Thursday, September 24, 2015

Quarter Century

(written in the style of a 90s preteen chapter book)

"This was the best birthday I've had in a decade," I told L as we both finished our dinner and he headed to bed. "It felt nice to actually celebrate, deliberately celebrate, with a close group of friends who know me well." We were wrapping up our day at 6 PM and life was good.

My birthday has been something of a non-occasion for the past while. The last time I had a celebration was in 2009. It was a lovely gathering but, for the most part, it was with folks I barely knew at all (though, since have gotten to know).

Other years, I've been to scared to have anything happen. Generally, I'm afraid of admitting that I just might be worth celebrating, ya know, which is what birthdays are about.

The most frequent occurrence, since high school, is that I'm away someplace where no one knows me or people don't know it's my birthday and I don't feel like telling them or making a deal out of it. Last year, I worked a bit and then went and spent a night alone in a hotel in Juneau so I could catch a flight the next morning to my grandfather's funeral.

2008 - Seattle, Washington - Mom surprised me when a friend of mine came to take me to a musical - it was lovely
2009 - Arzier, Switzerland - gathering of sweet folks, but not anyone I really knew super well at that point (I did get to know two of them well afterwards, though)
2010 - Olympia, Washington - not a celebration, did get to see a close friend
2011 - Bowen Island, Canada - L'Abri - no celebration
2012 - Haines, Alaska - a friend made me a delicious dinner and dessert and we went on a hike
(this week, I was doing 72 hours of work an this week, in 2015, I'm working 67 hours)
2013 - England - L'Abri - they hummed "Happy Birthday to You" to me and I walked to someone's house to take a shower
2014 - Haines, Alaska - worked a bit then ferry to Juneau, night alone in hotel

So, not that it was totally forgotten, I've had some lovely birthdays - but I haven't had really had a birthday party with a group of folks I know well. I kinda wanted one.

This year I was twenty five.
This year I decided to do a thing and make a thing happen.
This year was different.

One part that made it different was that I finished up a 22 hour shift at 8 AM on the morning of my birthday and started working again, a 16 hour shift, at 4 PM. This gave me 8 hours to celebrate.

I invited a small group of friends to join me to celebrate for tea at the local tea shop I've grown up going to in the adjacent town.

To my delight, everyone could come except for three humans (work, too far away, dance camp).

Two of the humans that could come, I wasn't expecting to get to see at all! Audrey, at the time, was living in California so her being in Seattle was pure magic! Not sure how she worked it out, but I'm grateful.

There was also Kyle, who I hadn't seen sine last year. I tend to see Kyle once a year. This year, of all the days he could make it to Seattle for just one day, he made it to Seattle on my birthday. He even brought his sister (!) who I've been hearing about and wanting to meet for over four years. He normally lives in Africa.

Also attending was my brother Ian, Peter from dance, and Eric from elementary school.

The day started with L. L's the wonderful man I get to spend this weekend with. Generally, his daughter makes sure his needs are met but, when she's away, they have me step in to keep him company and make sure he's doing alright.

6 AM is our go-time. Then we had eggs.
8 AM and I was off.

I stopped by my folks' place and got to spend an hour with my mom. I even got to open presents with her! What a cool family I have. I love those humans. It was rather exciting to see her on my birthday. Last time I saw her on my birthday was 2008 or 2010. 2008, I think.

Then, Kyle and Katie, his sister showed up and we headed over to St. Ed's That park is one of my favourite places in the world. As tiny as my town is, it has this massive park with wonderful hiking trails. It was a good time to catch up and just be with Katie and Kyle. I got to meet Katie! Kyle has told me so, so much about her and I've been hoping to meet her for years. She was even more delightful and insightful than Kyle's descriptions. It was also really interesting to meet someone who really knows Kyle better than probably anyone else besides Kyle himself.

Following our little hike, we picked up Eric at the bookstore and headed over for tea.

Time was spent with chickens and in antique shop and soon, everyone was there.

Crikey. Everyone was there. They were there.
They got to meet each other.

There's something surreal about all of your worlds colliding. One of my greatest anxieties has been worlds colliding. I liked to keep life spaces separate and clean and tidy. I had my dance world, curling world, high school world, exchanger world, church world, etc. This year, I've been experimenting with introducing them to each other, letting them brush shoulders.

Cards were on the table with different questions. It was entertaining.
Ian and Peter at the beginning of their high tea.
By the end. Ian's look says it all.

Tea there was lovely, as it always is there. It's the sort of place where things are nice but you don't have to be 100% top notch nice at all. They let you be casual (which is good - because who can resist lemon curd with a spoon?).

Ian and Peter ended up getting high tea which means some five courses. They didn't pace themselves and ate what was served so, by the end, they barely had room for dessert. It was amusing watching their faces change from course to course as more food was brought.

I ended up having the cozy tea --- raspberry turkey tea sandwiches, lavender earl grey tea, salad, and a small assortment of desserts with a scone. It's definitely a full meal.

After that, we wandered, rode horses, chatted, and I was very, very happy.

There were lots of pirates running around for International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Cop vs Bicyclist

"YOU ON THE BIKE!" went the loud speaker on the cop car as his lights spun around. He'd done his siren behind me, but I didn't think it would be for me... until he mentioned the bike.

Then I knew it was for me.

No helmet.
(I left it at the library on accident and am retrieving it tonight)
They didn't like my driving style.

I was doing something cyclists something do where, in a long line-up of cars, you pull to the front. Why? Not to be a jerk. Not 'cause it makes me go faster. I do it 'cause it is good for visibility and such. There's reasons not to and reasons to do it. He discussed what I should've done and I acknowledge that I considered both of those ways of getting through the intersection and had chosen the wrong choice.

"The unsafe choice," he clarified.

A bicyclists got killed by a cement truck in our town the other week so the cops are really cracking own on us cyclists.

To the cop's credit - he was polite and doing his job. He listened to me. He wasn't a jerk face.
My privilege is that I'm white and, while I wasn't thrilled, I wasn't ever scared for my life.

No ticket.
Just a warning.

To be honest, I don't think he was doing anyone a favour by stopping me. He wasn't saving my life. If he wants to make the streets safer, he could start by watching those cars that keep trying to take their free right turns onto my head... 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


I'm a wreck - an absolute wreck. Don't even know what I'm doing here or why I'm here or if I should be here.

I don't know where this comes from. I don't know if it's all in my head.
I don't know when it will end or if it will go away.

Lately, I enjoy reading the stories of other folks who are bipolar. Kurt Cobain is my favourite. I read them and then I find me in parts of them and I go, "me too," and feel like someone understands 'cause I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Think it's in my head. Think I'm making it up.

And then I cry, I keep crying, for the stupidest of reasons.

Crying because I'm driving and just imagine if the motorcycle in front of me were to crash.
I cried three times because I'm supposed to go to university orientation and I feel anxious about it. I don't want to walk around school in a group or go to school or be there or have people talk to me or ask me to wear a name tag and all those things make my stomach turn to knots.

I was taking lithium for a while and then I stopped. My doctors and friend who knows about this stuff  say this is really really bad. I don't know if I want to take it or not. Everyone says I need it. That it's dangerous for me not to have it.

But I've been without it and been fine.. well... not really.

My therapist (who I haven't seen for months and am supposed to) said to keep writing. It's a good thing.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

just wanna go dancing

I'm supposed to go dancing now.
I really want to go dancing now.

But I can't. I can't leave my room.

I've wanted to go dancing for months but haven't been able to and I get to anxious to go. It's one of my favourite things to do in the world but I really, really can't.
My head starts to tingle and my stomach goes all loopy and my heart becomes noticeable.

I want to go dancing so bad.
Instead, I'm making myself breathe deeply and calming myself down by telling myself I don't want to go.

Head hurts.


I've been doing so great! Why can't I dance?
When did this even become a thing? I guess it because a thing a while ago. I love dancing but I get overwhelmed by it. I know the people and they know me and I love them and they show love to me.

Alas, here I am in my room and I'll probably just make envelopes all night.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Megan Fed Us

Megan fed Sean and I food.

She fed us delicious bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, mozerella, fresh tomatoes from her friend's garden, basil just snapped off the plant, olives, and cucumber.

It was delicious and...

I am very grateful.

She loves. and listens.
Sean, he loves and listens too.
And they share.
And they're rad humans.

Two perks of being in Seattle.

Diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder

Hi. I'm Margaret and I'm...
they think I'm bipolar.

They think I have bipolar disorder.

They refers to the doctors --- all five of them. Psychiatrist. Counselor. General Practitioner. Naturopath.

They also refers to friends who know me well, know bipolar disorder well, and can put the two together.

This is news to me. Utter, complete news. It wasn't news to some of my friends, but it was news to me. When the diagnosis came up, I was like, "Nooo... that's not a thing that is me..."

Basically, what they think happened, was that the trauma of the car crash really triggered and more extreme version of what was already happening. Looking back in my blog, I can see the patterns. They're pretty loud, blatant patterns, actually.

Bipolar, in a simple form (and there's a lot of forms of it) involves high high highs and then low low lows.

There's a mania stage. For me, this year, I was making a lot of bad choices that were so out of character for who I am, it was enough to make me run for help. These weren't just bad choices like staying up late - they were dangerous choices that made me want to curl up and ask what was wrong but, then, at the same point I felt like I was being rational and logical in my choices. They are the sort of choices that I don't think I could ever write on my blog.

I got super high (not stoned-high) and then I crashed oh, oh so low.

A few months of near-constant nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, exhaustion and headaches.Crying every day without exception. Suicidal thoughts. Couldn't do a lot of things I liked to or wanted to do.

They thought it might be something to do with a concussion or, who knows -- then they put the pieces together and were like, "Yo! This is... this is looking mood-swingy to us."

My depression can be a constant stream of anxiety where anything can set it off, the littlest of things, and it can carry on and add up.

The diagnosis was around May or June. They still have to check out if it lines up with meds but, well, it looks like a textbook case of bipolar.

I don't know what to make of it. It scares me, it does. I've been scared, lately, of the next high-to-low and then it hit. Right now, it's hit. I've been crying again, I've been dreaming of ending my life (don't worry - I won't, I promise I won't). I'm back to napping during the day. I'm back to the nausea. Hopefully it will be gone tomorrow, I tell myself it will, but what if it's not?

I'm overwhelmed with life and I can't keep up with it.

So that's about it.
More thoughts later.

But, well, now we know what was up this year.


So, friends, you want to help, you say? You guys say that, and I appreciate it.

1. Please don't take it personally when I don't respond to your letters, messages, texts, and calls.

2. But please, please do write - postcards are really nice. Write without wanting or expecting me to write back. On Facebook, once again, write -- but maybe even include something about understanding me not writing. I feel so anxious about not getting back to people but frequently don't have the energy to respond.

3. Please understand when I don't have the energy to hang out.

I can barely make it through some days. Hanging out beyond my routine can be over-exhausting. It's not you, it's just me and how it is.

4. If I do have the energy to hang out and am in a phase of depression, or in general, I really appreciate it if you check with me before emotionally unloading on me. Check with me before you share heavy things. I tend to take them in and I might feel it for the next day or two after our conversation and I can't afford that. I had one friend I tried to be there for, when I couldn't, and I ended up vomiting once we split. Trust me, I want to be there for you and talk to you about heavy things but, even more, I want to not bring myself down with stomach aches and nausea so I can't even function with day to day life.

5. Feel free to ease my anxiety by reassuring me it's ok and that you understand.

6. Gifts are surprisingly encouraging, just sayin'....

7. Ask me before you give me advice. Ask if I want advice. It might be hard for me to take advice from you if you don't live with bipolar disorder or aren't really, really familiar with it. This is more than just "changing my outlook" - it's chemistry.

8. If you've got tangible ways you want to be there for me, let me know. I'll tuck it away in my brain and someday, I might very gladly take you up on it. I really am grateful.

9. If you live with bipolar disorder - I would love to hear from you. Once again, I might not write back, but it's encouraging to hear from folks who understand.

10. If you think bipolar disorder isn't real, or other mental illnesses, and it's all in my head and I'm making something of nothing --- just stay away, please, and keep your mouth shut.

That's all, I think.

Photo of me is by Michael or Eric...
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