“We don’t want no devils in the house, God…” ~ Kanye West

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Dear Kim,

So, I’m going to be honest right from the start and I hope you understand but I’m not a big fan of yours.  I’m sorry, it’s just that I try so hard to teach  my sweetie students that their beauty and worth comes from within, and then for them to see you on Instagram wearing corsets, in make-up that looks to be as thick as a steak, and then photoshopped to where you have no hair follicles kind of confuses them.  But anyhoot, I digress (which is very common for me to do 🙄).

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Look, your husband needs help.  And he needs it now.  It’s true Kanye and I have very little in common.  I’m white and he’s black.  I’m a woman and he’s a man, I’m a middle-class professor in a smallish city in IL and he’s a star that jet sets across the world, and I’m not running for president (yet…but a gal at Hobby Lobby told me I should…what do you think 😳?).  However, we both have bipolar disease and that connects us more than anything else could.

I know you are well aware of his mental illness, but I don’t understand why you haven’t helped him get the long-term treatment that could benefit him tremendously.  Yes, he was in a mental health facility for a short while in 2016 which led to his diagnosis, but that was only a band-aid on what he really needs.  I know he doesn’t want to take medications in case it ‘stifles his creativity’ (I like to macrame 🤨) and in his line of work I get that.  But you need to realize that Kanye suffers from something called anosognosia which is an inability for him to realize he sick.  You have to be his ‘eye’s for him right now.

And Kim, he is very sick.  Look, if your hubby was suffering from appendicitis and needed to go to the ER, you’d take him in a flash (or your chauffeur would…I have one too I can call on: I call her ‘ma’ 🙄) even if he said it was just gas.  By the same token, people with mental illness often don’t ‘see’ what’s happening to them and if they do, they’ll deny the fuck out of it (BTW, does your ma get pissed when you say ‘fuck’…I know mine does.  Maybe they could chat sometime about that.  Also, I’d like to ask Kris to show my ma how to style her short hair in different ways…I think she’d like that 🤔).  I know this because I’ve done the exact same thing.

A lot of people don’t realize that some of us with untreated bipolar can become psychotic, and in my humble opinion (it’s actually not humble…I’m kinda smart about stuff like this since I’m a psychology professor…just sayin’) your hubby is experiencing pretty severe delusions which puts him in this category of symptoms.

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Look, he’s compared himself to Picasso, Walt Disney, Andy Warhol, Michael Jackson (I wouldn’t be too proud of that one…just sayin’) and Shakespeare.  The most egregious one though?  Jesus Christ.  Honey, these are humongous signs that Kanye NEEDS meds in order for him to have a better grasp on reality.  He’s also admitted to being ‘hyper-paranoid’ which shows even more psychosis.

This all has to be hard on you and your adorable kids and having a daddy that’s mentally ill is something that all the clothes and toys in the world won’t fix (BTW, I wear a size 6 and would love any hand-me-downs 🤩).   Kids need their daddy to be ‘there’ for them and not just physically, but mentally too.  Your cutie boys, Saint and Psalm (I named my little guy – he’s 26 – Oliver and I thought that was a bit edgy) need a strong and stable male role model.

We all know how people laugh at your husband.  They call him crazy.  Ignorant.  Stupid.  Insane.  Psycho.  I don’t think he’s aware of this and if he is, doesn’t take it seriously.  But  I do know this has to hurt you because it’s hurt me and my ma when I’m called bad things too (another question, do you ever call Kris ‘ma’?  I just can’t picture that for some reason 😵).  Over the years I’ve been called crazy, psycho, a liar, and an attention seeking bitch just to name a few.  And every time I hear words like this, it’s like my heart is being pierced again and again.  The hurt is unfathomable.

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It’s funny how most of us use the correct rhetoric in TALKING about mental illness, but so many people don’t try to UNDERSTAND it when it shows itself.  If I have a very high fever and start babbling incoherently (which I do most nights after 9:00 p.m. which is my bedtime…I’m a real party animal like yourself 😎), no one will take the words seriously (which is very true right now since I’m single.  BTW, do you know Taron Egerton?  Just askin’).  Right?  By the same token, I wish people accepted the fact the mentally ill will say and do things their disease/disorder is directing.

Kimmy (can I call you that?), getting your hubby help can do more than stabilize him…it could save his life.  MentalIllnessPolicy.org  reports that at least the 5,000 suicides per year that are committed by people who have schizophrenia or bipolar could be prevented if the people get adequate psychiatric treatment.  And Dr. Ken Duckworth (NAMI) states that at least 90% of all suicides are by people who have an untreated or under-treated mood disorder.  See, we aren’t just talking about his mental well being here, we are talking about his survival.

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I can tell you this, Kim:  having bipolar sucks balls.  Bad.  Having so much swirling around in your head and going between being so happy and so depressed is like riding a roller coaster that never ends.  I actually don’t know what it’s like to have a ‘normal’ functioning brain and if I contemplate it too much, I get over-whelmed.  I really do.  You know, not much scares me in the world.  Yes, I have concerns and live my life with some caution, but my fucking brain and emotions are the most scary thing I have to encounter.  And I get to face it everyday.  Every single day.  As I’m writing this paragraph, my stomach is turning and my eyes are tearing.  It’s like a boulder sitting on my shoulders and some days it’s a bit lighter and on others it’s heavier.  But the damn thing is always there.  Always.  This boulder has made people back away from me…dump me…treat me differently…and affect how my co-workers see me and my contributions even though I’m a fucking amazing professor (yes, that’s bragging, but why can’t we toot our own horns sometimes?  That’s going to be another post so stay tuned! ✎).

Kimmy, get your hubby help. Silence his freaking YES MEN and screw what others say.  Please.  I know this is a monumental task and that you can’t force him to take the help that’s out there. But you can put consequences in place if he won’t…like distancing your little sweeties from his instability.   Please don’t make him suffer anymore.  He needs you right now to forcibly guide him in the way you know he needs to go.  Now.

Kristi xoxo

“Don’t Ask me to Choose” ~ Fine Young Cannibals

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So, I’m going to be honest with my sweetie peeps:  I’m horrible at making choices and decisions.  HORRIBLE.  Even on little things I waver and ruminate and am wishy-washy over what I want to do (note to self:  start some laundry 🙄).

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I see a shirt at Kohl’s and I have my 30% coupon and $10 Kohl’s Cash and I grab the shirt I see and promise myself that’s all I’m going to get.  Along with the coupon, my ‘cash’ pays for it, and I don’t need anything else.  I’ve picked out what I want.  So, I totter over to the cashier (one of them tries to save my soul whenever I’m in and even though I tell her my soul is nice and saved, she doesn’t believe me.  Go figure 😳) with shirt in hand.  BUT, as I am crossing the store another display intrigues me…and then another…and then another.  And before you know it, the shirt I loved is buried in my arms under a dozen more.  Now, I could just get that initial shirt…easy…right?  OR…I could whip out my Kohl’s card, spend $60 above the ‘cash’ and not have to make a choice.  AND, since I get MORE Kohl’s cash, I’m actually ahead!

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I think my reasoning is like common core math.  If I scootch around the numbers enough in various columns, I’m actually spending less than I intended.  Yeah.  (Ma doesn’t understand why I wasn’t a math major even though I have to call her to figure out what 20% off of $25 is 🤪).  Hubby 3 never understood the concept of the more you spend, the more you save.  It makes total sense to me.  Sheesh.

See…I’m horrible at choices.  And we face choices everyday, don’t we?  You see people at McDonald’s (I’m an epicurian) stare at the menu for 10 minutes even though they were in there literally a day ago.  “Gee…should I get the quarter pounder or the Big Mac?”  It’s not like the choice you make is going to be life-changing, but still we hesitate.  By the way, if you choose a Big Mac everyday, that may not be a ‘good’ choice for your health.  Just sayin’.

Anyhoot, big choices and decisions are hard for me.  Very hard.  If you think I have trouble with shirts, you should see me with relationships (🙄).  I’ll be honest, I’ve made some bad choices in this area…and I’ve made choices I’m not proud of.  Haven’t we all?  But why?  Why can’t I ‘rationally’ look at the choices…list the pros and cons…and come to a decision in a logical way?  Well probably because I’m fucking bipolar (sorry ma).  That’s why.

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I was reading an article the other day and the author said that to make good choices, you have to get out your feelings and put them aside, and then allow your brain to be the one that talks to you.  Okey dokey.

How the hell do you “get your feelings out?”  I hate it when people say that!  It sounds like feelings are simply things you can put in a pitcher and pour down the toilet.  Like there’s a compartment in your heart away from the ‘feelings’ and you can lock them up there and hide them from your mind.  People will say things like “Go run off your anger.”  Well…I’ll do a 5 mile run but I still have the feeling.  I might feel less stressed, but the feeling of anger didn’t evaporate with my sweat.

I think some people can do this.  I know my son’s dad could.  He is a HUGE thinker and feelings rarely got in the way of his decisions.  In fact, I would get upset because I didn’t think he had enough feeling when making choices and decisions.  Me?  I cannot put my feelings aside.  And then there’s some extras that being bipolar brings:  impulsivity, racing thoughts, distractibility, decreased ability to think clearly, and here’s one from the Mayo Clinic:  poor decision making skills.  B-I-N-G-O!  There it is.  (Ma loves to play bingo but bless her heart, she never wins.  I don’t love to play but I often win.  It pisses her off royally 😆)

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Sometimes I’ll be making a choice about an issue in terms of a relationship and even though my ‘gut’ (which is getting bigger since I’m sitting on my ass all day getting ready for fall semester) and brain are trying to tell me something, it’s only a whisper.  However, my heart is screaming so that’s the voice I hear.

Guess what?  That voice often leads me down the wrong path.  OFTEN.  Remember, feelings aren’t rational.  And as much as I want too, I can’t silence it.  I have bipolar.  My feelings, moods, level of sensitivity are all heightened and that voice puts me in a trance.  Even on little things I’ll hear that voice saying (and say this to yourself in a eerily ghostly way):  “Go ahead and buy it Kristi…”  and so I do.  And then, a week later, I regret it.  👻

Actually I do more than regret it.  I ruminate over it.  REALLY ruminate.  Once the choice or decision has been made is when my brain finally speaks up.  But of course it’s too late.  I’ve made the choice and now have to live with the consequences.  And that’s hard to do.

It’s hard to have a brain that puts so many blockades up but then punishes you when you can’t get around them.  It’s hard to have a heart that’s so open you simply can’t close it, but then get in trouble for not knowing how to latch that door.  It’s hard to know that sometimes you repeat bad choices.  You make another bad decision when a previous one should have taught you the lesson.  Thanks bipolar.

I think it’s hard for people to understand any mental illness if they haven’t suffered one themselves.  How do you explain that your brain and heart aren’t like everyone elses?  How can you get people to understand that previous bad choices don’t matter…you’ll probably make them again.  How can you ever describe the obsessive ruminating you do when decisions and choices are bad?  How can people ever grasp the pain your heart feels when you know you’ve made a bad choice that has hurt someone?  How can you ever get them to comprehend how terribly sorry you are to the point you are sick about it?

So often when people talk about mental illness, they’ll use large generalizations. For example, people who have major depression are sad and have trouble functioning in their daily lives.  People who have an anxiety disorder are extremely nervous and fearful and worry.  People with bipolar are just cray-cray (yep…that’s the idea.  Kanye West is bipolar and EVERYTHING he does is put down to the disorder.  All that does is stigmatize it more for all of us and make things harder for him.  😥)

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You don’t hear so much about the more specific symptoms or characteristics.  Anxiety disorders may make the person too fearful to even leave their home.  They can’t go to work, the store, a friends house.  All this does is increase their anxiety because others are telling them to just get out.  How horrible that would be.  Those with depression often have somatic issues like back and shoulder pain, have memory issues, and have suicidal thoughts racing through their heads.

When you are mentally ill, everything is affected.  Everything.  Not just moods and temper, but everything the person faces in day to day life.  Making decisions and choices.  How we eat.  How we sleep.  What we unwittingly think about.  How our body feels.  How we feel about sex (don’t have to worry about that one 😐).  How we feel about ourselves.  Whether or not we can make it to work that day.  Or go get groceries.  Or even get out of bed.

I’m 53 years old and I’m still making stupid decisions like I did when I was younger.  Bipolar doesn’t go away.  Fade away.  Unfortunately, like we see with a lot of mental illnesses, it worsens as we age.  I know how lucky I am for all the blessings that I have…and I mean that.  I have so much to be thankful for.  Selfishly though, I would like to know how it feels to make a choice, know it’s the right one, and if it’s not, then learn from it and move on.  Just once.  That’d be great.

Kristi xoxo

Hell Hath no Fury Like a Woman Scorned

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So, I loved watching the “Dirty John” series about John Meehan and couldn’t wait for the 2nd season since I followed the Betty Broderick case closely.  If my sweet peeps don’t know, Betty was married to Dan for 21 years and ended up killing him in 1989 along with his new wife of 7 months, Linda.  Well, I’ve watched all 8 episodes now and all I can say is “WOW”…what a roller coaster.

Anyhoot, here’s the thing:  when I first heard about this case I had just graduated from college and was fascinated by it and how ‘nutsy’ this woman was since I had a freshly printed psychology degree.  I mean for piss sakes, she murdered her ex-husband and his new wife in cold blood.  It don’t get much worse than that, peeps.  🙄

People are now pontificating about the case again since this series is airing and I’m really starting to think that Betty wasn’t necessarily the ‘sick’ one in the marriage.  I believe Dan Broderick was.  “What?” you say…”Are you crazy, Kristi?”  Well yes, I sorta am.  However, bear with me and let me explain.

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So, Betty and Dan got married in their 20’s after she graduated from college through an accelerated program and Dan was still making his way through medical school which she helped finance.  Once he graduated with his M.D. though, he realized he didn’t want to be a doctor after all and decided he decided he wanted to be a lawyer instead.  Betty continued to work hard to put him through law school too (his contribution was school loans…she did the vast majority of the earning).  During this time, she was a stay-at-home mom to her 4 kids who came quickly (the children came quickly after the Broderick’s got married and another son died 2 days after birth) as well as working part time at various jobs like selling Tupperware and AVON.  Since Dan was studying all of these years, Betty was the primary parent with little help and since he had very clear notions about a ‘woman’s place’, Betty did virtually everything on the home front.

Long story short, Dan became a hot shot lawyer (with Betty encouraging him the entire time and still taking care of everything at home) and he even served as president of the San Diego bar association.  The money started coming in and Dan began to get more impatient and hateful with his wife.  Finally, Betty found out he had been having a 2 year affair with his assistant, Linda, who Betty questioned him about numerous times.  He lied every time she did and even ‘made up’ with Betty at one point and asked her for another baby so they could have a fresh start (her tubes were tied and he actually took her to a doc to see if this could be reversed).  This was all to cover his affair while he sorted his finances out before leaving her.  She had no idea.

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OK.  We obviously know how this ended:  Betty shot Dan and Linda while they were in bed.  It was cold-blooded murder, and there’s no denying that.  These poor children lost their dad and their mom in one fatal night and their lives were/are irreparably changed forever.  They are the real victims in this case above anyone else.

So why did I say Betty was a victim too?  Because in my opinion (and this is only my opinion, peeps) Dan was a sociopath and narcissist, and these are BAD things for the people who are unfortunate enough to love them.

We are just now finding out how abusive a narcissists behavior is to their ‘loved’ one and victims of this behavior suffer something called Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome.  Now remember, we’re talking about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and not just someone feeling over confident and cocky (😏).  Take a look at this because it sums up a narcissists behavior perfectly:

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When you read about how Dan treated Betty, ALL of these apply.  Every one of them.  Further, Dan used a technique called gaslighting where the person manipulates someone in order to make them question their sanity…in one instance, Dan didn’t tell Betty about a change in time for their final divorce hearing and she completely missed it.  Her divorce was granted without her ever knowing what the final decree presented in court was.  Another…Dan was buddies with lawyers and judges and he made it very difficult for her to retain a decent lawyer to help her out.  Not only did Dan make Betty think she was crazy, I believe he actually drove her crazy.

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And Betty did crazy things:  she ran her car into the front door of Dan’s new house, she made hundreds of prank phone calls, she went into their house when they weren’t home and destroyed property, she said horribly vile things about him and Linda to anyone and everyone who would listen, and the list goes on.  So yes…she was very out of control and her behavior was HORRIBLE, particularly since much of it was in front of her children.  That’s something that’s indefensible.

But think about this:  serious long time domestic violence can result in Battered Women’s (Wife or Person) Syndrome and this is considered a subcategory of PTSD.  The violence doesn’t have to be physical, which is what we often picture when we hear the word ‘battered’ but psychological (or sexual) as well.  When you look at the above actions of a narcissist and the behavior Dan displayed, I think it’s easy to say Betty was a psychologically battered woman.  I would never ever say physical battering is less traumatizing than psychological abuse because I saw ma with too many injuries that not only pained her, but left her fearful and timid.  However, psychological abuse is deemed just as bad since it batters the mind and kills the spirit.

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People who have been psychologically abused experience hopelessness, fear, shame, confusion.  They have difficulty concentrating, experience nightmares and somatic symptoms, they’ll often have muscle tension, racing heartbeats, and moodiness.  In time, the person can develop chronic pain (some research suggests this can lead to fibromyalgia), anxiety, and social withdrawal.  We see all of these in Betty.

To me, it’s as if Dan wanted Betty to be ‘crazy’ so he could get the lion’s share of the wealth he built up which was only possible because of Betty’s financial/emotional/home support she provided as he got his education.  He was also awarded custody of the kids she had raised virtually alone while he worked 12 days making money.  Well, he succeeded, didn’t he?  He wanted to drive her crazy and he did.

So why is she made out to be a villian?  Other women have killed their abusive husbands and have been deemed heroes.  They were in a fight for their lives and saved themselves.  They saw no other way out.  They needed to be freed from the torment.

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Only a ‘crazy’ woman would smile at her murder trial.  Right?

Isn’t psychological abuse torment too?  What do they use on prisoners to break them?  Hmmm. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health:  emotional and verbal abuse can have short and long term effects that are just as serious as the effects of being physically battered.  (This is even true for kids: the American Psychological Association has found that the mental health effects of a child being psychologically abused is equal to, or even greater, as those from physical or sexual abuse.  And this is in kids!)

Here’s the problem though…how do you prove psychological abuse?  How do you prove that the manipulation, degradation, verbal battering, lying, controlling, etc. are happening?  You can’t take a pic of it and show it to the courts.  You don’t have bruises or cuts or scars.  It’s your mind, and since the damage has been done and the person is acting out because of it, they are the ones seen as being unstable.  Sick.  Wouldn’t this make you even more crazed?

Look, I know it was terribly wrong of Betty to murder Dan and Linda in cold blood.  I get that.  But I think it’s important to understand that even though Betty had a nice house, a bit of money, etc. it doesn’t mean she wasn’t psychologically tormented.  It’s doesn’t mean she wasn’t treated so insanely that she started to become that way herself.  And yes, Betty is a very unlikable woman now, although she was very gregarious, fun and social prior to Dan’s treatment of her.  For Betty, the long-term effects of this abuse have taken their toll and in that way, Dan won.  He got what he wanted.  He wanted to drive his wife crazy, and apparently he did.

We simply can’t downplay the significance of psychological abuse any longer.  You don’t need bodily injury to be hurt and the messages/actions/behavior of psychological battering never heal.  How do you empty your mind of those words?  Those feelings?  Isn’t the mind capable of scarring too?  Isn’t it important we recognize how dangerous this battering is and take it seriously when someone has gone, or is going, through it?  This is a form of abuse that keeps on giving…long after the actual abuse has ended.  How sad that is.

Kristi xoxo