Traditional Recipe for November
First, insert the end of Daylight Savings Time just prior to the start of the month. This will set all the clocks back one hour and play havoc with my internal clock. Which I hadn't noticed before, but which has apparently been consistent each year.
Next, on the last day of October, hold a holiday that involves the influx of Much Candy. Although I managed not to steal any candy from my children this year, this does not mean that I escaped. And I have been eating Sugar Sugar Sugar for many days now.
Third, have the weather turn cold and spitty. So that I spend as little time outside as possible. And arrange for dark clouds covering the sun just to add to the ambiance of gloom.
...okay I am writing this in the "Quiet Study Area" of the library and the person to my right is crunching loudly on cherry-flavored cough drops and the person on my left has a hugely LOUD ringtone and is now talking to someone. And behind me some sadist is squeaking his shoes against the floor. And if I were a famous movie star I would totally just snap and start screaming at all of them until my handlers guided me gently to my trailer where I could get a massage and a nice cuppa.
Grateful Crap: patience
better eating today
Yesterday (the sixth of November) I alternated between periods of extreme energy and extreme lethargy. Which seems kind of normal. Do something, get tired, rest, get energy, do something again. Only that isn't how it felt. It felt more like this:
ON off ON
As I stated in my previous post, I did reorganize the Room of Euphemism. And then collapsed for a three-hour nap. (BAD IDEA. It messes with my night. Which in turn will mess with the following day.)
But then I woke up and decided that I did need to move furniture around in the children's room and throw all clothes and toys on the floor and discover missing library books and fill three hampers and two trashbags and partially dismantle a toddler bed. And completely lost track of time. Spouse returned and was amused. He had told children that the rearrangement of sleeping situations would not happen until the weekend.
I told them it definitely would NOT happen on the day that I just went ahead and changed everything.
Realized on the way to band rehearsal that I had eaten the following items: a bagel with honey-mascarpone cheese, a mug of hot chocolate, a cupcake and a bag of fake popcorn. Realizing that I likely need to get back to the habit of tracking what I eat. Because, really... ridiculous.
Throughout rehearsal I was fighting with EXTREME IRRITATION at our substitute director. He is a perfectly nice man. He is a good conductor. He pays careful attention to the details and is exacting about getting the right sound. And I did not care about any of that.
I did not like his tone of voice. I didn't have patience while he was working with other sections while I waited and waited and waited. And then when we eventually got to a section where I had something to do... my brain had gone to sleep and I was not on the ball. Nor was anyone else in my section.
And I just wanted to get up and scream. Nothing intelligible. Just kind of a general holler.
I do not have this reaction to conductors. Not even the really arrogant ones who through tantrums when things don't go the way they want. Not even the incompetent ones who make me think, "I could totally do better than this."
But this perfectly nice person raised my ire in such a disturbing manner, that I excused myself to get a drink of water in the middle of rehearsal so I would not act on any of my worse impulses.
And I tap danced down the hall, leaving a trail of unintentional scuff marks in my wake.
I told Spouse I would need to wear different shoes to practice. Because clearly THAT was the problem.
I stayed up after Spouse went to bed working on my new beading project. I am beading a nametag for myself to wear at Quaker meeting. Because I don't wear a nametag. But I figure if I really like my nametag, maybe I will. And I am going to slip some of my "negative communication factotum" business cards in a pocket at the back so I am armed with a response if I am taken aback by someone's response to me at meeting.
I was super tempted to stay up really really late. I only didn't because I ran out of the right color of bead and I didn't want to wake Spouse by rummaging around looking for my excess beads.
Now I am tired. I will try SUPER HARD not to take a nap this afternoon. Naps, along with very late nights, are two of my favorite things. And they are not good for me. Much like cheesecake and chocolate.
Although tap is definitely working its way up the list of my favorite things. How awesomely ridiculous. Because tap is not bad for me at all. It doesn't hurt my ankles, or anything.
forgot morning meds but drove back home to get them
will eat better today
will try not to sleep
have been using my yellow glasses at night. I like it.
Yesterday I engaged in recreational website design. You know where you decide to try to copy and improve on an existing website just to see how well it might work...
And then some nebulous later time obsessing about fonts for this imaginary project you have created...
That was yesterday afternoon.
Today I had a brief surge of energy and industry in which I did a major declutter and rearranging of downstairs euphemistic playroom.
What is a euphemistic playroom? The dumping ground for all objects unwanted, unknown, unloved, unsorted, unused...
Boxes of papers to sort from last decade. Last millennium. Broken rocking chairs. Extra beds and kitchen tables. Obsolete computers. Semi-used exercise equipment.
Dried lumps of play dough. Wrinkled and torn book jackets for books we no longer own. The ghost of Christmas past and possibly the tooth fairy. Anything could be hiding beneath the first few layers.
Engaged in energetic, enthusiastic sorting and sweeping of the euphemistic room. Even relocated several large pieces of furniture.
Then ran out of steam.
Tapped for 40 minutes because I could not go to gym today.
Now no energy to spare for foldstravaganza (dealing with many piles of clean laundry) or dealing with the room that actually needs to have furniture moved around.
Instead nap with daughter. Sleeping right now. Both of us. And I have dreamed up this post.
Apologies for any weird autocorrect. While sleeping I post from my phone.
Took meds and other stuff that is virtuous.
Okay, I just pulled up a list of common side effects of mood stabilizers prescribed to bipolar people (taken from the NIMH website):
Does it strike anyone else as horribly ironic in a bad way that the mood stabilizers may cause mood swings? Really?
I think it is pretty clear from my mood chart and my day to day to day experience that I am a rapid-cycler. Meaning that I am on a mood roller-coaster rather than spending super-long amounts of time in one state or the other. This kind is known to be more difficult to treat. So I thought I would poke around a little bit and see what I could find.
Rapid cycling seems pretty common. According to the DBS alliance nearly half of bipolar people will experience rapid cycling at some point in the illness.
Things to avoid:
antidepressants (which may cause or worsen rapid cycling)
being related to someone with a substance abuse problem
Causes (3 theories)
1. "kindling" in which you experience something traumatic or anticipate something traumatic that triggers an early episode. Then your body becomes highly sensitive to this triggering and future episodes are caused by an increasing number of events... leading to rapid cycling.
2. Biological rhythm disturbances in which your body is out of sync with day and night. Sleep poblems are endemic in mania and depression. But maybe the abnormal rhythms are an exacerbating symptom rather than the cause and if you can treat the symptom and regulate sleep, minor episodes can be prevented from escalating.
3. Hypothyroidism... maybe insufficient levels of thyroid hormone in the brain. But the levels in the blood seem to be fine. Although rapid-cyclers seem to respond well to thyroid hormone treatment regardless of blood levels. Weird.
How to treat:
drugs (lamictal- which I am on is touted as a good candidate for a stand-alone drug)
My thoughts skitter jumping on the surface over
Just the tops of things before another
And following them is
Ripples outward I can't follow can't lead can't point even you
But back to the shore now a stone, wall, a glass house
Shattering shivering walls of ice
In this state how can coherent words something...
This lecture awake some kind of plan
Sun grows dim no cold the snow gutter leaves
And looking at me those eyes taking notes
Will this be on the exam?
Spouse says each year the end of daylight savings time plagues me thus
But I am stoning the freezing lamps
The place on my arm where I scratched it itches. And I had a very unpleasant set of interactions with nearly-12yo. Not yelly. Just deadly calm. And cutting. And the kind of thing that I can't come up with any solutions when the person I am trying to work with just shuts down with NO.
Listened to all the sad Carrie Newcomer songs I could while driving today.
Forgot my lunch
Guest speaker didn't show up
Feel like I am slowly draining like a bathtub with a clogged drain. It looks full and you can't tell that the water level is going down until you leave it for a while and then you come back and wonder where all the water went.
And I was focusing on how much worse so many of my friends have things and what a position of privilege I have and howcome I get to be such a fat whiny white girl. And then all the problems of these other people made me feel guilty that I couldn't do anything to help them. Not just that I don't have the time or the resources... they are problems that don't get solved. They just kind of settle in and you learn to live with them. Like a scar.
As I have been reading all of the trashy Regency romance novels I can find (which is quite a lot) I started to wonder what the treatment was for the mentally ill way back when. I know that there was a lot of really crappy treatment of people suffering from a mental illness. I just wondered if there was anything that worked in the absence of today's pharmaceuticals (all hail big pharma).
In my not very extensive research I found that most Regency era hospitals for the insane were terrible places where people were treated like animals and even shown off as if they were at a zoo.
Then in 1790 a young widow and Quakeress (in the term of the times) was admitted to the York Asylum for treatment of "melancholy." Which was likely clinical Depression. Local Quakers and family members were not allowed to see her; they were told that it was a private treatment or some such thing. A month later she was dead.
So the Quakers stormed the hospital. Not really. But they did muscle their way in to the facility and were apalled at the conditions they saw.
William Tuke enlisted the help of fellow Quakers and his personal physician to create an entirely different kind of institution. They also worked with an architect to create the kind of space to suit their needs. They called it The Retreat. At first only Quakers were treated there, but it expanded to include non-Quakers as well.
The theory behind this new institution was that people suffering from mental illnesses would benefit from benevolence, and a pleasant living environment. A setting that would encourage reflection and bring them in contact with caring people.
They were encouraged to wander the gardens freely and engage in enjoyable activities like reading, doing handicrafts and art. The residents of The Retreat were viewed as potentially rational people who could rejoin society by practicing self restratint and moral strength.
Controversy reigned over the idea of housing lunatics without manacles, chains or any physical punishments. But the doctors at The Retreat noticed fairly quickly that fear tactics made their patients worse, not better.
The Retreat is still in operation today.
In the morning the children were loud. Not bad loud, just loud. Playing. The kind that at first sounds like someone is being slaughtered and then when you run into the room to find out who you need to take to the emergency room... they are all giggling on the floor and wonder why I look so worried.
There were things they were supposed to do, but I didn't have the gumption to deal with them and quite frankly the decibels were making it difficult for me to think. So I went to the basement and completed sorting my fabric stash. That's right people. My fabric is sorted and in boxes and almost even labeled.
Only then there was much more loudness and bad loudness and stomping and slamming doors and recriminations and I decided that maybe I should just hide downstairs for the rest of the day.
Instead I remembered that I had a load of tree in my brother's truck that I needed to drive to the yard waste site. So I did that. And then I started working on leaves. And it was the same kind of breathless, anxiety-ridden, unsatisfying labor as my zombie gardening was.
I stopped for tea. And I was able to check things at that point and not continue to the leaf project. And then the truck went away, so temptation has been removed.
So I realize that hiding in the basement or under the covers or in a leaf pile is not good conflict resolution. Neither is engaging in the yelliness of righteous indignation. And right now those feel like my two choices.
Silent and hidden, or loud and problematic.
Stupid problems. Stupid conflicts. Stupid solutions.
I knew that when I was conducting an ensemble, the concerts were far more nerve-wracking than when I was the performer. And now I am finding it much more stressful to be the parent of a pre-teen than it was to be a preteen. And that is saying something, because I was a mess.
I remember anxiety attacks and hyperventilating and being sad so much of the time and being forced into counseling and accused of suicidal thinking and scars on my arm from where I scratched the skin and wearing a strip of cloth to hide the marks. And I remember feeling things so dang intensely and everything was unfair and people were trying to control me and I should have the right to vote and of course I was alone in a godless universe, wasn't everyone? And returning to school in between one therapist who thought I was crazy and one therapist who thought I was not and having a nice boy with anger management issues offer to hide me so my parents couldn't find me which I thought was sweet but also a TERRIBLE IDEA because eventually they would find me and surely that would mean a hospital stay which I felt must be avoided at all costs. And the highs were higher and the lows were lower and the dark was darker and the light was lighter and things that were vitally important to me didn't seem to matter to anyone else and things that I found trivial were somehow the most important. And my parent who wanted me to fit in and now I see that it was for my sake so I wouldn't be singled out and pecked at by the bigger birds at school and thrown out of the nest but at the time it just seemed like it was another thing about me that was wrong and needed to be changed. And feeling like I was the scapegoat of the family and the idea was that if they could fix me everything would be alright only I never knew what was wrong. And worrying and worrying when I was twelve years old because I hadn't yet chosen a college major or a college or a career and time was running out. And never wanting to know the time or the date because it was a reminder, a potent reminder that I didn't have as much time as I needed and things I was trying to put off were marching ever closer.
So I think it will probably suck for my child as he comes into his teenage years. And I would like very much to figure out how to minimize my role in this. Which I realize is probably hopeless.
When I got my teaching degree the person who spoke at the ceremony said, "Congratulations. Now you are minimally licensed and likely to do little lasting harm." And maybe that's the best I can hope for. That I might do little lasting harm. Only I know I will. Because I remember the conversations I had with Spouse when we were just past twelve and saying that parents inevitably screw up their kids and it wasn't worth the risk to have any.
Grateful Crap: County yard waste sight and finally getting rid of the tree branch that fell at the beginning of summer. Also, that I did not actually forget to pick up my parent from airport. But I had airport on my brain so much that I accidentally started driving a friend their instead of going to our intended destination.
in bed/asleep by 10:30 (!!!!)
Today after class I went grocery shopping in order to avoid collapsing immediately. It worked, kind of. I did not take a nap while at the store. I did buy a lot of snack items, though. And when I returned home I was super tired and "slept" on the couch while all three children engaged in loud, cooperative play.
However, since I didn't actually sleep maybe that is a step in the right direction and maybe it won't mess up my sleep schedule.
I think that the director of my school is not quite sure what to make of me. And I don't mean that in a bad way. I just get the feeling that he comes away from our conversations wondering what the heck just happened. Not the content of my speech so much, but maybe my communication style? Couldn't tell you. It is just this vague feeling.
I finally-- after how many weeks since the beginning of school in September-- feel like I know what is supposed to be going on (at the clerical and administrative level) for my Saturday class. I even have the appropriate phone numbers to call should anything go wrong. Whew!
Today I threw twigs in my brother's truck. Tomorrow I am hoping for leaves. Time to put the garden to bed. It doesn't feel like I grew anything, but I know I did. There are still things growing. My cabbages, the dill weed, bok choi, poor misshapen brussels sprouts planted to close together to grow well and then shocked by midseason transplant...
I did some tap this evening after moving sticks around. I am still bad. I am still improving. And I still love it. I think that red tap shoes are going on my birthday list this year...
Grateful Crap: refilled my prescription today for a scrip that accidentally ran out yesterday (and it is my nighttime one that I can't miss for more than a day or two without repurcussions)
listened to voicemail
did not actually forget to pick up mother from airport today (I was 98.743% sure her flight came in tomorrow)
Quaker, teacher, parent,