Did I jinx it?

Like washing your car to ensure a good rain, a public exclamation of: “I’m not manic, I am just really switched on”, is an absolute guarantee that you will be disillusioned and exhausted within the week.

Coming down feels quite like sobering up. I may have been a bit delused (my word. Feel free to toss it around). The inflated sense of self is embarrassing.  Am I self deprecating and masking it as reality, because I am dipping below the depression line? Or am I having a period of “normality” and wising up to my mania induced egocentricity?

Most likely I am thinking way too much, and my need for attention is distracting and obnoxious. I feel the need to climb onto someone’s lap and pout. No someone in particular, a mom maybe, or a version of Jimmy Stewart. I miss my daughter, even though I just spoke with her and will see her in less than a week. I miss my Seattle friends and even the Spokane ones I just saw. I miss the river and being able to stay awake.

I miss my mania, even if it’s not reality.

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Movin’ On Up

I am so obnoxiously disorganized. This is a major point of difficulty in my life. I like things and get distracted quite easily and tend to collect chaos and great bundles of clashing nonsense wherever I go. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I hoard things, necessarily, but I am shit at letting go. Matter and metaphorical. I believe that our material world is a physical manifestation of our subconscious selves. I am not implying that a tidy house is a clean psyche, sometimes quite the opposite; I had a good friend in high school who lived in a house where everything had it’s place, but it was always so cold and unwelcoming. It seemed dark even when the sun shone through the windows. He and his parents rarely spoke, when his father did talk to him it was usually a criticism. I was never actually there when his parents were around, and even though I have never been super perceptive to energies, I could still feel the disassociation and stunted emotion in that home.

My own home, however, is inviting and comfortable, or so I have been told. As I have gotten older I have learned to keep the common areas as tidy as can be expected of someone as domestically disabled as myself and there is no denying the creativity and love in this house. We can get messy, but rarely are we dirty. My kitchen is always in varying degrees of entropy, but I find time a few days a week to turn on some loud music and clean the bejeezus out of it. I actually like to clean. It is meditative for me, once I have gotten over the starting part. Motivation to start anything is not a strength I possess just yet. I am, however, an expert lounger and am absolutely in love with leisure. I would do it for a living if I could, and be very good at it. My living room reflects this. Big comfy couch and chairs, throw pillows, throw blankets, anything throwable really, rugs, parties, a biscuit if you are so inclined… There are tons of books and movies, art supplies and stereo equipment. Really anything you might want to waste some time on, I got. Except video games, I hate a challenge.

Then there is my room. The room that I also share with my daughter, though she really only goes in there to sleep. It has no windows and an unusually slender door. It is at the back of the apartment, hidden and ignored. The fire exit is an oddly placed white door that looks like a front door of a house, heavy and metal with a dead bolt. It leads to my building manager’s storage space and eventually outside. This is a mirror for the farthest reaches of my psyche. In other words, it is a dark forgotten pit of bedlam and neglect. I wake up confused and sick, and I go to bed over stimulated and restless. The in between part varies greatly, such is the life of a manic depressive, but the wake/sleep transitions seem to be non-negotiable and have always been my deepest bane.

There is hope. I am abandoning my fabulous metropolitan apartment with the giant yellow kitchen and deep pink tub that is just a block from anything I could possibly want in my hip expensive neighborhood in my hip expensive city by the water. I am packing up only that which I have decided I need, putting it all into storage and the kiddo and I are moving to the woods for the summer to live in a bright red double-decker school bus. I am so friggin’ excited. It is a journey that I have put off for entirely too long. It all begins with letting go. Letting go of all of this useless bullshit that bogs down my mind and soul. Getting rid of the forgotten toys, too small clothes, broken jewelery, mementos of a time in which we no longer exist, distractions, delusions unrealistic expectations and all of the lies I have told myself when I’m sad.

One of the goals of this adventure is  to learn how to apply my myriad of daily epiphanies to reality. In this world of instant gratification, I have gone soft. In more than just my waistline. I have never learned self discipline or control. When you suffer from delusions, you learn to second guess yourself, to find the truth. The problem with that is that, well, you are always second guessing yourself and your confidence suffers and wanes. I want to learn to find that voice. The one that speaks my truths through love and compassion and teach it how to be louder than the rest of them, ultimately silencing them once and for all. There is not room in this head of mine for all of them. Especially the deceivers. You know the ones, we all have them. These little monsters of guilt and resentment. Of jealousy and despair. I came across a list I had made once when I was dealing with some stuff. It was instructions on how to pull myself out of a depressive episode. One of the steps really stuck with me and still helps to this day. Give your monsters really un-monstery names, like Kennith or Cleetus. It is impossible to be frightened or intimidated by something named Meriwether Snodgrass.

I will return to the city in the fall, find a new, quieter neighborhood and and apartment with sunlight. I will have less material crap than I do now (think minimalism, think White Room), so that will hopefully aid and abet any organizational prowess I intend to develop in the near future.

I really just long to feel like a grown up.

Till next time lovies,

CTW

Post Script, darlings: I am just barely learning HTML, clearly I still only really know how to make big bold font and back again. A point in the direction of tutorials would be most appreciated. Thanks!!

The trouble with Rapid Cycling bloggers

I have just received a metaphorical kick in the arse by one Miss Seaneen Molloy http://thesecretlifeofamanicdepressive.wordpress.com, in the form of an email stating that I had better “UPDATE OR SHALL I FIND YOU AND MAKE YOU DO SO”. As she does not seem the type of person I should like to cross, and because my gross negligence of this project has officially crossed over into the realm of hilarity; I find myself once again inspired and ready for literary buffoonery.

I had actually began a post at some point early last month, but failed to finish for reasons made obvious by the post itself. I had intended to return to it and revise, but then my mood pendulum swung gaily to the left, and hitting ‘publish’ would have felt quite like lying, so I let it go.

But here it is anyway, just in case you were wondering

Panic Aggression and Par-annoy-a

Nothing is wrong. No one is upset with me and I haven’t started any major fires yet. I am not in trouble with the law and I still have a job. I am not being evicted, my little has been fed and tended to and my living room is as tidy as it is ever going to be.

So why am I so ferociously afraid? What is this constant lump in my throat and why do I feel like my life is spiraling out of control? I am Catherine O’Hara on the airplane just before she screams “KEVIN!”

I have completely ruined life and am desperately searching for the reset button.

Logically, I am having an episode. I dropped enough acid in my formative years to be able talk myself down from anything, but mostly it just feels like rationalization. Everything is fine. God’s not disappointed in me. I still am only a minuscule speck in an ever expanding universe and nothing, NOTHING that I have done or could do in my life will cause so much of an upheaval that it will upset the balance of reality. This isn’t real. This is a by-product of my cranial fizzes and pops not fizzing and popping like they oughtta. Logically, I’m right on track.

I wish my emotions were logical.

Whew! Thank Frank that’s over. I am actually quite fine now, thank you. I have just celebrated my 28th complete revolution around the sun. I had literally The Best Birthday of my life thus far. My favorite boys played a show and I danced like my life depended on it. Honestly, if you ever get a chance to see A Gun That Shoots Knives, please, please do so. They embody giddiness and all that is magical in the world.

The fantastical night of debauchery and Tom Foolery was followed by an early morning drive to my old stomping grounds for a memorial of epic proportions. A favorite uncle and truly inspiring human being had passed away this winter, having family and friends dispersed across at least three states, the memorial had been postponed until the snow had a chance to melt.

The six hour car ride alone was an experience unto itself. I had mixed two-hundred and forty minutes of choice music and giggled in the back seat with my little one while my buddy Jimmy and my Auntie bonded in the front. I cried from happy nearly the entire way as I had pretty much had the greatest night prior, and was headed to see almost my entire family and many of my most favorite folk who have known me since I was just wee, and continue to love me regardless.

I was allowed to cut the reigns on the kiddo and let her run free with all of the other wild children. We do not live in a small town, and my grip is tight and smothering to a young one with such strong wings and desire to use them. But once in the safety of my old home, the baby was off and flying.

I was relishing in my own freedom too. I used to be afraid of people who knew me too well. I had always felt that too much familiarity would somehow stifle growth. As if those around us could keep us trapped and can limit us by their preconceived notions of who we are. Oh, I could not have been more wrong.

For someone who often feels disconnected from humanity, unconditional love can hit hard and unexpectedly, leaving no room for anxiety and self doubt.

I am so unbelievably and unwaveringly grateful for those who count me a part of their lives and have carved out small me-sized spaces in their hearts for me. I can be quite a lot to deal with, and at times I seem so self absorbed that I am not seeing you. But I am. I always am. Sometimes I just don’t possess the language to tell you.You keep me humble.

I came home from my trip to find that some good friends had cleaned my room in my absence. BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER!

With butterfly kisses and marmalade dreams. Your Everlovin’,

C.T.W.

Bipolar and The Single Parent Pt. I

imbroglio a-go-go

(in which C.T.W. gets all snippy with everyone)

I almost didn’t want to write about parenting. For one thing, I wanted to keep this blaaahg as ageless and genderless as possible, being able to relate to the world as an anonymous entity co-existing within two playing fields. For another, well, who the hell am I to be giving parenting tips!? My experience as a mother is somewhere between overwhelming love and gut-wrenching guilt. I am both timid and fierce in my beliefs, yet maintain that I have no fucking clue as to what I am doing.

The decision to become a single parent was difficult to the the point that words could not begin to express. I got knocked up. There really is no polite way to say it. I was 18, a billion miles from home and too independent for my own good. There was no relationship, no love, no sweet summer romance. I got knocked up fair and square. That’s it. Being avidly pro-choice, I knew my options. I was more than ready to make that choice, So ready, in fact, that I booked the appointment. What business did I have bringing up an entire human when I wasn’t even fully formed myself?

Now, I am not going to get into the Mania vs. Divinity subject right now, that is for a later post. But I will say, that the night before the appointment, God told me to keep the baby. And I have not regretted the decision since. Wish I had done things a bit differently? Hell yes, but no regret. Never regret. I can honestly say that child has saved my life.

I am a good mother, but a sloppy human.

This is important to remember, as the two are easily confused. I wasn’t officially diagnosed with manic depression as an adult until my daughter was eight. Before then I just thought I sucked at life. Lethargy equated with laziness and my manic lapses in judgment were just plain old stupidity. I am not saying that every poor decision I have made in my life can be blamed on bipolar disorder, this ain’t no crutch, baby. What I am saying is that those of us afflicted, can be quite a bit more critical of ourselves than need be. Everyone can be a bit tough on themselves from time to time, for some it is a way of life (yes, I am talkin’ to you, Catholics), but for many of us BiPo’s, a thought is a belief. An all encompassing one at that. “I am talking too much” becomes “I talk too much” then “I talk so much that I must not be listening” to “I am a bad listener and a horrible friend” becomes “I am a truly terrible person” and finally, “I am a disgusting unenlightened sack of shit.” That thought will roll around in your head for a bit, until you decide that it would be best if you just stay out of public for a while. You might as well draft apology letters to everyone you know, while you’re at it.

Enter the onslaught of blatant criticism that every parent faces. When you have a child you learn that everyone in the world knows how to raise your baby better than you, and boy howdy, are they ready to tell you all about it. I have had drug addicts give me parenting advice, I shit you not. But I never knew how to stand up for myself, because I never thought I had the right to. I took every criticism as given. Every judgment as fact. I had literally no confidence in myself as a person, let alone as a mother.

But when you are a parent, you just don’t get to give up. When that child is such a source of inspiring, magical, sparkle power, you just have to do your best. I have and will continue to bring my daughter up to the very best of my ability; which is why it can be so crushing when those around you are anything less than supportive. For someone who’s emotions are amplified to a deafening degree and holds the opinions of others higher than her own, all that judgment tells her is that her very best just isn’t good enough. That she will never be enough.


I want to stress that if the child is in no harm, is not being neglected or being used as a nurse-maid, your critiques will want to be saved for a time when the parent is not experiencing an episode. If you see that the child is in any danger, however, remove them from the home immediately and call 911. Remember that the parent will require hospitalization if the situation has become that dire. Make sure you can build yourself a good support group for the process, these are emotional decisions to make. A person with manic depression can be fully functioning for years without conflict, some never experience a severe enough episode to require hospitalization. Having one does not make them a bad person, but when a child is involved it reaches a whole new level of severity.

Ok, now that we have all the heavy stuff out of the way, let’s get back to some of the day to day crap that makes us BiPo’s oh-so-much fun to be around. Did I ever tell you how much I love to make lists? I make lists of lists I need to make… until I feel like a crazy person- Oh here’s one:

How to be supportive of a bipolar parent

  1. Don’t make me an obligation. If you don’t enjoy being here, it is not helpful to me. If you martyr yourself for my benefit, it will make us both resentful. I feel useless and burdensome when I am treated like a chore and will be less likely to ask for your help in the future.
  2. Don’t assume I need your help. Unwarranted assistance, as well intentioned as it is, can seem really condescending. If you see that I am not helping my child with their homework, it is most likely because I want them to work independently at that moment, not because I am too tired. If you step in, you are only undermining me. Do not start tidying my things without asking, it makes me feel messy. If I need your help, I will bribe you with treats.
  3. Do ask: Asking is AWESOME! When you are up to it and want to help out, especially if I seem deflated or overly agitated, please ask! “Do you want me to take the kiddo out for dinner?” “Do you guys feel like watching a movie, I can go get us one.” “Would you like some alone time? I could use the little one’s help picking out picture frames at the market.” Remember not to make it sound like a judgment, especially during an episode. We don’t want you walking on eggshells, we are just extremely delicate during those times.
  4. Don’t tell us that our illness is affecting our children. We know! And we are infinity sorry for it. They didn’t ask for this any more than we did. But it’s not as if we’re heroin addicts, and we should just stop doing smack, this is just what our lives look like. If I am depressed and you tell me that it is impacting my child, what exactly am I supposed to do about it. STOP BEING DEPRESSED!? ‘Oh… that was easy, why didn’t I think of that before? I suppose I can go on and lead a normal life now! I’ll just pull meself up by the old bootstraps and get on with it!’ We pop the child onto our shoulders and tap dance away into the sunset while whistling a jaunty tune… End scene. … If we could fix it, we would. If it doesn’t seem like we are doing anything to get better, look closer. Sometimes hunkering down waiting it out is all we can do. If the kids are fed, bathed and attention is being paid, even if it is just in the form of snuggling with a movie (yes, even on a sunny day), let us have that. Sometimes just getting out of bed is a small victory.
  5. Do see for yourself: Before you pass judgment, spend some time with us and watch how we interact with each other. If you have assumptions about my parenting skills because of my illness, come have a look-see. Maybe we slept in for the third time in a week, because my meds needed adjusting and the laundry never quite made it out of the hamper and are all wrinkled. Maybe I missed work two days in a row, because I was just too effing tired and the little ones glasses are still sitting broken on the kitchen table. That is only one snapshot of our multifaceted lives. Come on over next week and see how we have made button bracelets and painted cards for our friends. See how we rallied together to make some awesome vegan tacos. See how the Grand Champion got all of her homework done a whole day early and gets to pick out two extra books at the library. See how we learn about Leafy Sea Dragons and Bats. We have good days and we have bad days, just like you. Let’s keep focusing on the positive.
  6. If something seems really wrong, ask some more: As parents, we don’t often have the luxury of losing our shit at will. While, yes, sometimes outbursts just cannot be controlled, we have learned to hide, conceal and, when all else fails, apologize. Yet more often than not, we just downright pretend. We pretend that we are sneezing, not crying. We pretend we are sick, not sad. We pretend that we got up early, not stayed up all night. We pretend to laugh, pretend amazement, pretend to be having fun. We pretend that we’re pretending to be jumpy. We pretend that we are not terrified of the Vastness of the Infinite and the Interconnectedness of the Everything . We pretend for them, so they don’t worry. They are much too young to worry. The problem is, we get so good at the pretend that sometimes we forget to shut it off. We pretend when we’re with you, because we don’t remember how to emote on purpose, or perhaps we don’t want to be a burden on you or get too heavy. You can even play along if you like, if you don’t feel like delving too deep. We can stay on the surface like little clipper ships. But if you are sensing a disturbance just underneath like a whale or a giant squid or the shifting of tectonic plates and feel like you might want to tow me to shore, just look me square in the averted gaze, and ask. I may just be able to deal with that whale on my own, I’ve got a lot of practice, you know? But maybe, and only if you’re up for it, I might really need you to be my Ahab.

We can be maddening, I know. You may just feel like washing your hands of us all together, it’s ok, we feel the same way about you sometimes. But we love each other, that’s why we’re here. And even when we can’t stand to be in the same hemisphere as one another, we love those babies. You love those babies with so much of you that it hurts to see them in any pain. They are such an integral part of your heart that even though they are not your own, you are willing to fight and die for their happiness. We cannot begin to express our gratitude for that. Our little people that sprang from our bodies emit so much Love and Warmth that the whole village came out to claim some part of them as their own. It is an awe inspiring experience to be able witness to that kind of power come from something so small. We are so blessed. Let’s fight for them. Not against each other.

Yipes! Can we have our heads back, or are you not through BITING THEM OFF!?

When I began this entry, I didn’t realize how much anger I had laying about, just waiting to be stirred up like the dust of a good spring cleaning. On my path of becoming a more confident parent, some old ghosts of yesterday’s battles showed up and I challenged them each to a duel. I shot them through one by one , but there they stood upright and smirking, until of course, I opened the curtain. You cannot kill a ghost, but you can bring it out into the light. And yell at it and say much more witty things than you did originally and win by having the most clever comebacks… Then you let it go, for it is the past… and is not actually in the room with you. So basically you are talking to yourself…

again.

I want to especially thank my family for accepting my little and I exactly the way that we are and not expecting any more or less from us. I also want to say thank you to my friends, who aren’t even required by law to stick around and have been so supportive they should design their own line of brassieres.

CTW

…is this thing on?

Why blog?

From the very moment that I learned how to communicate, I knew it was for me. My mother is an avid metaphor person, a poet in her own right. My sister and I quickly learned that by abstracting the truth to create luscious word relationships, we could get our own sordid opinion across to anyone. It’s a smarty-pants form of manipulation. Even before being diagnosed with manic depression, I knew that my thought process was just a little… different. Also, I have a theory that I am perpetually 15 years old, and have this insatiable fear of being misunderstood. And because of this funny little quirk I have A.K.A Cognitive Distortion, I perceive myself being misunderstood and judged all the damn time. Realizing now, as clever as you are, that logic is in no way involved in any kind of delusion, I cannot just flippantly shrug it off with an ‘ah fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke’ , but feel vehemently compelled to explain myself, and with rabid fervor to my imaginary persecutors.

I kind of hate the word blog. BLAAHHHG. It sounds like something made entirely of mucus that has to be removed with an embarrassing surgery. “The doctor gave me a topical ointment for my blaaahhg..” “Sir, I hate to tell you this but you seem to have developed a Blog. The tests have shown that is is still benign, but you will be requiring a catheter.” If that is not reason enough not to have one, I am not sure what is. Except there is this pull. This great big, almost visceral need to share, but more importantly, to write. We may have this in common, do you feel that you communicate better in writing than you do in person? It’s because you get to take your time, be thoughtful and eloquent. When we write we are not on the spot. We do not have to filter through our constantly growing bank of perception to produce a witty and engaging response on the fly. We get to be, to quote Steve Martin, “Effer-goddamn-vescent.”

So write already! What is so wrong with a journal? What is the purpose of being so public with everything these days?

So, so many reasons. We all have our own, I am sure. I cannot presume to hope that my scribblings will help anyone else through their own issues. In fact, I would be proud if anyone other than my sister reads this. I just hold myself to a higher standard of writing when there may or may not be an audience. Also, with depression comes a feeling of space thievery, that only creation can obliterate. Having a project, any project can help redirect those thoughts of worthlessness, plus it helps to channel some of that manic energy, so maybe I won’t fizzle out into a ball of exhaustion after trying to tackle a billion things at once (one can hope, anyway).

Although the best answer to this quandary came in the form of an email from the incomparable Miss Seaneen Molloy who’s groundbreaking blog Mentally Interesting: The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive http://thesecretlifeofamanicdepressive.wordpress.com/, may be some of the most earnest, yet bitingly witty writing on the subject I have ever come across. I wrote her in a panic, not sure what exactly it was I was looking for, permission perhaps? I mashed a few spastic words together, pleading for a reason to undertake this project. She responded in one perfect word. The exact word I needed to hear, a nod or nudge to actualize the truth of this need.

“CATHARSIS!”

Cheers, Miss Molloy! Here we go!

Topic: Ok. So I was really tentative about writing about manic depression. Not only are there many beautiful, intelligent and even downright hilarious blogs about the subject already, but it is such a personal experience. None of us are defined by our mental illness, but it does cast it’s reflection onto every aspect of our lives. I am so grateful to all of the brave people who have the courage to let us peer into their personal experiences no matter how ridiculous or icky or mortifying they can seem. When I read these, I learn more about my own self and see that some of my “quirks” or perceived downfalls are actually characteristics of the illness. Natures of the Beast. The scary ones are easier to spot, and possibly easier to forgive. You simply cannot blame someone for having hallucinations or an obvious psychotic episode. Well, you can, but you’d be being a dick. I have been blessed in the way that my “God-told-me-I-am-going-to-die-because-I-know-too-much” episodes are few and far between, and that even when I get really scared and twitchy, I still have good folks to call. The natures that I am more interested in, however, are the subtle yet common threads among us. Two characteristics in particular that are oft perceived as being one’s own unwillingness to grow are Self Absorption and Social Isolation. I refer to the combination of the two as the “Hey You Get Off My Cloud” Syndrome. Two is a crowd when there are twelve already in your head.

I am an island. Unless I am on my couch, then my couch is an island and I am a coconut. If there is no one else home, then my house is the island and I am a monkey. Oh, how I do enjoy my own company. I do not think that self absorption and social withdraw are incurable diseases. I just think we have to work a little harder at them is all. Sometimes it feels that we have to work a little harder at everything, just to maintain basic survival. I do not feel “blessed” with bipolar disorder, but I do admit that the initial diagnosis was somewhat of a relief. It is a reason, not an excuse, but at least I don’t just suck at life. I can always quantify the magnitude of any depressive episode by the amount of time it takes me to shave once I have come out of it. On good days, awaking from a deep depression doesn’t require me having to find a new job, or beg my way back into the old one. Do you have a song you hear when the fog lifts? Mine is the “Welcome Back Kotter” theme song, you can borrow it if you like.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVS3WNt7yRU

And so this blaaagh thing begins. I know I jumped about a bit and didn’t elaborate on much, but this is just the test drive, you know? I don’t want to make any promises just yet. I don’t want to get too personal right away and scare you off. I don’t want to discuss medications at this time, because I feel like I’d be endorsing something. We’re just dipping our toes in right now, testing the bloggy waters. I genuinely hope to write for wages one day, but until then I practice on you. I hope you don’t mind.

If you have any questions or ideas you would like me to explore, please let me know. I will be grateful for the feedback.

Till next time loves!

~CTW