Kiss5Tigers

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


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Isolation To-Do List

I wanted to use the graphic for this list, but I can’t find a version I can share. So here is a transcript, especially good for those of us who are struggling to keep a schedule during the day (hi! I know I’m not the only one). I thought this was a good list:

ISOLATION WELL-BEING DAILY TO-DO LIST

  1. Essential tasks:    [ ] Shower   [ ] Medication    [ ] ____________
  2. Clean one thing / space
  3. Tend something growing  [ ] Plant   [ ] Child   [ ]  ___________
  4. Be mindfully present to
    1. A sound or song
    1. A sensory feeling
    1. Something you see
    1. A spiritual practice
  5. Reach out to a human beyond your home
  6. Do one thing to get your heart rate up
  7. Do one thing you’ll be glad you did later


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A Better Day

Today was better than the past couple have been.

First of all, I got my meds under control. I am taking the right things in the right dose at the right time. That is huge. I still have to pay attention to the blood pressure meds though. Parkland only gave me a week’s worth and the earliest appointment I could get was in May which is, well, more than a week away. So getting that managed will be important.

I woke up in pajamas with no idea how I got into them. I was wearing a white t-shirt that I have been looking for, and I don’t know where I found it. I have no memory of putting myself to bed. But I was exhausted from being up all night Wednesday night with my daughter.

I made it to ATTA, my art group, today. I really like them. I am working on a mail art project where I need to make 40 little pieces of art the size of a postcard. Yup, 40. Which isn’t a lot but it’s a whole lot to do. I’m not sure how I feel about the individual pieces, or rather I’m sure I don’t care for several of them already, but a body of work is interesting. I think I’ll try it again with a series rather than individual works. The thing is to mail it off to a third party who will bind them into books with other people’s work, and then send me one. I can’t wait to see what other people do.

I haven’t made mail art in a long time, and I’m feeling pretty good about it.

I stopped at Burger King on the way home. I had missed breakfast so I was really hungry. I swear it was the best burger, which I know is because of my appetite.

When I got home, I napped on the sofa. Sitting up, not stretched out. I’m glad I slept though I had planned to work out this afternoon. I needed the extra sleep. I dreamed that I had inherited a horse, then woke up to find something on the TV about cowboys, so that made sense.

I have a recurring location in my dreams. It seems to be a house that I live in and a city. I travel places. I have neighbors. It’s like an alternate life. Charles de Lint, one of my favorite authors, has a story about a woman named Sophie who is the daughter of the moon, who has an alternate life at night when she dreams. If he didn’t, I would write that story based on my own experiences. Now if I tried, I’d be afraid I was plagiarizing his work. More closely than simply inspiration, I mean.

I am reading The Muse Is In by Jill Badonsky. I’ve known her online for several years now. Not that we’re close or anything. I guess I’ve followed her more than actually knowing her. I found the book at Half Price Books and grabbed it. It’s a little bit difficult to read, in the physical sense. Of course I am sure they are shrinking the fonts in published materials, which is no doubt my age, but this is also a creative font and the pages are colored. It’s a very fun book, but it may be a case where style has overtaken substance. Which is a shame, because what I’ve read so far is very good.

I finally heard from my friend K. She knows she’s been busy and hasn’t had much time for me, so that’s good. She is seeing the new boyfriend 3 times a week, which seems like a lot pretty quickly, but you know, good for her. She’s been wanting a partner for a long time now. I need to get back to her and say that I’d be happy to do things as a group if she wants to share the boyfriend’s company. Weekends are generally better for me to see her, and I imagine they spend at least one weekend night together.

It’s also my friend B’s 10 year cancer free anniversary. We’re going to go to a movie to celebrate, then get together with other friends later in the week. M and T have also had cancer now, I am the only one who hasn’t. M is still in treatment, and that’s interfering with all of us meeting up Sunday.

Saturday evening, I’m planning on going to a meeting called a College of Complexes. The topic is creativity and I can afford the “tuition” and maybe a pizza or a plate of food. I’ve never been and I don’t know anybody, so it depends on how confident I feel tomorrow evening.

I need a shower. I haven’t had one in like 5 days. It just seems so unnecessary, which I know isn’t true. I could wash my hair, shave my legs, clean off the sweat. All good things. I know it’s the depression end of my bipolar that makes this hard. I’m gonna try to do it before going to bed.

I also need to do laundry. I think I’ll start it tomorrow morning while everyone is asleep. I don’t know why I can’t seem to do laundry when people are around. I often do it while the roommates are out of the house. Something about being observed, I guess.

So that’s life the last few days. Art is good. Daughter is doing okay, still swollen in the knee but hurting less. Daily tasks need help. Mail art!

Enjoy


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Franklin

I don’t know Franklin, I only know about him.

A friend of mine passed him on the street regularly. He was unhoused. She didn’t get to know him, but he was part of her community. For several days she didn’t see him, then she noticed his belongings scattered about the area where he camped. She knew something had happened but she didn’t know who to ask. Then she found the little shrine in his honor. His friends had bundled up his sleeping bag and set out flowers and candles, a small sign that said “Franklin”, the usual thing you see on the side of the road.

I want Franklin to be remembered so I painted a picture in his honor:

Parts of it I am very pleased with. Considering that I can’t draw.

I am slightly off my meds, and I am weepy. I ran out of the mood stabilizer. I have been crying over sentimental things, like a character dying in a movie. I generally feel pretty stable in my moods but I thought that was just me. I learned in my 20s that big emotion was bad for me so I worked at being understated in my expressions. I thought I was a calm person. I’m not really. I’m quite emotional without my meds.

I wonder, is that a problem? I made art because I felt sentimental about a homeless man. And it’s not bad art, all things considered. I want to make more art. Is taking the meds interfering with creativity? Is making art worth being emotionally raw? Maybe if I lived alone, but surely it would be a problem for my roommates, if I was all over the place.

In a few days I will be stabilized. The meds will have built up in my system and my mood will settle down. I’ll be back on my usual weekly schedule and things will be back to normal.

Funny phrase that, “back to normal”. Normal is a double-edged word in my life. Normal, like neurotypical, which I’m not. Also normal like typical, as in typical for me. Do the drugs make me normal? Is it worth it? I’m not 100% on that, but is that just my mood because I’m off my meds?

Does being on my meds cloud my thinking? Or is it that depression so often feels like truth to me? It seems like seeing things clearly but maybe I am just used to that particular bias. If you always look through tinted lenses, that appears normal. If you take them off, that might be reality, but putting them back on feels familiar and comfortable. Is it really better? I can’t tell.

I feel like I’m talking in circles which is surely a sign that I need the meds. Do I really need them, or do I just think I need them? I mean, joining a gym, looking for a full time job, those are normal things. Making art, not so normal. Yet making art makes my soul happy. Going to the gym is good for my body though. And I need to do it more often. I wonder if I would go, if I was off my meds. I mean, I’ve been off them for about a week and I haven’t gone. Coincidence? Maybe.

In other news, Momo just nosed the dog. He laid down next to me, which was also next to Jack. Charli getting in the middle of everything has driven Momo off. Such a shame, I was honored that he was dozing against my leg.

I have some add-and-pass pages to send out. I’m going to send them to each other. I mean, they have names and addresses on them so I’m going to send the item from envelope one to someone listed on item 2. Ah, yes, add-and-pass. A picture, or in this case a chapbook, where you put your name and address and maybe alter it in some way. Then you send it along to someone else to do the same. A mail art staple.

I haven’t left the house today, except to get the canvas out of the car and put the empty cat litter container in the trash. Today was lovely out. Hopefully tonight will be temperate. Last night was too cold, but today was warmer than yesterday, so maybe. I usually get out of the house to go to a group or a store. I’m thinking tomorrow would be a good day to work out and do some laundry. I want to make more mail art but that isn’t exactly something I can do in public, like at a coffee shop.

Trying not to think in circles. It’s only 9:30 so I’m not ready for bed yet, but I think soon it will be time. Charli the kitty has decided to nap balanced between the back of the sofa and my shoulder. She will be bothered when I get up. Right now she’s purring. And snoring. It’s almost like a sleeping child, that level of trust and relaxation.

Well, I’m off to look at mail art calls and see if there’s anything I can do tomorrow. Wish me luck.


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Metrocare

I went to Metrocare today. It was an interesting experience.

On February 8th, I got an email that as of January 18, I had 15 days of health insurance left. That was February 2nd. My insurance ended 6 days before I was notified.

In the meantime, I ran out of Metformin and Abilify. I can’t afford to pick up either one of them because full price is too much for me right now.

I’m not too upset about the Metformin. I was put on it because my A1c was elevated to 6.1. Now if you watch TV, you’ve seen the commercial where the man is happy his A1c is below 7. Last time I checked, 6.1 is below 7. So maybe 6.1 isn’t so bad. On top of that, I’ve been taking it for 9 months and my A1c hasn’t budged. Apparently it’s not working for me, and I was going to talk to the doctor about stopping it. I think I can live without it.

The Abilify, now, is a mood stabilizer and the past few days I’ve been out of it, I’ve been emotional. An online friend posted about a homeless person in her neighborhood who apparently passed away, and it made me cry. Then I responded a little heartlessly to her, because that is how I am with myself. I”m just all over the place. I continued to be weepy about the man for several hours. Now I am fine. I think the fancy word is labile. I feel like I need the Abilify for stability.

I tried to go to the pharmacy. Prices are a little high. To be honest, even with the insurance copay, I wouldn’t have been able to afford both of them. I needed to figure out an alternative. The only option I know is public health so I went to Metrocare.

I am not so bad off, all things considered. I am not so impaired. I am not suicidal or psychotic. I am, at the moment, pretty well controlled with my meds. Many of the people at Metrocare are not doing as well as I am. It’s said, but hopeful.

I waited to apply for assistance. The process was pretty quick. I don’t know how I’m going to prove income, but they saw me the first time without that information. I guess I’ll bring my W-2’s to prove my annual income. Except that I’m not making that money at the moment. Anyway, the application process was rapid.

Then I waited for hours to be seen. I’m sure that’s because I was a walk-in. I saw a nurse practitioner named Charles who I think was from Africa. I didn’t ask. He had an accent that wasn’t Australian or Caribbean so I think it was African. I could be wrong. He criticized my drugs a little. He seemed to think my does of Prozac was too high, and that if it was lower, I probably wouldn’t need the Abilify. I told him, the meds were working, I didn’t see a reason to change them. He wrote me the same prescrptions and said to come back in 6 weeks.

I went back out front, and talked to the pharmacy. They were able to verify that I was accepted into the program, and they filled the prescriptions for me for $16, which is about 1/3 of what I was paying with insurance. I had a moment of uncertainty when I went to pay it though. I wasn’t sure I had $16 in my bank account. I still don’t know how much I have, and I’m afraid to look.

Whole process only took 3 1/2 hours. All afternoon. I suppose it could have been worse.

Oh, my friend’s issue with the homeless man. His name is Franklin. She is quite distraught, even though she didn’t speak to him ever. I asked, what is she inspired to do? Other people are also in dire straits. My friend got quite upset with me. But for me, that is how I handle grief. I do something about it. My way isn’t better, and I do allow myself time to feel it, but I feel better if there’s a plan. So I wept for Franklin, and for my friend, and I will make some art about it later. I think, the fence where his community set up a memorial altar for him, with some flowers and candles. I have the image in my mind, I just need to put it together.

I filed my taxes this year. I still get a refund, but it’s only about 1/3 the amount I got last year. This administration is not good for me. Not just the tax money, but supposedly there was a tax cut. All I can say is, my refund was sure cut.


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Kick Me Again, I’m Starting to Like It

It’s like being pecked to death by ducks. One little thing going wrong after another.

I heard from Michael’s. They said one of the checks has already been cashed so they can’t replace it. At least it is the smaller check. So instead of around $800 I will get closer to $500. Not ideal but could be worse.

And I got a notice that my health insurance has been cancelled. I got the notice on the 7th. It said, that on January 18, I had 15 days of coverage left. That was February 2. So I didn’t know there was a problem until 5 days after it ended.

Pretty much, you can have insurance and pay for it through the company for up to a year of not working. If you work 4 consecutive months, it restarts the clock. I worked 5 weeks last year, so not even close to 4 months, let alone consecutive.

At least, if I don’t have an insurance payment, I should get paid the difference. I can use the money.

I did check out the health insurance marketplace through the ACA / Obamacare program. The lowest price they gave me was $435 per month. Right now, I don’t even earn that much, let alone have it to pay for insurance. That’s just the insurance, there would be copays on top of that. Meds and doctor visits out of pocket don’t cost that much.

I guess I will get to check out the local mental health services now. I hear Metrocare is kind of crap and I should go with Transicare. Either way I will have to go through North Texas Behavioral Health, which replaced MHMR.

I need to call my doctor and see if there’s a program through Southwestern for low income health care. I need the refills for my blood pressure meds as well as the psych meds. I might be able to get all my services through Southwestern. If not, I’ll go to Parkland.

At least I have a plan. I’ll be travelling for work until Wednesday, so Thursday I’ll start making calls. I’m gonna check out the websites tonight. Hopefully I can keep my meds on track.


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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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The Bed Bug Saga

About 2 years ago, a friend and I took a road trip. A couple of months later, we both ended up with bedbugs. We assume we both picked them up at a hotel while we were on the road.

My friend noticed the bugs right away and took steps and hasn’t had a problem since. Good for her!

Me, now, the bugs don’t bite me, or I don’t welt up when they do, so it took me a lot longer to notice there was a problem. (Mosquitoes don’t bite me either, I assume it’s blood type or psych meds or something I eat that renders me unappealing.)

Plus when I first noticed them, they were under the cats. I thought they were some kind of flea. I kept treating the cats to no avail.

Soon enough the bugs migrated throughout the house and became a problem for my roommates. We spent a long time working on getting it under control. I bought a LOT of bug death, since it was my fault that they got into the house.

For many months we have been bug free. But they are back.

Both of my roommates have complained of being bitten. I have no welts and haven’t felt itchy. However, the roommates’ response to this is, I must clean my room.

Because I am now the epicenter of bugs.

Today I spent several hours working on my room. I took the bed apart and sprayed (no bugs in the mattress corners, which my roommates were convinced I had). All the bedding is in the wash.

Spray the hallway, says my roommate, because they migrate.

You know what else they do? Lay eggs in the beds and soft furnishings of the house. Eggs that hatch in that location. Bugs that think of the sofa as home, not migrants from my room.

Oh, but they could be hiding between the dresser and the wall, say the roommates. Spray your whole room. Maybe you should spray up near where the walls and the ceiling meet.

So I have done these things. I figure, there are 2 possibilities: Either there are no bedbugs in which case I’ve done no harm. Or there are bugs I’m not seeing, in which case I’ve addressed the issue. And in either case, the roommates feel heard.

When they go out of town in a couple weeks, and I can sleep on the sofa, I will bug bomb the room. Which I do quarterly anyway. Just because.

So this is a cautionary tale of sorts. Don’t get bedbugs. They are nearly impossible to get rid of, and the reputation is even harder to shed.


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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.