December 10, 2012

The Holiday Blues – BPD Style

Once upon a time when I first started this blog, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (BPD), Severe Panic/Anxiety Disorder, and ADHD. I wanted to chronicle what it was like dealing with mental disorders (I hate saying it’s an illness, because that implies it can be cured, but so far, it can’t) but I started to worry that my entries would depress people so I moved them all over to my other blog “The Discovery of the Mental Me”. Looking back I really wish I didn’t because being bipolar is a part of who I am. I still struggle with separating that part of myself when I’m around people but I’ve reached a point where I just can’t anymore. And I shouldn’t feel that I have to. But this is something I will always wrestle with; it’s part of my disorder. Anyway, I’m not longer separating my posts. I’m happy and I’m sad. This blog now represents me, the whole me.

This last year has been hard for me. There was an external catalyst that opened a proverbial can of worms in my head and I’ve kind of spiraled downwards ever since. Also, I’m currently in what is termed a “mixed state” which is a danger zone for someone with BPD. By the way, BPD was originally called Manic-Depressive Disorder and in the 1980’s the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) (the book that is used to diagnosis mental illnesses) changed it to differentiate unipolar depression. There are many different flavors of BPD but I’m not going to delve into them now. Maybe I will in the future.

Anyway, here’s a scary fact: A recent review of thirty studies found that, on average, one fifth of BPD patients die by suicide. From a slightly different perspective at least two-thirds of people who commit suicide suffer from BPD. (source: Goodwin and Jamison, "Suicide," Manic-Depressive Illness).  Those odds are scary as fuck. BUT, I’ve never been hospitalized for attempting suicide. The closest I got was stepping into traffic. A stranger pulled me back to the curb before a car could have hit me. As twisted as this sounds, I kind of wish that I had been hospitalized because when I tell people that I have BPD they kind of brush it off because I’ve never been in a psych ward and they usually tell me I have a good handle on it and I’ll be fine. That is partly true. I have a very tight reign on my disorder, BUT not all the time. Robert Lowell wrote a poem that I think describes the feeling well:
Do I deserve credit
For not having tried suicide-
Or am I afraid
The exotic act
Would make me blunder,

not knowing error
is remedied by practice,
as our first home-photographs,
headless, half-headed, tilting
extinguished by a flashbulb?
I’m not saying I’m planning on committing suicide or anything. I think about it, but I refuse to act on it. But sometimes I do worry that I’ll crack. I have a therapist, but I still have A LOT of trouble asking for help. Mainly because I don’t know how anyone could help me. I don’t like to be vulnerable in front of people so I don’t want people to see me when my disorder gets the best of me. I also have a strong aversion to being touched when I enter a dark mood and would rather be alone. I also know that unless you’ve been to a dark place, it’s hard to understand what is happening and it’s frustrating because you just want to help and make the person realize that life is worth it and to get happy again. But it doesn’t work like that. I wish it was that easy.

I firmly believe this is a neurological condition, not just “mental” one. Doctors are still struggling to pinpoint just what exactly isn’t firing correctly and causing a living being to go against the only thing they’re born with that isn’t taught – the will to live. Survival is the one thing that is hardwired into us. Love is something that is taught and subjective. Examples are when animals leave their young to die or even kill them. Humans do this too, thus love is not a natural instinct for all. But survival is.

What gives me hope that we will one day be able to prevent and cure mental illness is that Autism is now being diagnosed as a neurological disease rather than a mental illness. Baby steps but at least they’re steps. Neuropsychology is a relatively new but it can be traced all the way back to the Third Dynasty in ancient Egypt. But just like the field of medicine, it may take a long time to evolve.

Ok, so, getting back to WHY I wrote this post; the holidays. They are especially hard on people with mental disorders. I’m currently reading the book Touched with Fire by Kay Redfield Jamison (on of my heroes). It’s about manic-depressive illness and the artistic temperament. It’s fascinating and full of so much amazing information and I came across this passage by A. Alvaraz and it struck a heartstring:
"A suicidal depression is a kind of spiritual winter, frozen, sterile, unmoving. The richer, softer and more delectable nature becomes, the deeper that internal winter seems, and the wider and more intolerable the abyss which separates the inner world from the outer. Thus suicide becomes a natural reaction to an unnatural condition. Perhaps this is why, for the depressed, Christmas is so hard to bear. In theory it is an oasis of warmth and light in an unforgiving season, like a lighted window in a storm. For those who have to stay outside, it accentuates, like spring, the disjunction between public warmth and festivity, and cold, private despair."
I hide what I am feeling a lot. But it’s gotten to the point where I can’t anymore. I’m sad and you can tell. This post is my attempt to explain why. I am much better at communicating via writing. Sometimes talking is hard because my brain is all over the place and my filter only works half the time. But I’m open about talking about my disorder because I want people to try and understand it because that is the key to understanding me. When I leave a place abruptly, act irrationally, and get agitated easily, it’s not because of you. My brain is just being a bitch. I’m not using my disorder as an excuse in any way. I have said and done hurtful things because of it but I will ALWAYS take responsibilities for my actions, whether they were intentional or not.

I also understand how hard and stressful it is to interact with someone with a mental disorder, my mother also has BPD but to a much more severe degree.  And while I think I do a pretty damn good job managing mine, the fact is, I still have a disorder and I struggle from time to time. Right now I’m struggling but I will be fine. I am determined to be fine. And if you have a mental disorder, you will be too. But you have to try. You have to want to manage it, to fight it. And you have to understand that the only person that you can truly depend on to be there for you is yourself. And that is enough. Of course friends help but even if they pick you up or carry you, ultimately you have to choose to walk again. So please do. There are people who understand how hard it is, so you’re not alone. But only you can fight through your own winter towards your spring.

November 28, 2012

I See Dead Cats

This morning a man passing by me on the street greeted me with “Hola muerta”. That means “Hello death”. Now, I will admit that I wear a lot of black but I know that I don’t scowl or look that menacing so what the bloody fuck? But this of course got my brain a-churning and I started thinking about parapsychology (that’s totally related…), something I’ve always been interested in. I firmly believe that there is a scientific explanation for what we believe is a haunting. In fact, I came up with a theory that I thought was all my own but last night I discovered that I am not the first one to ponder this.

This actually happens a lot. I think I’m all original and smart and then I find out that really I’m not the first person to think of my revolutionary theories. Like before I discovered Descartes I wondered about the nature of consciousness and what exactly that meant and the connection to the senses and so on. Then I took a philosophy class and was all “mother fucker”.

Here is “my” theory on what a ghost is. So, if we take into account the first law of thermodynamics (that energy can neither be created nor destroyed) and Einstein’s E=MC2 our body runs on energy and the energy that propels the brain can’t really “disappear” or be destroyed when we die. I know that there are some discrepancies with this because of the law of conservation that states,

“The particles were found subject to annihilation in which matter particles (such as electrons) can be converted to non-matter (such as photons of electromagnetic radiation), or even into potential energy or kinetic energy. Matter could also be created out of kinetic or other types of energy, in the process of matter creation. Thus, matter (defined as ponderable matter particles) was found not to be conserved.” 

BUT, dying wouldn’t destroy the energy, because to annihilate the electrons you’d need an outside source whose sole purpose is to destroy. Also, if you look at string theory, everything is made up of energy (I’m saying this in REAL basic terms) and our body is just kind of a shell that takes in what’s already there, when we die that energy would just be released back to the world. There are theories that when someone experiences a very strong emotion, you “leak energy” and (in a way) stain what’s around you. When some dies violently or there is a strong feeling of sadness that can remain. So can positive emotions but it seems people are more susceptible to the negative energy as it feels more unnatural so they concentrate more on that. Also, I think that different people run on different wavelengths and are more sensitive to certain energies. That could explain psychics.

So yeah, I thought I was all smart for figuring this out but it turns out this theory was already proposed in the 1970’s. It’s called the Stone Tape theory. I just linked to it because I’m lazy and it basically says what I stated above but without all the physics and scientific stuff. But the catalyst that made me so interested in it were things that I’ve seen and felt.

So, without further ado, here is something that makes me believe I’m on a different wavelength (I already know I’m crazy. Diagnosed even) is that… I’ve seen dead cats. I shit you not. I’ve also experienced scary shit and have known things about a place that I was never told BUT the cat experiences really stick out cause, as I’m sure you’re thinking, it’s weird as fuck. Here is an example. A friend of mine had just moved into a new apartment and had a roommate. She invited me over to meet her and we all bonded and got “enlightened via herbs” (this was ages ago in case a future employer is reading this…). I started hearing meowing noises and thought nothing of it because the window was open so I just assumed it was coming from the alley. But then I felt something by my feet. You know when cats do a figure 8 around your feet? Well that’s what I felt. I looked down and there was nothing there so at this point I was kinda like… whoa, I’m too stoned. But then out of the corner of my eye I saw a long-haired calico cat dart into the hallway. I then asked the roommate if she had a cat and she promptly burst into tears. Apparently her cat of 17 years had just died the month before. She had never mentioned a cat up until this point and there were NO pictures of said cat. I then reluctantly asked if the cat had happened to be a long-haired calico cat and she stared at me astonished and got out a photo album. Yeap, it was the cat I saw.

So yeah, I can’t solve murders but I can see dead cats. Awesome. That’s like being a superhero but being Aquaman. This has happened quite a few times but a lot less now that I’m on medication. I have a few theories about that buuuuut because this entry is a book long, we’ll leave that for another time.

I see dead cats. /Haley Joel Osment voice.

November 27, 2012

Ummm Hello Again

I have written a million blogs. Seriously. Buuut they’re all in my head. I constantly have an inner monologue that proclaims and discovers so many amazing things about life, love, myself, my crazy, etc., but when I sit down to write (or type) them out my brain is all “HAR HAR HAR FUCK YOU”. Here’s an example of my mental dialogue.

Me: Brain, you thought of so many insightful things. I’m going to sit down and write a blog, ok?

Brain: Fuck you.

Me: … What? Why?

Brain: What have you done for me lately?

Me: Uhhhh breathing isn’t enough?

Brain: I control that smartass. Seriously though, what have you done for me?

Me: I constantly feed you knowledge! I read, I challenge you with new knowledge and situations!

Brain: Yeah but we both know that you don’t even like a majority of what you’re “challenged” with.

Me: What do you mean?

Brain: Dude, seriously? Let me list them. 1. You hate your job. Waking up everyday to go to something we BOTH despise doesn’t exactly inspire me to be cooperative. 2. How’s that gym membership? OH YEAH YOU DON’T HAVE ONE. 3. Pretty much everything you say you’re going to do, you don’t.

Me: Hey! That’s not fair! You don’t exactly help out with that! Motivation is something we BOTH struggle with. AND I need the job for money. You know, the thing that WOULD PAY FOR A GYM MEMBERSHIP, FOOD, RENT, AND TOLIET PAPER.

Brain: Hey man, the toilet paper is for your ass, not me.

Ass: I’m staying out of this ya’ll. I have enough shit to deal with. HA! GET IT?

Me &  Brain: Shut up.

And so on. I do have a basic plan of how to change my life BUT it’s going to take years. Seriously. That’s NOT an excuse. In fact, I can show you a timeline.

1. Get a US passport. I need this in order to apply for dual citizenship (stupid and strange, I know). They now cost $165 and the turn around time is about 2 months. I can’t afford it until January because I’m going to buy my parents a laptop for Christmas (I am the Best. Daughter. Ever. ). So that takes us into about March of 2013.

2. Go to City College and see how close I am to getting my Associates Degree. I know that I’m close and I also know that (the last time I saw a counselor, this is what she told me) I have to go to the head of the English department, math department, and science department to show them that I’ve already fulfilled the requirements for each of them. Then I need to sign up for any remaining classes to finish up the degree. That would take a semester. So that takes us into May of 2013 OR December of 2013 as the classes I need may already be filled.

3. Apply for Canadian citizenship. I called the Embassy and this can take up to 1 year. I can’t do that until I get my passport so this takes us into 2014.

4. Start applying to colleges in Canada and hope to GOD I get into one of them. My dream situation would be to get into the University of British Columbia to get my bachelors and then go to McGill for my masters. I’d also have to apply for loans and scholarships for this and I’ve never done that before so yeah. NEW CHALLENGES BRAIN, YOU HEAR THAT?

So IF I’M LUCKY, I’ll be “on track” at the end of 2014. Which means 2 more years of a job that makes me want to rip peoples faces off and use them for dart target practice. GOOD TIMES.

But the world is “going to end on December 21st” so maybe this plan will never come to fruition. TIME TO BRING ON THE HOOKERS AND BLOW.

April 16, 2012

Music Discovery: Sucre

I just discovered this awesome band via A Beautiful Mess which is one of my FAVORITE blogs. Elsie Larson is one of my many muses and a bit of an inspiration for me.



Ok, I am. But how can you not be?

January 23, 2012

Self Discipline HAR HAR HAR

Yeah. Self discipline. Clearly I am an avid follower.

2011 took over my life in a real messed up way and the end of it kinda hit me like a rabid kid beating on a pinata. Very few people I know had a good 2011. My good friend had her house burn down, and the bar she worked at closed down. I had my purse stolen which wouldn't really be a big deal except all of the material I was collecting for stand up was in a notebook, IN the purse. Then I had a cancer scare (NO BIG DEAL HAR HAR HAR) and then broke my foot and pretty much missed all the holidays. I also was warned that it was highly likely that I was going to get fired. This sent me into panic mode and had me planning to move back to WI then possible to Vancouver. Then 2012 rolled around and (crosses fingers and prays to whatever there is that I'm not jinxing it) so far… really good. Met a dude that still wanted to hang out with me even though new year's included a wonderful array of stomach splattering pyrotechnics from yours truly.

Goooooood times.

I'm back at work and while I know I'm on thin ice, so far so good. Unfortunately my possible kick to the ass was more so the fault of a developer I'm working with, it was still my responsibility to manage the project and I should have recognized that it was somewhat tanking.

Also in 2011, I pretty much lost passion for any creative endeavor, as proof with my keeping up with this blog. However, I did take an improv class and did a performance which was AWESOMESAUCE but then I started working 50 to 60 hours a week and my brain gave me the finger and was all "You think I have energy to be funny? How's this for funny, cunt?" So I just kinda shut down. I also haven't written a short story in a year which for me is real bad. Writing is pretty much the only passion that ever stuck with me and the fact I haven't actively pursued it makes me feel like I cut off a limb. I still am taking photos but due to my lack of energy and self discipline, that has waned as well.

Sooooo now that my oh-so-horrible problems are out and about, time to stop being a whiny bitch and do something about it, yeah?