Kiss5Tigers

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


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Job Leads

Employment continues to be an issue in my life.

I have an interview Friday with Michael’s craft stores. I’m actually pretty excited about it. I love craft stores. I’m more concerned that I’ll spend my whole paycheck on art supplies! Keep a good thought for me as I go through the interview process.

I heard from a friend who is deployed that the government is looking for people to work public assistance. I am currently assigned to individual assistance, which is helping hook people up with grant money to repair their damaged homes. I like the job. I had fun doing it. But the last time I worked was 10 months ago.

I know, not having a disaster is a good thing, but I want to work. Public assistance is the civic level of help. It’s support for infrastructure and teams like firemen. It also gets called in to play on more occasions than individual assistance. There are 5 open public assistance calls and only 1 individual assistance county. Less personal involvement, but more work.

So I have been provided with the application information to change cadres from individual assistance to public assistance. I need to work.

I attended the Prism awards last night. I met a woman who works for UT Southwestern. I told her I was learning grant writing. She gave me her card and asked me to keep in touch about how successful I am at it. I think, if I get any good at it, that it could lead to a job.

I prefer to work with people, but money’s gotta come from somewhere.

So, we’ll see. Lots of things going on, something’s gotta give.

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Working the WRAP

WRAP is Wellness Recovery Action Plan, and I’ve talked about it in some detail in other posts so I won’t bore you.

I am struggling with spending.

I am spending money I don’t really have to spare.

I can’t seem to halt the behavior.

So it’s time to get out my WRAP notebook.

What can I do when this takes over?

Oh, turn over the bank card to someone else! That really scares me so it’s probably the one I’d better do. Tank up the car, get a couple dollars in cash so I can get a coke or a coffee, and take the bank card out of my purse.

Scary.

Really scary.

What else can I do?

Use up the art supplies I already have. Make art. Making art makes me happy, and most of my spending is on art supplies which want to be used. Make art seems like a good plan.

I have 2 online courses I’m taking, I could listen to one of them.

I need a shower before I see my family tomorrow.

I am owning my faults and blogging about them *right now* as I am typing this. I’m not sure if that’s helpful except that it’s always helpful to be honest and start from truth.

I can sleep. I just finished dinner and I have full-belly sleepiness. Nap is possible.

I think . . . I think I will listen to one of my courses, and maybe do some journaling or write some letters. I have a letter to Fishspit to finish. Then the shower before bed.

And I will not get on Amazon or Etsy, even though I want to.

Because the medicine keeps the feelings under control and this is just behavior. I can change behavior. I can do this.


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My Body

My body rather disgusts me. I really don’t like my body.

I am middle aged and fat (yes, over 250, I qualify as fat) and things don’t work the way they used to.

I have a rotator cuff injury to my right shoulder so I have somewhat limited range of motion.

I am going gray. Now it’s the gray you want to have, it’s a pretty gray, but I’d rather be a natural purple. Yes I know nobody is a natural purple, but since it’s not gonna happen, I can pick whatever color I like. I have tried coloring it, but really too much of a hassle.

I have too much tummy and no waist.

I have small boobs. Well, not so small, but only B cups so they don’t balance out the gut. Plus I have many years with no bra due to renaissance faires so they are saggy. They don’t like each other so I don’t have nice cleavage. Remember the old bra commercial, “It lifts and separates”? My bosoms would live in separate counties if they could manage it. Good bras make a difference, but I feel like I’m lying about how much I’ve been blessed with. If I ever have a boyfriend again, I’ll have to keep my bra on during sex.

That whole female bleeding thing. I’ve been dealing with it for over 40 years now, can it please stop? Please?

Speaking of goo, now that I’m older I have issues with incontinence. Sometimes I pee what I laugh or cough or sneeze. The cough has been an issue with the current round of allergy crap. And as a fat person, they don’t make pee panties in my size. Hey, Depends, I’m looking at you. Not to mention I don’t want to wear a pad all month long. Bad enough during shark week.

Now I have poop issues. I get the feeling I have to go, and damn I’d better go! There is no holding it. I have had to clean myself up in public rest rooms on more than one occasion. It’s embarrassing. Walking into the grocery store, asking where the ladies room is, with a load in my pants because I couldn’t control it. Can’t stand it. Horrifying.

And there is the facial hair. I don’t mean a little fuzz on the lip. I have PCOS which means my body fights me in annoying ways, and it has given me a full beard. I shave every day, just like my dad. I wanted to be like my dad when I was a kid, but not in this way. I would like to be able to go camping and not come out of the woods looking like Grizzly Adams. One day I will have the money for laser treatments, but until then, I’m stuck with the razor.

I am outliving my teeth. Now I didn’t expect to make it to 55. My parents died at 47 to cancer and heart trouble. I figured I’d die young also. But no, at the rate I’m going, I’ll see 90. My teeth however probably won’t. They simply break. I am dreadfully afraid of the dentist, and I can’t afford one that I’m not. I have a tender mouth and all the work is painful to me. I can’t pay for full anesthetic dentistry or I would.

And my eyes. I am near sighted to the point of almost legally blind. I am presbyopic which means I should have bifocals only they make me dizzy. And I am developing a cataract in my left eye. It will need surgery at some point, but until then I am seeing through a gray haze on that side.

Now I am really struggling here. My dislike of my body means I tend not to take care of it, though clearly taking care of it would make it less disgusting to me. Eating is an issue. Working out is an issue. Money for dentistry or laser hair removal is an issue.

In the meantime, I live in a physical world. I like to feel the cat’s soft fur. Chocolate tastes good. Color, the existence of color, is an exquisite gift. I knit and crochet, I love the fibers, the texture, the colors. Hugs are amazing. The smell of lilacs. All these things need a body to appreciate them.

Here is this tool that makes it possible to interact with the world, and it gives me the heebie-jeebies.

I escape into my mind, the world of ideas. I read. I think. I get online. It’s all intellectual because that doesn’t need a body. I can escape for a minute.

I am trying to learn to be good to my body. I’m trying to eat better. I go to the doctor a little more often. I want to work out, but it seems like a huge hassle. And yet I don’t want to be a little old lady in a wheelchair because I didn’t take care of myself at 50. I already suffer from not taking care of myself at 30.

So I will learn to accept this body, because it is the one I have. Because it isn’t healthy to hate oneself. Because there are enjoyable things about the physical world.

One day, we will make peace, my body and I.


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Some Days Are Not as Good as Others

I’m having kind of a crappy day.

I’ve been having kind of a crappy few days.

First of all, I went shopping. Shopping is bad. I spent $70 that I shouldn’t have spent on art supplies. They are still in my car in case I decide to return them, but I probably won’t.

Then this cough. I am still coughing. The doctor says allergy. Well, that’s fine, I’m not contagious. But it annoys the people around me. I can’t have a conversation. People back away. This is a nasty cough.

And the whole bed bug debacle. It’s not my fault this time, but I am still being blamed.

I was minding my own business, sitting on the sofa, when my roommate L comes up to me. “Did you poop when you went to the bathroom?” Well, no, I hadn’t, but I instantly felt accused of something. Turns out there was some kind of poo streak in the toilet and it mattered whether it was my fault.

Then L spent the day out of the house visiting family. When she came home, I was in the laundry room. I heard the dogs bark and came out. I had automatically locked the front door when I came through it, and I hadn’t turned on the outside light, so she was struggling to get into the house. I opened the door and got an earful. “I think of you at night and leave the light on and unlock the door,” she reminded me. I was more worried about exterminating bed bugs and my other roommate being sick. I didn’t think of the sun going down. And I certainly couldn’t have predicted that she’d come home when I was in the back of the house.

Today I came home and was met at the sofa by L. She was looking at me expectantly. I had no idea what the thing was. She pulled out a sheet that she uses for sitting on the sofa. “Is this your blood?” she demanded. I don’t know but I’m having my period so maybe. “I need you to check yourself,” she said, “this is just gross.” Well it wasn’t something I did on purpose, and it was so faint I didn’t even notice it until she pointed it out. I offered to wash the sheet, but she put it in her hamper.

F is on me about money. I know I owe the phone bill. Sometimes it takes me a couple of days to get to the bank. I don’t appreciate being told to go to the bank. And I don’t appreciate being asked what I”m doing today with an agenda. He is counting nickels and dimes lately. I am not the bank. I thought we were friends but lately I feel like I am just a source of funds.

Now I know this will pass. I will get over my period and be less sensitive. Things will go back to normal. Money will work out.

My general horror about having a body won’t go away, I’m afraid, but I’m used to that. I won’t enumerate the grossnesses at this time. I’ll just try to convince myself it’s worth it to be able to pet the cat.

And tomorrow will be a different day.


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The Power of Realistic Thinking

One of the issues I often face as a bipolar person is the question of whether I am living in reality or in my own world.

Nothing wrong with having a world of your own. Any innovator or inventor has a strong internal world that they want to bring to light. Nicola Tesla, Buckminster Fuller, Steven Jobs – to name a few – all had a particular vision of the world that wasn’t real until they created it. But they also were rooted in scientific thinking.

Sometimes my internal world, well, it can get very different from reality. It’s easy to see it when I am depressed or manic, but harder to discern when I am hypomanic or dysthymic. That is, if I am suicidal it relatively easy to detect that my thinking is dysregulated. I tend to use absolutes like “I’m going to feel this way forever, it will never change.” Or if I believe that the weatherman on TV is sending me coded messages about my daughter’s welfare. I might be fully convinced of the truth of these things, but they aren’t true. They aren’t real. They are lies my bipolar tells me.

There is a tendency to see the opposite of depressed thinking as positive thinking, but that can also be a lie for me. “You can spend this money, there is plenty of money available,” is positive thinking but it will get me into trouble at the end of the month when bills are due. I want to believe in abundance but I am not a temporarily embarrassed millionaire, as John Steinbeck says most Americans think of themselves. I am a middle aged working class white woman. I have some privileges but unlimited money is not one of them and it does me no good to act as if it is.

If the power of positive thinking isn’t the answer, what is?

A friend of mine calls it non-negative thinking. I call it realistic thinking. It’s the power of having your internal world align with consensual reality. If I fact check myself with 2 other people, there is probably a high degree of agreement. It’ll never be 100% but it can be pretty darn close.

What is consensual reality? It is the world that we all agree exists. This is the planet Earth. Water is wet. Two solid objects can’t occupy the same place at the same time. Humans don’t fly by flapping their arms. We give our consent that these things are true and real. You know that if someone is moving his arms up and down intensely and taking little leaps into the air, he has probably left the realm of consensual reality. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, think of a small child playing at being a bird. But if an adult is doing it who really believes he’s just having a day when aerodynamics are working against him, he’s probably a little out of touch.

If I am depressed and telling myself that the misery will never end, most people can see I’m out of touch with reality and they’ll either understand or try to fix me. But if I am dysthymic, I might say, “I won’t go to hell when I die, I’m already there” which other people would find cynical, but not necessarily out of consensus. What I need is a way to break out of the negative cycle of thinking.

One piece of this is universal acceptance. There are 3 main kinds of acceptance: universal self acceptance, universal other acceptance, and universal life acceptance. The goal of any of them is to accept things as they are. For example, universal self acceptance would mean comparing yourself to an ideal self, to your own self in the past, or to other people. You accept yourself as you are. I accept my depressed self as she is, which can be hard.

Another piece is the fact checking I mentioned. I can go to a friend or a trusted advisor and verify that I am in fact not in hell even though I might feel like it. I can see that there are no little devils with pitchforks and I don’t smell brimstone. Or if you are less literal, my friend could remind me that I am not experiencing eternal misery. Oh sure I’m miserable right now, but at other times I have been happy.

That’s a truth for me about being bipolar, that feelings and situations come and go. I am never fully balanced, I am always in the act of balancing. My friend can remind me that I have been through this before, I will make it through this time, and it will probably circle around again. Nowadays I look for those cycles, so that I know what to expect. Maybe two days of not sleeping is followed by sleeping for a week. Maybe feeling like I can do anything leads to using so much energy that I can’t get out of bed. Maybe euphoria precedes anger. If I know the anger is coming, I can make plans. Avoid people for a few days, stay out of stressful situations, warn people that I’m a little touchy at the moment.

A third tool that works for me is journaling. I try (and don’t really succeed) to write every day. Some days I remember to journal, other days I write letters or blog. Letters obviously get mailed off, but journaling and blogging leave me a record of my mood or my thinking. I get to observe the patterns. And I get to read my own wisdom. Like most people, I know a lot about coping that I forget when I’m in the moment. I am so busy feeling stressed that I forget sitting down for a minute to play with the cat will soothe me until I read it in my journal. And that’s the beauty of the WRAP program, that I can go to the section about being stressed and see that I have chosen tools like “pet the cat”, “take a hot shower” or “remember to eat something” which I might not be able to bring to mind at the moment.

Speaking of WRAP, I am raising some money to offer the teaching to low income people. Here is the link to my fundraiser: https://www.facebook.com/donate/936838623356099/10157826357211004/ If you can’t donate, could you at least share the link?

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my current even keel. I am neither manic nor depressive at the moment and it’s a great relief to feel average. Functioning within designated parameters, so to speak. Except that I’m awake at 2 am and not tired. I’d better go look at my WRAP and see what I can do to put myself to sleep.


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Quiet House

The house is quiet. One roommate is asleep already. The other has gone to her room to wait for a phone call. I have laundry in the washer, I wonder if I should move it to the dryer. The noise would break the quiet of the house.

It’s not unusual for a house to be quiet at half past midnight, but it’s unusual for this house.

F is disabled and doesn’t work, he doesn’t have to get up in the morning. L is retired and doesn’t work, she doesn’t have to get up in the morning. I am demobilized at the moment, I don’t have work tomorrow. I don’t need to get up in the morning. So usually we are up until all hours. No fixed schedule.

I often go to bed about now. I like waking up in the morning before everyone else and getting a calm start to the day. Now that’s still 9 am, not like I’m an early bird of any kind!

There’s something about being awake when everyone else is asleep. It’s peaceful. I feel like I’m watching over them, keeping night guard.

Most of the laundry in this load was hang-dry, so no dryer tonight. The few items that weren’t can wait for the morning.

My mind is clear to think about things with no distractions, but what I think about is, I like my wardrobe for the most part. It isn’t extensive but it reflects me.

What a shallow thing to think about! I could be planning to save the world or learning something, watching a TED talk. Instead I am doing laundry and being pleased with the contents of my closet.

So bizarre.

So small.

And yet the world and daily life are made up of small things. Making meals, petting the cat, writing this blog. None of it earth-shattering and all of it part of a life.

The way we spend out minutes is the way we spend our lives. I feel like I “should” be doing more, bigger, important stuff.

But what I do is facilitate groups. Love people who need to be loved. Hold space for those who simply need to be heard. Try to make the world a little better than when I got here, in some small way.

Beauty is small sometimes. Maybe I can add beauty in some way.

The trains go by outside like thunder in the silence. The cat snores delicately. The keyboard clicks. I will sleep soon. I listen to the rhythmic breathing of my roommates in their respective beds. My bed calls me.

So much to do in this peace. One more glass of water. One more chapter to read, One more tour of the house being sure everything is shut up for the night.

Then the house will settle into full silence, all of us asleep in the quiet and dark of sacred night.


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Hopeful Things

I’m feeling better, so that’s good. My ribs are still sore from being sick so it’s painful to cough but that will improve with time.

I made an amends to someone today. I don’t know what I needed to do, apologize doesn’t exactly work, so I ended up with 12-step language. She said we’re good, so I’m glad I did it.

Group was good today. The tables in the room had been rearranged and it gave us a different energy. Plus new people. One of them talked about his wife with such emotion, it’s so cool to see married people still in love. Made me happy.

I had breakfast with my daughter. She is planning to go back to school in January, assuming I get to work. She’s only planning on going part time, so with books it should be around $600, which is affordable. IF I’m working. Which I probably will be, since it’s storm season.

Ah, work. I enjoy working when I can. I wish I would be called back to work soon. It’s been since December, and people I know have been deployed, just not me. Well, that 12 day deployment earlier this month, so I hope they contact me again soon. I need to spend more time on USAJobs.gov to see what I can get.

I need to start reading the grant writing book that Bonnie gave me. I meet with her next week, wait, later this week, so I should have at least some idea of what I’m doing.

Grant writing is one of those things that, if I’m going to work in mental health, I’d better learn how to do it. It would be great to be able to take Kiss5Tigers and make it a 501(c)(3) non profit. (At least I think that’s the right code.) Or if I could set up 5Tigers Charities as a wholly- owned entity. Ah, dreams, lol.

So yeah, it will be useful to me, it will give back to a place that has given me quite a bit, and it’s a marketable skill. Win-win to be mentored in grant writing. Which I’ve known for years.

I need to be in touch with APAA about space for the WRAP class. I did speak with someone a couple weeks ago and he said it would take a while, but I need to make details public as soon as I can. I have the instructor, I have students, I just need a classroom.

I need to work on something creative. I have a scarf I can knit, but I really want to paint. Maybe tomorrow afternoon, after Recovery International.

I need to get that list of bands to my friend. A friend is looking for some new music and thought my daughter would be a good source, so I asked her for a list of 6 or 10 bands she thought I’d like, that I could share with my friend. I have the list, I just haven’t shared the information yet.

Things are going well. Stuff in progress, all looking good.