The Road of Disturbing Memories – Part One

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I drove on Highway 236 today.  It’s a windy, mountainous road high up in the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains of California, surrounded by towering redwood trees.  While driving this route I’ve often spotted families of deer along the wayside.  For all I know, I’ve unwittingly passed a mountain lion or two!  (There have been recent sightings of them over the past year.)

It was a slightly cool, sunny day as I wove my old, white Suburu Forester up and around the curves of the steep highway.  It takes me over forty minutes to reach my therapist “Tara’s” home office, and while it’s a total pain in the ass to get there, a session with Tara is worth the effort.  When I’m not feeling up to making the rigorous drive, I opt for a phone session, but Tara prefers to see me face-to-face.

GreenTara

The “Green Tara” Buddhist Goddess

Over the past four years I’ve driven this road to visit Tara in all kinds of emotional states. A few times I met with her when I felt fairly stable, a handful of times I was hypomanic and manic, but most of our visits have occurred when I’ve felt deeply depressed.  She has been supportive and available to me and my family in ways that have gone above and beyond what most counselors offer their clients.

I first met Tara at the co-op preschool where each of our daughters were students.  At first I found Tara a little intimidating.  She looked like a tall, blonde supermodel and she appeared confident and serene.  As soon as I found out what Tara did for a living, however, my intuition prodded me to ask her if we could meet.  

We had a good rapport, and I felt that Tara not only knew what she was doing, but she genuinely cared about helping me feel better.  It didn’t hurt that she hailed from Germany and had a beautiful, scholarly German accent.  Tara and I were able to keep our boundaries clear; it never became problematic when I saw her at the preschool or around town.

When I was hospitalized a year ago, Tara invited my daughter Avonlea to stay at her house to play with her daughter so Avonlea could have a good time, and to help make things easier for Craig.  Tara was also one of the very few people who offered to visit me at the hospital last summer.  She lived over two hours from the hospital, and I was very moved by her willingness to make such an arduous journey for a client.  

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Nowadays, every time I drive to a therapy session, I can’t help remember the Geodon incident. Several years ago, I was prescribed the atypical antipsychotic Geodon by my former psychiatrist.  I hoped with all my heart that it would make a dent in my bipolar depression, but since I was “medication-resistant” I felt dubious any pill could help me.   

The first few weeks it seemed that Geodon was truly helping me.  I was in shock to feel the weight of depression finally lift.  It was a sensational feeling as I hadn’t felt happiness like that in a long time.  But then my bipolar depression returned with a vengeance and along came some brand-new, terrifying sensations: derealization and depersonalization.

Before this experience happened in my life, I had no idea what deprealization or depersonalization even meant.  I’ll paraphrase their Wikipedia definitions: “Derealization is an alteration in the perception of the external world so that it seems unreal.” Depersonalization consists of “a feeling of watching oneself act, while having no control over a situation.  The world has become vague, less real, and lacking in significance. ”  Both sensations were over-the-top horrific, as I’m sure you can imagine.

When I first experienced these conditions I was driving down a steep, super-windy hill on Highway 236 after a session with Tara.  The unnerving states came upon me suddenly.  I didn’t feel like myself.  Worst of all, I felt like I was losing my grip on reality.  I clutched the steering wheel so tightly that my hands cramped for hours into the night.  I honestly didn’t know if I’d be able to keep my car from veering off the road.  It was a miracle that I made it home safely.

Unless you experience depersonalization/derealization, you can’t understand it, and I hope you never will…

to be continued

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Anger

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Yep, gonna lose some followers.  I wish them well, and I completely understand if my foul mouth isn’t their cup of tea.  To be honest, “fuck this shit” is a phrase I have said many times, and cursing is a big part of who I am.  I swear like a sailor when the kids aren’t around; well most of the time I make sure they aren’t around.  Unsavory language has gotten me through numerous dicey moments, and it has prevented me from exhibiting dangerous road rage. There have even been impressive studies conducted showing the benefits of swearing! (I’m too lazy to cite them, however, but I believe it!;)

Some of you will be familiar with the famous poem “Children Learn What They Live“.  I grew up with a poster of that poem on the wall in our house.  Over the years I’ve found that Children Learn What They Live  is truer than true.  Both my parents cursed openly, and they were my primary teachers when it came to cussology.  

Last year I listened to a cassette tape that recorded my father playing his violin.  My Dad was a brilliant violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic/Fulbright Award Winner/Juilliard graduate.  While listening to the beginning of the tape I heard him tune up before playing a magnificent composition.  Imagine my reaction when I heard him muttering “Testing, 123, fuck you! Testing, 123, fuck you!” just before launching into a complex masterpiece on his Stradivarius.  Talk about a contrast from one sound to another!

Dad would have definitely liked the profane image of the serene guy flipping the bird gracing the top of this post.  The photo certainly made me laugh.  It felt good to chuckle, and I hope you giggle a bit over it too.  Life is serious enough as it is, and it’s healthy to make light of certain things now and then.

And now, moving right along, I’d like to write a bit about ANGER.

If you’re familiar with my writing, I’m sure you’ve noticed that many of my posts have been fueled by my intense anger. I was brought up by a rage-a-holic and an alcoholic.  Ever since I was a baby, I was around physical violence (which I observed; I was not physically abused, thank God.) and I grew up with verbal abuse.  

It makes sense that I too became a rager, and I was verbally abusive to people I loved, although I’ve come a long way in that area.  I’ve rarely been physically violent; the only time I can remember hitting someone happened when I was manic.  I’m surprised I haven’t been more violent considering all the fights I witnessed.  No wonder I have an anxiety problem! 

Anyway, despite some people thinking I’m “so nice”, I’m a very angry person and my anger grew much worse after I was diagnosed with bipolar one disorder in 2007.  Writing about my anger helps me.  

The addition of my Lucy puppy has been so good for me – she helps me to diffuse my anger in her magical canine way.  She mellows me out.  My daily workouts on my elliptical, in which I sweat so much I create a giant “butterfly” pattern of sweat on my ratty tank tops, levels out my anger too, but exercise is a temporary solution to a deep-seated problem.  

I’ve examined  my anger with my therapist Tara, but to quote Karen Carpenter, “We’ve only just begun!”  I need to discuss anger more with Tara because it continues to be a dominant part of my personality and I hate it!  (That’s a kind of oxymoron, I know!)

I realize that anger is a normal and healthy part of one’s makeup.  I can’t expect to eradicate anger from my brain.  I just need to bring this rage down a few notches…most likely even more than a few.

When I was young I learned that anger can be a positive trait in one of my all-time favorite books: Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time.  The protagonist Meg Murry is one very angry teenager.  Her scientist father has mysteriously disappeared and there is “talk” in her village about him.  She’s unattractive compared to her stunner of a genius mom.  To add to the mix, Meg’s little brother won’t talk in school and he’s bullied by a bunch of his classmates.  

While on a search to find her father in another galaxy, Meg is instructed by three pivotal characters to use her anger as a “gift” when she faces the evil IT on the planet of Camazotz. Interestingly, Meg utilizes her anger in a unique, powerful way to overcome evil. 

I wish I could be more Meg-like when it comes to anger management!

What am I so angry about? you may be wondering at this point.  I have a hell of a lot to be grateful for, starting with you, my faithful reader.  I have my health, my family, a roof over my head, ice cream in the freezer.  (A lot of ice cream!)  Since I have all these fantastic blessings, why all the damn anger?

It’s a good question.  

When a person is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she sometimes feels anger at God for “giving” her the illness, and/or anger at a parent for passing along the genetic predisposition.  I went through a phase in which I was angry at God, but I no longer feel that way.  I believe the reason I relinquished that particular anger is because I’ve reached the beginnings of my recovery over the past year. 

But despite my blessings, the anger still festers.  

It’s based on the fact that most of my family members and friends totally bailed out on me when I relapsed with bipolar depression exactly one year ago.  There’s a lot more to it than that single sentence, of course.  But that’s the gist of it.

In July, 2013, I was hospitalized forty minutes away from home for almost three weeks.  I had slowly, methodically tapered off my bipolar medications for over twelve months prior to my relapse.  At first I was manic, and then I became depressed/suicidal, hence my admission to the hospital’s mental unit.  It was euphemistically named the “Garden Pavilion”.  (Ha!  There was no garden to be seen there – not even a single nice plant or window overlooking a garden!)

In that hospital, I was forgotten.

The thing is…I needed visitors at that hellhole more than anything.  I was the only patient who didn’t have visitors apart from my husband and children.  My sibling, who lives just minutes away from me, didn’t visit me.  My mother didn’t visit me.  My husband’s family didn’t visit me.  My closest friends didn’t visit me.  I didn’t receive any cards, plants, flowers, chocolate, books, phone calls you-name-it.  

I can’t tell you how much this unit sucked. To top things off, I was never taken out into daylight the entire time I was there.  That in itself is enough to make any sane person a little batshit crazy.

Now, some in my circle will totally disagree with me about my perspective about what happened last summer.  In part, I blame our society for its lack of mental health education for people staying the hell away from me.  But I remain baffled about what took place last July.  If I had cancer you can bet your ass I would have had visitors.  

So you can see I’m still really pissed off – my counselor believes I have PTSD from that ordeal – she doesn’t use that term lightly, and I totally agree with her on that point!

The first word that comes to my mind in this moment is “forgiveness”.  

I have to let it go (dammit, “Frozen” ruined that phrase for me!) and forgive my family and friends, but it’s reallllllly hard to let that all go.  I am hoping that time serves as a panacea to this dilemma.

If you were in a loony bin for three weeks and no one visited you or called/sent you a card except your partner, how would you feel?

 

 

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I Could Get Used to This Kind of Thing! (At First I Said No…)

Liebster

I am happy to share with you, my beloved readers, that I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award by Bipolarmama.

Thank you Bipolarmama!

Dankeschön!  

The enlightening Bipolarmama blogs at http://thebipolarmama.wordpress.com.  

Before I get into the nitty gritty about this distinction, forgive me for a slight digression, as I’m prone to do – at least it’s related to the concept of awards and what they mean to us.  

Most of you are too young to remember the actress Sally Field.  I knew who she was in part because her son Peter was in my L.A. high school chemistry class; her films were definitely out of my teenager scope of interest.  

Ms. Field gave a famous Academy Award acceptance speech for her second Best Actress award that she received for the film “Places In The Heart”.  During this speech she said twice that she didn’t “feel it” the first time she received an Academy Award for the role she played in “Norma Rae.  However, after winning her second award, she triumphantly declared to the audience,

“I haven’t had an orthodox career.  And I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect…YOU LIKE ME, RIGHT NOW, YOU LIKE ME!”

To watch go to http://www.ontheredcarpet.com/Sally-Field-finds-out-the-Academy-likes-her—Oscar-History-Video/8517653

Field has been parodied for this speech ever since she gave it, but I love how she’s so transparent with her insecurity, especially since she’s addressing such a ruthless, cynical, judgmental crowd.  Now, I’m no actress (although I’ve been told I’ma drama queen) but I relate to Field’s  insecurity in regard to my writing.  

I LOVE winning any award for writing because it makes me feel like you like me (well, you like my writing!), right now, you like it! 😉

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, guess what?  At first I declined the Liebster.  I said “thanks, but no thanks!” for several reasons.  The main reason was that it was one of those days where I felt completely overwhelmed with life. I wasn’t depressed, but I felt depleted from being woken up each day at 4:30 a.m. by a certain adorable fluff of a puppy.

I didn’t think I could handle doing one more task; you see, being nominated for a Liebster Award is easy, but earning it requires a bit of work – you can’t just rest on your laurels and spoon in the Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food like I was hoping I could do.

What is a Liebster Award?

In a nutshell, it’s a peer-appointed award that was “created to recognize and/or discover new bloggers, welcome them to the blogosphere, and build the blogging community.”  Of course the award also recognizes high-quality writing. 

The four rules are as follows:

1) I must provide 11 facts about myself (I know you just read some facts about me  if you read my Very Inspiring Blogger post – well, here are yet more facts, and then you’ll really know me!)

2) Answer 11 questions created by my nominating party Bipolarmama

3) Nominate 11 blogs

4) Provide them with 11 questions to answer

Okay, so I here I go again.  

Dyane’s Glorious 11 Facts

1) I’m terrified of spiders. (Isn’t everyone?)  But I can kill big, freaky ones if necessary.

2) If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be Kona-Kailua, Hawaii or the North Island of New Zealand.

3) I consider chocolate to be one of the four food groups.

4) I consider coffee to be another one of the four food groups.

5) I believe in psychics, although I’ve never met with one.

6) My favorite band is Crowded House.

7) I love essential oils such as orange, lavender and jasmine.

8) My Sheltie dog Tara was the flower girl at my wedding.

9) I have an IQ of 152. (or so I was told…)

10) I’m into namedropping as well as I.Q.-dropping.  (Ahem, Sally Field?)

11) After being around bipolar for 44 years (first with my Dad, then with me) I’ll never consider bipolar disorder to be a “blessing”, despite my usually wanting to see the good in everything.

Questions submitted to Dyane by Bipolarmama

1) What is your favorite color? Why?

It’s purple, because it makes me happy to look at it & I think it lowers my blood pressure!

2) If you could have one wish, what would it be? (Be Honest)

To finish my book and get a great publisher!  Honest!!!!

3) Pick a song that defines you. Why that song?

Neil Finn of Crowded House wrote “Nobody Wants To” which discusses the stigma he encountered after his best friend Paul Hester hung himself.  I relate to it because it applies to any kind of mental illness stigma, which I’ve faced time and time again, and it just speaks to me.

4) If you could travel to one place, where would you go?

Back to the Kona region of the Big Island of Hawaii — when I’m not severely depressed like I was last year – I want my do-over!

5) Who is your hero? Why?

My husband, for putting up with me for the past sixteen years both pre-biplolar-diagnosis and post-bipolar-diagnosis, and for supporting my writing.

6) What makes you smile?

My American Collie mix puppy Lucy – she’s the apple of my eye, and my children aren’t even jealous because they adore her too.

7) What made you chose the topic you blog about?

Postpartum (childbirth-triggered/PPBD) bipolar disorder has been the predominant theme in my life for seven years, and I find it therapeutic to write about it.

8) If you could live in any time period, when you would you choose it to be?

After reading and loving Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon I’d live at the turn of the century, despite the fact there was no central heating or television.

9) If you had to give up one of your senses, which would you choose?

Smell – I actually went to high school with a young woman who lost her sense of smell and she had a great attitude.

10) What was your favorite movie as a child?

“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” had an amazingly profound influence upon me.

11) What is your favorite way to unwind?

Well, it used to be booze, but now it’s reading blogs on my WordPress reader.  I’d say that’s a positive change, wouldn’t you?  Thank God for the blogosphere!

THE ELEVEN BLOG NOMINEES ARE…

Note to anyone who declines, which I totally understand if you choose to do so – just let me know, for there are other worthy blogs I could contact in your honor!  Also, you can have more than one Liebster Award!  For more info. about the Liebster visit: http://wordingwell.com/the-liebster-award-the-official-rules-my-first-blog-award-and-a-few-personal-secrets-revealed 

1) Kitt O’Malley – Life with Bipolar Disorder and Thoughts About God

2) Passionate Reason – the blog of L.E. Henderson http://www.passionatereason.com/

3) A Bipolars Reality

4) Shedding Light on Mental Illness

5) WhyteKnucklez

6) The REVELATION of being BIPOLAR

7) Struggles of a Bipolar Woman

8) inthisisbeauty

9) Adrienne’s Chat Lounge

10) This bipolar mom – mama with training wheels

11) Come Unglued

Thank you for reading this, and I’ll “see” you here on Friday.  That’s the first day my two girls are out of school, and summer officially begins in our household.  God knows what I’ll be writing about! 

have a good day!!!

Dyane

 

 

 

Profundity Is Not On Today’s Menu ;)

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I had great aspirations to write a high-quality blog post over this weekend.  I envisioned typing a few paragraphs filled with a pearl of wisdom or two.

It ain’t gonna happen.  I’ve given up.

On Friday I started writing about topics that were very disturbing that I plan to complete at some point.  This morning I realized that I don’t want to focus on pain, terror and suicide today.  I need a levity break.  Summer is in the air and in my brain, and it’s going to be over 90 degrees where I live today! 

When I read fellow bloggers’ posts I don’t require each and every creation to be worthy of a Pulitzer.  I love the variety of writing that I encounter in the WordPress reader.  I bet you do too.  A simple description of a writer’s experience ordering a latte at a coffee shop appeals to me.  Each of you would write about your different impressions, sights, smells, sounds etc.  So I remind myself that even though I’ve tackled biggie bipolar topics in the past, there’s welcome room for the seemingly mundane moments and subjects as well.

This weekend it has been just me and my six-year-old Marilla and of course Lucy, who is now an eleven-week-old feisty, furry, adorable pup.  My husband and older daughter flew to San Diego so that he could receive the “People in Preservation Award” from the Save Our Heritage Organisation in North Park, San Diego.  He was honored with this award for his acclaimed book Quest for Flight – John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West.   This was the first time we’ve been apart since my last hospitalization a year ago.  While I felt steady about our brief separation, some anxiety came up for me all the same.  (I’m already a VERY anxious person!)

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Yesterday I planned for Marilla to spend the afternoon at her friend’s house.  I had met the parents a few times before, and I really liked them.  But my damn social anxiety got in the way during each of our interactions.  I used to be a very social person.  I was even selected for jobs because of how I interacted with all kinds of people face-to-face.  Now that I’m anxiety-medication free and alcohol-free, I’m 100% present with this angst that I loathe so much.  Lo and behold, my puppy has already been helping me to reduce those feelings, and I’ve brought her with me almost everywhere.  But Lucy can’t “fix” me.

When I dropped off Marilla at her buddy’s house, it was a quick “Hi there, thanks for having her!”chit-chat that lasted less than five minutes.  I wore my new sunglasses so I could feel more incognito.  (I took them off at the last minute, though, because I felt it was rude to wear them when speaking with this parent!)  

A few hours later when I went to pick her up it was different story.  I planned on a slightly longer interaction since picking up your child always takes longer than you think!  I held Lucy in my arms as my talisman although damn, at seventeen pounds she is getting HEAVY! Then I heard the dreaded words:

“Come on in!”

Fuck it.” I thought.    I gave up.  “I’m not going to try to come up with a feeble excuse.  Yes, I could go back home with Rilla and Lucy, and then stay glued to the computer the rest of the afternoon.  Or I could give this a chance.  I’ll wait and see how uncomfortable and panicked I get!”

To make a long story short, we left six hours later.

Yes!

This couple had a lovely backyard with a pool and hot tub.   They were friendly with their neighboring families, so much so that halfway through my social soiree, some of their neighbors stopped by to hang out and chat with us.  As I’ve written about in a previous post, I live surrounded by recluses for the most part.  This easygoing, delightful scene would NEVER happen on my street.  They have block parties there too – of course they do!  

Their three kids and mine were having a complete blast in their pool.  I felt more at ease than I had in a long time with “strangers”.  Plus the parents already knew about my bipolar disorder for I had disclosed it to them briefly in a previous conversation. (That was something that I regretted at first.  Later on I was relieved that I did it because I felt I could be myself and not worry about accidentally uttering the “b” word.)  

To top it off, I left with some beautiful clothes that the mom no longer needed, and which I sorely did.  It was a one-stop socializing and shopping experience.

Lucy loved being there as well, and received plenty of appreciative pats.

I wish I could have had a few glasses of wine or even better, a few strong Patron margaritas…I still had that anxious feeling lurking the whole time which alcohol can smooth out so well.  But I hope, as in weight training, that the more I do this kind of thing, the more confident I will feel in social settings.  

I doubt I’ll return to how I used to be in terms of social events, but then again, if you told me that I’d be spending  a whopping six hours at my daughter’s friend’s house with people I didn’t know well, I would have guffawed.

I hope that whatever you’re grappling with, you’ll make a positive breakthrough with it very soon, be it big or small.  We all have been through hell.  It’s time for a little joy, don’t you think? I’d love for you to comment about what you are presently grappling with in your life, aside from bipolar, even if it’s a “little thing”.  I find it all pretty fascinating. 

Thanks for reading as always!

Dyane

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p.s. watch me serenade my eleven-week-old American Farm collie mix Lucy with Kiss Them Where The Sun Don’t Shine!

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=451352228334420&set=vb.100003789417669&type=2&theater

 

 

 

 

Too Careful

imgresLast week I was inspired by blogger Kitt O’Malley’s succinct-but-potent post titled “No Trigger Alerts Here”.  Her writing served as a welcome catalyst to change my blogging perspective .  Hopefully my altered views will be reflected in this blog in the weeks to come.  However, as usual, I digress!

I was intrigued to learn what Kitt thought of trigger alerts, for I had published a blog post containing a suicide trigger alert on that same day.

In “No Trigger Alerts Here” Kitt asserts:

“I write from my heart and from my mind, not heeding any internal or external censor. That is how I think.  That is who I am.  Each individual reader must decide for themselves whether they can handle reading potentially disturbing material.  The best writing is often disturbing, mining the extremes of human experience.  Reading such works challenges us.  We must challenge ourselves. We must challenge the perceptions of others.”

I posted the following comment in response:

“Hmmmm.  I do agree, without a shred of doubt, that some of the best, most influential writing is disturbing.  I gravitate towards reading that kind of writing when I’m stable.

When I’m depressed it’s a different story.  Give me cotton candy reading, or actually when I’m really down, I sleep and even books can’t drag me out from under the covers and release me from despair.

When I write about suicide in detail, I feel obligated to post a trigger alert.  That sense of obligation comes from reading other bloggers who post trigger alerts – I basically thought it was the ‘thing to do’ in the blogging community, of which I still consider myself to be a newbie.  I admire that fact that you write what you wish to write without internal or external censors – the word that comes to my mind is “freeing”.   I will read anything you write without reservation or hesitation, as long as I am stable!!!”

One of the true beauties of blogging is when we learn from one another and not simply pontificate from up on high.  After reading Kitt’s post, I realized I’ve been really afraid to write posts that may offend readers – readers whom for the most part I’ll never meet.  I’ve been caught up with writing in a politically correct way to the point where my cautiousness has shut me down rather than fire me up.  I’ve felt stilted writing this blog for a long time, and I knew I was holding myself back.  But I had become complacent.  I’m a lazy person and that’s what us lazies generally do – change is scary.

Moreover, I’ve been avoiding writing in depth about topics that are on my mind every day such as body image, sex and bipolar, judgement, binging, family relationships, writer’s block and much more.  I’ve held back because some of my opinions won’t be popular, pretty, p.c., and certainly not poetic!   I’ve enjoyed reading about these subjects in others’ blogs, so it’s rather ridiculous that I don’t allow myself the same opportunity to write about what matters most to me.

The thought that what I write here could turn off someone “important” and “influential” career-wise down the line has lurked in my brain from the moment I started blogging. As long as I’m not throwing around racist terms or write offensively on purpose, it seems perfectly reasonable to write more freely about complicated topics.  Perhaps I’ll include topics and details that might make some sensitive readers press the “unfollow” button, but so be it.

Here’s another truth.  Even though I love to curse, whenever I’ve wanted to insert a foul word here or there in a blog post, I usually don’t do it.  In turn, by tamping down my true self, that has taken juice out of my writing. I’m stopping that habit now.  It’s pointless to freak out about any of this – I’m not even a career blogger  or have a zillion followers, so I don’t need to fret about losing a lot of readers, sponsors or blighting my reputation.

Today, June 1st, it seems like a good day to officially worry less about writing this blog.  I’m more excited than frightened about my resolution.  I may be potty-mouthed, “bipolar-wrinkled” (a topic for another day), frizzy-haired, and anxious, but I’m also silly, compassionate, creative and unique.  I have something unique to offer to the almighty blogosphere.

As a born Jew, I grew up being told that I couldn’t be too careful, and I took in that worldview with every fiber of my being.  While I’ll continue to be too careful in the “real world” in many respects, I will no longer be too cautious in this blog.

Too careful no more! 😉

For more of Kitt’s writing please follow her blog Kitt O’Malley – Life with Bipolar Disorder and Thoughts about God at:

http://www.kittomalley.wordpress.com

 

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Lucy Puppy Visits My Psychiatrist!

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Greetings and happy Friday everyone!

Today I planned to write about my Dad, as it’s his birthday.  My father died in 2009, and I’ve written about him in this blog before.  I considered him to be one of my best friends, and he also had bipolar one disorder.  The link to my post about Dad is here:

https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/dad/

I’ve always been into birthdays, and today I can’t help but feel down about the fact that Dad isn’t here with us to celebrate another one.  However, I’ve been comforting myself with the thought that he’d get a big kick out of what happened this morning.

I had my monthly check-in appointment with the best psychiatrist I’ve ever had: Dr. D.  Apart from being the most helpful pdoc I’ve seen over a span of two decades, Dr. D. is also the first dog-friendly psychiatrist I’ve consulted.  With all due respect, from now on I shall refer to him here as “Dr. Dog”.  (Ruff, ruff!)

A few weeks ago, when I emailed Dr. Dog about a med refill, I mentioned that the glorious puppy Lucy had joined our family.  I didn’t know if he liked dogs, but I attached a photo of her anyway since she was so damn cute.  Dr. Dog wrote back remarking on Lucy’s sweet face, and he said it would be perfectly fine to bring her to my next appointment at his-dog-friendly office complex.  I thought that was the coolest thing, and I knew that having Lucy with me would lessen my anxiety.  I was a little stressed about her going potty in his office, but I didn’t let that stop me from bringing her along.

To prevent a puppy accident from occurring, I packed doggy pads, spray cleaner, a roll of paper towels, a couple baggies, a dog toy, and a little container of water!  I’m sure I left something out.  (Just kidding!)  Honest-to-God, I felt like a mom with her a newborn going on an errand, carrying a plethora of baby objects in tow. While Lucy’s accoutrements were much easier to pack compared to infant gear (and infant), I found the task challenging all the same.

When Lucy met Dr. Dog, they hit it off right away.  I was the uber-proud mama of a fur baby!  Dr. Dog told me he was impressed my bringing my array of clean-up items, etc.  It turns out that he used to have a Sheltie who passed away few years ago.  (Lucy is part Sheltie, so of course I took that as a good sign.)

We reviewed my blood test paperwork, and then I brought up the two topics on my mind: my high anxiety, and my sugar & caffeine addictions.  Dr. Dog also considers my sugar and caffeine problems as bona fide addictions. He’s a longtime addiction psychiatrist and he knows what he’s talking about! I’ve become so discouraged with my lack of progress in these two areas in my life.  Diet and anxiety are strongly connected, and I’m perpetuating a self-sabotaging cycle in which the more sugar and caffeine I ingest, the worse my anxiety becomes.  Dr. Dog said he felt a “sadness” for me because these issues continue to bring me down and prevent me from being my best, happiest self.  I don’t foresee any quick fixes here, and I’m working on them with my therapists.  (My human therapist and my puppy therapist.  I’m joking once again – I smelled Lucy’s furry little head a few minutes ago, and I’m high on puppy.  It truly smelled amazing and not “wt doggy” yet. )

At the close of our appointment Dr. Dog remarked that I was doing “very well” despite my self-confessed challenges, which was music to my ears.  He said I could bring Lucy to my next appointment – more music to my ears indeed.  It was lovely to have her at my side in his office today, as she definitely helped me ratchet down my angst.  Lucy was so good and mellow, and she didn’t even go potty on his carpet! 🙂

Along with the bipolar gene, I inherited a great love for hounds from my father.  My Dad adored dogs and he filled our home with his beloved Irish Setters.  (Note to you dog experts out there – I believe that Irish Setters are much smarter than they get credit for!)  It was fitting that today on my Dad’s birthday I saw my psychiatrist with Lucy  by my side.  I know he’d completely approve of the arrangement and perhaps he even had an otherworldly hand in making it happen.  Who knows?

In any case, it’s fun to write about my joyful, vivacious puppy  today instead of dwelling upon Dad’s pain, suffering and death like I had initially planned to expound on.  I’ve “been there, done that” numerous times. This past week I wrote an essay about grieving my Dad for the upcoming issue of “Anchor” magazine.  I didn’t choose the topic; the upcoming issue’s theme is grief.  That assignment drained me, and I feel like I’ve met a “grief theme writing quota” that should last me quite a while.

I hope that my Dad is having fun in the Afterlife; perhaps he’s with his Irish Setters.  I see him in my mind’s eye playing the Tchaikovsky pieces he loved on his favorite Guadagnini violin.  His audience consists in part of Tanya and Amber, his mild-mannered setters.  Dad would understand my decision to blog mostly about Lucy instead of about him and my grieving his loss, especially since he couldn’t stand to talk about death in any way, shape or form!

I miss him.

 

 

 

Lonely In Your Nightmare

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I had another “white night” last night.  This time I awoke at 2:00 a.m.  I had a vivid nightmare about my Mom dying that shook me to the core.  It was so bad that I was tempted to call her in the middle of the night to see if she was okay, but I held back.  (She’s fine; I just got off the phone with her this morning, although I didn’t want to freak her out so I kept my mouth shut about my dream.)  At 2:20 a.m. I took 50 mg of quetiapine (Seroquel) so I’m fighting a case of the mega-groggies this morning.  

I don’t understand why our brains torment us with nightmares.  I guess the “glass half-full” way to look at my nightmare was that it made me want to be nicer to my Mom and appreciate her while she’s still here!  So that’s definitely a good thing.  Still, it was such an awful dream that I’m sure a few new wrinkles formed on my forehead.

I’m now motivated to do a few things to help with the insomnia.  I absolutely need to get lavender essential oil. High-quality lavender oil definitely helps me relax, albeit in a subtle way, for both insomnia and anxiety.  I used to work at a school (College of the Botanical Healing Arts/COBHA) that trained essential oil practitioners, so I know a bit about essential oils.  At COBHA I used to have access to essential oils for sale right next to my work station.  I could purchase one anytime and at a discount.  But now, when I run out of a bottle I get lazy and cheapskatey and I don’t buy it again until I’m fairly desperate, like now!  I live in a valley chock full of health food stores.  However, I loathe going into those stores because I get easily overwhelmed by all the tempting merchandise.  Even if I’m shopping for just one item I freak out!  That’s why I can’t handle going to Costco anymore. So that’s plan #1

Plan #2 is for me to watch a little more EFT info. on YouTube.  There are tons of choices, but today I’m trying out a Nick Ortner introduction to tapping clip that can be found here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJMV3EohDCg

This morning I emailed my psychiatrist to see what he thought about EFT and he wrote, I’ve had no experience with it, am curious, but always skeptical of “the latest healing miracle”.  If it provides more than placebo response, it will last…otherwise it will become another fad.  I’ll be interested in your experience…”

Hmm!  

I also reached out to my Facebook network to see if anyone there had experience with this mysterious-sounding EFT, and I got comments that ranged from the intriguing:

“There is some good evidence in trauma psychology with tapping.”

To the slightly meh: “Yes, I used to do it. Hmmm. It might work for some people. Doesn’t hurt to try.”

Plus two remarks that made me chuckle: “I thought it was stupid. but you never know what might work for you until you try it (keeping an open mind, but not so open my brains fall out.)” and

“some people love EFT…I needed a lot more then tapping..”

So I’ll let you know how it goes with EFT.  I have no expectations, but I do have a “Why not?” attitude which might very well work in my favor.  I won’t know unless I give it a fair try.  

Perhaps by now you’re wondering why I’ve selected the Duran Duran “Rio” cover photo and the shot of the boys in their heyday?  I simply could not write about nightmares without referencing one of my all-time favorite pop songs. “Lonely In Your Nightmare”, the haunting song from the classic “Rio” album, is etched in my brain.  

I loooooove the song and I’ve probably listened to it 5000 times.     I used to listen to it every night on my Walkman (remember those, children of the 70’s?) just before going to sleep.  Actually I’d listen to it several times each night.  It soothed me and yes, I had a crush on Simon LeBon, what more can I say?  I loved how he crooned “You’re lonely in your nightmare, let me in.”  It was just so romantic!  

Recently while reading the New York Times bestseller “In The Pleasure Groove – Love, Death and Duran Duran”, I discovered that author John Taylor played fretless bass in “Lonely In Your Nightmare”, which made it sound all the more alluring and soporific.  

I know that Duran Duran doesn’t have a whole lot to do with EFT, insomnia or lavender oil, but no matter.  It’s fun to include them here.  Maybe I should listen to that song tonight before I go to sleep – maybe it has the power to prevent nightmares like the horror show I experienced last night!!  

If you want to give the song a listen, & see the official video, please visit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdagLj8WJrs

Rock on, my friends!  May 80’s music never die! 😉  And, as always, thanks for reading. 

Dyane

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