Saturday, September 26, 2009

Amusement Park day.

I went to an amusement park today and had a very good time. Rain was expected, and a couple of our friends did not want to travel only to have it 'cancelled' so it was just three of us - myself, husband and a friend. The rain mostly held off until the afternoon, so we were able to ride rides, have a nice free lunch (this is the yearly company picnic, everything was covered), and ride more rides.

I do not like rides with heights, so that cuts down on a lot for me, but I still went on several things, and had A BLAST!! It did start to rain in the afternoon/evening and then we just went home.:)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Here it is: The video from the National Alliance on Mental Illness's program, In Our Own Voice.

Some of you have wondered what in the world I am talking about when I discuss this program. Here is the very video used in the program.

I decided I wanted to take this program when I read about it's existence in the back of a NAMI Bipolar pamphlet a month or two ago. I brought it up at a meeting at Trillium Drop-In Center and Lo! It came to be for me.:)
I hope this helps explain it much better. It's so easy to see it's worth in any community, in my estimation.

My 1st Day of Learning to Present for NAMI In Our Own Voices.

Oh my goodness, I have had a long day and am emotionally drained. I still have the energy to blog (and as a side note, feed myself), of course!:)

NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness (which is the correct meaning of that acronym) has a program called In Our Own Voices, where mental health consumers (the new accepted way to call people who have mental illnesses) learn to tell their unique story to a variety of audiences, starting with one surrounded by other mental health consumers.

The presentations are done two presenters per audience - in other words, we learn to tell our story with another person with us. I have an awesome co-presenter - just an amazing person!

The presentations are broken down into parts. So far, we have learned Introduction, Dark Days, and Acceptance. Dark Days was certainly hard for me, because I didn't want to be a 'cryer' (one who cries). I told some pretty dark stuff and held it together just fine. We actually get up in front of everybody and do this. It is pretty amazing.

Acceptance wasn't so easy either, because I don't know how much I honestly really do accept my illness, although I freely post here, and for several years!, about it. So I guess I do certainly to a point. But I don't think I am one of those people who embraces themselves or their illness, although there are actually some who expressed that and it was really beautiful. I could see that I have a ways to go.

Thank you so much for the sweet words from my blog friends.:) I certainly do need prayers to get through today (and tomorrow!). I woke up praying about this.

It really is a lot of work. The thinking of what to say, and the content and the listening to other's stories - it is frankly tiring. So I am going to rest for a while, and I'll be back at it tomorrow.

Important day.

This morning, and tomorrow, is NAMI's In Our Voice Program. Wish me luck as I learn to spill my guts.:)

Good morning to all!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'm getting back into my yarn arts.:)

I love yarn and thread. I have crocheted a few things, and have actually given away scarves and at least one hat to friends as gifts. I made a hat for myself, too. I fiddle with knitting, I did take a class in it a while back and made a pair of mittens, but I was following a pattern and had a teacher looking over my shoulder. She said if I could do the increasing and decreasing necessary for that mitten, I could do anything. Perhaps true, but I am very slow with my projects, and sometimes take a lot of time from them. It may be that upping and lowering of energy that bipolars get, I don't know.

I also cross-stitch, especially when a kit strikes my fancy. I have completed a few kits, most memorably a 'best friends' one for my friend Tracy, and that sweet baby girl one I finished for last Christmas for a family member's new baby. That was really satisfying because I finished it just in time!

My new thing, is that I would like to learn weaving. I would love to have a loom and use it. I would love to have the room for a loom! My office is very 'junked up' to say the least. I am a horrible pack rat, it is so hard for me to let ANYthing go. I honestly think that is an outcrop of the illness as well. I saw my Dad struggle with it his whole life. Pack-'ratness' - genetics? bipolar? or just annoying thing to keep people from visiting? I don't know.:)

I am joining NAMI!

I never would have thought to do it, but I am nearly forced to join NAMI (the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) because I want to do their program 'In Our Own Voices'. You can't do the program without being a member.

I have read the stuff about the program I want to do, and about joining NAMI. You don't necessarily have to back up their particular beliefs/politics. The 'In Your Own Voice' program is supposed to be you telling your story (in about 15 minutes!) and it's meant to be your own unique experience. One should not compare their story to another, as many of us have different journeys.

So I feel like am moving ahead in my process to be more helpful and pioneering in the effort to remove the stigma to mental illness. I may post something on my sideboard about NAMI after doing In Our Voices this weekend.

I hope things are going well in blog land.:)

I never told you about my two jobs. (Updated advice on Social Security).

Part of the reason that I think I hit a downward slope three/four weeks ago was that my schedule started being very apparent to me. Meaning, it started being very real that I had stuff that I had to be at nearly every day of the week, and it frankly got to be too much. These jobs, I have two, went by the wayside while I tried to recover.

Some people think that a person is not 'recovered' unless they hold onto a job. I don't think that is true at all. In fact, I have issues with the word 'recovery' especially when applied to mental illness, because I think what they are referring to is 'the journey' - not some supposed zenith of perfection, that the word 'recovery' seems to suggest. But I admit to using the word a little more sometimes, because more and more, it is being introduced as lingo in the mental health lexicon.

Anyhoo, my two jobs are:
1) The baking project, which I get paid a small amount for and is the project that I attribute my finally leaving my house to get out there and be employed. No minor miracle. It is actually run by a fabulous person who has mental illness herself and she is doing great things for us, one person at a time. It really is a beautiful thing.

2) Trillium Drop-in Center. I volunteered for them, mostly behind the scenes, for about a year, before being 'recruited' to a paid position. This job has proven to be difficult for me in some ways as I have direct, and unrelenting, contact with people. I think I would much prefer not to, I am not nearly as good at it as some facilitators are at dealing with people, but our wonderful Executive Director assures me that I have a place there, and that we all have gifts of some sort and do belong there. When I don't believe that for myself, I rely on her opinion, and that helps.

Both jobs were very understanding when darkness descended upon me and I needed home time to avoid the hospital. It is still a miracle and a testament to my husband's love that he kept me out. I have said that I thought it cruel sometimes, I still know that I was pushed farther than could ever be expected, but it has brought us closer together.

I never say very many nice things about my husband on the blog, and that is a shame. Because he really is a nice guy, a loving person, and he has my best interests at heart. I express my thanks right now, to him.:):)

So, I have these two jobs, very carefully crafted to Not go over the amount that the SS (Social Security) will allow. That is very important. I know people still come here, wondering if they can work while receiving disability. Remember, I have Bipolar and stress is a real issue in the illness. You can work, I have found, but you Must be VERY CAREFUL to never go over the line. The only reason I am doing this, working either/both jobs is that we are sooooo careful about not going over the line.

I have said previously, years ago, that I was burned by the system, that they were wanting a LOT of money from me and it about drove me into the hospital again. So my advice is be careful, but it can be done, especially with understanding bosses or work set-ups.

Hankering for Potato Chips.

Well, I've been on the new concoction of meds for about a week now, including an uppage of Seroquel to 200 mgs. My God, that stuff can make you crave food. I want to eat and eat it seems, and the saltier the better. I dare not weigh myself, for when I do, it is apparent that I am gaining. Wanh.:(

So far I am Not feeling the shakes from the Abilify, nor do I notice anxiety being a severe problem - at this point. I am also on .5 of Xanax, which is for anxiety, and I don't know (read:think) that it does much of anything, but who knows.

It's only week one, I think many of these meds take two weeks to really get going in your bloodstream, so I'll keep you updated especially on the Abilify, because I really do think it takes two weeks for that.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Rennaisance Faire!!

The Rennaisance Faire was very fun and we all had a great time, and spent too much money. It is quite commercialized, with all kinds of food and artisans. It's a real treat to just look around, not just at the wares, but at the people that go to these things. Everyone, and I mean Everyone fits in - from those who wear costumes, to those who don't. And there's definitely a bit of a counter-culture vibe there. There has to be, when you've got everything from corsets/crinoline (gorgeous costumes in many cases) and armor-wearers to anime characters, to 21st Century clothed people out there.
My shoes literally fell apart very soon into the day. It was bizarre actually, I've never seen anything like it. I did not take a picture of them, but they were thoroughly ruined and utterly falling apart, which I did not expect as they seemed fine at home. It was clear I needed shoes, if I was going to walk around all day. We asked one of the artisans where we might find such a place and they directed us to the best place for it and I got really cute shoes.
I also had my semi-Rennaisance outfit that I mentioned in my Salvation Army post, and I Really wanted a wreath of flowers for my head to go with it. (I feel that I deserve a flower halo after the hell of the past three weeks) We found one and it's even made of silk flowers, so it will last for many years to come!:)
There was jousting which had horses. There was an elephant ride too, which I took pictures of, entertainment of all kinds, bubble wands (I wanted one but you just can't have everything), henna painting (again, I would have loved it, but it was expensive for something that will fade away anyway) and all sorts of yummy food. I got a plateful of mussels for $5, and at one point an enormous pickle for $1. If you go to one of these things, don't forget to get a cheesecake on a stick - so yummy.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Looking forward to the Renaissance Festival.

My friend and I hit Salvation Army and came up roses. I found a skirt and a slip for $8, my friend found an outfit for $16! This massively beats the potential prices at the Festival, where a good costume can easily be rented for $50! We had a blast at the Salvation Army!

September 11th

I remember September 11th, 2001, well. It was, to put it mildly, very upsetting for me. I was home actually and saw it happen on T.V.

I prayed today, thinking of that important day that I hope will never be forgotten. I know I won't. I pray and talk to God about the sadness and loneliness in the world, and I believe in working toward alleviating it.

So, even on this somber day, I remember the horror, but I also know there is a time for every purpose - meaning, a time to be sad and a time to work toward happiness.
With that thought I leave you.


Just a little update:

I am feeling better.:)

It's the medicine that I mostly attribute it to.

No crying jags. I was able to go to work yesterday and worked two jobs. (Both are mostly low-stress in their own way).

I am hanging out with a friend today and going to a Renaissance Faire on Saturday. We are actually going to go the Salvation Army and see if we can find costumes or something that would kind of look like a costume.:) Anyway, it's fun to look.

I am also planning to do the NAMI In Our Own Voices thing. I will be doing it next weekend for the whole weekend. That will teach me how to tell my story to groups of people. To me, the idea is to start out small and go from there. It really is a goal of mine to be a good speaker and get out there and educate - as I can safely, and still protect my mental health.

I hope my blogger friends are doing well. God bless you.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I went to the pdoc today. I told him to look at me and not his computer, that it was very important to me that I be able to trust him. He obliged and had a real conversation with me.

It was a little difficult on my end at first because I knew there was so much to say and not a lot of time to say it (15 minute appointments, Hello!). I even said I was in a bit of a quandry because of the time crunch and I didn't want to sound like I had 'pressured speech' but what can I do?

First of all, he thought it very smart of me to up that certain medicine on my own. He says he is here to work with the patient and that I obviously did the right thing. (I guess because I'm better today?). He praised my intelligence, which was, well, nice.

We talked honestly about Abilify. There was some questioning as to why I got off it, why I had asked him to take me off it. I explained that my husband was worried about the shakes, and that he worried that they were permanent, especially because he would see the damn Abilify commercials and it said something about permanent issues. Before the pdoc could say anything, and he tried, I continued that I thought the commercial was talking about tarkive diskonesia (a supreme effort on my part to spell that!:). The pdoc confirmed that - he said that the shakes are a side effect of Abilify (and later I confirmed that anxiety is also a side effect of it!) - but they are not permanent, as is obvious because when I stopped the Abilify the shakes went away.

So upshot: we decided to put me on Abilify again.

I am much happier with this scenario than any other, although I might have been willing to go on Lithium again, yes I feel that bad.

For those of you not familiar, the whole drug thing and mental illness is such a crapshoot. The fact is, we are all different and different drugs work for different folks. That is why I am not fond of posting what I am on, or saying to someone this is what you should be on. Also, there are plenty of people that don't want to be on medications, although in my view there are plenty of people that need them regardless. I have been doing this - meaning taking medications and advocating for myself - for a long time. I know, without a doubt, that it is the wagon that I need to be on.

I know that I have the right diagnosis. The more time goes on, the more I read, the more textbook I realize I am. That is a good thing. Thank God, and I mean that with all my heart, that He saved me at a young age with my real diagnosis. I know many are not so lucky.

But what sucks, is that even with the right diagnosis and the knowledge that I should be on meds, even with taking the meds religiously and correctly according to how they are prescribed, even with complying with all outpatient activities, so to speak, the Monster still has the capacity to take me down. I am not immune, nor probably ever will be, to the effects of my bipolar. I am bipolar, or should I more correctly NAMI say it, I have bipolar.

Additionally, that some of you may find of interest, I realize that I must compartmentalize my life, in some fashion. This idea came to me when I was watching a recent documentary on the Kennedys (after Ted's death) on PBS of course (the channel full of documentaries!) and they were talking about Teddy's older brother JFK. Whatever you think about the Kennedys, it clear that JFK had a womanizing problem, even while married to Jackie. They were discussing it, with a cameo of one of the his secretaries saying that he admitted that he just couldn't help it. But what was interesting to me was that JFK certainly had to compartmentalize his life in order to have all the aspects of it, to keep some grip on it. He must have sectioned off, in his own mind, these different aspects of his life, in order to perform all his duties, be enormously in the public eye, be a husband, a father, an occasional runner with the 'Rat Pack,' and so forth, not to mention that he had Addison's (sp?) disease, and worked diligently to keep it from the public eye. He was actually quite sick, it was cortisone shots that made him look healthy for the Nixon debate.

In some way, I know I compartmentalize, because even though I discuss it ad nauseum here on the blog, that fact is I've got an illness with a massive stigma, and I don't wear it on my sleeve for the outside world. I'm sure most of us do it in some way, to keep our lives in order.

Blah, blah. The real point is I have some HOPE after seeing the pdoc that maybe things can be better, maybe Me will come back (which has been a serious concern for me). I will try to keep everyone updated on how that switch from no Abilify to 10 mgs of being on Abilify goes (people should know they can get shakes and anxiety with the stuff. I know I would have appreciated knowing!:).

Gonna go make dinner! Hope Things are going well for blog land!:)
And we're out,

Monday, September 7, 2009

Still here. AKA: Tooth & Nail ready to break, yet somehow has not.

Cussing is involved in this post. Not a lot, but I warned you.

All right, here's the deal, the unbelievable, crazy situation.
I have not gone into the hospital.
That right there seems like a miracle to me, and I wanted you all to know.
I am not right, I am still frickin' sad, and at times utterly overwhelmed and desperate. I am still on the edge, I admit to even being angry inside. There is so much, but I have hung on tooth and nail, been pushed to the desperate end, but I did not go.
Please know that I am not 'crying wolf' that my situation is dire, and that I could still end up in the hospital. I am hanging on, in fact, for a pdoc appointment tomorrow, and have been pretty much all weekend.

How could this happen? How did I stay out?
1) My husband. He would not let me go. At times I thought it was cruel, and I sure let him know. Now, I think I am thankful. I think I am grateful. Truth: I am afraid I am setting a terrible precedent, in our lives - I am not claiming to speak for others, but for me it has been utterly excruciating and for me to say less, I would be lying and you know I don't do that - for him to see how much pain a person can take and Still not take them to the hospital, but there it is.
2) Damn it, I hate to admit it, but the medications. The pdoc upped a certain something a few weeks ago, and added a little bit of nothing as well (at an emergency appointment that I somehow got). It did not work right away. To top it off, I did not believe it would help, and I lashed out and left a nasty message on that man's machine, I know for one thing I flat out called him a quack (!), and you would have to be a robot to not hear the pain, the utter despair in my voice, I am sure. But after two days of the emergency uppage seemed to help, I was still hanging on.

I told you that I made calls last week and the pdoc did not answer. He finally called me Friday, after hours, so there was no hope of an appointment (only somehow getting through the weekend if I could make it). Bastard. Anyhoo, I grilled him on just what he would do, as compared to a hospital, could he DO something for me, (and always there is the fear that I will never be right again, and damn it, DAMN IT, I was doing so well) basically what would he do for me that could help me avoid the hospital. (But is that such a good idea? How long can a person go without the hospital, when it's so obvious that I had been doing well before all this??? Maybe it's been a mistake to not go, I DON'T KNOW.)

He put out there that he would Probably raise such and such more and add on (to me) scary stuff that I had never heard of and certainly never been on, and something I Had been on and utterly refuse to ever take again.

So I did what any sane bipolar would do. (Understand that he refused to see me until Tuesday, as though life ENDS AFTERHOURS!). I upped the something something myself.

I do not recommend this to others, but I am positive for me I did the right thing. And I will defend it, if he has the unmitigated nerve to get upset about it.

I am still not right. I am scared that Me, the Tart, will never come back. But goddamn it, I can write. I may have told you too much. I may have TMI'd you, and you don't need to hear it. But I have bared my soul to the internet (as much as I dare LOL) and there you have it.

I am Here. I have not let go. For those of you who know what it's like to be here, I am in awe of you. I cheer you. God bless you, and I mean it. Somehow, we or I am going to make it through this. Do think Vivienne Leigh in 'Gone With the Wind' when I say:
As God as my witness, I won't give up. I try to hold on Viv, 'Tomorrow is another day' at the same time, this moment is here, and so am I.

As a parting thought, Supreme Loves for all of you that left me a message on my last post. Every one of them meant something to me, I am so blessed to hear from each of you. Thank you.:)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hanging on by a thread.

I, the Tart, am not doing well. I have been holding on for three weeks now, trying so hard not to go into the hospital. I don't think it is working. My p-doc made a medicine change two weeks ago and it is not enough to stem the tide, to to stop it, to fix it. I keep calling, hoping that he will call me back. He does not. I keep seeing my therapist twice a week, I don't know how we will pay for it, but I have not missed an appointment. I have bawled. I have screamed. I don't trust that this doctor can do squat for me, and there are not many alternatives. So I may go into the hospital. I don't know if I am going, I don't know when I'll get out. Now you know why it's been so hard for me to post, and that I am truly and utterly just hanging on.