Saturday, May 31, 2008


The past couple of days have been a big sigh.


Nothing terrible has happened. On the contrary, some nice things have happened. But I feel oddly numb about them. Just sort of...


I'm tempted at times like these (and temptation is all I will admit to here) to start fiddling with my meds, upping the anti-depressants or otherwise adding or subtracting things.

But usually when I do I am reprimanded by my meds nurse for messing around with things.

So instead, I put it in my calendar: Call T, ask him about moods and meds. Call the clinic and see when my next appt is with my main meds nurse. Take good care of self.

The boy and I are going to the big Farmer's Market with my father this morning, a plan hatched by me while half asleep between last night's nap and actually going to bed.

It should be nice, hopefully not too crowded. I need to dress and feed the boy his breakfast now.

All is well, all is well. [repeat as necessary]

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

RIP Sydney Pollack

Director/Actor Sydney Pollack died yesterday, and I feel actually a bit sad reading about this.

He is one of those actors who is just in my subconscious, I *know* him, and seeing his face or seeing him on film is oddly comforting to me, always has been. His voice, his mannerisms, just make me feel good. I don't know exactly how it is, but it feels like a loss to me.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

On comfort

The metaphor of myself as a colicky baby just isn't coming out right.

I want to say this: It is good to feel comfort. It is good to be able to feel comfort, feel comforted.

Sitting here in the lovely silence of Sunday morning, smelling the amazing, green smell of spring, I think: about how wonderful it was to have bf's arms around me as I fell asleep last night, how much I love to hug the little one at bedtime, how my oldest laughs when he's truly tickled by something.

I'm imagining my breakfast this morning, and how good it will taste. I'm thinking about how calm I feel right now. Physically and psychically mellow. Pain free.

When my mood is very bad (and I am trying to find one word which will describe it more clearly, but cannot), I do not feel pleasure in the same way. I am indefinably uncomfortable. I sleep fitfully, or too much, or not at all. My mind is dull, or races with an overabundance of energy. My body aches, and I'm easily fatigued.

When my mood is good, as with today, I feel peace. And that is amazing to feel.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Save the date: May 14-16, 2010

That's commencement weekend, the weekend I plan to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a few weeks shy of my 40th birthday.

No, I haven't gotten my official acceptance letter yet, but I have talked to a great resource of mine at the UW and feel really excited, more than ever, about this journey.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

On Hope

Somedays hope is expressed through mere routine: I wake, I rise, I bathe, I dress.

Some days hope is expressed in more nuanced ways: I dream, I plan, I pursue.

Today I started looking through the UW website for information on requirements for different majors, and how I might create an individual major for myself. Interestingly, my interests fall into three majors: Anthropology, Communication Arts and Journalism/Mass Media. I don't know how I might juggle all of these disciplines and my natural sciences in 50 or so credits.

I also started looking at the McBurney Disability center and how to get a disability consideration, what documents are needed, etc. If I am accepted for the fall I will have a LOT of work to do to get the classes I need/want and to get myself into the proper advising. Plus looking for spring grants and monies to take summer courses.

And I followed up with the person who is reviewing my information for my SSD case, she said she's gotten everything but the major information from my hospitalization, which apparently is handled by a third-party vendor, so there isn't much I can do to speed it up. I should have a yea or nay on that by July, I guess. If it is a nay, I am going to appeal it. If otherwise, I will have one less thing to worry about.

Speaking of worry, there is always the possibility that I do not have all of the correct requirements to get into the UW this fall. If that is the case, I'm covered, having already enrolled in fall courses at MATC. I figure better safe than sorry.

That, too, is hopeful, even though it might not seem so. In any case I will be where I need to be in order to get what I need to get for what WILL be MY DEGREE. I know, despite occasional discouragement, that I can do this.

And I know that even when it seems like no big thing to other people, this process of going to school is difficult for me, is perhaps harder for me than for others. I was always used to being able to do well and not have to work "too hard", but in the past year or so have become more cognitively challenged, and it's become quite difficult to get my academic goals met.

That's been really hard.

But, I hope, and I work, and I plan. And I see myself walking that stage, with my kids and my partner there to cheer me on. And that helps me steel myself, keep my resolve, and move forward.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Not out of the woods

I'm feeling incredibly sad today. I couldn't sleep last night, so I know it's partly lack of sleep (it decreases my emotional resilience to miss as much sleep as I did last night).

But it's also a slap in the face for me since I've been feeling SO MUCH BETTER the past several weeks. I know I won't always feel as lousy as I do today, but I'd really, really, really like to be feeling better.

What makes it worse this week is that I'm having trouble reaching out - I hate to admit that I still need so much from people. Right now I'm following the HALT plan. I'm asking myself if I am: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. I was/am hungry, so I'm going to eat a bit more, and then I'm going to take a nap, because I am definitely tired.

And when I wake up, I'll do my best to work on Lonely (that's the toughest one for me).

One step at a time, one moment at a time.

A Lava lady

LavaLady by ~sketchcity on deviantART

Friday, May 16, 2008

Existential Morning

This morning every question turned into an existential discussion.
What am I doing [this morning]? became What am I doing [with my life]? pretty quickly.

I did not find a lot of answers, but I did find that I am in the space of having a great number of fears to wrest with and anxieties to identify and quell.

Life is beautiful. It feels good to be alive.

But it scares the hell out of me.

How do you all do it every day?

Depression, if nothing else, insulates you from life. Usually a negative, that removal, but as I examined "where I am" this morning, I realized that it also was a comfort to me, being so removed. Sometimes I find myself at loose ends now that I am face to face with life.

This afternoon will be practical, I think. Focusing on the tangible feels like a good move to make after a morning spent with my thoughts.

Monday, May 12, 2008


I'll admit this to you now, but don't throw it back in my face.

I like my hypomania.

Before I knew anything about the Bipolar II diagnosis I've ended up with, I learned to love these periods of energy I'd get. My mind buzzed with ideas, I made lots of friends and was incredibly social instead of shy, and I'd feel sexy and vibrant.

Now that I know that these sudden bursts of energy and enthusiasm are likely to be fleeting, and followed by a crash, I can't enjoy them as much. Now that I have children, and a partner, I can't just run off and follow my whims as much as I'd like to during my manic phases (although honestly, I have a lot of time in which to schedule whim, if that's what I want).

But as mixed as my feelings on mania are, I much prefer 120-miles-per-hour me to this me; diminished, suddenly shy, self-hating, and definitely no longer sexy or vibrant.

All I want to do right now is HIDE. I don't want to talk to or see anyone. And yet, my Mr. Hyde made plans that my Dr. Jekyll must keep, so I have to gear myself up for social plans which I know I'll enjoy, just not as much as I would have a week ago.

This me suddenly starts crying for no reason, this me feels ugly and stupid, this me is a very impatient driver. I want happy fun time girl back. I'll take her, and her 4 hours a night sleep, and her bad money management, if it means that melancholy, teary me goes back into hiding for a little longer.

I admit it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

True story on Mother's Day

My boys are busy making their grandmother a card (nice going, as she's coming over really soon), and I'm just about to serve the quiche I made for our brunch.

I really don't have much, just the quiche (spinach straight from this morning's farmer's market), some fresh hot house tomatoes (also from the farmer's market), and bacon. Plus sweet chai for the lot of us.

The plan up until about 10:45 today was for us to walk down the street and get brunch. I didn't want to worry about dishes and things. However, I decided I'd much rather have the relaxed atmosphere of home (read as: I didn't feel like getting dressed, seeing people, or paying for brunch for 4), and the quiche idea was born.

Anyway, an hour or so later I realized it was the 20th anniversary of my suicide attempt. I had made a gesture towards suicide a month or so before, but it was just a cry for help. My second real attempt was on the Saturday before Mother's Day, 1987. It landed me in the E.R. and then in hospital for two weeks.

I don't want to write about it now, because it's far too intense a story to throw around willy nilly, and I can't honestly toss it off in the two minutes I have before Brunch is served.

Perhaps I will tell it later. In any case, I mark the day. I remember the red carnation in the plastic vase next to me in my hospital bed, and feeling sad for my mother that I'd chosen just then to commit suicide.

Now, to wipe the tears from my eyes and be a mother.

On having an invisible disability

Found some interesting articles on having an invisible disability. They mostly deal with invisible physical disabilities, but I found that they spoke to my struggle with mental illness as well.

First, "But You Look So Good, and 7 other things never to say to someone with an invisible disability."

From there I discovered this article, "Coping with an Invisible Condition".

This resonated with me:
People's expectations
Based on the well-sick-invalid framework, you are allowed to be sick or limited for a while. After some months, people will be expecting you to be back to 'normal' - that is, a healthy, fully productive state. If you are not, but you look ok on the outside, there may be misunderstandings, rejection. Some people judge you as lazy, exaggerating, or accuse you of faking to get insurance benefits or attention. Or they expect too much of you, overestimating your current ability. Dealing with people's misunderstanding and judgment, suspicions, and assumptions is painful. Having to justify your lack of productivity is an extra stress on top of having the actual condition.

As well as this...

Not acting sick
If you have a chronic, invisible condition, you have an important job: to look after yourself as well as possible. This will make you look better, despite your symptoms. You need to do this, because there is a cost for letting other people's opinions keep you from activities that give you health.

...It is sometimes a dilemma whether to make a point of "showing" your illness. You want to appear "normal" and to fit in, not stand out and be noticed. You also want people to recognize and understand your problems. Some people struggle with this.

Now that I am really wrestling with my illness, I am trying to be very in touch with all the stigma I feel about myself and what I am doing with my life.

I remember a conversation I had with someone last year, he said he thought that depression was a cultural problem in Western society, implying that I was not ill, just... just what? A malingerer? It was a very hurtful thing for him to say, but I also understood that it was said out of ignorance. It is true that we are, as a society, too eager to medicate regular sadness. But I feel the very real changes in my brain chemistry (or whatever the hell it is that happens to me), and I cannot simply choose them away. My condition is real. I'm fighting hard against so much and fighting hard to have a life I love.

Friday, May 09, 2008

When it seems impossible

Ah, the world of mood disorders, where one day you are ON TOP OF THE WORLD, and the next, everything seems impossible.

I managed to eat today, bathe, dress, pick my kid up from school, and those were all accomplishments. I didn't finish any big tasks, and was beating myself up about it until I just stopped.

Right now it's time for LEGO Star Wars Saga and then dinner with family. I can do that.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Pam says it far more eloquently than I ever could

Pam Spaulding at the Blend takes on this latest mess coming from the Sen. Hillary Clinton camp. I have a difficult time explaining to people why it would be a kick in the ovaries for me to pull the lever for Sen. Clinton come November, but this pretty much is the last nail in that coffin:

"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

"There's a pattern emerging here," she said.

Pam says, "Wow. Just. Wow..." and then breaks it down for us. Please go give it a read if you don't (or do) understand why the way the Clinton Campaign is being run is more divisive than it may appear on the surface.

ETA: Karnythia over at Angry Black Woman weighs in too. Check it out.


You may be surprised to learn that I am NOT perfect.

Or not that surprised.

Yesterday was an interesting day, I was wound fairly tight and had a couple of appts to go to. I then popped in to see an old professor and met another one of her students - he and I are looking to do similar things at the University so we exchanged email and I hope we stay in touch.

Then I enrolled myself in a class for fall that has been highly rec'd to me, a creative non-fiction course (perfect fit, don't you think?). That's in case I do not get in/defer Fall Enrollment at the UW. Which I think is what will happen, because I don't know that I will be stable/ready for the big leagues this fall.

I happened to run into an old classmate after that and we had a brief but (self) illuminating conversation in which I realized that my major choices over the past two years have been largely positive ones, if the goal was to stay alive.


Now I just keep building on what is there, and we have something!

I am a woman of few goals. Honestly: to visit all of the British Isles (Wales and Scotland being among my first destinations), to have at least one grandchild (that one I have little control over, huh?), and to get my B.A. by the time I'm 40. If I stick to it, I ought to be able to use the next two years to get to that last. I am more than halfway to that goal already.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Dear [Redacted]

I sent this as an email today, and thought it was a good thing to share.

Dear [Redacted],

Today is Monday.
I know this and yet do not *know* it. I've had to be reminded a few times that today is Monday and the morrow Tuesday.

I guess the whole thing about embracing my illness and it's "cures" is also about embracing that I am still not in control (none of us are, really, right?), that I am still trying to find myself balance. My self balance.

Dear Reader,
Today is Monday.

I hope it finds you well.



Thursday, May 01, 2008

Oh what a beautiful morning...

Man, I woke up with 5 hours of sleep under my belt but still somehow got up on the right side of the bed. I've been so productive. I went to the far away grocery store, and didn't buy too much (but what I bought was more expensive, for a few items), and decided that I really like grocery shopping in my pjs!

Unfortunately so do a lot of other people, so instead of feeling quirky, I just felt average. I hate feeling average.

Right now it's putting away laundry (which I FOLDED this morning, before taking the boy to school), and then ironing, as the rain looks like it's going to stay away and the weather will be warming up in time for my coffee meeting with a long time blogging friend from far and away.

It is beautiful here, though. It snowed a couple of days ago, but it's back on the Springtime track and we are promised mid 60s today. The birds are out and about and it's just amazing.

Side note: my mother and I were speaking on the phone yesterday and she said "you sound manic." That's how I feel too, so she was actually being pretty perceptive. Maybe I should invest in some decaf?