Monday, January 25, 2016

Un-Updated Agenda :: the Mystery of Wednesday

My brain is buzzing and burning.

I've been rotten, this week, at writing things down in my agenda. It's odd, 'cause that thing is so, so second-nature to me. For years, I've written anything coming up on it as soon as it's scheduled.

This week, though, I got behind. I've been making plans and writing nothing down.

Now, my brain is prickling and my stomach is upset and I want to curl up in a ball because I feel like I'm forgetting something but I don't know what.

I'm forgetting Wednesday. What happens on Wednesday? Something. Something does. I know it does.

Monday is Jacob and No Lights No Lycra with Ian (also Janelle and Austin).
Tuesday is Support Group.
And Wednesday is.... blank.

I don't know.
It's now a few hours later and i still feel anxious. I threw up a few times and it didn't do much. I try to do my breathing excercises and took a walk and drank tea and drank ginger beer and got hugs and my stomach is still all amuk.

I don't know if it's depression or a jolting conversation I had a few days ago or because I bought pants or because I'm not home or what, but this was not my day.

Double puke kind of day.

1/25/2016 Update

Where am I at with life right now? How to summarize?
Well, I could lay out my current commitments.

Nothing, really.
No job.
No school.

I'm at the point where being unemployed isn't my favourite. Sure, I'm making the most of it - I can enjoy my days, but the stress of a lack of dollars can be overwhelming.

I feel like I'm spending beyond my means but you have to keep paying rent, you have to keep up with the essentials and even the non essentials that _maybe_ i should give up but haven't.

It makes me a bit anxious, at times. Shopping will frequently trigger an upset stomach, for me. I'm grateful that food is included in rent so I don't stop, I can't stop eating. Normally, food is the first thing I give up when money is tight. I don't see the point in spending money on it because it disapears as soon as you put it in your body and do we _really_ need calories?

I'm tapping into my college fund I had set asside. I had a good deal of cash put away in a special account that I had earned or acquired (people die) but only wanted to spend on school.

I don't like touching the fund.

Generally I create myself a routine, but I haven't done that yet. Routine..

I never finished this post and am posting as is.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Support Group Beyond Two Sentences

Living with bipolar disorder, I'm always looking for rocks in my life. Places, routines, people, tools I can depend upon that will help stabilize me and also be there for me when I'm not doing so great (like when I'm a blubbering, vomiting, nervous wreck).

Lately, for me that's been my support group. We meet every Tuesday in a nearby location. It's specifically for folks living with mental illnesses. It's only for folks living with mental illnesses. No mental health workers (unless one of us does that for a living), no family, no friends. It's just us supporting each other.

I was nervous to go, the first time, but quickly got hooked. I really don't feel alone when I'm there. My friends are great, but they don't always _get_ it (nor do they claim to). When I talk about the ups and downs, they can only imagine.

This group is swell. If I mention suicidal ideation, they can relate because they've been there. A lot of them understand mania and know how much you can dread a crash into depression.

We ask each other advice. It feels better asking someone advice if you know they understand. If you know they'e been there or maybe they're there now.

It helps to have someone go, "I know." It helps to have someone understand.

It's funny to have a group of people to laugh about mania with. Or laugh about feeling like a "normie." That one always gets me laughing 'cause we're never going to be normies. It just don't happen that way. We'll find ways to fit in, we find our own ways to cope, but we're not going to be the same.

The group focuses on connections as a theme, too, which I like. Folks quickly jump in to meet a need of another member through time, service, and care. Each meeting, I see someone rise up to help another member. We encourage each other to do something about our problems, find ways to make it work. Take steps forward.

Between this and my counseling sessions, my week has it's rhythm that I need to cling to. I need both. Counseling is good for grounding me and for reassurance that I'm on the right path. Support group? It's to not feel so isolated.

I love that group and I'm grateful.

No Thanks, Bipolar.

I still have a hard time with my diagnosis.

I still hope this will all end. I still hope I will get better. I hope the roller coaster ride will stop and that I can get off.

But none of this will happen, ever. The best that can happen is that the symptoms will be managed by taking lithium every day for the rest of my life.

Good thing I feel good about taking lithium.It's an element - just that. I have no problem with it.

I've got all of my hopes that will never come true. Those really.. really... aren't nice.
But I do have some things I'm grateful for. These are realities.

I'm grateful for my support group that has shown me so much unconditional love in tangible ways.
I'm grateful with a stable home full of loving people (all 10 of them).
I'm grateful for health insurance and smarts doctors helping me.
I'm grateful for medication that works.
I'm grateful for a support group that understands me.

I'm grateful to know that I have the tools needed to make the most of this mental illness.

I'm still learning to accept who I am and figure out who that person is. I'm sure not grateful for bipolar disorder, I hate it so much and everything it has done to me, but I am grateful for the life I have and where I'm headed.

Neo by AlphaSmart

My dad just gave me something I've been wanting since I was in high school. It's a tool we used in third grade in Mrs. Comb's class when we made our class cookbook. To get us to practice our typing skills and creating a multi-step product, she had us each pick recipes. We then had to type them up, print it out, and illustrate it for a book we each got to take home.

I'm currently writing on a NEO by Alphasmart. It's like a giant glorified calculator in the sense that it has a liquid-crystal display. Black on green. No back-lights, no internet, no apps, no images. Just text. The internet dubs it a "simple digital typewriter" which is what I needed. I wanted to write but I didn't want to use my laptop.

It runs on three AA batteries which every source say keep it going for a a significantly long time. One source said that you can get a year out of those three batteries with heavy use (just verified this on the official website).

I likely used the AlphaSmart 2000 which came out in 1997. That was the third generation. The Neo model I write on now came out in 2004. They're no longer made as for 2013.

Generally, these go for $20. Not bad, eh. This one, we found for $4.99 at Value Village. Either way, it's a good deal. I've been wanting one for years. I poked around the internet and a lot of other writers dig 'em. There are other similar tools but they cost ridiculous amounts when this does the job for cheap. We're a satisfied crew. It's got 50 reviews on Amaazon and 5 gold stars.

This started back when I was in a huge swing of blogging, back around 2009 or 2010. I knew I wanted to type, but was fed up with having to be on a computer to do it. I wasn't down with the screens. I like to write before bed but I know that the lit screens can mess with my sleep habits.

So here I have it.
My own little computer to haul around.

This is File 1 and I've got 7 more files to fill until this thing is topped off (200 pages of text max).

Then, I just plug it into my computer, open a word processing program, click "send," and like magic, the text transfers onto the open word processing page. I can also have it insert the text directly into a blog post, no software needed. Basically all it does is emulate a keyboard. It memorizes my keystrokes and then inputs them into my computer.

I'm stoked.
Hopefully this is what it'll take to crack me again. I miss writing and know it will be a part of the healing process.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Back in January

Right now, I'm in a new form of depression that I've never been in before.

This morning went alright, but then I got hit by a wave of.. of something. A wave of, "Gee! Why don't you just kill yourself?"

It's confusing when these waves come in 'cause, lately, it's just out of the blue. Well, this wasn't out of the blue. I was talking to someone and the talks weren't going so swell and I was at the point of realizzing that talks should end for a long while. So there was a trigger!

Still, the leap to death. I don't like it. I want to find a way to rewrite that pattern, as comforting as it can be at times.

I know I'm getting to that place when I'm in my bed or on the ground and I feel like I'm glued down. I want to move, do _something_ and can't.

The cool thing is, I'm not way, way down under, right now. I'm definitely in a depressed phase, but this hasn't been too low with my new dose of medication. If I hadn't been on anything, well, this would've been a vomiting, blubbering, 5-day-long stomach ache sort of story.

As it stands now, though, I was able to text Eric. Eric is probably the best and first person for me to contact when I feel this way. Most importantly, I know he loves me, cares about me, and I trust him. Second, talking to suicidal people is something he's got a lot of experience in from when he volunteered at the suicide hotline.

(I never put them here)

When Eric write back, though it has a tint of feeling like it's "what you say to someone who wants to kill themselves," it's honest and it's to me and it brings me back up and it levels me out and it reminds me that it will get better. That's the most important thing for me to know. It will get better, this will pass.

Eric is someone I really trust, and need to trust him because sometimes, he's the one telling me that my life has value and that things will get better.

after that passed, had to keep the funk off, because such thoughts come back quickly. I sta.... I never finished this post.

I call it, "Eric and Rock."

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Potato Guide to Making Friends When Bipolar

When I learned I was bipolar, I found myself thinking I was unloveable. I was scared to get close to anyone, feeling like my mental illness rendered me dangerous and useless.

These are all lies.
Every single one.

The other day I encountered another human who expressed a similar sentiment.

"How do you make friends when... I'm scared to make friends knowing I'm...."

Here's what I've figured out for new friends. This is for me. It's been working for me. It isn't for everyone.

1. Early on, they need to know I'm bipolar.

This can't be a secret to any of my friends. Why? My friends are my support team, to varying degrees. It doesn't mean they're my therapists. I'm grateful as they all play different parts in my life. Some are great for getting out of the house with, others commiserate, others are good at nurturing me.

2. They need to know what this looks like.

The good. The bad. The ugly.

My friends know how my bipolar manifests itself. It's not their job to keep an eye on me, but a lot of them do. If I'm acting off, they'll say something.

3. Some of them even know how to help me.

They know how they can support me (I'm pretty good at verbalizing my needs). I am so grateful when they do. It's not their job to help me. All I expect is that they respect me.

4. In turn, I know when to see a therapist, not a friend.

Friends are not therapists, but they can be therapeutic.

5. I have a list of Things you Don't do to Friends

For me, a mood disorder can mean I'm hella irrational at times and I usually even know when it's happening. I have a list burned in my brain of things to not do to friends in those circumstances. Friends don't stick around long if you're abusive, no matter how much you can attribute to your mental illness. Some might, but I don't feel like testing it and I also want to respect my friends.
  • No long, late night angry angsty texts.
  • If I feel my anger rise to a certain level, I know to run instead of engaging.
    • In turn, my friends have to respect that I need to run (it almost never ever, ever, ever happens). If they don't, I know they're not a safe friend for me to have. Nothing, nothing good comes from rage that goes beyond a certain degree. Once I'm away, I'm good at calming myself down.
  • No sending emails when angry, ever!
    • When frustrated, write thoughts in a word processor and then do nothing. This can vent out some frustration. Sending those words? Never going to do any good.
  • No attacking character, the core of who they are.
    • Unless if it's in a calm, well thought out way that's in love with very good constructive reasons that were thought about for a while and that the nature of the friendship is to engage in such conversations. If this is happening, it's not an attack. If it's not? Probably not a good idea.
  • Friends are not therapists. Don't use them as such.
  • Never lie. Don't give them a reason not to trust me. Trust is all you have, sometimes.
6. Figure out ways to love and support them.

This is within my emotional capabilities of the time, of course. Different for everyone.

7. Never take them for granted.

Side Note: There are times when I encounter someone that I tend to act up, more, around. Someone where, being around them, for some reason or another, lines up with my feelings of frustration, anger, or anxiety.

If this happens, I try to figure out why (frequently with my counselor) or on my own. I don't try to make things work and fit if I don't have the energy to make it so. If they're new in my life, not woven into my life, then I won't hesitate to let it be and walk away. I'm not in a place where I can afford to be around humans that bring out my worst. That can do a lot of damage in a few different ways and I don't have as much energy as I'd like to work through things.

Mild Confrontation = Misfiring Amygdala

I used to be great at it, sometimes I still am, but right now I have a struggle with confrontation. If things are a bit off for me, or I need them otherwise, sticking my hand up and putting out a few words can seem like a great struggle.

It's unusual for me. I used to take pride in how I could address situations but these past two weeks, I've just been letting things pummel over me.

Sleep, as someone with bipolar disorder and as a Margaret, is crucial to my well being. Sleeping in can be vital, just as routine, so when I'm woken up before I'm ready, it's a "thing."

I've got a lovely housemate who lives upstairs.
No qualms with her personality, she's loving and kind. Only thing is, she doesn't realize how far sound carries -- or that I hear every, every single step she makes. Now the steps, dude, nothing you can do about that. Step away, I get that. The past few mornings, though, I've been waking up to this,



Jumping at 5:30 AM.

My folks got me a noise machine to mask out when she runs the blender and coffee grinder at 5 AM (it works great! I sleep through it all) but this new development in her routine wasn't one I could keep up with.

Waking up to banging is not idyllic, for me.
Waking up at 5:30 AM is not doable, for me.

So I knew I needed to say something to her. It's not like she's got ill intentions or is even thinking about how it affects me (it just wasn't on her radar).

Right after the pounding, this morning, I rolled out of bed unwillingly and went upstairs to ask her to skip the jump-part of her routine (she likes to exercise in the morning).

Of course, she understood instantly and was apologetic and I suspect jumping won't happen again in the morning.

Problem solved, right?

And then there was the aftermath that I got to deal with. This is why I'm writing. Asking your roommate to not jump above your head at 5:30 AM isn't really a thing.

I was experiencing a new set of feelings I'm not used to. As I took a step down the steps, I felt like my leg was going to give way. My legs felt weak, like gelatin desserts, and I didn't trust 'em wholeheartedly to get me back to my bedroom.

I would attribute that to standing up too fast, but I know what that's like for me and it involves the world turning black.

My head was pounding, my heart was pounding and racing.

It felt like some poorly written drama, but it was all happening in extremes (extremes for me based on my experiences). Generally, my body reacts to uncomfortable situations with brain-prickling and a stomach ache. Here, my body was reacting with sheer terror.

I think just means my amygdala was misfiring. It is pretty awful and knowing when I'm in danger and when I'm not. In this circumstance, it registered strongly in my brain, "DANGER!! DANGER!!" even though there was no danger, not even anger.

It was bizarre.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Nyk in Estacada

Lucky me. when I went to Portland, the other week, I got to see Nyklus again.

Nyk has been written about a few dozen times on here, I swear, but I'll summerize it here.

I met him at King Street Station, in Seattle. We'd been trying to connect for over a month with no success and had given up. Then, as I was leaving for Chicago on the train, as it turns out, he was on my train too! Voila, friendship!

Three years later and we're still friends. Between the two of us, we've covered at least 19 countries and thousands of miles, grown leaps and bounds, dreamed dreams, and made them happen.

Nyk makes things happen and, in this case, he made a day together happen and for that, I'm very grateful. Nyk lives over by the coast, so it was a 2 or so hour for him to get to Portland. He picked me up at just the right time. I was needing some Nyk-time. He is hella grounding and super loving. The sort of guy where, when I feel like my anxiety is making me a nuisance, just asks what he can do to help.

We had our sights set on the hotsprings, today, but got another enjoyable activity.

The road out to the hotsprings was a refreshing shock to the system of beauty. Rich, deep forests and hills to weave over and around. Once Nyk knew we were close, he pulled over and asked a car-load of twenty-somethings if they knew the way there. We got some directions and continued on.

A short drive, left turn, and we were on two-lane road with one set of tracks cut through the ice. If you stayed on the tracks, you could drive pretty well. Up we climbed, hoping we wouldn't encounter another automobile. That would force us to leave the tracks and I'm not too sure we would'vgotten to far once we left them. The road was also narrow with sloping sides going down on one side.

My accident, the one that messed me up, was on black ice. This wasn't black ice, but I've since had a huge fear of driving in less-than-prime conditions. My head prickled and my stomach burned.

He kept telling me we were almost there but we weren't because we went around corner and corner and there were no hotsprings. After a good set of miles, we saw an extended patch of just ice with a huge turn off on the left. The whole patch was just gravel, not ice, and it was going to be the perfect place to turn around. Later we would learn that there would be nothing like it for miles.

I hopped out and Nyk got to work crossing some sheets of sleek ice to get to the gravel. He did a great job navigating a situation I'm not sure he's ever been in before. It didn't always look optimistic, as he maneuvered his truck to the solid gravel and turned around to face back down the hill we had come up.

Then, we got walking.
And, the beautiful thing is, that turned out to be our destination.

We set out walking for mile up mile. It was beautiful and pristine up there. It was just a road, and trees, and ice, and we could hear a river. We walked, hoping to find the hot springs, but pretty soon we realized that that wasn't going to happen. Every turn we took, we expected it to be there, ready for us, but it was definitely a no show. The swell thing is, two hours of walking in the snow can do a man and lady wonders, and we enjoyed ourselves.

The point of meeting up with Nyk was to see Nyk and be outside, and that's what happened.

Before it got too late, we headed back down. Nyk once again got to navigate over a sheet of ice while I watched from the outside.

We made it safely down and weaved our way through the trees till we found ourselves in Estacada. We got cups of tea at a florist, cafe, ice cream, greeting card shop. It made me think of Haines where every shop doubles as another shop. For example, the book store sells toys, the RV park sells chainsaws, and you go to the bakery for Thai food.

We looked around a bit more. Our second longest stop was at the drugstore, Hi-School Pharmacy. They had everything there! You should go. It's at 207 Broadway St, Estacada, OR.

I wonder why they have a Broadway in Estacada? Estacada has a lot of the boring street names, like Main and Beach, but here are a few of the other names of their streets:
- Boulevard Way
- Currin Street
- Short Street
- Shafford Avenue
- Zobrist Street
- Currin Street
- Juniper Street
- Clackamas Street (common in Oregon)
- Foothills Drive
- Cascadia Ridge Drive
- Wheeler, Tailor, Gardiner, Rockwell, Cooper, Lawrence, Woodland, Summer
- Funny Farm Road
- Moss Hill Road
- Independence Avenue
- Teeples Lane
- Summer Lane
- Tumala Mountain Road
- Medicine Song Road
- Surface Road
- Buzz Road

And tehere's a whole lot more. I'm not sure if other folks are as intrigued by street names as I am. I love the idea that there are people that know all these streets, as you often do in a small town (or you at least expect everyone to know your street's name). Their area of geography expertises are within the town limits. There are folks who have lived in Estacada their whole lives.

I also love meeting those people, when I travel. I love to meet the people who have never left. They never see a reason to. Estacada has everything they need. I'm jealous of them. I wish my feet weren't so itchy. Much has come of traveling, and I'm grateful for the stories and friends and growth, but I wonder what life would be like if I never felt the need to leave.

Another part of my trip with Nyk was this.. this.. I forget what's it's called. It's by Dave's Killer Bread and it's a long rolled up bread product oozing with cinnamon filling. It's heavenly. I've been wanting to take bites out of one since I first tried one in 2009 but never have 'cause dollars. I probably ate more than my share, but I enjoyed it so much and... and... oozing cinnamon goo. Nyk was gracious. Nyk's always gracious. Has that men ever not been gracious?

Driving home wasn't my favourite. Night driving in the rain can do things to me even if someone else is driving. I felt bad because, by the time we got home, I was all locked up and just wanted to head inside, so my farewell was a bit abrupt 'cause of weird head space.

I'm grateful, though. I was. I am. Still am.
Time with Nyklus is always something to be grateful for.

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