“The winner has a different memory and the loser has a different memory of the same event. Where then is the question of a shared memory? What is history? Where is the notion of a We? Unless, the victory has the grace to accept the loser into his moment of glory or the loser has the grace to accede the winner his moment of glory?”
― Srividya Srinivasan
It really doesn’t take much to be on one side or the other, you win some and lose some. A couple years ago, I decided to pick up a hobby as therapy. It was also highly recommended that I find something outdoors to give my mind and body some much needed rest and exercise. I found this sport Disc Golf, some still call it Frisbee Golf. It was like traditional golf but, with a walk in the wood in many cases, and tossing a Disc. I really picked it up and played tournaments regularly the entire year of 2017. I can’t think of a weekend I wasn’t playing a tournament or leagues. Leagues also just like traditional golf brought together all skill levels and introduced me to so many new people. During the week, I found our local putting league; all these things that are part of the sport and like traditional golf, disc golf shared similar rules and even had multiple disc depending on the location to the basket. In 2017, I lost a lot. Probably the biggest loser, but overall I had the most fun and won. I don’t think I ever really cared to win, sometimes it was more about watching other players grow. It was fascinating.
It was truly exciting to play that year. It had its up’s and down’s and obviously I had mine. What happened is something I didn’t expect from this sport. A support group, a community, a sport that accepted the loser into the winning moments. I walked away victorious last year because of the sport. I wasn’t the winner on paper, but the winners were all around and shared each moment of their glory.
As a side note, I qualified and competed in the biggest tournament for amateurs in the world because of my therapy in 2017. How many people can say that about therapy?
Wait until I tell you how I won that tournament without winning….
“Lennie hesitated, backed away, looked wildly at the brush line as though he contemplated running for his freedom. George said coldly, “You gonna give me that mouse or do I have to sock you?” “Give you what, George?”
“You know God damn well what. I want that mouse.”
Lennie reluctantly reached into his pocket. His voice broke a little. “I don’t know why I can’t keep it. It ain’t nobody’s mouse. I didn’t steal it. I found it lyin’ right beside the road.”
George’s hand remained outstretched imperiously. Slowly, like a terrier who doesn’t want to bring a ball to its master, Lennie approached, drew back, approached again. George snapped his fingers sharply, and at the sound Lennie laid the mouse in his hand.”
~ John Steinbeck Of Mice and Men
Maybe I just don’t know how to say, “I’m sorry” it’s something I probably never learned and possibly why I over compensate in other areas and can’t fully explain my mental illness. When the mania is over and the depression starts to slithers its way into all the wounds where most people would receive light, it feels like your world is empty. Each wound is slowly filled with someone’s anger, someone’s hurt, someone’s disbelief. Those wounds sealed with darkness.
My extreme mania, so lucid. An experiment with medication, euphoria, psychosis, and the ability to do anything. Now, I find myself sealing wounds with darkness. Take away all the sickness, I’ve lost my closest friends. I trusted people who betrayed me, because I inadvertently betrayed them, endless cycle of the bipolar mind. You trust and love people and learn instead of helping they run, opening wounds. Others, stay building an invisible net catching me as I fall into darkness.
Now, in depression my mind can only remember the good and can’t think of how I ever hurt a soul. I’m reminded daily, but my mind is a blender on high. I gave until i couldn’t give anymore. Understanding, any hurt isn’t even comprehensible and only brings tears. Looking at the faces of my children when I returned home from the hospital reminded me where my priorities should’ve been and suicide was not the answer. Getting proper medication was important, everything else wasn’t important. Until you have experienced the bipolar mind it’s important to remember it’s all real, it’s amazing and deadly.
Each time like Lennie, from the quote above, he would pet them too hard often killing them. I love too deeply, I love too hard. I give my soul to causes, to people, to everything and disregard the people who truly love me…breaking them in the end. If you read the Steinbeck story, I’m not only Lennie, I’m George…I’m constantly protecting (him) myself and I want my story to end with us as one person again. “”For the rabbits,” Lennie shouted.
“For the rabbits,” George repeated.
“And I get to tend the rabbits.”
“An’ you get to tend the rabbits.”
Lennie giggled with happiness. “An’ live on the fatta the lan’.”
Lennie turned his head.
“No, Lennie. Look down there acrost the river, like you can almost see the place.”
Lennie obeyed him. George looked down at the gun.””
~ John Steinbeck Of Mice and Men
I am my own story, I am my beginning, my climax, and my end. I just want to write happy endings for everyone. Sadly, in this world everyone can’t have happy endings, but I can survive my story. Tonight, I listen to my little guy who is seven play football in the house. I do not stop him, I hug him. I listen to my crazy cat break ornaments on the Christmas tree, I hug her a little harder. The dog constantly scratches next to me, I stay calm and hug her a little swiftly with my foot. I’m happy I am alive.
“It is a very inconvenient habit of kittens (Alice had once made the remark) that whatever you say to them, they always purr.” ~ Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, #2)
I’ll spare you all the details of the manic episodes that led to this post because of my young readers, including my own pre-teen. I hope she and others read this post and understands why her mother was gone for nearly two weeks and all the Thanksgiving food went uncooked this year in my unexpected absence. Please respect my blog and direct any questions privately.
Like the quote above, I have an inconvenient habit of purring, always smiling, and always living life to the fullest. The details are unimportant to this particular post except I did the one thing you never do, stopped my medication. I was convinced I was wrongly medicated and each time another pill would be added sending me into a rabbit hole. I reached out entirely too subtle and told one or two people I stopped all my meds then followed with the “I’m fine”. I WAS NOT FINE. “Manic depression — or bipolar disorder — is like racing up to a clifftop before diving headfirst into a cavity. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the psychic equivalent of an extreme sport. The manic highs — that exhilarating rush to the top of the cliff — make you feel bionic in your hyper-energized capacity for generosity, sexiness and soulfulness. You feel like you have ingested stars and are now glowing from within. It’s unearned confidence-in-extremis — with an emphasis on the con, because you feel cheated once you inevitably crash into that cavity. I sometimes joke that mania is the worst kind of pyramid scheme, one that the bipolar individual doesn’t even know they’re building, only to find out, too late, that they’re also its biggest casualty.” ~ Diriye Osman
So head first I landed in the mental health hospital. It was extremely important to stabilize and get me on proper medication as fast as possible. I was numb, dead to the world and nonexistent. The details are blurry, the EMT talked the entire time on the ride to the hospital to comfort me. Entry was like a jail, but an overwhelming smell of crayons. All my things were taken, watch, phone, shoes, and anything with strings. I didn’t care, I was escorted to my little room I would share. During my time there I watched the ward turn over patients 2 or 3 times, I stayed.
I wasn’t one of the lucky ones who got to eat in the cafeteria, I wasn’t allowed to leave my ward. My breakfast, lunch, dinner came in styrofoam containers at the same time everyday, in the same place. The same area I sat all day to color and look out the window. Thanksgiving day, dinner came in the styrofoam container, it was surreal. I had grown attached to a small group of people and we ate together and then went on with our day like any other. I watched people come and go, I wondered to myself, “how sick am I?” I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t go home and in my tiny room I’d already had three roommates. Looking out my window everyday I just felt trapped, trapped like an animal.
I was eventually released just before the weekend, After nearly two weeks I felt defeated and broken. It was amazing to surround myself with friends who insisted I spend the weekend outside doing a sport I love, but now looking at windows from the outside, not trapped inside. Feeling defeated went away and feeling broken slowly went away so I could heal and forget the memories of the ward. I need that inconvenient habit of purring.
“Which of my feelings are real? Which of the me’s is me? The wild, impulsive, chaotic, energetic, and crazy one? Or the shy, withdrawn, desperate, suicidal, doomed, and tired one? Probably a bit of both, hopefully much that is neither.” Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
Consistently trying to mimic emotions of others everyday in itself is hard, trying to be happy when you are sad and and stop the acceleration of happiness is exhausting. I cherish the moments when I can completely be myself, drown in the things I love with joy. I wish I could be consistent and a “trigger” is just a word for a simple release mechanism.
I have to pause before the hamster falls off the wheel and rewind a bit. Lately, I can’t figure out if I’m okay, about to be manic, or about to face the black dog (depression). It’s a typical meme you’ll find on the Internet. Basically, if you don’t like my mood now, wait a few minutes. I haven’t written as much on my blog in the last few weeks, mostly just unable to focus. I have emails I desperately need and want to reply too regarding how I handle having bipolar and mental illnesses or blog in general. Many praising how I am shifting such a horrible illnesses into a superpower. It’s hard to tell someone with bipolar, PTSD, depression or anxiety what works for me, because I am constantly trying to pinpoint the answer myself. Ithe is ever changing. I never post trigger warnings on my blog because no single person has the same triggers. Yes, we probably all share many of the same. But mine can be anything from hearing a baby cry in a bathroom echoing off the walls to someone asking me, “Do I know you?” to trigger a response.
So today, I was completely fine, enjoying a day with the family. We had chosen to go see a movie and walk around the mall prior. Today is Memorial day, for our family everyday is memorial day like many of our friends. We never forget those who gave all, so today was like no other except it reminds the rest of the world to pause for the day. It’s a trigger, I am reminded of my husband’s deployments, nearly losing him in the Pentagon on September 11th and those who did not come home on those days or those deployments. So for my family they are remembered everyday. So today a movie and the mall sounded perfect.
While shopping, I get a call from my credit card telling me of possible fraudulent charges. Instantly a trigger, “Did I do something and spend thousands online? Did I charge away to ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) late at night watching those emotional commercials involving animal cruelty? Or to an organization for wounded warriors that pulled at my heartstrings?” These things ran instantly through my head. I knew it was none of those things, but what if? What if it happened and I didn’t remember. The thoughts of other things ran through my head. As I listened, I learned that it was simply we hadn’t used our credit card and when my husband bought the kids a snack with the card just minutes before, it triggered the alert from the card company (Bravo to Chase Bank for diligently). This in turn triggered me.
It was obvious to everyone, the day was over. I was rigid, emotionless, angry, irritated, and every muscle remained tense. It was no one’s fault. I just hated myself, reminded of who I was like Kryptonite to Superman. I was wounded. I saw the disappointment on everyone’s face as we left the mall for the car. Everyone knew the day with Mom was over.
Once home it took hours to stop my muscles from being so tense. Release myself from the fear and tension that had occurred in my head. I sat on the couch and didn’t move. Shortly, I fell asleep from exhaustion. Once I woke, my body ached, I was tired, not sleepy but drained. Dinner was prepared for me, the kids and Dad went to a neighborhood cookout. The day was savaged for them, but I felt like I’d spent the day in the gym. In a fog, reflecting how real it all felt.
I wanted to share that regardless of how awesome and healthy I look or appear I’m not immune to triggers. I am not perfectly super bipolar all the time. What makes me great is also what makes me horrible. A trigger to me is what I imagine and compare to the weaknesses of superheroes.
As I sat down to write tonight I was reminded of, Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness. I flipped to the highlighted quote you see at the beginning of this post. It perfectly described me. It is me yesterday, today and tomorrow. The battle never ends, but like all superheroes I will survive to fight another day.
“Understand me. I’m not like an ordinary world. I have my madness, I live in another dimension and I do not have time for things that have no soul.” ~ Charles Bukowski
I’ve done a lot of reflection, experienced great things, great people, and been part of some extraordinary projects and events even since my last post. Again, this is such a silent illness. If you know me in person you will rarely see me without a smile on my face. What is hard to admit is how many times I wanted to run or avoid any human interaction. I forced myself, not because it was for the experience, not for the social reward, but to make myself experience life. I do this because my family and my friends mean more than this thing I fight in my mind.
On social media, you only see the good and rarely the bad. I promise for every extraordinary experience, I’ve had a great fall from the over stimulation. It was never someone’s fault and I am thankful for the wonderful things I am blessed to be apart of socially and recreational. I am able to listen to everyone, hear everyone, remember, and listen. I do put together huge pictures in my head. It’s almost a curse, I pin and connect everything and have amazing epiphanies. People want to see other failures, it’s astonishing. I see it everyday, someone who volunteers and moves on to another endeavor is always criticized, success is criticize.
I connect the dots in my head and have an overwhelming sense of shame for knowing something I should not know, only because three or more people placed puzzle pieces via causal conversation. I was able to see it all completed, and it hurts me like a dagger upon completion of the puzzles in my head. I’ve found myself withdrawn from those whom I never wanted to finish the puzzles, but regrettably by forcing the smile and “living” it was inevitable.
As, Bukowski said above, “I do not have time for things that have no soul” and I shall not make my time available to be sucked dry of any hope I have to win the battles in my mind. I fight too hard everyday to erase, remember, and overcome the thoughts in my mind.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” It’s questionable to the origins of the quote, was it Plato? Most likely Ian McClaren, but it is something we should all remember. I am reminded daily by brief encounters, private messages, emails, or comments on wordpress that I am not alone and we are all very different, but….you are not alone.
“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.” ~ Debra Ginsberg
I enjoy every moment, occasionally I will complain about all the mommy chores. So many friends or facebook peeps complain constantly about the juggling act for various reasons. But, I remember this past summer struggling after moving. Changing all my doctors, trying to get my medication refilled. With each doctor, they rarely agreed on treatment plans. Each thinking they knew more than the other. So that left me in a pickle and found myself running out of my old medications. New doctor prescribing medications I’ve loathed and never worked, such as lithium again. So I found myself turned upside down, in a new town and state. I left behind my network I had built and people had just started to understand me and i’m relocated to a place to begin the cycle again. But as a mother, I put my children first and planned summer camps and summer sports for both kids before my appointments. I delayed my own health to ensure they relocated and made friends. I’d find myself going to soccer practice and crying for no reason. Emotions completely unchecked, mood stabilizers not working. Sitting watching my kids play soccer. I would remembered the times when I played outside carefree. I remember those moments and again I’d cry. It was just uncontrollable at times and and without rhyme or reason.
Even dealing with my problems and pretty sure some of the parents thought I was antisocial, it took everything to survive summer. Watching my kids play, helping them find friends, and trying my best to hide my mood imbalance, not to mention anxiety of all these new strangers. I wasn’t sleeping at all for various reasons. Watching all the kids reminded me of the ones I have lost and even more thankful for the amazing ones playing on the soccer field, I sat and cried. I wasn’t being antisocial, I was protecting these new parents from meeting that person. Somehow the stigma of people with mental health problems can cause others who do not understand to protect themselves and children from what they don’t understand. It’s a circle of protection. I’m protecting my kids, I’m protecting myself, and I’m protecting potential friends from knowing this person.
Eventually I survived the weekly blood draws, the medication changes, and surprisingly avoided the hospital. I worried what people thought if they noticed the needle bruises, sometime it took 4 or 5 times to give blood. I survived summer and got back on the very cocktail of medications I love to hate, but work.
I try not to talk much about what meds I take because I don’t want others thinking, “I need that because she’s awesome” when behind closed doors I’m not awesome all the time. I have a condition with no cure that makes me awesome, not my medication. It’s like Ironman and batman need their suits to be superheroes. This mom needs her meds to control her superpower and be my children’s superhero. It’s what helps me be awesome. I want people to know and understand mental illness.
You can always reach out to me if you’d like a dialogue or have questions. I’m not a professional, nor would I give medical advice. I just share my experiences with my blog andon my Facebook page www.facebook.com/itsnotcrazytoday A valuable tool is wonderful to have interact on my page or via messenger. Invite friends to like the page too. Keep the dialog open!
Denial, fear of medications, multiple combinations of medication, side effects, the list goes on forever. I had been told many, many years ago. I really believed it was a made up or only the over dramatic people. I tried to hide my lows and tried be extraordinary with my highs. I used my gifts and talents, which now I understand as gift. I could focus, accomplish any task you give me. Then, lose myself for weeks sometimes. Sadly, unlike the writer of the article, I’m Bipolar I, There is a huge spectrum in diagnosing bipolar, the author of the article which is wonderful article to share, is Bipolar II.
Anosognosia, struck a cord or rang a bell tonight. So I read a bit more and ran across a very easy to read explanation on National Alliance of Mental health.
I gave it much thought from the above post but this statistic struck me “Anosognosia affects 50% of people with schizophrenia, and 40% of people with bipolar disorder. It can also accompany illnesses such as major depression with psychotic features. Treating these mental health conditions is much more complicated if lack of insight is one of the symptoms. People with anosognosia are placed at increased risk of homelessness or arrest. Learning to understand anosognosia and its risks can improve the odds of helping people with this difficult symptoms”
We have to be open about mental illness. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Please share your stories on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/itsnotcrazytoday , Share my page or story that touched you with friends. I hate social media, but it reaches so many people who need and may suffer from the stigma or Anosognosia.
Let’s explore how I reset and enjoy the healthy time alone.
1. Learn to observer and watch people. It’s simple, watch children play and interact. Sit in the bar or group and listen. It’s much the same. Listen, don’t talk, unless spoken too.
2. Enjoy your time alone. It’s rare, turn off every device in the house for 20 minutes. Everything, phone, WiFi, televisions. Actually, go find the breaker box main switch and flip it off (turn the usuals off before doing this), you’ll instantly feel peace. It’s a strange sensation. Close your eyes and feel the lack of WiFi and electricity…..you will feel it if you shut it all off.
3. Learn to talk to yourself. You can always be kind to yourself. Learn to appreciate what your mind tells you in silence. Many times I’ve ignored what I knew or I should have done only to have my mind tell me, “I told you so”. So it’s worth listening and talking to yourself. No one will ever love you or listen to you like yourself.
4. Volunteer! You can do the smallest thing and change a life. But you do it on your own, you don’t do it to seek recognition. You just do something that helps others selfishly.
5. Decide you’re going to learn a skill or project. Complete it! I wanted to learn electrical repair. Several vocational classes and yours truly can fixed a toaster, wire a lamp, or do general household repairs. It was so rewarding, I continued with woodworking, plumbing, and auto repair. I’m a bit obsession so don’t use me as an example.
6. Make a list. I hate list, but make an agenda of things you want to accomplish before bed. Make sure the first this on your list is MAKE YOUR BED. Trust me, if you don’t make your bed you’ve screwed up the list. Make your bed, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and then that first thing is checked off your list.
7. This is by far my hell on earth task, working out. Yes, workout! Walk 30 minutes, yoga, run, or what ever your vice….even sex. I prefer the latter. Sex count.
8. Do something completely alone. I’ll go to the movies, bookstore, and then have a drink and dinner while writing in my journal, ALONE! It is possibly, my best advice if you’re a mom or dad with a schedule. Plan a run away monthly!
9. Approach and engage strangers and be genuinely interested. I’ve learned so much about people just by removing the stigma of societies norm. I’ve made some of the best and life long friends whom I don’t think I could live without if not for letting go of my preconceived impressions based on societies normal. I’m in a military community, so normal is pretty straight laced.
10. Set goals, writing it down and put it in an envelope. In one year, I will have….? Next one, In 5 and 10 years. It can be big, it can be as simple as I’ll stop biting my nails. But, when you open that envelope you’re rewarding yourself. Do monthly envelopes! It’s goals with the satisfaction, you put it in writing and you accomplished something for yourself, not someone else. You discover and achieved it for yourself.
That is my alone time. That is how I’m alone and not defined by anyone else.
Marilyn lived a very troubled life and struggled with mental illness. When she was young her mother was even institutionalized as a paranoid schizophrenic. Marilyn constantly feared the eventual diagnoses of her own mental health. Marilyn was extremely intelligent and was said to have an IQ of 168. She had many marriages her first at age 16 to an young sweetheart later to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller. After reading a great biography and there’s many of them written, but one particularly, “Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox” by Lois Banner is a great one. In death Marilyn has been idolized; posters, shirts, art, truly a icon. She also very popular figure in tattoos. One particular story is of Megan Fox and her former Marilyn tattoo. She idolized her success, her image, her pose, and the face that Marilyn shown the world. What I found interesting was once Megan did research and learned about Marilyn as a person, her background, her history her tragedies. Megan made the choice to remove the tattoo of Marilyn to avoid possible”negative energy”. Megan is quoted in US weekly referring to the tattoo, “she (Marilyn) was a disturbed negative person, she was disturbed, bipolar. I do not want to attract this kind of negative energy in my life ” Well, I’m sorry Megan that’s a shitty answer and even a slap in the face to those who suffer from mental disorders. I could write much more on her, but she does not deserve my time nor money for any movies she may appear.
This quote is you Megan:
“I’ve never fooled anyone. I’ve let people fool themselves. They didn’t bother to find out who and what I was. Instead they would invent a character for me. I wouldn’t argue with them. They were obviously loving somebody I wasn’t.” ― Marilyn Monroe
So on to some of my favorite Monroe musings and quotes.
. “This life is what you make it. No matter what, you’re going to mess up sometimes, it’s a universal truth. But the good part is you get to decide how you’re going to mess it up. Girls will be your friends – they’ll act like it anyway. But just remember, some come, some go. The ones that stay with you through everything – they’re your true best friends. Don’t let go of them. Also remember, sisters make the best friends in the world. As for lovers, well, they’ll come and go too. And baby, I hate to say it, most of them – actually pretty much all of them are going to break your heart, but you can’t give up because if you give up, you’ll never find your soulmate. You’ll never find that half who makes you whole and that goes for everything. Just because you fail once, doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything. Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will, sweetie? So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.”
“She was a girl who knew how to be happy even when she was sad” ― Marilyn Monroe
RIP Marilyn ***edited to add some fun stuff I alway enjoyed and to say F*ck you Megan Fox.
1. Marilyn’s hero was Abraham Lincoln. She read everything she could find about him.
2. She loved Clark Gable so much she cried for days when he passed. She saw him as a father figure and would imagine him as her father.
3. She was rumored to have had a intimate relationship with Einstein who she openly talked about her attraction to him.
I could go on and on, but she was an extremely intelligent lady who hated being the labeled the Hollywood dumb blonde.