everything is true, everything is a lie

Dear Internet,
Of the three of my main mental issues, Borderline Personality Disorder is the one I least talk about. BPD is behavioral and not chemical, but it does underscore a lot of my bipolarism so I don’t write about it too much. I also went through fairly extensive training using dialectical behavior therapy in the past and I’ve been fairly successful in controlling it.
These days it tends to rear its ugly head when I’m under extreme stress and that’s when my world starts to fall apart. The bipolar mania? I have been super awesome on controlling the triggers and impulsivity. The anxiety? I can self-care and if it’s bad, I can take a klonopin. But the BPD? This is the end game boss. I need all my hearts to wage this war.
The linchpin with BPD is that it is a relationship destroyer, because at its core it’s about abandonment issues as well as self-preservation. I could be in the most stable platonic or romantic relationship ever and I will be utterly convinced of a myriad of things are happening even if there has not been a word said or a hand raised. Attempting to verbalize it was hard then, because I sounded like a needy, jealous harpy. Because I knew, KNEW there was no reason to think these things. But I continued to let whatever those thoughts eat at me until I felt so rotten, I’d be the one who would do the lashing out and destroy the relationship. But after I got into treatment, and started working on it,  I could verbalize it and thus, reign the fucker in.
Except, apparently, this week.
With BPD, I’m always looking for protection and backup plans. Never you fear, in any relationship I’ve been in (platonic or romantic), I am always making sure I have a way out. Because you lot are all going to leave me one day and I need to protect myself. I get why some of my ex-lovers accused me of being duplicitous about some things, they weren’t far off but never in the ways they assumed.
In 14.5 hours, the car service is picking me up to take me to the airport so I can fly east to start building the foundation of my new life. There is a lot of apartment hunting, friend seeing, and other things happening. So it would seem pretty awesome for my brain NOW to decide to revolt and lead me down this trail with the following thoughts in my head:

  • TheSoonToBeExHusband whose never raised a hand to me, even in jest, is going to harm me in my sleep
    • This is later underscored when putting dishes away earlier this evening, I placed a chef’s knife in the butchers block and wondered which of our knives he would stab me with
  • TheSoonToBeExHusband, who does not have access or authority to any of my bank accounts or credit cards, will take what last of the cash I have
  • TheSoonToBeExHusband will hide/destroy my passport and immigration papers so I can’t leave the country or him (I’ve been seriously looking for a place to store my stuff that he can’t easily find it for the last four days.)
  • TheSoonToBeExHusband will lock me out of the house when I get back and leave me without a home or a car
  • The gracious host who is putting up with me for the next 3.5 days will ditch me at the airport
  • The gracious host, and everyone else I had plans to see this weekend, will ditch me en mass and I’ll be stuck in a hotel room, miserable, and broken hearted

Rationally, I know the likelihood of any of this happening is minute; I have a better chance of winning the lotto. Obviously I can’t fix number 1. Number 2 is illogical because he does not have access to any of what remains of my riches. Number 3 is also illogical because my name is on the title for both things, AND I have options to stay elsewhere if that did happen and I could rent a car. (And the proceed to hire the shark of a divorce lawyer I have spoken to and take him for everything.) Numbers 4 and 5, well, again illogical but again, I have cash on reserve to bail myself out.
See. Backup plans.
BPD is not rational or logical, it is a destroyer and gives no fucks about backup plans. It cares not for your puny logic or rational. All it know is that I’ve been abandoned before, thus it will happen again. With anyone, at anytime. Anywhere. With BPD thinking, I cannot make anyone happy. I cannot be happy. I cannot find joy.
It is so persuasive, that my heart feels like stone right now. It feels like I’m being ripped into shards because all that is coming that could be good, I do not deserve. I have never deserved. I will never be accepted or loved for me.
I, thankfully, kept my old notebooks from DBT training program. Thus this feeling is not permanent. This is an emotional state. Emotions are fleeting. I got myself here and it’s my responsibility to get myself out.
With that, I go take a bath.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2013

queen’s cushion

Lancelot rescuing a lady from the bath, from British Library Add. 5474, 13th c.
Lancelot rescuing a lady from the bath, from British Library Add. 5474, 13th c.

Dear Internet,
Monday I had a massive panic attack that came out of nowhere and incapacitated me for the entire day. I did breathing exercises, 5 minute meditation, and various other exercises and nothing changed. I called on TheHusband who had me run through a few mindfulness exercises, several times, but it was almost utterly useless. My heart beat so fast and loud, you could watch the skin on my chest bone wiggle.
Somewhere in all of this, I took a shower — for I was to get ready for work, see — and found myself having a hard time breathing in the shower and my fingers were starting to go numb while my heart raged on. I climbed out of the shower, turned the taps off, and padded down the hallway and called in sick. There was no way I was going to be able to dress myself, let alone make it full a full day at work.
I downed a half a Klonopin, waited 30 minutes, and then took a full dose.
I was back in bed wearing jim jams, hair wet, glasses on, and waited for my heart to subside. It took nearly an 1.5 hours from the first dose to that blissful moment when the rapid beating just becomes a quiet murmur and my body is at ease again.
I slept for six hours.
I woke sometime in late afternoon, TheHusband brought me lunch in bed, and  this was the rest of my day. At various points I used the bathroom and the watched TV, but I mostly dozed and  stayed off the Internet.
I took another Klonopin sometime around 9:30PM and was asleep within the hour. From the time I went to bed on Sunday night and to the time I woke on Tuesday morning, I was only awake for 6 hours. Maybe 7.
What caused it? I’ve been known to have had panic attacks while I was in midst of joy, so on one hand, it is hard to say. On the other, I can start to pin point various things that are making me insane. Projects that need to be done, but won’t get completed without me even when other people are attached. Things that I attempt to pass off to other people to take the load off of me, but which are getting dropped and forgotten. My own passions are getting wrapped up in various things that are pulling me away from my goals, but which are more lucrative so I chase them and not my dreams. Then I start to feel guilty for not putting the time in for those dreams because I’m too busy wheeling and dealing over something else.
Then there is the Internet of course, for you are never far from the drama laden land of high school cliques. I can’t seem to shake you no matter what I do.
So it is everything and it is nothing at the very same time. It has the smell of the past, for it reminds me of that very awful time in 2002 when I cut out the cancers and ran far away to reinvent myself. It is clear now no matter how much good work is being done and how forward I push things to make changes, I am forever tilting at windmills. With very little backup to support me, I am running against a system that refuses to change or won’t change or finds the necessary changes to be unnecessary.
But it is interesting how little public support I get on projects yet privately I am told are worthwhile cases to push for. Hardly a single fucking person wants to get their hands wet or upset the status quo. Because it is easy for them to say such things to me privately, they have nothing to lose. But supporting me publicly is a sin means they might get their knuckles rapped and shamed for going against the grain. And I am tired of  the hyperbole being laid at my feet on an almost daily basis, dressed up as supportive words. Either you stand with me or you don’t. If you don’t, get the fuck out of here.
What I can control, and what I can create and thrive, is work that is related to me and only me. That rejection of this work will only make me better, stronger, whereas with the other work, it strips you naked and forces you to submit to a system that steeped in history and heredity. That work, where only the like will talk to like, who will navel gaze until they have become contortionists, and who will only give props to those of their ilk, their kind. Celebration for things that aren’t really all that important but can be dressed up and taken out as if it was the most important things in the world. Work is not important, but showmanship IS. This is what I’ve learned. If you suck enough cocks, drink with enough vendors, and finger fuck everyone else, you too can be part of the inner elite. You too can have BS awards for superficial things that have no meaning other than to a select few. I don’t have time for such foolishness. My time has become, now, ultra precious.
Maybe it is time for me to burn the walls and plant a fuck you kiss to my detractors, and start anew.
Yeah, maybe it is time.

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2009

on making happy

Medieval Angry Birds, Add MS 42130, f. 145r; via The British Library

Dear Internet,
Now that my challenge for November of writing every day is over, I decided to start setting additional monthly challenges for myself to see how I will fare with those. For the month of December I decided I will attempt to spend most of my writing time on working out what it means to be happy, which I am sure you will agree, is no small feat. Philosophers have spent lifetimes decoding what the simple phrase “being happy” means and there is almost never any universal agreement. While I do not think I will have it figured out in 30 days, I do want to make an honest stab at what decoding it for myself entails with pure intent, without guile, and without a handful of snark.
That last bit will be hardest to overcome, I am sure.
Lest you be afraid of my cynical heart of getting in the way, I will have some help. I will be using Gala Darling’s DARE/DREAM/DO email seminar which I bought back in October and have not started yet. I do not remember how I found Ms. Darling, but I have been enamoured with her site for quite some time and appreciate how much she posits that to be happy means work. Hard work. She is not shy on giving you straight forward advice either, which also seduced me to her.
As DARE/DREAM/DO was designed to be a one a day thing, I will  be tackling and writing each day individually. Since I am starting this a few days after the first of December, the DARE/DREAM/DO sequence will go over into early January.
Additionally, I will also be looking at techniques from Zen Habits. If you have been following along with my posts on minimal packing, a lot of my inspiration came from Leo Babauta. Lastly, I will be also incorporating any articles, posts, or bits that I have stumbled upon along the way and adding them into the mix.
Because I fear this will be a massive month of writing, as I also plan to do other writing on top the making happy challenge, if you’re interested in following along with me, add the Making Happy feed to your RSS reader or just click on the Making Happy tag to see what is going on and where I am at. And as always, if you have any suggestions for sites, articles, books, or something else entirely you think I should read/view/hear, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
I was partially inspired to shape this challenge by a recent blog post by Theodora Goss and wholly inspired by her entry title, because it was a kick in the pants reminder happiness does not just come to you, it has to be worked for and earned.

But I believe that happiness is different: it’s a day to day, minute by minute thing. Whether I am happy at any give moment can depend quite a lot on whether or not I am eating a cupcake. If I am eating a cupcake, I am happy. (Depending on the cupcake, of course. I mean, I’m picky.) Happiness does in fact depend on things outside ourselves, so to make ourselves happy, we need to change things outside ourselves. (At least, that’s a lot easier than just trying to be happy, which I think is a very hard thing to do. Make yourself be happy, try to produce an internal state of happiness without changing anything external . . . Much easier to buy a cupcake.) Theodora Goss

She then goes on to list the things, simple things really, on what makes her happy. After reading her post, I tried to come up with a list of things off the top of my head in the same vein and found myself struggling with that list, but here it is:

  • Really good, dark chocolate. Sometimes all I need is just a bite to satiate me and make me happy
  • A fancy bubble bath with good smelling soaps and a book to read while I soak
  • Watching my stock pile of Jane Austen and related movies. Fictional, influenced, blatant rip-off – doesn’t matter. My world always seems to be brighter when I spend a few hours with Jane.
  • Wearing something from my collection of BPAL scents. I have a few non-BPAL oils but BPAL almost always wins hands down for selection, price, and smell.
  • I can listen to Elbow‘s entire catalog on repeat forever and never get tired of Guy Garvey’s voice. May I present their rendition of Beyonce’s Independent Woman, as played out by kittens.
    [iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/zSQDR1yF3uQ?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen]
  • Listening to Cabin Pressure, as defined here.

Small list, but a good start.
It should be noted when I went through Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) training for my Borderline Personality Disorder, much of the training concentrates on the purpose of self-soothing techniques for when I go into crisis, of which much of that training seems I have misplaced over the last few years. So this is a good reminder to stockpile those skills because there will be a point in the future when I am in crisis again. But it is also good to have this list of happy making readily available not for when I’m in crisis, but a reminder of what makes me whole.

This day in Lisa-Universe:

frequency ranges and spatial distributions

Electrode locations of International 10-20 system for EEG (electroencephalography) recording. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Dear Internet,
I learned today that one cannot tweet when one is having electrodes placed on their skull. But then, you’re so tired from the sleep deprivation, the last thing you want to do is lean over and grab your phone to tell the world you’re beginning to look like the Bride of Frankenstein.
The EEG test required me to be sleep deprived, so I fell asleep at midnight and woke up at 4AM. No caffeine. At 7:15, I woke TheHusband up for us to head to the hospital where the procedure was going to take place.  I was feared I was going to end up getting amped up on adrenalin that would prevent me from falling asleep during the procedure.  I also feared of falling asleep while driving. There are times when having a husband is useful.
The EEG testing unit is buried in the bowels of the hospital, a set of complicated instructions arrived  in the mail, but we got there will little delay. After I checked in, I was called back by one of the techs who was admonished that “Donna has to learn patience. I have to finish checking her (meaning me) in before Donna can have her.” More conversation. I’m told to sit back down. Then stand back up to follow the not Donna to the actual testing area. The not Donna kept apologizing along the way for what has just transpired. There seems to be some drama fraught at workplace.
I meet the Donna when I’m led into the room where the testing is going to take place. Donna goes through my paperwork and seems perplexed  as to why I am here after I answer her questions. I document my seizure history, starting when I was 3. She then wants to talk about “my other issues,” which she means my mental disorders. These I had already mentioned to her earlier questions and I notice she has a hard time saying their names, her mouth seems crippled. I say them clearly, for her to make sure we’re clear: Bipolar I, Borderline Personality Disorder. ADHD. General anxiety. I explain, again to her since she seems confused, some of the symptoms associated with one disease is duplicated across other diseases. For example, the tremor in my right hand and leg, which happens rarely, is from the Bipolar, not neurological.
Donna’s seemingly reluctance at my answers is making me anxious. I find that slightly hilarious so I giggle while she finishes up my paperwork.
Prior to the placing the electrodes, the not Donna measured my skull and gave Donna seemingly random numbers that sounded like some sort of key, “6. 5.8, 6, 6, 5.8” and would act slightly intrigued when something came up as a “7.” “Are you sure?” the elder would ask. “I’m sure. It’s a 7.”, the junior responded.
I still have no idea what they were talking about.
After my head was measured thoroughly, and marked all over with red grease pencil, they began placing the electrodes on my head, using a heavy glue for the attachments. I’m assured the glue, another sticky product, and the grease pencil are all water soluble.
Donna and not Donna start working on placing the electrodes me, one obviously more confident or has been at her job far longer than the other. Donna’s confidence in what she was doing overshadowed the other tech, who while as agile with her fingers, often seemed to pause or was hesitant about what and where she should mark. I was getting annoyed with the confident one as she marked and place the electrodes on my skull, she had a habit of pulling my hair just enough to make me cringe for a nanosecond, but not so much that it actually hurt. Since her counterpart managed to not do this, I took it as some passive aggressive act about her job. This was cemented when one of the electrodes seemed to apparently not be working correctly, as she worked on fixing it, she had no problems being rough with moving and cleaning the electrode around my head, pulling my hair roughly a few times about with the shift.
After I was wired up, my head was wrapped with several rolls of gauze and I was told to lay down.
The room was sterile and devoid of any comfort. I was wearing a cardigan, sports bra, tshirt, and yoga shorts and I was shivering. The not Donna asked if I wanted a blanket, which I gladly took. I couldn’t get warm and I tried not to be scared.
There were several tests that were performed, the first of which with my eyes closed, various patterns of flashing lights were pulsed in front of me.  Some flashings did nothing to me, others caused my eyes to rapidly move. Was that normal or was I having some sort of non-epileptic seizure? Another test was a breathing test where I breathed out, from low in my diaphragm, for three minutes. Harder than it sounds. The final test was the sleeping test, in which my brain waves were measured as I slept for 20-30 minutes.
Apparently I conked right out, because one minute the Donnas are talking to me and the next, I’m being woken and informed we are done. I was uncomfortable in the room, cold still. I’m a side sleeper, something I couldn’t do for the test with my head wrapped in electrodes, thus the fact I slept was surprising.
The Donnas spent a few minutes unwrapping me, taking the electrodes out. The not Donna hands me a comb similar to the one we used to receive in grade school on picture taking day to run through my mop to get the electrode gel out and I laugh because my hair would break such a comb. I run it through anyway and it pulls and tugs but does not yet break, that it is easier to use my fingers to hunt of gel bits. Once I’m made somewhat presentable, I’m let free and taken back to the waiting room where TheHusband waits.
I’m told I will hear in 7-10 days from my neurologist.
Me, personally? I’m betting it’s what the doc said: I was epileptic when I was a kid and now the symptoms I’m thinking are epileptic are actually non-typical migraines.
We went to breakfast and came home by 11A where I slept for a few hours and TheHusband went right to work. I spent the rest of the day lounging, keeping up with my RSS reading and TV watching.
In other news, my appointment on Monday with Dr. H., the medicating doctor, went as I had hoped. He agrees to take me off of lithium, which will be much more involved process than I had hoped. I had already taken myself down from 1500mg to 1200mg, so I’ll remain at 1200mg for the rest of the week. Then I’ll go down to 900mg for a week, then 600mg for a week, then nothing. Dr. H. also cautioned that if I felt good on a particular dosage, to stay on that dosage and call and let him know. So if the crazy is tempered by 600mg as opposed to my 1500mg, then bully for me. I’m willing to do this, but if things don’t work, I’m not staying on it. Period.
I can almost taste the mental freedom and it will taste delicious.

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2010


Henry Fuseli – Hamlet and his father’s Ghost (1780-1785). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Dear Internet,
TheHusband and I were set to go up to Throbbing Cabin last night but opted to stay home to circumvent the potential traffic bomb of travelling on a holiday weekend. Our plan, then, was to leave this morning and stay at Throbbing Cabin for the rest of the weekend,  coming home on Monday morning.
This morning, however, had other ideas
When I woke up, I went into a massive panic attack where I refusing to not just not leave the house, but I was not going to leave our bed, or even get dressed or any thing resembling personal care. I became so agitated over the prospect of leaving, moving, interacting with people, I started to get into manic mind mode. TheHusband, who had been out walking the dog when the attack started, returned back to our bedroom to my meltdown.
When I saw him, I immediately burst into tears.
Needless to say, we’re not going anywhere this weekend.
TheHusband has learned to stop asking me what is setting off the panic attacks because I never know. Sometimes it’s mental, sometimes they are physical. Sometimes I can ward them off, and others, like today, I’m overwhelmed by their sheer control over me.
The attacks, or in this instance the need to shelter myself from the world, has become more intense over time. I often feel hyper sensitive to the outside world. People. Situations. In my head, when plotting a set of errands that require me to leave the house for long periods of time, I attempt to sort them to make them least painful and less having to interact with anyone. Sometimes, more often than not, I lie to get out of situations because the thought that I would need to be around other people, or more rightly in places that are not familiar, makes me anxious. My house is my touchstone and if I cannot have things set up the way I need them to be set up to function, then things start to break down.
While my depression in the past has been the cause for decrease in sexy times, the drugs have amplified sexy times, along with everything I have just explained. I’ve always had voracious attitude towards sex and with nearly a year on Lithium, it has dried up like an October leaf. I was telling a friend of mine recently, who was newly diagnosed as bipolar himself, I could have Alexander Skarsgard naked on a chaise reading a book in front of me, and I’d be, “Eh.” I don’t want to touch myself, let alone my own husband, and I could not even summon the desire for a naked Alexander Skarsgard. Or James McAvoy. Or any of my fictitious husbands.  I used to be the girl who wanted to have sex every where and with everything, and now I would just like to put the kettle on and have a good pot of tea.
And yes, I have a fairly healthy vibrator and dildo collection that is currently gathering dust. Which is a shame as some of them are expensive and were gifts.
At my last medicating appointment, Dr. H. was absolutely positive that by taking Klonopin at night would help some of my issues. The idea being if I take the drug at night, I will get a sound sleep. If I get a sound sleep, then I will feel rested in the morning and more at ease.
Except that didn’t work. After trying this for a week or two and still feeling exhausted and pent up, I told Dr. P. who suggested I take the Klonopin earlier in the evening, say 7PM instead of 10PM. The reason is that Klonopin releases slowly so if I’m taking it later in the evening, by time I wake up, I’m groggy because the drug is still working. Then I start amping up on caffeine to get over the hump and the cycle begins again.
Dr. H. gave me a prescription for Wellbutrin, and after several weeks of circling it like shark, I bit the bullet and got it filled. Numerous friends of mine with similar brain issues have all reported good things with Wellbutrin and as it was not a SSRI, I figured it was worth a shot.
The first few days of Wellbutrin,  I was downright cheery. I didn’t feel the energized pep that several friends reported, but I was honestly okay with all of that. By the end of the first week, the dark clouds started to form and for the entire second week, I was hell on wheels. It was not so bad that other people knew, or commented, but it was so bad that I picked up all the signs that this was not going to end well. My meltdown this morning was the final straw and I stopped taking the drug.
Some medicating therapists will have you push on through these periods because after the drug settles, it is smooth sailing. I can’t do this, emotionally, physically, mentally, or financially. My brain chemistry is such that what takes someone 21 days to metabolize a drug, it takes me 7. I may have a fight on my hands with Dr. H. this week because he’s going to report back to me my lithium levels are still in the therapeutic range and I’m going to tell him that regardless if they are, I need to get off that drug in a safe manner because I’m done with this experiment.
A year ago when I called Dr. P. to get my life on track, I was open to the idea of drug therapy because I wanted the pain to end. I wanted a way to chemically fix what was broken if talk therapy didn’t work enough. and to fix what behaviour modification could not fix. Dr. P. recommended Dr. H., who confirmed the existing diagnosis of ADHD, Bipolar I, Borderline Personality Disorder, with a top up of anxiety.
The idea was to get my mood stabilized with lithium, then start adding in the ADHD drugs to control that. Once we found the combination, everything would be grand!
Well, not so much.
Reading through some of those old entries, a lot of patterns begin to show. The drugs, mood/ADHD, are clearly not working. I can’t afford to emotionally keep putting my life into upheaval every time I go on something new to see if it works.
This nine month experiment, while peppered with good intentions, has crippled me more than I could ever imagine. Feeling myself hit the wall, time and time again, the disappointment I’ve laid on myself when something didn’t work, the guilt I built around me when I couldn’t complete a task, and the friendships I lost because I was not the person they thought I was.
The constant stress of wondering who I was going to be that day when I woke up, and how that affected work and personal relationships.
I’m done. I don’t want to be this girl anymore, who hides in her bedroom afraid of the world. I’m done not living a life because I feel too medically incapacitated to do so.
The new plan is to get weaned off of Lithium, and start a diet and exercise routine because literally, every book on bipolar talks about the lessening symptoms if you do these two things. Continue to see Dr. P. for talk therapy, once a week as current or more if he warrants it.
Anything has to be better then the now.
I want my life back and it looks like, I’m the one whose going to have to go get it.
Lisa (Day #36)

This day in Lisa-Universe in:


Dear Internet,

I’m so happy ’cause today
I found my friends,
They’re in my head
Lithium by Nirvana

Friday I had my follow up with Dr. H., my medicating doc, and I was hoping he’d say, “Yep, Concerta isn’t working, let’s put you on X and try that instead” and let me go on my merry little way. Didn’t happen. Of course, because that would be far too easy. So, now, then what do we do?
I spent the better part of an hour going over every drug that has entered my system or that I had left in the last couple of months (OTC or prescribed), and went through my entire 1.5 weeks on Ritalin + Concerta experience. Noting to him every little new “thing” triggered by either drug or was put to rest by either drug. I’m thankful that I wrote as much as I did while tracking my mania/The Sads, but I didn’t write enough because he asked me a lot of questions I could not easily answer nor were there any hints in my blog when I checked while at his office. I think it’s important to be a public voice for this drug experience, but sometimes it’s hard to keep track of what I’m doing and how I’m doing or do it in a matter that is more coherent. Maybe it doesn’t have to be?
TheHusband pointed out maybe if I wrote more stream of consciousness (which I did a lot of when I was in my ’20s), it would be easier. I think he has a point. While I plan on keeping up with writing about this publicly, I need to be more diligent on my note taking privately. I bought DayOne for my Mac, iPad, and iPhone ages ago and used it pretty heavily after for the first month or so and then tapered off. It was interesting how much came out when I was writing only for me – though to be fair, when I write here, I also am writing just for me. But writing in a matter that is more private, I suppose, frees up a lot of internal censorship that I unconsciously use on myself. The only glitch I had using DayOne was when I was on computer (like work) that is not MacOS variant based. My solution to that was either bring in my Air (which I’ve been doing more of) or use Evernote and create a folder tag for DayOne writings to transpose later.
So, more writing about this experience. Duly noted.
As I said a few weeks ago, the accepted diagnosis is ADHD with Bipolar with bits of Borderline Personality Disorder thrown in for good measure, which coincides with the diagnosis back in 2005. When I was living in Northern Virginia (NoVa) from 1999-2002, I was seeing a therapist there who cycled me through a lot of drugs: anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotics (alternative for the anti-anxiety) for Bipolar and definitely anxiety. I was on, then off, then on, and then off so many drugs that I felt like my brain would just explode. I swore then no matter what the fuck happened, I was NOT putting myself on any of that medicinal merry-go-round again. I’d learn to live, cope, and exist with my current brain chemistry as it is because I could not take that kind of mental anguish again.
So when Dr. H. said he was putting me on lithium today, I burst into tears in his office.
With the exception of Klonopin in the last ten years, I’ve been mainly drug free. I was hell bent on going holistic on the vapors of my brain, but that apparently hasn’t been working and so, where we are.
This where the helplessness started to become so overwhelming that I nearly bolted from his office. I came to him, as a recommendation from Dr. P. to get the drugs for ADHD and monitor them, and now he’s putting me on this medicinal go around for the bipolar, which is apparently triggered by the ADHD? The way Dr. H explains it is that if Ritalin AND Concerta are triggering mania, depression, and other traits of the bipolar, those need to be addressed first before Concerta (or any related drug) can really be effective for me. I’m unlucky in that not only do I tend to metabolize drugs more quickly than other humans, and I also tend to pick up the rare side effects from the drugs. They can’t plaster me with a catch-all drug to cure X because that triggers these other things that have now sprung up.
Dr. H. gets my hesitancy about this, but he feels pretty confident we can find that sweet spot where everything plays nicely and I can feel some sense of normalcy. But it will be tricky, which means I have to be more diligent on keeping track of my moods and everything else in between.
This isn’t the first time I was on lithium, as I was on it during the first chemical-go-around when I was living on NoVa and I remember that sweet spot for like 3 days when I was on lithium and something else where everything was fucking awesome. The world seemed brighter, the colors were deeper, food tasted sublime, and I did not feel like a scatterbrained idiot. Here’s to hoping that we can get there again.
ProTip: Don’t ever read forums, regardless of the reliability of the website, about drugs, drug interactions, or their side effects. Because you’re going to end up self-diagnosing yourself with consumption or the vapors, and never want to leave your house again.
TheHusband, who rejects “white man medicine”1 for most everything gets that in order to make his Pookie Bear better, she’s got to swallow the poison. We’ve been big supporters of whole foods lifestyle for a long time, and while we tend to fall off the wagon here or there, for the most part, for fat people, we are pretty fucking healthy fat people. But we know we can do a lot better, so before this drug shenanigans came into play, we planned to kickstart our healthy eating and exercise again. To be more whole, mentally AND physically just reinforces the idea that we really need to get behind this and stick with it. The goal is that with a better balanced diet, more exercise (as I am more mobile now), and seeing Dr. P. every week and Dr. H. monthly, things will (hopefully) start to get better.
Kale smoothies, here we come. Rah. Rah. Rah.
But darkly, in the shadows lurking, I also know, as it is with any kind of drug that is taken for the brain, there is almost always a dark side before the dawn. That is the risk you have to take.
My regime is 600mg of Lithium (1 300mg tablet taken twice daily), 36mg of Concerta, and my usual assortment of multivitamins and supplements. Because of the Concerta, I’m off caffeine (and have been for 11 days as of this writing). because of Lithium, I cannot take NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc) and I should watch my salt intake. Dr. H. also wants me to refrain from alcohol while I’m on lithium, which means I can’t dip into the Absinthe my brother got me for Christmas.
I’m also allergic to dairy, so there is also that to add into the do not haves.
It’s a good thing I like water.

1. He’s Native American.

Maiden guarding the bridge over the river Gjoll (Hello, Ritalin)

Dear Internet,
A bottle of Methylphenidate (the generic for Ritalin) is currently keeping me company this evening, while I’m writing,  staring at me from across my desk. I eye it precariously for starting Saturday, I begin the regime that could potentially change my life. My prescribing doctor dressed up the benefits  like snake oil – allllll of the problems I’ve been experiencing for years that were often described as being part of my charming personality  and/or because I was lazy, lacked focus, or motivation (to name a few reasons) now has an official name. That name is ADHD and with that single diagnosis, my world just got a little bit clearer.
I say potentially for I’m scared. And skeptical. Delighted. But skeptical.
I’ve been rather sporadic about writing about my mental health updates, and I think part of it is how much I need to get clear in my own head before I present it to the world.  After I wrote this in October, I finally got the courage to call my old therapist and he scheduled me to meet with him within a few days. Since our first meeting, I’ve been seeing him weekly and having someone there, for it is the one true safe space I can dump, dump, dump and not have to explain, slash, define, remove, or edit in any form my thoughts, has been glorious. There is lot that is going on emotionally in the last year (lots and lots of loss) that I haven’t been dealing with coupled with all the new responsibility (house! job! husband!). I’ve been documenting, rather sporadically, my depression, anxiety, and other brain malaise this year but it’s not enough. I felt like I was at the end of my rope; not suicidal, but feeling like I was teetering on the edge. So much was happening! No explanation on how to handle or even, to cope. I felt like I was swimming in murk with no way past.
A month of visits goes by and Dr. P. makes a comment  that perhaps I was ADD and further clarified that while the Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) was more than likely correct when I was diagnosed way back yonder, it’s not as evident now. This blew my mind. Finally, a diagnosis that made sense and explained not bits and pieces of my mentalness (as BPD did, as did Bipolar), but seemed to tie everything up in a nice tiny bow.
Except, I was diagnosed with ADHD (and bipolar) in 2005. For the last seven years, I’ve been clinging to this idea that I was strictly BPD and totally forgetting about the bipolar and ADHD. Seven years. Who forgets they were diagnosed with ADHD/bipolar for almost a decade? Apparently me. My then therapist sent me through DBT training, which I still use, but I dont’ remember doing anything for the bipolar or the ADHD. I remember she weaned me off the drugs that the medicating psychiatrist prescribed because part of the regime of DBT was that I was to be as drug free as possible. The only drug I remember being on, at that time, was Klonopin, which I take very sporadically now. (A prescription of 15 pills can last me a year, that is how sporadic it is.)  [When I started writing this in late November, I was taking Klonopin on a as needed basis. I’m now taking 1/2 of a .5 mg pill day. It’s helped. Tremendously.]
I have no memory of why the bipolar and ADHD were never addressed then. I also have no idea why my then therapist seemed more fixated on BPD then on the other disorders. The more that I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that she thought the DBT would give me skills that would carry over into the ADHD/bipolar world.
But no matter, let’s look to the present, and the future. Not wonder about what/ifs, for we’ll never get anywhere.
So, then, to the now. Dr. P. sends me off to a local ADD expert, who also has ADD himself. Today I spent an hour and some change working through the questionnaire and every light in my head is burning bright. Things that were often associated with other things (like I used to take work-ordered anger management class for my outbursts of anger — turns out, this is because of ADD). Things are finally starting to make sense. I knew I wasn’t depressed in the traditional sense, just always frustrated. Always not being able to figure things out. Dr. P. says the cycle goes from ADD causes my frustration, which builds up my anxiety, which then leads to my depressed state which starts the cycle all over again.
So tomorrow we start the Ritalin. I start with 1 pill, wait and document how I feel, take another and document how I feel and max this out at 3 pills. Ritalin is instantaneous. Effects are short (a few hours), which is why the build up the dosage. Clear head? Not wanting to be  so damned obnoxious (also apparently a trait – the talking out of turn)? Can this legal drug be my new snak eoil of hopes and dreams?
We shall see.

Panic in the Streets of Grand Rapids: Conversations about mother (part iii)

To support NaNoWriMo this month, I’m finishing the 30+ odd drafts laying about and posting them through the month of November.
Part I: Conversations about mother
Part II: Conversations about mother (part ii)
I felt fine in LA and in Phoenix (no minute or heavy stress attacks) as I drove but somewhere around Las Cruces, NM I began to have a major panic attack. It was late at night, I was stuck between two semis and the 10 had turned into single, each way lanes coupled with high cement shoulders due to construction. To top this wondrous night off, it was raining and raining hard.
I began to panic.
I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t breathe and I was freaked out of my wits.
This stepped up the racing thoughts that any second I was going to careen into the cement shoulder, hit a semi or get run over by the semi behind me. After what seemed like hours but was probably only mere minutes, I pulled off the road when I found the first mom and pop motel where I grabbed a room for the night. Even by taking myself out of what I thought was a dangerous situation, my heart wouldn’t stop racing. I made deals, bets, begged, cajoled, pleaded and bargained with whatever deity was above me to make this end. Nothing happened. I paced my room, smoked a million cigarettes and did everything I thought of in my power but I could not calm down.
The situation was made more intense that while I was no longer freaking out about my impending death on the 10, new thoughts would appear about my situation. I was in the wilds of New Mexico! Alone! With hardly any money! No one I know for hundreds of miles! With a crap cell phone!1 I was literally thousands of miles from my destination, alone, nearly broke, and frightened and scared.
Common sense roused its stately head and forced me to go to the mom and pop of the mom and pop hotel, to explain in very poor pidgin Spanish, that I felt like I was unable to breathe because that was the first thing I could think of to tell them. I could hear the crackling of Spanish on the radio in the make-shift lobby as I spoke. I remember how warm the night felt against my skin and how the air hung with wetness from the recent downpour. I must have looked like a crazy person, standing there, begging for help in a reasonable voice while my heart raged on and clearly, able to breathe.
EMTs shortly arrived thereafter and gave me oxygen, which upon my first inhale I immediately calmed down. They found, just as the ER docs found a few weeks before, nothing wrong with me. Healthy as a horse. It is like once the attack has been fully addressed in some manner, it decides to leave as quickly as it sprang up. Instead of being thankful to the EMTs for the reassurance, I remember feeling chastened. Slightly ridiculous that I called them out in the middle of the night for a panic attack. Also a little stupid, a little insane and a whole lot of embarrassed.
Moments of lucidness during my attacks, when I knew I was fine and I knew I was not in harms way were always felt to be made like disappearing bread crumbs along a well worn road by the panic. It is a struggle, still in the now and sometimes almost daily, to differentiate between the world colored by anxiety and the world in which is real. It is an exhausting struggle within my brain to fight for what could be potentially destructive behavior as compared as to what is termed normal behavior.
I do not know.

1. Back in ye olde times when cell phones were bricks, on analog service and you paid by the minute.

Le mie passioni, parte I: European dream

(Le Mie passioni, Italian translation of “my passions,” is a an occasional series of things I really, really love.)

I have been working on the Conversations about Mother cycle these past few weeks, only to find that I am emotionally drowning. The entries are all over the place, heavily bloated and I’m finding it difficult to make cuts and edits where there should desperately be cuts and edits.
I should have made an outline. The whole purpose of this exercise is to get rid of the pent up energy that prevails about my family, it is a “them vs me” moment, and yet this time the “them” is the words themselves. In addition, someone very important to me stepped back into my life after some time which pushed my heart beyond capacity. But that is another story for another time. Many of you may already know that I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in 2003-4ish.1 One of the techniques for managing BPD is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and one of my favorite DBT tricks, as it were, is self-soothing. The idea is to create an environment, a safe haven, of things that feel, taste, smell and are visually pleasing to me. I’ve decided to step that up a notch and create a visceral list of things that soothe me. To remember, to remind, to help whenever I feel like I’m in crisis. Additionally, I decided that it may be time to infuse a little frivolity into my writing and this blog, to take the pressure off the Conversations about Mother cycle and the heavier stuff. I’m not writing because I’m mopey about the cycle and when I’m mopey about a cycle, I’d rather discover 15 new ways to reinvent the wheel then write. I also realized, after wandering around the blogosphere as of late, that sometimes the very best writing comes when we’re not taking ourselves so seriously. And if there is anything I have learned about myself in these last few years, sometimes the stick is wedged up my arse a tad too snugly.
Forthcoming is a list of things that are capturing my heart at the moment, one per blog entry to keep it on the lighter side. In no particular order, things that I’m passionate about as of late:

Castello Nel Borgo, Terni, Umbria, Italy

.EU Vacation Home
If you’ve been paying attention (and I know you have), the headers that rotate throughout my site are all images taken by me from trips across the pond. Paris, Rome, Edinburgh to name a few cities, I’ve been to eight countries in the .uk and .eu since 2004, with TheHusband and I planning on visiting more in the future. While TheHusband and I do not typically agree on a lot of things (music, books, film), we do agree on lifestyle choices. We’re both desperate to shed our American lifestyles and head across the pond, permanently. Our goal is to accelerate payments on Throbbing Manor (payoff in under 15 years), fast pass student loans (payments currently set so the final payment is to be made in 2021) and continue to save money in our villa fund. The ultimate goal, if all goes to plan, is within a decade we’ll BOTH be debt free and have a good chunk to put towards our vacation/European home.
But where to move to? My desires to live in various places is always dependent on the moment: When watching Doc Martin, I was desperate to move to Cornwall and open up a B&B. Then I’m reading P.G. Wodehouse and M.C. Beaton and I want to be in the Cotswolds, in a thatched little cottage while creating merriment and havoc around the countryside, while hilarity ensues. Again, while running a B&B or a used bookshop. Or I want to be in the Highlands, own a sheep farm while spinning my own wool. I’ve got dreams! TheHusband is much simpler, he just wants land, fruit trees, and a bubbling brook. In seriousness, we’re looking at places in Italy for our future dream/vacation home. Why? We love the culture, the food and the people. Italy is essentially the Detroit of Europe, therefore real estate is cheap. We’ve been to the south (me in Rome) and the north (TheHusband in Milan and Florence).
It’s fairly centrally located to most of mainland Europe. I have a huge art history boner for Baroque, specifically Caravaggio and want to see all of his works in person, at least once. Italian is a romance language and my sketchy French would help me tremendously to learn it, and it would be wise for me to have another language proficiently under my belt before we moved. While I could be happy just about anywhere across the pond, and so thus would the TheHusband, right now Italy calls to our soul. After we settled on Throbbing Manor, we started looking at Italian real estate. Right now, it’s Umbria. Other days, it’s Abruzzo. Who knows where the wind (or in this case, the olive oil) may take us?
1. Part of the hiccup with writing the Conversations about Mother cycle is that I need to delve into BPD and discuss it. It’s one of the most misunderstood mental illnesses and I should be bringing a voice to it – problem is, sometimes my heart breaks and I just do not feel strong enough to do it. But I have to and, I will.

hot date

Smashing good day everyone. 🙂 BBQ was fun at C+S’s, though we were still perplexed how majority of the people in the group (‘cept for the baby of the group, sara) are in their late 20s/early 30s and we STILL separated into boy/girl groups. How the hell does that work?
HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOO. There was some group herpes action going around too.
So, I’ll talk about the date last night and since it includes some of my feelings, which are pretty consistent with BPD, I’m sticking it under a LJ-CUT
So IG#4 (his name is Sam) and I had been talking about meeting for a bit and finally agreed yesterday was the big date. We were going to meet at the GR Public Museum at 2pm, walk around and hit the planet-airum, do dinner, and then whatever. But plans kept changing because of the weather. So, I caught him online late yesterday morning and asked if he could bring the Whit Stillman movies with him that I didn’t own so that we could (if things went well), watch them later in the evening. Little did I know finding the movies would take several hours and by the time he hit grand rapids, it was already nearing 4:30pm.
We decided to meet at Barnes and Noble, to be “pretentious elitist asshats” (my words) on books. He had told me what he was wearing, and I had seen him walking down the middle of the parking lot as I was turning in. Since I had told him I was somewhat of a crazy driver, I gunned my engine and went tearing down the parking lot with the intent of stopping a few feet from him. He had gotten to the front of the store before I got close to him, but I did end up getting an awesome parking spot. I walked up, we shook hands, and entered the store.
For dress up, I opted to go super casual. I knew if I got “ho-banged up” (sara’s words), “hooched up” (jen”s words) or “tarted up” (my words), I’d be uncomfortable. I opted for my “Reading is Sexy tshirt,” with a pink camisole peeking underneath with my favorite jeans and these adorable cork wedge sandals I just bought that matched the shirt. My hair I left down (because I’m constantly being told people like it down better than up) and makeup was fairly minimal. I carried my clutch bag, which doubles as my bar purse, since I didn’t want to carry my normal everyday bag.
Things went off to a good start, lots of eye contact, body language was pretty groovy, and he got fairly smartassed which caused him to get smacked by my clutch bag at least once and a jokey argument almost lead to a banging of each other with coffee table books.
We were both getting pretty hungry, but he reallllllllllllly wanted to go to Vertigo (the local indie record store), which I resisted since going to Vertigo usually means I drop several hundreds of dollars and I can’t afford that. He promised to make it a quick trip, which I started twitching as I had already picked out a CD from the used bin that I wanted. I put the CD back and he paid for his purchases. We stopped at the video store next door to Vertigo and perused the foreign flicks since we are both fans and then headed off to Mikado for Sushi.
Mikado’s was closed, so I dropped him off at his car, lead him to my house to park his car and we then drove to Bombay for Indian (cos I’m lazy like that). Food was good, conversation was excellent. We split two dinners, lots of naan and samosas. We headed back to my place, I had him meet part of the posse (Jen, Mindy, and Kate). We walked the pugs, got settled in for movies.
We watched Metropolitan and Heathers, and literally spent the majority of the time separated by three pugs who decided to make it their business to lay all over Sam. No major flirting going on, really, our body language was pretty open but no one initiated anything. I was not about to (trying new theory of being less aggressive upon the first approach). But still, I wasn’t sure. During our last two weeks of conversation, I wasn’t sure if he was interested in me in a friend sort of way or in a romantic sort of way, so I asked him outright and he said romantic. But, he didn’t really flirt with me and I was getting highly self-conscious about it.
When the movies ended, we spent another couple of hours talking. We had been talking all night, even through the movies, and it was highly entertaining. He even commented it was a shame that we watched the second movie because he enjoyed talking to me so much and that he lusts after women he can hold conversations with. My library and musical tastes also rated big points with him as I apparently got cooler by the minute.
I wasn’t nervous. Which was weird, it just seemed we clicked on so many levels before with talking being with him just seemed natural.
So about 2:30a or so, it was getting late and we decided to call it a night. He wasn’t sure about seeing me again today (Monday) as he had to be at his parents later in the afternoon and he made plans for earlier in the day. He did say he wanted to spend next weekend with me as he’ll be in Grand Rapids helping a friend move and we are pseudo going to the Festival together. Apparently.
We walked ThePugKids for their nightly constitutional and brought them back in. We tap danced in my dining room for a bit and I could feel the tension getting tighter, the sexual tension. I wasn’t sure if I should just go lay one on him or what, when he did this swoop thing towards me that looked like he was going to kiss me but didn’t. I walked him down the stairs, as I had to lock up the front door, when he leans in like he’s going to kiss me. I step back and look at him, “Are you going to kiss me this time or are you going to do that swoop thing like you did before?” I eyed him suspiciously. He laughed and said no, he was really going to kiss me this time and we conked our heads as we went the same way. Giggled and went in for the kill.
Before I know it, I’m pinned up against the wall, hands above my head with his leg driven up to my crotch. It went from all friendly polite gentlemanly behaviour to BOOM. You could cut the sexual tension with a Ginsu and it would become dull. We’re throwing each other around my foyer like rag dolls and I’m surprised (literally) and didn’t come and see if I was okay we were THAT loud.
Hand, lips, bites, scratches. It was war and we both wanted to win and lose. I snaked my hand up underneath his tshirt and raked my nails down his back. He arched, moaned and said “I didn’t know I’d like that.” At one point, he was trembling, and I kept remembering saying to him was “Sam, sam, it’s okay, it’s okay.” For awhile we stood wrapped in each others arms in the foyer. I had ripped off his button down (good thing it was snap buttons) and his jacket and backpack were scattered on the floor. We were wrapped in each others arms with my head buried on his chest. He mumbled in my ear, “It feels to good to have you in my arms.” I smiled to myself and told him the only thing I wanted was to lay next to him, cuddled, in bed. No sex. He agreed he wanted that too. We tear back up the stairs and once we hit my dining room, bam, I was thrown up against the wall and we were all over each other again.
I stopped at some point and said, I can’t do this. He kept promising to be a gentlemen and I kept telling him, It’s not you, it’s ME! I can’t have a guy in my bed, whom I like and find myself sexually attracted to and NOT WANT TO RIP HIS CLOTHES OFF AND BAT HIM AROUND MY BEDROOM LIKE A RAGDOLL. Ahem. So there was that. He told me he wanted to see me again, and soon as possible.
Then I made the typical fatal mistake:
“Sam, what’s next.”
He kept going over and over about how much he liked me, and he thought i was incredibly groovy and how much he wanted to see me again. Because he works second shift, weekends were the only option. And he promised he’d see me next weekend for Festival.
But he got the deer caught in the headlights look. Things were getting really intense between us really quickly. Not just sexually (who knew?) but intellectually and mentally as well. While I was “into the moment” when we were all over each other, I kept conscious of how far I was “willing” to go. Like some level of me wanted nothing more then to unzip his pants, with the outside door wide open, and blow him until the sun came up. I wanted to just shed skin and crawl inside him. But we remained clothed.

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