Kiss5Tigers

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


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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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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.


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When Is a Courtesy NOT a Courtesy?

Money is still tight. I have 5 days away from being able to apply for unemployment again. That’s apply, not receive, they could turn me down.

There’s no reason to, but they could. I hate being at someone else’s mercy.

I have applied to Half Price Books. I don’t know why I didn’t think of them sooner. I guess I hate to burn a bridge with them. I would like best if someone could hire me, knowing I’m going to be deployed for months at a time, but having a job of some kind for me when I get back. Still, if they’d pay me close to $40K a year, I might reconsider.

I did sell a hat, and someone sent me money in my GoFundMe. So there is a little money coming in.

My bank “courtesy paid” two items for me, and overdrew me by more than $200. If I don’t pay it within 60 days — more like 35 days at this point — they will charge off my account. I didn’t think they’d pay anything without the money being there. And I won’t have $200 to spare before the 60 days is up.

So I opened an account with Citibank. They were willing to take me on. I need $25 for the savings account because they open checking and savings simultaneously. I have no idea how to get that to them. I guess I should call and find out.

I have no idea how to come up with the money I need for a passport. Or my meds, for that matter. Life is stressful. And money would, literally like $500, would solve everything right now.


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Mushroom Pasta

We are a keto household. I need to clarify that I am not fully keto myself, but I am definitely low carb these days. One of the things my roommate F misses is pasta. Well, L found shirataki noodles in the produce section at our local Walmart that are pretty much the same thing. The texture when chewing is a little different, but they are an Asian product and it isn’t much different from glass noodles.

All of which is to say, tonight we had spaghetti casserole. Shirataki noodles, tomato, meat and cheese. It was a little greasy, but you know, sausage and cheese are not fat free. Very good, and a nice change from servings of just meat. F is not a fan of vegetables, so we don’t eat a lot of those.

I’m planning to go to North Texas Food Bank on Saturday morning. They provide fresh produce, I think it’s 30 pounds to a household. There is a place near me that claims they come every Saturday, but I think they really only deliver once a month. But I’ll go down and check it out. I might have to give away some of it so it doesn’t go bad. I feel like, as long as I have no money so I can’t pay for things, I can at least find other ways to bring resources into the house. Being poor is hard work.

I took the first withdrawal from my GoFundMe today. It will take a few days to be available and then I’ll withdraw it so it doesn’t accidentally go for another purpose. I’m keeping an eye on my bank account. I wish I could withdraw to Paypal, which would be more accessible for me.

I continue to post hats in my Etsy shop. I’ve gotten compliments on my work but I haven’t sold one yet. Of course this is not exactly the hat time of year. I need to find something else I can make that is more seasonal. I used to make jewelry but now it’s too difficult. I can’t see up close with my contacts / glasses, and I can’t see far enough to pick up the beads from the table without them. I can’t even thread a needle at this point, which makes needlework or mending difficult. Eyesight is sure a problem when you get older!

We didn’t make it to the plasma center yesterday. Daughter was sick as a dog. She thinks it was food poisoning. She was eating chicken nuggets Monday night and one had a huge (for a nugget) bone in it. She kept eating. I think it’s money stress combined with lack of sleep.

We did make it to the doctor. She finally talked about her issues with employment and got a referral to Genesis Women’s Shelter. They do counselling as well as housing, so hopefully they can find some way to help her. Daughter gets anxiety attacks when she’s at work. I think she is capable of doing a job if someone is willing to support her until the anxiety attacks subside. There are all kinds of jobs for people with disabilities. Hers is very real and there should be options available for high functioning people who just need a little help.

I fall into the same category, since bipolar is certainly considered a disability but I can hold down a job for months or even years at a time. I just need some support when things come crashing in on me. There isn’t much room in our society for people who don’t aspire to a 40 week job or who don’t fit that mold.

In the meantime, I keep working on finding money. I believe the Universe has infinite resources and can find some to share with me.


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Envisioning Wellness Update

Envisioning Wellness is the name of my vision board project.

I want to be sure to thank all the donors who have shown their support of my project and belief in me. The link to donate is:
https://www.gofundme.com/envisioning-wellness

So I am beginning to think about how to spend the money. I think good quality paper would be the most expensive part. It doesn’t have to be fabulous paper, but it needs to be sturdy like poster board, card stock or watercolor paper. I’m thinking watercolor paper, because I can get it in packs of 12 x 18 or 18 x 24 sizes. I want it to be big enough without being too big. I want people to feel like they have a finished project but we only have an hour or so to work on it.

I will need to get glue sticks and scissors. I don’t mind providing them myself, but if I do that, they are mine and they will come with me. Ditto the magazines.

I was thinking of getting a bunch of markers, and I still might do that. Good ones, like Sharpies or Crayolas. Nice and juicy and with a thick point but not the chisel tips. Though maybe some with chisel tips, for that thin-and-thick line quality. But my roommate, who used to be a teacher, has gifted me a big bag of colored pencils, which I think would be about perfect for this project. Not as bold as markers, though, so maybe both.

I need to acquire some kind of carrying item, like one of those milk crate style boxes on wheels. And some bungee cords, probably. I need to be able to bring those magazines into the room. There should be a bunch of them, too many to carry easily. Paper gets heavy after all.

I’m pretty excited still, can you tell?

I also had a chance to facilitate a group today. I enjoyed doing that. The group actually laughed, and most of them felt better afterwards. That’s what I’m going for, to make a difference in someone’s day.


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Taking More Risks

Money is now very tight, I own about $500 and I have no income at the moment. The government has no work for me so I’m not working. I have tried temp agencies but they are mostly looking for temp-to-hire people, an; frankly nobody is going to pay me what the government does, so whenever they call me back, I’m going. I was collecting unemployment, but I have run out of funds in my account and I can’t reapply until June.

So I am trying things to see what I can do for money. I have written an article that I’m selling on Nook. Someone offered to help me set it up on Amazon but I’m not sure about the price point. I posted $2.99 on Nook because that’s the breaking point. Less than that, they keep 65% of the sale price, at $2.99, they take 35%. So that’s how I set the price. Amazon looks like it will be 65% regardless of price.

I need to work on the article, make it more so that it feels like I put some effort into it, not just the writing. I need to decorate it up a bit and add some color and motion to it. I’ll be printing it out later to see what I can do. Just need to dress it up a little. It’s not live yet so I have time to work on it.

I have also opened a GoFundMe for the vision board workshop. So far, no response of any kind. Not just no money, not even any likes. So that is rather disheartening. I’m thinking of changing to dollar amount. I think I can do what I need with $100. I’m not looking to get paid for myself, I just need to cover the costs of basic art supplies like glue and poster board. Money is too tight for me to do that myself.

I need to make a list of phone calls for tomorrow. I need to call my daughter tonight and see if she has that lab test tomorrow. I have some labs from the doctor myself so it makes sense for me to take her if we are both going. But I have things that I plan to do that somehow don’t get done, mostly phone calls. I think of them when it’s too late to take care of them. I figure if I make a list, I can do them after group tomorrow or before group on Wednesday. I hate to-do lists but I seem to be brain dead about some things I need to handle.

I usually make a have-done list. I usually list things as I get them done so I can feel good about my day. With the depression, it’s easy to blow off a whole day. But it’s also easy to get things done and feel like I did nothing. Keeping a list of what I did helps offset that. I mean, it’s too easy to just drift through days and suddenly a week has gone by and I’ve done nothing. Except I probably haven’t done nothing, and I can check that with a have-done list.

Hopefully something will start moving for me, moneywise. I know there is money out there, I just have to find it. And it has to find me. I need to keep on working it and trust the Universe to meet me where I am.


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100 Hats and the Vision Board

First I want to talk a little more about the 100 Hat Project.

The goal is to make 100 hats. I have a bucketful made already. They are for sale, and at the end, what doesn’t sell, will be donated. Probably to the local homeless shelter. You can follow the project on my facebook page, Kiss5Tigers. I will be posting hats several times a week.

I also took a risk today. I want to lead a vision board workshop. I know, it’s a little cliche, but I believe I can actually get paid to do this at some point in the future. I have several friends who’ve done this, none are doing it right now, so I feel like I could get mentored into it.

I proposed a vision board seminar to the community outreach liaison at the facility where I attend most of my groups. She said to put something in writing, and she’ll show it to the director. The director! I’ve never made a written proposal before, so it was a little nervous for me. But I have composed a class plan and included my information about the peer specialist core class I took last month.

I did also ask for a little support. I need poster board, scissors, glue sticks and maybe markers. I already have a ton of magazines, so that isn’t an issue. And of course people can bring their own materials like photos or colored pencils. I’m thinking of posting a GoFundMe. If I can get some money toward supplies, I can take the burden off the agency. I think I’ll look into that right now. I’ll add a link when I’m done.

Added:

Here is a link to my GoFundMe page:https://www.gofundme.com/envisioning-wellness

Now taking contributions!