Kiss5Tigers

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


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Selfish or Lazy

I had a run-in with one of my roommates today. She is frustrated by something I don’t do, which is mostly because it just doesn’t occur to me.

“I know you like to blame it on your bipolar, but I can’t tell if you’re being selfish or lazy,” she said.

Now I try very hard not to blame character flaws on being bipolar. Taking on too many projects, shopping too much, yeah those are bipolar. Not watering the pets, well, that’s just not thinking of it. Since my roommate handles it most of the time, it just hasn’t been on my radar.

So that brings us down to selfish or lazy. I don’t think it’s selfish. I’m not thinking of myself ahead of others, I’m just not thinking. It’s not a case of “that task is beneath me” so much as “oh, is that something people do?” Although I will own that there are a few times I feel like, that really isn’t my problem. But if I am asked to handle it, I generally do.

Like vacuuming. I don’t think the carpet looks bad but my roommate sometimes does. He won’t ask the other roommate to do it, but he’ll ask me. He asked me the other day with her in the room, and they were both so gleeful. “You have to learn to vacuum,” he said. “You have opposable thumbs, you should be able to work a lighter and run the vacuum.” (My inability to work a lighter is an on-going source of amusement. To me as well.) I know how to vacuum. The sound of the vacuum cleaner is very difficult for me. I grit my teeth the whole time it’s running. But it has been decided for me that this is my chore, and I don’t want to be responsible for it. Someone must vacuum while I am deployed for work. Let that person continue doing it.

Anyway. I’m not mad, just saying.

So my roommate is irritated that I don’t change out the pet water, more so because my cat dips her paws in it and that tracks in cat litter. I don’t blame it on my bipolar or on being selfish. I can’t even say I’m lazy about it, because it isn’t a decision to not do it. I simply don’t think of it. It doesn’t occur to me to water the pets. Now it has been brought to my attention. So my solution is, I will change out the water while I am making breakfast. The toaster takes 5 minutes and I am standing there with nothing to do, I can change the water.

I said as much to my roommate. It defused her anger. She seemed surprised. I suspect she is ascribing motives to me that just don’t exist. I am oblivious in this matter more than intentionally avoidant. It’s not that big a deal to me and it’s huge to her, so I can just add it to my list of morning tasks. Like scooping out the cat box every time I go to the bathroom. If I lived alone, it would be scooped maybe daily, maybe 3 or 4 times a week. But one of the roommates kept complaining about the smell so I scoop it more often. I don’t understand why cat poop in a cat box smells and cat poop in a trash can doesn’t, but whatever.

So we’re down to lazy and I don’t think I can even own that. Lazy to me is an intentional decision to do nothing. I am very seldom doing nothing. I am often doing things that don’t look important to the people around me — like writing this blog instead of emptying my suitcases — but that’s a matter of personal priorities, not laziness. Yes, I am comfortable in my bed with the suitcase on part of it, I don’t know why that’s a problem for my roommate, but it is.

The biggest thing that looks lazy I think is the state of my bedroom. It’s bad, I know it’s bad, but I don’t even know where to start. I get in there and look at it, and get overwhelmed and walk away. Lazy isn’t the word for that. I know it needs to happen, I just can’t seem to find a plan of attack. Though emptying the suitcases will make a difference, I’m sure. This is an example of me being avoidant. But I am doing other tasks, so it’s not lazy.

In other news, I joined a gym today. I will start tomorrow. I had to buy new sneakers because the inner soles are pulling up in my old pair. I guess I need to throw away the old pair, come to think of it. But yeah, I needed sneakers and a lock for the locker. I’ll pack up a bag in the morning and go before group.

I need to get out some of my received mail and take a picture of it for This Zine Has Issues. I wrote a piece for the second issue and the editor asked for the picture. I’m published in the first issue, woot woot! Now I need to reply to the letters.

I should hear by the end of the week about the 911 operator job. I kind of hope I don’t get it, because I want to do other things. But if they offer it, I will take it. I might just make it through the training and decide it’s not for me.

I am still owed a check from the job at Michael’s. I got the first check and the last check, but I am missing the one in the middle. I need to call them about getting a copy of my pay stub anyway, so I’ll just ask about getting another check.

Ah, the 10,000 things that shape daily life. Tomorrow is Monday, a new week with new things. And I will do them. I have a list and I will stay on track. Happy Monday.


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I Got the Vest

I work at Michael’s now. It’s official. I even have the red vest. It’s a very busy store so I work registers and get no minute to breathe but that’s good. The job would be boring if I wasn’t busy, just standing at a register waiting. I am still very slow at checking people out but I can do it. I’ll get speedy with practice. Or at least speedier.

It has rained twice tonight, just sudden downpour out of nowhere. I am cold and sitting in my jeans with a blanket across my lap. I will sleep with 2 blankets in bed tonight.

I need to tell work that I’m not available on Thursdays. I am facilitating group the next 3 weeks, and I have DBSA meetings on alternate Thursday nights. It’s easier to just request the day off than to have them try to keep track of it.

I want to write a letter to my friend Fishspit. I owe him a letter. I owe lots of people letters. I have been particularly unmotivated to write lately. I haven’t even journalled in months. I miss journalling.

I am thinking of NaNoWriMo this month (November) but I have no idea how I’ll manage all that writing with my current slackerly attitude.

I need to work on my ecourse. I paid for the course for that so I really should take advantage.

Speaking of courses I’ve paid for, there is my Japanese course on Rosetta Stone and my life coach courses on Udemy. I really need to get on with it.

I mean, I get up in the morning and fall asleep because I just can’t find anything to stay awake for. Well, there are 3 things right there. Not to mention my new shopping club.

I want dessert. I want amazing dessert, not just some cookies. I want hot pecan pie with ice cream. Or chocolate mousse or creme brulee. Rice pudding. Chocolate lava cake. Fried ice cream. I don’t know, just something. I would probably be happy with rice krispie treats or those yogurt covered pretzels. But here I am, drinking my water, eating some mixed nuts in a single serving package.

I left my meds box in Longview on the road trip. I thought T was gonna bring it by tonight, but I guess not. Weather is too icky for me to want to drive up there. I figure I’ll get it tomorrow or the next day.

I am almost out of meds at the moment, I’ll have to call the pharmacy. I have to call the doctor too. I got an automated call to remind me of an appointment on Friday, but I can’t make it so I chose the “reschedule” option. The system said, “Your appointment has been rescheduled” and hung up on me. I’m like, rescheduled for when? Because I’m thinking that’s something else I have to move to Thursday. I tried to call back but the outgoing message said the office was closed.

I am feeling my singleness very keenly lately. I want a companion. I wouldn’t mind a little sex but a warm body to sleep next to would be perfect. Someone to share adventures. But I am somehow not right. I don’t know if I’m not pretty enough or if it’s because I have no sense of humor or if they can smell the bipolar on me. I wish I could figure it out because then I could fix it. Or choose not to, but at least it would be a choice, not just the way things are.

Well, off to take my meds. Good night.


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Yeah, I’m Manic

Or at least I’m hypomanic, since I am not psychotic.

I feel like I could stay up all night again, I have things to do! I’m not over excited, I’m just darn busy.

Except of course Fred will make me put the light off so I can’t really write letters or work on my ecourse.

I bought a collection of wellness stuff. Of course it’s designed for active people which I am not. But since I am trying to eat more responsibly, I figured the protein bars would make a good breakfast. I am getting deucedly tired of eggs.

I ate a rice krispies bar with breakfast this morning and it was SO good. I’m thinking of having another one in a little while.

See? I just ADHD’ed my way into another topic. Squirrel! Wellness stuff right to I want a snack. Another sign of mania for me.

Anyway, here is the stuff:

shipment of good stuff

So 3 boxes of snack bars, 2 supplements, 2 energy boosters, a box of water flavors, and the chocolate shake mix with the mixing bottle. I figure it will make for a different breakfast if nothing else, and see what happens. Maybe a protein shake and an energy bar will see me through the day and I can finally get that fasting started.

I did see my psychiatrist the other day, and he agreed with me that maybe I should increase the mood stabilizer back up a notch. He thinks I have sleep apnea, however, and that’s the reason I have a hard time waking up, that I’m not sleeping well. I don’t mind doing the sleep study, but I’m not gonna sleep with the mask on. I am not comfortable sleeping on my back and I feel claustrophobic just thinking of wearing the elephant nose.

But it’s the shopping that has me a little worried. I’ve bought the wellness stuff in the picture, and some books, and some socks, and a box of cards. Oh, and stamps. And that’s just in the last 24 hours. That doesn’t include all the art supplies or the yarn that I have sitting in a cart or the zines that came the other day. Or the trip to the metaphysical shop. Or the bizarre bazaar. I love shopping, but I have to get it under control. This is too much. It’s stuff I don’t need. It’s not about the money, although I could easily spend way too much money; it’s about not needing things and buying them anyway.

And I want to say, except books. Because to me books are a special kind of magic. But even books with no place to go are clutter. Even very cool books. It breaks my heart, but it’s true.

Just naming the mania makes it better. I feel like, I am not in the grips of it, I am observing it and I can choose to feed it or not. And mostly I choose not.

I’ve had a little paranoia lately, thinking people are mad at me or talking about me when they aren’t. It seems reasonable in my head that folks are having emotions about me. How self centered! People are too busy with their own lives to worry that much about me. I mean, I’m wonderful and amazing, but so is everybody else. I’m not any more interesting than your own life. In fact, in a perfect world, your life is the most fascinating one for you. (I know what I want to say, I just can’t seem to say it gracefully.)

Hopefully in the next few days this will pass. The increase in meds should help. The fact that bipolar is cyclical should help. Convincing myself to sleep should help.

I have a lot of reading to do. I’m going to try reading a little and see if that settles me down into sleep. Better sleep hygiene will help with everything.


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I May Be Doing Too Much

I am playing with my mood stabilizer and I’m not sure how I’m doing.

I mean, I feel good. Mood is good. Energy level is meh. Sleep is a little on the too much side.

I am trying new things this month.

I tried a new supplement regimen. First is colloidal silver, which is controversial because you can overdose and actually turn yourself blue. It’s called Argyria. It’s supposed to do 2 things in my situation. First it is an antibiotic which clears out the gut. Second it is a conductive metal so it helps to rewire the brain. Not entirely sure how it’s supposed to cross the blood-brain barrier so that could be some hocus-pocus there. Not sure if it has had any effect at all for me. I will finish up the bottle we have but probably not order another bottle at this time. See what changes, and avoid over dosing.

I also added an antioxidant and a probiotic. The antioxidant should support brain health as well as general health with regard to aging. The probiotic is the one I can say is helpful. At the risk of TMI (fair warning: poop discussion ahead) . . . I have had a soft stool for some time now but when I started Metformin, it had the expected side effect, and we are talking some shapeless cow-pie type waste. Like, not quite soupy, but definitely mushy. Since starting the probiotic, things are much more solid and log-like. So I would say the probiotic has been very helpful in keeping gut health improving.

I am also trying some dietary changes. I’m supposed to be fasting every other day, per the diet my doctor gave me. He said not to worry about being strict with that, just take home the advice that intermittent fasting is good for you. I have ordered some additional supplements like protein bars and shakes from a new online shopping club. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Ask me about the shopping club! It’s only $20 per year and the products are so pure and natural. Next month I’m going to try the laundry supplies and shampoo, but I wanted to try the healthy snacks first.

I start a new job at Michael’s craft stores, hopefully this week. I filled out the background check information on Friday and they said it will take 24 to 48 hours for it to be returned. In a perfect work, 48 hours was Sunday, but in the business world it could easily be Tuesday. So as soon as they get that back, they can schedule me. It’s just a seasonal job, but it’s something.

I am working on writing an e-course on managing bipolar. Or at least, my experience of managing bipolar. Too many people see this diagnosis as a sort of death sentence and I refuse to let that be the case. I mean, we’re all going to die someday, but there’s no reason to live a life that is any less fulfilling just because you have a mental health diagnosis.

I am applying to a different department at my government job. I work with individuals, helping disaster victims get grant money to rebuild their homes. However, there is more work for public assistance which works with the infrastructure like the fire department or road damage. Because my job is federal, it requires the state to ask for assistance. States determine what type of assistance they need, and more states ask for public assistance more often. So I am sending my resume over to the public assistance side.

I am debating joining NaNoWriMo this year. I have no real plan in terms of an outline, so that makes me a “pantser” as in, writing by the seat of my pants. November is a hard month for me to be consistent. There is Halloween at the beginning of the month with Day of the Dead and all that stuff. Then there is my birthday and voting day. Thanksgiving which seems to take up a whole week. So being disciplined seems to fall by the wayside. I feel like August would be a better month, but oh well.

So here I am trying all this stuff, and I’m wondering if I’m a little hypomanic. Now for me, Samhain is the new year so this is a little like making New Year’s resolutions. And there is something that happens for me around the changing of the clocks. I don’t know if it’s related to natural timing that just happens around that time, or if resetting the clocks somehow confuses me. And this is all near my birthday. I am unclear what it is that causes this burst of energy at this time of year, but I experience it regularly.

On the other hand, I am sleeping an awful lot. Like 12 hours a day plus maybe a nap. Well, make that 12 hours including the nap. I sleep, say, midnight to 8, then doze until 9:30, then go out to the living room and doze on the sofa until 11 or 12. Too much sleeping, Not enough getting stuff done. And you can tell from my list, I have stuff to do.

I am wondering if this is what the mood stabilizer helps me manage. Because my mood is generally good but the behavior is a little off. And it’s mixed: taking on too much and shopping like I’m hypomanic but also sleeping too much like I’m depressed. Is this a mixed state? Or is it just lack of self control over behavior? Which I pretty much suck at.

I see the doctor tomorrow. If I remember, I’ll ask him. Because I have brought my mood stabilizer down to the lowest possible dose, and maybe I just need to kick the dose up a notch.

I’ll keep you posted.


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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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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.