Kiss5Tigers

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


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9 Tools for Health

I was watching a documentary called Heal on Netflix.

One of the experts said she looked at what people with chronic or fatal illnesses did to promote health, and came up with a list of 15 items. Now not everyone did all of them, but they all did 9 of them. She didn’t provide the entire list, but she did provide the 9:

  1. Radically changing your diet
  2. Taking control of your health
  3. Following your intuition
  4. Using herbs and supplements
  5. Releasing suppressed emotion
  6. Increasing positive emotions
  7. Embracing social support
  8. Deepening your spiritual connection
  9. Have a strong reason for living

So here I am, just an average person, not having a life-threatening illness. I believe I can benefit from following the same guidelines. So this is my assessment of my general health from these traits.

I am working on changing my diet. My roommate has gone keto and I have shifted to low carb in solidarity. I admit that I eat sandwiches and burgers away from home, which involve bread. But I don’t bring carbs into the house and I eat most meals here. I’ve lost about 10 lbs since starting this, which is not a lot but it’s better than gaining which has been my default for the past several years.

I can take control of my health. I can be proactive about making healthier choices, like more exercise. And I can be more outspoken with my doctor in terms of advocating for myself.

I can definitely learn to follow my intuition more. We all have that little voice that tells us when things aren’t quite right. It can also tell you when to move forward, even if you don’t think you’re ready yet. For me, intuition is that moment when the universe opens up and gives you a hint about what’s coming and what to do. I can pay more attention to that and act accordingly.

Using herbs and supplements. I’m not so good at that. I do have a multivitamin that I try to remember to take in the morning. I don’t succeed that often. I should just add it to the box with my other meds. I have used to take potassium; calcium; fish oil; vitamins B, C and E; liver powder; and cinnamon. I don’t know if I felt much different on any of them. Except the fish oil, because I have no gall bladder so it’s difficult for me to digest that kind of fat. I guess I can look into different herbal supplements and see if anything else makes a difference.

I don’t know about releasing emotion. Part of it is, I’m bipolar and letting big emotion express itself is likely to increase my symptoms. That said, I can work on letting go of negative stuck emotions even if I can’t release them to the desired degree. I don’t have to hold onto toxic emotions.

I’m pretty sure I already work to increase positive emotions. I’m equally sure that everybody on the planet does that. People don’t usually choose to stay in the negative place. People usually choose to keep doing what makes them happy. I think this is part of human nature.

Ah, social support. So necessary and so hard to find. That’s part of why I go to group so often, pure and simple support. It’s difficult to ask for support. It’s almost like dating, people are afraid of being rejected. If you ask for help, you have to be open to the possibility that the answer is no. No doesn’t feel good. It takes courage to ask for support.

I don’t really have any plans to deepen my spirituality. I’m not a religious person. I do believe in a higher power of some kind. Mostly I believe in science to explain what is going on, and the idea that everything is made of energy which we get from quantum mechanics. Matter seems to be made of waves of energy. If it’s all energy, and I am energy, then the fields can interact and I can make actual changes to myself. That sounds very airy-fairy new age, and yet . . .

I do have a strong reason for living. I am bipolar, my ex husband was bipolar, and our daughter is bipolar. About 3 years ago, my ex completed a suicide. I need my daughter to know that having this diagnosis is not a death sentence. Having this diagnosis is just a way to explain my experience of life. It does not limit me or define me, and it does not mean that I can’t handle living in this world.

So I think I’m doing pretty good on my way to health, and I still have a lot to do. What are you doing?

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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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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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Cookies and Shopping

This morning I went to a Recovery International meeting. Usually I am just a participant but today it looked like it was going to be just me and one other person. The facilitator called in sick. We decided to have the meeting just ourselves and while I was making coffee another person arrived. I ended up facilitating, which is fine, just unexpected. A fourth person joined us about halfway through so we ended up with a decent group. One of the guys asked me if I wanted to grab a coffee after group but I couldn’t today.

When I got home, I texted my dealer about coming over today. Yup, I admit it, I’m addicted to Girl Scout cookies. I particularly like the Do-Si-Dos, which are a peanut butter sandwich cookie. They might be my favorite cookie, though shortbread dipped in dark chocolate is a close second. Got to be the right shortbread though, not just a vanilla cookie. So now I am the proud owner of 3 boxes of Do-Si-Dos and one of toffee cookies. No they are not keto friendly but if I only eat one or two a day I’m still within my guidelines. We all had a nice visit with my suppliers, mother and daughter. Actually the daughter is a very cool kid. She showed up wearing a wolf tail and some wolf ears. I wish I’d been able to be that creative when I was a kid, but I’m pretty sure my dad would have stopped me.

After a few hours, roommate L and I went out to run an errand. I needed some snack food and roommate F needed a carton of cigarettes. We went to Sam’s Club, Winco and Walmart. I got broccoli, beef jerky, nut flour crackers, those veggie straw things, cottage cheese and sour cream for making dip. Sour cream dip is keto. I just needed the crackers and the veggie straws to dip in it. I can eat 17 crackers or 38 veggie straws with dip. That’s a LOT. I probably wouldn’t eat 38 veggie straws even if I wasn’t watching carbs.

Now Walmart was a quick trip. I just needed some red acrylic paint for a project for Valentine’s Day. L needed to pick up a prescription for a friend. The drug was Tramadol, a synthetic opioid pain reliever. For something like the third time, Walmart has the drug backordered. Now really. I know opioids have fallen out of favor, but this is a common drug and lots of people take it. Walmart is a huge company. How can it be that they can’t get this medicine reliably?

Home for dinner: roast beef with jus. It was a little longer cooked than I prefer but the flavor was good. I can’t help it that I like my meat bloody. I am doing laundry and, well, blogging. NCIS is on; we record it, I don’t know if it airs on Tuesdays. I am planning to take a shower later tonight.

All is good in my world. It was an enjoyable day.


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Monday Monday

Back to the daily grind, such as it is.

I contacted the passport office today to see about setting up an appointment to get a passport. Turns out, since I am travelling in July, that I am not a priority so I don’t get to see someone in person. I have to apply the traditional way. So my plan for tomorrow is to go to Walgreens to get the photo and to the post office to get the application form. Then I will submit everything and see how long it takes. Book and card, please.

I ordered some assemblage pieces today. I have started a new book called Mixed Media Paint Box which has about 50 exercises in it. My original plan was to buy the supplies for this week’s exploration but I don’t need to acquire anything so instead I bought other supplies. The one I’m most excited about is a flaming heart shrine which should be about the size of my hand. Flaming heart / sacred heart imagery has become very important to me.

I went to my DBSA support group today. I met someone else who is a SARK fan so that was fun. I like the feeling of connecting with a new person. I used the phrase “airy fairy” to describe some of my religious leanings and it caught on in the group. It got used several times. I also found out I am not the only person who watches Ancient Aliens. I know, I know, but it’s still interesting to me.

I got 3 more magazines today. I really need to get on with my reading. But then I really need to get on with making art too. I keep waiting for inspiration to strike but I think I just need to start playing with the supplies.

Cats have been affectionate lately. Striped Charli has napped with me more than once. She’s getting to be an old lady and napping is a huge activity for her. Momo, who is all black, has been looking for love. He usually isn’t like that, but he’s begun meowing to me for treatsies and climbing up on the sofa for pets. I love his little voice! I love Charli’s voice too but she is so often yelling at me, lol.

Roommate L is falling asleep on the sofa next to me, she should probably really go to bed. But wrestling is on so she won’t until the end of the show. Both my roommates really like wrestling and I totally don’t get it. I guess I don’t have to.

Swiss cheese is good. I prefer cheddar. This comes up because we are going keto as a household so cheese is suddenly an issue. I like stinky cheeses but of course the rest of the house doesn’t, lol. I miss rice and potatoes. I’ll get used to this new way of eating. Except at breakfast. I want cereal but it’s on the no-no list.

Speaking of bed, I should go to bed myself. I have group at 10 tomorrow so I need to be up by 9 at the latest. Up and ready to go, not simply eyes open. Why are mornings so hard? Probably because nights are so easy.


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I’m Ba-ack

Hello again!

I’ve been gone for quite a while with work.  I got back home about a week ago.  I’ve already seen many friends and my daughter; been to a brunch, a birthday party and a vineyard; and I’m all set up with unemployment.  Tomorrow of course is the new year so everything is closed, but Wednesday I will start contacting temporary agencies.  I like working for FEMA and I want to be able to continue with them but I do need to work during the down times as well.  Temp jobs are perfect because I can call out if I want to, like for trips and such.

What I have not done, is laundry.  And of course I am generating more of it as I continue wearing clothes.  I need to get on top of that.

Tonight is New Year’s Eve.  I am spending it at home with my roommates, and we have plans to eat ice cream at midnight.  It will be the last ice cream for a while, though, since we have decided to go keto.  No sugar so no ice cream.  Actually I think I am more paleo but they want keto so here we go.  We’ll see what happens.  Dinner tonight was a hunk of ground beef.  L called it a hamburger but it was just a chunk of meat, nothing like egg or bread crumbs mixed into it.  I don’t know if I can eat like that all the time.  I have some cooked shrimp in the fridge though that I’m looking forward to.

My daily living activities have definitely slowed down since I’ve been home.  I took a shower tonight because my hair was dirty and my skin was itchy, whereas on deployment I took a shower every other day.  I’m not a daily shower person, it dries out my skin.  But I recognize the signs of depression settling in and I need to make a plan to fight it.

I’m glad to see my cats again.  I’m going to try to add a picture of my Charli.  She was laying next to me, sleeping so hard she was snoring.  I would have said cats don’t snore but I would have been wrong.

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