of therapy. I decided on trying An Alphabet of Gratitude.
Each spread has a side for a list of what I’m grateful for (all starting with the same letter) and a side to create some little piece of art relating to the list. I made pretty paper out of my parent’s old farm ledgers, painted the 26 spreads funky colors and textures, then started pondering the positives in my life.
There’s a lot. We all have tons of wonderful things, people, places, talents, events that are easy to forget in this weird world. And because I have a whole page to fill with all the same letter, some of my treasures get ridiculous and very specific, which tickles me. Laughing is a good thing for persistent bipolarism. Laughing is good for everything.
I work on it every day, writing down random loves and appreciation. It doesn’t take away The Black, but it does help me pull in The Light. I can sit with that feeling of thankfulness and let it soak into my dry and sere places. It’s enough to get me through to the next day, which is all I need. Because with twirling and tumbling, a shift in mood is only a letter away.
24 Aug 2016 8 Comments
Like, Totally Cosmic, Man
Thus ends my self-aggrandizing blog challenge. Thanks for helping me dust off some older creations in computer-file limbo and giving them a little stage-time.
On with the Adventure…
23 Aug 2016 Leave a comment
22 Aug 2016 5 Comments
Is it really that time of year again? Seems like I just celebrated my favorite holiday. Oh, that’s right—I only rearranged my Pretend Boyfriend Gallery after painting my bedroom so that every day can be Richard Armitage Day.
I can be a tad less stalk-y today and just wish him a happy birthday.
Hopefully, the 2016 Armitage Drought is near an end. No sightings since his creepy portrayal of The Red Dragon in “Hannibal.” Lots of projects are finished, but either in post-production or on some shelf in Wonderland.
Or, like Urban and the Shed Crew, released everywhere but here.
If we pay money to hear Meryl Streep sing badly, wouldn’t American audiences be captivated by a former social worker who takes street kids under his wing? All that hope and feel-goodness? Maybe Richard should have sung badly in that one.
Then, there’s Berlin Station, a 10 episode CIA series due this fall on EPIX. EPIX. What the flugelhorn is EPIX? But look at all the great people in this series! I will be breaking into someone’s house who has cable. Scouting possibilities now.
Someday I’ll see him play Chloe Moretz’s dad in Brain on Fire, about a young woman slipping into insanity. Hmm. Richard. Crazy girl. Sounds familiar.
And if there is any mercy or compassion in the Universe, I’ll get to watch him don armor and take off on another noble quest.
But until I can sit in the dark with him again, all I can do is wait, surround myself with his former glories, and remember London.