The Lonely Calm Before the Puppy Storm


This morning is the last morning our household will be dog-less for hopefully the next fifteen+ years.  Tonight we’ll pick up “Puppy”, name t.b.d.  I’m feeling really nervous about this change.  It’s silly, because I consider this to be a joyful occasion, and I’m excited to bring a puppy home.

There’s no need for me to feel insecure about my abilities as a dog owner.  I lovingly cared for my two dogs Shera and Tara for fifteen years, half of those years as a single gal.  I know I can be a great dog mom.  Despite my confidence, I’m freaked out all the same.

As I type away it occurs to me that change must be behind my anxiety.  I’ve read that positive change can be just as difficult as negative change.  I’m also wondering if PMS could be contributing to my uneasiness and heightened sensitivity.  While PMS could be a culprit, heck, I’m forty-four – for all I know, menopause might be heading on its merry way into my life.  But I hope NOT this year!!! Please God!

At the crack of dawn, my geologist husband jetted out the door to a work site.  I nagged and hurried our girls to get them ready for school.  Our home was filled with frenetic activity and LOTS of noise – our daughters are a handful, and they were amped up with anticipation about tonight’s furry arrival.

After I dropped them off at school, I realized I felt lonely and isolated; more than usual.  Returning to my cold, empty, dark, quiet home did not appeal to me at all.  Despite feeling on the verge of PMS-like tears, I visited one of my favorite coffee shops, Surf City Coffee Co., so I could sit around people and treat myself to a mocha.


Surf City has a very mellow vibe which lends itself well to writing.  There’s free WiFi and I made sure to bring my laptop.  After I walked into Surf City, I received a providential sign from God that I was in the right place.  This event happened while I stood in line waiting to order.  The barista said loudly, out of the blue,


Some of you know that lithium is one of my primary meds for bipolar disorder.  My Dad took it long ago, although he suffered the classic side effect of shakiness.  That wasn’t good for his career as a professional violinist, but lithium helped him for a while.  I’ve taken lithium off and on during the past eight years.  My periodic blood level tests check out fine, my initial side effects (shakiness, some hair loss) subsided, and it has worked well for me, especially to prevent mania.  I’m still creative and I don’t feel flat while taking it, as some people unfortunately experience.  I also like the fact that it’s an “old-school” drug, it’s cheap and it comes in generic form.

I wondered why the barista said “lithium” so loudly for no apparent reason!  I laughed after she said it, as a matter of fact, because it simply tickled my fancy!

When it was my turn to order, I asked the barista why she belted out the word “lithium”.

“It’s the answer to our Question of the Day!” she answered cheerfully.

“Ahhhh.” I replied.  In my previous Surf City pitstops, I hadn’t noticed the obvious “Question of the Day” bulletin board hanging from the ceiling right in front of me.  This time I looked up at the board, which read, “At room temperature, what is the LIGHTEST solid element in terms of density?”  I didn’t know this fascinating fact about lithium until today!

After today, when I have my six-hour-long stretches alone at home, I’ll have some very-much-wanted, furry, loving company by my side.  It’s always nice to have quiet, solo time, and I’ll still arrange for that in the months ahead.  But I don’t think I’ll require 100%  alone time, sans dog, all that much.

As a longtime dog owner, I didn’t realize how much I missed having “dog energy” around me since Tara and Shera died six years ago.  Ever since then, I never openly acknowledged the fact that an important part of my life was missing: my pets.  My bipolar depression took over, similar to ooozing lava smothering the land, and depression obliterated my desire for a pet.  Last week I gave myself permission to open my heart to a pet again, and I’m counting the minutes to meeting our new family member.

As my fellow dog-loving friend Carrie said to me, “Spring is the perfect time to get a dog!” and she’s right. I’ve always considered spring to be a symbolic time of renewal.  (Carrie blog’s contains an intriguing animal telepathy post that can be found here:

Having a pet also marks a positive step in my recovery with bipolar disorder.  I am strong and stable enough to be the primary caretaker of a puppy.  It feels really good to reach this point, and I’m excited to share with you what happens as I adjust to having a delightful “furry baby” charm her way into my heart…and shred some family heirlooms or what have you along the way! 😉




16 thoughts on “The Lonely Calm Before the Puppy Storm

  1. Fact about lithium is SO COOL! Toxicity and side effects notwithstanding, I think it is great that an ELEMENT on the periodic chart can so beautifully and simply treat the symptoms of mental illness. Hurray for gifts of elemental nature.

    • I don’t want to sound dramatic but I am on lithium as well. My life literally turned around. My husband tells the few people who do know about my condition that he has his wife back, the one he married all those yrs. Ago. I have not felt this well in over ten years, and I have not ever gone this long without an episode. Having said that, it’s not a miracle drug I have bad days; and lithium is no drug to play around with. I am sure you know. I am extremely careful and fretful for a doctor who is Consistently monitors me. Hope lithium works as well for you.:)

      • kdbug12 you are funny – you don’t sound dramatic, but please feel more than welcome to sound as dramatic as you wish here! 🙂

        Lithium can be awesome. I am thrilled you got your life back. Wonderful!

        Re: a side effect I didn’t mention before – lithium didn’t cause weight gain at 900mg/night, but when I was way the $^%*^(^ up at 1575mg/night, that was awful. I shouldn’t have been dosed that high. I had a different psychiatrist and it was a nightmare. Dosage is so important, isn’t it?

        Obviously I care about long-term effects of lithium, and my pdoc is in favor of eventually lowering the dosage, but I’m hesitant to change anything. That’s ironic because for years it was the opposite problem. I wanted to go down on dosages and my former pdocs didn’t want that.

        I am super-happy you and I are stable and let’s pray that continues for a long , long time. Yes, we’ll have bad days, but hopefully we’ll rise out of them faster than we did when we weren’t well.

        Thanks for commenting! 🙂 ((((hugs)))) to you!

      • Wishing you the best with you treatment. Nothing dramatic about taking lithium. You’re simply taking care if yourself. Happy that your husband has his wife back. He must live you dearly. God bless you.

      • I’m telling you, my talented writer friends Kitt & kdbug12, that a year ago I was too depressed to do anything. I wasn’t on Facebook (Kitt, can you believe that? 😉 and I wasn’t blogging or writing. Thanks, in part to lithium, everything is different now. Nothing miraculous has happened, mind you, and each day remains difficult, but life is much better all the same. I am so thankful to “know” you both in this virtual way. I really do feel blessed to have the honor of reading your thoughts and having you both read mine. Sending you two my warmest wishes and I look forward to reading your writing in the years to come.

      • You have come a LONG way! I do hope that you pace yourself, though. You seem aware of how mania and hypomania manifests itself and how important it is that we take care of ourselves. As mothers this is especially important. I greatly value our newfound friendship. I, too, have been overcoming isolation. Mental health advocacy blog writing seems to heal.

    • I wholeheartedly agree with you about this, Kitt. There’s a fascinating backstory about how lithium in regard to manic depression. I’m going to cite an excerpt from Wikipedia that I find very interesting – plus today I noticed that lithium was approved in the U.S. to treat manic depression the year I was born: 1970 – hmmmmm! That was a good year! I also have always loved Australia & Australians so I like the fact that an Aussie pdoc was involved!

      “The use of lithium salts to treat mania was rediscovered by the Australian psychiatrist John Cade in 1949. Cade was injecting rodents with urine extracts taken from schizophrenic patients, in an attempt to isolate a metabolic compound which might be causing mental symptoms. Since uric acid in gout was known to be psychoactive (adenosine receptors on neurons are stimulated by it; caffeine blocks them), Cade needed soluble urate for a control. He used lithium urate, already known to be the most soluble urate compound, and observed it caused the rodents to be tranquilized. Cade traced the effect to the lithium ion itself. Soon, Cade proposed lithium salts as tranquilizers, and soon succeeded in controlling mania in chronically hospitalized patients with them. This was one of the first successful applications of a drug to treat mental illness, and it opened the door for the development of medicines for other mental problems in the next decades.

      The rest of the world was slow to adopt this treatment, largely because of deaths which resulted from even relatively minor overdosing, including those reported from use of lithium chloride as a substitute for table salt. (DYANE ADDS: “OOOOPPPS! DON’T PASS THE SALT!”)

      Largely through the research and other efforts of Denmark’s Mogens Schou and Paul Baastrup in Europe,and Samuel Gershon and Baron Shopsin in the U.S., this resistance was slowly overcome. The application of lithium in manic illness was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 1970. In 1974, this application was extended to its use as a preventive agent for manic-depressive illness.”

  2. OHHHHHHHH PUPPY!! So cute. I I pretty much everything about this. That coffee shop appears to be a place I think Heaven would look like. For me anyway. Ha Oh Lithium. My doc convinced me to try it and i was afraid of loss of interest in creatjvity and weight gain. She said in small doses i should be fine. I didnt like it but i know its saved a lot of people. I stick to Lamictal. Didnt know the lithium fact. Interesting. Educational and weird timing. Love when that happens. I know Lithium is one of my favorite songs by Nirvana! The coffee shop looks like it could be a Nirvana of dome sorts and Lithium was the answer to question of the day. I see this being one of those cool moments for you.

    • HIYA Jip-C – yeah, I understand your concern about the lithium. I used to be on lamotrigine (Lamictal) but it didn’t do anything for me, good or bad. I hope it helps a lot. I’ve never heard the Nirvana song (but I knew it existed) so I need to listen to it!!!!!! It was definitely Nirvana at Surf City Coffee and dang – I wish I could have answered the question of the day because I guess I would have won a free mocha. I get really fancy mochas (large, extra shots, extra chocolate) so I would have saved like $5! 😉 Thanks for stopping by – I love all these comments. I know you understand that!!! See ya round at your blogs, and be good to the Ye Olde Mixtape Master. p.s. loved your part one of the bus journey and look forward to the second installment

  3. It was so interesting that you said positive change could sometimes be as difficult as negative change. That is so true with me but I’ve never seen that written before.

    I love the puppy! 🙂

    • Hello there Lisa – yes, positive change freaks some people out just as much as the yucky stuff. Go figure. Aren’t we humans wired rather strangely? Although I’d prefer to be freaked out about the good stuff over the bad any day of the week.

      Thanks for the kind words about glorious Lucy. She’s snoozing next to me, livin’ the life, dreaming puppy dreams about God knows what! 😉

      p.s. I’m behind on reading all my blogs this week, but I get email notifications with your blog Passionate Reason, which is great. I see it in my email’s in-box until I get a chance to enjoy it. It’s harder with the WordPress reader -for me to keep track sometimes – it’s easier for me to miss blog posts. I really want to read your post about the word bipolar! :)))))))

  4. Aaaah, embracing change and commitment. My biggest weakness. Oh but a fluffy dog is always there to hug – and what’s life without hugs? I’m glad you took a break at the coffee shop to help with the anxiety. It’s almost like they were calling out to you: get your lithium here, room temperature and light!

    • It was one of those surreal moments, and I’m glad it struck me as humorous. Being @ Surf City was so nice, but it probably wasn’t the greatest idea for my anxiety to order a 4 shot (yep) mocha w/extra chocolate. Ah well. Live and learn. And it was soooooo yummy. It’s a good thing they are not down the street because I’d be in big trouble.

  5. This comment is in response to you, Kitt, regarding one of my favorite comments I’ve received to date – and it’s from you! (the “You have come a long way” one above) Not sure if WordPress notifies you of this reply, so we’ll see.

    Believe me, I know the signs of subtle hypomania all too well. Sleep loss is the very first sign . Seroquel has been a huge help in this respect. I’m actually super-groggy as I write this to you because last night I had to up the dosage for a rare bout of insomnia. That happened due to my not working out and having super-rich,sugary cupcakes too late in the day! I consider sleep to be my most important “med” aside from the drugs. Sleep deprivation triggered my bipolar in the first place, so I get really concerned if there are any changes. I do all I can to ensure that I sleep enough each and every night.

    Anyway, I am very happy about our friendship – it’s a joy. I cherish having you as a follower! Moreover, you & your writing continue to inspire me. I am SO glad you are overcoming isolation and that you are finding blogging re: mental health advocacy a healing experience as well.

    Happy Mother’s Day, by the way, which should be every day… 😉

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