On Sunday, March 1st, I woke up with a bad headache and a strong, dry cough. I did not go to church. I called my work and told them I was sick and would not be in until better.
On Thursday, March 5th, I still had that bad headache, the strong, dry cough was now accompanied with a sore throat, muscle aches and pains, and by afternoon I was shivering and shaking, teeth chattering, it was so bad I called my county health department asking what I should do. As terrible as I felt, in terms of do you need to go to the hospital my problems were minor. After our discussion, I called a nearby walk-in clinic (my doc is an hour away) I sometimes go to. They wanted me to go to my doctor. Thanks for that.
March 5th was the first day that they announced testing would be available for people. There were locations that were determined to be the providers for those drive-by tests. My private practice doctor was not going to be one of them, and regardless of that, I was not capable of driving anywhere. I did learn where to go and what to expect.
I was so damn cold and exhausted from the struggle to find direction from someone “in the know” I crawled into bed and slept for another 4 hours. My temperature was 101.3.
When I woke up I was no longer “freezing.” It was 5:30 PM and I knew I had to get going. I got dressed, got in the car, and drove to the town 30 minutes north of me where the tents and drive-thru testing was to be.
Nothing. There was nothing there. Well, that’s not quite true, there were tents, abandoned blue tents and no cars lined up or people wandering around looking lost.
There were a few parking spots with cones at the front, I parked in the coned spot closest to the tent hoping they were watching from windows because it was very stormy, heavy, heavy rain and strong winds. My temperature was 103.3, I was sick, and I didn’t know what I was supposed to do.
And nobody really had any answers.
Long story short, I did end up inside after being told I was to wait in my car until they had a room ready for me (I had all the symptoms of Coronavirus and had spent 3 hours with an individual who was in China when the illness broke out, returned home, quarantined in home 14 days w/o symptoms and returned to work; where I met with her.)
An hour and a half later, a nurse in full protective gear came to my car and took me through a side door to my room.
I was tested for strep, tested for flu. I waited. Strep. Yeah, that’s probably it. Both tests were negative. I was taken for x-rays of my lungs. Good news, my lungs were “clear.”
And, the reason the tents were empty, the status change for testing had not been made official. The doctor called the health department and pushed for me to get tested. It was late now, after 8 PM. The individual said I likely would not pass criteria to have the tests read but to go ahead and do it and the next day a decision would be made about whether she could submit them for processing.
So they scraped my throat again and then pierced my brain with their 12″ nasal probes, one per nostril which, once finding its destination was twirled around to get a good sample.
I was told 3 days. I would know in 3 days.
I cannot tell you about the next 3 days as I was flush with fever, delirious at times, sleeping.
Three days came, three days went.
On March 9th, I called. I knew my test was being processed as I had called and gotten the confirmation that an exception had been made in my case (they had already used the test after all, and we had pushed the fact that I work with seniors).
The wait was now 7 days.
On March 11th, my fever broke. On March 12th I learned the results of my coronavirus test. Negative.
However, I am to remain in quarantine until all of my symptoms have resolved.
Today is March 17th, I am still coughing up my lungs, although now I occasionally get something coming up out of the lungs. Because I was sick so early, I was unable to prepare for this by shopping for food, toiletries, etc.
And yet, I am calm. I feel at peace. The earth is cleansing herself. Isn’t it interesting that the world’s children are not hard hit? I find it fascinating, it feels like a plan. And ultimately, I know that God turns all things for good.
That’s right you heard me. But what is Hooked? Well, it used to be an award-winning book, but now it transitioning into a feature film. The screenplay has already been honored in competitions and is going into pre-production beginning of July and I am part of it!
I still don’t get it.
This should help:
Hooked is the romantic dramedy of a young man whose autism prevents him from recognizing that the woman of his dreams is, in fact, a prostitute. The film is respectful to those with autism as well as those working the streets. The relationship between the two characters is sweet and heartwarming while shining a light on human trafficking in America.
The hooked film production is being sponsored by the 501(c)3non-profit, From the Heart Productions, so that any contributions, whether cash or non-cash, made toward Hooked are tax-deductible. From the Heart Productions has been dedicated to supporting world-changing films for over 23 years.
And just today an individual has offered to match Seed and Spark contributions made to our indie film up to $2500 between now and July 4 so that’s exciting too! And this is what got me fired up to share this project with all of you! (I guess I have been kinda holding tight to this project and not allowing others in… I wanted it all for me and didn’t want to share.) Not the wisest move.
Seed and Spark is a pretty cool crowdfunding site. It is just for filmmakers and they donate cool stuff to films that gain followers (different levels of award based on how many followers we get. ) We can even get free submissions into the film festivals with 1000 followers on Seed and Spark. Now I think that is totally awesome! And I am hoping some of you will follow our campaign to help us get there!
And just like other crowdfunding sites, you can earn cool stuff by donating too. Have you ever dreamed of being a screenwriter? With a $200 contribution, you can join a screenwriting workshop with award-winning screenwriter Allen Wolf taking place on Saturday, Oct. 27th. And there are, of course, lot’s of other fun, exciting incentives waiting for you. But I think the greatest reward is knowing that you are helping a movie that brings American human trafficking and bond slavery, as well as autism, to the big screen.
I want to know more about modern slavery in America!
“Our hope is that people who experience Hooked will be inspired to take action against trafficking. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally. 81% of them are trapped in forced labor, 25% of them are children, and 75% are women and girls. The map above only reflects cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2016 where the location of the potential trafficking was known. Some cases may involve more than one location.
“2. Trafficking primarily involves exploitation which comes in many forms, including: Forcing victims into prostitution, subjecting victims to slavery or involuntary servitude and compelling victims to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography.
“3. According to some estimates, approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labor exploitation.
“4. There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today.
“5. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children.
“6. The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is 12 to 14-year-old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.
“7. California harbors 3 of the FBI’s 13 highest child sex trafficking areas in the nation: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego.
“8. The National Human Trafficking Hotline receives more calls from Texas than any other state in the US. 15% of those calls are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“9. Between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year.
“10. Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking). It reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year. Of that number, $15.5 billion is made in industrialized countries.
“11. The International Labour Organization estimates that women and girls represent the largest share of forced labor victims with 11.4 million trafficked victims (55%) compared to 9.5 million (45%) men.”
Please go to our Seed and Spark Campaign and support us through follows, donations, or both! Thank you!
I’m a mental health writer and advocate, and a suicide attempt survivor. I’ve told people on this blog many times, “Keep reaching out.” I’ve written multiple articles preaching the importance of vulnerability, defying stigma, and owning your struggles.
This is my whole thing, okay? This is what I do.
So when one of my closest friends died by suicide a few weeks ago, I wasn’t just shocked — I was completely gutted.
I thought there was never a question of whether or not my loved ones could reach out to me. But the very person who I’d talked to so often about mental health… didn’t call me.
Not even to say goodbye.
In the weeks following their suicide, my grief took me to dark places. I soon began having my own suicidal thoughts. And even then, when it was my turn to “reach out“? Even after losing my friend? I began to withdraw, too.
I watched, with painful awareness, as I did much of what my friend seemed to do leading up to their suicide. I wrote myself off as a burden. I isolated myself. I got lost in my own head. And despite knowing the danger of where I found myself, I said nothing.
After an especially scary night, I realized something: No one ever explained to me how to ask for help. No one told me what “reaching out” even meant.
As my grief began to snowball, I hesitated to tell anyone I was struggling, largely because I didn’t know how. I didn’t know what to ask for, and without knowing what to ask for, it felt too complicated and futile to ask.
“Why didn’t they tell me?” is such a common refrain when we talk about suicide or mental health challenges in general. It’s easy to make this remark, because “tell someone” seems like a simple request. But in truth, it’s vague at best.
“REACHING OUT” IS THIS SKILL WE’RE SOMEHOW EXPECTED TO KNOW, YET IT’S NEVER TAUGHT AND RARELY MODELED FOR US.
It’s this vague, hopeful sentiment that people throw around, without ever really defining it. What are we asking people to do or say? It’s not exactly clear.
So I want to get more specific. We need to be more specific.
I don’t know if an article like this could’ve saved my friend. But what I do know is that we need to normalize asking for help and talk about what that might look like, rather than pretending it’s a simple and intuitive thing to do.
Maybe then, we can reach people sooner. We can meet them more compassionately. And we can find better ways to support them.
So if you’re struggling but you don’t know what to say? I get it.
Let’s talk about it.
1. “I’M (DEPRESSED/ANXIOUS/SUICIDAL). I’M NOT SURE WHAT TO ASK FOR, BUT I DON’T WANT TO BE ALONE RIGHT NOW.”
Sometimes we don’t know exactly what we need, or we’re unsure of what someone can offer. That’s okay; that shouldn’t discourage us from reaching out. It’s perfectly fine if you have no idea what you need or want — especially when all you can think about is how much you’re hurting.
Let someone know how you’re feeling. You might be surprised by the ways they offer to support you. And if they aren’t helpful? Keep asking until you find someone who is, or seek out a hotline (I know it can be weird to talk to a stranger, but there are some awesome hotlines out there).
2. “I’M STRUGGLING WITH MY MENTAL HEALTH AND WHAT I’VE BEEN TRYING ISN’T WORKING. CAN WE (MEET UP/SKYPE/ETC) ON (DATE) AND COME UP WITH A BETTER PLAN?”
Feeling helpless or exhausted is part and parcel for dealing with a broken mental health system. But a team approach can make it a little more manageable. Sometimes we need a cheerleader/researcher that helps us explore our options, especially when we’re having trouble believing that we have any.
One thing you’ll also notice is that, for almost everything on this list, I suggest setting a time.
This is important for a couple reasons. The first being that it helps the person you’re talking to understand the urgency behind your ask. It can also be helpful to know that there’s an event in the near future when you can expect to receive some support. This can help us hang in there when things get bleak.
3. “I DON’T FEEL SAFE BY MYSELF RIGHT NOW. CAN YOU STAY ON THE PHONE WITH ME/COME OVER UNTIL I CALM DOWN?”
I know this is a hard one to say. Because we often fear telling someone just how much we’re struggling, and admitting that we don’t feel safe? That’s a biggie. Obviously you can replace the word “safe” if it’s not working for you, but I always encourage people to be direct, because it’s the surest route to getting exactly what we need.
Asking someone to be present might feel especially vulnerable. It might not even feel like, in the moment, it’ll make that much of a difference. But you’re more likely to feel better with support than without any.
And remember, from everything we know about mental illness, depression is more likely to be a liar than a truth-teller (I talk about that a bunch in this blog post).
4. “I’M IN A BAD PLACE, BUT I’M NOT READY TO TALK ABOUT IT. CAN YOU HELP ME DISTRACT MYSELF?”
You do not have to talk about what’s bothering you if you’re not ready.
Opening up a whole can of worms might not be the safest or best thing for you in that particular moment. And guess what? You can still reach out for help.
Sometimes we just need someone to shoot the shit with, so we aren’t stuck in our heads, making ourselves a little crazy. This is a valid and healthy thing to ask for! And it’s a subtle way of making folks aware that you’re having a rough time, without needing to go into detail.
The sooner the folks around you are aware that you’re having a hard time, the quicker they can show up to help you through it.
Early interventions are so critical for our mental health. In other words: Don’t wait for your whole basement to flood before you fix a leaky pipe — fix the pipe when you notice the problem has started.
5. “CAN YOU CHECK IN WITH ME (ON DATE/EVERY DAY), JUST TO MAKE SURE I’M ALRIGHT?”
I cannot say it enough — do not underestimate the value of asking for a check-in. I am such a huge fan of this as a coping skill, especially because it can be super helpful for everyone involved.
If you take nothing else away from this article, it should be this: Please ask people to check in with you. It’s such a small thing to ask for in the age of texting, but it can help us stay connected, which is freaking critical for our mental health.
(If you’ve played The Sims before, remember the social bar? That’s you. You need to fill it. Humans need to connect with other humans. It’s not just about wanting to, it’s that we actually require it to survive.)
And this can happen in so many smart ways. A few of my favorites:
“I haven’t been doing well. Can you text me every morning to make sure I’m okay? It would really help me.”
“Hey friend. I’ve been kind of sad lately — do you maybe want to Snapchat/send selfies to each other before bed every night, just to check in? It’d be nice to see your face.”
“I’m in a funk right now. Do you want to be self-care buddies? Like text each other once a day something that we did to care for ourselves?”
“I’ve been isolating myself a little lately. Can you check in with me every so often, just to make sure I didn’t fall off the face of the earth?”
Add emojis wherever fitting if you want it to feel more casual (but really, you don’t need to, there’s nothing wrong with asking for what you need!).
Asking for people to check in with you when you’re struggling is just like buckling your seatbelt when you get in a car. It’s just one extra safety measure in case things get rough.
Both can actually save lives, too. Consider this a PSA.
6. “I’M HAVING A HARD TIME TAKING CARE OF MYSELF. I NEED EXTRA SUPPORT RIGHT NOW AROUND (TASK). CAN YOU HELP?”
Maybe you need help getting to an appointment or the grocery store. Maybe you need a cheerleader to make sure you took your meds, or someone to send a selfie to to prove you got out of bed that morning. Are your dishes piling up in the sink? Do you need a study buddy? It doesn’t hurt to ask for support around tasks like these.
Sometimes these things add up when we’re struggling with our mental health. But we forget that it’s okay to ask for a hand, especially at those times when it could really make a difference.
Being an adult is already challenging. If you’re going through a rough time? It’s even harder. We all hit a point when we need some extra support. Don’t be afraid to let folks know directly how they could support you.
7. “I’VE BEEN FEELING SO LOW. CAN YOU REMIND ME ABOUT WHAT I MEAN TO YOU OR SHARE A FAVORITE MEMORY? IT WOULD REALLY HELP ME.”
I used to think that asking for something like this meant I was “fishing for compliments.” And what a lousy way of looking at it…
Sometimes we need reminders that we matter! Sometimes we can’t recall the good times, and need someone to help us remember them. This is true of every single human being on the planet.
It’s such a simple request, too. If you’re the kind of person that feels nervous about making a big ask (again, I’d encourage you to challenge that assumption — it’s okay to ask for help!), this can be a small step in the right direction.
8. “I’M STRUGGLING RIGHT NOW AND I’M AFRAID I’M REACHING MY LIMIT. CAN I GIVE YOU A CALL TONIGHT?”
To be honest, it wasn’t until my friend died that I finally found these words in particular.
Up until that point, I’d never been sure exactly how to raise the alarm. You know, that moment when you’re not at the end of your rope, but you’re getting there? It’s a crucial moment.
Yes, you can and you absolutely should reach out then, even if you aren’t sure if it might make a difference (spoiler alert, people might actually surprise you). I think about how much pain I could’ve avoided if I’d saw that moment for the opportunity it really was.
Listen to that little voice in the back of your mind, the one that’s trying to tell you that you’re a little too close to the edge for comfort. Listen to that nagging feeling that tells you you’re in over your head. That’s your survival instinct — and it’s an instinct you should trust.
9. “I KNOW WE DON’T TALK MUCH, BUT I’M GOING THROUGH A TOUGH TIME AND I FEEL LIKE YOU’RE SOMEONE I CAN TRUST. ARE YOU FREE TO TALK (DAY/TIME)?”
I wanted to include this because I realize that not all of us have people we’re close to that we confide in.
When I was a teenager, everything changed for me when I reached out to a teacher at my high school that I barely knew. She had always been incredibly kind to me, and I had a gut feeling that she would “get it.” And she did!
To this day, I still believe that she saved my life at a time when I had no one else to turn to. She connected me with a social worker, who was then able to help me access the resources I needed to recover.
While it’s important to be respectful of people’s capacities and boundaries (and be prepared, of course, if someone can’t be there for you or isn’t helpful — it’s not personal!), you might be surprised by the responses that you get.
10. “I’M SUICIDAL. I NEED HELP RIGHT NOW.”
Raise the alarm.
Raise the damn alarm, friends, and be as direct as you need to be. An emergency is an emergency, whether it’s a heart attack or a self-harm risk. Harm to you in any form is reason enough to ask for help.
I promise you, there’s someone in this world — an old friend or a future one, a family member, a therapist, even a volunteer on a hotline — who wants you to stay.
Find that person (or people), even if it takes time. Even if you have to keep asking.
Give people the chance to help you. It’s a chance that my friend deserved, and it’s a chance that you deserve.
(And if all else fails, I have this resource about going to the emergency room when you’re suicidal. I’ve personally been hospitalized twice, and while it’s not a ritzy vacation, it’s the reason I’m here today.)
PICK SOMETHING FROM THIS LIST. WRITE IT DOWN, EVEN IF IT’S ON YOUR HAND OR A STICKY NOTE. REACH OUT — BECAUSE NOW YOU KNOW HOW.
Hell, bookmark this article while you’re at it. I know I’m going to, because there are times when I need this advice, too.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, let me remind you that it’s never too soon or too late to let someone know.
And it’s never, ever too heavy, too messy, or too much to ask — even if you asked fifty times the day before.
I’d have rather had my friend “bother me” every day for the rest of my life than have to lose them forever. Their life was that precious.
And yes, so is yours.
Hey there, friend. Before you go, I want to share some resources with you.
If you’re suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386, or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.
You can also go to the emergency room. If you’re not sure if you should or how to prepare for something like that, I’ve got an article for that, too.
This isn’t just a generic “here are some numbers” plug, this is a “I want you to stay, we need you here, please don’t go just yet” plea.
There’s a memorial fundraiser in honor of my dear friend, Chris Alvaro.
The funds raised will go to organizations that support trans mental health and racial justice.
This article is, of course, dedicated to them.
Topher, you’re still the brightest star in my galaxy. We couldn’t keep you safe. But I will never stop fighting for a world that could have.
A year ago I wrote a piece on the Out of the Darkness community walks put on by the American Foundation to prevent suicide. Well, today we participated once again in our community walk. It’s been a year since we lost our last loved one to suicide (rather than a month) so attending the walk was much easier, no more tears only a touch of sadness — nothing more than we feel on any given day. We were able to enjoy everyone coming together in community to remember those we have loved and lost.
AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states and is “the leader in the fight against suicide. Fund[ing] research, creat[ing] educational programs, advocat[ing] for public policy, and support[ing] survivors of suicide loss.
“The Out of the Darkness Walks are proof that when people work together they can make big changes in the world. They are AFSP’s largest fundraiser – they produce millions for suicide prevention programs, unite those who have been affected by suicide, and create communities that are smart about mental health.”
You can read about my previous Out of the Darkness experience. Or you can read previous posts I have written about how suicide has impacted my life in these posts listed below:
You can also read two powerful posts about personal struggles that I hosted here on my site written by guest bloggers Chris, and Sarah. The post written by Chris does have a trigger warning attached to it so if you are thinking of suicide do not read it. Instead, please telephone or text the resources below. It is confidential and will help alleviate your pain.
Crisis Text Line 24/7: Text “Go” to 741-741 to get started National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Veterans they understand your experiences are different. Press 1 for a line dedicated just to you. LGBTQ National Youth Talk (afternoons & evenings M-S only): 1-800-246-7743
Note: This post was handwritten (printed!) in a 4.75×3″ spiral notebook during the height of a full-blown manic episode. It is genius as you can see how crazy fast the brain was unravelling. My ending thoughts never made it onto the paper as I suddenly and instantly transitioned out of mania and into nothingness. The next day I couldn’t even find the notebook. The date was Dec. 15, 2016 and I have just now April 22, 2017, found the notebook and am about to read/type it for the first time since that night.
I hope you find it as fascinating to read as I was excited to be writing it! It is a long read. However if you get tired of reading it, just scrolling down you will see some of the magical brain unraveling over the course of writing it.
Being in the full-blown manic state is living 100% in the moment, every single second. And your brain is more than fully engaged, it is hyper-engaged! I experience perhaps 5000 FABULOUS ideas, plans, and schemes from one second to the next and find myself living in the whim of whatever idea, plan, or scheme lures my engagement in that exact moment the thought crosses the neurotransmitters of thought.
This full engagement is fantastic! Sometimes I think that what we call today “bipolar” or “autism” or “asperger’s” are really not mental illness or handicaps but an evolution of our species. These different-brained folks have gifts that reach beyond those of the “average norm” of thinking and behaving — hold that thought for a moment and I will try to return to it.
I just now discovered through my current multi-leveled thinking or presence in all that is around me that I am handwriting this post in a 5×3 notepad! CRAZY!
Now back to topic:
I just recognized also that although 100% of my blog posts are stream of consciousness thinking and writing as organic as that is I am still writing one word at a time with no idea where the journey will take me… I always discover it after it is finished and i re-read it for typos, misspellings, and obvious grammar errors. And that writing now in this organic yet manic state that my thoughts are not meandering as much as is typical when I post. Frequently my posts change direction midway to my surprise, but this post is turning out to be succinct and on topic despite the million things I have thought of while printing this in my tiny 5×3 inch notebook!
Before stopping I want to emphasize the benefits of mania.
2. Excessive energy, drive, and motivation
3. Accomplishments, lots of accomplishments in a short amount of time
4. Having the ability to multitask like a supercomputer A.I.
5. All things are possible and therefore success and pride abound!
And those are just a few of the gifts that being a bipolar individual can bring.
Unfortunately manic phases, at least for me, are short-lived and divided by long periods of depression at the same level of intensity. Oh, and three side affects of mania are:
1. No sleeping
2. Constant talking, fast and loud — and for the record, I am not a talker. I am a listener. So that’s pretty weird, right?
3. I become fast and loose with money. In the past 24 hours I have spent over $200 on Christmas gifts to myself. Why not? I’ve earned them! I have had a helluva year and suffered through 8 to 9 months of varying degrees of depression.
Here’s my scale…
The photo is graphic and disturbing. Proceed with caution!
Phase one is deep depression. Desires and longing for death; feelings of total and complete worthlessness; the absolute belief that I have nothing of worth to share with humanity (neighbors, jobs, communities) nor anything of value to share with my world (family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and acquaintances); the full and complete knowledge and acceptance in the fact that my life does not matter. Life for those in my world will march forward without me. My life has changed nothing. Not for them, not for the communities I am a member of, not for our country, our world, our galaxy, or the universe…
Which brings to mind this example of what life is like living in two different existences: String theory says there are multi-universes, meaning other dimensions of “us” with different choices and outcomes being made! Wow, incredible! I live in two dimensions! Can you say that about yourself and have the evidence to back it up? Because I do!
And another side effect is frizzy hair! I am certain it is from lack of sleep. The brain is not meant to shut down certain specific functions so it can restore out entire bodily functions. It screws with our electrical output. This particular manic episode has been interesting in that I am extremely jumpy. I have “jumped” and heard my voice squeal in fright at least 20x today. I am jumping at movement that does not exist…
at least not in this dimension!
The funniest was when my dog, lying on the floor about 4 feet ahead of me lifted his tail in a half-wag. I jumped sky-high! That’s a mile, right? LOL, I crack myself up!
In fact, this happened today: I had to drive into town to pick up some medication at the pharmacy. It was snowing out but I needed it, I’d be out otherwise. And if you’re thinking that’s not a big deal than you do not live in the Pacific NW. Our snow here is not the same as back East or even up North. It is extremely treacherous because it is in a constant state of transition of snowing, melting, freezing, snowing, melting, freezing. It creates layer after layer of black ice. And, to top it off, the majority of people out here don’t know how to drive in snow but that doesn’t keep them from trying; driving too fast, making last minute decisions, breaking, attempting to summit hills and traverse down those same steep hills as though they were on a waterslide. Hey! I guess, they ARE on a waterslide of sorts! LOL. Predictably and ultimately they slide off course ending up either crashing into other vehicles or in a ditch. Surprisingly however, they rarely plowdown pedestrians who are not fool enough to risk life and limb to reach a goal. I guess they’re not bipolar.
See what I did there? I went off on a tangent not relevant yet related to the topic at hand. I just proved how adept I am at stream of consciousness writing. I mislead you down an unknown path, which you followed and ultimately you arrived at the same destination: Bipolar. From bipolar to driving in snow to bipolar again for those of you who may be feeling lost. But don’t worry, I’ve got this under control. This post is still tugging me stronger than the tens of millions of thoughts that have crossed my mind since we began. And I’ll prove it now.
When I arrived at the aforementioned pharmacy my hair became conductive! It was literally reaching and grabbing at my face like static cling. I couldn’t get it off my face! I would brush it away or push it to the back of my head but it would immediately return to my face, tickling my cheeks, my mouth, my nose. I know that when it snows the ion consistency of our atmosphere is significantly different than all other weather conditions which is why it has that unique smell which we all identify as “it’s going to snow.” Now, it’s true we’re not accustomed to snow here in the West like the rest of the country, however, that #fakescience #fakenews #conspiracytheory of #globalwarming is to blame for that. Twenty-five years ago when I moved here it never snowed. Now it is every year with a #bigsnow about every seven years which would be in 2019 as we did #shutdowneverything for the #snowpocolypse of 2012. Which, I should mention, would have the rest of the world laughing at us.
— Quick break. It’s getting very cold again so I’ve got to add another heater and pee… I’ve been holding it for a long time. I’m going to go multitask for a moment and, if we are lucky, some other whim will not take my fancy and I’ll be able to come straight back and finish my train of thought. I know I can do it. I can do anything! #ThisLifeRules #ManiaIsMyFriend.
And by the way, the hashtags, yeah, that’s a behavior shift most definitely. Be right back have a lot more to say.
I am very lucid right now and surprisingly do know exactly where I am going with this piece (and I don’t mean Letters to the Mind though I will most definitely share it with that community. This article will definitely #furtherunderstanding about #bipolar and #mentalillness and take us on another step to #endstigma. This is going to be powerful!
I cannot promise to return from my #peebreak but I can promise that if you keep reading you’ll gain greater understanding. Okay, #peetime #pottyfirst #heatersecond.
Okay, I’m back! #ToldYou.
#Lying. Stopped to put on a #Seahawk knit hat to cover my ears, slip on a cozy coat, slide on my fingerless gloves, and take 5 gulps of #AlpineRose chocolate milk. #MyFavorite.
#LetsGetReal. I have seriously used up half of this notebook thus far so I also grabbed — and I am beginning to hear another whim increasing in intensity. This #girlsgotgoals #livinginthemoment #truthbetold
Oh yeah, better write this down!
Double damn! #IHadIt
Whew! Got it back. Took a few, I was #gettingworried. But I’ve written my reminder so let’s #finishthisup. This post is about the Four Faces of #Memee @Memeesmusings on #Twitter. And I previously warned you about the image and have explained stage one or #Face1 which represents the words that the image tells and that’s the graphic part. #HardPartsOver #YouMadeIt
So, stage 2 #Face2. This is the stage I pretty much live in. #TheBlahs
Hey! I just realized I’ve also already covered stage 4 #Face4
Back to stage 2: The Blahs #FormerlyKnownAs #theduldrums
#archaic! also known as #WhotheFuckCares
Gotta love the modern English lexicon.
I am pretty sure you have a good idea about what this stage is all about because #everyonesuffers #fromtime2time Here is what that looks like for me…
Oh, I remember something that I thought was important to include about the negative side effects of #mania. #SoImportant!
There are two different kinds of #BipolarDisorder #formerlyknownas #ManicDepressive #Archaic
I suffer from Bipolar 2 (depressive bipolar with hypomanic episodes that last up to but do not exceed 5 days) with #rapidcycling.
#RapidCycling doesn’t mean I ride a bike super fast all over the place. However, that’s a pretty apt way to think of mania as one symptom is — I #gaveyouahint earlier
I know, I know, you’re feeling a little stupid right now. That’s okay. #IForgiveYou #I_Love_You #My_Minion
I bet you thought because we had #alreadycovered faces two and four that this post would become #shorterthanotherwise #Sorry2Disappoint #I’mMemee. I’m a Blabberer Not a Summarizer.
#Managing to #useitup #anyway #HavingFunDoingIt
#LongReads are my #specialty #it’llbeworthit #IntheEnd #Ipromise
#StreamofConsciousness stops when there’s no more to say… Ugh-oh! #I’mManic I talk incessantly. I work nonstop. #WhatIDon’tDo is #SlowDown #FullStop
We may be in for the ride of our lives! I’ll try to #SpitItOut #Just4U
Oh grudge! We’re still on Stage 2, The Blahs. Sorry about that! Stage 3 will be short, I promise. #Damn #LotsofPromises in this post! #ForgiveMe please.
So what rapid cycling means is that I have —
#IAmSuperSmart #Spontaneous #BrilliantWay to #KeepPromise to #SpitItOut. Here’s a #Snippet instead:
And that my friends is where I finally fell asleep 4 days after entering my mania and did not complete the post or deliver on my promises. When I woke back up the mania was gone. But if you read all of that, I’m sure you’re grateful to be done!
I do find it a fascinating read, seeing the mind in mania in action and evolving.
Here is the note I had written down to complete this article:
“Well, this did not turn out to be as succinct as I thought it would be. But it is clear and cohesive. #Memeeforthewin! You should have known that though because I am usually long-winded in my writing — well, except for my #FlashFiction.
I’ve been hosting a new mental illness friend that goes by the name Anxiety. He has been with me for about 2 and-a-half months now and I really wish he’d go away. I don’t remember inviting him over, and I certainly didn’t intend for him to make himself at home. Something’s got to change!
I have evaluated where I think this anxiety took root and it is in uncertainty of the future. Whenever I think about the future my chest and arms tighten up and then I begin vibrating like a personal massager, fast, intense quivers that impact my breathing and my comfort.
It has been 8 months since I held my last job. It was a job I found a lot of pleasure in despite the fact I would sleep whenever I wasn’t there (and I was only working part time). It was exhausting but being with people was good for me, invigorating. And I had a sense of purpose which, if you ask anyone who’s off work due to disability, is hard to hold onto.
Finally the anxiety was getting to be too much and I had to make a change. I had started putting feelers out for under-the-table jobs and one of those feelers offered up a real job that seemed a perfect fit albeit fully legitimate. The job was less than 3 miles from my home (which is ten minutes from the nearest store or gas station). They needed someone only 2 days a week and were paying minimum wage (which is all I can afford to take without losing my disability). Having my disability is important. I have about $20,000 worth of medical appointments a year (that includes counselling of course) and my medication expenses are over $2000 a month if paid out of pocket.
I was excited about this job because it would give me some extra padding and release some of the anxiety I was feeling about money. Most of my possessions are in storage right now ($200 a month) and I begin every month 400 dollars in the hole. Disability pays next to nothing — all of those people that think we choose not to work and that we think disability is better is wrong. Disability is barely survivable. I am maintaining because I have no rental costs thanks to the generosity of a good friend, #I’mBlessed.
And disability does allow us to work, as I suggested, but we have to work beneath certain income limits 1170 per month currently. One of the things I finally got around to doing, after about 8 years of attempting to do it, was send off my request to have my student loan debt forgiven. That government program allows permanently disabled individuals to be released from their student loans (which otherwise is a lifelong, ever-growing debt). My student loan began 20 years ago at a grand total of $12,000. It has now amassed due to compound interest to be nearly $40,000. It grows faster than I can keep up with and my disability ensures that I will never be able to pay it off. So after years of asking for the application and one denial, I got around to sending in the forms again.
And then I waited.
I grew impatient.
In the meantime I learned about a court reporting school that is cash only and affordable to most at $350 per month and no contract. What I needed was $350 and I’d be back in the sunshine of moving forward with overcoming my financial burdens. My plan was that I would find a way to make that money and then have the student debt forgiven. Then when I was well enough and retrained in my profession I could return to work without any debt and start life new and maybe eventually be able to afford to buy my own place and sail onward from there! Aren’t dreams nice?
Come to find out the Department of Education’s plan for debt forgiveness does not allow you to work at all. Not one day. Sure you can volunteer for stuff but you cannot collect monies for it. I didn’t learn that straight up either. I learned it during the process of obtaining it.
Last week I started a new job. Wednesday I worked five hours. Thursday I worked five hours. And Friday I worked 2 hours. DAMNIT! Last night I learned my application for student debt forgiveness was approved.
Dilemma! What to do? Had I already fucked myself over? I don’t know. But today I quit that new job which allowed me to see a change in my daily behaviors and know that soon I’d be feeling a sense of purpose again. Just goes to show you, sometimes a good change can throw a monkey wrench in your plans!
Now I’ve got to recontact social security and tell them that job I started last week didn’t work out so I can reapply for SSI and see that they pay me my full benefits as of course for once I was prompt at follow through and got those benefits hacked.
Now I’ve got to do as Socrates said and embrace this new change yet again. Put my energy in the positive… I will be debt free in 3 years. No more 40,000 pound monkey on my back. Will I survive 3 years without purpose? I don’t know. I’ve got to learn to try and find purpose and things to keep my brain active without a job.
☀ ☀ ☀ ☀ ☀
If you’d like to play Words Crush Wednesday along with me here are the details:
Cut/paste and follow these 3 simple rules:
(1) Always pingback to the site you discovered #wcw on with every Words Crush Wednesday post. In this case, that’s me: memeesmusings.com!
(2) In your post, use the badge they’ve created just for you – In this case, you’d use the Panda badge (size doesn’t matter), just grab it below.
(3) Tag your post #wcw so the Words Crush Wednesday community players can find you.
(4) Optional: When you are ready, create your own badge for those you inspire to play Words Crush Wednesday. If you do not create your own badge then your inspirees MUST use the badge from the blogger who inspired you — it’s on your post — so be sure to make it easy for them to find. (P.S. I create all of my graphics on Canva.)
If you wanna play #wcw with me, grab that panda badge on the left!
It’s been a long, long while. I have been suffering with bipolar depression in a very extended way lately. Some people who don’t understand bipolar have the misperception that we suffer both the depressive side and the manic side equally. We don’t. Also, we’re all different in our levels of functionality at the various phases of the disorder. So I’ve been down and out of the game. I am on a new medication, Latuda, and I think it may finally be kicking in. I certainly hope so! It is supposed to relieve the symptoms of Bipolar Depression which is a very big deal for me as I have never had relief from this phase and it is the phase I suffer from the most frequently as well as it being the most catastrophically impactful for me.
Anyway, the picture above was put together back in December at the beginning of a manic phase which I will be sharing with you very soon. During mania I have many brilliant ideas and am extremely active. Unfortunately the mania does not last long and when it burns off suddenly my activities cease and my plots, plans, schemes come to an abrupt halt. For instance, this article had the headline written and the picture uploaded, and even a link to some statistical data but no body. Fortunately, I know my main intent was to go over my 4 “personalities” (for lack of a better description) that I am constantly trying to adjust to and live with.
Left to Right:
Deep Depression. This is where I have been for the last several months. My days in this state consist of sleeping (escaping my problems, but also I am exhausted physically and mentally), crying uncontrollably for no specific reason, staring at the ceiling or blank wall sometimes with no thoughts registering in my head and other times inundated with only negative recriminations for being this person (something I cannot control) that suffers this chemical imbalance of the brain. I’ll get up to pee and return immediately to bed. I mostly drink my calories during this time as I have no energy or desire to even pour cereal into a bowl to eat. I will bathe once a week but don’t remember to brush my teeth and do not bother brushing my hair or changing my clothes. I am completely shut down. Inhuman. Some days I am afraid to be alone because I fantasize about killing myself. I know that is not the answer and it is really not an option. Besides, in this state I am frozen in grief and depression so I do not act upon thoughts. I “just” terrorize myself with them over and over again. Visualizing myself killing myself. It’s not fun, believe me. It scares me and heightens my depressive state.
2. “The Blahs” This is where I live the majority of my life. I still have difficulty with hygiene most days. I am messy and tired. I have zero focus, zero attention span, zero interests, zero motivation , and zero drive. I do nothing but zone out on the computer or Netflix day after day. My mind is chaotic and so is the environment around me. It’s better than the deep depression but it is no life. A waste.
3. Happy/Balanced. This is my goal persona. It is who I long to be. I enjoy friendships and can hold onto a job. I feel like I am pursuing goals and making real change in my life toward becoming this person authentically. I bathe bi-daily, I pick up after myself, I eat and sleep in a normal pattern. I have a life and recognized the blessing it is. I may even be able to have a romantic relationship again!
4. Mania! I am awesome! You are awesome! Life is awesome! I have big plans and they are, no matter how far-fetched, attainable! I just got to follow my plans step by step and I’ll do it! I will succeed at anything I try and I will try anything that interests me! The world is my oyster, my cake, my playground!