Monday, May 8, 2017

What Is So Bad About Feeling Good?

I read something recently in which someone wrote that he could comfortably talk all day about his bipolar depression, but that it was difficult to talk about mania. Suddenly I realized that because people with bipolar disorder DON'T talk about it as often (most likely because it is less understood by those without the disorder) most people wouldn't know a person experiencing mania if she/he were right in front of them. So I am going to break down mania for you in a way that you can, hopefully, relate to and understand. 

Imagine yourself, age 7, on Christmas morning. Take that feeling that you get when you see the piles of gifts beneath the branches of that gorgeous, twinkling tree. That feeling of infinite possibility for all things that are good. Now hold on to that, and add to it the feeling that you get when you look at the sky, out in the country where the light pollution is absent, and are in complete awe of the immensity of the universe. That feeling in your chest, that joy. Now put those two feelings on, and wear them (as an adult) for a while. A couple of hours, if you're lucky. Days, or weeks, straight if you aren't. 

Everything is amazing. Everything feels 1000% better than it usually does. Chocolate? Omg it is the best taste and feeling on the planet. Sex? HOLY SHIT you can't get enough. Orgasms are more intense, and your inhibition is practically nonexistent. You feel SO GOOD. You feel intelligent. Sexy, even. Your self esteem is through the roof. Money is no object, and the moment is meant to be lived in! God forbid you meet someone, for the first time, when you are manic, because they will instantly be impressed and think you have it 100% together. (Pro tip: Interviewing for a job when you are slightly manic works well for this reason.) 

Wait, what? Slightly manic? Oh yeah, there are varying degrees and various TYPES of mania. The mania that I just described is mine. 90% of my mania is euphoria and elevated self esteem, with very little danger to myself or others. I can overspend, and the quality of my driving suffers, but otherwise I'm mostly giddy and fun. You are, no doubt, wondering "what's so bad about feeling good?" Well, here's the thing: what goes up must come down. Also: an object in motion tends to stay in motion until acted upon by an outside force. And who knows what, or from where, that outside force will be. So one minute you are flying high, and certain that depression is behind you. Everything is infintely possible. The next minute you can't get out of bed. And I don't mean you don't feel like getting out of bed. I mean that your body aches, you can't talk to anyone without crying, and you feel like you haven't slept in days. DAYS. Doesn't matter if you slept 8 hours the night before, or 12, or 3. You're exhausted. You hit snooze 10 times before getting up for work, and you may not even know that you did. This is the crash, and it hits hard and fast. It doesn't give a crap whether you are at home cooking dinner, at work in an important meeting, grocery shopping alone or hanging out on vacation. You are suddenly and inexplicably incapable of blending in as a functioning member of society. 

For some people, mania is anxiety and extreme irritability. Anger, brought on in an instant. I think this type is less common, but that's just from talking to people that I know who experience mania. When it comes to bipolar episodes, more often than not, there is no discernible trigger. We each have our own mental list of the things that will DEFINTELY bring on our mania or depression, but there are far more unexpected episodes. And those lists? Carefully compiled over years of introspection and self-analyzation. People who function well in spite of bipolar disorder spend YEARS working, with and without therapists, to understand our own behaviors and triggers. We work very hard for the same things that the average person takes for granted. The average person doesn't have to wonder if what they are feeling today is genuine happiness or the beginning of a full blown manic episode. The average person doesn't have to monitor their every mood change in order to be aware, as quickly as possible, of things spiraling out of control. 

As hard as I feel I work to understand myself, my moods and my motives in life, I could not function without the medications that my psychiatrist prescribes. An antidepressant, a mood stabilizer, and an antipsychotic. They are not "magic" pills, but they ARE tools that enable me to live a relatively stable life. In that way they DO sometimes feel like a bit of magic. 

One more thing: Bipolar disorder is a preexisting condition. Before the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) I was ineligible for insurance unless I obtained it through an employer who offered group insurance thst I could afford. If I lost my job I had a set amount of time by which I had to find new coverage through another employer offering group coverage that I could afford. If I lost access to affordable healthcare that covered my mental illness, my quality of life would decline dramatically. More devastatingly, so would Davis'. I can tell you now that I would not be the patient, loving, and egaged parent that I am now without my medication. 

By denying affordable insurance to people with preexisting conditions, insurers and our current administration will cause irreparable damage to the families of people who are struggling just to survive as it is. Please think about that before you support any changes to our health care laws that would limit coverage for preexisting conditions. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

15 years

Every year on 9/11 I struggle with my ability to express the feelings that I have on this day. Every year I think about what happened in the days following that godawful morning. I can't believe that it has been 15 years. And I cannot believe what we, as a nation, have become in that time. In the weeks that followed 9/11/2001 I was so proud of the love and unity that we all felt and shared. It was breathtaking. 

In the span of 15 years, our society has changed dramatically. And that was foreseeable. When I spoke with my mother on the phone that morning, she told me that our lives would never be the same again. I knew that she was right, but I didn't see the path that we would traverse. I didn't see that our unity would turn into something so deeply ugly; So full of suspicion and hate for people who merely resemble the ones who did this to us. I didn't foresee the division that would occur amongst our citizens, who had so thoroughly come together and loved one another in their grief in the aftermath. I should have, and I'm sure that some did. I'm sure that many knew that our leaders would gain advantage from the situation. That it would be twisted for their own purposes, and that so many of us would fall in line with their rhetoric and do their dirty jobs for them. I had no idea that these terrorists would win so spectacularly.  And they have. They have won. Like a playground bully who has egged you on until you lose your cool and just start beating the crap out of him. You may win the fight, but you're never the same. We are never going to be the same. For better AND for worse. 

So on the 15th anniversary of this unfathomable tragedy, I encourage you to join me in extending love to those with whom you disagree. Let them know that their politics or religion do not define them for you. That, deep down, we are all human. I really believe that the future of our country and our children depends on this small, yet very important concept. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


Let me inscribe an image onto your mind. 
Placing the words, with a #2's precision,
On the surface of your psyche. 
Curiously watching it's slow absorption into your consciousness. 

Hear me breathe words into the emptiness of the hard morning air 
before the sun burns the chill from the streets and millions begin their days across the city. 

I want to hum a melody to entrance you. 
One that will slide it's way into the crevices of your mind, 
on a string of repeating notes and syllables.  

But life will never bring us that which hides in the corners
If we never ask. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

I Am A Mother

I am a mother. 

That really eclipses most everything else about me. Should it? No, not necessarily. It does, nonetheless. 

What else am I?

I am an artist. 
I am a writer. 
I am a lover of theater. 
I am a pacifist. 
I am a music lover. 
I am a reader. 
I am a communicator. 

Davis begins the first grade of school on August 17th. I am going to miss his shenanigans. I am going to miss his love of cuddling. I am going to miss his bright morning smile, which will slowly be replaced by a reluctance to rise and get on with the work of being a student. 

I am looking forward to renewing my relationship with myself. It HAS been 6 years. Let's see what kind of trouble I can get into...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

"Good Christians" and the assumption that I must be one as well

So, this has bothered me for quite some time.  It happens most frequently with older people, and I'm always hesitant to challenge an older person.  Grandma and grandpa types will talk, in passing (but with obvious passion and pride), about their faith in god.  They do it in a way that makes it clear that they assume that I am ALSO a "Good Christian".  I'm often tempted to say "I'm a "Good Agnostic Person", but I'm not one to debate elderly strangers.  I'm just not clear on the reason behind the assumptions.  It FEELS like they believe that a good person must, obviously, be Christian.  I don't know if that is what they are thinking, but it is how I feel when the assumption is made.  I also feel like, when someone says "God bless you" because I do something kind, I SHOULD speak up.  They SHOULD know that just because a person doesn't share their faith doesn't mean that they are not capable of being a good person who does good things.  Is that crazy?

Just as "Christian" does not equal "Good", "Good" does not equal "Christian".

While I'm on the subject, why is it that religious people would rather that you believe ANY religion so long as you believe in SOME religion.  Why is disbelief so difficult for them to accept?  I'm actually seeking genuine answers here, so feel free to comment.

So this is short and poorly written.  Sorry folks, it's all I've got for tonight.  Have a good one :)


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Coming Out

This time last year "gay marriage" took one BIG step toward becoming just plain old marriage. This year the Orlando massacre has inspired some people to "come out", and it has started me thinking about some things. Things that I've never spoken to anyone about. Not my best friends, not my husband, not my family. 

I truly view sexuality on a spectrum. Let's say that "preference for men" is red, "preference for women" is blue, and there is a beautiful, wide band of varying shades of purple in between. 

My first crush was a girl. Kindergarten. Her name was Mindy, but that is one of the only things that I remember about her. She had long, dark hair. She was petite, and wore dresses a lot. I was crazy about her. I wanted to be around her all of the time. It wasn't sexual in any way, but it was different than I felt about anyone else. She made me feel shy, awkward, and clumsy. 

I knew that I loved girls when I was 13. It worried me. A lot. I knew that I also loved boys though, so I pushed the confusing thoughts aside and focused on the feelings that made sense to our society. The feelings that reassured me that I was "normal". 

Throughout my life I have had, roughly, half as many "crushes" on women as I have on men.  And as vocal as I am about LGBT rights for OTHER people, I never pursued any of those feelings for those women. They were "cans of worms" best left unopened. To be clear,  I am happy with the way that things turned out for me in terms of the man that I chose to marry. If I'm honest though, I shortchanged myself by allowing society to dictate the people with whom it was acceptable to explore a relationship. 

Believe it or not, this has been VERY difficult to write. Because in order to write it, I've been forced to admit it fully and (semi) openly (let's face it, I don't have or want a huge following lol). My immediate family will not stop speaking to me over this. I won't say they wouldn't judge me, but the ones who don't necessarily support equality will just ignore it. My point is this: I am not being "brave" by sharing this with you. I have little to nothing to lose in doing so. At the MOST I will find out which of my friends (any who actually read this lol) have closed minds. 

Every day, there are millions of people out there who come out to their friends and family members. People whose families WON'T support them or, worse, will outright condemn them (ask me again why organized religion is a bad thing in my eyes).  People who literally risk their safety and their lives to just BE who they are around other people. So try your best to support them. Try your best to understand them. Most importantly, treat them with the same respect that you would give your best friend if he or she confided in you. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The "F" Word

After picking my little guy up from camp today we stopped at Aldi to buy Half & Half. We are heading to the checkout and pass a VERY large woman. I would estimate that she weighed 500 lbs. Davis says (and believe me when I say that I have been fearful of this moment since the day of his birth) "Mama, that lady is FAT!"

Now, I have serious body image issues. I grew up listening to my mother degrade her appearance and her weight. I learned a lot. I learned that she was "disgusting", that FAT was "disgusting", that her face was round and THAT was unappealing. I also learned that her value was based on these things. Every time someone said "You look so much like your mother" I cringed. I hated it. I didn't want to be "disgusting", but I must be. As a result of this upbringing I have been determined to not even USE the word Fat around Davis. I do not want to give it any sort of negative connotation. I talk about losing weight to be HEALTHIER, not smaller. I have been EXTREMELY careful to avoid painting myself as damaged just because I weigh more than I should in order to be healthy.

At first I was unsure about whether or not this woman heard him. I couldn't very well make him apologize if she hadn't heard him. Then I heard her say to the 6 or 7 year old girl with her that "Some people choose to use their manners and some do not". I brought him over to apologize to her. I said that I hadn't known whether or not she heard him, and she said that she did. She said that she wasn't criticizing my parenting, only letting her daughter know that it is up to the individual whether or not they use manners. This actually upset me, because what she was missing was the fact that six year olds, at least mine, comment on things that they see that are unfamiliar to them. If she had been seven feet tall he would have said "Mama, that lady is TALL!". If she had been a dwarf he would have said "That lady is SHORT!" and so on.

I tried to explain (I am forever an explainer) that because I used to weigh nearly 100 lbs more than I do now, I am very sensitive about the usage of the word "fat" and that we do not use it in our home. That he should apologize because it hurt her feelings, but that he really has no negative connotation associated with the word "fat". She wouldn't look me in the eye, and she didn't really seem to be listening. It made me incredibly sad. Because after we left I realized that by addressing the situation I probably made it worse for her. It likely sounded like I was making excuses for my son, which is NOT what I intended. It likely attracted attention, as I demanded that he apologize to her. I realized that forcing him to apologize was actually a selfish act. One performed to make me feel better and to teach Davis a lesson. I VERY much wanted her to feel better. I VERY much wanted to somehow repair the situation, and to show her that my son was NOT being rude. He had no IDEA that what he said could hurt her feelings. I didn't even think of how she would react. How it would feel to be confronted, publicly, with the mother of the child who had just hurt her feelings. None of that occurred to me. I wish that it had. I wish that I had let her think that my son was rude, because I think that would have been easier for her.

On the way home I explained to my innocent, confused child that it really isn't a good idea to talk about ANYONE'S appearance in public. Tall, short, pretty, ugly, big, or small... not everyone likes the things that make them different. Pointing them out can hurt their feelings, and that's not a good thing to do. I hope that he understood.