Waiting

Waiting is a practice. Not one I’m good at. Especially when it feels like something with claws is trying to get out of my chest.

I came to Starbucks a little after 6am, clutching my little journal, hoping against my demon-judgment hope for a revelation. Even after checking off so many things on my self-care list yesterday, the hot itch remained. There must be a brain ointment out there somewhere!

As I wrote, I figured 3 more weeks until I see my shrink again and we do the next thing on his list. The despair swamped me.

Maybe if I could get a normal night’s sleep. I’ve been waking up at 1:00-2:00am, then have nothing I can do and no place to go for hours (I’m trying to be quiet for my sister’s sake). And then I crash at 5:00 or 6:00 in the afternoon. It just doesn’t help the whole frantic, desperate gestalt.

A page in my little journal made by my friend Tanya

I have to think positively. Tomorrow is yoga class, which will be good for my body and soul. I will hug my friend Martha.

Tuesday is massage day with one of the sweetest women I know. Misty has great technique AND she loves to laugh. She also likes me as a person and an artist, which is a different kind of soul-balm.

Wednesday is therapy day with Sonya. I know she will be distressed for me, AND that she’ll help me figure out ways to wait and more ways to cope.

Balance. Balance. Balance.

I must balance the red claws of distress and discomfort with images of Graham McTavish.

And THAT’S how a person waits.

Tolerating the Discomfort

Years ago, a counselor at Mercy Hospital’s outpatient program in Des Moines suggested that we learn to stretch our ability to tolerate the discomfort of our mental illnesses. Such a benign term—discomfort. It hardly does justice to what really goes on inside a crazy person’s mind. But, it does keep us from catastrophizing the experience. Suffering, agony, or hysteria would be torture to tolerate. Discomfort seems more reasonable.

When I woke up at 2am again this morning, I knew I needed to follow this wise counselor’s advise. My mental and physical discomfort had been overwhelming me, and I needed to find a way to help myself.

So as soon as Starbucks opened at 6:00, I took this small journal and a few pens with the intention of just writing about the discomfort. My Round Robin art journal friends had used this size journal in our last project to send pages to each other. It contained their art, but I didn’t have to make anything. This felt important.

I had started this journal as a book of lists to send around to friends, hoping they would jot down their thoughts. That never happened, but the headings were still there. Some could be useful, Some not so much. I decided to use what might be helpful and leave the rest.

After I ranted a brain-dump on one of the blank pages, I felt a little calmer. I also thought a list of possible ways to stretch my tolerance for this discomfort might be the next step. I brainstormed (Ha! Such an apt term!) for a while and felt a little better still.

I had taken a clonazepam before I went to Starbucks, hoping to beat back the itchy, prickly panic. That little darling started to kick in, and I thought it best to go home and have a lie down. But before doing that, I tried a few things on my list: a nice hot soak with lavender bath salts, a fragrant candle, and a pair of comfy chenille footies. I turned on my new Audibles book (read by Pretend Boyfriend, Richard Armitage), and promptly fell asleep.

When I woke up, I took my little journal outside to sit in the sun and see what else might help me get through the day. As things came to me, I added them to my list, then checked them off as I practiced—like singing the Sia song “I’m Alive” loud enough to make all the neighbor dogs howl. I get so tired of their constant yapping that it felt powerfully naughty to sing so loud that they all shut up.

I took a little stroll around the garden in my bare feet (though my comfy footies waited on the patio for me). This helped my wobbly knee and gave me a sense of grounding. As my sissy bedecks the halls with her tubs of decorations, I needed a sense of myself (the non-Christmas atheist), my feet firmly on the ground, in the midst of the discomfort of my mind fighting its war with psych meds.

I have a new tool. A little journal to write about my discomfort and list ways to tolerate it a bit better. I need to add “Write a blog post” to the list, because this helped as well. It always does.

Happy Long Weekend

Hope you and all your critters have plenty of hidey–holes when the fireworks start (and go on and on and on and…)

Floating a Little


 

• Post Title and Inspiration:

Mary Oliver — Still, what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled–To cast aside the weight of facts–And maybe even to float a little above this difficult world.

Floating a Little

 

• Post Title and Inspiration:

Mary Oliver — Still, what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled–To cast aside the weight of facts–And maybe even to float a little above this difficult world.

Small Acts of Support

I’ve been reading about small acts of kindness and support that make a huge difference in the long run.  And we’re in this for the long run.  So, I’m brainstorming different ideas about how I can make a contribution in my small way.

Lisa Vollrath is sponsoring a Glue Card Swap of Good Thoughts that I’m going to participate in. Glue Cards are usually made out of trash, junk mail, recycled anything.  Down and dirty collage that’s fast and EASY.  So, if you’re the least bit interested, visit Lisa’s site and sign up.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting more Penny Positives and any other art that comes from a place of breath and love—like the Glue Card here.  I make these from scraps with a glue stick on old postcards, then stick them in my Etsy orders as a little thank you.  Sometimes these cards end up funnier than anything in my shop.  Or sweeter, like this Hello, Kitty girl (I love Hello Kitty).

What kinds of small things are you all doing to help yourself stay sane and to pass that on?

Something New

After some fussing and fuming, the first Teeny Penny Positive Boxed Set sits in my Etsy shop.

I don’t know why this makes me nervous.  Maybe because I love these itty bitty things (1 ½ inches by 2 inches) and have spent lots of time on them.   But that doesn’t make sense.  I spend lots of time on all my work.  Maybe it’s more like sending your kid off to kindergarten.

Maybe it’s because my sister commented that my art has gotten smaller and more complicated over the years, which, she is sure, indicates a kind of pinched pathology. An interesting theory. Still, I love doing tiny things well, so that’s what I’ll keep doing.  Whatever makes the soul sing, right?

I have three more sets in various stages of completion.  That ought to keep the music flowing for a while.

(PS. This sold almost as soon as I hit “Post.”  So Holy Crap, folks!)

The Weekly Penny Positive

Even though I’m not arting right now (and sitting very uncomfortably in that Void), I’ve made almost 120 larger Penny Positives.  Since this is #67, I can keep posting them for a while.

This blank space is very weird.  My mind scrambles to pick something up.  Anxiety burns my gut and my sleep.  Breathing helps.  Listening to my old collection of “sound healing” music helps (Steven Halpern, Jonathan Goldman, Carlos Nakai), paying attention to the discomfort helps.  I have to believe this is an incubation period.  I have to trust that this is a process.  Otherwise, I’m just left with delusion and distorted thinking.  What is truth and what is insanity?  I never know.

So, I wait.

Void

Slowly, over the past several months, the desire to make dribbled out of me until yesterday I couldn’t stand to snip one more little piece of paper.  After an SOS to my art friends, they reassured me that this happens to them, too.  They suggested changing mediums, lying fallow for a time, or taking up something radically different.

I started a drawing class at our local art guild, hoping for social contact and a reconnect of some kind with an old skill that I used to love.  Neither wish has been granted so far, despite sweaty effort to clear a path through my mental minefields.

I’m frightened.  Arting is my last, best safety net, the place I can always go when the bipolar demons scream the loudest.  It’s gone for now, and I can’t imagine what to do with this void or how I’ll manage.

I’m bone and brain tired, so I know enough not to make more of this than it is.  Something will present itself.  There’s plenty of room for it to wander in.  Until then, I guess I wait with empty hands.

Suspense

Waiting to see if flood waters will take out the water treatment plant, all my old plastic file boxes, garbage cans and pots sit filled. Waiting for another tornado warning to blare from my phone, Emmett stays in hiding most of the day. Waiting for my new Medicare D coverage to start in July, my rationed medication can’t take the edge off the agitation or depression.

So, today I’ll choose suspense I can enjoy.

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