I stayed up too late working on costumes. When I awoke I stumbled around for some time. Then I drove around for some time.
Predictable that after a late night, the following day I am tired. I think this is good. It is the opposite of the hypomanic going to sleep at 2:00 am and being fine for the following day and maybe even the day after before eventually crashing.
Children had fun.
I have not stolen any of their candy.
We have plans to get it out of the house soon.
(this is such a ridiculous holiday. the only part i like is the costumes and the neighborhood connections. although i was not in the mood to connect last night, apparently.)
Grateful Crap: that I like making costumes and my kids like wearing them... for more than just one day. Daughter has been wearing her "black bear-dog" hood to stay warm outside. 11yo sports his very dashing coat, and it is the third year that 8yo has gone as an Ewok.
took medicine (even though it involved a detour)
Today I saw a former professor of mine at a coffee shop. She taught my first creative writing class in graduate school. She was advising a new grad student who had just moved to the area. I found myself shamelessly eavesdropping. Because writers do that, doncha know.
And this writing-related siting coincided with my newly found resolve to get back to fiction. And poetry. And things other than this creative nonfiction that is the day-to-day. I want to keep up with this day to day, but I feel like as I become less overwhelmed mentally I have the space to make room for intellectual pursuits of my own choosing.
Translation: I can do things I want to with my brains instead of just reserving them for the workplace.
My workout buddy was sick today. But once again I made it to the gym. And used the elliptical trainer for an hour. Reading the whole time. I can't remember now the long stretch of time during which I read nothing for pleasure. Now I am a total reading hedonist. A readonist.
11yo is ready to try a boys-only tap dance class. Leaving me on my own with the other adult beginners. Really I don't think I would have taken the class without him, and I am finally ready to take the class on my own, too.
We are good support for one another even when neither of us is any good at the thing we are attempting.
Like when he went ice skating for the first time and I was so wobbly on my own skates I was convinced I was going to plow into the ice chin-first. He watched people skate for a long time from the edge of the rink. Then he wanted to try, but only if I held his hand.
I was convinced that he stood a better chance of being flattened by me than anything else. I certainly did not expect to be of much assitance.
But what happened was this... when he held my hand standing on his wobbly skates, my skates wobbled less. And together we helped one another around the ice. Until we were both ready to skate alone.
This morning I tried an experiment: the anti-yelly morning. I decided that no matter how crazed the children made me with their lateness and their inattention to time and scrambling for things at the last minute, I would not engage in yelliness.
Because really, the yelly doesn't get things done any faster. And it doesn't even help me vent my anger. It just makes me more agitated.
We made it to the bus in plenty of time. I am fairly certain that neither of the children packed hot fudge sundays and cotton candy and bags and bags of Halloween candy in their lunches.
When I arrived at the bus stop I informed the 11yo of my experiment and said that I thought it worked pretty well, but that I wasn't sure he had remembered to brush his teeth and wondered what we could do to make sure that it happened without angry prompting. Because who wants to do something that is always associated with parents hollering.
I felt like such a parents magazine kind of a mom. He decided that he would brush his teeth when he woke up in the morning. I decided that I would dress like a toothbrush to remind him. Now I have to finish everyone else's costumes so I can figure out how to look like a toothbrush...
Grateful Crap: Day #2 absent creeping dread. (daughter had no idea I was writing about skating and just asked for skates in her size so she can skate. creepy.)
meds 100mg lamotragine, 450mg bupropion, 150mg venlafaxine
60 minutes elliptical trainer
playing with the band tonight
All day today I felt not panicful and not chaotic and just kind of regular in a good way. In the middle. But not bland. Not too speedy, not too slow. Just right. I am totally the one that Goldilocks would choose. (Apparently what it feels like to be me is to speak in scrambled stream-of-consciousness sentences after returning from an awesome 1-hour-long beginning tap class.)
I liked not feeling precarious. I liked not being worried about tipping off the Depression side or the hypomanic side. I taught this morning, decluttered some fabric this afternoon, tapped this evening and now I am typing. Tapping my fingers. Tippity tappity tap tap.
And I still have as much to do. And the house is still the same amount of too-much-to-do and I am still the imperfect person that I was on days that I was in the Sad... but it just doesn't seem all that devastating. How awesome.
These are the moments that i live for. I don't mean that in an ominous "dear god do we need to call someone about her state of mind?!?" way. Just that this normal everyday feeling of humanness totally rocks. And I am going to revel in it. Basking in the normalcy.
(Of course normal is an illusion and we are all totally whack in one way or another, but let's just agree that "normal" is the absence of neurotic tics for however brief a period of time.)
I am slowly working on something that might one day want to be a song. (or it might want to be an origami paperweight. who knows.) Writing words is not a problem. Writing music is. At least for me. I don't improvise well. I am wedded to written music. Written-by-someone-else music.
I taught composition to beginning band students when I was doing my practice teaching. Why? Because I believe that when we teach music, we should be teaching the reading and the writing of music. Just as we do with reading English. Do we expect that all people who learn to write will become famous authors? No. But we do expect that they will pick up the conventions of the written word and be able to use it with some minimal facility at least.
So when we teach the reading of music, shouldn't it be the same? Not just writing scales, but creative writing in music.
I am, of course, all talk and no action. I made my students create while I sat there wedded to the printed page. I will play and sing music written by others. I am intimidated by the blank staff. The five lines that stare at me from the page.
I don't have a good vocabulary to draw on, maybe. I know what I like to hear, but I don't have the experience of putting together sounds to
Here is the baby seed of the song (it's from the middle. it has no melody. poor song.)
The creaking floor the empty seat
The hollow sound of wooden feet
I find a place that isn’t mine
Sunlight, movement, smell of pine
Thunder settles next to me
A song, a psalm, serenity
Grateful Crap: tapping fingers, tapping toes, where she stops, nobody knows
took my morning meds again... the cause of my energetic normalcy?
100mg lamotrigine, 450mg bupropion, 150mg venlafaxine
snuggled with the daughter
tap dance for 60 minutes
I am not even including my 4 flights of stairs as my exericise anymore... between tap, stair climbing and elliptical trainer I am going to develop the most massively powerful quadriceps EVER.
I love tap
Quakers have a thing about light. We talk about the light within. The inner light. We hold people in the light. We give things to the light. It's the ineffable something. How eloquent. The ineffable something that cannot be adequately described. But that connects us somehow to one another and to the wider world.
And I realized that for me there is also an inner song. The tune within. Holding someone within the melody. Perhaps inner harmony. Music as proof of the divine. Music as the divine.
Music has saved me. I am a born-again musician. I will testify to the power of one note followed by another. When I went away to conservatory it was the equivalent of going to seminary. Or an abbey. I went to study. I went to worship. I went because I had no choice.
As a young person there was the relief of having a place to belong... voices raised, singing the correct note, knowing that the people around you were in concert with you. In accord.
When I was an angst-ridden teen, the only reason I could make myself face school on my super-down days was the lure of instrumental music. I had a place. And I could see a way forward. I could continue to perform with other musicians on and on and on. In a way that I could not see my other classes, however enjoyable, staying with me forever.
At the lowest point in my high-school Depression it was the sound of the piano coming from inside an empty church that brought me back. Made me come in from the cold. Warm my fingers. Play Debussy while a beautiful boy turned pages for me and nodded his appreciation.
When I searched for a faith community as a Unitarian, I chose the church with the best music program for my purposes. Where I could sing. Where I could play with a swing band. Where the music was not extraneous... played before and after worship. Where music was interwoven with worship.
So how did I arrive here with the quiet Quakers? Where there is no organized group raising their voices in song. No trumpets greeting the dawn. No thrill of strings...
I don't know. But it feels like home, most days.
I sit in silence with my community in a state of expectant waiting. And when I listen to the still voice within, it comes out in song. And not a song of my choosing.
When I realized that I didn't get to pick what song is going to come pouring out in the sunlit room with the wooden floors and the high ceilings I found that I needed to include singing during the week as part of my spiritual practice.
Otherwise when I was prompted with sweaty palms and drum-beating heart to stand and give voice to a song I would have to hum or whistle. Losing something. Especially because my whistling is really not good.
Only sometimes this weekday singing seems like rehearsal. Like I am practicing something SO THAT I can deliver it as a message. But that is ridiculous.
Not practicing songs would be the same as encouraging people not to read any sacred texts for fear that the words might influence their thoughts and come out as messages.
Ignorance is not a sound foundation for ministry. What happens during the week... the preparation for meeting... is important. And it looks different for all of us.
I hope that you are having a good week. I will hold you in song.
When I go shopping and it is nearly time to go, I become very fuzzy and disorganized. I wander around. I stare into space. If I am with someone else this is when I lose them. Or they lose me. Not sure why this happens, it just does.
Unfortunately this spaciness also happens when I am shopping on my own, and it may take me a while to figure out that I have been wandering back and forth near the cash registers for some time... so what should be a short trip takes much longer than I expect.
Now I have found myself falling into a pattern of somewhat willful fuzziness following the dinner hour. Five different people having five different ideas of what needs to be done. Many of them kind of loud. Sometimes rambunctious. Or yelly. Or I am just afraid that these things might happen.
So I sometimes have been checking out once the meal is done. Or while the meal is still going on. Staring into space. Breathing slowly. Hiding in my room. Lights off. Door sometimes locked. Wondering what it was that I meant to do. Or stressing out about things that I should have done earlier. Or wish that I had asked for help earlier.
I can totally see why Freud classified introversion as pathological. Not just because he was pissed at Jung. But a lot of behaviors have crossover between neuroses and introversion. And as a card-carrying introvert I have trouble sometimes teasing out what's what.
(Note to people who have known me for fewer than seven years... it is likely that you do not believe that I am an introvert. This is likely because we have different definitions of introversion and I am not shy.)
Because I think that sometimes I don't give my introverted self time to recharge. I don't have enough time planned in my schedule where I am just by myself on purpose. What parent ever does? Whether you work and spend your day with colleagues or you stay home with your children... when is there organic space for solitude.
Solitude. Not lonliness. Because lonliness sucks.
This is rambly and horrible. I am going to just set it free to live in the cloud...
I have been totally rockin' my bipolar earrings. Black earrings in left ear. White earrings in rights ear. In between... grey matter. Tee hee.
Also got a T-shirt with my "I hate being bipolar it's awesome go away" infographic.
AND (perhaps my favorite) business cards for my "negative communication factotum" that I can hand out as needed. Or just keep them in my wallet because just having them is helpful.
8yo: what's bipolar?
me: well, there's regular Depression which is just low, not-brain-worky crap. Then there's bipolar Depression that bops back and forth between low and YIKES. You know, where they do things like re-terrace the front hill one afternoon. Or rearrange all the furniture in the middle of the night. Or build a rock-wall to cover ugly orange sand bags...
8yo: hey, wait a minute... (he squints in my direction-- busted)
hold me in the light for i have sinned. it has been a super long time since my last confession. probably a year. or maybe more. maybe i have never really confessed. although i think i did when i was in the depths of Depression and it really sucked.
in the interest of brevity i will only confess to my sins of the past week.
three times have i neglected to take my morning medications
twice have i done naught but stay abed in my pajamas reading idle fiction
only day have i spent time beneath the sky
i have had self-deprecating thoughts and entertained the idea that i am supposed to be perfect
i did not attend quaker meeting
four times i have withdrawn from post-dinner mayhem as children engage in yelliness
i have been overly critical of myself and my children-- mostly as an extension of being critical of my failures as a parent
what i am really stuck on is this whole perfectionism thing. intellectually i know that i am not meant to be perfect. and i don't want to be perfect. but there is definitely some kernel of me that expects that i will be externally perfect in some way. not physically perfect. but perfect in demeanor and action. or something. that doesn't sound quite right.
i am okay making mistakes. pretty much i think. i am sort of mostly okay not doing things just right. i have trouble mostly when people besides me notice my failings out loud. because i figure if these failings are bad enough for them to mention, they must be truly problematic.
perhaps i am having a reciprocal problem. i am fond of believing that i don't unleash criticism unless the behavior is extreme and speaking of it is warranted. so my assumption is that if someone speaks ill of my behavior, i must be beyond the pale. i must be offending people right and left and only this person had the courage to speak blunt truth to me.
a friend today mentioned that she wonders if some people just don't "get me" because they are not used to someone who communicates directly. which is fantastic. because it means that i am unable to speak to people in my culture of origin.
i guess that is what makes me an excellent teacher of students from all around the world. we can wonder at the ways of the crazy americans together.
grateful crap: blogging which is working and i have to make sure that i am doing it more regularly and not missing medications. thankfully i have not missed any of the evening medications which are the ones that would be terribly problematic
took meds some of the days
blogged some of the days
exercised some of the days
saw friends some of the days
On Saturday my boss told me that I am doing too much extra work. I am doing an extended training in Adult Basic Education through a combination of meetings and webinars. I am presenting at an upcoming conference. I am serving as the learning team facilitator for the pre-occupational teaching squad. I am helping train in a new person to a job that I held several years ago. I am attempting to get several professional education websites up to snuff. I am piloting an experimental hybrid model of teaching a child development class. I am collecting data to prove that the other experimental thing we are doing in collaboration with the college is worth continuing. I would like to do some grant writing as well to help track the career goals of incoming students and link it with our current informational database...
And I have my regular teaching gig.
And I am a mom.
She thinks that I am getting sick too much because I am not taking time to let myself rest and recuperate. I think she is probably right.
I am not saying that spending an entire day doing nothing is a sustainable thing on a regular basis. It forced Spouse into an endless whirlwind of delivering children hither and yon across the globe. But I think every now and again, it is probably okay and even good.
Grateful Crap: having the leisure and having the Spouse to allow for days like today
remembered to take morning meds
150mg venlafaxine, 450mg bupropion, 100mg lamotrigine
took it easy
didn't completely freak out about making super awesome Halloweed costumes RIGHT NOW
I teach a class on Saturday mornings from 9:00 - 12:00. I love my class. I am very excited about the subject. My students are amazing. I become my slightly hypomanic-self and I teach the heck out of that class.
Then I come home and collapse. This has been a regular pattern for some time now. That I have a headache. That I have no energy. That I cannot imagine doing anything in the afternoon.
Part of this is, I am sure, that I am dehydrated. I don't drink enough water.
Part of it may be a natural post-hypomanic-teaching slump.
Part of it may be that I have forgotten to take my Friday morning AND my Saturday morning meds for two weeks running. This would no doubt affect energy levels since bupropion is one of my morning meds.
I have also been cutting back or cutting out caffeine. So headaches, I suppose.
I want to find a way to normalize my Saturday afternoons. Have a plan. Do something enjoyable but not exhausting. Have patience to deal with bouncy children. Not abandon Spouse to deal with all things weekend.
Grateful Crap: my awesome class
mostly taking my meds (and NEVER missing my evening meds)
mostly almost always exercising
wearing my yellow glasses after 6pm (I have found it easier to wake in the morning...)
To quote Spouse: it takes a long time around Quakers before you know how to pronounce Friends with a capital F. A friend of mine asked me the other day if friends had bishops. I had no idea what she was talking about.
Oh! You mean do Friends have bishops? No.
Right. Anyway, I had a picnic lunch and lovely afternoon of conversation with a F/friend. (This is quakerspeak for someone who is a friend of mine and who also happens to be Quaker. And I do not use it consistently througout the blog, I am afraid.)
I talked with her about how if felt to have a negative communication experience with someone after an hour of Quaker worship. And I think one of the reasons that post-meeting confrontations are more difficult for me to handle well is that I try to come to meeting with an open heart. I try to spend the hour of quaker worship opening myself to the community, to "the light," to whatever as much as I can.
So at the rise of meeting I am often at my most vulnerable. Unless I have been unable to center into any kind of meaningful worship and have spent the last hour making my grocery list in my head (which also happens sometimes).
There needs to be a way for Quakers to deal with conflicts. And I do value honesty. But it seems that there needs to be a better way, a better time, and a better place to address these conflicts rather than in the fellowship room immediately following worship.
Because I must say that my inclination (which I will fight) is to run swiftly from the building at rise of meeting so that no one has the opportunity to say anything to me that might do damage to my vulnerable self. Later, fine. Elsewhere, fine. But not in my place of worship. Not when I am trying to keep half an eye on my children and another eye on the clock. Not when I am wide open and in my most tender state.
I wish that it came more naturally... treating one another with great gentleness. But it doesn't. Not for me either. I strive not to be hurtful, but my gentle thoughts are rarely expressed to actual people.
So it appears that while I am not easily embarrassed, I am very easily shamed. And hurt. And I care WAY too much about what people think. I thought I didn't care about this-- what people think of me. What a crock.
Of course I care what people think of me and how they perceive me. I just don't care what mainstream culture thinks of me. I care about my friends, my co-workers, my faith community, my family. The people I choose to spend time with.
But this should NOT mean that I allow minor comments and criticisms the power to lay me low. Plus, I am fully capable of interpreting a normal human exchange as a harsh criticism given the right mood. And I do NOT expect people to have to walk on eggshells around me and only deal in platitudes.
I know that when police officers are being trained to keep a cool head in stressful situations they are repeatedly exposed to exercises with gunfire. So that the adrenaline rush that comes with that sound is gradually lessened. And then when they encounter gunfire in the field, they may be better able to keep their heads instead of being overwhelmed by stress hormones.
Perhaps this is the answer... I need to have people close to me practice telling me hurtful things. That sounds like a terrible idea. I take it back.
I went to meet again with the Once and Future Psychologist. I realized that I had talked up such a good game the first time I met her... that it probably seemed like there was no point in my speaking to a therapist.
So at the advice of my friend, I confessed to my day and a half of "self flagellation." as she put it.
Here was her evidence of my flaggellatory behavior:
So I confessed the whole bit to the OFP. The I followed it up with all the great braggy things that I did to bounce out of the whole I dug for myself.
This, naturally, was more of my talking a good game. See? I did everything I was supposed to do when I freaked out. I followed appropriate steps. I did the right thing. I seek perfection when dealing with my imperfections. In failing to please one person, I do my darndest to please everyone else. Me, Spouse, children, OFP...
And she called me on dealing with the symptoms of the Sad without addressing the cause of the Sad. That the whole thing tied into how I felt about myself as a teen and probably even earlier. And that my job was to somehow let the inner seven-year-old know that it was okay that she felt crappy and that it would be okay.
That's not quite how she said it. It sounded much less cracker-jack-psychobabble when she talked about it. But I can't call to mind the wording. Regardless, I had to fight back tears as she was discussing this and it kind of pissed me off because I think she was right.
That this whole lurking perfectionist thing will continue to be an issue unless I completely avoid people (including myself) or figure out some way to calm the super-high-maintanence people-pleasing inner jellyfish.
(Okay, she definitely did NOT refer to an inner jellyfish. Don't even know where that came from.)
I confessed that I had NO IDEA how to comfort the hurting child within. And later I realized that I don't know the difference between comforting and acknowledging the pain and wallowing. I am not interested in wallowing. Wallowing gets me nowhere.
But I see her point in there being a missing step between "I feel crappy" and "I have done things to make me feel less crappy." Somewhere in between I need to get to the heart of the crappy feelings.
And the heart of it is within me, not with whatever it was that insighted the Sad.
Here is the thing about the OFP: she doesn't always tell me what I want to hear. But what she does tell me is usually thought-provoking and leads me to what I need to consider.
Supporting her theory for past hurts being involved in the descent into sad: falling back on old coping mechanism of scratching skin off my arm AND thinking quite a lot about a completely inconsequential moment from my elementary years...
I was swimming in a public pool and accidentally bumped into some random girl. I apologized quickly and went on swimming. She chased after me, tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Hey girl, sorry isn't good enough."
Later I equated this feeling almost exactly with what it felt like to be criticized for something I had said and had my attempt at apology be brushed off. Your words are not helpful. They don't let you off the hook. You cannot undo the wrong you have done.
Horrible wrongs like singing a song. Or bumping into someone while my eyes are closed.
Hardly felonies. And yet I feel like a fellon.
Grateful Crap: OFP and the scabs that I'm gonna have to rip off. Not literal ones.
Quaker, teacher, parent,