I am the twinkling best, the brightest star
My mind aflame and I can do no wrong
A convoluted journey's end seemed far
Until I woke the morning with a song
The path below is strewn with bitter things
And countless souls who all must wander here
But I can fly, you see, on golden wings
I will not tread this dust, my path is clear
My lightning thoughts propel me through the air
Until some mischief works upon my mind
And I am doubt, destruction and despair.
My wings are naught but thread and wax, I find
Ah! Icarus, I did not hear your cry
We are not bound by earth but cannot fly
There are three pronunciations of this word, so far as I know.
It is my new word of the month. Mud and mire and backwaters. A condition of degradation, despair or helplessness. Anything that is shed or cast off.
I am unlikely to post well. My thoughts are scattered. I am tempted not to tell you that I don't want to continue taking my meds.
Not for any particular reason. Just because I sorta wonder what will happen. Maybe nothing. Maybe because I feel a bit stuck in a slough and I wonder if the change might bring a change. Good or bad. Just change.
I have, full disclosure, failed to take my meds for the past two days because I failed to renew the prescription. That is not the reason for my latest lingering downs. More properly the non-renewal is a side-effect of the downs.
But please do not feel the need to come beating down my door to let me know what a TERRIBLE idea it is to discontinue taking my meds without being directed to do so by my psych NP.
I know. I have committed to abiding by her decisions.
Spouse filled prescription for me today (since I would likely have obstinately allowed it to lapse further, forcing myself to restart at beginning levels before slowly going back to therapeutic levels).
It feels almost weirdly retroactive... Like I don't feel very well and so I want to mess with my meds so that I can later say "Oh... that's why I didn't feel right. It's because of the meds."
Except that is backwards.
I wonder if it is harder for me to get enough sleep now that there is more light? I wonder if my sleep is of worse quality? I am getting between 6-7 hours per night regularly. Which I know is not enough, but I don't see that changing any time soon.
Metaphorical crap: I am a muddy garden patch ready to ruin your nice new shoes
blogging about true crap
Note: Too Much Beading (again, not cause of down. symptom)
I didn’t want to be some embarrassingly cheery spaniel puppy who runs in front of you and turns around and stumbles and tries to look up at you and stay close and keep its legs moving all at once and just when you think the coast is clear you accidentally tumble over it as it tangles you up in its clumsy little legs.
I knew you’d never stand for one of those starter dogs who looks like bait for actual dogs and whose name starts with “toy” or “teacup” and who yips and jumps and snaps at people and wears little sweaters and matching hats and must be carried around in a designer bag instead of joining you on walks and that’s not me.
But maybe I felt like a border collie who’s plenty smart and kind of self-sufficient but still requires too much attention after you’ve had a long day at the office and when it wants to play fetch (for just three hours) all you really want to do is take a nap but what can you do since the poor thing has been left alone all day long and so just out of pity you give some of your time.
So I overcompensated and became one of those retired racing greyhounds who skitters at sudden movements and is afraid of making mistakes and never is where you expect it to be and was not socialized like other dogs (since all it’s ever done is run) so it makes up its own bizarre rules of behavior and has to be taught even basics like how to go up and down the stairs but is a perfectly nice dog that everyone agrees could one day be a fine companion and definitely has a way with children.
I never wanted to be a husky who pulls and pulls you along through deep heavy snow and deadly weather and can’t be inside because its fur is so thick and so it lives in the frozen tundra with a pack of its fellows. I didn’t need to be some yellow lab seeing-eye dog to lead you everywhere day and night and who you depend on for your every move. Or a Shetland sheepdog who lives to work and corrals herds of stupider animals on your command.
I just wanted to be something dependable and calm like a Newfoundland or a St. Bernard who you could count on for friendly afternoons of casual walks and swims and romps in snow but also when there’s trouble you could use to find people who are lost.
Then I thought how sad if all you’re looking for is a goldfish.
Morning's kiss wakes TREES and flowers,
And to them I'd like to drink a toast;
I walk in the park just to kill lonely hours,
Spring Can really Hang You Up The Most.
I am weepy. For no particular reason.
People mention something that makes them sad or happy or contemplative and I find myself tearing up. A local celebrity dies early and unexpectedly and I cannot hear his songs without crying although I had no great personal connection with him or his music.
I am irritable for no particular reason. Intolerant of actions that I disagree with.
I find myself thinking of people who don't do what I want as being Not Smart. Which is likely not the case. At least not always the case. They just have a different way of doing things. Different from the one that I think is right. Different priorities. Which makes them STOOPID.
I am also indulging more in quite smutty, poorly-written romance novels, perhaps as a way to overcompensate for the weepy irritated crap.
I spend quite a bit of time thinking about things that make me angry, irritated and sad.
Today it is raining and it brought to mind the time that this poet lady was visiting our school and she played horribly depressing music for us as teenagers and was surprised that all of our poetry was horribly depressing. As if teenagers aren't already prone to emotional crap.
I am starting to receive my first big wave of rejection letters from agents. Now, this is anticipated. In fact, it is my belief that an unpublished author of a romance novel is highly UNLIKELY to be agented because there are several opportunities to publish without an agent. Which was my initial thought anyway. But perhaps jumping on the whole rejection train while I am already kinda down was not the best plan.
Here is my new plan: wait to hear back from the two publishers that I sent to. The agents I'm waiting to hear back from are sort of the very very very longshot. So far sent out to 11 agents. Heard back from four.
And if publishers reject my first book, I can send them a copy of the next book. Persistence. Idiocy. Madness.
Grateful Crap: new stuff growing, I guess. Even though it will make me sneeze and cough.
date with Spouse
One of the parts for my IOOV (In our own voice) talk that I need to do is on acceptance. What did it take for me to accept my mental illness. Right now, I can't say. Because right now at the minute I am disbelieving the diagnosis. I am pretty sure that I am just easily irritated and emotionally fragile and all the other crap is just made up by Big Pharma.
It's one of the times (like when I am doing Very Well or Slightly Poorly) that I am less convinced of my bipolarity.
During Very Well times I can't quite remember the bad crap. Or I am convinced that I am Cured. Or that I was once a drama queen. OR a diva. And that I am no different from everyone else. Carbon copy with slight variations. No worries. All better now.
Slightly Poorly times I can't view what is going on as a result of any kind of mental illness because it lacks a certain quality of... gravitas? Maybe because while I being treated/medicated the lows aren't as low? Or as a function of being low I am convinced that whatever is going on with me is a character flaw and not a brain chemistry issue?
I am always me, is the problem.
I have always been me
I always will be me.
That is fine. The position is not open to other applicants, I'm just saying that my me-ness makes it difficult for me to self-evaluate what is going on in my brain. In my amygdala.
I can't tell if how i am feeling is a normal part of being me
Or a normal part of having bipolar
Or a sign that things are going awry.
Popped out for a bit of brain research and found this from Chicago Psychiatry Associates and read that bipolar people tend to overuse the emotional centers of the brain even during "cognitive challenges." Drawing on their amygdala when calculating sums. And NOT because they don't like math.
Is this part of why I become weepy when I am trying to figure out how to tackle a particularly intractable problem in teaching? Not just because I feel for my students and want the best for them, but because I'm using a weepy part of my brain to process things? Interesting thought.
Looks like the main problem according to the 2013 stuff they reference is the communications difficulty between prefrontal cortex and amygdala. They likened it to a faulty surge-protector. Prefrontal is supposed to do a whole score of things including regulating emotions and on impulse control. The amygdala is fear, anger and pleasure. Ego and Id.
BUT it strikes me that everything is a question of degrees. At what POINT is it clear that a person has bipolar disorder? And not just "alsmost bipolar disorder." If physical/neurological signs are progressive and differ from one individual to another...
Say that my amygdala is bigger than yours and will keep on getting bigger. And my prefrontal cortex is shrinking (which are two things that are observed in progression of bipoloar).
Aren't there some people who have larger-than-average amygdala? And what does that mean?
Also, an interesting question raised in the article was whether the enlarged amygdalae were a result of overuse of the emotional processing area OR if they had become enlarged due to the overtime they needed to put in as they attempted (with decreasing ability) to reign in bipolar emotions.
Brain full. Going to the Y.
Grateful Crap: internet
10.5 hours of sleep last night
(will take meds now; fell asleep in clothes without meds or brushing teeth. ew!)
talked to Spouse/coworkers
ate good foods
I promise that I will call psych NP
I promise to have my eyes checked
Get a flu shot
Have my teeth cleaned
Check my blood pressure
I promise to move my body
Even when it really wants to
I promise to get more
than six hours of sleep a night
I promise not to spin out
about work crap
or parenting crap
or self-care crap
or work crap
or family crap
or F/friend crap
I promise to spend time doing something I like
I promise I will not obsess about all the things
I need to do
I should do
I have to do
The necessary things
I promise I will not think
Over and over and over again
How I have failed
How I will fail
How I am failing and failing and failing and failing...
I promise that I will call psych NP
I am not hypomanic at the moment. I crave sleep. I am sluggish. I want to hole up in my room in my house in my head and not come out. I am making myself leave the house, exercise with spouse, have tea with friends. But I don't want to.
I am worried that if I start doing anything I will slip into hypomania. It is spring.
My question (and I may very well have asked this before) is whether engaging in hypomanic behaviors will bring on a full-blown "mood episode."
But I don't think I've had such a mood episode for a while. Not on the hypomanic side anyway. Not since last spring, at least, when they tried me on Lithium. (A disaster. I cried all day every day.)
I look at the yard with its layers of forgotten leaves and think "I need to do ALL of this right now." And I am exhausted and hermitlike at the very thought.
And simultaneously terrified of doing ANYTHING about the leaves. Because what if I can't stop.
So I guess where I am right now is an uncomfortable combination of anxiety/depression. Once again, not sustained enough to be a "mood episode," but persistent enough to be a pain in the ass.
Happy Happy Spring.
Grateful Crap: spring.
tea with friend
drinking enough water
Part two of practicing my "In Our Own Voice" talk for NAMI. This one is all about the bad crap.
I was misdiagnosed with Major Depressive disorder as a teen. For twenty years I was on and off and on antidepressants, which sometimes seemed to work and sometimes didn't. I went through long stretches of time when it seemed like a monumental task just to get out of bed. There were other times that I felt more like myself... energetic, activated, electric, alive,
It was twenty years before I received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
I had experienced hypomanic symptoms but I never thought of them as problems. After all, I finally had strength to do more than just sleep all day. I had energy. Lots of energy. Energy to spare. The less sleep I got, the less tired I was during the day. I could tackle a hundred new projects - a thousand new projects. I was on fire.
Some of my activities during my hypomanic episodes were harmless. I frenetically engaged in a series of hobbies, immersing myself in one thing completely before abandoning it for the next obsession. Whatever hobby I was interested in at the time, it was all I would do. All I could do. I lost track of time. I slept less and less.
Some of my other activities were more questionable.
None of these things had disastrous consequences. In fact, they turned out pretty well. I got more garden space, a nicer looking shoreline, a new floor, cute hair. Because the results were positive, I didn't see the behavior as symptomatic. I realized I had a bit of an impulse-control problem, but I was just glad to have energy.
But along with the excess energy came a decreased connection to the world.
My four-year-old daughter wandered off from a school playground while I was talking to another parent. The principal of the school found me and said, "That was really scary." My daughter was in tears. I knew that I was supposed to feel worry or guilt or relief, but I simply didn't care. I had no emotional reaction whatsoever.
Then, I experienced my first psychotic episode.
I was crossing the Lake Street Bridge in my car, looking out on the Mississippi River. I found myself wondering how much force would be necessary to bend the railings. And would I need to hit it straight on with my car, or could it be a glancing blow? I tried to decide which section of railings I should aim for, but traffic kept interfering with my plans. I just needed all the other cars to stop so I could think this through scientifically.
At the time it made perfect sense to me, that I should run my car full-force into the metal guard rails. I had no intention to harm myself or anyone else. I simply thought that I should do this because people would want to know. I felt that I would be doing some sort of public good.
At the same time this was happening, my rational brain would break through in brief flashes and I would think, "Oh crap! I am driving a giant machine of death and my brain has been hijacked!"
But then my altered reality would assert itself again-- a reality in which the people around me all wanted me to drive my car off the bridge.
I realized that I had no mental health emergency plan. I wondered if I was a danger to myself and others. If so, what was I supposed to do? My spouse didn't even know the name of my psychiatrist. I didn't know who to call.
It was during one of my lucid moments that I considered the benefits of following through on my destructive impulse. I pitied my family. I found myself thinking that everyone would be better off without me. Because as long as I was still alive they were going to have to deal with things like this forever. Horrible, unpredictable, terrifying things.
I can probably comb through my archives and find that any particular month is a bad month for me. But I am partial to April at the moment. Partial to believing that when I say that spring is a hard time for me I am talking about April. Something about daylight savings time maybe? Increase in the light? Don't know.
I feel like I am losing time a bit. And like maybe I am having a harder time shaking the Sad than I first expected...
It's really hard to find any information on whether people being treated for clinical Depression hang on to Sad mood. Because mood and sad and depressed are all tangled together. And most searches I do just help differentiate between sadness and Depression.
But there's a more complex layer. Because moods don't just disappear. There are ups and downs whether you are being treated or not. And Depressed does not mean crying non-stop for 24 hours per day. Sometimes it doesn't even feel Sad. Just Empty.
...I just sort of spiraled slowly downward into a small puddle of blah. Not sure there is any particular reason.
I wrote in the morning for an hour or two. And when I came home, I set about beading, which I typically don't do in the middle of the day. But it was all I felt able to do at the minute.
Then there was a meeting at work, which was a fine meeting. But I left feeling like I should be accomplishing some sort of super-human over-arching amazing culmination to the year for my team. And I don't think that is actually called for.
But the downward mood wasn't due to that either.
Honestly I could not pinpoint any particular cause. Just a bit blah. Perhaps it is just a bit blah sort of day for me. These happen. It was a lovely day outside. I was not coughing up a lung. But by the end of the day (which is now) I can tell that my face is in its "negative neutral" position.
When I am doing pretty much mostly okay, my face has a positive neutral expression. I appear cheerful and friendly. When I am doing a bit less okay, my face has a sort of mean "back off" sort of a look. The muscles can't be bothered to pull my face into any kind of expression. Things are just sort of blank.
I feel clayfaced and disconnected. When Spouse woke up before I did, I felt like I had to stay in bed and be sad for an hour before I got up. Which I did not do, but only because i texted him about this ridiculous plan.
I am on spring break, which is probably not the cause of my disconnect. Stupid stuff makes me cry. I don't have sympathy for real people, but I have a great deal of empathy for imaginary people. Songs. Even songs that aren't all that sad.
More odd feeling than sad feeling. I don't want this to be the start of some stupid apathy mood state. Because that is kind of my least favorite. No, I don't really like any of them. Not the deep depression. Not the frenetic hypomania. Not the apathetic blah.
I prefer when my mood episodes absent themselves and I can just be me.
In the training for NAMI's In Our Own Voice, we needed to prepare our own story following a particular format:
The trick is to tell these tales in discreet 1-3 minute segments. Thought I'd refine my story a bit here... the third or fourth or fifth draft by this time.
I live in Saint Paul Minnesota with my family. I started out as an orchestra teacher but I'm currently working as an ESL teacher at a K12 charter school.
I married my best friend and high school sweetheart. We celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary this past year and have three children: two boys and one girl. They attend a Mandarin Immersion program so they can all speak Chinese to one another and their parents will have no clue what they are saying.
I am an education junky. I received two bachelors degrees as an undergrad: East Asian Studies and Music Education. I also have teaching certification in English as a Second Language K-12 and Adult Basic Education. I have a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and hope to publish my first not-too-trashy romance soon.
While I no longer teach orchestra, music continues to be an important part of my life. I play French horn with a local symphonic wind ensemble that toured China, playing for the opening of the World Expo in 2010.
In my spare time I enjoy doing beadwork. I began making beaded cuffs for myself and then expanded to selling at craft fairs. I hope one day to be selected for one of the larger juried art festivals in the area.
Clocking in a one minute, nine seconds and sixty-seven hundreths
Note: while working from the meticulously written skeletal notes on the notecard that I prepared during my NAMI training it said:
I have NO idea what (NTC) might mean. According to the urban dictionary I can choose from "Not That Cool" or "No te Creas," which apparently means "just kidding."
NOTE: I continue to plod through the process of looking for an agent for my romance novel. Also going to submit manuscript unagented to a a few places while waiting. I can always say no if they offer me a deal that sucks, right?
I found one agent among thousands who will only take snail mail querries. So to make that happen I went to the store to buy printer ink an an envelope, but came home with a new printer since it was cheaper to get than the cartridges. Also, our old printer was becoming old and cantankerous, so it isn't as impulsive as it sounds.
Still, if I am swooped up by this agent, I will have my trusty new printer to thank.
Grateful Crap: nice weather and children screaming outside instead of inside
sleep ( I got A LOT of sleep last night)
meds (300mg of lamotrigine)
doing stuff instead of not doing stuff
Quaker, teacher, parent,