Worrying Too Much About Other People

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I wish I was the one who took this photo, but I was home bedridden with bipolar depression on this beautiful, sunny day.

 

When I first started writing this blog, I didn’t care that much about who read it and I wrote about all kinds of subjects. I was blogging for myself, first and foremost, and as selfish as that sounds, it felt really good to get my thoughts onto the screen. Hell, it felt good to be writing again after a loooong hiatus due to good, ‘ol bipolar depression! 

As time passed by, I started thinking more about what I was putting out into the world. I began censoring myself because I fretted about offending people. I didn’t write about my benzodiazepine addiction and (after I quit benzos) alcoholism for fear of getting reported to Child Protective Services (C.P.S.). They have a file with my name on it due to my 5150 history, so I’m not being paranoid when it comes to CPS. (My publisher Post Hill Press isn’t concerned with my blog as long I don’t write something egregiously slanderous about them!)

My self-conscious, paranoid self-censorship began sucking the soul out of my writing, and out of me. 

I didn’t want to be a stream-of-consciousness blog where I’d write about anything that crossed my mind, throwing caution to the wind. I wanted a balance of mixing my personal experience and thoughts with more general observations.

But (there’s always that damn “but”!) I kept suppressing myself here more than I wanted to. Today I’ve decided to be more myself in this blog and if someone doesn’t like it, there about twenty billion other blogs to read! 🙂

While there is one close family member who reads Birth of a New Brain, apart from her, I’m not aware of anyone I know IRL who reads it. I’ve tried hard to not write anything that would freak out my close family member. I’ll continue to make that effort, and respect her wishes for privacy.

I think letting loose a bit more here will be the healthiest thing I’ve done in a while.

My husband doesn’t read my blog, although I’ve invited him to do so a few times over the years! He’s just not into my blog or anyone else’s blog, which is good, ha ha – I have a slight jealousy problem. 

Plus, I’m one to talk – I haven’t even read all of his award-winning book Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West yet and he’s not mad!

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(Nor have I attended any of his popular book signings. He’s very different than I am, thank God – he doesn’t hold a grudge against me about my passing on his book talks. I admit that I’d be pissed at him if the situation was reversed.)

Here’s what I’m at today:

My main problems are:

Anxiety/”the other shoe will drop” syndrome, blogged about here, fatigue (may be med side effect), raising two children, marriage (It’s NOT easy and anyone who tells you it’s easy is full of shit), compulsive overeating challenges, and last but not least, not being happy with my book draft, i.e. the writing quality. It’s sucking, but it’s not over until Oct. 1 when I submit the final draft!

My main problems used to be:

Feeling passively suicidal most of the time, feeling acutely suicidal some times, hating life, feeling hopeless, being bedridden, admitting myself to shitty psych hospitals  (7 visits total; I’m still paying for those bills!) 

I’ve come a long way, haven’t I?

But life remains hard and scary. It’s not a my My Little Pony world, let me tell you! My girls love this show so I hear those screeching ponies “sing” a lot.

My Little Pony could easily be redone as a horror movie complete with vampires, goblins and zombies! I bet someone will do it – you read it here first!

My psychiatrist thinks I’m doing well – he even used the “S” word (stable) to describe me during our last few visits. For many years I never thought anyone would call me stable again, so it’s nice to hear him say it.

I have good stuff going on, like these two girls who have seen the best and very worst of me, and they still love me:

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And this adorable Scottish Collie beast. She’s a two-in-one antidepressant/mood stabilizer and she doesn’t make me fat or tired!

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Miss Lucy

Now I’m going to go watch the rest of The Life of the Not So Secret Manic Depressive with Stephen Fry. I was finally able to watch it online for free by using Hola! It’s very good so far. Rachel’s story in particular (and noting  how she interacts with her mom/caregiver) has been a wake-up call. 

When all is said and done, blogging remains a joy, even when I write about the not-so-glossy aspects of life. And I’m going to be doing more of that! 

This afternoon I’m sending you my love, and my hope you have a good night!

Xo

Dyane

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in Fall, 2017.

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Dreams, Toxic “Friends” & Facebook Freedom!

What DreamsWhat Dreams May Come

I love this image so!

The first time I saw the 1998 film What Dreams May Come I didn’t connect with it although it starred some actors I adored including Robin Williams, Annabella Sciorra and Cuba Gooding Jr. Then, many years later, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and my beloved father died.  Those two momentous events were responsible for my change of heart regarding this film. After I gave What Dreams May Come a second chance, I fell head-over-heels in love with the story (which concerns mental illness, death and the afterlife), the acting, and its magical, state-of-the-art “painterly” special effects which won an Academy Award.

It was directed by the acclaimed New Zealander Vincent Ward. Some of you know I have a New Zealand obsession, so I appreciated having him at the helm.

I’ve cried every time I’ve seen What Dreams May Come since my 2nd viewing, and despite its triggering subject matter (depression/mental hospitalization/suicide) the movie gives me hope!

I love the image of a joyful Annabella Sciorra shaking off a crimson cloth in Switzerland. The scene plays a special role in the film, and thinking of it evokes a sense of wild abandon in me…of freedom from life’s worries, i.e.

Freedom from stupid-ass Facebook rejections!

Last Friday I published my post about how I felt being unfriended on Facebook in a very unfriendly fashion. I felt SO good after receiving such great feedback from followers. (Thank you!!!) I let that Facebook incident go for the most part, and I only thought of it a little bit. I carried on. With two young girls, a husband, two hyper Houdini-hamsters, and Miss Lucy the Canine Wonder (and tapering off Seroquel – more on that in my next post) I had enough on my plate…

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. It’s not my favorite day – it feels like a contrived holiday, unlike the best holiday of the year: Halloween. 😉 Through a serendiptous series of events I found out I had been unfriended on Facebook AGAIN!  But instead of the Unfriender living thousands of miles away from me, this time I was unfriended by a neighbor living one mile away. I had always been kind to her, just as I had behaved with the fellow I wrote about last week.  

Long story short: my unfriendly neighbor has clinical depression, trauma, and some deep-seated personality disorders. Her unfriending me had much more to do with her issues than to do with who I was as a person, or with anything I had done. Despite my knowing all that, something in me snapped harder than it did last week.

Once again I thought,

F*CK THIS SH*T!!!!

One can’t get through life without rejection. We all know that. As much as I’ve loved using Facebook, yesterday it was clear it had become a channel for weird, toxic rejection. Two unfriendings in one week, even if they were not bosom buddies, was too much for this ultra-sensitive soul. Plus I have a book I need to focus on completing, which is all the more reason for me take a Facebook vacation. 

Last night I knew what I needed to do. I took a paltry thirty seconds and deactivated my Facebook account. It was a bittersweet moment, but it felt very empowering as well. I’m not sure how long this break will be, but I already feel more free! I have more time to write. It just feels healthy all around.

At least now there’s one less way for me to be triggered by those who don’t want me in their lives. As my seven-year-old girl told me while we played SmashBall last night, “They’re missing out on a opportunity, Mommy! You’re wonderful! I love you!” 

I love that kid.

Here’s the trailer of  What Dreams May Come – I can’t resist including it here after my glowing plug!

I Love You Goodbye

Thomas Dolby singing “I Love You Goodbye” from Astronauts and Heretics,one of my all-time favorite albums.

Yesterday I woke up bright and perky only to find a bummer of a Facebook message in my in-box. It was from someone I had been virtual friends with for the past year. She lives with bipolar disorder, and for months I encouraged her from afar with tweets and Facebook messages, sometimes on a daily basis.  I took time to cheer her up by attaching photos of her favorite rock band U2 that I knew she’d enjoy.  

She messaged me, “As I’m sure you’ve noticed, you’re not on my FB or Twitter anymore. You have done nothing. I tend to take things too personally when I shouldn’t and just cut people off. I am struggling quite a bit right now. I’m just backing off of everything at the moment. I’m not expecting forgiveness or even friendship. I just felt the need to explain.”

First thought: F*ck this!  

Following thoughts: I knew all along she has been mentally unstable. I need to be compassionate and not take one bit of this personally!

I wrote her back a brief message and wished her well. I added that I’d be open for re-connecting in the future. (As I typed that line, a tiny red flag popped up in my people-pleasing brain and I thought, Whhhaaaat? You don’t want to be friends with this person! Ever! But I didn’t delete that line like I should’ve.)

I called a wonderful friend and she was willing to hash it out. She gave me tons of good advice, namely to let the whole thing go and it wasn’t about me. Because of that key conversation I was able to actually stop thinking about it the rest of the day. I thanked my lucky stars for this friend.

This morning half-awake, the aggravating Pisces/uber-sensitive part of me started ruminating about what happened the day before with the unfriending. I realized I DID take her actions personally – I wasn’t a robot, dammit! I had been kind to this person. 

The fact that I woke up upset by this crap is not good for me.  Sometimes we can’t predict another person’s toxic behavior and how it’ll affect us – I know I can’t. After mulling it over, I decided to block her on Facebook and Twitter so in the unlikely event she wants to be in touch again, I don’t get triggered down the line. It may sound selfish, but I would never feel safe with her after this, and let’s face it -s he’s “just” a virtual friend who lives thousands of miles away.  I’ve never even heard her voice.

There’s no happy way to end this post, so I won’t even try. But I’m going to go work out because I know it will make me feel better! 

Xo

Dyane

People Pleaseology 101

images-1 On Saturday I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, feeling tired and anxious.  I opened my blog on my laptop and published my short piece “Enough”.  After checking email, I tore myself away from the computer to make the girls some pancakes.

Later I returned to my blog to read a few wonderful comments about “Enough” that lifted my spirits.  “Hurrah!” I said softly, feeling my yucky outlook shift into something much brighter.

Then I checked Facebook.

I spotted a message from a mom I know named “Shannon”.  I hadn’t seen or communicated with Shannon in many months.  Forgive me for using Facebookeese here, but I was Facebook friends with Shannon in my former account.  I shut that Facebook account down over a year ago when I relapsed with bipolar depression.

Shannon lives near us and she’s a very nice person, but we’ve always been acquaintances, never close friends. Her message requested my Facebook friendship, and she asked me for some health advice regarding a family member.  Shannon added that she thought I had deliberately unfriended her and she wanted to know why I chose to do that.  She wrote that she thought we were “friends” and she was upset.

“Oh shit.” I thought.  I felt terrible that she felt bad, but in my codependent fashion I overly obsessed about it the whole day, giving energy to that issue instead of directing it to my children and myself.

Moreover, the truth of the matter was that I never unfriended Shannon.

After receiving her Facebook message that morning, I immediately wrote her an (overly detailed) explanatory email:

“Hi Shannon, I feel awful that I upset you.  I got sick last spring with a relapse of bipolar depression and I closed my Facebook account.  I was hospitalized for almost a month over the summer.  Months later I decided to open a new Facebook account and I felt it was best to connect with people I had active friendships with… I didn’t mean to hurt you in any way and I’m so sorry.  I appreciate your letting me know how you feel.  Below is some information I hope will help you.  Take care, Dyane”

I took the time to include detailed answers and I provided contact information to assist her.  I can’t just forget about Shannon because I know it’s only a matter of time until we run into one another in our small town.  She took over a day and a half to respond to my message, and wrote:

“Thank you for your email.  It helped.”

That was it.

No “Sorry you were so sick” or any kind of acknowledgement or brief empathic response.  While I realize she must be hurting because her family member is having problems, I feel that no matter what I did to her via Facebook, her curt reply didn’t cut it with me.

The bottom line is I’m mad.  It’s MY fault that I’m mad.  Why, oh why can’t I stop my pattern of feeling lousy when others are upset with me and I haven’t done anything egregiously wrong to them???

The irony of this scenario is that in my poem “Enough” I just published, I asserted:

“Enough of feeling obligated to you even though I don’t owe you anything” and:

“Enough of worrying if others like me – that went out with the 70’s” and:

“Now I’m strong enough to say…Enough”

I was feeling strong enough to say “enough”  when I wrote this poem on Friday, then BOOM!

The next day I’m quivering with my tail between my legs, feeling guilty and weak.

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I need to face the facts: Shannon is not a threat to me; she’s far from being dangerous, and if I run into her at the school, the Farmer’s Market or the library there will be no episodes of mommy rage.

I had hoped that her compassion would have kicked in at least a little when I explained how sick I was, and that she would understand my reasonable point of view about Facebook friendships.  Unfortunately she reacted, in my opinion, from not just a hurt place, but a cold one.  A phrase I often heard growing up came to mind: “I need this like I need a hole in the head”.

As long as I can remember, I’ve always been a people pleaser.  I realize that not everyone is going to like me and/or understand me and my decisions.  So I haven’t learned the people pleaser lesson yet, but with my awareness hopefully I can handle this type of situation better the next time it happens.

Also, last night something very strange happened that I will most definitely blog about in tomorrow’s post  “Almost”.  It was akin to a near-death-experience; not quite, but it was serious and frightening.  The incident made me realize that this stuff with Shannon is ridiculous and I will “let it go”.  (Please don’t kill me for using the Frozen phrase!)

I’ll be sure to discuss my exchange with Shannon with my therapist this week, who will most likely have a different, useful take on it.  I know this post reads more like a diary entry than a blog post, but I like to use this blog in a myriad of ways.  As always, I welcome your comments.  Thank you for reading!

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