Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I've been reading old posts that I wrote when I first started blogging. I'm surprised to see how hard my stuff was to read. My sister says I've gotten better since then, I hope so. I found this one and decided to transfer it to this blog. I've had a few people ask me about bipolar disorder and I thought it might be helpful to them. I know it was helpful to me when I wrote it. I was very sick when I wrote it perhaps that explains why it was so disjointed. Anyway, I've edited it, so hopefully it will be easier to read.
A mixed episode
In the beginning, I seem to have an increase in goal-driven behavior. I want to do everything and it all seems feasible when in reality I could never do all of those things unless I stopped sleeping. I want to learn Spanish, I want to do artwork, I want to start working out, I want to cook...and on and on I go.
It is a good feeling a charged feeling. Your supposed to go and see a doctor when you start showing these symptoms but it's the last thing you want to do. You feel so wonderful, how could anything be wrong? And honestly, you don't want it to end.
You begin to feel like there are no limitations, no barriers to anything, everything seems possible. You can't imagine why you ever felt depressed about anything, Now you can't even fathom why you ever thought that you had limitations at all. If I could bottle this, I could make a fortune!
I smile a lot, become very friendly and outgoing and talk to people like I never met a stranger. But a lot of my conversation will become this sort of 'stream of consciousness'. I prattle on and on, my ability to censor what I say goes away, I'm often embarrassed and ashamed of what I said afterwards.
I feel expansive, almost as though some boundary between me and others and even the universe has melted. I experience it as a metaphysical merging with everything. I begin to see synchronicities everywhere and feel somehow as though I can follow them and be led to something wonderful. I have an anticipatory feeling, though I don't know what I am anticipating. I begin to feel as though I am chosen for something, like I'm meant to do something special.
As an aside, I am not entirely convinced that the spiritual aspect of all of this is a false perception. I sometimes suspect that when one ones consciousness is altered, as it is with bipolar disorder, that one is actually perceiving things on a heightened level and that the things they are perceiving might be a version of reality that we are not aware of when in a normal state of mind. I've heard other bipolar people say the same thing.
The downside to all of this, is that I can't stop. And then, there is my temper. I have had a horrible temper most of my life, starting when I was a teenager. It went away when I starting taking medicine and this is how I know I was diagnosed correctly. I used to be like a wildcat when I lost my temper. I still had enough self-control somehow not to hurt other people, the violence was turned toward myself. I felt so ashamed of myself, ashamed of my lack of ability to control myself, ashamed of how I treat people. The shame that I felt made me punish myself.
Things begin to spiral out-of-control. I expend a lot of energy trying to apply the brakes, but my brakes are almost out. I begin to ruminate on things, on my past, what someone said to me. I get very worked up about these things. I brood and worry.
My thoughts begin to feel like wasps buzzing in my mind. They begin to spin so fast that it is no longer fun. I begin to lose my ability to concentrate. I try to do something and my mind is 10, 100, 1000 paces ahead of the task that I am on. On to the next and the next and the next; in the space of 30 seconds my mind has left me in the wake of it's dust. I have a pen in my hand, it is gone as though it evaporated, I have no memory of putting it down. I go to the store and buy things that weren't on my list and forget to buy what was on my list.
Right before I finally got medicated, I locked my keys in my car twice and locked myself out of the house twice. Altogether combined, this costed me $200. It's so frustrating. I knew that I shouldn't be at work but I didn't know that I had a choice, so I would go in anyway and screw everything up. One time, my younger daughter needed her diaper changed. I asked my older daughter to get me a diaper and when I went to change her, her diaper was already changed. I had changed it and I had no memory of doing it.
When I try to think about something, it feels like it does when you look into the sun and afterwards everything you see, appears to have a hole in it. That is how my mind feels....holey. It feels like a sieve that everything runs through. As I still have to function and I still have all of my responsibilities, everything becomes overwhelming.
I become very irritable, very tired. But I can't sleep. People begin to get on my nerves. Everyone seems like they are moving too slow. When I am in traffic and I am in a hurry, I get so tense. Everything seems overwhelming. I just want my mind to stop and it won't.
I feel like I did some bad angel dust. I have all of this adrenalin coursing through my body. It is a very physical, somatic experience. I can't sleep, my stomach hurts. I stop eating. I read every chance I get. Reading stops the thoughts, it calms me.
People with loud voices or people who talk too fast irritate me. I want to leave the room, they get on my nerves so bad. They drive the wasps inside of my head into a frenzy! Everyone seems stupid and they all get on my nerves. A store with loud music playing bothers me really badly, even lots of bright colors bother me, everything makes a discordant noise in my mind.
Then begins the depression. I haven't slept much for such a long time. My become hypersensitive. I begin to be paranoid. Things people say seem to have hidden innuendos. I don't know when to trust my own perceptions. I am tired and only want to go to sleep, but I can't sleep. My dreams become disturbing and atmospheric so that when I wake up, they stay with me throughout the day, coloring everything.
I feel very hostile, and luckily I am somehow able to, for the most part keep this a inside of me. But energy I expend doing this causes me to be infinitely weary.
Thank God they have medicine to help people with this and I'm so lucky that it works for me. Apparently the medicine doesn't help everyone. When I get stressed out, I get really scared because I'm afraid that it will all happen again, but so far since beginning the medicine, I've never gone into a full-blown attack.
I know that I need a job that is not high-stress. They say that stress makes everyone sick but it kills me. Bipolar disorder is truly a destroyer of souls. I wouldn't wish it on my worse enemy. But I know that I am strong simply for the fact that I have survived it relatively intact. Bipolar disorder has the highest rate of suicide out of all the psychiatric disorders. I truly believe that I am lucky to be alive.
I'm lucky that I have my kids, my husband, my sister..I'm lucky in a lot of ways. I lost my job and I am still lucky. I've been given a new lease on life and I am so grateful. But the bogeyman never goes away entirely. I am very afraid of losing control. Maybe as time goes on I will become more confident that this won't happen. My life has been very hard but I've had gifts too and I choose to concentrate on those.
One of the things that I'm really proud of is that I have not let this make me a bitter person. There are things that I am angry about, I'm angry that the professionals that were supposed to help me didn't, until I was 40 years old. But I am grateful for the understanding that it has given me.
It's bad and it isn't. But I'm happy, not deliriously happy, but I'm working on it.
Friday, October 12, 2007
I started my second session of belly dance I on Wednesday. I was a little disappointed because we aren't learning any new moves but I need to practice the ones that I have already learned so I guess I'll just have to deal with it. I've discovered that I am at a decided disadvantage in belly dance because (hope this isn't too much information!) my butt isn't big enough! We all shimmied for awhile and though my shimmy is adequate I just can't get those coins jingling, I'm just not 'juicy' enough!
We actually discussed this during the class. Though the teacher didn't outright mention my butt, I think that she noticed my wimpy coins and she said that people who are thinner don't usually have the same affect when they hip shimmy and have to concentrate on the movements that require muscle control....the undulations etc ...
For awhile I thought of just trying to eat a lot more food trying to make my butt bigger but hell....who am I fooling! If my butt isn't big after 3 kids it just probably ain't gonna happen. I guess it's undulations for me. (Honestly, I will understand perfectly if no-one wants to touch this one with a ten foot pole.)
So, I will go on with my next thought, one that you will perhaps feel more comfortable commenting on. So, here I was all high on belly dance, driving out of the parking lot when I noticed that the bumper sticker of the car in front of me which belonged to a lady from the class, said 'Immigration! Border Patrol!'.
On the surface, this is a technically neutral statement. It's not like it said 'Drown all the Mexicans in the Rio Grande'. But it has been my experience that people who are pro-Mexican rights don't tend to have these bumper stickers. So, now I am in a class with someone who probably thinks that my husband is here stealing jobs from Americans, someone who probably thinks that people like my husband are turning our country into a 3rd world country. And Blah! Blah! Blah!
And that's okay. I don't agree with her and she doesn't have to agree with me, I respect her opinion limited though it may be. (That's respectful, right?) I'm used to it, I've been married to him for 10 years. I had some idea of how things would be when I married him though I didn't forsee 911 and everything that ensued from that.
And my husband and I are not blindly 'pro-Mexican' either. We both realize that the situation can not continue in this way, that there are going to have to be changes and perhaps consequences as well.
We are for Amnesty. We feel that they need to be offered a way to become a part of the system and that penalizing them is not the answer. The United States has benefit ted from Mexican labor for years, our economies are intertwined and we have benefited more than they have from this relationship.
We need them and that is why they have been allowed to come over. This stance that we are being taken advantage of by them is only a partial truth, we have taken advantage of them as well. They would have been more than happy to have a legitimate means for coming over here and working and not having to do it illegally and we have never offered them this option.
Good thing my husband isn't overly-sensitive. He prints USA Today and he is bombarded with all of the arguments. He says that sometimes he catches people talking about him because he is Mexican but when they see that he has noticed, they smile this false, bright smile and try to pass it off. He has never been hassled by the police but of course, we have this fear that one day this will happen.
My daughters have never been treated badly. I'm not capable of being objective about my kids looks. I just don't know if people can tell that they are Mexican when they see them or not and if things might be different if it were more obvious. And I'm not trying to implie that I want to 'pass my kids off as caucasian'. I would never do that. I hate that!
I have had people ask me if they were my kids or not. One lady said, "Oh your kids are so beautiful. Are they yours?" KInda funny! And my husband is usually treated nicely. If anyone is mean to him, it is usually one of those random encounters, my husband is likable so when people know him they don't give him any trouble.
Some of the things that we deal with are just funny! Some times little kids practice their Spanish on him! They are so proud when he understands them! One time a little kid called my daughter a taco and his parents were so embarassed! Once my husband went to subway and this girl put so many jalapenos on his sandwhich that even he could hardly eat it. She thought she was 'being down', I guess!
The guys at work have a lot of fun with my husband. He has a viscous sense of humor and they like playing with him. People talk to my husband like he is a child sometimes though because he has an accent. I always wonder if this doesn't sort of batter him on a subliminal level but what can you do? They don't mean anything by it, they probably don't even realize that they are doing it.
Anyway, given our experiences, I tend to think that people aren't really as bad as they sound when you read the editorials and listen to the people who call in on talk radio. Becasue those people really scare me!
But we often have this feeling of people talking out of both sides of their mouths at us. Smiling and nodding to your face and then making a snide remark when you are not there to hear it. And really, they can think whatever they want. I haven't really spoken to too many people who are militantly anti-immigration who are really very well-informed. I would be more than happy to talk to someone who is well-informed who has opinions that are different from mine on the matter. I would be interested in knowing what they think. I haven't found this though.
It's funny, this woman (I haven't figured out which one it is yet) is probably a nice womean. She probably had no wish to offend anyone. She probably takes the truth of her convictions so for granted that she probably had no idea that it would offend anyone. Or if it did offend someone it wouldn't be anyone who she was in bellydance class with. It would be offensive to someone who is over there, who isn't the same as her on any level. Oh well. It gave me something to ponder.
Monday, October 8, 2007
Wisdom calls from every corner. When will you listen?
Where I grew up...girls are girls and men are men. (And the cows are nervous!) The girls all seem to ultimately become nurses. The Valedictorian of my sons graduating class, (he graduated from the same high school that I did), went to the local community college and became an RN. If you live where I live, its very difficult to believe that there is actually a nursing shortage.
Many of the people commute to Saint Louis, they have specific jobs with specific titles. Others work for local companies driving trucks, doing construction etc..
The adults around me, (besides being farmers) were accountants, an occasional lawyer, teachers and of course, nurses. Everything is all spelled out for them and it is all very practical and they seem to find it very soothing. I'm not like them. It isn't soothing to me at all, it sounds like a jail sentence to me. (Oh Jessie, I'm not talking about you!)
Since I read a lot, I was aware that there were other things that one could do that weren't so specific, which in my mind has always meant the same thing as limiting...but I had never seen anyone do any of these things. It always felt to me like these things were beautiful myths or romantic fables, they were unlikely to happen to me, they only happened to the few and fortunate.
If I had told someone where I grew up, I was going to become an archaeologist or a cultural anthropologist or anything that sounded slightly interesting...they wouldn't even have understood, not even most of the adults. Actually, they might have even laughed at me..to my face or behind my back. They didn't think that these things were possible either. Who cares what they think, right? Unfortunately, I did.
I am an imaginative person but sadly my imagination failed me in such a big way. I don't know if I'll ever fully understand how or why. But even more importantly, and this may be what I need to understand, my faith failed me. Remembering back, I know that there was no feed-back, no guidance, no examples,no-one to lead the way, ....not there. The guidance counsellors had this list of acceptable occupations and there were about 20 or 30 listed and these were what you were guided towards and that was it.
I went to college undecided about what I wanted to do. None of the list of professions that my counsellors had told me about sounded appealing and as I said, I didn't have the faith to imagine.
I loved college! My dreams woke up! I was taking lots of different classes! I was enjoying myself so much! I was lit up! I was enthusiastic! I looked forward to my days! I looked forward to my future!
And inexplicably, I ended up giving up. I was with someone who criticized me all the time and I believed him. This is no excuse however, my real enemy was inside of myself. It the demon that destroys us from within, and the one inside of me was legion and it kinda got loose and went on a murdering spree inside of me and damn near killed me.
I listened to the bastard and I got trained for a job with a specific title and with specific and limited duties just like they always told me to do. And whoa! I was respectable! What a heady feeling, no longer the wild gypsy. I was appropriate and conforming. The gypsy was banished but she trudged away muttering prophetically...."Just wait! You'll miss me one day!"
It didn't take long actually. I no longer felt enthusiastic about the future, my job was something to be tolerated until it was time to clock out and I could come home and could spend a little time being who I actually am. And there was never enough time to be who I was because who I am is pretty big! There seemed to be nothing in front of me but an eternity of sadness. I crammed time for 'my real-life' in between the lines and told myself that this was good enough. I was putting food on the table and a roof over our heads and after all....many people in this world don't even have that so how indulgent of me to complain.
I stuffed it inside and ignored my own pain and told myself that I was immature...that I wouldn't be mature until I could let go of these childish dreams. You can't just run off and join the circus when you have 2 small children! I felt that I had no real choices. Of course, there are always choices...I know that but I have kids to feed and they will have to go to college one day and I don't need a buch of loans to pay off when that day comes. Ultimately, I lied to myself and we know that that doesn't work forever.
"Most men live lives of quiet desperation." I used to love Thoreau but now he really pissed me off! I had this strange, irrational feeling that he was chiding me. I was one of those miserable people living a life of quiet desperation and he had my game and he thought I was a real coward. He would dare to judge me! (Talk about being sensitive, eh!) But I had my defense. His words were those of a slacker. He was sort of the anti-bellum version of Garth and Wayne, his generations version of the guy living in his parents basement.
But of course he was right and I knew it even then, The people who are self-actualized, who have made it to the top of the mountain, they are the ones who can see over to the other side and lead us to what is ahead. Thank god for them.
The Zen of Belly Dance!
I started taking Belly dancing lessons. I hooked up with an old friend, we have known each other since we were three. We are a lot alike but she followed her muse and I didn't. She is a belly-dance instructor and has her own studio. I have post-traumatic stress disorder.:) She is so happy! I feel like I am recovering from a long illness. I think meeting up with her was one of those synchronicity thingies. Just at the time in my life that I need to learn this lesson, there it is.
I want to be happy! I want to be deliriously happy! Don't tell me it isn't possible, I don't believe you! I want to leap out of bed with a song in my heart and go bounding out of my house to meet the world. I want to be so happy that people look at me jealously and say, "She can't possibly be for real!" I don't even care if they think that I am on drugs! At the very least, I don't want to wake up and pull the covers back over my head dreading the rest of the day before my feet even hit the floor.
When I started the Belly dance lessons, I was a complete klutz. Sometimes I was knock-kneed, sometimes I went the wrong way and practically knocked people over and now I can do a dance. A whole dance! And I can do it passably!
Do you know what? I think that it is so good for my daughters to see me doing this. To see me doing something and looking like a complete dork and continuing on with it and actually accomplishing it.
Know what else? I want my girls to see me be happy and to do what I love. Not just belly dance, but everything! I want to live my life as an example to them. I don't want them to have a mother who sold out and did the safe thing and spent her life desperately snatching little moments of joy. I don't want them to live like that and I will have to be the one who shows them that it doesn't have to be that way.
I said that I was being responsible by putting bread on the table. However, perhaps there were other ways that I was not being responsible. Ways that aren't always thought about when one hears the word responsibility, Perhaps I have been irresponsible by not living my life and raising them to think that this is okay. So, I am now working now and I am sitting at home like a lazy slacker being responsible. How's that?
The Hanged man has a different perspective, he sees the world from upside down.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Well, I lost my job....... Before you feel sorry for me I would like to say that it was time. It's time for me to move on. To know thyself....it's one of the most important things isn't it? I didn't know myself when I chose this field....or perhaps it was that I didn't accept myself for who I was. Being in this field was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Just isn't gonna happen. If you do finally force it in, it is damaged and broken in the process. It is time for me to move on before this happens to me.
Now for the good news. As the problems that have caused me to lose this job are considered a disability, I am eligible for assistance from the department of rehabilitation. So it looks like I am going back to school. If you were here right now, you would hear music playing because my heart is singing.
I've longed for this. For a long time I have felt like a prisoner trapped into a life caused by choices I made when I was not really capable of making good decisions. And now I am free. Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose. I don't have anything left to lose and I am free now... free now to indulge my hippy soul and find something organic, to do something in which who I am is flowing out of me instead of blocked. I can find my life's work. I actually believe in God again...okay....Godess.
So now it is my job to decide and to dream...that is my only job for now and I am thrilled. Maybe this writers block that I have had, this lack of joy, this crushing weight will lift now and maybe things will only get better.
Every once in awhile I have posted on this blog about something that I wanted to go back to school to do. These things were ideas born of desperation. I just wanted to stop doing what I was doing....but it was out of the frying pan into the fire! No more. I have been granted a reprieve and believe me, I know how lucky I am and I am not going to blow it!
I've decided that I want to become a ballerina! Just kidding! I'm exploring the possibility of working with the deaf. I want to become a sign language interpreter. Well, that's what I want to do today anyway. Who knows what I will want to tomorrow. All I know for sure is there will be no more dry technical stuff for this lady.
I remember the movie with William Hurt and Marlee Maitlin, can't remember what it was called....and sign language is so beautiful. When Marlee Maitlin signed, it looked like Ballet...so I guess if I did this I actually would be becoming a ballerina of sorts. I've always wanted to do this I just never believed that it was practical. Now I know that it is impractical for me to keep trying to do things that I am unsuited for.
My bipolar disorder is a blessing and a curse at the same time. Though it has wreaked havoc in my life, it has also made it impossible for me to tolerate intolerable situations, it makes it necessary to follow my heart. I can't fake my way through it like everyone else. I am constitutionally incapable of it. I wonder if that make sense? My weakness is my stregnth.
Don't be sad for me....I'm not.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
I stated in my last post that I don't like to tell people that I am bipolar because I am afraid of being judged. I have given this a little more thought since I wrote this and I guess that I should explain in which ways I feel that I have been judged which may not be how you think.
Though of course there are some people who will look at you as a defective human being because your problems are mental, I am canny enough to not share the details of my condition with them. The trouble that I have had. has to do with friends who expect that someone with bipolar disorder should behave like a raving lunatic and since I don't, I may have allowed myself to be misdiagnosed.
This attitude from my friends highlights the ignorance there is about this disorder. My friends are intelligent people and that is what is scary. If anyone should know it should be them. I have come to the conclusion that no-one really knows what bipolar disorder is unless they are bipolar or have lived with someone who is.
Something that infuriates me is a certain attitude from the media that bipolar disorder is a over-diagnosed. Now, maybe it is or maybe it isn't, but this attitde creates a culture in which someone who is diagnosed can be treated like someone who is being faddish. You know, in the 70's we had focus groups, now we have medications.
I see this sort of journalism as so unbelievable irresponsible and it seems to me that this attitude is generally accepted even by people who are liberal. And it all seems to stem from this idea that the evil corporate giants, in this case the pharmaceutical companies, are involved in this mass conspiracy to get people to use their drugs.
I've seen it suggested that people like me need to eat healthy, excercise, spend time meditating, go through therapy etc..etc... instead of taking medication. They blame society. They say that we pathologize symptoms that are a direct result of the society that we live in rather than an actual illness. If I let it, it could make me wonder if I am an idiot for believing that I am bipolar and it could make me feel like I am taking medication in lieu of doing what I really need to do. My medication is seen as an avoidance.
I don't take these things seriously, they piss me off actually. The biggest problem that I have with it is that I feel alienated from people sometimes and I've always felt like that anyway so I can handle that. But I'm sure that there are people who are steered away from getting proper treatment because they feel that they are not politically correct.
Although there was an outcry about Tom Cruises famous statements on the Oprah show, I still believe that there are a lot of people who think like him.