frothing

It shouldn’t any big surprise I’ve applied for Social Security Disability (SSDI) and I’m finally not in a spot of shame to admit this is happening. The first batch of paperwork, on functioning in society, has arrived and I spent the morning getting the packet completed. Eight legal paper sized pages with questions ranging from why I left my last place of work (they fired me for not doing my job) to if I’m getting dressed (I’m in my jim-jams unless I have to go out) and bathing (every other day and on days I go out) and to how well do I do interacting with others and can I handle authority. Can’t I just give them a link to my blog? (Probably not going to happen.)


A second packet has also arrived on my work history. That is getting filled out on another day.


I was to go visit a mosque today to show my solidarity but filling out the paperwork was stressful and I found my focus and concentration waning with each flip of the page. I forced myself to plow through and the payment for this is a head buzzing with racing thoughts and looking at an afternoon of nothingness. That’s not entirely true — I’ll find myself working on homework for my front end web dev class and doing more writing. However, I just cannot go out into the world right now.


I am trying to hard to articulate this feeling of being locked inside your head so much you cannot interact with society. It is stressful but a much needed conversation.


You cannot see the fits and starts of me writing this but it is happening.


I’m also finally accepting I’ll be on Medicaid for awhile. The locations of the services are in areas of town that haven’t seen love in decades. We have found here if you’re white, you don’t go past 9th St, which then becomes the west end. This is where all the “undesirables” (aka brown, black, and Trump supporters) live and it is so obvious the city gives no fucks as there are burnt out warehouses, increased homeless population, and it is the poorest zip code in the county. (Ours is the second poorest but the area is gentrifying so yay?)

I attach a lot of white privilege and shame when I go to the doctor’s offices. I drive a swish car, carry a swish bag, wear swish clothes, and live in a swish condo. The shame comes from I have so many gratitudes for TEH for taking me in and I am so, so, so lucky I’m not out on the street which many do not have these things. Why is she here?, I believe they think when they see me. I’m just another white girl taking advantage of the system when there are people much more deserving than I am. I believe they are right – I shouldn’t be here. I am very privileged and I acknowledge that privilege every day I wake up in a warm place, with food in my belly, and clothes on my back. I rejected the social services available to me when I first moved here because I believed I didn’t deserve it. I shouldn’t take it even though my brain is on fire and I can barely get up to dress and take care of myself.

Once TEH finally convinced I had paid into the system for over 20 years, this is why it’s here for occasions like this. One day at the beginning of a crisis mode, I called the local mental health line looking for help and they sent me to the community mental health center. This was better, I thought, than hospitalization because that cost money and being seen at the clinic did not. I arrived the following day at open to get someone to see me. At best, I had some hope of relief and worst — I didn’t want to think about it.

The homeless, drug addicts, mentally ill, some people all three, where there when the doors open for drugs, counseling, sometimes just a snack and warmth. Even in the midst of my crisis, I felt too functioning to be there. I was told on the phone they would take walk-ins so I registered as soon as I got to the reception desk, sat down after giving my information, and read all day waiting for someone to call my name. Never happened. I go and ask what is my status and they tell me they stopped talking walk-ins a half-an-hour before I asked. I went home, took my clothes off, put on my jimjams and crawled on the couch and waited for the crisis to past. Other than sleeping, occasionally eating, and using the bathroom, I remained nearly immobile for two days.

My pride is deteriorating my health so I now use those services I was once too ashamed to take. I am getting PT for my ankle of doom, chiropractic care for my back. I have a primary physician and an OB/GYN. I have a talking therapist and a medicating therapist who monitors my drugs.

I remain lucky I was saved out of the cracks before I fell much farther down.

So I’m covered and I’ll remain covered until it’s taken away from me if the republicans have their way. Being bipolar is a pre-existing condition and if Medicaid goes away, I am marrying TEH again to get health insurance. This has already been agreed upon.


If I sound contradictory, all over the place, and sounding like an asshole – I probably am. This is a complicated and complex issue. I have swallowed my pride and I use the services available to me because I need them and they are there for me. I am rejecting all the shame because that is exactly why they exist and what I’ve paid into for nearly 30 years. (I started working at 14 with my first job at an ice cream parlor. I’m now 44.)

(It goes without saying if you have voted for Trump, I hope you die in a rotting fiery death of hell with your genitals torn off and shoved down your throat.)


This is not where I planned to go today but the frustration of writing down my life in pen about the status of my mental health, wondering if I sound too functioning when there are times every week I can barely function, to get some help is maddening. The more I talk about it, the more people are willing to share their stories and the feeling of kinship gives me hope.


Finding out my status on SSDI could take as long up to three months. If rejected, I’ll just apply again, and keep applying until I get something to help financially.  I have some unemployment money coming in and that pays my bills but TEH covers my living costs. I’m selling my car soon, which will help pay off my debt and lighten the financial load considerably. I’ve applied for roughly 50 or so jobs since I’ve been back here and nothing has or is panning out. I have no hope of working but I keep trying thinking one day soon I’ll snap back into old Lisa mode and can function into society but I know, realistically, recovery takes a long time, sometimes years. According to the officials, I am way better off than I was even six months ago, and I recognize that, but it’s frustrating. Frustrating has become my word of choice lately and it peppers everything I do.


I don’t want to leave this on a sour note so here is a bit of happy news: Last week I wrote on my writing blog I’m writing and submitting my work more than ever. In the last two weeks, six pieces have been submitted to various magazines and I’m hoping some good news will be coming my way soon-ish. I’ve got a few other pieces in progress and I’m taking an online writing course to tighten up what I have. I feel hopeful here. (Tho’ return on submission is slow — some are saying up to four to six months and no simultaneous submissions.)

Here is a 15 syllable fixed heiku poem that I submitted to tinywords:
lips cherry red     body sags
hollow breath     she is then released

love notes into the ether

If you’re an email subscriber, you may have received an email for learning to breathe / projection, which was written and to be published in April 2016 but it didn’t get posted for some reason so it got posted now. I cannot turn off publishing to email on a per post basis so if you sometimes get a deluge of emails from me, it means I’m going through and publishing old posts.


A couple of weeks ago I launched Excessively Diverting1, an all Jane Austen all the time (with the occasional Brontë) blog with the main reason as I am taking front end web development classes, I needed a project and durr, Jane Austen. There is so much news on our Jane, I am spoilt for blog posts and that is not including the long list of ideas I could write about. The blog is the little blog that could and if you’re a fan of our Jane, please do give the blog a read as it would be much appreciated.


It is a sunny Sunday afternoon and I’m finding myself at loose ends today. While I woke up late, I was able to finish the bulk of my chores shortly after noon and I’ve been looking for something to do since then which is hilarious, in its own way, as I’ve got plenty to do such as finish reading the chapters due this week for Mansfield Park or working on homework for the aforementioned front end web dev classes. Yet, I do not find myself attracted to these things right now and it should be noted I’ve been getting tired of my laptop as of late. Everything I must do or have to do stems from working online and oh gods, why? I’ve been online 22 years and it never fails to amaze me how the internet works but I get so tired of it from the news, the gossip, and the work I just want to move to a tiny island and be surrounded books such as this:

(If you’re not familiar with this episode of The Twilight Zone, Burgess Meredith plays a nebbish bank teller who survives a nuclear fall out as he was reading in the vault of his bank when the bomb hits. Realising he is alone, he contemplates suicide before noticing the public library is now all his. Then he steps on his glasses. So I want this but sans the glasses breaking.)

So I take short breaks and do a lot of self-care and while sometimes it doesn’t seem to be enough, it does satiate my need for some offline time.

(And yet, YET!, I find myself here writing this post on, you guessed it, my laptop.)


We went home to Grand Rapids for the holidays and I had a lovely lady date day with several of my closest friends. As I love all of them equally, I cannot play favorites but this one is one of my favorites and she asked why wasn’t I writing a book on being mentally ill, specifically bipolar, since it would help so many people such as how it helped her to understand from the live in your face blog of a mentally ill person.

Truth be told, this is something I’ve been thinking about for some time but haven’t verbalized and it is something I’m still on the fence about. Since my nervous breakdown in October 2015, I am finding myself more reluctant to write about my experiences because of the shame so attached to those who are mentally ill (yet I have no problem banging on about it on Twitter, which is beyond public, so there is that). I could not bear, at the darkest time of my adult life, letting those wounds get picked on and over even by those who were doing it out of love. It is so exhausting these days just being that writing about it gives me a headache and a very desperate need to curl up with a good book, hot tea, and a pug by my side with TEH close by.

But oh! My dear, dear readers – I find myself in self-flagellated mode on this topic because wouldn’t now be the perfect time to write while emotions are high and the feelings are low and yet I look at this website on occasion with some disdain. Jesus, how time has changed in 20 years since this little website became a reality where then I would bare my breasts with nipples hard and prominent with a giving no fucks attitude and now I gave you a brief glimpse of my cleavage and demurely mention how lovely you look.


When TEH and I were buying Throbbing Manor in the winter of 2010, the seller was being a fuck twat and jerking us around. TEH and I were living in long stay hotel, our things in storage, and we were very desperate to move into the house. One day while at the hotel, something got in my eye and instead of a cool, “Oh, I must get this thing out of my eye” like some rational person, I went from “OH MY GOD, SOMETHING IS IN MY EYE” to “I AM DYING OF EYE CANCER” and no amount of consoling from TEH soothed my anxiety beast. It took a Klonopin to calm me down and lull me to sleep before I found myself the following day feeling fresh as a dewed daisy and not the least bit anxious.

We laugh about this episode now but it is used as the barometer of my feelings for that particular day. There’s been more times of late where I have scurried into the kitchen to grab my Klonopin because my anxiety was so high and no amount of meditation / breathing / yoga / self-care was bringing me down. I will yell “EYE CANCER!” in a high voice so TEH knows why I scuttling to the kitchen naked but for a towel wrap around my wet hair.


EYE CANCER used to happen every three or four months but now it’s moving to a near weekly basis. Frustration for a lack of money, job, possible loss of insurance (Thanks, Trump!),  mental health in peril some days, and the lack of snow in Louisville (truly) is taking its toll. Feeling frustrated is normal for these are normal things to feel frustrated about but my fucking brain — fucking gods my brain! — takes it to a whole new level and there are days I am so frustrated with my brain rather than my situation I want to get ECT to make it all go away. TEH and my therapists are against this method, I am, ha ha ha, still too high functioning to even consider such a thing and, well, my meds are rather working at the moment, so, why the need?


Before we started dating (or whatever the fuck you want to call what we were doing), TheBassist was hospitalized for deep depression and is in year two or three of recovery yet he still often finds himself exhausted by daily life to such a degree he still needs naps in the afternoon. I thought this was ridiculous — if you can play gigs at bars on the weekends, you can get a damned job.

Ha. Ha. Ha. The jokes on me! I now find myself in the same position where if I do more than one thing a day, even seeing my therapist counts, I need to take a break from the world. Being mentally ill is not only expensive but it is exhausting.


Imagine this:

You have a job and you work in the office. You have your morning rituals and commute times; you interact with your coworkers; you have meetings and lunches with other people; you come home and do your evening meal and delights; you go to bed and you start the process all over the next day. On the weekend you may sleep in and take some personal time. You get recharged and tackle the Monday just like you have every other Monday.

For me, and people like me, we can get up and do our morning rituals. But going out into the world and having to be “on” takes such a large amount of emotional and mental strength we simply do not have so we break down in some fashion. It may be we’re late to work. It may be we take a sick day. It may be we job hop looking for a job we can work without giving too much notice to our mental health. We may cancel evenings with friends or even self-plans like heading to the movies because it’s too much.

Everything is too much. It is overwhelming and there have been times in the last year I thought I was on the spectrum because even certain noises made me jittery (exhaust fans from the kitchen and bathroom). I cannot breathe when I’m overwhelmed in these situations so I need to check out so I can get breath back into my body.

This does not negate the normal exhaustion one feels when one is working 40+ hours a week, has a family, has a home, or whatever it is people my age have — because that is normal. Working takes the piss out of most humans as does daily life but what I want you to imagine is take that weekend feeling of exhaustion, jack it up by 100 and have it compound over the course of the week.

That is what the mentally ill often go through on a daily basis on top of their crazy.


I find myself nearing 2000 words on something I didn’t think I could sum up 500 so maybe this is the sign I need to start planning that book. From the varied research I have done over the last year, it is rare to find an adult fiction book of someone who is mentally ill and NOT depressive as it is to find a non-fiction book from someone in the first person of their own accounts of being bipolar.

Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.


1. Careful readers will remember I ran an Etsy shop of the same name a few years back in which I shuttered (temporarily) when I was working full time. I do have plans of the store re-opening, I just don’t know exactly when.

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The Move

handsacrossthesea

[originally posted on Medium]

It’s a sultry soup kind of Saturday and I’m in my apartment sorting and repacking boxes for a move. The central air clicks on and off as I work; my pug chewing on a toy pug in an act of pug cannibalism. I am not wearing a bra and I feel the dampness under my breasts grow as I work. My legs feel a bit grimy and my hair is pulled into a fizzed mess on top of my head. I catch a whiff of body order and ignore it. It’s mid-afternoon and I haven’t showered yet and I’m debating if I even will.

I am tired of the packing and unpacking, the culling of my things to the point I no longer know what I own anymore. The move before this one saw another culling of trash bags full of clothes and seven boxes of books and DVDs. I am desperate for a cigarette though I haven’t smoked in ages. I survey my box kingdom and note some of the boxes have been moved so many times, varying stickers from moving companies are stacked up like little hills. As I pack, I remove the hills in some sort of shameful ritual. Each box bears a broad category name like “dvds” which are Sharpied out and rewritten to “clothes.” I develop a system to mark what boxes will go into storage and what boxes will go to my partner’s condo and inventory the contents in a spreadsheet. I eye my bookcases wearily because I don’t want to storage my Austens, graphic novels, or my Pratchetts but as I don’t plan on re-reading any of them in the near future, they will be tucked into their cardboard beds.

This is my sixth move in two years.

In the early part of the ’90s I was diagnosed as being manic / depressive which is now commonly referred to as bipolar. I am bipolar 1, which tends to run mania rather than depressive. Since that diagnosis, I’ve swam in the land of drugs only to come out on the other side stable-ish, but often exhausted. My sensitivity to most meds comes at a high cost: I cannot tolerate most common drugs after a few weeks of relief and have spent my non-drug years fighting for a drug free stability.

All of my therapists have called me “lucky” since I am so high functioning. “Self-aware” is used so often I silently grate organ parts upon hearing it and I feel that I’m being treated like an AI robot and not a person. I am told, with the severity of my illness, they are fascinated with my ability to stay high functioning without the drugs. I am told I am atypical and there is great joy watching me under a hypothetical microscope.

A comment often shuttlecocked from my various psychiatric doctors is my extraordinary ability to cope and manage my illness. “You are strong” is the cousin to “self-aware.” It is repeated over and over again I’ve handled so much this far in life I can keep going and things will get better.

My mania started to cresendo in late summer of 2014. It was a terrible year: My beloved dog died, I left my toxic job to write a book, I was sued for libel in a $1.25M lawsuit which the case has now been dismissed. (But that’s a story for another time.) My husband and I’s relationship was fraught to the point, I thought, beyond repair. Around this time a love from a decade prior came back and wooed me with what I wasn’t getting at home. Infatuated with attention, and tired of my husband constantly and mentally checking out, I left him. Six weeks later, I watched a moving truck pack up my things to cart them a thousand miles to my new home with my lover. A man I’ve spent a total of two weeks with over the course of a decade.

And it wasn’t even October.

The mania began to build for about six months prior. My triggers: massive shopping sprees (who needs six of the same dress just in different colors?), sleepless nights, and constant agitation were all there but this time I choose to pin point them on other factors such as my dog dying, being sued, and leaving my job rather than on my illness. Who wouldn’t feel that kind of life strain?

Then the downward slide began.

Caught in this middle world with no ties to either side, it is here that I started to crash.

The plan was simple: Move my things into storage, live with my new lover, and take a mental break for a few months; it had been a hell of a year. In the new year I would start looking for work, move out on my own, and create a new life with my lover.

That was the plan.

Instead of relief, I spent, it seemed, every other night sobbing in my lover’s bedroom or in the shower or when I was driving. I could not be comforted or appeased. Everything around me, even the simplest thing felt huge.

That’s when the ping ponging started. I begged to come home to my ex-husband. I promised to be good and to get back into counseling. I promised to work on finding a good drug combination, I’d do anything, ANYTHING, to be with him again. My soon to be ex-husband made plans of his own: he would get into therapy or anti-depressants or both. He would work to help save our marriage.

A week later I broke my promise.

Several weeks later I was making promises again, sitting in a hotel room writing lengthy diatribes about my luck having two men love me for ever after. After the weekend hotel stay, I’m in such crisis I use ZocDoc to find a local therapist who could see me that day. I am prescribed drugs to help with the mania, a booster for the depression, and Klonopin to help with the anxiety. I am told it’s going to take a few weeks to stabilize.

And even after the promises from the good doctor, weeks after the drugs were started, I still continued to cycle almost violently.

I choose you! I’d say to each man, alternating like laundry on laundry day. I choose you to be with and you alone. My ex-husband writes me a letter where he tells me he will change, everything will get better, and I deserve everything he had withheld from me. My lover begs for me to stay.

This back and forth goes for weeks until I leave the lover and drive a thousand miles back to my ex-husband. He has left the door open, our song is playing on the stereo, and he’s left me love notes from the door to the dining room table with a key taped to one of the notes. I am not home for 15 minutes where I tell him I have chosen my lover over him but and that I was going to change and try to stand on my own two feet.

What I did not tell him was I made it 300 or so miles before I broke down sobbing in a McDonald’s parking lot, begging to be taken back. After I arrive in town and before I had to my ex-husband’s house, I am in a parking lot still begging. The lover takes me back.

I am to stay in town, get my own apartment, stay on the drugs given to me by the doctor I found on ZocDoc (which finally started to work), attempt to write my book again, and try to form a life. Despite the drugs giving some relief, my mood continue to sway like a pendulum. I spend days in utter misery, holed up in my tiny apartment curled on the couch, often sobbing hysterically, making promises still to both men. Despite the promises to stay married, I break those promises (again), and the divorce is finalized on April 1.

Most of the summer I am back and forth between the two men and I’m rarely in my own apartment. In one of the many moves, my things are sent to my ex-husband’s condo to be put in storage. I’ve racked up nearly 15,000 miles on my car over the course of the year and tens of thousands of credit card debt. I am running out of money and the crash that started in October 2014 starts to intensify.

One summery day I am with my ex-lover and the need to leave again is growing so strong, I can barely swallow. My ex-husband owns a cabin in northern Michigan and he wants me to come home. I tell my lover I need to leave, again, under the pretense I am going to go open the cabin and he tells me he is powerless to stop me. “It’s what you do,” he says. Resignation is visible on his face and I know he’s been pulling away for months. As one of the conditions of being back with my lover is therapy, I head to therapy later that day and almost gleefully mention I have broken up with him and I felt great. I do not tell the group I am never coming back again as I’m leaving the state in the next few days.

The month at the cabin is carefree. The ex-husband and I’s relationship has returned to what it was, sans sex, in the beginning of our marriage and with the exception of the daily texts from my lover asking me when I was coming back to him, life goes on as if nothing happened. I keep pushing out the date with legitimate excuses: My ex-husbands car has died and we’re miles from nowhere. I get a terrible summer cold and I am to rest.

Then one fateful day, my lover tells me over Facebook chat, that it is over. He needs to advocate for himself and since I was with my ex-husband, the man who knows me best of all and can take of me, I’m to stay with him until I finally get my life sorted out.

The crash that had started, trickle by trickle, is now full blown. I spends days in bed, unable to move and barely able to breathe. I blame it my ex-lover dumping me but in reality my reluctance to deal with day to day life, being diligent in my drugs and therapy coupled with the promises, the lies, the ping ponging, had taken its toll. I want to blame everyone for everything that has happened. “Bad luck,” I’d say. “Rotten timing.” But even though the now ex-lover is not perfect, I cannot really blame him for leaving. Being with someone who is bipolar is a job in and of itself.

I remain in bed for weeks, barely able to move or eat. I take my drugs diligently but the depression is so smothering I feel pinned down by its existence. I start seeing a new therapist, anti-depressants are added to my regime and slowly the cloud begins to lift.

I tell myself I’m lucky because my ex-husband, now my partner once again, is standing by my side as he’s always stood by my side. It took all of this, as painful it is to say it, to realise how much I really love him. I have a small, but steady, support network and I have not ended up homeless though at times it’s been very close.

My meds have been tweaked and I am feeling the most stable I have felt in years. I mediate and do yoga daily to help with the balance. I see a therapist. The lying and pogoing have slowed and I can feel myself beginning to breathe again. And yet while the crash in October 2015 brought on strength to keep on moving forward, for which I am grateful, but I am much more sensitive to the world around me. More vulnerable. More cautious. There is hope, even in small doses, as I slowly move forward.

This will be the last time I will move, hopefully, a very long time. What’s left of my things will be placed in storage once again and only the necessities will be kept out and used. I have learned over the last two years that my things while my things don’t define me, they are a part of me. Whereas before I would get anxious at not having my books and my memories, now I know they will be safe and waiting for me just as I was waiting for myself.