The Buck Stops Here

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So, I had someone leave a comment on my blog this past week and I felt it was a bit harsh. It was regarding all of my failed relationships and the writer said that since I was the common denominator, I needed to understand the failings were my fault (it wasn’t put quite this nicely). After thinking about it for a couple of days, I realized there is much truth in that and I have been remiss in focusing on hurt I’ve experienced and not enough on my own personal responsibility.

You know, every relationship is a dynamic entity or system that is more than just the 2 people involved. It’s what Family Systems Theory says: the whole is bigger than the sum of it’s parts. And, the theory also states that what happens to one part affects the others.

If I listed all of the mistakes I’ve made in relationships, we’d be here for a very long time. First and foremost, I know having un-managed bipolar greatly affected the hubbies and had I been brave enough to confront what I knew was wrong, I would probably still be with my son’s dad especially. That was my fault, and because of the lack of treatment, my highs and lows fed into our issues and magnified them. Greatly. I understand that when I would be experiencing a manic state I made decisions that weren’t good for the relationship, and when I was depressed it was hard for him to know how to handle it.

With hubby 3, we started just living in separate worlds. He was in the outlaw motorcycle club he’s a member of and was gone most of the summer and lots of weekends throughout the year while I was at home teaching and taking care of the house. Consequently, we just drifted apart more and more. We both decided that divorce would be best but like I’ve said, he’s probably my very best friend and we talk almost daily. I’ll never not be in his life and vice versa…when his mama was dying and I was visiting her one night, she asked me to always take care of him and I promised I would. I intend to keep that promise.

With J, I made a ton of mistakes. The first time he lied to me, I should have drawn a boundary very quickly with clear consequences should it be crossed again. When he cheated the first time, I took him back too quickly and once again, didn’t create any sort of consequence for him to not to it again. The second (and 3-4th times during that same time period) should have been it. Period. It was my fault for allowing the behavior to continue .

In terms of my son’s dad, we never really argued/fought much. In fact, I was so eager to make sure everything went so smoothly that I ignored issues that should have been addressed immediately. It was on me for that…hubby sometimes wanted to resolve something while I shied away from it. I guess I thought covering up issues would be better in the long run but when things started to get ‘bad’, ALL of these issues came out in a torrent and they were just too much to handle. Not addressing our conflict at all was worse on our marriage than addressing the issues with fights would have been.

I also know I have some issues as they pertain to being sexually abused for 2 years. According to The American Counseling Association: “…sexual abuse has been correlated with higher levels of depression, guilt, shame, self-blame, eating disorders, somatic concerns, anxiety, dissociative patterns, repression, denial, sexual problems, and relationship problems.” Now, let’s see: check check check check.

Abused children become adults with no idea who we are or what we need. All we know is how to make other people happy, while we pretend to be perfect. Abuse turns us into ‘codependent caretakers’. We secretly resent this people-pleasing behavior pattern, but we don’t know how to escape it. According to Svava Brooks (expert on child sexual abuse and author/counselor), people that have been abused become ‘pretzels’ and take the shape of what they think the other person wants. They aren’t themselves…but who they perceive they need to be in a relationship. But even though they believe this to be necessary, they are also resentful of this ‘people pleasing pattern’ but don’t know how to break the cycle.

So, was I genuine in my relationships? Not always…by a long shot. Did I know I was turning myself into what I felt the person needed/wanted? Yep. Did I want to stop it? Yeppers. Did I? No. And, not being genuine and authentic in a relationship means you aren’t living a real relationship…and how can any ingenuine relationship ever survive?

For people that know me, I’m also a fixer. I just love to fix fix fix (hence my awesome toolbox). Hubby 3 and J both had a lot of problems stemming from childhood. Both were abused horribly and grew up not having the attention, love, appropriate discipline, etc. that every child deserves. I believe this led both to being insecurely attached to their parents and I know I was very very conscious of wanting to make this up to them. I wanted to show them all they didn’t have. I didn’t get together with them out of pity…but I did do things because of the sorrow I felt for their early circumstances. I obviously know a partner’s place is not for one person to ‘fix’ the other in situations like this, simply because it doesn’t work. For example, it didn’t matter how good I was to J…how much love I showered on him…how many times I gave him ‘2nd’ chances because I was cognizant of his early experiences…it didn’t fix him. Nothing can make up for lack like that…I know that now.

Being alone for the past year has given me more time to look objectively at these relationships and understand the dynamics and roles I played a bit better. I’m glad of that. I needed that. I also needed to learn that in order to have a ‘real’ relationship, I have to be ‘real’ in it.

Writing this blog opens me up to so much. I know the stigma of being bipolar is huge and just ‘admitting’ I suffer from this mental illness in front of friends, colleagues, and students in such a public way is risky. And scary. It’s also very hard to open up about the relationships I’ve had. It’s humbling to tell all and sundry about this history because of the ‘failures’, but it’s also honest.

I know I’m going to have ‘haters’…everyone online does. I also know I’m going to write things others don’t agree with…but, this is my blog based on my opinions, observations, experiences, etc. It’s not an objective news article. I know I need to let negative comments open my eyes to another perspective or take what is said in consideration.

But I also know that hateful comments hurt me a lot. Being bipolar, I ruminate, personalize, get overly emotional, am ‘extra’ sensitive, etc. so I can’t let things just ‘slide’. I wish to fuck I could.

It’s been a few days since I blogged…school is taking up so much of my time. But I also needed a bit of a break from it as well. I’m evaluating whether I want to continue this blog or not. I want this to be a safe place where I can share, educate, inform, or just maybe make people smile once in a while. It’s a little piece of me I put out there because for the first time in my life, I am being real. Authentic. Genuine. Those of us with mental illnesses often can’t do that, and to be able to is exhilarating. I don’t have his huge wall I’m hiding behind…I’m able to finally be me in this space.

I’m Kristi. I’m bipolar, struggle with anorexia, have lots of highs and lots of lows, mess up more times that I can count every day of my life, and work every minute of every hour of everyday handling this mental illness the best I can. I have good days. I have bad days. But now? At the very least, all of my days are ‘real days’.

Kristi xoxo

If at first you don’t succeed…

Anais Nin

So, I don’t have writers block because I’m always ready to yap about anything but I’ve been going back and forth on what I want to write (I’ve been grading my butt off 😳)…but this is something I’ve been thinking about and I’ll tell you why.

Here’s a question for you: how do you know when you can trust someone? When someone is a ‘good guy’? When you can open your heart again and not worry that it will be crushed? I always tell my students to ‘trust their guts’ because I’m a big believer in our intuition. If something doesn’t feel right…or sound right…or smell right (tossed that in there because I drank some milk that smelled iffy once and greatly regretted that action 🙄), then guess what? It’s probably not right. (Question: am I the only one that when I smell something bad, I want everyone else to smell it too??)

But, what if everything does look and sound and smell OK? How do you know you are beginning something with someone ‘good’? Kind? Real?

Here’s what sucks balls about being thrice divorced (shutty the mouthy 😳) and having my heart crushed by J. I have a hard time trusting my intuition in terms of men. You know, I don’t think my past choices were ‘bad’ per se, but I do think I was sometimes blinded by red flags my gut was pointing out but that I chose to ignore because let’s face it, emotions aren’t logical and hindsight is 20/20.

So, I’ve been talking to a guy I know from high school for about a week now and he currently lives in another state. He’s coming to visit me tomorrow (he’s going to sleep in the basement, ma…don’t worry 😐) and I have so many thoughts going through my head.

In high school, he was a really nice guy and although we didn’t interact much, he was always very kind to me. About a week ago, he commented on one of my FB posts and then messaged me and we have been talking, basically non-stop, for these past several days (he’s got a voice like butter…just sayin’ 🤨). He’s respectful, funny, understanding, sweet, smart, etc. and my gut is telling me “YES”, this might be ‘the’ one. When we first spoke on the phone I was nervous we wouldn’t have enough to talk about (hard to believe, huh?), but the more we talk, the more we realize how similar we are and we always have so much to say.

He’s actually an empath like me (not as strong, but very ‘feely’ 🤨), and when I talk about things, he validates and sympathizes and makes me feel heard and understood. That feels good. He’s a giver…something I haven’t experienced a lot of in a couple of previous relationships, and whenever we interact with one another, I smile. A genuine smile.

What’s the problem then? Well, I’m scared.

I got involved with J right after Hubby 3 and I separated and I know that was WAY too fast. I was crushed that 3 left me like he had and J really comforted me and helped me through that our first couple of months together. But then the ‘devaluation stage’ started and I went from being on a pedastal with J to being on the ground. And that happened very quickly.

I would never be with someone I didn’t see good in…didn’t see potential in…didn’t feel love for. I felt all of those things with J and I’m feeling all of them now. But, the good didn’t last very long with J.

He was lying to me from the very beginning of our relationship regarding his ex-girlfriend and taking his anger of being away from her (I now can understand that was the source of often seemed like having hatred for me) out on me. He also had some anger towards his ex-wife and I was the scapegoat for that as well. The thing is, I didn’t understand this at the time so I kept trying harder and harder in the relationship which actually made him angrier and angrier.

But I believed in J. I truly did. He can be so sweet and funny and kind and he’s extremely intelligent and that’s why I think I gave him so many chances because I had seen the good and knew it was there.

So now with this new guy, could it be the same? Him saying all the right things and acting all the right ways until…later he ‘changes’ into someone else? We actually talk about this (because he’s had his heart broken numerous times as well) and he says he will never lie to me, etc. But, how can I believe that? I’ve been told by hubbies that we’ll be together forever, no matter what. And, well…we all know what happened there 🙄. I was told by J he wasn’t lying to me (and he made me feel ‘crazy’ for thinking so…gaslighting anyone?) and after the cheating during our first year together, he swore that would never happen again either. He also would tell me I would be his ‘last’ since we’d be together…through the good and bad. Hmmmmm.

How can I know it’s different this time? That this guy isn’t lying or pretending or in this for the wrong reason? He’s never given me any reason to distrust him, but losing trust in other relationships where you’ve been betrayed unfortunately carries over to new ones…whether that’s fair or not.

People say this: you have to put those past experiences behind you and just move forward with a fresh start and attitude. Okey Dokey. Roger that. I’ll tell my heart to forget all of the breaks it’s had and pretend they never happened.

And, I also worry about this: what if I do fall for this guy? What if it is ‘the real thing’ for me, but he breaks my heart too? Can I handle another heart break? How many times can your heart break before it can’t be repaired ever again?

So I’m excited about these next couple of days (you’ll love him, ma 😀) and hope that we click in ‘real’ life as much as we do talking and video chatting. He’s certainly not a stranger to me and that helps. I’m going to try to be careful and not just ‘leap in’ like I normally do, and I know I need to take my time with this and really make sure I go in with open eyes. And I guess an open heart too. Maybe risking it just one more time will lead to that special forever I’ve been looking for. 💖

Kristi xoxo

There’s none so blind as he who can’t see.

So, an article came up in a newsfeed the other day and I can honestly say I was more gobsmacked than I’ve ever been in my entire life on this earth (around 40 years or so… 🙄).

First of all, I want to assure you I have not, and will not, ever ever ever be a part of TikTok. I don’t really get the premise outside of people dancing and singing and making videos to share, and the only person I know who actually uses it watches young girls shake their boobs and behiners (he’s my age). I’m sorry…call me crazy (many have 🙄), but I think this is a bit creepy…to say the least.

Anyhoot, there’s something called ‘trauma porn’ and it’s where people either ‘pretend’ to be victims of something or they use their own story in a sensationalized way for attention.

I knew this existed (because I’m just so gosh darn smart) but when I saw this picture, I was speechless.

So in this case, we have these young women pretending to be holocaust victims.  Peeps…please read that sentence again.  These women are pretending to be concentration camp victims and my question is who, in the name of all that is holy, would ever…in a million years…think it’s OK to appropriate this tragedy and use it as a way to get viewers on fucking TikTok? Seriously? I’m speechless (which is quite unnatural for me to be 😳.

As I often do, I’m typing this outside on my laptop (while Eddie and Dottie frolic around…eating poop…and yapping at absolutely nothing) and my beautiful neighbor came out with her dog.  She asked what I was doing and when I told her about this trend and that I was trying to write about it, here’s what she said: “You know, people my generation have never really faced trauma or tragedy anywhere close to the holocaust and how can they even imagine what it would have been like?  How could they ever presume to know that pain?  They’ve been shielded from so much anyway.”

Continue reading “There’s none so blind as he who can’t see.”

Just take a Chill Pill.

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So, yesterday when I wrote my blawg post, I was having a TERRIBLE day. It was ghastly. Dreadful. BUT, today I’m doing a ton better and I’m going to tell you why.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how I’m transitioning from Effexor to Prozac for my bipolar depression and that the Prozac is working great (hallelujah 👼), so I was extremely disconcerted this week when everything started going to hell in a hand basket (is it sacrilegious to use hallelujah and hell in the same sentence? Ought oh… 😳). I didn’t know if my tummy troubles and sweatiness and clamminess were the flu, something I ate or what it was but then something else started happening last night that freaked me out.

In the early evening, I started having ‘shocks’…like little electrical ‘pricky’ (get your minds out of the gutters, peeps 😐) feelings all up and down my arms and legs and it was so freaking bizarre. So, I called my doc today (he really is marvelous…and married…🤨) and we figured out what it was: I had stopped my Effexor completely this week and bam…all of what happened these last couple of days were withdrawals from it. Even though I had tapered off according to plan, some people just can’t stop it even after a 75% reduction or so…and, since I’m just so gosh darned blessed (I really am…I’m being sarcastic here…) I’m one of them! Whoo hoo!

So, he had me take 37.5 mg this morning and I cannot believe the difference. I feel a 1000 times better now and doc and I are going to taper me little by little by little so this doesn’t happen again. It might take months but that’s OK because I don’t want a repeat of that reaction. 😳

And since Wednesday, while I was having all of the physical side effects, I was also very very very very emotional. Very. I bawled more in the past 2 days than I have in a couple of years. Ma and I were talking last night. Wait, let me rephrase this: Ma was talking while I was bawling last night and I knew she was scared. When I told her this morning about yacking to doc and having things figured out, she said this: “It was like you were starting another break-down…that’s how bad you sounded.” I thought that too…not necessarily a break-down, but I knew something was definitely not right. It scared me big time.

I’ve been thinking about psychotropic meds this morning and at first, I was telling ma how scary it is to be so dependent on them and to have your body so affected by them. I hate that. I really do. Knowing that a med is working in your brain is kind of frightening.

But then I thought that all meds for serious conditions can be scary. Diabetics who stop taking their insulin can go into shock. People on beta-blockers and high blood pressure meds can actually die from withdrawal, and those who are on opiods for pain can face serious withdrawal effects too.

There’s always been debate about whether or not psychotropic meds do more good than harm and vice versa. Expert Peter Gotzsche says this: “Given their lack of benefit, I estimate we could stop almost all psychotropic drugs without causing harm – by dropping all antidepressants, ADHD drug and demential drugs…and using only a fraction of the antipsychotics and benzodiazepines we currently use.”

Hmmmm. I do think these drugs are over prescribed. For example, according to a study in CHADD, 4.4% of adults in the U.S. have ADHD. But, I would conservatively estimate that at least 15-20% of my students any given year are on ADHD medications. In terms of antidepressants, about 8% of Americans have diagnosed depression but about 13% are taking antidepressants.

When people tell me things like: “I was given antidepressants once and they didn’t help” I think, “Were you depressed? Clinically depressed to the point you couldn’t function without some kind of intervention?” Hmmm. It’s kind of like antibiotics being prescribed for things other than actual bacterial infections, or too soon after a diagnosis to see if the bacterial infection will clear up on it’s own. But we do live in a culture where if we go to the doc…we want to walk out with something that will make us feel ‘treated’ even if the treatment isn’t necessary.

I believe there are too many people on psychotropic meds…I know so many who have said they went to their doc and talked about being stressed and worried and bam…they had a prescription with little to no follow up and no psychological counseling to complete the treatment. That’s just not right.

Yesterday showed me how powerful these drugs work in my mind and how easily ‘messing’ with them can have pretty shitty consequences. But I also know this: I have bipolar…of that there no doubt. I need the 2 meds I’m on because I’ve lived without them and believe me, that didn’t always go well. I know I have brain chemistry that differs from you ‘normal’ 😳 folks and my meds help to regulate that. I also know there will always be people that look down on those of us who do need to take these without understanding the ‘why’ behind them being prescribed. But, I also know this…I’m so freaking grateful to have meds available to me that allow me to live my life with very little of my illness holding me back. Truly.

Kristi xoxo

“What becomes of the broken-hearted?” ~ Jimmy Ruffin

So, the tagline of this blawg is “just being me in this bipolar life” and that’s what I need to do right now. Just be me.

See, I have a great post I’ve been working on for a couple of days almost ready to go and was going to finish it this afternoon. Instead, I feel like crud, I’m having a super shitty day, and I guess just need to talk. I hope that’s OK.

I felt pretty super until yesterday at lunch…I don’t know what I ate (and no, I haven’t been experimenting in the kitchen, ma 🙄) but it may have been some bagged salad. It tasted a little ‘off’ but not so much to stop me from shoving it down my gullet. See, I knew eating healthy would eventually backfire. So, from then until now (24+ hours later) I still feel like crap and my bathroom has been busier than usual. Charmed, I’m sure.

Anyhoot, it’s no biggie…just some ickiness, a bit of clamminess, and that general feeling of blah, but it’s my mood that’s taking a toll on me today. I think that started early this morning when I woke up from a pretty bad nightmare. It always sounds so freaking stupid when people try to explain their dreams to you because first, it bores the shit out of you and second, they never sound that bad in the light of day. This one was a doozie though…it involved black snakes laying on my bed and ma’s ex husband (that fucking bastard 😡) being the only one who could kill them for me. Hello…calling Dr. Freud. I don’t know what Siggy would make of that (however, I can guess) but I know it was really bad at the time and I was quite shook up.

So, after getting up and visiting the bathroom (yet again 😳), I finally fell back to sleep and I’ll be damned, I had another nightmare. This one was troubling as well. Thankfully there were no snakes (yes, I’m absolutely petrified 🐍) and no R (fucking bastard 😡), but instead it was all about J which is weird because it’s been almost a year now since I’ve seen him.

The whole premise was me being hunted by someone and J was the only person that could help me stay hidden away and safe. Except he didn’t. I was trying to hide myself in this area of a town that was out of the way, and I tried and tried to get him to help me do this, and he’d keep disappearing for days and days while I was trying to stay out of danger. Then, he’d come by where ever I was hiding, and instead of bringing me food or water or whatever else I needed, he would just drive away in his car and pay me no mind.

I guess I don’t need the good doc for this one…it’s a pretty easy one to figure out. But for some reason, it brought up a lot of stuff that I know I need to put to rest. And Lord knows I’m trying.

I hate that I still care so much about him, when he hasn’t spoken a word to me since the day I caught him. I know I shouldn’t, and I know it pains my ma and sis that I still have this hurt in my heart. But I do. I’m not the type of person who can say “Done…NEXT!” I wish I could. I don’t know if this is a curse or a blessing because I suppose you could argue either side, but when I love, I love so hard. So so hard. And to be honest, it’s very hard for me to understand when people don’t do the same.

The first year we were together was hellish to say the least. He was lying to me about his ex-partner and making me feel I was ‘crazy’ (not hard to do, huh? 🙄) when I would question him. His PTSD was not under control and he took a lot of things out on me that I didn’t deserve. But even though it wasn’t OK, it was “OK” to me because when you love someone (to me), you love them through the good and bad. Unfortunately, it was mostly bad. A year after we started seeing each other is when he finally cheated multiple times on me. I know there are a lot of you out there that can relate to this, and I’m so sorry you do because it’s one of the worst feelings in the world. Also, I’m older and him doing this made me feel so horribly unsure about myself.

In between cheating, he would tell me it was over…he loved me. Only me. I was the one he wanted. Then, he’d be with her the next day. Literally. Now, I’ve had my heart broken before…numerous times 🙄. But J shattered it with this behavior…something I’d never experienced with another man before. Couple this with everything else going on that summer and that’s when my breakdown occurred. NO…the breakdown wasn’t his fault…but his behavior didn’t help and his cheating had further consequences I don’t talk about.

Anyhoot, a couple of months after not seeing each other, we got back together and things were so much better. He really did try and I could see that. It wasn’t perfect…not by a long shot…but I felt better with him than I had and it seemed he was feeling the same.

But, I was angry. Very angry. And I had a right to be. Sometimes I could push that to the side, and sometimes it came out with a vengeance. But regardless, I knew I needed to work through him cheating so blatantly and I tried very hard to do it. We had great times during the next 2 years…vacationing in Tampa (and getting to hug a penguin!), being with his kids and feeling like a little family, getting him set up in his apartment so his kids could stay with him and have their own room and all (I loved helping him decorate and get things nice), fixing dinners together, pulling the carpet off my floor and cracking up while trying to roll it up, taking Eddie to the dog park, watching the stupidest horror movies we could find, snuggling on the couch…basically, just doing the best we could.

Last summer, I really took a step back from him though. I needed too. I needed to resolve the anger that was still in my heart and also get strong enough to realize I would be fine if something happened to us. I needed that reassurance. Of course, that didn’t sit well with him and I can understand that. But I also understand that some people never try to forgive, or work to forgive, infidelity, so I thought I was ahead of the game. Apparently, I wasn’t.

Finally, last October we had a pretty bad argument and I was being really rough on him because I was worried about his son and wanted so bad for J to get him the help I felt he needed. This wasn’t well received and that was it. He was done. I caught him just a couple days later after being ghosted, and later he messaged me saying I was a day late. One day.

See, when I went to see him that Saturday, I had realized something during the couple of days we hadn’t spoken…that I had a choice I could make: I could forgive him for cheating, let go of the anger I knew was hurting the both of us, and move forward with him as a team. But, when I went to tell him this, well…you know what happened.

By saying I was a day late makes me feel like if I had forgiven him just a tad earlier, we’d still be together. Remember how those of us with bipolar ruminate, personalize, over-react, etc. I know in my brain this isn’t right…he had to have known this gal for a while…but there’s still this whisper that says I could have saved this.

I know…I know…it’s not right. I truly do understand that. He deserved anger and tears and recriminations after what he had done…and I wasn’t some shrew constantly berating him. In fact, I doubt most women would have given him a second chance, let alone the numerous ones I allowed him.

So why did I do it? Give him so many chances? Well, love I guess. Sometimes I think I’m an anomaly in that I can’t turn love on and off easily. I just can’t. Never have been able too. I ‘expect’ people who love me to love me through my good and bad, but only because I’m willing to do the same for them. It’s only fair. I also pray a lot, and every night I say “The Lord’s Prayer”. When I say “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…” I feel I need to take this seriously. So I try.

Maybe it’s because the ‘anniversary’ of what happened is approaching that I’m thinking about this. Maybe it’s because I’ve been single now for a while and am starting to feel lonely. Maybe it’s just because he’s not completely out of my heart yet. People have said to me: “You need to forget him…get him out of your mind…throw him away!” but I’ve been thrown away (by him ironically as well as 3 other hubbies 🙄) and I can’t do that to others.

Maybe that’s the problem. Feeling like I was thrown away after all the work and effort and forgiveness and love and patience and kindness I tried to give him for the 3 years we were together. He came from a horrible home…I wanted to make his life better…show him that there are loving people out there that really care. I wanted to make up for what he hadn’t had all his life. Yes. I’m a fixer. No. It’s not necessarily healthy, but it’s who I am. At least I can recognize it, but not acting on it is really really tough for me.

I was actually going to write a letter to him on here…you know, like I’ve done for others. It was going to be my ‘goodbye’ letter that cut those remaining threads that I have (I know he has long since moved on). But I can’t do that. Not yet. I’m just not ready. Sometimes I think he’ll see the error of his ways and call me or message me and tell me how much he still loves and needs me. Other times I get ‘real’ and understand this will never happen (IF it ever did, I’d buy a fucking lottery ticket immediately). That’s the shittiest thing about relationships: it takes 2 to make it work and 1 to make it end. Go figure.

I know I’m having a bad day and that the nightmare I had, and time of year it is, brought up some feelings I just haven’t put to rest yet. I’ve come so far in a year and am so proud of all I’ve done and accomplished. But I’m also lonely. I want someone to snuggle with. Someone to laugh with and cry with and share my plants with and talk to and feel like I’m not quite as alone in this world like I’ve been feeling. My ma is fucking wonderful and I don’t know (truly) what I’d do without her, but she also has her own life…lots of friends and social stuff and things to do every week. My sissy has a great husband and grandkids and friends and I envy her that…but in a good way…she deserves it. My sonshine is building a life with his girlfriend and throwing himself into his career…and he should be doing that (have I ever mentioned to you all how freaking proud I am of him?)! But then there’s me. The cheese stands alone. 🧀

I’ll feel better tomorrow. I’ve gotten a lot of tears out and my poor neighbor had to come over and help me un-stick a shelf from my doorway (don’t ask ) and as I was bawling to him about all kinds of stuff (when you feel shitty about one thing, others always follow) he assured me that ‘this too shall pass.’ And he’s right. It will. But right now? My heart hurts. Aches. And I’m feeling pretty durn down from being thrown away yet again in my life. I’ve never…ever…had a guy (actually, a hubby 🙄) leave me and then come back with regrets. Never. Maybe I’m just that forgettable. I hope not.

Kristi xoxo

“And she’s dancing like she’s never danced before.” ~ Flashdance

So, I’ve talked a lot in this blawg about depression but not much about mania. I actually think this is harder to understand because not as many people have experienced it. The National Institute of Health found estimates to range from .08% to 1.6% for people who experience a manic episode in their lives. That’s not many, peeps. So why am I talking about this now? Well…because that’s what I’ve been experiencing for the past couple of weeks and I gotta say that it sucks. Big time.

See, about a month or so ago, my doc helped me taper off of lamotrigine because the side effects were really bothering me. One was muscle weakness and everyday felt like the day after a bad flu. You know, that weakish, blech feeling where trudging around your living room is tiring. And as someone who likes to run and workout (because it helps me so much with the depression 😐), this was horrible! Prior to starting lamotrigine, I was running 4-5 miles a day…after I got on it, I could barely do a half mile.

Then there were also a couple other effects that I just can’t abide because of what I do: professoring (and no, before you ask I was not an English major 🙄). I was espeically struggling with some memory issues and I was having trouble finding the right words and them getting them out…speaking problems are a side effect and it was scary to me that I couldn’t ‘talk right’. Finally, my concentration was being affected. Soooooo…bye bye, lamotrigine.

I also tapered off of my anti-depressant (which really wasn’t the best one for bipolar) and am now on prozac which I would marry if I could. (SIDE NOTE: the other day, ma and I were yacking to a man who was at least 1000 years old. After he left, ma actually said this sentence to me: “Kristi…I wonder if he’s single for you?” What the fuck (really, ma…you kinda deserve this one)? I said: “Ma. For piss sakes. That man was born during the Civil War (bless his heart, he was a doll…but…), can barely walk, talk or eat without assistance, and the chance of him being able to be naughty is a billion to one. So….no.” God I love that woman for trying though😍).

Anyhoot, getting off a mood stabilizer and then stopping one anti-depressant and beginning another triggered a manic episode. Yea.

So many people have said to me that they wished they could be manic so they could get stuff done. But you know, let’s be honest here…that’s like saying “I wish I could be depressed so I could get some rest.” It’s just the other end of the spectrum and even though it’s a ‘high’, that doesn’t mean it’s good.

I haven’t slept more than 4-5 hours a night for these past 3 weeks or so and it’s not that I’m not tired because I’m actually pretty freaking exhausted (after you hear all that is buzzing around in my head, you’ll understand this 😳). But, when you’re manic, nothing turns off so I lay in bed with my mind literally going so fast I can’t even keep track of my thoughts. Even now, typing this, I’m thinking of a 100 different things…here goes my head at this very moment: making some lists by scribbling keywords in my notebook, worrying about getting some work done, wanting to deliver something to ma’s, wanting to create some interactive homepages for my classes (one of them is up for my Theories of Personality class and it rocks!), looking at Eddie and wanting to walk him since it’s not quite as hot today as it has been, seeing that my backyard needs weed-n-feed, remembering I have someone coming over to buy a bike and I want to get it looking good for them, knowing I just re-potted 2 new monstera deliciosas I bought (AAAAGGGGGHHHHH…these made me sosososososo happy to get!) and I need to get them in place with the right amount of light, having to put together a piece of furniture that I got and then having to call FedEx because they lost another one (my desk I really need), wanting to start 2 other posts with ideas I just came up with typing this, getting my dishes done, needing to sand a wall I puttied because I borrowed my neighbors sander and don’t want to keep it too long, knowing I have some stinky towels hanging up outside that need laundered, wanting to vacuum, needing to pack up some books to take to the Salvation Army, now wanting to go out and buy my own sander, and wanting to run back to Lowe’s (where I’ve already been) and get a plant for my daughter. That’s it. All that’s in my head now. And in bed? Just multiply these thoughts by 100. Peeps, it’s fucking overwhelming.

My notebook…this is how I write when I’m manic!

How would I illustrate this? Hmmm. You know when cars accelerate and you can see the wheels start to turn…then after they get going fast, it almost doesn’t look like they are spinning at all? That’s close.

Yes, it’s ‘nice’ to have the energy to get things done as opposed to not wanting to do anything at all but it’s a ‘frenetic’ energy where you are so frazzled, you are moving from one thing to the other to the other and thinking more and more as you do this. I can’t even take the time to write everything down…that takes too long!

But here’s the thing. People try to help me navigate through all of this when I’m manic, but nothing ‘helps’. When you’re depressed, people might say “You need to get up and get moving around…that will help.” Or, “Remember how lucky you are compared to others!” Or, “Everyone feels down…you just have to snap out of it and stop moping.” Now, for my peeps with depression or who have experienced a depressive episode, did any of these statements,or others you might have heard, help? Nope.

Ditto with mania. My sweet ole ma is worried about me and last night told me that I just had to calm down and call the doc and have him do something. But he can’t. There’s nothing to do. This is part of the freaking mental illness I have and it’s going to happen. I can’t calm down…but the thing is, I wish to hell I could. I can’t just take a deep breath…slow down…take a nap…etc. Just like when I’m depressed, I can’t force myself to ‘cheer up.’

I think my depression is a little easier for ma to handle. She hates when I’m down, but I’m not as much “out there” in terms of the bipolar. But with mania? You KNOW there’s something going on. My sweetie past student and I were yapping on the phone today and she was so so so confused because I was trying to tell her so much so fast! With mania, I’m so much more talkative, loud, emotionally demonstrative, ‘fast’ in everything I do (I’m like a kid when I’m manic in that I don’t want to take the time to pee…it’s too much of a break from what I’m doing 😲), so wired up and anxious, so distractible (this is coming up as misspelled but isn’t distractible a word?? 😳).

The upside? My house has never looked better because I’ve done so much to it. I also have so so so many ideas for art projects I want to do, as well as ideas for how I want to paint my living room! I’ve organized and organized and you could eat off my floors (why do people say that? I’ve never eaten off a floor and hope to heaven I never do 😐). I also am doing more and more things in my classes and from the feedback I’m getting, my sweetie pie students are liking it! (I’m so so so blessed to have these sweeties in my life…I miss them so much since we aren’t on-campus 😥). In fact, being manic and living alone while socially distancing from people is hard!

Anyhoot, that’s mania for you and understanding it is just as important as understanding depression. It’s also important for people to realize that mania is no different from depression in that you can’t help it. I know how hard that is to get for those that have never experienced it. But please don’t tell us to ‘calm it down’ or ‘just stop it’. Those of us who experience mania would give most anything to be able to do that. Just let us talk and do and plan, but keep an eye on us…that’s what we really need. We might want to spend too much or do something that’s not a great idea, so help us out with that if you can.

I know my mania cycle is probably going to be here for a time but I’m handling it fairly well. Ma, sis, and son are letting me yack at them and vent to them and let me tell me all the stuff I’ve done. That’s what I need. Just people there for me as I experience the other end of the spectrum that bipolar is all about. Maybe that’s the key for all of us with mental illnesses or disorders: having people there to support us and hold our hand through whatever pitfalls we have to traverse. And I’m lucky I have that…not just with my fam, but with all of you who support me every time you read this. Thank you.

And by the way, if you have any roofing, painting, sanding, building, arting, crafting, plant buying, potting, hugging, or anything else you need, holler at me. Lord knows I have the energy to ‘git er done’ for you. 😉

Kristi xoxo

“I think, I think too much” ~ Florence + the Machine

So, my gramma used to worry about everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. I used to say this about her: “If gramma didn’t have anything to worry about, she’d worry about not having anything to worry about.” Well, come to find out, I worry and stress a whole bunch too, and often about little things that I’m finally learning just don’t mean a whole lot in the long run.

Of course, I do have an excuse (in other words, I’m ‘entitled’ to worry 😲) because as a YOUNG woman (shutty the mouthies, peeps) with bipolar, I also deal with anxiety. And, according to a 2012 study, around 60% of people with bipolar will deal with an anxiety disorder in their life. BTW, here’s my new tagline: “Bipolar…the mental illness that keeps on giving.” Blech. Anyhoot, along with the rumination, personalization, and sensitivity of bipolar, is it no wonder that I’m a worrier?

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been working hard on my house and I love doing it! I have my own toolbox now and have fun rummaging around in it (yes, I have to put stickers on everything I own…a quirk from childhood when I was just a small sprig that has continued into my 40’s (once again, shutty 🙄). I’ve learned to putty, sand, paint (properly!), replace electrical outlets, install simple flooring, put together furniture, drill, hammer (correctly…using the shoulder and not the wrist), etc. I just finished my home office up this week and can’t wait for my new office furniture to be delivered so I can ‘git ‘er done.’

I’m ‘crazy’ (go figure) about this color!

My neighbor, M, has been a complete doll throughout this process. Bless his heart…he’s loaned me drill bits and his electric sander, helped me move furniture upteen times, and has given me permission to buy a bunch of new stuff because when I’m feeling guilty about spending money, I’ll call him and say: “M…should I buy this?” And he says: “Why not?!” Why not, indeed. 😃

So a couple of days ago, I bought some new shelves and proceeded to take out the old shelves on my living room wall (which left 12 holes where anchors and screws had been) and then drill 12 new holes for anchors and screws. I got the new shelves up, stepped back, and absolutely hated them. I took those down and now had 24 holes in my wall. 24. I looked at my holey wall and just started sobbing. All I could see was the work I had done trying to make that fucking wall (ooooops…sorry, ma 🙄) look good and now it looked like swiss cheese.

My wall of holes while I’m puttying them. Blech.

I called M and told him all of this between gasps, sobs, and gulps of air. I am a horrible crier: When I cry…I cry. No little tears streaming down my cheeks that make me look vulnerable and tragically beautiful. Nope…I get spigots turned on, a red blotchy face, nose gunk running down my lip, all while my mascara glops up making me look like a raccoon. Very attractive. Anyhoot, after M was able to decipher my sobbing ramble here’s what he said: “You can putty them. It doesn’t matter. This is fixable.”

And, he was right (please don’t tell him that…I don’t want him to think he set a precedent or anything). It was fixable. But at that moment, it was overwhelming. I stressed over those holes…worried about those holes…and wanted them perfect NOW. So, I worked until midnight and got the wall fixed up. And…well…that was it. It was a wall again. Whoopee. Now, when I walk by it, I think “Why did that bother me so much?”

I guess I do have a couple of valid reasons: bipolar making me blow things out of proportion no matter how hard I try to reign it in, and the fact that I’ve tried to be perfect and do perfect all of my life, probably to make up for the imperfectness that I have so much of.

But I’m ashamed at my reaction because when I think about all of the things actually worth worrying about, seeing a wall with holes in it is pretty small stuff.

Like, I remember the night my dad left our family home and how it was the first time I’d ever seen him cry. I remember feeling like ma, T and I weren’t enough for him to stay with us and that his new life with my step-mom was going to be so much better than what we had to offer.

I remember being bullied and the first time I realized that losing weight lessened it to the point where I lost 30 pounds in about a month, and in the process developed anorexia.

I remember the panic and fear of seeing the psychologist that sexually abused me every week, but also remember the feeling that I had to see him because I needed him so badly and how utterly confusing this was to me.

I remember when my ma was being beaten by her 2nd husband (that fucking bastard…and ma doesn’t mind me saying it in regards to him…she even has. You go girl!) and my sis and I worried, often, that he would kill her. I remember seeing black eyes, bruised cheeks, bruises and scratches on her neck/legs/arms, and the time in the hospital where he had beaten her so badly she was throwing up blood and her back was completely black.

I remember the last time I saw my gramma who had ovarian cancer and seeing her looking so weak and small…understanding it might be the last time I’d ever be with her in this life.

I remember when O was a little fella in his crib and I went in one night to check on him because he hadn’t gotten me up yet for a drink or diaper change. When I picked him up, he was turning blue and I was petrified. Hubby and I raced him to the ER in about 4 minutes and he was having a severe bout of asthma (which we didn’t even know he had) and was in an oxygen tent for a couple of days.

I remember when ma asked me out to lunch one day in October of 1998 and as we were eating our chips and salsa said this: “I found a lump in my breast.”

I remember O’s dad telling me I needed to leave our home and feeling like I was punched in the gut all while having no place to go to and fearing that I was losing my little family forever.

I remember sitting in Perkins with J and him holding my hands and telling me he would never ever cheat on me ever again, and then having him be with her the next day.

I remember waking up to threatening messages from a student who said he wanted to rape me and make me into a lampshade. When I was blamed for this, I remember feeling the greatest loss of optimism I’ve ever experienced when I learned that bad things happen to good people and there’s nothing you can do.

And then? I also think about the actual worries/stresses/issue that others have: I can’t imagine not knowing if I was going to be able to stay in a home another month. Or how it feels to see your kids hungry and not be able to feed them. I can’t fathom the stress of having a sick child but no insurance to get them the care they need, or losing your job because you have to care for that child. I am blessed to never know what it’s like to live in a neighborhood where you have to fear for your safety or work in a factory where you could lose fingers, arms, or a leg with just one mishap. I’ve never known what “You have cancer” feels like personally or be told that I have a certain amount of time left on this earth.

I’m ashamed for worrying about holes in a wall when the homeless people in our country would give anything to have 4 walls and a roof. It humbles me to think there are people that can’t read this because they never were given the chance of an education.

But you know what this has taught me? That I need to consciously work on making sure I see things for what they are. Inconveniences. Chores. Eye sores. There’s a hole in my wall…so what? Big fucking deal (I had to get one more in, ma…just ’cause 😏). My family loves me. My paint got smudged on the ceiling? Big deal. I can choose to eat whatever I want from my own stocked kitchen. Edward had a poop accident on my rug? OK. I’ll clean it up and continue to be thankful I have my best friend by my side.

I think we all need to know what a bad day, issue, or problem really is and what it’s not. I think we all need to look at our perspectives. Look around at the bigger picture. I guess we just need to be thankful that so often, our problems are just holes that can be patched up and then forgotten…and spend our energy on the things that really do need our focus and care.

Kristi xoxo

“Entitlement is the biggest enemy to our society.” ~ Jason Hartman

So, I was in the Dollar Tree yesterday grabbing some stuff when a couple and their friend walked in without masks on (she also wasn’t wearing a bra and should have been, but I digress 🙄) even though there is a flyer on the front door of the store stating that you HAVE to have a mask on to enter…but ce la vie. These people walked around the store, coughing and hacking (probably not COVID but still…ick…) and then stood about a foot from us masked folks in line and in the aisles. I could see that the cashier, who was the only employee around, was upset but I think she was scared to say anything and I didn’t want to open my big mouth because I knew whatever I said would entail a lot of cussing. Anyhoot, after leaving I started to think about why there is such an air of entitlement among people nowadays…why so many people think they deserve special treatment or don’t need to follow the rules like everyone else, etc. Hmmmmm. (P.S. I love the Dollar Tree and Dollar General…in fact, to sound cool I say “The Tree” or “The General”…it makes ma roll her eyes every time 🙄).

I know we think of entitlement as something that those ‘young whipper snappers’ have, but I think our entire country has embraced this. Young or old, there are people who feel they are above the fray which should automatically give them more advantages. Why?

I’ve been selling a bunch of stuff on FB Marketplace lately…trying to clean out some things and get my junk organized. Anyhoot, I have a really nice roadbike for sale at about $300 LESS than it can be found anywhere else. I paid a couple thousand for it when I bought it, and it’s still in super shape. I can’t tell you how many people offer me $50 for it when I’m asking $400. Fifty bucks? Really? For a LeMond roadbike? One guy said he’d give me $50 and when I said no, he asked why. I told him that was way way way too low and I was already offering a great deal, and he proceeded to tell me I was stingy. Okey dokey. 🤔

Then, a gal has been messaging me about some snow globes I’m selling for, once again, very reasonable prices. When she told me she couldn’t afford what I was asking, I told her to name what she would like to pay. Her answer? Nothing. Heh? When I told her I wasn’t going to do that, she said this: “But I really want them.” So? I really want to marry a rich prince but guess what…probably not going to happen.

Lori Laughlin was just sentenced to 2 months in prison for the college admissions scandal; now, her career is over and her reputation is down the drain just because USC was the only college good enough for her darling girls (🙄). She lied and bribed to get them admitted and scammed the the university in the process. Why? A university that the girls actually had the grades for wasn’t good enough? Are they so ‘entitled’ to get into the school they WANT just because ma was on TV? Really?

In fact, why is it we put such stock in celebrities anyway? Look peeps, their job is to make movies or sing on stages…both of which I would do for free…and they get paid millions and millions of dollars for the privilege. Yes, there is real talent out there and yes, I like the entertainment too. But, just because we see them in mags and on screens does not make them ‘better’ people. I’m sorry but they aren’t saving lives or making a contribution to our world we couldn’t have lived without, but by golly, they deserve more than the average Joe…right?

During the lock-down in March, Jennifer Lopez went to a closed gym to workout when no one else was allowed too. Why? Is it that she’s better than ‘us’ so gyms should re-open just for her? Why should she stay home and work out like us common folk? Don’t tell me she can’t afford a mini-trampoline in her flat for piss sakes 😳.

And then all of the stuff about Ellen? There are so many stories that are telling us she certainly isn’t what she portrays herself to be (kind) and for her to tell people they aren’t allowed to ‘look her in the eye’ is asinine to me. Who, on planet earth, is so special that they can’t be looked at in the eye by us regular guys? You are that extraordinary? Really? You talk for a living. OK?

Then there are other stories as well: Justin Beiber (blech…) spitting on fans, Chevy Chase (who?) slapping a fan, and Adam Levine telling a fan that he doesn’t give autographs to ugly chicks. What the fuck (sorry, ma) but who the hell are these people to think they are allowed to act this way? As my grampa would have said: “Their poop stinks too.” 💩

And yes, we can see this in everyday life as well. I love my sweetie students so much, but I have come across some entitled requests in my career: “I didn’t know I had to take the test too…I’m the best student in the class.” “No, I didn’t go through all the class info…I didn’t know I needed too.” “What? A ‘D’! I’ve never gotten a ‘D’ before. You need to re-grade this!” What? Yes, you have to take the test like everyone else. Yes, you need to read all the info I give you. And no, I don’t need to ‘re-grade’ anything. You turn in ‘D’ work, you get a ‘D’ grade…pretty simple, huh?

Or what about the assholes who park in handicapped spaces? Yes, me of all people know that many ailments aren’t easily seen…I get that. However, when you see someone running out of CVS holding a couple of cases of beer with no sticker on their car indicating they have permission to park in the designated slots, then yes, I call entitlement. Or, the boobs who park right outside the doors so they can run in more easily and grab their National Enquirer. Gotta have that. 🙄

I like the people who can’t wait in line. Look, if it’s such a freaking catastrophe to wait a few minutes so you can buy your BigMac, perhaps we need to reconsider eating out. I was at Kohl’s the other day and a gal was ahead of me in line bitching to her friend about how “…this is so ridiculous…I can’t believe I have to wait in line like this.” What? Didn’t know you were the queen of Sheba who deserved to be moved to the front, pronto. Or people will say this about a line or wait: “Why does this crap always happen to me?” Well…why not? And by the way, if waiting in line is the worst thing you are dealing with that day, count yourself lucky.

What really pulls my chain are the people who are rude to waitstaff and other service employees. I think EVERYONE should work in the service industry for a year to see how hard the work is and how repugnant customers’ feelings of entitlement are. “Yes, I have 8 tables that all have hot food that needs to be brought out, but let me grab that extra lemon wedge for you since drinking your tea with only one is out of the question right now. And of course, I’m non-human so I won’t hear you bitching under your breath about these idiots who wait tables.” Or you’re in line at a fast food joint and a new trainee gets another customer’s order wrong or asks them to repeat something, and the person goes off to their friend, in the employee’s earshot, that it’s unfortunate that stupid people exist (yes, I really heard this one day…I wanted to punch this guy in the face but refrained which shows just how much self-control I really have 😲.)

I was at Wal-Mart the other day returning some light bulbs (don’t ask) and this gal ahead of me went off on the worker who wouldn’t take back a crock pot that had obviously been used for months and was still dirty from the last stew. The woman wanted to know why she couldn’t get a refund since it was in perfect shape. Well hells bells…just ‘buy’ stuff, use it until you’re done with it, and return it for your money back. As the church lady on SNL would say: “How convenient.”

In my town, we have ‘celebrities’ (for the love of all that is holy, this simply means they are on the city council or have a ‘job’ that pays more than other jobs…no one outside the city limits cares. In fact, I’d be surprised if 5% of the entire U.S. population could even show you my city on a map 😐). But, these people are treated differently…more reverentially by so many. Why? I have no clue and I hate to break it to them, but they aren’t better than anyone else. I used to teach with someone who graduated from a prestigious university and would drop the name of it often in conversation. Well, get over yourself…you’re teaching at a mid-western community college like the rest of us here. Sheesh. 🙄

Entitlement really comes down to thinking someone is ‘more’ special and deserving and…well…better…than someone else. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, grasshoppers: It’s not true.

Look, I’m a big believer that all people are born the same in terms of human value, but not in terms of societal recognition. We all come into the world naked and crying and pooping and peeing and burping and barfing and farting. All of us. God doesn’t put a stamp on our behiners saying this is a BETTER person…this is a GOOD person…this is an OK person. We are simply humans who are going to be put on paths that greatly affect how we are seen and treated…and how we behave. Having a larger bank account or better job title or an ability to sing (like I have) doesn’t make someone superior to anyone else. It makes them blessed and I think humbleness needs to be their prevailing attitude…not entitlement.

Even though I worked my booty off for it, I also know I’m so lucky to be a professor. I grew up in a home that had books and trips and good schools. I had a family that provided financial resources above what I was capable of doing myself that allowed me to go to university. I have a support system that has always been there for me and encouraging me in whatever I undertake. Yes, I worked hard, but I was also lucky to have the advantages that so many others don’t have. I’m not better because I’m a professor and not working at a minimum wage job…I’m blessed…and I try to remember that every single day.

No one is better than anyone else when it comes to our humanity. No one deserves special treatment because of what they do. No one should use their positions of authority to ‘cut in line’ so to speak. No one should look down on another. You know, I had someone tell me this the other day: “I couldn’t stand to be mentally ill like you. I just don’t know what my family or friends would think of me then.” What? Heh? Really? Well my dear, I don’t give a crapola what anyone thinks of me being mentally ill. I didn’t ask to be bipolar for fuck sakes. It doesn’t make me less of a person (although I get treated by some as if I am). And if someone looks down on me for it, that’s their sad issue, not mine. I don’t deserve lesser treatment and I certainly don’t deserve better treatment because of it…I deserve to be treated like ‘everyone else’. We all do.

Kristi xoxo

Romancing the Stone

So, I don’t even know how to start this post except by saying WHAT THE HELL? Now, if that’s not a great first sentence to pull you in, I don’t know what is.

Did you know, my sweet peeps, that it is now ‘cool’ and ‘trendy’ to be mentally ill? OK. I’m going to pause a minute to let you take that in………la dee dah……la dee dah…..(pretend this is Jeopardy music 🎵). Yes my dears, it’s ‘in’ to be mentally ill. In fact, it’s become something that is not only sensationalized, but romanticized in so many ways in our society right now, particularly on social media.

It’s sad to me that to belong, too many younger people are now embracing the idea that they themselves have some type of mental disorder. Depression, anxiety, bipolar (🙄), a personality disorder, etc. These disorders have become ‘tragically beautiful’ or, at the very least, trivialize what mental illness really is. Regardless, mental illnesses are being sensationalized for attention and grasshoppers, that’s not right.

Look on Twitter…there’s this hashtag: #IGetDepressedWhen and here’s a couple of goodies – “I get depressed when my battery low” , or “I get depressed when I know summers almost over”, or “I get depressed when there’s no bacon for lunch.” Hmmmmm. I gotta be honest here. I’ve been struggling with depression as part of being bipolar for the great majority of my 40 years on earth (heh? OK, 50?), and I can honestly say, without reservation, that I’ve never ever been thrown into a depressive episode because I’m having a PBJ for lunch instead of bacon. Never.

Here’s a ‘quote’ I found: “She can paint a pretty picture but the story has a twist. Her paintbrush is a razor and her canvas is a wrist.” (Seriously…are you kidding me?) And another: “I think suicidal people are just angels who want to go home.” One more: “I’m jealous of people with enough self-control to be anorexic.” What the hell??? 😡

Let’s give these folks the reality of mental illness. Suicide is not a Shakespearean tragedy where the person was gracefully lifted from their pain while looking beautiful in their peaceful death. Not by a fucking (sorry, ma) long shot. Suicide is guns or pills or razors or ropes and it’s bloody and ugly and messy and scary and heartbreaking and irreversible. These people are never going to take a breath again…never have a chance of life again…never going to realize that what they went through could have gotten better to where suicide wasn’t the only option they could see. Plus, it’s hell on earth for the one’s that are left. The person didn’t commit suicide and then see how dramatically it played out on social media or how it became the basis for a Netflix show. They killed themselves. They are dead. And no matter what their situation or pain or illness, it’s nothing but a tragedy for both the victim and the survivors. Period.

And self-harm? Those of you that know me are aware that have I cut myself in the past and have 16 scars on my legs, arm, belly and boob. Two of my scars are over 4″ long and will be angry red welts forever. These scars are not beautiful. My body was not a ‘canvas’ I was decorating. The razor in my hand was not a paintbrush. There is nothing glamorous about what I did. I cut myself because I was having a mental breakdown that put me in such a depression that my mind told me it was the only thing I could do to release some of the pain. When I see my scars everyday, I don’t see a victory or a tragic piece of art. And I definitely don’t see them as being sexy as this quote says: “Call me crazy but I think emo girls/guys with self harm scars are sexy because it shows how much they have been through but never actually gave up.” And no, if any man ever looked at them and saw them as being arousing, I would run. Quickly.

And there are people who wish they were anorexic? Really? Well, as luck would have it, I have experience with this gem of a mental illness as well. There has not been a moment in my life from the time I was a freshman in high school (just a few years ago…) that I haven’t thought about how many calories are in a bite of food every time I eat something. Every. Single. Time. I can’t eat something because it tastes good. I can’t eat something out of pleasure. I can’t eat something not ‘necessary’ without feeling a lot of guilt and that I’m ‘bad’ for wanting it. I’ve known countless times what it’s like to be so weak from not eating that you can barely go from one task to another, and I don’t know how many birthday cakes, cookies, and other goodies people have made me over the years that I’ve trashed the moment they leave. You don’t recover from anorexia…you work every single solitary day to keep it in check, knowing that if you veer off a healthy course, you will succomb to the illness again. That is not having self-control, peeps…it’s actually quite the opposite.

You know, not only is this glamourization of mental illness a dangerous thing, it makes me wonder why anyone would want to be associated with something so stigmatizing in the first place. Maybe it’s giving the person attention or empathy or validation they are so desperately looking for. And if this is the only way that can happen in their lives, that’s something that needs to be addressed. Are there that many people not receiving the love and support they need without having to go to such lengths? Are there that many people shouting out: “See me” because they don’t feel ‘seen’ any other way? Are we living in a world where we are so into ourselves that we can’t see others crying for help unless the cry is so dramatic it can’t be missed? How sad this is.

I can’t imagine ‘pretending’ to have a mental illness…I wish to heaven I could experience what it’s like not to be mentally ill. It’s hard for me to understand why you would want to invent, and then share, a ‘mental illness’ because in reality, admitting you have one causes you to lose friends, opportunities, respect, and the list goes on. There are so many people that treat me differently now that I’ve ‘come-out.’ Some people/acquaintances/colleagues just stay away (which is fine…), others use it against me, while many just ignore it and pretend it simply doesn’t exist (“but you look normal”), plus I know it’s affected a couple of men from asking me out. Revealing a mental illness does not bring you the type of attention you think it might…trust me on this.

I talk about being bipolar for one reason, and one reason only, and this was voiced by a friend yesterday: “Well, you’re one of the people I look up too. You were one of the first people I knew to be extremely transparent about your mental health and that’s had an impact on me. It’s so important to destigmatize mental illness.” This is why I share it, my sweet peeps. I don’t share it for attention or sympathy or for ‘likes’. I share because I want people to know that mental illness sucks balls, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of, nothing that should have to be hid. It’s a reality that too many people live with and we need to come together and make sure it’s treated like any other illness with support and understanding given to all who suffer from it.

Kristi xoxo

“If you can’t stand the smell, get out of my kitchen.” ~ Kristi

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So, I was visiting with my neighbors last night and the gal, she’s 90 years old and is a complete hoot, asked me if I had ever had any recipes published in a cookbook before.  Had my family been anywhere near the vicinity they would have laughed until they peed themselves, but I simply stared at her dumbfounded for a couple of beats and then said:  “No, A.  I have never, and will never, have any of my recipes published…probably because most are found on the side of the box.”

There are some things I’m pretty good at in this life (divorcing comes to mind 🙄) but cooking isn’t one of them.  In fact…I wonder if there’s a connection there?  Anyhoot, I’ll never forget my first foray into baking something more than chocolate chip cookies. 

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Photo credit: Poshmark

When my first hubby and I were going out, his grandpa was turning 80 and the family was having a shin-dig about 90 miles south of where we lived.  Grandpa’s favorite dessert was lemon meringue pie and I was determined to make this for him to show M just how wonderful a wife I would be if he ever got the inclination to propose (shutty those mouths, peeps 😳).  Ma found a recipe for me; remember, this was before Google, grasshoppers, and there were these things called ‘recipe cards’ that were stored in ‘recipe boxes’ everyone had on their counter.  You might be able to see an example of this in a museum someday.  

I ran into trouble right off the bat.  Ma insisted that the only good pie crust was a home-made pie crust, but after kneading and rolling for an hour, all the while getting flour in every nook and cranny in our kitchen, she came to regret her thought.  And by the way, making my own pie crust is something I will never ever ever do again come hell or high water 🤨.  Then, for some godforsaken reason you had to use ‘egg whites’ and not the whole damn egg when making the ‘lemon’ part of the pie, so I got to learn the art of separating egg whites from the yolks.  This took me about 10 eggs to master, and ma stood by me the entire time giving me the stink eye and getting pissy because eggs were a dime a dozen then and I was on my way to putting us in the poor house.  Anyhoot, that was just the beginning of the afternoon.  I spent another hour mixing up the filling and cooking it without scorching it, while ‘tempering’ the yolks (whatever that means) into the lemon glop I was constantly stirring.  So far, I’d only cried twice, ma and I were still talking (in very loud voices), and I’d only told M 3 times that I hated his guts.

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Photo by FoodInc. and no, my pie did NOT look like this by a long shot!

Then the fun part…the meringue.  Did you know you have to whip and whip and whip this stuff until you want to throw your mixer out the window and never look back?  Did you also know that meringue can weep (hells bells, by this time, I was too 😕)?  Not only did I need to get this as ‘light’ and ‘fluffy’ as humanly possible to impress everyone, I also had to brown it so it would look picture perfect.  I was so scared of doing this after all of that work, I almost puked.  Or, maybe that was because I licked lemon batter with raw eggs in it. Hmmm.

Finally, the pie was done.  The kitchen was totaled, ma told me (in a very snippy voice I might add) that if I ever made one of these son-of-a-bitching pies again she’d personally ‘hurt’ me, and M said that grandpa would love it and this might become an annual thing he’d want me to make.  I wanted to kill him. 

We left for the party and I held that damn pie on my lap for the entire 90 mile ride with the air conditioner on full blast; but the vents were pointed away so the pie wouldn’t get icky and the meringue wouldn’t blow around (BTW, this was in the winter).  There were times on that ride I wanted to shove the pie in M’s face, but the thought of all of my hard work landing on his mug was something I just wasn’t willing to do, despite the temptation.  

So we pull up to the party, I climb out of the car with pie in hand, and totter over to the food table.  Where…wait for it…there were 4 other lemon meringue pies.  Four.  Since his parents were watching, I said with a smile on my face but in a ventriloquist’s voice:  “What the fuck?  Why didn’t you tell me there were going to be other people making this same pie?”  M replied:  “I didn’t check.”  Now, if that’s not grounds for an attack, I truly don’t know what is.  Anyhoot, I got grandpa a piece of MY freaking pie (I had pushed the others to the side and hid them behind the 5 tubs of potato salad 🤨) and he picked up his fork in his sweet, age-spotted, trembly hand and ate a bite.  He said it was great and I waited for him to take another bite, but he pushed it aside.  I asked M, once again under my breath: “What the hell?”  And M said:  “Grandpa can’t eat hardly anything anymore and his taste buds are about gone.”  Go figure.

*Side Note:  Grandpa was truly a sweetie though, and he hugged me after the party and told me I was his favorite grand-daughter in law.  Of course, M and I weren’t married and I was doubtful I’d ever talk to him again, and the only other grandson, M’s brother, was 15.  But I was the favorite! 😊

So obviously, baking is not my thing.  But neither is ‘cooking’.  Hubby 3’s mom  was a GREAT cook, and her meatloaf was the best.  I heard, time and time again, how much R liked it so I was bound and determined to make one even better.  No mother in law was going to out-do me!  I think I must have made dozens of meatloafs, using a different recipe every time, and each one was worse than the last.  I don’t know if it’s a curse or what, but it doesn’t matter what the recipe is, mine are horrible.  When I would tell R we were having meatloaf that night for dinner because I had a new recipe, he would groan (literally) and when he’d come home from work on those evenings, I always thought I smelled a Big Mac on his breath, but who knows.   

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Very similar to what my meat-lump looked like.

Anyway, R finally put his foot down.  My last meatloaf was so bad, he told me: “Kristi, I will leave you if you ever attempt to turn perfectly good ground beef into a loaf again.”  He called my last attempt a ‘meat-lump’ and then this happened:  R gave Dottie, our little dog who has always loved to eat her own poop, a piece.  Dottie went over to the bowl with her backside wagging.  She sniffed it, licked it, her tail dropped and she walked away.  From meat.  Let me rephrase:  MY DOG WHO EATS POOP WOULDN’T EAT MY MEAT- LUMP.  I never tried again.

R is in an outlaw motorcycle club and every time the guys had a big party, us ‘ole ladies’ would cook.  The first time I did this, I was scared to death.  Here I am a prissy professor, and I was going to cook for 50 big, tough looking bikers with names like Snake and Igor.   So, I made pulled pork:  I put a pork butt in a big cooker…mashed it up…and poured BBQ sauce all over it.  When it was time for the party, I put the cooker in R’s van to schlep it to the clubhouse where hungry bikers were awaiting their only ‘meat dish’.

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Photo credit: motorcyclegearhub and this guy looks very much like ‘Killer’

I pulled up and a guy, at least 6’6″ and covered with leather and tattoos, was waiting for the food.  His name was Killer (I’m not lying…you can’t make this stuff up…😳) and I said I could handle getting it (I am woman, hear me roar).  I was shaking because these guys scared me (at first but then I got to know them and they treated me like gold) and I spilled the entire fucking cooker of sticky, BBQ pork in R’s van.  EVERY last bit.  I burst out bawling and Killer hugged me to him (he smelled very yummy…I wonder if he’s still single…or alive…hmmmm…) and said it was OK.  He scraped it up from the van floor (which was filthy since R literally transported Harleys in the back of it) with his hands, which had previously been holding a beer and cigarette, and plopped it back into the cooker.  He winked at me, told me it was our secret, and those guys ate every last bit of it that night.  I think part of my success with this cooking foray was that all of these bikers were either drunk or high.  

So, in answer to my neighbor’s question:  No, I’m not ever ever ever going to be featured in a cookbook.  Ever.  I have a better chance of winning the lottery or meeting Prince Charming than I do that.  However, I did come across a meatloaf recipe the other day…fail proof it said…and if you’re hungry just come on by.  I’m sure it will be a culinary experience you’ll never forget.  

Kristi xoxo