So, can you tell me the definition of ‘normal’, my sweet peeps? I ask because as I was doing my dishes today (after my routine peanut butter and jelly sandwich🤨), I thought to myself: I’m feeling normal!
Hmmmm. If you look this word up in the dictionary, here’s what you get (courtesy of Oxford Languages): sane, of sound mind, and right in the head. Oooookkkkkkaaaaayyyyy…
Then, thesaurus.com says that synonyms include healthy, reasonable and whole.
As much as I respect these 2 sources, I am still scratching my head regarding what ‘normal’ really is. If I’m healthy, I’m normal? If I’m sane, I’m normal? Wasn’t Ted Bundy both of these? He was physically healthy, had a bachelors degree in psychology (go figure), was admitted to law school in Utah courtesy of a letter from the Governor of Washington for whom Ted worked during this guys re-election, and completely sane in that he knew what he was doing and was able to act as his own attorney (even with only a year of law school under his belt) in a well spoken way. Sssoo…Ted Bundy was normal. Right?
On the flip side, what about when ma had cancer? She wasn’t healthy…but was still ‘whole’…still ma…still reasonable and of sound mind. But if you go by these definitions, she wasn’t ‘normal.’
My point is this: how do we define what normal is? To me, it’s like trying to define ‘love’ or ‘evil’ or ‘happiness’…it’s simply impossible to do in terms of a global consensus because these words are so personal and unique for everyone.
So, back to me feeling normal. I’ve been on my mood stabilizer, Lamotragine, for 12 weeks now and realized today that I’m feeling more ‘normal’ than I’ve felt in years. YEARS! I feel grounded and calm without depression and mania getting in the way of my life! I’m making a ton of things for Christmas presents and instead of feeling manic and rushed and anxious and stressed, I’m taking my time and enjoying the process of the work. When I see dirty dishes or a rug that needs vacuumed or paw marks on my floors, I don’t fret; when I feel like it, I simply clean things up without the urgency that once ruled me. This is a HUGE step for me! This past summer, while going through a really bad manic stage, I worked on my basement for 12 hours straight, 7 days a week with a frenzy that was horrendous…not just for me, but for anyone else around me as well. My mind was running as fast as my body and it was hellish to say the least.
I definitely wasn’t ‘normal’ at that point but with this 180° turn around I’ve had, I feel like I’m finally experiencing what I always pictured normal as being. I used to rush through the store or take hours even getting up the strength to go. I used to make things because of a need of ‘have too’ instead of ‘want too’. I had pretty much believed that normal was being so down one day that I saw nothing good, or so high that I saw nothing bad.
Now? I’m simply enjoying the pace of my life. In addition to the med, I also am utilizing what I learned in the meditation/mindfulness class I took this fall and have learned to be much more mindful and present in all that I do. I’m more mindful when I eat and enjoy the textures and flavors more than I ever have. I’m more mindful when cuddling my pets and take in their feel and smell and love. I’m more mindful when running and hiking, and even cleaning which is still a chore but one I’m happy to do since I love my house so much.
To wake up and feel good and excited while still taking things 1 step at a time is my ‘normal’ which I’m loving…and am so grateful for. Sometimes it’s scary to think about the power of psychotropic medication since it’s working on your brain chemistry, but to experience such a change in my mood and emotions and behavior illustrates how mental illness is truly an ILLNESS. An illness that needs treatment and care. It’s not a moral failing…an arbitrary stereotype…or a label we’ve internalized. Mental illness is real and it’s like the title of my blog says: It’s all in your head. Literally.
So, it was a long weekend of reflection, ruminating and crying…something a bipolar woman like me is very good at. Go figure. 🙄
I was talking to ma about how my last boyfriend moved on so quickly and seriously and how rejected I felt. He ghosted me after an argument where we both said things we shouldn’t have. However, I truly believed it was a cooling off period and he would come back so we could talk. I tried to talk to him once myself and didn’t get an open response so waited for him to make a move. Living 2 doors apart and the time we spent together along with things we went through had me convinced that this was the guy that was going to be the one to stick around and work on what we were building. Once again, the old refrain holds true: I was wrong.
It hit me this weekend when I saw him with his ex in the house I thought he was buying for ‘us’ so that we could have a balance of togetherness and independence and do the relationship ‘right’…not living together already but living close. This is going to be interesting now.
I lied to myself after J and I broke up. After that fiasco, I told my son (who is very strong emotionally…he obviously takes after me 🙄) that I would never let my heart be broken like that again. Never. And I was living up to it…for a while.
The rejections I’ve experienced in my life make me very hyper-sensitive (for lack of a better word) towards them and I think I know who was the biggest rejection of all: me.
My Theories of Personality class and I were discussing Anna Freud today and the various defense mechanisms we might use throughout life to mitigate internal stress. Three of them really smacked me in the face for some reason and made me think about the weekend: denial, distortion, and delusional projection explain so much to me about how I lived my life for decades.
You see, I always knew something was wrong with me…I’ve mentioned that before. I got help in high school and that led to 2 years of sexual abuse by the psychologist and understandably, that was a HUGE rejection of me as a person as opposed to an object. When B and I were married, I thought “this is it!” This is the guy I’m going to spend the rest of my life with and build a family with no matter what. In other words, despite the fact I had a mental illness, I was going to build that life perfectly come hell or high water.
So, I ‘denied’ everything that pointed to me being bipolar. Mania? Nah…I’m just really really ‘happy’ right now. Depression? Nope…not me. I just needed to clean more or make a big dinner. And then to deal with the imperfection inside my mind, I ‘distorted’ my reality in that I figured if the OUTSIDE was wonderful and perfect, then the INSIDE would be wonderful and perfect. I was perfect in a lot of ways…our house was fastidiously clean, dinner was always on the table at 5, holidays were a huge to-do, my room mothering was like no other (teachers fought to have O in their class since my class parties were legend 😳) , I parented the crap out of my son and loved on him until he was blue in the face, and pretty much created this ‘delusional’ world where everything was great. Super. Wonderful. Perfect.
I’m not going to lie…it was tough as fuck to do this. Sometimes getting out of bed took ages and I had to force it and then other times, not going through the roof took all the control and energy I had. The worst part? This charade obviously didn’t work…no matter how hard I tried. Why? Because charades are a game…not reality.
Hubby 3 accepted me completely…sorta. He accepted me completely as long as he was happy and settled and content. If I tried to talk about needing help or other issues, I was told: “You don’t need that…you’re perfect like you are.” Bless his heart…he meant that and thought that was what I needed to hear, but what he didn’t know was how devaluing that was for me. He wasn’t seeing ME. He wanted me to be the perfect one. He didn’t want to know that I was broken too. When our lives began going on different trajectories, he decided he needed to choose between his motorcycle ‘club’ and me and you know who won. I was thrown away for a group of grungy guys who drink beer, belch, ride Harleys and think they’re contributing a lot to the world. Ok. That didn’t hurt the old self-esteem.
J rejected me in the worst way possible and actually SEEING it made it that much worse. The absolutely most horrible and humiliating thing I’ve ever done in my life was to go to his apartment after this situation to ask him to work on things ONE more time. He rejected me (‘she’ was there 🤢) again when ironically, I should have been the one to kick his butt to the curb.
And now? It’s happened again. But the funny thing is this was a guy that I didn’t think would do it because it’s been done to him a lot of times too. It was like I finally found the man who could understand me. Would persevere with me. Would work with me. I did. I handled his ‘drinking’ problem…his anger issues…his trust issues. But he couldn’t handle anything about me? Women cheated on him with best friends and I’m so bad of a person that I’m left for saying 1 thing I shouldn’t have? Really? That’s how disposable I am as compared to others? Wow.
I threw my true self away for so so long in my life and I’ve had others do the same. I’m getting to where I feel unloveable. Or at least I’m loveable when they’re happy, but just not when I’m unhappy. They’re happy when I forgive their outbursts. Their anger. Their diatribes. But they can’t reciprocate. Really?
Maybe that person isn’t out there. I know I finally found her in me and am living as authentically as I possibly can (which is the only reason I can even write these things let alone hit the publish key). It took me about 35 years to do it and I’m wondering if that’s how much longer it will take me to find the person who accepts me for me…imperfect me who is going to fuck up and make mistakes. I’m ok with that me now. I hope someday I’ll find another who will be as well.
So, I realized I’m not just crying for the loss of another relationship that really meant something to me. I’m crying over the years I was lost to myself. For the hiding I had to do. For the daily performances I had to give. And I’m also crying for just how fucking hard it is to be the ‘real’ me.
So, I called in sick on Friday which is something I rarely do. In fact, I have 2,176 sick hours accumulated over the course of my tenure which will add a year to my retirement when I decide to take it…I’m still so young now (cough cough). Anyhoot, my symptoms were: fatigue, lower back pain, arm pain, chest pain, shoulder pain, hand pain, leg pain, foot pain, and knee pain. Other than that, I felt great. 🙄 And, since I have so much insight into the workings of the human body and read WebMD on a regular basis, I have figured out the culprit to all of this: a patio.
For the last couple of years, my backyard was ‘meh’ and after getting Mally, it worsened this summer. There was a BIG dirt & weed (not the good kind 😐) patch and although I tried seeding it and covering it and watering it and putting barriers up around it, Ed and Mal continued their quest to make my backyard look like crap in that particular area. I called a couple of landscapers about laying a patio in the spot and the best quote I got was $2000. Wwwwaaayyy too much for me to justify…so…I decided to do it myself. Let’s take a look-see:
Digging this area out wasn’t bad at first…in fact the first shovel full was quite delightful as I reveled in creating this myself. By the 5th shovel full, I wanted to move to a condo that offers complete yard maintenance. But, with Edward, Mally, and Chloe (my baby grand-chihuahua) cheering me on, I got it done and after her inspection, Mally told me it was fine.
Now the fun part was going to start: picking my pavers at Lowe’s but before I could do that, I had to move the dirt pile I had stupidly piled up on the little concrete pad right behind me. I was so intent on digging, that I just tossed the scoops of dirt willy-nilly and was now trapped. So…I grabbed the God forsaken shovel again and moved all of the dirt to my driveway. In front of the garage and too close to the backyard fence gate. Then, I hosed off the area by where I was working and created a crap ton of mud…in front of my garage and the fence gate. The result? A 6×6 area of mud that I had to shimmy through the gate and climb over in order to get into said garage all while wearing clothes caked in dirt, water, mud, and I think some poopies I missed while cleaning up the yard before digging. Charmed, I’m sure.
Finally, I was off to Lowe’s without changing. What the hell…I just plopped a beach towel on my Jeep seat and took off with the assumption no potential mates would see me. 🙄
Did you know that when you study psychology and sociology in college, you don’t pay too much attention to math? Did you know it’s very difficult to turn 16″ paver sizes to feet in terms of figuring number and did you know it doesn’t take 100 of the fuckers to cover a 10×10 area? Well…I didn’t. And, when the old man was waiting with his forklift to get me a pallet and I was on my calculator punching in random numbers because I had no clue what I was doing, I said: “Bet you wouldn’t believe I’ve been teaching all my life…” He said: “Nope. I wouldn’t have.” Thanks, gramps. 🙄
So…since my Jeep could only hold so many pavers, I took 16 with me, along with sheets of paver bases which I also had to figure size of. To make a long story short(er), I ended up going back to Lowe’s 4 times. To get more pavers. To get 1 more paver. To return the many paver bases I had bought too many of. And, to get moolah back on the 64 extra pavers I had paid for and didn’t need. As a result, I know every person in the Garden Center by name now…everyone in the Garden Center thinks I’m an idiot…and they are all praying I never start another project again.
I got the area paved and it’s not perfectly level. No matter how much I tried, some of the pavers just wouldn’t get even! Once my back gets better, I’m going to dig out 3 and if I get those OK, it will look great! All in all, I lifted 1,750 pounds of pavers, pea gravel, and bricks along with the hundred shovel fulls of dirt.
Plus, I did a few more things in the backyard:
Now, along with this rigamarole, I also painted shutters, my awning, and trim on my house along with cleaning up the gutters. My sweet neighbor watched so he could YouTube it if I fell off the roof. I didn’t, but it was close.
Now, I did all of this in a period of just 4 days. That’s a manic episode for you, peeps, and I’m in a doozie of one because of all my med changes. You know, mania is a tough thing to handle. On one hand, getting all of this done by myself makes me really proud…unlevel pavers and all. I love knowing I accomplished fixing things up myself and have learned a lot! But, the motor inside of you during a manic phase never shuts off…and you can’t make it. I knew I was exhausted on day 3 but couldn’t stop myself from continuing until I about dropped. This weekend, I’ve been be TRYING to lay around and rest and I’m doing my best. Ma’s first tendency is to say: “Kristi, you need to slow down and not worry about getting things done so much!” and I know this is what I would probably say to someone too. But, that’s akin to telling a depressed person to “Just cheer up” or a person with anxiety to “Just calm down.” Neither works for those either. Mania is just as much out of my control as when I’m depressed. I’ve been on my mood stabilizer for a week now and up my dose tomorrow. It’s going to take a couple more weeks to kick in and until then, I just need to deal with this the best I can. I’m trying to channel it in ways that are productive, but it is what it is (my least favorite saying of all time.).
Anyhoot, thanks for looking at my yard work and understanding how much it means to me to have done it myself. Y’all are wonderful…truly! 😍
So, holy crap! I have been hard at work getting my classes ready and starting school and I haven’t had time to post. I miss it when I can’t blawg because I miss talking to my sweetie peeps!!
Anyhoot, I had a completely different post I was going to write today but after a conversation with my sister this week, I decided to write about it instead. Here’s the scoop: sis texted me and said that she had gotten a new phone for her birthday and her hubby was helping her set it up. During the process, she got very frustrated and yelled and felt very out of control. She told me how bad she felt about her blow-up and how she hates that this happens at times.
My first thought was: ‘Girl, I totally understand’. And my second thought was: ‘Girl, it’s not your fault’ (love you Susan, 😍) .
Let’s take these one at a time, shall we? Like me, T has mental health issues and has suffered from depression, anxiety, and OCD for as long as we both can remember. According to the National Institutes of Health, ‘Many psychiatric disorders tend to run in families, suggesting potential genetic roots. Such disorders include autism, ADHD, bipolar, major depression, and schizophrenia.’
And then there’s this: According to the Mayo Clinic, mental illnesses are most likely caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors including inherited traits, environmental exposures before birth, and impaired neural networks in the brain.
Lovely, isn’t it? You know, the fact that we don’t know ‘exactly’ what causes mental illness but that it’s a combination of nature and nurture. It’s like so many of us with depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc. are ‘programmed’ into our illness and we are driven by it. Right?
I know how my sis feels. Sometimes I’ll say things…do things…think things…that are completely inappropriate or hurtful. No matter how much I try to NOT do these, it doesn’t matter. My brain is directing the show and bipolar is the star. It’s so hard to describe how I can ‘literally’ (I hate the overuse of that word…so what am I doing? Using the damn thing. 🙄) be telling myself NO NO NO: Don’t buy that! Don’t say that! Don’t work on the house for 12 hours straight and then think of something else to do! Don’t burst out crying in this situation! Don’t make a jackass of yourself! But, I still do. My brain is a powerful organ (shutty the mouthies 😐) and bipolar is a force to be reckoned with. Often times my “Don’ts” become “Do’s” no matter how much I try to hold them back.
So does that mean that me, and others with mental illnesses who might act out, are off the hook for our behavior? Hmmmm. In a way YES, but in more of a way NO. Don’t you love it when I’m so clear in my stances? Perhaps I should be a politician. 🙄
Yes, we aren’t necessarily ‘responsible’ for all that our mental illnesses do in our lives because of the actual inherited traits and brain issues. It’s akin to a child stealing when they’re little, even though they have been taught not to: they simply don’t have the moral development or firm control over their impulses, and this makes it VERY difficult for them NOT to steal .
BUT we are responsible for giving sincere apologies, making amends when possible, and then working on ways we can recognize when things are getting bad and try to vent or express in other ways. My sister said how it’s not just the 1 issue that makes her blow-up…instead, it’s the culmination of many things (just like everyone experiences) and the blow-up might happen for so many reasons beyond what is seen. Sis had a stressful holiday season, has a physically and mentally demanding job, and does a lot for her kids and grandkids (lucky 😐). She didn’t lose control because of a phone. Sis lost control because she can only take so much. Others might be able to handle this stuff better. However, those of us with mental illness handle things differently. We ruminate. We second guess ourselves. We are constantly trying to appear ‘normal’ to others no matter how we might feel (those fucking masks we have to wear. Sorry, ma 🙄). We feel depressed. We feel anxious. We are trying so hard not to give in to what our brains are telling us. Pushing all of this down as best we can…hour after hour…day after day is exhausting. Trust me on this.
My family knows I’m bipolar and they know I have low low downs and high high ups. They know these mood fluctuations are ‘normal’ for me but I try to hide them anyway. I don’t see my son as much as I’d like so when I do, you can bet I’m putting on a happy face (I am happy to see him…but my bipolar may be really pulling me down right then) to make the visit ‘nice.’ I know my ma has a lot of stress in her life and I try my very best not to put any more on her. I know my sister suffers from mental illness and as much as I’d like to call and vent to her, it might be too much for her to handle right then.
Look my sweetie peeps…mental illness is going to affect every aspect of your life whether you want it to or not. It’s going to ‘make’ you say and do things you’ll be shameful of when the crisis is over. These fucking (sorry, ma 🙄) illnesses take over so much of ‘who’ we are and as such, we are often at their mercy. And I don’t know about you and your own struggles, but my bipolar isn’t very merciful. All I know is that I have to cut myself some slack, take things day by day, and then make up for what I have done. It’s just the way life works when you have a mental illness.
So, I’ve talked a lot in this blawg about depression but not much about mania. I actually think this is harder to understand because not as many people have experienced it. The National Institute of Health found estimates to range from .08% to 1.6% for people who experience a manic episode in their lives. That’s not many, peeps. So why am I talking about this now? Well…because that’s what I’ve been experiencing for the past couple of weeks and I gotta say that it sucks. Big time.
See, about a month or so ago, my doc helped me taper off of lamotrigine because the side effects were really bothering me. One was muscle weakness and everyday felt like the day after a bad flu. You know, that weakish, blech feeling where trudging around your living room is tiring. And as someone who likes to run and workout (because it helps me so much with the depression 😐), this was horrible! Prior to starting lamotrigine, I was running 4-5 miles a day…after I got on it, I could barely do a half mile.
Then there were also a couple other effects that I just can’t abide because of what I do: professoring (and no, before you ask I was not an English major 🙄). I was espeically struggling with some memory issues and I was having trouble finding the right words and them getting them out…speaking problems are a side effect and it was scary to me that I couldn’t ‘talk right’. Finally, my concentration was being affected. Soooooo…bye bye, lamotrigine.
I also tapered off of my anti-depressant (which really wasn’t the best one for bipolar) and am now on prozac which I would marry if I could. (SIDE NOTE: the other day, ma and I were yacking to a man who was at least 1000 years old. After he left, ma actually said this sentence to me: “Kristi…I wonder if he’s single for you?” What the fuck (really, ma…you kinda deserve this one)? I said: “Ma. For piss sakes. That man was born during the Civil War (bless his heart, he was a doll…but…), can barely walk, talk or eat without assistance, and the chance of him being able to be naughty is a billion to one. So….no.” God I love that woman for trying though😍).
Anyhoot, getting off a mood stabilizer and then stopping one anti-depressant and beginning another triggered a manic episode. Yea.
So many people have said to me that they wished they could be manic so they could get stuff done. But you know, let’s be honest here…that’s like saying “I wish I could be depressed so I could get some rest.” It’s just the other end of the spectrum and even though it’s a ‘high’, that doesn’t mean it’s good.
I haven’t slept more than 4-5 hours a night for these past 3 weeks or so and it’s not that I’m not tired because I’m actually pretty freaking exhausted (after you hear all that is buzzing around in my head, you’ll understand this 😳). But, when you’re manic, nothing turns off so I lay in bed with my mind literally going so fast I can’t even keep track of my thoughts. Even now, typing this, I’m thinking of a 100 different things…here goes my head at this very moment: making some lists by scribbling keywords in my notebook, worrying about getting some work done, wanting to deliver something to ma’s, wanting to create some interactive homepages for my classes (one of them is up for my Theories of Personality class and it rocks!), looking at Eddie and wanting to walk him since it’s not quite as hot today as it has been, seeing that my backyard needs weed-n-feed, remembering I have someone coming over to buy a bike and I want to get it looking good for them, knowing I just re-potted 2 new monstera deliciosas I bought (AAAAGGGGGHHHHH…these made me sosososososo happy to get!) and I need to get them in place with the right amount of light, having to put together a piece of furniture that I got and then having to call FedEx because they lost another one (my desk I really need), wanting to start 2 other posts with ideas I just came up with typing this, getting my dishes done, needing to sand a wall I puttied because I borrowed my neighbors sander and don’t want to keep it too long, knowing I have some stinky towels hanging up outside that need laundered, wanting to vacuum, needing to pack up some books to take to the Salvation Army, now wanting to go out and buy my own sander, and wanting to run back to Lowe’s (where I’ve already been) and get a plant for my daughter. That’s it. All that’s in my head now. And in bed? Just multiply these thoughts by 100. Peeps, it’s fucking overwhelming.
How would I illustrate this? Hmmm. You know when cars accelerate and you can see the wheels start to turn…then after they get going fast, it almost doesn’t look like they are spinning at all? That’s close.
Yes, it’s ‘nice’ to have the energy to get things done as opposed to not wanting to do anything at all but it’s a ‘frenetic’ energy where you are so frazzled, you are moving from one thing to the other to the other and thinking more and more as you do this. I can’t even take the time to write everything down…that takes too long!
But here’s the thing. People try to help me navigate through all of this when I’m manic, but nothing ‘helps’. When you’re depressed, people might say “You need to get up and get moving around…that will help.” Or, “Remember how lucky you are compared to others!” Or, “Everyone feels down…you just have to snap out of it and stop moping.” Now, for my peeps with depression or who have experienced a depressive episode, did any of these statements,or others you might have heard, help? Nope.
Ditto with mania. My sweet ole ma is worried about me and last night told me that I just had to calm down and call the doc and have him do something. But he can’t. There’s nothing to do. This is part of the freaking mental illness I have and it’s going to happen. I can’t calm down…but the thing is, I wish to hell I could. I can’t just take a deep breath…slow down…take a nap…etc. Just like when I’m depressed, I can’t force myself to ‘cheer up.’
I think my depression is a little easier for ma to handle. She hates when I’m down, but I’m not as much “out there” in terms of the bipolar. But with mania? You KNOW there’s something going on. My sweetie past student and I were yapping on the phone today and she was so so so confused because I was trying to tell her so much so fast! With mania, I’m so much more talkative, loud, emotionally demonstrative, ‘fast’ in everything I do (I’m like a kid when I’m manic in that I don’t want to take the time to pee…it’s too much of a break from what I’m doing 😲), so wired up and anxious, so distractible (this is coming up as misspelled but isn’t distractible a word?? 😳).
The upside? My house has never looked better because I’ve done so much to it. I also have so so so many ideas for art projects I want to do, as well as ideas for how I want to paint my living room! I’ve organized and organized and you could eat off my floors (why do people say that? I’ve never eaten off a floor and hope to heaven I never do 😐). I also am doing more and more things in my classes and from the feedback I’m getting, my sweetie pie students are liking it! (I’m so so so blessed to have these sweeties in my life…I miss them so much since we aren’t on-campus 😥). In fact, being manic and living alone while socially distancing from people is hard!
Anyhoot, that’s mania for you and understanding it is just as important as understanding depression. It’s also important for people to realize that mania is no different from depression in that you can’t help it. I know how hard that is to get for those that have never experienced it. But please don’t tell us to ‘calm it down’ or ‘just stop it’. Those of us who experience mania would give most anything to be able to do that. Just let us talk and do and plan, but keep an eye on us…that’s what we really need. We might want to spend too much or do something that’s not a great idea, so help us out with that if you can.
I know my mania cycle is probably going to be here for a time but I’m handling it fairly well. Ma, sis, and son are letting me yack at them and vent to them and let me tell me all the stuff I’ve done. That’s what I need. Just people there for me as I experience the other end of the spectrum that bipolar is all about. Maybe that’s the key for all of us with mental illnesses or disorders: having people there to support us and hold our hand through whatever pitfalls we have to traverse. And I’m lucky I have that…not just with my fam, but with all of you who support me every time you read this. Thank you.
And by the way, if you have any roofing, painting, sanding, building, arting, crafting, plant buying, potting, hugging, or anything else you need, holler at me. Lord knows I have the energy to ‘git er done’ for you. 😉
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 🙄).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
So, I’m cycling through a pretty bad depression right now. It started in the Fall, and it’s been hanging on a long while. Hopefully, I’ll start to be back up again soon, but with bipolar, you can never tell. And depression is a hard fight, because so much of it is out of our control.
Depression (and mania) aren’t ‘moods’…they are states. And there’s a big difference there, one I wish was recognized more because calling ‘depression’ a MOOD disorder isn’t technically correct.
Moods are temporary feelings of whatever emotion is there: happiness, sadness, grieving, gloomy, cheerful, energetic, and the list goes on. And we all experience a huge range of moods! We have happy days and sad days, but those days don’t last. The SITUATION underlying the emotion (which causes the feelings that are ‘saturated’) doesn’t last, because for the most part, that’s what they are based on. Getting a raise makes me feel happy. Getting rejected makes me feel sad. But, these moods pass as others take their place. That’s why people will say to those who are sad: “Cheer up…this will pass.” And they are right! It will pass. Although I think saying “Cheer up” nullifies the person’s emotional mood and makes it appear to be insignificant, I get what they are saying.
But states are different creatures. They aren’t place dependent. People dependent. Money dependent. They are simply there. And they are more than just the feeling that’s being projected. For example, people who might be sad for a while may not experience anything else but that sadness. Whereas people who are depressed also have trouble sleeping, have changes in eating, are restlessness or lethargic, have slowed thinking and memory issues, experience trouble making decisions, entertain thoughts of self-harm or suicide, and the list goes on.
The causes of depression are different too. A major life event can trigger depression in someone, but there are underlying issues at work as well that go along with that stressor: According to Harvard Medical “Certain areas of the brain help regulate mood. Researchers believe that, more important then levels of specific brain chemicals, nerve cell connections, nerve cell growth, and the functioning of nerve circuits have a major impact on depression”.
So once again, like we see with so many mental illnesses, depression is in the brain. Not in the situation. That’s why for depression, meds are needed to regulate this brain chemistry and function, as well as counseling in order to learn better ways to cope with what is happening.
Last night, I was feeling extra down, and put on Facebook that I was really struggling with depression. So many people reached out to me, and just knowing there is so much support and care out there really helps. It doesn’t make me ‘less depressed’, but it does make me feel important and loved. Anyone can use that anytime!
A couple years ago, I never would have posted anything like that because I was still trying to pretend my way through life, and hide the pain I often experience with bipolar. But like I’ve said before, how can I expect to work against mental health stigma if I’m not genuine myself? How hypocritical that would be! When I was in Florida, I posted about how people on the beach were looking at the scars on my legs from when I cut myself. Once again, if I can’t put issues out there that are related to mental illness, what am I preaching ‘lessen the stigma’ for?
I bought this artwork, created by the Chariho Youth Task Force for their Mental Health Awareness Campaign. Digital copies of this art can be purchased here for $5 and all proceeds go to mental health programs and information.
BUT, maybe there are people who think it’s OK to talk about depression. That’s not ‘ugly’. However, how can you even mention that you’ve cut? That’s bloody and gross and scary. Here’s the thing though, cutting does go along with my illness. It just does. I hate that I’ve done it. I hate my scars. I hate how people look at me when I’m at a pool or my shorts ride up a bit. Even more though, I hate having an illness that has made my brain so confused at times, that cutting is the only outlet given for any type of psychological relief. I know how hard that is to understand. I don’t understand it. But I know it’s a demon to fight when it rears it’s ugly head, and that at times, I’ve lost the battle.
This reminds me of my Human Sexuality class and what we were discussing the other day. I was lecturing about development from pregnancy through birth, and when I got the part about what pregnant women often suffer, everyone was OK until I said the word “hemorrhoid!” EVERYTHING else was met with nods…but this?? Shouts of UGH and looks of horror! WHY? Because hemorrhoids are ‘icky’…nothing we really want to think about!
There are a lot of things about mental illness that are ‘icky’ too. But we need to hear it all. The way it really is. That’s the only thing that will help people speak up and out about mental illness, and then get the support and help they need.
The mentally ill should not be living in a society where there is shame in having a disease/disorder/illness that’s out of their control. We have the control to get help for it (if it’s available and affordable…2 BIG ifs), and learn better ways of coping with it. But it’s always there. Always. Just like diabetics can be medicated appropriately and watch their diet. Even if the diabetes is controlled though, it’s still there. It’s a lifelong disease. It’s not going to disappear.
The mentally ill don’t have diseases that will just disappear either. And, the mentally ill won’t disappear, no matter how much we try to NOT talk about the issues that aren’t easy to face. Don’t we all have the right for care, support, and understanding, regardless of where our disease or illness originates? Don’t we all have the right to talk about our illnesses? Our struggles? Without stigma or shame? I believe we do. And I’m going to keep doing it until everyone can do the same.