“The most important things are the hardest things to say.” ~ Stephen King (The Body)

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Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

So, need is a funny word.  Like ‘love’ or ‘friend’, it can mean so many different things to different people.  Go shopping (after social distancing, of course) and listen to what is being said about all of the products we are inundated with:  “Oh my God…I gotta have that!” “OOOOO…this new shampoo is supposed to be great!  I need to get it now!”  “Wow…that’s the exact shirt I’ve been needing!”

Actually, need is so different than want, yet we often forget that.  Do we really need another shampoo when we have 12 full bottles in the shower?  Do we really need a new shirt when we have 10 others we haven’t worn yet?  Hey, I’m just as guilty as anyone.  Put me on amazon, and I will order something…anything…because getting that brown box on my step with the shiny tape is just so damn exciting.

But let’s face it, we don’t need half of what we have.  And often, we don’t even want it a few days later.  It’s just something else cluttering up our house that will wind up in a donation box sooner or later.

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Clutter.  I know all about that too.  Not because of my house since it’s fastidiously clean, but because of my mind.  Clutter is such a great term to describe the emotions and thoughts that circle around it every day thanks to being bipolar (😬).  Sometimes it’s hard to sort out the clutter; it becomes so overwhelming I simply don’t know where to start.  That was me yesterday.  My clutter was strewn all over the place and I needed someone to help me sort it out.

I miss O moving to his own place (even though I’m so proud of him for being able to make this leap while still running a business in these difficult times), I’ve been working on my house to get it more ‘me’ and moving furniture around until it’s just right.  I’m doing a deep cleaning and a good cull, while also getting used to the quiet which frankly is a bit tough.  Then I have school to deal with during this pandemic…I missed my students and seeing them graduate this spring and I still don’t know what the Fall will look like in terms of my classes.

And then I have me.  Lonely old (shutty the mouthy 😳) me.  I had to run to the store yesterday and I interacted with the cashier (barely, which was probably a good thing since her face mask looked to have some kind of demon on it and she had the personality of a turnip).  I talked to ma for about 10 minutes and texted O a few times, and that was it.  I’m used to talking to 60+ students a day, my colleagues, and living with a noisy son who always had something going on.  This quiet is really a big change for me.

See, yesterday I had a need.  A real need.  I needed to vent to someone so I could process some of these feelings I have being alone.  I guess I just needed a virtual hug.  Needed it, not just wanted it, because I was also feeling a bit lonely too.

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So, Edward gave me one (one of my sweet dogs who happens to be a damn good hugger).  But as much as I love his affection (while Dottie usually looks on with disgust but decided to smile for the camera since she’s a diva), I needed a real person and reached out to a ‘friend’ who said they had had a bad day too.  We messaged back and forth for a bit and I poured a lot out to him…it felt good to have someone just listen.  His responses though were quite brief such as “It’ll get better.”  Well, duh.  Of course it will.  However, it wasn’t better then, and I “needed” someone to just be there to commiserate with me, or at least validate that what I’m feeling is OK.  It’s like when I got my appendix out a few years ago (on April fools day, no less).  I got home and couldn’t bend which is something you don’t appreciate doing until you can’t.  It was horrible trying to contort myself into a chair or my bed and realized I couldn’t do it without feeling like I was going to break in half, so I needed Hubby 3 (🙄) to help.  I knew I would heal, but at the time of the pain, that wasn’t much comfort to me (although wine helped…and believe me, it was NEEDED at that time).

Anyhoot, as I was saying how sorry I was for my friend’s day, he said he just didn’t have the wherewithal to chat with me right then, so we stopped.  And the problem was that I still needed him.

Yes, I know he had a bad day too and I expressed my concern over his issues and listened to what he needed to say.  If he would have asked me to do anything for him in this situation, of course I would have (hello…I’m a freaking empath).  It’s almost like when I was a young parent:  I’d be running on 2 hours of sleep for 3 straight nights when O was sick, but if he needed something after I nodded off, I got up and did it.  He NEEDED me.  It was as simple as that.

Maybe I didn’t express how much I needed my friend’s support yesterday (even though I said “I need your support this afternoon”), but it’s very hard for me to really do that.  I feel guilty when I ‘need’ something from someone…when I ask for it.  I feel selfish for needing them to ‘give’ me their time, their energy.  I sometimes feel like if they give me an hour, I have to give them 2…I never want to be the one that takes more.

Or, maybe it was difficult for him to understand my situation yesterday, or relate to it since his is so different.  I think it’s also baffling for others to understand that when you have bipolar, a seemingly ‘little’ issue is actually a pretty big one because of our emotional constitution and constant rumination.

Hmmmmm…do we ever ask ourselves what we truly need from a partner?  Not what we want…but what we need, and what we think of as being essential to our well being.  I think about this a lot because in my Marriage and Family classes we talk extensively about mate selection…what you want, what you need, what are deal breakers, etc.  And for me, I need someone to just listen.  To be there.  To say “Hey, I understand this is a tough time…what can I do to help?”

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From mybestrelationship.com

I think it’s because when someone fulfills this need, it makes me feel special…like I matter to them.  I feel like they see me.  One time J and I were in an argument, and I yelled “See me!” to him.  I was so frustrated that day and needed him to actually see the real ‘me’, not the person he wanted me to be or how much he needed me to pretend I was fine. Yesterday made me realize that my needs in a relationship have changed over the years. Decades ago, I would have said I needed someone to be a good dad…good provider (since I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom), affectionate (since I’m so touchy/feely), and a great sexual partner (😲).

Compared to other times I’ve had, yesterday was a cakewalk.  But what happens when there’s something seemingly insurmountable for me to handle alone? And having bipolar makes this a very real possibility.  I know I need someone I can trust to be there for me. Will be able to understand that I’ll have issues that at times may seem silly to them, but for which I’ll require their support.  Their understanding. I need someone who will try to learn what they can about bipolar since it is a mental illness that’s difficult on relationships; anyone living with someone bipolar has to understand the dynamics of depression and mania.  And just so you don’t think I’m a selfish cow, I don’t demand that only my needs be fulfilled in a relationship, and I’m not asking for anything I’m not willing to give back. In fact, sometimes meeting my needs is pretty easy; yesterday, an ear or a hug would have sufficed.

When everything was crashing down on me a couple of years ago, some of my students who read this blog tell me they never would have known based on my demeanor in class and talking to them in the halls.  Good!  I would push aside my own crap in order to fulfill the needs these awesome young people had…and happily so.

Maybe it would be a good idea to just make sure I seek what I need:  someone to  listen, give me affection, attention, and understanding (and don’t read this part ma, but throwing in great sex would be appreciated too 😜).  But maybe these are too much for some people to handle, or too much for me to ask for in the first place.  Or maybe, just maybe, I need to learn to fulfill these in myself to a great extent.  I need to listen to myself, be good to myself, give myself the attention I deserve and the patience I often don’t allow myself to have.  And when I think about it, this might really be a great idea.  After all, I’m pretty good at helping others out…maybe it’s time to do the same for me.

Kristi xoxo

“You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth” ~ Meatloaf

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Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

So, first of all I used the title of one of my all time favorite songs; in fact, this was my go to song in High School for making out at parties (sorry, ma).😳 For some reason, just thought you’d like to know that.🙄

Anyhoot, I was visiting with a couple of neighbors down the street last evening and we were yacking about lawn mowers (yes, grasshoppers…single life is exciting) and then progressed into other things.  The wife was talking about her physical ailments and I said a few things about being bipolar.  THEN she said this (and I’m quoting her word for word):  “Yes…I know exactly what that is.  My cousin has it and she’s crazy crazy crazy too.”  She continued telling me how nuts this gal was and used the word loony as well.  Granted she’s 63 (which I only say because not much was known about some of these things when she was younger and that might account for her bad choice of words) but I was gobsmacked by her indifference and view of what I happen to have.

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Museums Victoria

Why the fuck is it OK to use such degrading words when it comes to describing mental illness?  And believe me peeps…she ain’t the only one.  Take a look at these:  deranged, psycho, cray-cray, mental, delusional, wacko, mad, insane, schizo, freak, needs a straitjacket, screw loose, etc.  How many of us who have a mental illness have heard at least a handful of these in our lives?  I have a feeling all of you are raising your hands.  Or, how many of us have used these?  I’m sorry to say that number is pretty high too.

In this time of political correctness when using one word or posting one tweet can literally destroy a decades old career, why is it OK to use damaging words against people like me?  I understand that using the ‘n-word’ is abhorrent and there’s no excuse for it. Likewise, I know that the ‘f-word’ (an epithet for a gay man) is also extremely derogatory.  I also know that both of these populations are born with inherent biological  characteristics be it race or homosexuality.

But so was I.  I didn’t bring this bipolar crap on myself.  I didn’t ask for it…didn’t want it.  Certainly didn’t create it out of a need for attention (as some people think those of us with mental illness do.  Yes, it’s fun to ‘pretend’ to be someone perceived by others as deranged 🙄).

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Whoever dates this winner is some lucky girl.

I have a feeling normal people (what ever the hell that is…I don’t know if I’ve ever met one) just don’t know what hurt these words do to us ‘crazies’, and I’d be happy to tell you.  They make us feel even worse about ourselves than we already do.  They can deepen our depression by making us believe we are less than.  They make us feel guilty about having an illness that’s obviously perceived as defective.  They often make us less likely to see help since many of us don’t want to admit we are part of a stigmatized group (me…for a lot of years peeps).  These words make us feel shame.  Feel inferior…bad…inadequate.

Go to Pinterest and look up ‘funny’ mental illness memes…a vast majority of these are derogatory to sufferers.  And then twitter?  Take a look at some of these gems:

  • Andrew Tate @ Cobratate:  Then they pretend they caught some disease to absolve all responsibility.  ITS (sic) NOT MY FAULT IM (sic again 🙄) SAD.  Yes it is. {Note to Andrew…revisit your grammar texts from grade school and learn about apostrophes once again.}
  • Andrew Tate again (unfortunately): “Feeling temporarily depressed is real.  Being uncontrollably depressed without reason and requiring anything other than a new mindset is BS {Another suggestion…use punctuation.}
  • Jake Paul @jakepaul:  remember anxiety is created by you sometimes you gotta let life play out and remind yourself to be happy and the answers will come chill your mind out go for a walk talk to a friend {Seriously?  Are we not teaching writing skills in schools?}
  • Katie Hopkins @KTHopkins: People with depression do not need a doctor and a bottle of pills that rattles.  They need a pair of running shoes and fresh air.  {Super…why didn’t I think of that?}
  • Katie Hopkins again:  Sympathy for the co-pilot is making me angry.  If you are suicidal, for goodness sake top yourself in private.  Attention seeking b✷stards.
  • So, I think you get my point.  Reading these actually made me choke up and the biggest lesson I learned from these is if I attempt suicide again, I’ll be sure to do it alone.  Thanks for that advice, Katie.

    OK…now do me a favor:  imagine similar tweets with race being the focal point of the negative tirade.  Nope.  Not going to happen (and I very obviously don’t want it too…I’m just trying to show an analogy) and if it does, bye bye career, account, and any respect you might have once had.

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    I believe in God and those of you with diabetes or heart disease, please heed these suggestions too.  Right?

    Even friends of mine will resort to using inappropriate words at times, without even realizing the impact on me.  The other day someone was yapping to me about ‘Rocketman’ (and for the love of all that is holy, watch it if you haven’t) and said:  “I never knew Elton was so troubled…I just thought he was crazy.”  Hmmmm.  OK.  Gee…imagine a neglectful upbringing, being introduced to drugs early on his career, and having an eating disorder.  Who would’ve thought there were ‘real issues’ behind his ‘craziness’?

    And yes, I’ve been guilty too.  I used to really like the phrase ‘Bitches be Trippin’ (until literally a couple of days ago when I started researching all of this…I just thought it was funny) until I read what the meaning is (from Slang Define):

    Used primarily by heterosexual males to justify the irrational behaviors of women.

    Paul:  I can’t understand why my girlfriend cried just because I forgot our nine week anniversary.

    Jason:  Don’t worry about it, dude.  What can you do?  Bitches be trippin’!

    In other words, crying because of something important to you (CRYING) which is probably the culmination of other things going on in the relationship means the woman is irrational (synonyms – crazy, insane, etc.).  Okey Dokey.  No more tears, ladies.

    Having bipolar is fucking hard enough, grasshoppers.  And when insult is added to injury and then used as the basis for jokes and laughter, the pain is worse.  When I’m around people that don’t know I’m mentally ill and they use such words, it cuts me to the core because words are weapons.  I feel my face flush…I get self-conscious…I feel shame.  Look, when bombs are used against you, it means you’re in a war.  And how well can we fight back when we’re the ones who are already beaten down by stigmatization?  By misinformation?  By myths?  By our mental illnesses?  Our anxiety…depression…personality disorders…addictions?  Simply stated:  we can’t without help.  But in this culture, which still allows mental illness to be an acceptable prejudice, that help is pretty hard to find.  How sad that is.

    Kristi xoxo

    “Oh, It’s Been a Hard Day’s Night” ~ John Lennon & Paul McCartney

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    So, yesterday sucked balls (for some reason I really love this term).  I’m having a bit of a tough week, and yesterday I pretty much lost it.  I’m missing my son and his girlfriend since they are in their own apartment now…I’m working really hard to get my house in order and have a wrenched back and purple/numb finger to show for it…and this week marks the 3rd anniversary of seeing my nephew for the last time before his death.  Also, this is the exact time that J began making plans to see his ex which started his back and forth abandonments and cheating.

    In some ways, I’m really proud of how I’m handling things because not long ago, I would have been much worse.  It shows that I have grown and healed to some extent these past couple of years and that I really am stronger.  But it also brings me back to a place that I never wanted to visit again.

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    My sis and I were talking about this last week as we discussed things happening in our quarantined lives.  She’s always worried about me…she was my protector growing up and still plays that role today.  I know she’s proud of how far I’ve come since that fucking breakdown 3 years ago, but she also knows once you experience something like that, there’s always a chance of going back.  I have to agree.

    Anniversaries are tough, aren’t they?  The anniversary of someone’s death.  The anniversary of a divorce.  The anniversary of a marriage or relationship that failed. The anniversary of a tough time in your life.  As much as we like to put things behind us, they still have a tendency to haunt.

    For some reason, I find myself saying “I’m Sorry” an awful lot lately.  It’s almost like I’m going back to a somewhat ‘weaker’ me I thought I had all but buried.  Maybe since these anniversaries are here though,  I find myself going back to being a ‘people pleaser’, just  to ensure I don’t get hurt again.  Hmmm…I don’t know.

    One of my precious students messaged me last month and asked me something I’ve had other students deal with as well:  she had been sexually abused as a child and was worried about having a child someday herself.  How would she protect them?  Would she be able to recognize when something was wrong?  How could she open the road of communication early so her child would feel comfortable sharing things with her?  Other students who have been physically abused worry they might end up repeating the generational cycle they were in, that their own parents lived.  I’ve had female students tell me they will never marry or live with man because they are so scared they’ll be in a  domestically violent situation like their mom was.

    So, I tell them it’s understandable how these serious past issues are affecting their present.  I talk to them about being conscious of the damage these situations caused will help them in stopping these cycles.  After all, you can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge (Dr. Phil 🙄).   I also recommend they develop a support system of friends and family who are aware of the issues, see a counselor to learn how to put ‘safeguards’ in place, talk to their partners about their fears, and to make themselves understand they don’t have to be like those who hurt them.  They can make a cognizant decision to be the kind of parent or partner they want to be, and anyone, with enough ‘want’, truly can break this cycle of abuse.

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    We are all in cycles…patterns…dances…whatever terminology works best for you.  I know I am.  I fall for someone and immediately I’m so elated and excited since I love to love (that sounds like a great title for a song), and I want to share with them, be with them, and get to know all I can about them!  Falling in love excites me; it opens my heart and so much flows from it.  I think this can be attributed to the feeler inside of me…the empath.  This sensitive person I am who when I feel something, I feel it strong and want to share every single bit of myself with that person.  The problem?  It can be hard to keep up!  I know it can be overwhelming.  I know I’m very excitable.  Well…I know I’m bipolar.

    I also know that when I’m around others, I try very hard to be the person who never rocks the boat.  It’s almost like Everyone Loves Raymond…I want everyone to love me!  And I guess I’ve learned, through various life experiences, that to do that I need to acquiesce to the wants of others.  To make sure they’re happy. Satisfied.  “If I’m good enough and sweet enough and act happy enough, this person or these people, will have to like me!”  For some reason, I associate any criticism, hearty disagreement, or conflict with the idea the person has ceased to approve of me, and for those of us who are sensitive ruminators who tend to personalize things, this is terrible for us!  As a result, we do what we say we won’t do again:  push our own needs down, do all we can for the other person, envelop them with a love that’s very hard to return, and then take blame for when things go wrong.  I don’t like this dance and I’m trying so hard to change the steps.  But when this is the only way you’ve danced for 50 years, that’s easier said than done.

    This fucking bipolar.  I know so many people have it much much worse.  I truly understand that and I thank God every single night about how grateful I am for the blessings I have.  But I still hate this.  It’s so easy for people to say, “Of course I understand you’re bipolar”, but it’s not so easy to understand that if I am more emotional or sensitive to words and behavior than others are, it’s because of this brain illness.  Unless you’ve been there, how do you describe what it feels like to have your brain pushing you one way, when you really want to go the other.  Pushing you to have that emotional, hypersensitive reaction instead of letting you tone it down to what is more appropriate.  What’s more realistic.  You’re fighting an opponent that’s very very difficult to beat.

    Maybe I need to put some of those masks back on that I tore off a couple of years ago.  I am starting to understand masks can be a good thing too and we really do wear them more than we think.  Sometimes I say to myself, “OK, Kristi, who do you want to be today?”  When I get into another relationship, will I be able to put on a mask that says: “I’m a bit reserved because I don’t want to give so much that you have the power to destroy me.”  I wonder what that mask would look like?

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    There are so many ‘anniversaries’ for me in the spring and summer:  my grandparents dying, 2 husbands leaving, 2 weddings (and no, the weddings and leavings were not necessarily the same people…and yes, I understand this aspect of my life is a freaking soap opera), my nephew, J, my breakdown, etc.  It’s impossible not re-visit these.  To make yourself forget.  And so many of these bring me pain.  Remembering my sweet nephew who was killed on a Naval ship continues to bring tears to my eyes.  Looking back at my weddings and remembering the excitement of starting a new life with this person, and then trying to understand how the marriages fizzled out like they did.  I smile when I remember my grandparents, but get choked up too after all of these years since I wish they were here to hug and talk too.  Having to go back to all J did and trying to still build myself up from being torn down like I was.  And remembering that breakdown.  That fucking breakdown.  Actually, I’m reminded of it everyday since I have scars that mark the time.

    I’m going to try to put on a ‘strong’ mask for this summer.  I’m not going to be fake or go back to being someone I’m not.

    I just need to consciously remember I’m capable of handling anything that might come my way.  Old memories…new situations…new people.  I’m not going to have the mask completely cover my face though.  I’m going to have more air holes so I can breathe.   More flexibility in how it fits.  A better representation of who I am compared to masks I used to wear.

    So anniversaries…memories…do you worst.  I’ve got the ability to handle them now.  And to be honest with you, I’m pretty proud of that.

    Kristi xoxo

    “You Should Have Seen His Face When I Started Taking My Clothes Off. Priceless.” ~ Stephenie Meyer (Breaking Dawn)

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    So, one of my Facebook buddies I’ve known since the 7th grade sent me a message the other day and said this:

    “And you are so easy to support.  You just put it out there!!  You never ask or demand, and you have this thing with honest reflection of the places and moments that make you whole.  I thought I was the only one with questions attached to things like joys and regrets.”

    I loved getting this and it showed me that opening up on this blog really is helpful to others.  We all have our challenges…our burdens…and to write about them and share them maybe helps to distribute that weight a little more easily, or eases the heaviness on some on our shoulders.

    When you hear the phrase ‘coming out’, you think of those who have revealed to their family, friends and colleagues about their sexual orientation or gender identity.  And that’s a wonderful thing!  For so long, members of the LGBTQ community were forced into ‘hiding’ so to speak.  To talk about their orientation was societal suicide and often still is.  They can lose family and  friends, be fired from jobs or denied promotions, be denied housing or custody of their children, be a victim of a hate crime, be an outcast in a neighborhood or community and the list goes on.

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    What’s so sad to me is that even though things have ‘gotten better’ more than 50% of LGBTQ have faced discrimination in just the last year, and even more frightening is there’s no federal law against this (Center for American Progress, May 2nd, 2017).  What the hell?

    The term ‘coming out’ regarding the mentally ill is similar.  Like the LGBTQ community, there’s a lot to lose and a lot of discrimination tied to having a mental illness:  housing, health care costs, work issues (yeppers), criminal justice issues (receiving longer sentences, etc.), loss of friends and difference in treatment among colleagues (been to that freaking rodeo) to name a few (National Alliance on Mental Illness, March 11th, 2020).

    So why did I do it?  Why do any of us do it, regardless of the issue we’re coming out for?  Because it’s not only hard to fake your way through life, it’s simply not fair.  Pushing down who you are to pretend to be who you’re not is exhausting, and shameful to the person.  You aren’t ‘good’ enough…’normal’ enough…’right’ enough to be fully accepted in our society, and feeling that way leads to self-stigmatization as well.  It also impedes seeking help/recovery and following through with it, as well as asking for support from others which leads to more feelings of low self-worth.  In other words, your ‘person’ is thwarted and you feel less than.

    Of course my family knew about me being bipolar and so many of them were supportive and accepting of the mentally ill ‘me’ which was such a relief and validated my worth.  I also share with my students, when it’s appropriate and in the context of what we are studying.  When I teach about mental illness, if I can’t talk about something I have openly, how can my students believe my lecture in which I state there needs to be acceptance of those with mental illness, education about the various illnesses, and a real effort to end the stigmatization of this population (which is quite large, by the way).  If I can’t talk about being bipolar without shame and share my experiences, everything I teach them is a lie.

    But there have been consequences for ‘coming out’ too.  Colleagues look at me differently.  Some are so supportive and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.  Others have told me that it’s all in my head (hence the title of this blog!) and if I just got off those meds and kept a positive attitude, I’d be fine (oooookkkkkaaaayyyyy).  A couple told me to ‘pray it away’ (what the fuck?  I believe I was given this for a reason, peeps…and I would prefer these particular people pray away their ignorance instead).  I think the worst I’ve experienced at work was when I was having a very serious issue with a student at the same time of my mental breakdown and when I was at the bottom of the most serious depression I’ve ever had.  I was treated horribly (after 23 years of perfect service) and my mental state was obvious.  This was used against me as proof I was the cause of the stalking and direct, written threats I received.  I couldn’t fight it.  My illness was too strong right then.

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    How transparent should I be though?  Should I share everything?  My sissy and I were yacking about it last night (after I admired her highlights…they freaking rock), and she said I wasn’t being honest when I didn’t share everything going on in my life.  And she’s right.  I promised candor, but I realized there are some things I just can’t do that with.  I have my secrets…and I think we all do.  If I share every piece of me, what’s left that’s just mine?  It’s kinda like when sis and I would go trick-or-treating and take a look-see at our candy after.  I’d keep some of my treats hidden from her (I’m sorry T…I’ll buy you some Reeses peanut butter cups to make up for it) because I wanted those all for myself.  Likewise, it’s not always easy to be completely transparent.  Accountable.  And like all of us, it’s just too hard to be ‘out there’ all of the time.  I guess I just need to keep some of my ‘me’ inside too.

    I know my ‘coming out’ has helped people, and that quote at the beginning is only one of scores I’ve received.  Every time I hear that I’ve encouraged others to lessen their shame of having a mental illness and assured them it’s absolutely no fault of their own, I feel justified in this openness.  Is it worth the negatives?  You betcha.

    Like I’ve said in previous posts, ‘coming out’ has freed me.  Removed so many of the masks I was hiding behind.  Helped me to live more authentically which has bolstered my self-confidence and worth.  It ain’t always easy doing this, and it ain’t always everything in my life that I put out there.  But it’s real.  Something I wish we could all be, no matter what it is we’re struggling with.

    Kristi xoxo

    “Someday I Hope to Write Something That’s Worth Plagiarizing.” ~ Author Unknown

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    So, my son said something so adorable the other day (yes, I know he’s 26 but he’s still adorbs to me) regarding my blog:  “Ma, you are blogging so much you are going to run out of things to say.”  I looked at him dumbfounded for probably a solid minute and responded:  “O, in the name of all that is holy,  do you REALLY think I would run out of things to yap about?”

    C’mon.  I’m a talker.  The biggest complaint my teachers had about me in school was how much I talked to the other kids.  But the ironic thing is I really didn’t care if they were listening or not because it didn’t matter to me.  I wasn’t talking to get information or ask a question, I was talking because I’m the type of person that needs to talk.  My ma says I always talked in my sleep, and one of the hardest manners I had to learn was not talking with my mouth full.  And if I’m being honest, I still find that very hard to do.  I will swallow a glob of food without chewing if I can’t wait to say something I need to get out.

    Related to that, I love love love to write and I always have.  In early grade school we would copy things from the board to learn our letters and such, but I would always take my paper and write stories instead.  I didn’t want to copy, I wanted to create my own story; even at that young age, I wanted my voice to be heard.  Bless my ma and dad’s hearts because they saved all of sis’s and my report cards, papers, etc. and I have so many stories in my school box.

    Take a look at these:  I know the Spotted Apple was written in the 3rd grade and From Outer Space (my personal favorite because of the green yarn binding) was in 4th.  Why these 2 tomes didn’t win a Pulitzer is beyond me.

    But now, here’s a couple of huge issues:  “Sue Ann Gets Married” sounds very much like the hit movie “Peggy Sue Got Married” which was released in 1986, more than 10 years after my ‘book’, while the “Harry Potter” series sounds eerily like my “Harry and the Spider” novel. Now, I’m not saying these original ideas were stolen per se, but I do have a literary lawyer looking into the matter.  P.S.  If you are reading this J.K. Rowling, I can show you how to shave off a few hundred pages…Harry and the Spider is 4.

    As I got older, whenever I needed to vent something, I’d write it.  Not in journals (like I’ve said before I’m horrible at keeping those) but just on random sheets of paper, the back of ads, on scraps I’ve pulled out of the garbage can.  It’s like I have to get the words out and sometimes, for me, writing is the best way to do it.

    Maybe because I’m bipolar I feel the need to do this.  When I’m manic, there is absolutely no way I can keep up with the thoughts that are swirling around my brain (my new mood stabilizer is helping!).  Sometimes people have asked me what it’s like to be so ‘high’ and it’s kind of like the teacup ride at Disney.  You sit in these cups and there’s a wheel in the center that you grab and turn, and your cup goes around and around faster and faster until it feels like you’re almost flying.  That’s what it’s like (except you don’t puke in the end).  So because of that swirling, writing gets things down for me that I can’t keep up with otherwise.  I have notebooks all over the house and if you tried to read them…good luck!  But I can read every word I scribble down.

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    And when I’m depressed?  I need to get out things that choke me up to talk about and that I can’t face any other way.  Writing allows me to say my thoughts in a way that won’t put off or scare anyone else.  These often macabre thoughts are safe on my paper, and seeing them in writing releases them a bit from my brain.

    That’s why this blog is so great for me because it gives me an outlet where I can just talk.  When I used to sit down in front of a computer as an adult, I would think about perfect sentence structure, perfect grammar, etc. and would be so concerned with the mechanics of the writing and whether or not it sounded perfect, that it was constricting.  But now, I just write.  Just talk.  I don’t care what the sentences look like. I just care about getting down what I need to say that day.  That’s what writing should be.  Talking…telling stories…sharing ideas.  Who cares if it’s perfect?

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    I wrote a book a few years ago on marriage (go ahead and roll your eyes…but really, after 3 of them, at least I’m experienced in the subject) and I wanted it to be like other self-helpy type books out there.  Lots of chapters with cute tables or graphs, illustrations, references, etc.  So, that’s what I sat down to write, and I’d get about 5 sentences in it and give up.  It wasn’t ‘sciency’ enough and I’d get so nervous about making sure it was up to the standards of the ‘experts’ that I’d just quit trying.  Finally, I decided to talk, like I do in class.  Just say what I wanted to say and that’s what I did.  I talked about what I thought were important aspects of  marriage and instead of worrying about it being perfect, I simply let it flow.  When writing goes like that with the words coming easily, it feels so freaking good to me!

    I have a couple things in the works right now.  I’m starting to write a book about being diagnosed bipolar, etc, and I also have a lot of children’s books I’ve written over the years.  When my son was a little guy and we’d run out of library books to read, I’d make up stories for him and then write them down later.  I’d really like to get an agent to see if they think they’re good enough to submit to a publisher; it’s always been a dream of mine to be a children’s writer.  We’ll see!

    Anyhoot, I’m having such a great time writing, talking, getting things down I need too, expressing what I’m feeling, and the best part is that y’all are kind enough to take this ride with me.  You don’t judge it, or critique it, or try to tell me what I’m doing wrong.  You are a wonderfully accepting audience that motivates me to sit in front of my keyboard everyday.  Thank you so much for that.  I know this blog is light years away from being perfect, but you know what?  That’s just fine with me.

    Kristi xoxo

    “The Greatest Loss is What Dies Inside Us While We Live.” ~ Norman Cousins

    Dl-9CTEWwAAkxx6
    Death by Asphyxia

    So, here we are as a nation having to be isolated from one another and then knowing we are taking a chance at getting COVID when we go out to get what we need.  Today I was at the grocery store and to be honest with you, I was scared by what I was seeing.  There were people there with not only masks on, but with huge bandanas wrapped around their faces so only their eyes showed.  When I would reach for something and my arm wasn’t exactly 6′ away, I’d get a dirty look.  The instant we let go of something, it’s sanitized.  Now, I know the measures need to be taken.  I get that, and I would be devastated if someone in my family contracted this.  But here’s my point:  we are taking so many measures to fight this virus.  This crisis.  And that’s the right thing to do.  I guess I just want to see the same measures taken for a crisis that has no ending in sight.

    Now, hear me out.  In 2018 (the most recent data I can find), 48,344 Americans died of suicide, which is about 132 people every day.  Further, 1.4 million people attempt suicide every year (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention).  What scares me the most is this:  between 2007-2017, the suicide rate for teenagers (15-19) went up 76%.  Read that sentence again, grasshoppers.  Seventy-six percent.  For KIDS ages 10-14, the suicide rate tripled during that same time frame.  For both age groups, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death and takes more lives than anything except accidents which include motor vehicle deaths (Centers for Disease Control).  Finally, men over 65 are at the highest risk for suicide, and people 85 and over are the 2nd most likely age group to die (NPR).

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    Sawyer Sweeten (Everybody Loves Raymond) Gunshot wound – age 19

    Obviously, I could go on and on with other statistics, but I think I made my point:  suicide is a public health crisis in America ALL of the time, and I think attention needs to be paid to this; particularly when it’s taking the lives of so many of our kids and teens, as well as adults.  Do you realize we are twice as likely to die by suicide than homicide, while cancer, heart disease and stroke deaths are lessening?

    Think about this:  suicide is preventable.  Yes, I said preventable.  Suicide is not about death, it’s about ending pain in the person’s life.  No one truly wants to die, we have a huge survival instinct.  Think about the Jews in the Holocaust, or the POW’s in Japan during WWII or Vietnam.  When I think how so many willed themselves…forced themselves…to survive in spite of the abhorrent conditions they faced, it astounds me.

    I teach about the Donner party in my Sociology classes, and most people joke about this:  “Hey…what are the Donner’s going to have for supper?  Aunt Jane!”  Actually, it was tragic.  These poor people who had lost the great majority of their food and supplies because of the Great Salt Dessert crossing and Paiute Native Americans who attacked them, got stuck in the Sierra Nevada mountains for an entire winter where literally, scores of snow fell which made climbing these impossible.  They tried numerous times though, but failed.  The first person that was eaten was a man who had begged his daughters to do so.  If they lived, he said, so would the rest of their family.  But no one ended up eating their kin, and no one consumed meat unless everything else had been used:  bark, leather, fur, etc.  That’s survival, peeps.  That’s what life means.

    Go back to those stats.  For kids and teens to be in such pain they end their precious, young lives is unacceptable to me.  Overall, not only do we have a suicide epidemic (literally) that cuts across all ‘lines’, but we have a mental illness/mental health crisis that is behind these horrific losses.  It’s a 2 fold problem:  a society that’s in so much pain, people of all ages are killing themselves because of problems bigger than they are mentally capable of handling at that point, and a lack of resources.

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    Anthony Bourdain – Death by Hanging        (1956 – 2014)

    Look at this:  The National Institutes of Health are the largest funder for biomedical research in the entire world.  In 2016, they spent $68 million on suicide, but 5x more studying SLEEP (what the fuck?), and 10x more on breast cancer which actually killed less people than suicide.  Something has to give.  We are spending more money on killers that take fewer lives.  Isn’t there something very wrong with that?  Doesn’t that show the value we place on mental illness and mental health issues?

    And like I said, the kicker is that suicides are preventable, primarily with hotlines where the counselor establishes connection with the caller quickly, shows care and empathy, and let’s them know there are other ways to end the pain they are overwhelmed with in their lives.  Another prevention?  Breaking the stigma of mental illness by making is less ‘risky’ for people to say they are battling depression, or feel like they are outside their bodies looking in, or are experiencing so much anxiety, panic, or mania, they don’t think they can handle it another day.  Men are 4x more likely to commit suicide, and are also less likely to receive help for mental health issues.  Hmmmmm.  Plus, these approaches don’t require social distancing, masks, or staying at home in isolation:  it requires work in terms of funding and education.  In my mind, that’s doable.

    I know these things all too well from my own experiences at attempting suicide – when you are in such a fucking dark place where you look around and see only this black hole enveloping you more and more, you have no way of seeing anything else.  That monster has you, and it takes someone outside of yourself to start the journey of climbing up those walls.  It takes someone showing you that you matter.  That you can survive.  Saying: “Things will get better…we all go through stuff.” or “You just got to look on the bright side.” or even “Don’t be so dramatic” are just going to make the person feel guilty for what they are feeling.  But saying “Hey,  I care about you  I want to help you” can.

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    Kate Spade – Death by Hanging (1962 – 2018)

    Edwin Schneidman was the pioneer in the study of suicide, and stated there 10 commonalities of it:  seeking a solution, cessation of consciousness, intolerable psychological pain, frustrated psychological needs, feelings of helplessness-hoplessness, feeling ambivalent, a feeling of constriction, a want of escape, communication of intent, and the coping skills the person has.  (The Suicidal Mind – Oxford University Press)

    Look at some of these closer.  How can we help ease people’s psychological pain?  By maybe recognizing and helping those with it?  By reducing the stigma of expressing this?  What about feelings of helplessness & hopelessness?  By giving people, such as the homeless, lonely, and sick something that gives them meaning?  Something they feel some control over?  Something to feel they are needed?

    And communication of intent?  Maybe we can help by addressing it.  Believing it.  Showing empathy for the person.  Helping them while standing beside them all of the way.  That’s what my ma did for me, and it obviously worked.

    Lastly, the coping skills the person has.  Mine suck balls, like a lot of others with bipolar.  I haven’t been able to cope with much since I was a gangly little girl.  Normal things hit me hard.  Very hard.  Just having a friend pay attention to someone else would devastate me (and I don’t use the word devastate lightly).  Having my ma or dad express disappointment in me would crush me down to where I felt incapable of being loved.  Having a guy reject my feelings in HS would get me so emotionally distraught, I felt I was a ‘nothing, like an invisible girl no one really saw.  Is it no wonder the first time I attempted suicide was when my first love told me he didn’t want to be with me anymore?  And my second time when too many things piled up on me at once that I totally collapsed under the weight of it all?

    We need so much to understand what some people can handle, others can’t.  When my ma would say “Honey, you’ll get over J and move on with someone who loves you back” I know her intentions were very good, she simply hated seeing me in so much pain.  But I couldn’t  ‘just’ do that, no matter how much I tried.  Her coping skills are amazingly strong, while mine are amazingly weak.  When people would say “Kristi, your nephew is in a better place”, I knew that to be true.  But guess what?  Maybe understanding that does comfort some, but it didn’t do shit for me when mourning a boy who had barely grown up.

    Look, peeps…we are in the midst of a pandemic.  We all need to stay healthy and safe.  We all need to be diligent about washing our hands, wearing our masks, and staying away from others.  But let me tell you something and I want to make this very clear:  suicide will still be around.  Long after this fucking Covid has either ‘run it’s course’ or we develop a vaccine for it.  However, suicide will still be taking lives, young and old.  Every single day we’ll see another 129 people kill themselves, all preventable deaths.

    I don’t know about you, but I want this epidemic to be over too.  Badly.

    Kristi xoxo

    The National Suicide Hotline is available 24/7 – 1-800-273-8255

    “Oh, Oh, I Gave You My Heart.” ~ Elton John

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    Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

    So, when I started this blog it was for 2 reasons:  first and foremost, to talk about life with mental illness and to shed light on related issues that might help start conversations while reducing mental illness stigma by letting others see we are ‘real people’, and not just diagnosis, who are coping with issues as best we can.  Second, it was selfishly for me.  I suck balls at journaling.  I get the cutsie notebooks with the fancy schmancy covers and then write for 2 days and stop.  Having this blog helps me be consistent, with awesome feedback and support, and allows me to get things out I need to process.

    I’ve had this friend since we were in Jr. High.  He’s amazingly funny, kind, smart, respectful.  Actually, he is everything that’s good in a person that I’ve lacked in my other relationships.  When we were in HS, he asked me out a couple of times and has said how he had wanted so badly to be with me, but I was with my first ever boyfriend so it didn’t happen.  We lost touch after graduation but a couple of years ago we rediscovered each other on Facebook and started responding to each other’s posts and having bits of conversation.

    As I was dealing with the break-up of J, he reached out to me and we started messaging.  He made me feel better and more confident in myself by building me up, telling me how much I have to offer, and how I should never ever settle for anything less than wonderful.  I was starting to think that maybe he was the wonderful that was finally coming into my life.  I’ve known him for so long and talking with him was second nature.

    I knew I was developing feelings…feelings that started a long time ago and grew quickly as we re-connected.  In my mind, I could see a future.  A ‘forever’ partner that I could be ‘me’ with and know I was safe with.  I told him that the difference with him was that my other men had made me cry…but he made me smile.

    A few days ago he said he loved me and that he had always had me on a pedestal.  I didn’t say it back right away; I needed to think about what my feelings really were.  And with the joy his words brought to me, the way my heart opened, and the butterflies I was experiencing,  I knew I loved him too.  It was like a part of me always did, all these decades since school.

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    Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

    Now the caveat.  He’s with another woman who he says he’s not happy with, doesn’t have sex with, but who he’s comfortable with since the relationship has lasted for a lot of years.  I know, I know:  “Kristi, wake up and smell the fucking coffee!  ALL men say that when pursuing someone else!  Duh!”  And you’re right; so many men do say this.  But I know him, and I think he’s genuine.  Don’t say it…I know what you’re thinking, grasshoppers, that it’s just another game I’ve been sucked into.

    So, I said I love him too.  And I mean it from the bottom of my heart (sing that sentence like Stevie Wonder does please).  We talked about having a life together and wanting to be together.  But then, just today (which is why I needed to write this so I could process it the best I can right now) he told me that the future would be us together when we could be, and him going home to his partner.  He just can’t leave her after these years together, no matter how unhappy he is.

    I can’t do that.  I simply can’t.  I know first hand, not just with me, but with family members too, how horrendous ‘affairs’ are to everyone involved.  They destroy relationships…break up families…hurt so many people in the name of ‘being happy.’  How can I do that to someone else?  How can I selfishly hurt a person I don’t even know?  How can I look my ma in the eye and tell her why this man I love won’t be around for any holidays and just sporadically at my house?

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    Photo by Johannes Rapprich on Pexels.com

    But (and y’all will be proud of this), how can I do that to myself?  I have spent the last 2 years of my life rebuilding it.  Rebuilding me.  The reason why Hubby 3 left (sigh)…everything J did to me…my sweet nephew dying senselessly…my health scare…my issues at school regarding a threatening student…my mentor passing away…dealing with the most difficult depression I’ve ever had in my stinkin’ bipolar life…cutting myself…attempting suicide.  For fuck sakes, I’ve had a lot to patch up and, by the grace of God (I’m very very serious about that, and I need to add with the grace of O, ma, and sis too), I have.  I was at the very bottom of where I could be.  Sometimes, I can’t even think about it.  Revisiting that hole is terrifying because it makes me have to wonder if I’ll ever fall in again.  I don’t know if I would make it this time if I did.

    I like to joke and laugh about being bipolar.  Like I’ve said before, if I don’t laugh I’ll cry, and to be honest with you (and I always am),  I am so fucking tired of the tears.  Us bipolars do that a whole lot you know, and it’s exhausting.  So many of you with other mental illnesses can relate all too well;  I know my sis does who struggles immensely with her major depression.  Like so many, I’m overly sensitive, overly emotional, overly affected by rejection.

    How ironic is it that this man is everything I say I want?  Need.  Desire.  And like a bad joke, he’s the one man in my life that’s not accessible to me.  I feel like I don’t know how to handle this.  The tears have been flowing…my heart has been aching…and my brain is trying to process how I could get hurt again so fast.

    Remember when we talked about punishment?  It’s hard not to think that’s what’s happening to me now.   I know ‘logically’ that’s probably not true.  But as my neighbor and I discussed yesterday as we chatted for a couple of hours in my backyard, it’s not reality that we work from, but our own perceptions of that reality.  So, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, my perception holds true for me.  I’ve also talked a lot about really shitty things I’ve done in my life that I attribute so much to my unmedicated bipolar, as well as just really crummy decisions I’ve made.  I deserve retribution for those things.  I deserve to pay the price.  Unfortunately, I selfishly thought I had already paid that debt, but I think there’s still more there to do.

    And you know, when something like this happens, it’s very difficult to think my mental illness doesn’t play a role.  After all, our mental illnesses affect every part of our lives, don’t they?  Maybe I’m too ‘much’ for him.  Too ‘different’.  Too ‘imposing.’ And yes, I probably am.

    Anyhoot, I needed so bad to talk about this; to see these thoughts in words.  And to be honest, connect with you, my sweet peeps.  I thank you for listening.  Thank you for the understanding I know you will give me because y’all are just so supportive and kind to me.  In fact, thank you for going on this journey with me which I’ll continue until my age-spotted hands just can’t type anymore.

    Hopefully, you’ll all be here with me for a happy ending.  Very greedily, I want it sooner than later.  I’m 53 (sigh…) and want my forever.  Not a perfect forever…I know fairy tales aren’t real.  But a forever where I’m happy…he’s happy…and we build something genuine and stable that keeps us together through the good and bad.  I’m ready.  I’m waiting.  And when it does happen, I’ll appreciate it so much.  I promise.

    Kristi xoxo

     

    Good Bi-brations.

    So, if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

    Well…wait.  I guess you can laugh at comedians.  Funny movies.  The People of Wal-Mart website.  OK…so when I think about it, there are actually a lot of people you can laugh at, but anyhoot, let’s stick with us.

    The other day, I was yacking with ma (go figure) and I told her I had a GREAT run that day…so good, that I was dancing along a bit while running.  The following conversation then took place:

    “You were…ummmm…dancing?  While running?”
    “Yes, ma.”
    “How were you ‘dancing?'”
    “Well, for example, when YMCA was playing I did the arm stuff.”
    “Well…OK!  (BIG pause)  So…ummmm…did anyone see you?  Like…you know…people?”
    “Ma!  I have fucking bipolar!  I can get away with it!”

    We started laughing so hard and she agreed with me!  I realized then with all the crap that goes with having this mental illness, sometimes you have to just laugh about it.  It’s survival.

    Sis and I love to eat lunch out together, and here’s a common conversation:

    “OH NO (said in a very dramatic voice)!  T, I know it’s my turn to pay, but dammit…I forgot my card and don’t have any cash on me!”
    “Again?  You forgot it again?'”
    “Uh, yeah.  You know, T, I do have bipolar.”
    “Kristi, I’m well aware of that.  However, I’m a LPN who has worked on the psychiatric floor of a large hospital and I don’t remember ever hearing about how forgetting your debit card is a symptom of ‘bipolar’.'”
    “Oh.  Well.  It’s like a ‘new’ symptom.  You know.  A rarer one.  That I happen to have.”
    “Sigh.”

    See what I mean?

    So, confession time: I’m in love with Simon Cowell.  Let me say it again because it just sounds so damn yummy:  I’m in love with Simon Cowell.  As such, I’m always watching X-Factor and American Idol videos on YouTube.  There is nothing more I want than to be belting out a song on that HUGE stage on X-Factor and have the audience give me a standing ovation.

    “Son (O), I wanna try out for X-Factor.”
    “Why?”
    “Uh, duh.  Because I want to be a star.  You know, I gave up that dream when you were born, but maybe now it’s time.”
    “Ma.  You have no talent.  You can’t sing.  You can’t dance.  At all.  And from what dad says, you couldn’t when I was born either.”
    “So O, what are you trying to say?  You know, I’ve been feeling pretty depressed lately.  ‘Cause of my bipolar and all.”
    “OH.  Well.  SSSUUURRREEE…you’d be great on it!”

    Or…

    “Dammit, O, the yard needs mowed.”
    “Uh huh.”
    “Really BAD.”
    “Uh huh.”
    “Wanna mow for me?”
    “Ma, I’m working on some stuff and I thought you loved yard work.”
    “Son…I’m feeling depressed and don’t think mowing is a good idea for me right now (isn’t that the biggest load of bullshit you ever heard?)”
    “OH. I’ll go do it then.”
    🙂  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

    Please don’t give me a lecture on using bipolar this way.  Look grasshoppers, sometimes you use what you have and this is my way!   If I was beautiful, I’d use my wiley ways to do the same.  Get it?

    Now, when I’m manic, I can’t do enough artsy fartsy stuff.  And I get in moods in terms of what I want to make.  I’ve gone through Zentangling, acrylic pour painting, crocheting, sewing, beading, water coloring, book folding and decoupaging.  And when I do it, I do it!  For a while, there was literally NOTHING I wouldn’t decoupage.

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    A quilt I entered in a show!  P.S.  I didn’t win anything for it.

    Some things turned out really well and I loved them (until I came down, that is).  And others sucked ass.  Big time.  When I went through my crocheting stage, EVERYTHING in my house that was the size of a breadbox or smaller was covered in some sort of crocheted “wrapping”.  I have a picture of me with a crocheted ‘purse’ and it’s horrendous.  Too bad I can’t find it to show you.  But you know me…my bipolar makes it hard to get my old pics out.  Just sayin’.

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    Edward helping me bead in my studio!

    I have so many beaded bracelets that I’ll never be able to wear them all (a slight exaggeration) and my son says the number of quilts we have could be lined up to go around our entire neighborhood block.  My paintings cover my walls and when I get out my brushes, NOTHING is safe.  And PLEASE don’t say I should open my own Etsy.  Been there…done that.  My profit?  Zip.  Zero.  Nada.  ‘Nuff said.

    Now we all know how creativity is linked closely with bipolar:  F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Walt Whitman, Sylvia Plath, , and Vincent Van Gogh just to name a few.  Not that I’m comparing myself to these people…just sayin’.  But my mania really does let me explore my creative side and I let go.  I’m not concerned with the process or the result or being afraid something isn’t going to turn out.  I just do it and even if the end product is ass ugly, it was fun!

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    I love this ooooops painting that turned out so cool!

    Another great thing is that when I’m manic, my confidence and charm explode!  I was up for a full-time tenure track position at my college in 2000 and was passed over as a candidate the first time around.  When the search committee couldn’t agree on anyone, I was considered the second time interviews were set up!  I was teaching as an adjunct already and was doing the work they wanted, so this was something I really really really really desired!  So, I was in the President’s Office for my final interview with about 7 other muckety mucks and knew this was my only chance to nail it:

    “Kristi, tell us what your biggest weakness is.  Your biggest negative.”
    “I don’t have any.  Next question?” (Remember, I said this in a very charming way.)

    My colleague tells me that’s what set me apart from the others.  My confidence!
     
    When my son was a little guy, I was never too embarrassed to really play with him: get dirty, be on the playground equipment, take him cool places, try fun things with him.  Who gave a fuck what the other moms were thinking?  We had a ball!

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    My son and I still have so much fun together!

    When I set what others might think of as unrealistic goals, I meet ’em.  Like registering for a marathon after not being able to run an 8th of a mile.  I had 6 months and I did it!  My mania and energy got me there!

    In the classroom, my mania can sometimes be a bit hard to reign in, but it’s really fun for my students!  We learn a lot (I can give a hell of a lecture in an hour), but we also laugh and that makes it a comfortable environment that all my students respond too.  There’s nothing I like better (except maybe…you know…ahem…sex) than hearing my students say “I love this class!” while walking out the door.  Makes me smile every time.

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    I love being in front of an audience.  

    I’m not scared to speak in public at all.  I’ve been graduation speaker 3x and LOVE giving my speeches in front of the 1000 people there.  When I’m manic, I have the LOOK AT ME syndrome going on…I want to be the center of attention!

    I can get excited over the littlest things. Sometimes I have a feeling people think I’m ‘faking’ a reaction to something, but I’m not!   I can actually get REALLY excited over seeing a deer on a hike or going to a stage musical or finding a turtle on a path.  Things like that make my day!  And Christmas?  I LOVE to give and open presents and everything I receive excites the crap out of me!

    Now, I don’t want to brag on this one, but let’s get it out there:  people with bipolar tend to have higher IQs, particularly in verbal areas.  I love to learn.  LOVE IT!  I read anything and everything I can get my hands on, and theorizing is actually fun to me.  That’s why I think I love teaching psychology and sociology so much…you can never ever learn it all!  (I also think that’s a big reason I chose to teach:  I can use my ‘verbal’ abilities to yap all fucking day).

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    And of course there’s also the fact that we’re sensitive, empathic, and in tune with other people’s feelings.  This makes us good listeners…good people to talk too since we can relate to others so much.  We’re the huggers.  The comforters.  The ones who people will seek out because they know we truly care about what they’re saying.  I’ve literally struck up conversations with people in Wal-Mart (much to my ma’s and O’s chagrin) and after 5 minutes, I’m hugging them while they spill their life story out in the make-up aisle.

    You know having bipolar sucks, and whatever mental illness or mental health issue you are battling sucks too.  But I’ll tell you what:  you’re going to have days that go on forever and you’ll wonder what the fuck you’re doing here; and you’ll have good days that make you understand what you were put on this earth for.  And trust me, grasshoppers: if we can’t laugh about it…maybe until we cry about it… then we are going to let these mental illness bastards win.

    Kristi xoxo

    99, 44, 100% Pure Love. (Eddie Rabbit)

    So, my ma and I were yacking yesterday, and we got on the topic of men.  I was telling her how I was still missing my ex and how I didn’t know what I did to my 2 date wonder to make him run so fast.  She said: “How do you know it was something you did?”  Hmmm.

    As my logical brain (not huge, just sayin’) tried to process this information, my emotional brain automatically blamed myself for the end of not only those, but all my relationships.  Now here me out:  3 divorces (shutty the mouthy), an ex partner (who I thought was my soulmate), and some fizzly dates that probably never should have happened.  And, my sweet grasshoppers, who was the common denominator in all of those?  Go ahead and shout it out, I can take it:  ME. Blech.

    It’s been 6 months since ex and I broke up.  Wait.  Wrong choice of words.  It’s been 6 months since ex broke up with me.  And yes, he wasn’t the best to me during our 3 years together.  Y’all have heard that before.  Along with having had a really bad childhood, he has BPD and PTSD and I cut him a lot of slack because of all this.  The cheating, frequent abandonment, lying, gaslighting, rages, and you get the point.  I overlooked these or minimized them because of feeling sorry for him; because of how I was wanting so bad to make his life better than it had been.  Because I wanted to fix him.

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    Is that what we women do?  I know there are so many women out there that don’t feel this way, but I think those of us who are overly sensitive and/or strong empaths do.  It’s kind of what’s inside of us.  How can I say how ‘sensitive’ and ’empathic’ I am if I don’t show this to the men in my life?  To ex?  He served 3 grueling tours in the Middle East.  Didn’t he deserve to fuck up?  He has mental health issues with documented damage in his brain because of an explosion he was in during his time in Iraq.  Didn’t he deserve forgiveness from me for doing the things he did?  God knows I’ve made a LOT of mistakes because of issues with the mania or depression I’m cycling through.  Don’t I want the same treatment?

    Well, maybe there’s a difference.  First, he was consciously aware of every single thing he was doing because he spent so much time covering it up, lying about it, or making me feel I was nuts for thinking anything was amiss.  If you are able to have that much insight into your actions, are they still the product of a mental illness you can’t necessarily control?  Hmmm.  That’s really one of the hallmarks of BPD, isn’t it?  The instability of the person in every area of their lives.  And with me, I know my impulsiveness has especially caused me to do and say things completely and totally wrong.  That’s part of bipolar.

    So what gives?  I feel so much remorse after I’m in a better place, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive myself a fraction of what I’ve done.  I also take full responsibility.  I always blame myself, bipolar be damned.

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    Is there another explanation for why I stayed then?  I think because of my drawers.  NO!  Not my knickers…but my brain compartments.  Like a lot of people, I’m very good at putting things in boxes.  You put the abuse, infidelity, horrible words in a drawer and try to forget about them, while allowing the drawer of good times to be open.  Remembered.  Looked at.

    Ma asked me if I would ever go back to ex.  I truly, with all my heart, wanted to say no.  But to be brutally honest, I don’t know.  Not long ago, I really wanted another chance at our relationship and responded as such after he texted me.  He shot that down.  For him, it’s dead.  For me, some embers are still burning.

    After J ‘broke’ up with me, I dated a lawyer for a couple of months.  Educated.  Suave.  Fun.  And I thought, OK…this could work.  And then, after a truly small issue that HE brought up, he got so mean with me (verbally…on the phone) that I couldn’t believe his venom.  But in retrospect, I know where it came from.  He and his ex have fought over their daughter for more than 10 years now.  They have been back and forth to court scores of times for such ridiculous things (and it’s the poor girl that’s in the middle of this mine field).  He talked about his ex-wife in such scathing, hateful, and cruel ways that it was always easy to see that anger about her in him.  I just hadn’t realized the anger was now a permanent part of him.

    Then I had 2 dates with another boob.  We met for drinks one Saturday, and the conversation was good and he even hugged me goodbye.  When he did this, I ‘thought’ I felt a hand on my ass, but figured it was probably my imagination.  The next date was at his house.  When I got there, he hugged me and when I left, he hugged me, with his hand on my (guess!) ass both times.  OK, dude.  You are almost 60 years old, and it’s obvious (from other things he said…and let me tell you, that second date ended VERY early) you want a hook up.   Class act.

    Then, my friend of 20 years that I asked out not long ago confounded me too.  I had so much fun on our couple dates together…I really did!  We had been such good friends and I thought building a relationship on that foundation would make for a great thing.  Obviously, it didn’t (shocker, huh?).  I  could see us together, and I was really surprised at how his rejection of me hurt so bad.

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    Here’s what I’ve noticed that pisses me off.  In my life (and many other people have seconded this to me from their own experiences), men seem to have the upper hand in relationships.  In terms of me, why is it that when they wanted it to end, it ended?  Just because J (ex) was wanting to break up, why did we?  Why did HE get to make that decision?  I went to his apartment a couple of times to talk, and he literally would not let me in.  So, I looked desperate, needy.  But, if he came over here?  I would have the courtesy to listen to what he’d say, and others might see him making that step as being so humbling for him.  Men are pursuers, women are stalkers.  Men are ‘ready for an emotional attachment’, women are needy.  ‘Nuff said.

    My friend decided he didn’t want a romantic relationship right now (better get off that dating site then, buddy), but I did.  Once again, his decision prevailed.  Ma asked me if I had talked to him about things, and I said no, not after that last text.  Why?  Because I would look too desperate.  Right?

    But maybe this isn’t about gender (now don’t send me crappy messages about not liking men: for fuck sakes, I’ve married 3 of them and gave birth to one), but about those of us who are overly emotional vs. those who aren’t.  The over-emotionals  don’t handle rejection well.  We expect that others will treat us like we treat them, and understand relationships aren’t (or shouldn’t be) disposable.  We grasp the insight that relationships take work, time and effort.  Why is this so rare?  Shouldn’t this be the ‘rule’ instead of the exception to the ‘rule’?  Shouldn’t both people be part of the break-up like they were for the initial start?  Why can’t both sides have input without judgement?

    If one more person tells me it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I never have a partner again (thanks for the optimism, peeps) I’m literally going to punch them in the face.  OK, not literally.  And not even a tap.  BUT, they will get one of my shitty looks…that’s for sure.

    Look, I know it wouldn’t be the end of the fucking world.  I’m a bit smarter than that.  But I like having a partner.  Actually, I love it.  There are so many people that don’t admit that anymore.  Maybe they think it makes them look weak.  Or needy.  Or pathetic.  I’m not any of those.  How does wanting someone to love and have them love me back weak?  Needy?  Pathetic?  Isn’t that what life is all about?  Building those intimate connections that make us feel loved, secure, and content, with the knowledge that someone out there is crazy about us.  There’s even a phrase called “Poverty of Attachments”; according to this, I’m definitely poor.

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    Maybe I am just asking for too much.  Maybe I will be alone.  But, maybe a guy will come into my life wanting me.  Not wanting what he can get from me, or take from me, or do to me.  But just wanting me.  With all that comes along with me being me.  Is my soulmate out there?  Does that even exist?  I don’t know the answer to that.  But I do know I’ll keep giving 100% in any relationship I’m in and work my ass off in it.  Maybe that’s good…maybe that’s bad.  But to be honest with you,  that’s all I know to do.

    Kristi xoxo

     

    “Sorry Seems to be The Hardest Word” (Bernie Taupin)

    So, the other day in one of my posts, I talked about how guilty those of us with bipolar often feel because of the strain it can place on others.  After reading some messages from you Grasshoppers, I know that others feel this in relation to their own mental illness.  In fact, in an article published by the National Institute of Health, it states:  “The stigmatizing attitudes toward mental illness held by both the public and those who have a mental illness lead to feelings of shame and guilt, loss of self-esteem, social dependence, and a sense of isolation and hopelessness.”  Basically, any of us can experience guilt based on what we have, and not just necessarily by what we do.

    Some of you commented that one way to combat the guilt tied to actions/behaviors/words/etc.  was to apologize to those who were hurt by these things.  I’ve been talking about this very issue with my counselor, and I totally agree.  I’ve been wanting to apologize for a long time.  But, my problem (among many) is how to go about it.

    How can words possibly convey the burdens and hurt I’ve inflicted on others during my life as a bipolar?  Will the words sound genuine if I speak them?  More ‘real’ if I write them?  What exactly do I apologize for?  Being mentally ill in the first place?  What I’ve ‘done’ during the course of this sickness?  Both?

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    If I were to list all of the people I should apologize too, the list would be too long for the gigs I’m allowed on this site.  Seriously.  I have tons of family members I know I’ve hurt.  Ex hubbies.  Friends I’ve had.  I’d have apologize to entire classes for the times I was down and not totally ON for them, which is what each of my classes deserves every time I’m in front of them. And, sorries should go to people I haven’t been kind to since I was so far down to even be able to care like I should.

    When I try to apologize to family, I can’t do it verbally.  I get so choked up at the hurt I’ve caused that talking is difficult.  Just writing this is making the tears begin.  But, that’s no excuse for not apologizing…period.

    My mom has taken the brunt of this illness.  It was really starting to show itself when I was a teen, and the acting out I did during manic times and the anger I expressed to her during my depressive states is shameful to me.  Mom was my scapegoat for everything I was feeling but couldn’t describe or handle at the time.  I remember sitting at the table when I was around 16 or so, and she had made me an Italian sausage sandwich…onions, peppers, the works.  She served it to me and I threw it across the kitchen, hitting a quilt she was hand-quilting while yelling and crying.  Mom had no idea what was wrong, but instead of yelling back and punishing me, she hugged me.  I’ll never forget that.

    Another time in high school, I called my mom a ‘bitch’ for no good reason.  Actually I screamed that word to her in her face.  Right after, I stormed out of the house and rode my bike to my grandparents house.  My grandpa was waiting for me in the kitchen with some food for me.  Mom had called him, just to tell him how upset I was and what I said.  I started nibbling, and grandpa sat down at the terry cloth covered table with me and told me he had never been disappointed in me during my entire life, but today he was.  I sobbed.  Having my grandpa say that told me how far I’d gone in hurting my mom.  I apologized to her when I got home, and she accepted it with no further mention.  That, my Grasshoppers, is forgiveness.

    During the breakdown I had, mom took care of me everyday for a few weeks.  Everyday.  I know what an incredible burden that had to be and the guilt I feel for putting my 73 year old mom through such a trial haunts me constantly.  She saved my life and never once said anything to make me feel responsible for what was happening.  The words “I’m sorry” don’t even say a fraction of what I want too…but other words don’t exist that do.

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    And my son?  For all of his growing up years I tried so so so hard to hide my mental illness.  His dad and his family don’t believe in ‘weakness’ and being ‘sick’ isn’t an option.  How could I admit what was swirling through my brain and how that was affecting me to someone who rebuffed anything that had to do with mental illness?  Plus, I wanted my son-shine to have the best childhood possible.  So I wore the tightest masks I could find;  I’d be damned if I’d let him see my illness.  There was no way I’d have wanted him to carry any burden of it around as a kid.  My job was to be a mommy and make his growing up years happy and stable.

    But when I decided to ‘come out’ with being bipolar, which was a necessity after my breakdown, my son (26) became such a support to me.  To be honest, it took him a while to accept this unmasked me since he had never really seen it before.  But now?  He handles all of my moods, cycles, insecurities, crying, quietness, hyperactivity and everything else with support, care, and understanding.  He’s been my rock, which makes me feel like I’m failing him as a mom now.  But he says he’s supposed to take care of me (since I’m an elder…WTF?) and says that just how it is.  I don’t agree with that, but him doing it is more than I can ever thank him for.  And not being the mom he still deserves is something I’ll never be able to make up for.  He’s going to be moving out in a couple of weeks, but only 2 miles away so he’ll be close if I need him.

    And these 2?  They’re just the tip of the ice burg.  What about apologizing to my ex-hubbies?  I know my sensitivity, impulsiveness, strong emotional reactions, periods of depression and the list goes on, affected each of them.  Would I still be married to O’s dad if I wasn’t bipolar?  Would I have saved my son from going through a divorce had I been honest with him about the severity of what was happening to me?  I don’t know.  But the question makes me ruminate often.

    My sis and dad have been so affected by this too.  Both have their own struggles with mental illness (hello…genetics anyone?) and so many times when I’ve wanted to support them, I can’t because of the state I’m in.  How can I apologize for this neglect, when I know how important support really is?

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    So yes, apologizing is necessary, at least for me.  I’m not going to say I’m sorry for having this brain disorder.  That I can’t help.  But to my family, friends, students, and so many other people that have been affected by me having this fucking bastard (you didn’t think I’d leave that out, did you?) of an illness, I am so sorry for what I’ve put you through.  So very sorry.  Please forgive me for all of these overwhelming burdens I’ve placed on your shoulders.  I don’t know any other words that truly reflect how shamed I am by this.  I hope you understand what I’m trying to say.

    Maybe Elton John was wrong.  Maybe sorry isn’t the hardest word to say.  Actually,  finding the words that will convey the depth of this apology is much more difficult.  I just hope to find them someday, because I owe them to a lot of people.

    Kristi xoxo