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

pithy statements (or what happens next when you have a nervous breakdown.)

Dear Internet,
What you’re about to read was written damned near a year ago, never finished, and languished in my drafts box waiting to get some love. It seems appropriate, with my incessant working on self-care to update the mother-fucker and then post it in a more timely manner and by that I mean today, February 10th, 2017.
Let’s re-cap, shall we? I have a nervous breakdown in October 2015 (you can watch this in real time by reading anything from July 2014 until April – May 2016.) I am back in Louisville at that time with TheExHusband and he persuades me to start seeing a talking and medicating therapist, which I do, as I cannot afford, financially, to be hospitalized. My melt-downs are happening less but I’m still very fragile state of mind. I put together coursework, and started collecting inspirational quotes (pithy statements). (click here to jump down to the content after the quotes).
Here are 70 of them:

  • Sleep doesn’t help if it’s your soul that’s tired
  • Everything falls apart when you forget who you are and everything comes back together when you remember
  • Life isn’t about waiting for the storms to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain
  • Be good to people. Even the shitty ones. Let the assholes be assholes. You’ll sleep better
  • You’ll never have to force anything that is truly meant to be
  • Stay away from people who make you feel like you’re hard to love
  • Don’t believe the things you tell yourself when you’re sad and alone
  • Some trite inspirational quote about overcoming some things or some shit. I don’t know. Fuck off
  • Goddess of courage
  • Admire someone else’s beauty without questioning your own
  • Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful
  • You are never too old to to set another or dream a new dream – C.S. Lewis
  • Maybe life isn’t about avoiding the bruises. Maybe it’s about collecting the scars to prove we showed up for it
  • I am not normal. I don’t want to be. I don’t pretend to be. I am me
  • You are bad ass. You can do this
  • FEAR = Forgetting Everything is All Right
  • You are writing your own life
  • Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes that reason is you’re stupid and make bad choices
  • If today was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today? – Steve Jobs
  • You have to let people see what you wrote. It’ll never be perfect but perfect is overrated – Tina Fey
  • Half the failures in life arise from pulling in the horse as he is leaping – August William Hare / Julius Charles Hare
  • Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new – Albert Einstein
  • If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you – not much – Jim Rohn

All that shit you need to do will be there tomorrow, just sit your ass down

  • Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from doing what you can do –  John Wooden
  • You are the author of your own life story. You can start a new chapter anytime you choose
  • Live your dreams – they are worth it
  • You are a steward of pleasure – Lisa Rabey
  • Do not forget your humanity –  Lisa Rabey
  • You are not alone
  • Find the goddess inside yourself instead of looking for the god in someone else – Francesca Lia Block
  • Seduction is something that lies within us, it’s not an external appearance  – Kitty Cavalier
  • You always have choices
  • You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection – Buddha
  • Body is a state of mind, not a state of body –  Gala Darling
  • When we focus on other’s happiness, we forget our own
  • It’s not about others – it’s about you
  • I cannot change what has already happened
  • Fighting the past only bends me to my present
  • The present is the only moment I have control over
  • This moment is the result of a million other decisions
  • This moment is exactly as it should be, given what’s happened before it
  • The present moment is perfect, even if I don’t like what’s happening
  • We are not our thoughts
  • The best apology is changed behaviour
  • The greatest prison people live in is the fear of what other people think
  • Your story isn’t over yet

Sometimes what you really need is a punch to the throat.

  • Die trying
  • Have hope
  • Don’t ever give up
  • Dream big. Dream bigger
  • Life is short – be happy
  • It’s one thing to be grateful, it’s another to let that dictate your choice
  • Never give up, never be lost
  • Love takes all and be’s all
  • Only you can take care of you
  • Love yourself and live the amazing life which is waiting for you – Gala Darling
  • We are all born naked, the rest is drag  – Rupaul
  • My goal is to always come from a place of love … but sometimes you just have to break it down for a motherfucker – Rupaul
  • You are beautiful purely because you are hear, you exist, and you are doing the best you can – Gala Darling
  • Only you can save yourself
  • Believe in yourself. Have faith in your abilities. Without a humble but a reasonable confidence in your own powers, you cannot be successful or happy – Norman Vincent Peale
  • If you decide to not dream, you’re not only injuring yourself but taking away the amazing beauty from everyone else who would enjoy your dream more. It’s your responsibility to put these great things out there
  • Fall down seven times, stand up on eight
  • You are more capable than you think you are
  • There are no limits to dreams
  • Feelings are not facts – they are simply feelings and cannot harm you
  • Feeling stuck boils down to feeling fear – Gala Darling
  • Radical self-love is knowing when to get out of your own way – Gala Darling
  • Only you are responsible for your own happiness
  • Instead of asking yourself why this is happening to you, ask why this is happening for you. – Christine Hassler

Some of these quotes came from books, others were saved from the constant roll of inspirational quotes on my news feed on Facebook, and yet others I’ve randomly come across while I scour the internets for whatever.
You’ll notice some are nearly identical to the other. You’ll also notice most of them do not have citations. You’ll notice a lot of them presume everything is about a matter of choice. It doesn’t take into effect mental illnesses or issues where these mantras could do more harm then god.  I was just thinking of someone who is suicidal reading a number of these as and taking their own life because these quotes seemed impossible to believe. Other times I get angry and I want to punch people in the throat because we never read discussions about the pain to get from a to z. “Only you can save yourself” sounds great in theory but in practice is too vague — too condesending — too much of a copout. To save myself is requiring lots of drug therapy and a talking therapist not a pithy statement found on a t-shirt or bumper sticker.
Some days, not so much as I did last year, I feel as if I’m one step away from hospitalization. My melt-downs are less but they still happen. The other night I woke up to pee and found myself in a state of panic so bad one hour of meditation didn’t work so I took a Klonopin and tried meditating again for another 30 or so minutes. When neither that or the Klonopin worked, I took a second pill. At some point, heart still racing, I fell asleep and slept for 10 or so hours. That following day was shot. I moved around like a zombie and the only work I could concentrate on was stuff that was not taxing to the brain. I didn’t shower but I cleaned up by putting on fresh underwear and tshirt. I washed my face. Later I brushed my teeth. Anything more than that would have been too exhausting.
I told TEH that presenting as “normal” exhausts me. Keeping it together to function outside of my safe space takes a lot of effort and control. I cannot do more than one thing a day outside of home. I had a chiro appointment and a hair appointment scheduled yesterday  back to back and I called in and rescheduled both as even five hours worth of presenting was too much and it was, among other things, why I had the panic attack the night before because even the idea was too much.
TEH says, well, you’re not like this with me. Of course not. With you I can be my version of normal without the facade – there is no judgement just concern. I can sit around working on something (writing, knitting, watching a movie) without worrying of having to present myself to you as someone else. I noticed, he said, when we were out with $gameplaying couple (the woman I met at a Jane Austen society meeting), you seemed on edge and terse. Yes, I said. That’s exactly it. Finally, he understood. (They still wanted to see us after that so maybe I didn’t come off as terrible as I felt that I did.)
But sometimes you cannot articulate those feelings — I know I’ve been struggling to say here, this is what being “exhausting” means to me because on the outside, the invisible disability is just that, invisible and when you meet me, and knew nothing about this, you would think I was a charming fellow. A bit obnoxious, sure, but charming all the same and on the inside, I would be screaming.
I don’t want to be here — this place after what all has happened. Who does? My life is crippled and on hold and I bitterly laugh to myself that at 44, soon to be 45!, all the things I wanted to be and do by now seemed impossible. Not because I am not passionate enough for them but because emotionally, mentally, and yes, yes financially, they are out of reach. But, I console myself, this is all temporary. I know this is temporary. I can survive anything and by accepting this state is temporary gives me some breathing room and relief. I have no plans on killing myself, let us be clear on that, but I am in a much better state than I was a year ago and a year from now, I will be even better.
So we wonder, I wonder, what it’s like when your brain breaks and you’re picking up the pieces but we don’t talk about it. Friends don’t ask me because maybe — I don’t know, they just don’t. So, I think, it’s time for this disease to not control me, having me lying sobbing on the couch or bed, and it is time I can summon up the strength to control it.
Because fuck it, I’ve got this.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 20162004, 2001

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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melancholy of the forgotten things

The last few months has been a study in the discovery of self as I’m having a lot of deep thoughts™ on a near daily basis. Nearly every single winner of those races tend to steer me towards my (ir)relevancy and (lack of) mark in the world. There is a toss-up if I am thinking such things because it is winter and depressing as hell outside or that my 45th birthday is in six months.
Maybe it’s both.
It is depressing, as a feeling not as a state. I do not feel as if I’m going to harm myself, do some damage to others or any of that sort but I am feeling a bit helpless and confused, and questioning where I’m going. Even during and shortly after the case came to a conclusion, I felt as if I was on a very clear path. Now that path is muddled and I’m at a loss of what to do and where to go.
To be sure my physical self is fine: I have a place to live (living with TEH where the south meets the midwest), food in my belly, my bills are taken care of, for now, thanks to unemployment. I do not want for material things and I am extremely grateful for what I have. I’ve taken to donating time / money when I can, even if it’s only a few dollars. I want to pay forward all the help I was given and while these gestures may seem small, it’s something.


I have been able to procure a talking therapist last month and we’re meeting on a near weekly basis. I have not worked with a talking therapist in over six months and it is such a relief to word vomit everything from my head with no fear of judgment and repercussion. Like many, I have a wonderful support network of people who will listen but they are not a neutral party to this conversation.
My talking therapist keeps drilling, tho I have a hard time believing, the importance of self-care and self-soothing. It’s not that unusual, really, to have these thoughts and they are not owned by those with short-circuited brains like mine. They are just thoughts, we need to accept them and let them go. We don’t have to act on them or be fearful of them. The talking therapist posited what kind of society are we if taking time out for ourselves makes us selfish bitches? Being able to take care of one’s self does a world of wonder for our lives.
We do not have to do all the things.
We need to remember to put ourselves first– a concept I rationally understand but have a literal difficulty in implementing.
Yesterday I found myself in a state over something I couldn’t control but was desperately attempting to. I took to my meditation app and I could not concentrate for fuck all. It was a struggle to keep focused on my zen buddha nature as my mind kept wandering over to that particularly riddled state and other things that were not important enough to give as much currency as I was giving them. Too fast for my liking, the 15 minutes are over and Andy from the app is back soothing me with his subtle British accent.
I do not feel better. I am now frustrated because I could not complete the simple task of sitting still for 15 minutes and being present.


An example of a daily frustration: I worked in the state of New York when I was living on the east coast this summer and since I worked long enough to garner unemployment, this is who is feeding me each week. The conditions tho are bit long and can get tiresome of what I need to report every week in my job search. I have to, and I do, track everything from job searching and profesh website1 updates to interviews and rejections. I have to work on job searching three days a week. Many of you may remember when I was heavily job hunting for librarian gigs I was searching every fucking day.
My medicating therapist spoke on the influx number of jobs coming to the area. Sure, if you’re into light industrial and retail. Several websites put my earning power at $93K. I have never earned that much, and while I’m glad for their hopefulness, it gets a bit irritating that the jobs they send pay in the $15/hr range. If that. Most jobs are paying in the $8-10/hr range.
I’m going to be a pretentious, over privileged asshole. I worked hard for my degrees. I made $ButWillMoreThanLikelyNeverSeeInThisArea so I have settled for $ReasonableAmount – which is significantly less than $ButWillMoreThanLikelyNeverSeeInThisArea. I’m finding a lot of jobs that require at least a college degree paying $10K less than my $ReasonableAmount.
I would gladly settle for a retail job at my favorite stores but the pay there starts at $9/hr. I calculated working 40 hours a week, which would be impossible, the gross would be $30 less a week than what unemployment brings. If I work a day, I will not make close to what that day would bring me on unemployment. Retail jobs are out. Tutoring jobs, which pay between $18-22/hr, would be ideal but I would have to hustle to find work and those gigs are not guaranteed source of income. Tutoring jobs are out. I’ve been rejected from positions I’ve interviewed for, with a $10K a year less salary than my $ReasonableAmount, for being overly educated. My resume is in front of your face. What on earth would have changed from submission to the interview?
I have removed degrees, modified what I did at jobs, cut my resume from six pages (academic) to two (standard). I have resumes for different fields. I have placed a variety of my resumes on eight job boards, including a state and city sponsored ones. I call staffing agencies and specialty recruiters. I have emailed recruiters that I have worked with in the past. It is not as if I’m not looking for a gig, but I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable given my education, employment history, and skillset, asking for $ReasonableAmount is not, in fact, unreasonable.
And for the love of all that is holy, do not take this as an invention to email me your suggestions on how to find a job. My interview rate per number of job applications (1 in 5) is better than the norm (1 in 10), so obviously I have that down pat — it’s a matter of actually getting someone to hire me.


What was the point of that angrily worded section? To give you an idea of a daily frustration. Instead of stepping back, coloring or knitting or working on something else to self-soothe/self-care, I stew. Fuck the man and all that has and will potentially happen because I’m getting nowhere.


My talking therapist is an optimist. The right thing will happen at the right time, she says. She believes it too. She tells me I’ve got options. I’m starting an extensive front end web development program in January. If I get off my arse, I can start selling my writing. There are other things I can throw in the fire. I am not, by any means, out of ways to improve my standings but it just might take a bit longer. Take a bit of work.
Work hurts.
I have to remember, as my talking therapist keeps telling me, things, no matter how much I want them to, will not change overnight. Every small fucking step I’ve done this year, even if it feels like I’m spinning my wheels, is an improvement over before. I need to think of 2016 as a year of growth rather than a year of nothing. Because I did do work. I did make some ground.
But the work hurts. It is painful and maddening and slow.
Talking therapist said that’s okay, it will hurt. By being here, acknowledging on being present, you’re slowly changing something. It’s new and unknown. That is okay.
That is okay.
1. I’m consolidating my librarian website (lisa.rabey.net) with my writing one (lisarabey.com). Choose your own adventure, motherfuckers.

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.

making it rain

Dear Internet,
I got a job.
A real, in my field, letter of interest signed and sealed with a start date job.
Here’s the bittersweetness: I’ll be living in Connecticut.
OH! The irony.
So the gig is as a digital archivist in a corporate setting.1 I’ll be working with the processing and corporate archivists on a large project that is scheduled to run until the end of the year with an option to be picked up in 2017. I signed an NDA so I cannot tell you who I am working for.
I’m nervous. Excited. Grateful. Nervous. Lots of other emotions.
My start date is May 9th.
I am going to have to wear PANTS (which is anything not Chucks, t-shirts, or jeans). I will be out in the world interacting with other people. I will be paying taxes!2 I will be contributing to society.
I get to be an adult with my own things, my own place, and my own decisions to make.
It’s preeetttyyy exciting.
I made the announcement on Facebook on Thursday and nearly half of my Facebook BFFs liked/loved and some commented on the post. SO MANY PEOPLE are rooting for me. I never thought in a million years I would have this large of a fan base, but there you go — I have proof I am loved and wanted.
I’m leaving L-ville on May 4th, arriving in Connecticut on May 5th. I’m lining up the usual apartment and hotel shenanigans. I’m packing and getting business done here.
I’ve got a lot of shit to do.
Another great thing? I don’t have to look for a job! First time in 18 months I do not have to feel dehumanized and dejected on the job front. Oh happy day!
There is a kind of creepy part to this equation.
The weekend before I heard from the corporation in regards to scheduling my first interview, I decided to color my hair one color and take out my nose ring. That Monday I got the email with the request for the phone interview that afternoon. If I was moving forward they would reach out to my references and schedule the video interview.
References were checked Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.
They got in touch with me Tuesday afternoon to schedule the video interview for that Friday. After the video interview, the next process would be for them to confer, make their recommendation, and move forward with the candidate of their choosing. I would know by the end of the following week (April 22).
A few days after the interview, I had a discussion with TheExHusband on the need for more profesh clothes as it was spring, nearing summer, and my interview clothes were for fall and winter. He gave me a budget to work with, I surveyed my closet, bought flexible items to fill in the gaps of what I was missing. Clothes had been ordered before I even knew my status.
Thursday the 21st (nearly a week since the video interview), I followed up to find out my status and they said they would let me know as soon as they knew.
They called me that afternoon and I missed the call. We rescheduled the call for 5:15PM and within three minutes they asked if I was still interested and if so, they would like to extend the offer to me. I said yes and here we are!
Time from interview to acceptance: less than two weeks.
Academia can learn a thing or two about the hiring process.


So let’s get to what everyone wants to really know more than about the job: What about TheBassist?
Good question and not unsurprisingly the number one question I’ve received (privately) after my I AM PAYING TAXES announcement. (People worry about me and I love it and I am wholeheartedly always grateful.)
What about him indeed.
On occasion I’ve thought about different scenarios in different contexts if he got back in touch. As my mental wellbeing started to lean more towards being healthy than the crazy, my attitude went from “this is what I would I totally do” (see pre-Wellbutrin) to “I’ll deal with it when it happens. I’ve got shit to do” (see post-Wellbutrin).
Before I continue, let me make one thing clear: I am not getting in touch with him. I’ll be living an hour south of him so the likelihood of us running into each other is pretty slim.
But there is a catch: Many of his local close friends love me and can’t wait to integrate me into their social scene. I’m beyond flattered (and grateful) so I had to put some thought into a scenario where TheBassist and I end up in the same place.3
At first, my thought was, “Oh. No. I hope his friends understand I am not ready to be around him” and “I could never be friends with him after everything that has happened.” When those thoughts started creeping, I took to my journal to write it out.
Within a couple of pages, I had a 180 degree turnaround about the situation.
It’s pretty clear the last year has taken a toil on my psyche and mental health. My self-respect and dignity are making a comeback. I love the sassy me.
Making these wide gestures of “oh no, look at me” is creating drama, even unintentionally. As we’ve seen, even unintentional drama serves no one (especially me). So then I thought, “You know. I can pull up my big girl panties and handle this like a champ. If we’re in the same place at the same time, I can be gracious and kind. It hurts no one and being cruel has never been my forte. It serves no purpose.”
And the job, the move, and everything else? It’s none of his business. It’s my life and he has no say in it.
It came to me I had a choice: I could be a spoilt child having a tantrum or I could be graceful and keep my dignity intact.
I choose the later.
Once I came to that conclusion in my journal, I signed off for the evening and went to bed.


I’m a catch. I’m adorable. I’m funny. I can converse on a variety of topics. I’m kind to people. I’m loyal and I can be naughty as fuck when needed. The list of my good qualities and personality endeavours is as long as I am tall
(I am humble too.)
But there is a crazy Lisa and a mentally healthy Lisa. He came in the beginning of the crazy. If he can’t strip that away, disregard whatever fantasy (I believe) he had of me, and see the real me. Well, his loss.


I will be gracious and kind if I come across him in social situations. But to be coffee meeting friends? No. To wish him ill will? No. To cause drama and strife? No. Do I wish him to have a good life? Absolutely.
Will feelings about what has transpired hurt? Of course they will — my therapist assured me this is normal. How I respond to these feelings is what dictates whether or not my mental health is, well, healthy. To start out a bit panicky about the prospect of running into him in social situations and to come to the conclusion I’ll be fine and the situation will be fine is what differs from then to now.
I will be okay.


I’ve got a hunch he’s seeing someone. No one has told me, and I had asked them not to, so my hunch could be unfounded. But I’ve got a feeling and sometimes my feelings are right. Of course it hurts my heart a little bit to know he could be with someone or he’s pursuing someone. It has been six months since the break-up and while I have taken time out of the dating world to handle self-care it does not behold him to do the same.
In the end, all I’ve wanted was for him to be happy and for me, obviously, to make him happy. If I’m not the person who can do that, I hope he finds someone who can love him the way he wants and needs to be loved and to find happiness in that person. That is all I’ve ever wanted.
As for me? I’m a grown ass woman and I’ve got shit to do.
xoxo,
Lisa

1. I swore until the ends of time I could never work corporate. Well end time is nigh and I’ve got to make it rain.
2. A friend of mine who is an accountant swore he’s never heard someone get excited about paying taxes before. It’s how I roll.
3. I give myself ideas of potential scenarios to get a vague idea of of how I would react to that situation. I like being, to some extent, prepared for eventualities. It’s what I do.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2012, 2000

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shut the fuck up and be happy

Shut the fuck up and be happy
Dear Internet,
When you’ve been friends for a fairly long time with someone, you organically create your own schticks. As TheExHusband and I have known each other for 20 years (!), we have many schticks of which one is where we create songs and dances using melodies from popular songs except with our own lyrics. I have, for example, a dance and song routine when I get ready to shower.
Recently I created a song while waiting for my breakfast to heat up, TEH chimes in with his own lyrics and I start, as one does during these instances, laughing. It was, however, not the canned laughter we typically do when we find something to be funny, which comes and goes as if it was never there in the first place. No, this was genuine laughter that came from my belly and it felt authentic (as much as I fucking hate that fucking word, it applies here). My peripheral vision, my face mirrored on the microwave door, reflected a broad smile.
The days when I found my body beautiful are getting closer together. The return of myself in the mirror showed a face not so much glowing but perhaps calmer. More relaxed. (Except for the greys that are creeping up again (TIme for a new dye job!), I’m pretty satiated with my looks.)
Is this happiness?
The more I yoga, I find my day feels more complete. There is a hop to my step and a harmony to my life, even if  I am working from home. Days away from doing yoga don’t feel right. Something is missing. I have a routine in the morning and that routine I must stick to. I like knowing my body can now do some flexible things. When I started back a few months ago, I could only lean half way down in bound angle pose but this week I’ve been able to almost get the girls to touch the floor. Slight change, sure, but it is still something.
Is this what joy feels like?


“Happiness,” “mindfulness,” “gratitude,” “self-care,” “humility,” and another 44 descriptors1 I could come up with in a short amount of time are the hot trends in our lives. A reporter recently asked, When ‘mindful’ is a mayo, a diet, a mantra, does it actually mean anything? and I found myself asking that very same question of my own practice. Is what I’m doing — the meditation, the yoga, the journaling, the being mindful as much as possible — really working or is it some kind of placebo thin band-aid covering up my real (chemically imbalanced) ills? Perhaps it is the drugs and I’m just placing woo-woo around it to make it more palatable to others and myself?
But the real question we should asking ourselves, no matter where it comes from, is doing these things make us happy regardless of what other people think? I can certainly answer with a resounding yes. DBT, which is the science backed set of techniques to make one mindful, works. Yoga keeps me centered and lets me push my body into ways I didn’t think it could — see the aforementioned getting the girls to the floor. The little changes in my life that keep me going strong: the continual exercise (no matter how minute), the quitting smoking, the journaling, the meditation, and for the everything else that is important to me continues to push forward. I have a proven track record of making these things work in the past and I am determined to make them continue on that path. So for me, whether or not someone “gets it” is not important. It’s not important what others think. What is important is how and what I feel as I move my life forward in my own beautiful and fucked up way.
Is this being blissful?


A good friend, C., flashed a comment on Twitter recently about her gentleman caller. Piqued, I wrote her a note2 with only the words, “Who is this gentleman caller??” A week or so later, we gossiped online, though privately, about her new love life. He was a local to her boy. He had pursued her for some time, they met, fireworks occurred, and now they are a couple.
I was thrilled for her. C. is one of those people you KNOW is going to get snapped up by some lucky person and it finally happened. I am a nosey wench so I poked and prodded about their love life, how they were doing, any future plans, that kind of thing. C. and I may both be in our 40s, but it is never too old to gossip about lovers like we did in high school. (There are a lot of things we never grow out or tired of.)
Form C.’s side, there was a lot of swoony hearts emoji when the gentleman caller did something to win her affections. I loved and still love talking to her about him because her happiness is so infectious. C. never struck me as a person who needed others to make her happy but with a new lover, I needed sunglasses from her thousands of miles away glow.
But this is not about that story.
What struck me, and got me thinking the most about these new developments, was C.’s discussion of at least one of her local friends seemed to be getting tired of C.’s delight in talking about C.’s gentleman caller. We’ve all been there – we meet someone we think is the bee’s knees, everything they do is perfection personified, and all we want to do is talk about them. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, everyone who has ever been romantically involved has done it.3 And we all know of that one person or maybe several who get tired of our nattering and want us to quietly shut the fuck up. The reasons for our friend’s behaviour can range from general annoyance or bitterness at their own life.
Just like gushing about our new lovers when we meet them, we are bitter cynics when the relationship ends. We are done for; relationships are terrible; love is a joke and so on. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, everyone who has ever been romantically involved has done it. (See 3 below.)
I totally got where this friend was coming from — hell, I’ve been in that position recently myself and one could argue I’m still there. The last 18 months have been both the most wonderful and the worst in my life. I can still taste the heady high when TheBassist and I found each other again and I can still feel the deepening well of pain when we split. I’ve seen both sides of the coin in such a short amount of time, I could commiserate.
As C. and I talked about her gentleman caller, I mulled over the info she dropped about her cynical friend. I cannot lie and say I didn’t feel these feelings myself at that very moment — I fucking totally did. But a new thought came into my head as we talked: Was C. happy? Yes. Was her happiness important to me? Also yes. Why was I letting my own bitter heart take away her moment? I was being selfish and laying my own heartache to dampen C.’s excitement for gentlemen lover. Was that fair? Fuck no. So then I stopped.
Seriously, I just stopped thinking bitter and cynical things about my own life in comparison to hers. It wasn’t getting me anywhere. Was I bitter and angry at my own les amours? Yep. Was regret hanging out somewhere there too? Probably.
But this wasn’t about me, it was about C. Making it about me was one of the worst things I could do for her and it needed to be about her. I was also mindful this was not some kind of manipulation on my own part about the situation. I didn’t tell her what was running through my head, I didn’t give her lip service about her dating life, I just let her be and encouraged her to tell me more about her gentleman caller because it made her happy.
Is this humility?


Back to the posited statement and also a question: How does one just shut the fuck up and be happy? As you’ve probably get the gist of my thoughts on these topics lately, I hate, HATE, websites and authors and etc who slap on a one size fits all balm on what makes someone happy, grateful, or whatever. We’re told over and over again happiness and the 48 other terms are ours for a short step away. Do this thing. Buy that thing. Wear that thing. But our happiness is not one size fits all. What makes C. happy doesn’t necessarily make me happy and vice versa. We can be supportive of that person’s happiness but we are under no obligation to replicate what makes them happy in our own lives.
What these gurus also fail to tell you is happiness is hard work. It’s fucking really hard work and it will never fucking end. It will be painful and you’re going to want to smack people in the head. There will be times when jealousy reigns supreme or envy takes over your heart. You’re going to be spitting nails at your lover or willing your boss into a cave deep in the mountains.
And you know what? This is normal. Happiness is not a 24/7 thing. We’re human. We’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to fall down. A lot. You’re going to have days of glory. A lot. But what you do with what you learned, like me figuring out C.’s happiness in that moment was number one thing, is what’s going to make all the difference in the world.
And remember we are not perfect.
No matter what that guru tells you, we are not perfect. But do look for the times when small joys, no matter how  silly they may seem, make you smile. That is happiness. Whether it’s the smile of the stranger, the look of a lover, or the smell of freshly cut grass. The goal is to bridge more of these small things into larger and longer things. Look for those moments because they are everywhere.
And that right there, is the big fucking key.
And if you need a reminder, just learn to:
let that shit go


When TheBassist and I began again, he kept talking about coming to fetch me from Michigan to East Coast because that is what he does. I thought it charming and enduring but as the time moved forward, I could see his frustration. I kept leaving and he kept fetching me. The cycle was never ending.
I kept leaving and he kept fetching.
When the relationship ended, I remember he commented he needed to advocate for himself. Now, six months later, I understand what he meant. In that time since then, I held strong to the belief that it was I who needed to fetch him. Even if he kept leaving, I would always fetch him.
Today as I was running errands, a thought occurred to me that it was not one fetching the other. No, it was me fetching myself. He couldn’t do it. My therapists couldn’t do it. I had to do it on my own.
In that second I smiled and I was happy.
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 2000, 1997


1. I am not joking. I have a piece of paper with 49 descriptors in that same vein on those related topics. And I’m sure there is more.
2. By “wrote her a note” I mean I put pen to a notecard, put the notecard into an envelope, added a stamp, and tossed it into a mailbox to wing its way to her. Not only is she an online BFF, she’s also one of my penpals.
3. If someone has taken a lover at some point in their life and has not bragged near and far about their partner, they are lying through their fucking teeth.
4. While I have been diagnosed by at least four separate doctors over 25 years I am bipolar, ADHD, borderline, and have general anxiety, what sets me apart from others with my gifts is I don’t exhibit traditional destructive behaviours. I don’t drink, do drugs, have wontan sex partners, or anything construed to dangerous. This is why I am a science experiment.

 

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learning to breathe / projection

Dear Internet,
Cake cures everything. True facts.
The last couple of days are ones filled with frustrations. A few rejections came in, my healthy body plan wasn’t going anywhere, and it’s been raining. After a week, week and a half, of doing yoga every day, I took yesterday and today off. Maybe that is what is giving me the temporary blues? Who knows. I know of several others who are having a rough week
Every time a post on meditation, gratitudes, and becoming mentally healthy goes live, one or two people contact me privately to either tell me a shared experience or to ask for help. (And I’m always grateful for the shared experiences as it confirms what I often desperately need: I am not alone.)
Let’s make the elephant in the room obnoxiously loud: I cannot help them. Sure, I can give advice, website and book recommendations, and the ever helpful tips, but in the end, I can’t help them.
And it’s not about they really want, need, or if they can or cannot pull themselves up by their boot staps. (Though I believe these things do factor into some degree.)
It’s because I have no idea their previous experiences, their medical histories, or what therapies have tried. I’m also not medically trained or certified. What I chronicle is my own personal experiences and how I have dealt with them. My experiences tend to be atypical for various reasons (being beyond sensitive to SSRIs and most bipolar drugs is one), the flipping mania and depression at a faster than light speed and the co-morbidity of being bipolar with adhd and being borderline. When the gods struck my brain in a fury they were not kidding.
Lastly, I do not know their needs.
(Though I will implore you to NOT diagnose yourself on the internet. You’re not a trained professional and there is a lot more to figuring out what you may or may not be than a checklist. Plus diagnosing yourself will either lead you to believe you have cancer or are dying this very second. Stop fucking doing that.)
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2001

 

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janus – faced: on being bipolar

Dear Internet,
As I started prepping today’s piece, it struck me as I am also a gemini and if you’re hip to astrology, geminis are dual natured. I don’t think you could make my life any more hamfisted or obvious.
So today is World Bipolar Day! Last year, I discovered the cause a day after it occurred — which is always my luck. Since I’m so prolific about writing about my mental state of being, I thought I would take today’s entry and point out some of the resources, blogs, and books that I use to keep my brain in check.
A few disclaimers.

  1. I am not a doctor or a therapist. I cannot treat or diagnose your brain. What I write on this site is what works for me (including drugs, more of which I’ll go into in a sec), so for the love of fuck do not take my experiences as the end all, be all of being bipolar.
  2. Bipolar is, in short, a chemical imbalance in the brain. Unlike things like anxiety or borderline personality disorder, which are managed by talk therapy, it is nearly impossible to function without some kind of drug therapy, in addition to talking therapy. Yes, yes, I know people have said they manage without drug therapy (or talking therapy) and those people who are successful at managing without any type of therapy, successfully, is tiny. Like really, really, tiny.
  3. I implore you not to self-medicate.
  4. There are several different types of bipolarism. I am bipolar 1.
  5. Bipolar is typically comorbid, which means you can be bipolar AND have anxiety AND so on. I am bipolar 1 with anxiety, adhd, and borderline personality disorder.
  6. FOR THE LOVE OF FUCK DO NOT DIAGNOSE YOURSELF ON THE INTERNET AND I DON’T CARE IF YOU USED THE MAYO CLINIC / WEBMD / OR SOME OTHER KIND OF REPUTABLE SITE. You can get recommendations from your general physician, your insurance company or in Google: psychiatrist “name of your city” to get a listing of shrinks in your area. You’re going to want a medicating shrink for your drugs and a talking shrink for your talk therapy. Some doctors can do both. They will diagnose you and work out a treatment plan for you.

The below are resources / books I use or have used and found success with in my management of my brain. I am listing mainly bipolar stuff and US based sites. I have found in my searches for “bipolar” or “bipolar blogs”, up comess lots and lots of academic-y pieces on the disorder or links to sites like WebMD with explanations of the disorder but not much after that. I have also found a few sites that were more about snake oil then providing resources or information.
Which brings me to: Be weary of sites that always want to sell you something like, “How I cured Bipolar in 10 Easy Steps” and that kind of crap. If someone wants to sell you their life story on them and bipolar, that’s one thing, but the rest is mostly snake-oil.
Now the recommendations. (Amazingly, to me, the Reddit subreddit for bipolar is pretty chill.)

Mine

  • Pinterest board where I’ve started curating mental health stuff website
  • Article at MindBodyGreen, “I’ve Had Bipolar Disorder For 20 Years. Here’s How I’ve Learned To Manage It” website
  • EpbaB tags bipolar | bipolar maniamentally healthy

Reources

Blogs

Books


I am a:  LibrarianWriter. Nerd. Geek. Sassy.  Pug owner. World traveler. Pierced. Tattooed. Tall.Music and book lover. Discriminating Guinness taster. Aging, alternative hipster. Eco-conscious. Equally in love with James Bond, Jane Austen, and Doctor Who.
I am not the sum of my diagnosis.
My brain is broken but I am not.

I am more the sum of my parts and so are you.

xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 1999

 

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i have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

Dear Internet,


Thank fuck for science.
The Wellbutrin is working and you have no idea how happy I am this cocktail (Lamictal 400mg, Wellbutrin 75mg, Risperidone 1mg) is finally giving my swiss cheese brain mental relief.
(I will refrain from giving the low down of my mental medical history suffice to say my usual 46 readers are pretty familiar with the origin. tl;dr if you’re new: I metabolize drugs quickly and always get the side-effects. The current cocktail is the first one years that is actually working for all the ailments.)
I started Wellbutrin two weeks ago, felt the good effects within four days (it usually metabolize is one to two weeks), had a few days of mania (which it’s known to cause), which tapered back down to the chill attitude I was experiencing before. The idea a drug can fix the feeling of awfulness about myself or the wanting to crawl into a hole to hide forever or any variant thereof is pure bliss.
It’s almost better than sex. At least maybe better than chocolate (it would be close).
The absolute concrete evidence, to me, it was working was checking out of Bath and Body Works recently, I didn’t slay the checkout girl about the email/phone number shenanigans they are forced to ask you. There may also have been some giggling during the discussion and a pep to my walk leaving the store.
Somewhere I wrote (where I have forgotten) this isn’t like mania happiness. I don’t feel compelled to BOUNCE OFF THE WALLS or feel overly hyper. I’m sleeping eight hours every night, which is a pretty sure sign it’s not mania. I just feel calm and not ever so angry. A tad cheerful now and then. Not only is it consistent but it’s stable.
There are a few other good effects other than the stabilization of the depression: My anxiety is not ramped up (which Wellbutrin is known to do); I am not as full of self-loathing or hatred for my appearance; I am setting very clear boundaries around people and things and keeping those lines well-defined.
Another sign that struck me things were getting better is that I’m not feeling as abrasive as I once have been. I mentioned to my shrink this week I am more thoughtful of what comes out of my mouth in what I’m saying and how I am saying it. I am not feeling so impulsive to say things that could be construed as being hateful or abrasive as I once did and if I am not sure how to not come off as a raving lunatic, I ask for help. I’m being more considerate towards other people rather than making myself the center of attention in discussions
Things feel easier now even though my life is always going to be a lot of hard work. I am always going to be working on keeping my brain healthy. I am aware this is not a one size fix all solution. I didn’t expect it to be but finally having feelings stabilized is brilliant.
This is exciting. I was thinking the other day how much of this I was feeling before Wellbutrin was added and to be honest, a lot of it was bubbling below the surface but the Wellbutrin is pushing it towards the sun. The meditation, the journaling, the yogaing, and all of the positive things I am doing to keep myself balanced and moving forward are beginning to come to fruition and as long as I keep doing the hard work, things will continue to unfold.
In drawing out how my life has been, I told my shrink, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;” because that is, right now, how my life is being sorted. I have this tick list of things that are continuing to move forward (smoke free: eight weeks, exercising: since mid-november;  silly pictures goal: six weeks; 248 consecutive days of mediation; seven weeks of gratitude lists) and as time passes, I add new things (tracking food to watch how I’m eating is now entering its third week), and those things also stick around. On one hand, I feel self-conscious because these items may seem silly but they are super important to me as I’ve barely been able to stick with anything over the years.
Plus I want my god-damed gold star sticker, so there’s that.
As I said the other day, I am going to bloom like a fucking flower.


What also has struck me in these last few weeks is the solidifying is my personality in the terms of who I am versus what people think I am. A few months ago I talked about the lack of self-image that is prevalent in borderlines. We take on someone else’s like and dislikes and make them our own. This is beyond being influenced by a friend or a lover, this cuts deep.
I also sad:

If you saw I was really a bookish, nerdish girl who would rather knit and read a book rather than get rowdy enough at a bar to get thrown out a bar (like I was at 21), you wouldn’t like me. No one liked me when I was a four eyed square in primary and middle school because I was different from everyone else (hoo boy, things changed when I grew breasts and got contacts), no one was going to like me now. Honestly? When I do show that side of myself, no one really expects it and think it’s some facade. What they can’t figure out is the opposite is true.
And the bitchy sarcastic cuntface continues to live supreme because that’s what people want, and I want them to like me, so it will remain so.

In the last couple of months, that particular flip has also switched. Somewhere along the way my subconscious decided it didn’t want to be a bitchy cuntface anymore (the sarcasm will always stay) and things got a lot easier. I could breathe more. I felt more at ease with myself and not so tired defending the gate of Lisa. The things I liked I’m enjoying with greater pleasure and intensity. The Wellbutrin is helping but it wasn’t just the drugs that is moving me forward, it’s the “…meditation, the journaling, the yogaing, and all of the positive things I am doing to keep myself balanced and moving forward are beginning to come to fruition and as long as I keep doing the hard work, things will continue to unfold.”
Yes, I just quoted myself with something I wrote earlier in this piece.
Ibid.
I also tend to say things like, “As we will forthwith be in Chicago this weekend, we shall start upon our return?” and “I have graphic novel versions of P+P and Emma but besoothe! There are more!”. Yeah, I sound like I drank the Engish major’s Kool-aid, but I’m reading Georgette Heyer at the moment along with Jane Austen pastiches, so we shant be surprised by the rearranging of my nouns, verbs, adjectives, and participles.
(And I freely admit to listening lately to nothing but soundtracks from Atonement, Pride and Prejudice (2005), and so on.)
Like so:


Thursday begins the fifth annual sojourn to C2E2. The bitchy coven of librarian’s contingent is small this year — as far as I know, only Kristin and I will representing. There is a librarian dinner on Friday night with some local crew but as for the core #cmmrb group, it’s going to be one sad year.
The trip this year is funded by airplane miles and crashing with friends at the hotel. I only had to come up for cash and Uber/Lyft, which I did and viola! A vacation of sorts in the frosty days of March. (It’s been in the high 60s / low 70s here in L-ville these last few weeks. My winter coat is getting its first airing this winter — in March.)
I’m excited. I’m always excited for C2E2 weekend. It’s fun, I get to see people I haven’t seen in ages, I get to see pop culture stars (not to humble brag, but Kristin and I had our pic taken with Jason Mamoa. In the same trip, Kristin, Beth, Ryan, and myself had our pic taken with Hayley Atwell.).I get to buy a tshirt and eat crappy conference food.
I get to not have to worry about jobs, money, and status of my health. I get to immerse myself in a world of my own making outside of all of those stresses.
(And the lemon will be in play.)
You can follow me along on IG if you so desire.


The weekly fanciful delights and gratitude lists will still be posting this weekend as I prepped them before I left. Keeping it real.


Today I had a bit of melancholy hovering around. I’m not sad, my heart doesn’t feel hurt, I don’t have Morrissey lyrics floating around in my brain, and I don’t feel that overwhelming sense of despair.
Wistful is perhaps a better word than melancholy. Let’s go with that.
Flying is always going to hint around to the past and the irregularity of the flying is enough to tear at the heart strings when it happens. It is especially poignant when I step off the plan and saunter through the terminal as no matter where that plane may land, I’m always going to be on the look out for a 6’7 mohawked fellow with a coffee in his hand, waiting for me.
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2013, 2003