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Moving Again

August 2, 2015

Well, Will and I are on the move for the second time in seven months, this time to our son and son-in-law’s house, where it is presumed by all concerned that this move will be our last. They have made it abundantly clear that they want us to stay for good, and the way finances are looking, that’s exactly what we may have to do.

Let me be clear: I miss our privacy. I miss the days when we rattled around in that big old house by ourselves, spending most of the time together, sometimes in companionable silence, and often in lively discussions about all sorts of things. It was during those past two years that we finally got to be just husband and wife again, and I know we’ll both treasure those times forever. At least we got to have them, before everything went to hell in the proverbial bushel basket.

That being said, I’ve accepted the fact that we need to live with someone, and I’m looking forward to it even though I loathe the actual process of moving. We’ll be with family, and that will make it home. I’ve never felt at home here. Nothing in this house is really mine—not the decorations, not the furniture (although to be fair, our landlady offered us space for some of our stuff, and more than once too), and definitely not the feeling of belonging.

But the time here has served its purpose; I’ve had the chance to heal from that horrible depression and become stronger. Even though things are stressful right now what with Will’s cancer progressing and our having trouble obtaining his birth certificate and adoption records so we can get his passport (that’s another whole post right there), I’ve been as steady as I can possibly be. Dr. Awesomesauce did think I was mildly depressed at our last meeting and documented it in my chart, but I’m really not…just stressed and a little anxious. I know depression, and this ain’t it.

Living with Ethan and Clark should also be an interesting experience. They are not into Pride, and even though I occasionally try to get them to at least walk in a parade, they are really just two hard-working men who come home exhausted most nights and simply don’t have time for those things. But they have an amazing assortment of friends, most of whom have colorful personalities, and on the nights when they DON’T come home and flop on the sofa, they go out with these friends or have them over for drinks. Personally, I think they all drink too much, but then I’m a recovering alcoholic whose partying days are loooooong behind her, so I tend to judge other people’s drinking behavior pretty harshly. I have to watch that. After all, Ethan and Clark can have a perfectly good time without booze, and they are rarely, if ever drunk. That certainly wasn’t true of me back in the day!

Anyway, I’m once again going to be off the grid for several days, maybe even a week, so I wanted my readers to know I’m not dropping off the face of the planet. I’ll “see” you again soon. :-)

40 Random Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me

July 29, 2015

I got the inspiration for this post from my good friend Kitt O’Malley, a fellow bipolar blogger who made a list of 50 things you didn’t know about her. You can check that out as soon as you’re done reading mine. :-)

1. I was born in Escondido, California.

2. I’m bilingual, Spanish/English. I understand and read Spanish a whole lot better than I speak it, but I can speak enough to get by.

3. I probably know 100 Spanish slang words for men’s and women’s private parts. That’s what I get for growing up with kids who spoke street Spanish.

4. I can cuss in French and German, too.

5. I once spent four hours in jail for being “drunk and disorderly”. Which meant I got 86’d from a bar and I refused to leave the premises. Not one of my brighter moments, that’s for sure.

6. I got married when I was 21.

7. I was reading 9th-grade level books in first grade.

8. My sister taught me both to read and tell time when I was 4.

9. My big toe is shaped like a light bulb.

10. I have skinny-dipped…well, it’s more like chunky-dunked, but you know what I mean.

11. I skipped second grade.

12. I never sneeze more than twice in a row. Which is a good thing, because my head would explode otherwise.

13. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

14. That said, I love singing in church and reminding God that He gave me this voice to make a joyful noise unto Him.

15. I’m a forum moderator at a football fan forum. I’m also a site guide for the world’s largest nursing website.

16. My biology teacher in high school nicknamed me “Picky” because I was always correcting his spelling and grammar. Well, it needed correction.

17. I’ve written articles and commentaries that have appeared in several large West Coast newspapers and one national magazine.

18. I was orphaned at 30.

19. I was the first person in my family to go to college

20. I graduated from nursing school and passed my boards when I was 38

21. My favorite kind of food is Mexican.

22. My four food groups: fat, salt, sugar, and chipotle pepper.

23. I never turn on lights when I have to use the bathroom at night. It’s in Braille.

24. I love a good action movie.

25. I hate movies about robots and/or zombies.

26. Two of my children (a son and a daughter) are Iraq War Veterans.

27. I once bumped into singer Helen Reddy in a ladies’ room in Las Vegas.

28. I can wiggle my ears.

29. I am afraid of birds.

30. I am even more afraid of spiders. I’d rather deal with a snake any day.

31. I was even afraid of computers before I was forced to take a class in order to graduate from college. I got over it about a week into the course, and after that I taught myself everything I know about PCs.

32. I have ridden an elephant.

33. I’m a recovering alcoholic.

34. My musical taste is very eclectic—I listen to just about everything except “death metal” and gangsta rap.

35. I love dogs, but I love cats even more and I miss having them.

36. I once danced on a bar in Ensenada, Mexico. Well, I was liquored up or I wouldn’t have done it, but looking back I realize that I was manic at the time so who knows, maybe I would have.

37. My index and ring fingers are equal in length.

38. My baby fingers are double-jointed.

39. My middle finger works great.

40. I’ve had three children by Cesarean.

Now it’s your turn to share!

Nothing To Write About

July 24, 2015

It’s true: I have nothing to write about. I don’t have writer’s block, there just isn’t anything of interest to say. So why am I posting? Because it’s been five days since my last post and I don’t want to lose my readership. (I may bore them to death, however.)

This being a blog about bipolar disorder and how it affects yours truly, it seems hard to talk about all things BP when nothing is happening. And I do mean nothing is happening…I’m as stable as a rock, I have zero symptoms and my meds are the same as they’ve been ever since I got out of the hospital. Oh wait, I did have that slight decrease in Geodon a couple of months ago, but other than a little wonky sleep, I haven’t noticed any changes.

It’s really quiet around here.

And quiet is good in my case. No drama, no wild mood swings, no crisis situations…just day after day of getting up, having breakfast/lunch, hanging out on the computer, chatting with Will, maybe going to the library or the store or to a doctor’s appointment, taking a nap, having dinner, hanging out on the computer some more, watching a movie, going to bed.

Yeah, I know. DULLSVILLE.

Thankfully, we’re moving in a couple of weeks so getting ready for that will take a little preparation, but this one will be a walk in the park compared with what we went through last winter. All we have is one bedroom and a bathroom’s worth of stuff, which we should be able to move in one trip since we have help. It’ll be pizza and beer for everyone who shows up to assist. I just want this to be the LAST move we make for a good long time.

And then I’ve got to find myself something to do, a hobby or something. (NO, it’s not going to be knitting!) I can’t just sit around the house all day watching daytime television {{{shudder}}}. Of course, there will be plenty of blog material drawn from living with two gay men and being around a colorful assortment of other characters; you can’t discount the potential entertainment value there. But as far as writing about bipolar goes, well folks, that well has run dry.

Thank God. :-)

Even More Things I Wish People Knew About Bipolar Disorder

July 18, 2015

1. The vast majority of us are non-violent. The media seem to love targeting the mentally ill by insinuating that almost everyone who commits a heinous crime has some sort of psychiatric problem. I’ve ranted on this topic elsewhere in this blog (check out “Bipolar and Off His Meds” if you want to read my thoughts on the subject) and it just galls me that sensationalism continues to trump common sense. After all, there are well-known studies that show we are far more likely to be the VICTIMS of violent crime than the perpetrators. And besides that…we’re just like everybody else in that all we want is to live our lives in as normal and happy a fashion as possible. We’re not out to steal your stuff and murder you in your sleep.

2.  Many of us hold down jobs and function as well as the next person. At least as long as we’re being treated and following our prescribed routines. Some people do fine even without medications, and you’d never know they had a problem if they choose to keep their condition private. I have learned to my sorrow that disclosure in the workplace is usually a bad idea, even though it was the only thing I could do at the time because I could no longer hide my illness. Employers tend not to be very understanding of mental health problems. I have also learned that the Americans with Disabilities Act is largely a feel-good piece of legislation that has little clout in the real world. The ADA did not save me from being fired—twice—nor did it force my employers to make reasonable accommodations for me due to my disability. Businesses have offices full of lawyers who know a thousand ways around the ADA, and you can bet those lawyers aren’t shopping at Walmart.

That being said, there are many, many people out there who are working steadily and succeeding in life despite having a mental illness. I wish I were one of them. I have to remind myself that I was reasonably high-functioning for many years before I was diagnosed, kept at it after I was diagnosed, and continued to work even after it became obvious that I was getting worse, not better.

3. We can’t just “snap out of it”. Don’t people know that if we COULD just put our depression on a shelf and move on, we would? Nobody enjoys drowning in a sea of despair, let alone feeling as though the world would be a better place without us in it. Please, if you love a person who struggles with a mental illness, never say that to them. It only adds guilt, and we already carry around enough of that as it is.

4. We put up with a lot of indignities in order to try to fit in. As I type this, I can’t help noticing (for the thousandth time) the tremors in my hands. It’s a side effect of taking two anti-psychotic medications as mood stabilizers. I hate it that I have trouble eating vegetables with a fork—I shake so much that most of them fall off before I can get them to my mouth—so I don’t eat a lot of things in public that require fine motor skills.

I also hate it when I have to go to a new medical provider who can see my record, which has Bipolar 1 disorder splashed all over it in bold print, before I ever take a seat in the waiting room. I’ve been a provider myself, and I know what I thought whenever I was about to receive a new patient with a psychiatric diagnosis. Overcoming whatever pre-conceived notions they may have about me is Job One; fortunately, I have become very good at it and when they find out I’m really not crazy, we get along great. It’s just the necessity of doing it in the first place that grates on me.  (For the record, the same can be said for obese people, who are the next-to-last population that can be judged, made fun of, and generally discriminated against. Lucky me, I get to fight that battle too.)

So there you have it. I’m sure I’ve got a few more of these things up my sleeve, but I think you all get the point. Being bipolar—being mentally ill, period—is a clusterf##k and I think the people who handle it well are amazing. It’s like being in a race where we have to start a lap behind everyone else, and nobody notices what a miracle it is when we manage to keep up…it’s only when we stumble and fall that we draw attention to ourselves.

Thanks for reading. :-)

 

Hypomania…the strange and horrible Gift of Bipolar

July 13, 2015

bpnurse:

Possibly the best description of hypomania ever written. This is from a cyberfriend I met at Psych Central and it’s just fantastic. Enjoy!

Originally posted on Bipolar First Bipolar Together:

***I suppose this could be a potential trigger if you want to go off meds for mania or something.  Do not do that.  That is not safe as i will point out.****

Ahh…Hypomania……

our compensation prize

Hypomania is those first warm days of spring when life seems new and fresh

trees abloom

deep inhales of intoxicating sun washed air

tingles down your spine at the anticipation..joyous anticipation of the mundane and the miraculous

Hypomania is

the fluttering in your stomach when the person you like says they like you too…

the flying certain feeling that life is aligning the stars ashining

It is that first soft sweater in the Fall…

those first days of the rebirth of the darkness after the burnt out summer when cozy is just the thing

golden trees reds jeweled all above and all ablaze

hints of woodsmoke through the woods …from neighboring houses

crackling golden…

View original 768 more words

The Good, The Bad, And The Downright Nasty

July 9, 2015

So today I got to go see Dr. Awesomesauce, who is still awesome even if he does give me crap over that stupid toucan shirt and cuts back his hours in the clinic. Actually, it wasn’t his idea—his superiors thought it would be just a dandy idea for him to stop seeing patients and only supervise the resident doctors ”downstairs”—but he fought to keep at least a few of us and work 16 hours a week in the clinic. Now he’ll only be available on Mondays and Fridays, but the good news is I get to keep him. With the new turmoil going on in my life right now, I need all the help I can get.

Thankfully, I’m still stable moodwise, even though Will and I got some very bad news on Monday when we went to see his oncologist. The tumors on his liver have for some reason decided to start growing again, even though the cancer elsewhere isn’t. Worse, they’ve gotten remarkably bigger and the current therapy isn’t touching them. So it’s looking like more tests, another trip to Portland, and Lord knows what else is in store for my poor husband, who is beginning to lose his happy thoughts even though he still refuses to give up.

This is one of those times when I wish I didn’t know so much. I read the results of his recent CT scan and my blood ran cold. I know what all that medicalese means. I know these new developments make Will’s prognosis look very grim. Sometimes I wish I were completely in the dark about all this stuff so I could pretend everything is OK. But I can’t, and I’m having a hard time not letting him see how scared I am.

Needless to say, all this has the potential to lead to depression, which is why Dr. A doesn’t want to try another step down on the Geodon right now. He also isn’t touching the Zyprexa with a ten-foot pole because it went so badly the last time we tried decreasing it by the tiniest of amounts. That’s reassuring because Z is what keeps me glued together, and heaven knows I need all my marbles to deal with this nasty situation. I’m not depressed, thank God, but this is reminiscent of the time we first learned Will had cancer, and sometimes when I look at him I just want to weep until I throw up.

It’s been two years now since the original diagnosis. That’s two years we didn’t believe we would get, and we did. I wonder if there is enough magic in the medicine the doctors are considering to give us even more time… to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary, to go on our cruise, to love and laugh and live. I guess I’m being selfish to want more, but I can’t help it; all I know is I’ve got to keep my emotions in check because he is still here, still vital, and there’s no need to ruin whatever time is left to us with tears and sadness.

That’s what logic says… but could someone please explain it to my heart?

More Things I Wish People Knew About Bipolar Disorder

July 4, 2015

1. Not everything has to do with bipolar. We have bad days just like everyone else. We get mad, sad, frustrated, upset, but it doesn’t have to be due to our illness. In fact, it’s kind of patronizing to accuse us of having a mood swing when we’re really just having a crappy time of it. We are allowed normal feelings!

2. We don’t appreciate being asked if we’ve taken our meds. Again, we experience hardships just like everyone else on the planet, and sometimes we react poorly. Who doesn’t? We also have times when we’re happy, even overjoyed, and it doesn’t mean we’re manic or off our meds.  But it seems like some smartass always has to say it: “You’re not acting like yourself. Did you take your meds today?” Seriously, would you ask a diabetic if she took her insulin? A cancer patient if he went to chemo? No? Then why is it OK to say these things to us? We are not irresponsible children, we are adults equipped with the same constellation of emotions everyone else has, only a little more intense at times. Rule of thumb: if it’s not something you’d say in polite company, don’t say it to us.

3. Don’t take it personally. Our illness has nothing to do with you, and neither do our actions when we’re under the influence of a mood episode. I know it’s hard to understand when someone with bipolar is screaming obscenities and saying hurtful things to you, but it’s really not aimed at you in particular. To be honest, we really don’t have a lot of control over ourselves at these times, and while that’s not an excuse for bad behavior, it is a reason. Of course, there are those who are mean and nasty even without bipolar disorder, but the vast majority of us are decent people who occasionally lose our shit, along with our manners. Please forgive us if you can, and remember—it really isn’t you, it’s us.

4. Crazy is not a spectator sport. I think it’s safe to say that most of us don’t want the world to know we’re ill, which is why we so often retreat inside ourselves when we’re depressed. (Mania, of course, is a whole other story.) I for one can function well enough to pass for normal…that is, until I’m so sick that death would be preferable to going on like that. I don’t want people to see the crazy. I don’t want them to know there are days when I don’t even get out of bed, let alone shower and get dressed and go out. I also don’t want anyone to know the black thoughts that come sometimes when I can least afford to let my mind wander down paths best left unexplored.

(And by the way, I’m the only one who gets to call myself crazy. That’s just how it is.)

There’s more, of course, and I’ll probably tackle those in a future installment. Thanks for reading.

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