Kiss5Tigers

The 5 Tigers represent the big things in life. This blog is about facing them.


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Making Coffee in a Strange Kitchen

I’m house sitting for a friend. She went to Europe. Often I would be envious but not in this case: I know what she puts herself through to save for her adventures. I don’t have that kind of self-discipline. I hope she has fun.

What she does have, is a cat named Archie. He apparently doesn’t take well to staying alone so I am here to take care of him. He is meowing for food but his dish has food in it. From this morning and from yesterday. In the morning, before I leave, I will clean his dishes and put out all new food.

Now what she doesn’t have, is cable tv. I am a person who runs the tv all the time for background noise. I’m darn glad she gets Netflix is all I can say. And she has set up a profile for me. I’ve watched way too many NCIS, a few Person of Interest and some Sherlock. I saw a documentary about eating called The Magic Pill. One of the things I thought was interesting was the connection between how we eat and the environment. I also watched a movie called Dumplin’ which was about a girl who loves Dolly Parton entering a pageant. Spoiler: she doesn’t win. But it was heartwarming nonetheless.

My coffee is cold and there is no microwave to hot it up. My friend lives close to the bone to save for travel, but the no microwave thing is more of a life choice. She objects to them. She claims they are not good for food and she is into clean eating. I’m struggling with keto and she is adding in the secondary layer of ethical sourcing. Hats off to her, it’s more than I would do.

I need to rearrange my stuff tonight. I brought an extra bag of activities so that I would have something to do while I was here, but I don’t want to check a bag on the plane tomorrow so I have to consolidate. I figure I’ll leave the extra bag here and pick it up later. But I do need to go through the bags and figure out what goes and what stays.

The travel. Not sure if I mentioned that already. I am going to Alabama for some training next week; Sunday – tomorrow – is my travel day. Oh that reminds me, I must get my boarding pass into my Apple wallet. I can stand a week of pay, since I’m not going to Alaska this time around. My training counts as a deployment so I probably go to the bottom of the list. I’ll have a wait.

I have written about 20 letters for International Correspondence Writers Month, called InCoWriMo. I have maybe 10 more addresses that I pulled off the website. Then I have a stack of mail that needs replies. I figure the nights this week will be good for getting some writing done. I need to get going on my morning pages too, even though I don’t actually do them in the morning.

I will miss my support groups this week but work is good. I should make myself some eggs and toast, and settle in to sleep early.

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Crowdfunding

I make no secret of the fact that I am diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I don’t just tell random strangers on the bus, but I’m not embarrassed about having it.

I would like to help other people with this difficulty to navigate their recovery process. I don’t have the resources for a degree at this time but fortunately there is a certification program that takes only a week for becoming a certified peer counselor. I could do that.

What is a peer counselor? It’s an advocate that helps other diagnosed individuals figure out their recovery. It’s a mentor – coach kind of situation. It is not a therapist, and it is not a doctor. It’s sort of like an AA sponsor.

The training will be in Dallas in April and I would like to take it. However it is $650 and I am between deployments so cash flow is an issue. They don’t have any scholarships available so that’s not an option. I have to come up with this money.

I figured, it would be worth checking out crowdfunding. I have some part of the funds, just not the whole thing. I don’t like to ask family or borrow from friends. But crowdfunding, now, that seems possible. Surely I know several people who can give some money towards this endeavor.

I have posted in a group on Facebook that I trust looking for reviews of different sites I could use. Indiegogo has already come up, and there’s Kickstarter and GoFundMe. I just have to figure out which one of the several choices is the best fit for me.

So, hive mind and dear readers, if you have any experiences or knowledge about this to share, feel free.


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The Right to Fail

I’m thinking about this in terms of parenting, but I think it’s bigger than that.

My daughter is 21. When I was 21, I had been on my own for 2 years, having been orphaned when I was 19. I knew a lot more than when I was 19 but I still knew almost nothing. My daughter, well, she’s had a hard life and she knows a lot, but she seems to make bad decisions. It’s okay, she’s young and has time to recover from an stupidity she may commit.

I have to keep reminding myself of that. She is an adult. She has the right to make her own decisions, good or bad. She also has the right to bear the consequences. I keep wanting to save her, to make her life easy, to rescue her. She, of course, does not want this from me. So I have to remind myself, she is an autonomous being, she has the opportunity to succeed, and also the right to fail.

We don’t think of failure as a right, but if you want to make your own decisions, failure is simply going to happen from time to time. Some decisions are bad from the get go, others are reasonable at the time but turn sour, some are positively brilliant. If I rescue her from negative consequences, she never learns. She is never fully autonomous, she is simply a human avatar for my ego. And at the end of the day, I want her to be a functional adult. After all, she will outlive me, she has to be able to get along without me.

I got to thinking of this with regards to mental health. So often we who have a diagnosis are treated like children. We have decisions made for us, supposedly in our best interest, but without our input. We lose agency by admitting to our difference. We are seen as so impaired that we cannot decide whether to take medications that have such dangerous and unpleasant side effects.

Now I take meds and I am happy with them, but there was a time when the dose was too high and it flattened me. I had long pauses in conversations before I responded, and I was so slow that I didn’t even know it. Freaked out my friends. I felt fine, but they were worried. Then I had a family member die and I couldn’t cry about it. I told the doctor and he tweaked my dosage. I have the right to cry when things are sad. I have the right to be miserable, actually, though I don’t choose it.

I, however, have never been suicidal or psychotic. Both of those are potential states I could experience with bipolar. So I have been up and I have been down, but I haven’t been truly out of my head. I have mild symptoms. I’m lucky.

But even if I had intense symptoms, I don’t know that someone should be able to take agency away from me. If I am dangerous to other people, sure, but we do that with anyone who becomes dangerous, like the guy who robs a convenience store with a gun, or a mugger with a knife. If I am simply not in consensual reality, well, does that require forced medication? I mean, we as a society assume it’s a sign of health to acknowledge the same reality as everyone else, but maybe it’s not a necessity.

Because for us with a diagnosis, success is seen as partaking in society as it is, as the constituents agree it is and opting out is failure. The person has failed to adapt, to present as typical. There is no suggestion that there is a failure of society to accommodate the other experience. Or that adaptation to an unwell society is not a sign of mental health. And make no mistake, there are aspects of our culture that are not healthy. Which is true of any culture.

So the standard of success is how much I can pass for neurotypical. If I can’t pass, I must be medicated, even though many of the medicines used are no more effective than placebo. I must be medicated until I comply, then I am a success.

What if I don’t comply? What if I am happy with my ups and downs, my creativity and deep thoughts, my highs and lows? Then I would fail to pass. And I have that right. I have the right to fail. I have the right to make my own choices about my health. I have agency over what happens to my body. Or I should.

Except that I am mentally ill, so I must pass as “sane” or “normal”.

We call them “average people”. I am not insane. I am not abnormal. I am not typical. But I might be average. I might have higher highs and lower lows, but you have ups and downs and nobody feels the need to medicate you out of a range of emotions. Average people have the right to fail. I want the right to fail.

I fail miserably at 40 hour a week jobs. I simply don’t have the stamina to keep it up beyond a certain length of time. I want the opportunity to make other choices. I want the right to choose other paths even if it means I fail. I don’t want to be medicated into compliance. I don’t want a job that I need to take happy pills and valium to go into an office every day. It doesn’t sound like a life, even though it would look successful. I want the right to fail.

So here is my daughter, with all the drive of a young person, all the fire, all the dreams. And the best I can do is let her go, and hope she fails gloriously.

Don’t conform, daughter, unless it’s a game you enjoy playing. Do your best. Make different choices. I hope you succeed, but you have the right to fail.


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Deployed Again

I got the message the other day that I will be deployed again. I am just going for training. A friend of mine just got sent to Alaska. I might mention that in my other group text. I would love to go to Alaska for work! But I don’t have a passport yet so that’s an issue. I need to take care of that. Not that Alaska needs a passport! It’s more that most routes to Alaska involve a stop in Canada, and Canada needs a passport. Kind of like, I could go to the Marianas but again most routes there stop in foreign lands to refuel. Or make connecting flights.

So Sunday I go for training for a promotion. I get to learn all about how to be a leader, then I have to put it into practice in the field. I have about 4 years to complete the process so I’m not worried.

In other news, my household has been keto for about a month now, and I’m not sure it’s the method for me. I seem to be hungry all the time. My friend K says it means I’m not consuming enough protein at each meal. I don’t know if I can afford to eat more protein, to be honest. I miss vegetables. I got a salad today with cold cuts in it from Subway. I could have eaten two of them.

Now my roommate F had a cheat day last week where he ate pizza and chicken wings, and it made him SO sick. He says it will be a long time before he has a cheat day again. Me, on the other hand, I had a cheat day and ate a whole box of Girl Scout cookies, no problem. Didn’t even feel full, though all that starch mixed with a quart of milk should have weighed a ton in my stomach. I am not acclimating to this new way of eating.

Charli the kitty is very needy today. She has been prodding me to pet her and wants to lay so she can touch me. She’s pretty attached to me anyway, but this is above and beyond. I hope she’s feeling okay. It’s hard with cats, they are very good at hiding when they are unwell. On the other hand, she could just be cold. Or, yanno, needy. We all have days when we’re needy.


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Dreams and Painting

I made a painting yesterday at a place called Painting with a Twist. They walk you through the process so it’s pretty easy and pretty quick. Here is a picture of my picture, I’m pretty pleased with it.

I also had a weird dream last night. I worked in a sort of convenience store, and across the street was a tattoo parlor that was actually part of the same store. That is, they shared sales staff. I had the fortune of working a shift in the tattoo place and I really preferred it. There was a problem in the convenience store so I went across the street to handle it, and I got stuck working there. I was so insulted. I didn’t want to be there. And every time I tried to do any task around the store, a customer would come up and do something crazy, like go behind the counter and try to work the register themselves. I was so frustrated and I didn’t want to be there. Then the owner came in, and it was RuPaul! In man clothes, so I am going to call him “him”. He was, as he seems to be, very nice but not likely to put up with nonsense. I wasn’t able to explain what was going on because I was too busy, cleaning up trash, helping someone work the microwave, that kind of thing. Then there was some kind of staff meeting that I wasn’t able to attend. I just remember being angry and frustrated the whole dream.

So what is this about? Since clearly I don’t work for RuPaul. I think it has to do with frustration in my employment, that I can’t seem to move up or do things that I find interesting. I am stuck doing work I find tedious and unrewarding. Though really I’m quite happy with the government job. So frustration and maybe inability to reach a mentor. Can’t seem to get the guidance I need to move ahead, and failing miserably at the job at hand. Sounds more like my call center experiences than my current job, actually.

It’s pretty obvious I need to do some work on this dream, and on employment.


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Current Project

Blue Flower


This is the project I was drawing flowers for. I really like the blue. I am not sure about 2 things: first of all, the adhesive. I might have to try something else but I don’t know what. Most glues are water based and I”m concerned it would blur the painted image. The second thing is, I wonder if I should attempt to age the watercolor paper. It looks pretty darn white, But that does make the flower pop, so? For now I’m calling it finished, we’ll see what happens.