Tahoe Ramblings

 

Avi on John Muir Trail w:Lucy

Avonlea and Lucy on the John Muir Trail

 

As we reach the end of our Tahoe vacation we’re celebrating Marilla’s seventh birthday. We just received a text from the girls’ Granny.  She told us to go out to dinner as a gift from her, so the family’s mood is upbeat.  The girls are discussing the kinds of cake they wish to order, which is obviously the priority when you’re about to turn seven. (And, I admit, my priority as well.)

It’s a lazy weekday afternoon and I’ve wasted the entire past hour trying to guess the password for the cabin’s internet connection.  Yes, it turns out there is internet access here in the Munchkin, but we don’t know the password. There’s no record of it to be found anywhere in the cabin. When Craig called the owner about it, she told us she wasn’t adept with computers, and she had no idea what the password was!  As we’ve had a good relationship with her for the past six years, he didn’t want to push the subject of the password.

I decided to create a “Guess the Password” game, trying out different Tahoe-themed phrases. (My personal favorite was “bear country”.) Surrounding homeowners’ wireless connections popped up on my Kindle screen, but they were all locked.  I knew that chances were one in a million that I’d guess the password, but stubborn me – I wanted to give it a shot nonetheless.  I’m sure the password is something I’d never imagine in a million years, so I’m done with my game!

As much as I miss my internet connection and cable television, I know in my heart that it continues to be in my best interest that I keep away from the net and other media during the aftermath of Robin Williams’ death.

Every few days we’ve stopped in front of a library to tap into a wireless connection so that my husband could do some work, but these pitstops have lasted for only a few minutes.   In that amount of time I hurriedly posted to my blog and checked my email.  I could have visited a coffee shop alone to catch up on emails, Facebook, blogs, etc.  I’ve been tempted to do that more than once, but it hasn’t felt like the right thing to do.  My intuition keeps telling impatient me to wait; we’ll be home soon enough.

I went for years not using Facebook, and I only began blogging regularly last December.  My life won’t fall apart from missing ten days of my online creature comforts.  

As I write this post, I’ve been glancing out the window to see if my bear “friend” has decided to swing by and give me another panic attack!  I’m sure Lucy would be less-than-thrilled to spot a live bear; I prefer to see bears via a nature documentary.

Craig and the girls headed out to their special swimming spot they’ve named “Icy Rock” on the Truckee River while Lucy and I hang out in the quiet Munchkin.  The inviting couch, which has a view of the stunning Alpine Valley mountainside pictured below, is the perfect place to stretch out and read a book.

Photo on 2011-07-28 at 09.00 #2 

Now that I’ve finished Jennifer Hentz Moyer’s sobering-yet-inspiring memoir “A Mother’s Climb Out of Darkness – A Story about Overcoming Postpartum Psychosis” (and postpartum bipolar disorder) I’m going to read something a little lighter in tone: “Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970’s” by Tom Doyle.  That’s what I’m going to enjoy until the door swings open and two very exuberant, soaked little girls will come in to tell me about their encounters with crawdads and ducks on the shores of the Truckee.

Long before the internet entered my life, my first love was reading a book.  It feels so good and luxurious to sink into my book and to stay there for a while without interruptions.  I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend an afternoon…except, perhaps, for some chocolate gelato.  It just happens that there’s a pint of Double Chocolate Talenti in the freezer, and it has my name written all over it!  (The rest of the family has the sense to know that Mommy’s gelato is hers and hers alone.)

Have a good Friday & weekend, and I’ll catch you on Monday!

take care,

Dyane

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Where the Heart Lies – My New Blogging Schedule & Book Musings

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I love to blog, even though I don’t like the word itself.  “Blog” sounds too much like “frog” (No offense to frogs!) and it simply doesn’t float my boat.  But that doesn’t matter, because blogging has been a wonderful catharsis, and it has inspired my writing.  “Meeting” fellow bloggers has been a total joy.  I thank my lucky stars for this technology which allows us writers to connect with one another.

I tried blogging seven years ago.  It was the year after I diagnosed with bipolar, so I called the blog “Proudly Bipolar”.  My blogging habit didn’t take back then, for I relapsed and let the blog fall to the wayside.  Last November I gingerly re-approached the blogosphere, and the second time was indeed the charm.  When I began getting positive, helpful feedback from other bloggers I admired, it solidified my commitment to blogging.  Five months ago, I surprised myself by posting each day, never imagining that I’d keep it up for any length of time.

I’ve blogged every single day since deciding to write daily, and I’ve published over 140 posts.  

In sickness and in health.

I, in essence, married my blog! 😉

Blogging relieves my tension, and brainstorming for topics is challenging, but satisfying.  It’s particularly gratifying to write on a regular basis because I was unable to write during so many lengthy, debilitating bipolar depressions.

I’ve known the day would come where I’d break my record of daily blogging.  I know it’s healthy to take breaks from everything we do in life, except breathing, perhaps.   Even professional bloggers take days off from their blogs.  Call me stubborn, call me silly  – I just didn’t want to stop!  (Waaaaah!)  

The main reason I need to change my ways is because of my book.  Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder has been taking a backseat to my other writing, i.e. my blog, my International Bipolar Foundation blog, and articles for the website Stigmama.com and the revamped Anchor Magazine plus more.  Every fiber of my being tells me it’s not good to put my book on the back burner.  I want the satisfaction of completing it, and I feel in my gut that I was meant to not only write this book but for it to be published by an established publisher.

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As gratifying as it is to write a memoir, make no mistake – it’s hard as hell.  I can easily spend three leisurely hours writing a blog post, and still have plenty energy to spare.  In contrast, when I spend an intense, focused thirty minutes working on my book, I’m worn out for a while afterwards.  The subject matter is tough, extensive medical research is involved, and I want the writing to be top-notch.  

Just this morning, in a moment of exasperation, I wrote to a friend about this subject.  I emailed the great writer L.E. Henderson, author of A Trail of Crumbs to Creative Freedom,  

“If I can birth two children and have electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) done, I can write a book!”  

To clarify, I know I can write a book! 😉  What will make this knowledge a reality is that I need to create more energy and time to do it.  No one is going to supply those two key conditions for me except myself.  After completing over a hundred pages, I’m more determined now than ever to see this project through.  

When I become dejected about the book writing process, I remind myself that I have the potential to realize my dream.  In 2013, I submitted a detailed book proposal to a respected publisher, and I was offered an honest-to-God book contract.  It pains me to write this, but I cancelled my contract when I relapsed with bipolar depression and had to be hospitalized. Now I’m going to wait until my book is done before approaching any agent and/or publisher. That feels like the right way to go for the time being.

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So I’m making it official by stating it here: I’m going to force myself to only blog three times a week.  I plan on posting on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.   Three times weekly as opposed to seven times a week will definitely free up some book-writing time.  (Ya think? 😉 

I’m also going to watch yet another Nick Ortner EFT YouTube video (even though he’s so hideous, ha ha ha!) because I couldn’t help but notice the title – it definitely applies to me, as does the clip’s description:

“Use EFT To Clear Patterns of Self-Sabotage” – Nick Ortner at Wanderlust

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

Description:

“These days,” says Nick, “we are activating our fight or flight responses in a variety of circumstances. Frustrated goals, mounting stress, patterns of self-sabotage: at the most basic level are stress responses related to fight or flight responses. The latest research shows us that when we hit these meridian points in the body while focusing on certain issues, we are actually sending a signal to the amydgala in the brain. The amygdala is the fight or flight response center.” In this Speakeasy lecture, Nick explains how tapping can release these fears and patterns.

 

As I promised to the amazing blogger Doreen Bench of “Always Recovery”, I’ll report back here with my EFT findings at some point, hopefully soon.  In the meantime, I hope you’ll continue reading my blog, and I wish you lots of fulfilling blogging and reading of your own.

Thanks for reading!

Dyane

 

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A Happy *Tail* of Delurking

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Yesterday I was high on puppy.  I know that sounds silly, but I really was.  And guess what?

I still am!

Nevermind the fact that Lucy woke me up with a whimper at 4:00 a.m., and I never got back to sleep.  I’m wiped out, but I’m still high on this furry bundle of joy.  It’s also a pleasure that many of my blogosphere friends have been encouraging about the addition of  this “fur child”.  

Yesterday six-year-old Marilla narrated a twenty-second video about Lucy that I’d love for you to watch – you can find it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaGUX129lYs&feature=youtu.be

I’m telling you, yesterday I felt so intoxicated about our puppy that out of the blue, a 1980 Stephanie Mills song started playing in my brain.  I felt compelled to find the video. Remember that song  “Never Knew Love Like This Before”?  Watch this and you can let it creep around your brain & drive you a little nuts too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLbC0dRIjX0

Apart from my happiness while enjoying my first full day with Lucy, I had an unexpected incident occur with my Mom.

Ever since I started “Birth of a New Brain”, I didn’t share my blog with my mother in case I’d offend her.  I definitely didn’t want to censor my writing – the whole point of blogging was to freely express what I felt.  I certainly wasn’t out to defame my family, but I wanted to write about my experience growing up with a father with manic depression, and occasionally examine my relationship with Mom.  I could have blogged anonymously, but that didn’t appeal to me.  

From my first post on, I doubted that Mom would locate my blog.  She has admitted repeatedly that she’s not the savviest Grandma on the block when it comes to computers, and that fact kept my fears at bay.  However, I wasn’t completely naive; I knew that according to Murphy’s Law, she would most likely encounter my blog in spite of her being a luddite.   In my heart, I knew it was only a matter of time until Mom found my blog.  

So yesterday my mother, who lives far away, called me to discuss how Lucy was doing on her first day with us. Mom is a dog lover of the highest degree, and she fully understood the significance of bringing a puppy into our household.   We were having a very upbeat, positive conversation.  

Then, quite casually she murmured, “I’ve read your blog.”

I gulped.  My heart sank and I prepared myself to be chewed out for blogging about family matters, namely about her, and she was not always depicted in the best light.

“Oh really?” I said meekly.  “What do you think?” I asked, not really wanting to know the answer.

To my shock and delight, she told me in her proudest tone of voice, “You are a Writer!”  Fortunately, we didn’t get into detail about my blog topics, but she addressed one issue.  She said, “I’m a little concerned….”  

This laconic reaction is too good to be true.  I thought. Now she’s going to flip out! 

“You wrote something about drinking too much coffee, and I want you to be careful with that…” she said.

“Oh, yes,” I chucked.  “You’re right. I have been drinking too much coffee and I plan on cutting down.”  

In the past Mom and I have butted horns about many things.  One sore point between us was my writing.  I am drawn to writing non-fiction, and I’ve always been that way.  However, she saw me as a fiction writer, which has never been my interest nor my forte.  

So, at the close of our conversation, when my mother said to me “I can see you writing both fiction and non-fiction.” that was high praise.  While I felt supremely good at her reaction, I also was unnerved to be “out” with my Mom about my blog.  I wondered how restricted I would feel from now on.

I knew I’d figure out a way to come to terms with this situation.  If I have to tweak some lines or subjects here or there, it’s not the end of the world.  What matters most is that I appreciated the fact that she delurked, and for the manner in which she calmly revealed herself as a reader.

I can see the appeal of being a lurker, although I’ve only lurked a couple times.  When you’re lurking on a close family member’s blog, that’s a cat of a different color.  Or a puppy of a different coat? (See how tipsy I am on this Lucy???!!!)

When I write future posts that may affect my Mom, the most compassionate thing for me to do is to check in with her about the topic and go from there.  No blog post is worth causing her pain.  

My Mom influenced me to be a reader, as well as a writer and lover of the fine arts.  Now that she has delurked, and I’ve outed her as well, I hope that she’ll consider commenting if she feels inspired to do so, because she’s a wonderful writer.  Furthermore, she approaches a certain decade (I’m not naming it!) she has an incredible wealth of wisdom which would lend her comments weight. 

While Mom and I have shared many hard times, she’s a part of me and I don’t want to forget that.  It’s fitting that I write about her today, as it would have been her 45th wedding anniversary with my Dad.  Perhaps he played a hand in her positive attitude towards my blog.  I believe that we all get help from the unseen world once in a while.  

In any case, I am honored to write this blog, I’m thrilled that you are reading it, and if you’re a lurker, I invite you to delurk — if not here, why not delurk on another blog?  I think it’s safe to say that most of us bloggers write for the feedback and the “likes”.  If we didn’t yearn for that give-and-take, then I believe we’d stick to private journals for the most part.

Thanks for reading, friends!

Lucy’s Human Mom

 

Furry SiblingsLucy’s Furry SiblingsMom Layla & DadHere’s Lucy’s mom Layla on the left, and her dad Aztlan is on the right.  The father is the spitting image of my dog Tara who I had for fifteen years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lonely Calm Before the Puppy Storm

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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.

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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,

LITHIUM!

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: http://fleetiris.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/animal-telepathy/)

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! 😉

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The Furry Antidepressant


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As of this writing on Tuesday morning, I’m unsure which puppy pictured above will join our home tonight.  We don’t care which collie shepard we shall be graced with -we’ve spent time with them and they are both amazing, wriggling fluffs of joy.  

Our family is totally freaking out about our new addition…in the BEST way possible!

And now more than ever, I believe in “furry antidepressants”.  Please allow me to explain:

In my late twenties, a decade before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I suffered the demise of a relationship that sent me reeling into my first full-blown clinical depression.  A Paltrow/Martin-like conscious uncoupling it was not!  My boyfriend betrayed me with a born-again Christian.  (I didn’t think either of them acted in a very Christian-like manner to tell you the truth.)  To be honest, he was literally not in his right mind when that all went down.  This person who I had been faithful to for almost five years turned out to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Life is stranger than fiction.

Thank God I had my two dogs Tara and Shera to see me through during those dark months of despair.  My depression hit so hard that I quit my full-time special event production  job.  I applied for temporary disability to make ends meet.  

I saw my first psychiatrist Dr.C. at age twenty-six.  He was the close friend of someone I knew and trusted. Although he reviewed my family history in which I mentioned my father’s bipolar disorder, he didn’t think I had any tendency for the same mood disorder.  Dr. C. diagnosed me with clinical depression and prescribed Paxil, my very first psychiatric medication.  I took Paxil for about five months and I slowly but surely pulled out of that nightmare depression.  

Aside from Paxil and therapy, what helped me most were my dogs.  While I let just about everything in my life go to the wayside: job, cleaning my studio, cooking, etc. I couldn’t coop up my dogs every day.   I lived close to a beautiful field in Santa Cruz called Lighthouse Field.  This once-dog-friendly state park, bordered the Pacific Ocean and it overlooked the famous surfing point Steamer Lane.  The Mark Abbot Memorial lighthouse, built in memory of a young man who drowned while body surfing, loomed over the surfers.

Lighthouse Field became my second home.  Every afternoon, Tara, Shera and I explored the numerous park trails.  I had plenty of time, and the habit helped to structure my day and give me exercise.  I let Tara and Shera run off-leash to their heart’s content.  They absolutely loved that field and, along with my dogs’ happiness, I appreciated the park’s natural beauty.  

Most of the other dog owners who visited Lighthouse Field were conscientious; the neighborhood in which the field was located consisted primarily of middle-to-upper class residents.  Obviously that didn’t always mean that those well-to-do dog owners knew what they were doing.  Some of them couldn’t care less about picking up after their dogs, which gave me “trail rage”.

In any case, the field became a profound place of healing.  As my dogs were the reason I made the commitment to walk there, I give Tara and Shera just as much credit as Dr. C, Paxil and therapy for helping me recover. Being outdoors in the fresh ocean air contributed to my depression lifting, while exposure to the natural sunlight helped me as well.  

 

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 Lighthouse Field State Park

Ever since Tara died in my arms, and I held Shera as she was put to sleep, I’ve had a void in my life.  I didn’t fully realize this emptiness until a few days ago, believe it or not. Over the years since their deaths it was difficult for me to look closely at anything pet-related.  When I was around other people’s pets, I felt the loss of my dogs, even though I enjoyed petting the animals and being present with them as best as I could.

As soon as I realized last weekend that we were opening our home to a pet once again, my heart soared.  What makes this time extraordinarily special is that it’s not just me who wants a dog so much – my two girls have been begging us for a dog for literally years.  They are beyond excited.  I know that when I see them shower our puppy with their love and learn how to care for a pet, it will be an incredible experience for me and Craig.

One of my best memories growing up was spending time with our two Irish Setters Tanya and Amber.  My Dad loved his dogs, and he passed that love for pets on to me.  I think that when he experienced his bouts of manic depression (as it was referred to when he had it) his dogs really gave him comfort.  I like to think that wherever he is now, he’s really happy to see me bringing a dog into not only my life again,  but his granddaughters’ lives as well.

Mental Health Warrior Kelly, who has become my friend through the blogosphere, often writes about the wonder of her dog Molly and how she has helped Kelly with mood challenges.  Apart from that, Kelly won me over in a heartbeat when I discovered she created  beautiful mental-health-based e-cards for depression , anxiety, and hope & support.   She offers these cards for free through her website!

http://mentalhealthwarrior.com/send-a-mental-health-ecard/

Here’s the link to Kelly’s popular, classic post 31 Powerful Life Lessons I Learned From My Dog:

http://mentalhealthwarrior.com/2014/04/31-life-lessons-i-learned-from-my-dog/

It’s time for me to reluctantly move on to the more mundane part of my day.  I’ll end with writing that if you, dear reader, have bipolar disorder and you have a pet, please give yourself a LOT of credit.  It’s hard enough to take care of ourselves, isn’t it?  But when you add a dependent creature into your world, your life becomes more challenging.  I believe that anyone with bipolar disorder who has a pet, be it a fish, a rabbit, a chicken, a cat, a dog or whatever (but not a pet rock!) is helped by that pet very much, in all kinds of ways.

I really do believe that having and caring for a pet is more therapeutic than most of us realize.  Pet stewardship is not all honky dory – I didn’t miss cleaning up dog poop during my pet-less years, and I didn’t miss the other pet “liquid emissions “and stressful trips to the vet.  But this time around I know it will be worth it to have these inconveniences if it means having more love in our home.  I know my Dad would want that for us.

 

The author/artist SARK wrote and illustrated her bestselling poster called “Dogs Are Miracles with Paws”.

(Yes, feline lovers,  there’s a cat poster too!)

“A dog’s nose in the palm of your hand can cure almost anything, dogs are made of love and fur, let your dog take you for a walk, dogs are a sure thing, here’s a little known dog secret: dogs have no secrets, dogs are like vanilla ice cream – reliably delicious, dogs are wise agents directly from heaven, if you had a tail, wouldn’t you wag it?, there are no bad dog’s, be your dog’s best friend, dogs like dancing, drive-in movies and dreaming, God made dogs and spelled his own name backwards, dogs make great therapists, kiss your dogs all the time, some dogs are nap dogs, dogs invented unconditional love, dogs are party animals, apply dog logic to life: eat well, be loved, get petted, sleep a lot, dream of a leash-free world, live your dog’s life!”

 

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An Angel With Fur & An Unexpected Miracle!

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Happy Monday Everyone!

I’ve only reblogged a handful of times. I have a point of pride (some may call it stubbornness, neuroticism, controlling or all three!) where I wish to be the primary author of my blog posts all the time. But today I’m going to have my hands full because we are on the cusp of adding a very, very, VERY-much wanted little Sheltie mix pup into our home.  So reblog Monday it is!

Honestly, I feel a little bit like the way I felt before having my two babies! I’m taking this puppy business very seriously. In my early twenties I adopted two glorious puppies who I loved for fifteen years. One of these dogs, my Sheltie/wolf mix Tara, was in our wedding as our flower “beast”.  She looked resplendent with a gorgeous calla lily corsage and loved all the attention.  My other dog Shera, an fluffy white American Eskimo, also attended our wedding. She “danced” with some of us after the ceremony. (Her breed is known for producing show dogs and they used to perform in circuses. “Eskies” are energetic, bouncy balls of joy and they truly love the attention of a crowd.)

My dogs, who Craig adopted and loved as much as I did, accompanied us on our honeymoon in Mammoth. We considered them to be family members – perhaps the most functional out of all of us, and they didn’t even need therapy!  And don’t even get me started on how I held each of them in my arms when they died…I’ve written about that topic before, and I can’t dwell on it for more than a moment without feeling my heart crack a little. We were lucky to have both dogs live until age fifteen, which was at the very top of their projected life spans.

It has been a few years since we had a dog in our home, and I know I’m going to have my hands full this morning with getting ready to care for our new, spunky little life.  In light of this exciting, momentous change, I thought today might be a good time to reblog, especially (and this is the most important reason to reblog) because the post is worthy of reblogging – I read yesterday and it really inspired and moved me.  It’s a beautiful story about a true miracle.

I hope Mariska’s post will inspire and move you as well!

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bipolar mums

Less than a week ago, I underwent eye surgery to remove a cataract I’d had since birth in my right eye.

In the lead up to the surgery, I was completely focused on the risks associated with the surgery: that I’d end up with no sight at all in my right eye or – even worse – that my ‘good’ left eye would be damaged.

Despite there only being a 1% chance of being left blind, this was enough to have me freaked out.  What if I never saw my children or husband again?  What if I had to give up a job I loved to stay at home – blind? What if I had to live in a bleak, dark world for the rest of my life?

I got so caught up worrying about the surgery, that I completely forgot to hope – or pray – for a miracle.  When friends…

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Shaken on Day #1 of Mental Health Awareness Month

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I’m writing this post on May 1, the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month.  The irony does not escape me that yesterday I wrote that I decided I’d take more breaks from bipolar & other mental health-related matters.  I spaced out about May being Mental Health Month!  The bombardment of Mental Health Month announcements that are appearing on my Facebook and Twitter feed won’t let me forget about mood disorders.  Oh well.  This could still be as good a time as any to stick to my plans to detach.

Except “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” as the Scottish poet Robert Burns surmised, don’t they?

The triggering began last night.  I almost missed the top headline that popped up on my local internet provider newspage. The title caught my eye: “Helicopter Crew Spots Missing Woman”  I felt compelled to open the link because I thought there was a chance I might know her.

I was right.

It was someone I knew over a decade ago .  I’ll call her Elana.  Elana was a close friend of my husband’s, and they shared some other mutual friends.  My husband was friends with her husband who I’ll call John.  Elana and John attended our wedding, and they invited us to theirs as well.  Elana was beautiful, accomplished, and driven.  I envied her ambition, her career plans, and her family.

The internet article stated that Elana’s friends said she made comments implying that she intended to hurt herself.  She was located by an aerial search on a beach in “dire need of medical attention”.  Somehow she had driven to that area in an unstable condition for over thirty minutes.  She was attended by medical personnel and taken to a unnamed hospital near that area.

This situation triggers me on certain levels, and not all of these levels are “rational”.  Writing helps me to deal with my unnerved feelings, and if you are reading this, thank you, because it helps me to know that someone out there is reading this too.

The period of time when I knew Elana took place long before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  My job back then as an office assistant was unfulfilling and stressful.  I wasn’t paid very much, plus I had no benefits.  I didn’t know what I really wanted to do with my life.  Moreover, despite the fact I was finally in a healthy, loving relationship, I was still depressed.

I felt insecure and to top things off, I was way too controlling of my husband’s friendships.  I loathe to admit it, but if I can’t be honest in a blog, what’s the point?  I was jealous regarding my husband’s friendship with Elana.  There was absolutely nothing to fear whatsoever.  He made it crystal-clear to me they were just friends, and that he was in love with me.

Before I met Craig, I was in a longterm relationship in which my boyfriend had been “just friends” with a woman and you know the rest of the story…it had a bad ending.  That contributed to my insecurity and my jealousy of my husband’s friendships with any woman.  So, yes, I discouraged Craig’s friendship with this couple.  I’m not proud of it, but that’s what happened.

Then, I became ill with bipolar disorder and Craig spent all his time taking care of me and our children.  He let his close friendships go for good.  Between Craig’s taking care of me during my seven hospitalizations, caring for our two little girls, and working, he was burned out.  He couldn’t foster his friendships.  As I had fallen apart, I couldn’t reach out to anyone on his behalf, and I had let all my friendships fall to the wayside too.

Suffice it to say I’m feeling very unnerved this morning.  As I write this, Elana is in a hospital somewhere, and I hope the unit is a lot better than where I was hospitalized.  T

I told my husband about the article.  He was upset, of course.  I encouraged him to get in touch with Elana’s family and send her a card or anything – preferably while she’s at the hospital.  This is going to sound a little weird, but I think it’s SUPER-important to send someone a card or small gift when they are in a mental hospital or soon after they are released.  I’ve written about that issue at the beginning of this blog.

Even if the patient couldn’t care less at the time, I guarantee you that down the line it will really matter to him or her that you cared about what they were going through.  When one is hospitalized for mental illness, there is still shunning by some family members and friends (yes, there is!) and the patient becomes a pariah.  This happened to me.

Very, very few people reached out to me during my hospitalizations.  Whenever I discover  that someone I’ve known is in the hospital for mental illness, it tears at me.  It just does.  It doesn’t matter that she’s not my friend.  I can relate to her experience all the same.

When I told my husband to please get in touch with Elana or her family, and to do it as soon as he could, he saw I was about to break down and cry. He knew what I was thinking.  It didn’t matter that he hadn’t spoken to her in years.

He said, “Of course I will.”