Kiss5Tigers

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


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Can I Do This?

Last Monday, I facilitated a group.

On Monday afternoons, I attend the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance support group, because I have bipolar II, which I’ve mentioned before.  I’ve been going for about 3 years now.  I’ve worked through the book more than once.  I know the answers, haha, as if I could know the right answers to mental health when it’s different for everyone.

The regular facilitator was having a hard day and asked me if I would lead.  None of this is surprising, since he is a peer and the group could be led by any peer.  I said yes, and I was happy to do this favor for him.

It went surprisingly well.  We worked our way through 2 pages in the book.  That may not be much but it included some conversation and it was the end of a section.  Didn’t make sense to start a new section with only 15 minutes left.  The group appreciated the chance to chat during the session.  It was a little more active than the usual facilitator likes, but we have different philosophies.  He is trying to get through the book, whereas I use the book as a jumping-off point.  Nothing wrong with either one, just different.

At the same time, I have been hearing about women who lead seminars to help other women.  I think I could lead one about vision boards and creating goals.  It would be maybe 3 hours, give or take.  Part of it would be about setting goals, where do you want to be in, say, 5 years?  Or indeed, ever?  Part of it would be making the actual vision board.  And part of it would be about sharing our dreams and visions.  I think I could manage about 10 women, and they would have to bring their own scissors since I don’t own that many pairs.  Glue and magazines I’ve got, scissors not so much.

So I am looking for goal setting exercises.  They are surprisingly hard to find.  There are a lot of sites devoted to professional development and goal setting in that regard but really almost nothing about personal goal setting.  The principles must be the same however so I just need to tweak them.  Of course I would need to tweak them in any case to make them my own.  I’m about being inspired by other people, not stealing their work.

I believe I can do this.  It seems very do-able.  It also doesn’t overlap the government job so there should be no conflict of interest.  The first one or two would be free while I get my feet under me, then I would have to start charging.  I wonder if I could even do it monthly.

Words of encouragement and suggestions only, please.  I have enough nay-sayers in my own head as it is.  I could stand some support around this idea.


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Don’t Get Cocky

The Universe has a way of evening things out.

Today, I got a call from my support group facilitator.  He is also a peer.  He’d had an active weekend and just didn’t have the spoons to lead this week, so he asked if I would.  Of course I said yes.  I want to be helpful but also I like facilitating.

I went in early and set up.  J and B arrived.  Then 2 more B’s, E and M.  It was a full house.  I started the group at 5 after, just in case anyone arrived late.  I started off by reviewing the rules, which the group mostly stated to me.  I think the facilitator would be pleased to know that.

We did two pages of exercises from the workbook we are using, and the rest of the time we just talked.  Now the usual facilitator is very book oriented.  I am more relationship oriented.  I was glad to see people reach out to each other and provide feedback.

M brought up a good question.  A doctor can, for example, prescribe a particular kind of mattress if someone needs it.  Most of us have doctors who want us to attend these meetings.  There is a cost to the book.  Only $25, but for some of us that’s a lot of money.  If the doctor prescribed the class, would the cost of the book be covered by insurance?  Oh, probably not, because that’s how things work out, but if I went for physical therapy and needed equipment it would be covered.  This is psycho-therapy – at least loosely – and the book is the equipment.  I think we should try it out.

Anyway, I felt pretty good when I left.  I feel pretty good about my facilitating.  People enjoyed the meeting and I think they got something out of it.

I was driving home, minding my own business, when the Universe decided to make sure I didn’t get too cocky.  Suddenly my engine didn’t sound right.  I couldn’t figure out what was going on.  I looked down at the dashboard and saw that the temperature was redlined.  I pulled over and shut off the engine.

I pay for good insurance, so I called my roadside assistance and they sent someone out to tow me home.  I waited about an hour in 100 degree heat for a 10 minute tow.  So be it.  It was covered.  I checked fluids and oil was low, so I bought some oil that I’ve added.  Now it’s too dark out for me to be able to check the level again so it will have to wait for the morning.

I hope the low oil is the whole problem.  If not, I don’t know how I’ll pay for it.  I mean, I have 6 hours of training to do in the next week or so, so that’s a few dollars.  There is always unemployment.  I just need to drive the car around the block or something and see if the temperature shoots up again.

I’m just glad I had The Artist’s Way with me  while I was waiting.  It’s a good read.  More about that later.


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Scammed Already

So I was on this dating website about a week and someone contacted me.  The site said his name was Jeff Nowak.  After another week of chatting, he asked if I wanted to move the conversation to Google Hangouts.  Well the website cuts the conversation after a week, so I agreed.

We were talking about having a degree, which I do not.  I am 3 classes short of the degree, but I owe the school about $2000 that I have to pay before I can register for the classes.  Being on furlough right now, I don’t have the money.

Jeff asked if I had a bank.  I told him I have a credit union, which is true, but that I mostly use Paypal, which is not true.  I do have a Paypal account, I just don’t use it that often.  I felt suspicious about the question, but I couldn’t imagine why he’d even ask, unless he wanted to send money, but that made no sense.  Then he asked if the debt was on my bank account.  What a weird question.  So I ignored it.

Next came the story, and I believe it was written by someone who did not speak English as their first language.  The actual text was “Two of my friend has fucked me up when I was in Syria and Cuba, because they headquarter wanted to give me my leave bonus because I can’t access my account here I told to help me out with their account but at the end of the day when I was home I didn’t my money complete.”

The next several texts were, ” That has really made me not to trust people much about money.”  “But now I just think the best thing is to have it once am home.” “But I just can’t be here for 4months”  “Still looking for a way out”  “To have part of my leave bonus to terminate my contract but I need someone I can trust”  “Don’t want it to end up like the last time”  “Do you have the debt in your account?”

Um, yeah, we’re done.

I reported the account to the website.

Then today I got contacted by two other men.  I am chatting with them, because that’s why I’m there, but I am suspicious of them.  Once burned twice shy.

And I feel stupid for not picking up on it sooner.  I guess I am just gullible.


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Water

I am learning to love drinking water.  Oh I know, what a cliche, water is good for you, blah blah.

I am a soft drink person.  Honestly my favorite is strawberry Kool-Aid but I also like sweet tea and Diet Coke.  Not to mention coffee, lots and lots of coffee.

While these things are tasty, they don’t really resolve the issue of thirst.  I can drink a soda and still feel thirsty.  I have had a glass water with my coffee.  Sometimes water is the only thing that actually quenches my thirst.

I like my water cold, and I mean cold.  My favorite water is melted ice, that’s how cold I like it.  Some people like it room temperature or even warm but for me it should be frigid.

Even as I write this, my trusty water cup is next to me.  I have this wonderful travel cup, designed for coffee, that keeps my drink so cold sometimes there’s still ice in it the next morning.  Yep, a 95th anniversary State Farm travel cup.  It was even a gimme, and it does the job perfectly.

What got me into water?  Well it started when I moved to Texas.  The heat in the summer just takes it out of me.  Water puts it back.  I want to be clear that I mean the heat.  Natives complain about the humidity but it’s not that bad.  I come from a place where in the summer it can get to 95 degrees with 90% humidity.  There’s so much water in the air that you feel like you can’t breathe.  You sweat and there’s so much humidity that it doesn’t evaporate, your clothes just stick to you.  Texas is not humid like that, but it IS hot.

Then several years ago I worked a Renaissance fair in the late spring.  In Texas, that’s still in the 90’s.  At a ren fair, everything is outdoors, there is no air conditioning.  You do get used to the heat.  One of the unspoken rules is, you should drink enough water to need to pee about every hour.  I have a problem with retaining water so I drank like a camel and seldom needed the privvy.  People worried that I wasn’t hydrated enough.

Now I just carry water with me wherever I go.  It’s cheap because I drink tap water.  Finding ice is the hard part.  I can go to QT and get a huge styrofoam cup of ice and water for 28 cents.  Can’t buy bottled water for that little!

In conclusion I want to say, I don’t drink water for health reasons, although there are many health reasons for drinking water.  I drink it because these days, I like it.

 

 


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Towed

My car got towed last night at 11:10.

I need $300 to get it back.

So here’s the deets:

I live in a mobile home park with roommates.  We have 3 cars and 2 parking spaces.  Usually we just tetris all 3 cars into the allotted space.  Now the roommates own the place, so they get the “real” parking spaces and I fit in across the end of the driveway.

I went out to a support group yesterday afternoon and when I got back, they were out.  I parked on the side of the street in front of the house with plans to move the car later.

Roommates got home about 10:30.  They had been grocery shopping so I helped bring the groceries in.  We finished about 11:00.  If we had been 5 minutes longer, we would have seen the tow truck.

“You’re car still needs to be moved,” said L.  Well.  I was in the middle of something and figured I had time.  I knew the mobile home park had a parking curfew, but I thought it was midnight.  And of course I got wrapped back up in what I was doing and forgot.  Not that it matters, I was probably already towed by the time L reminded me.

So the place wants $300.  I don’t have $300.  I am scrambling for it even as I type this.  I looked at an online personal loan but the interest rate is over 350% and the payments are greater than I can commit to.  I looked into title loans but I drive a 98 so I can’t get enough money.  I am calling in favors from friends and selling a corset on ebay.  I’m going to see what else I can sell.  I have some hats I’ve made and other little items.  I’m really stressed.

Here is a link to the corset, if you’re interested:

corset on ebay


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He’s At It Again

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a fan of Donald Trump.  I did not vote for him and I feel he brings out the worst of what America is.  But he is the president, and he is living up to his campaign promise to make changes.

I get so mad that it’s hard for me to talk about these things.  If I understand it correctly, Mr Trump would like churches to be able to participate in politics without losing their tax exempt status.  My first thought?  There goes the separation of church and state.

Again, if I understand correctly, if a church was willing to pay taxes then they are allowed to voice an opinion.

Concurrent with this, he also has proposed to allow groups to curtail health care options such as birth control if it goes against their religious principles.  The whole question of unwanted children aside, I am a woman with a hormone imbalance that could be treated with birth control pills if I chose that route.  I wouldn’t want my employer deciding for me that I couldn’t get hormones I needed because birth control was a side effect.  I already had an employer tell me that they wouldn’t cover bariatric surgery because it is cosmetic, even though my interest is health related.  (I am not pretty and being thin will not make me pretty; it will however help with blood sugar, blood pressure, and joint health.)  I would be unhappy if I had to choose an employer based on what health care coverage they offered.

I am not a churchy person although I have a faith.  (I’m Catholic, if that matters.)  I don’t really like anyone telling me what and what not to do.  And I would be unhappy to have people vote as a block because their minister tells them to rather than voting their own consciences.  I have several friends who voted for Trump because they will never vote Democrat which they see as the party that is killing babies by allowing abortions.  I feel that abortions are within acceptability because one has to treat the patient in front of them (the woman) not the patient they cannot see (the baby).  Not everyone agrees with me and that’s okay, but it does mean I might vote for a Democrat because I want other social programs to be available.

That is always my dilemma, actually, that I am fiscally conservative and socially progressive, which effectively makes me Libertarian.  There aren’t very many Libertarian candidates, though, so I often chose between candidates that don’t really reflect my views.

Having said that, I don’t want a church telling me what my views are.  And I can hardly imagine the uproar if the Pope expressed an opinion about who Americans should vote for, which this change would allow him to do, as the head of the Catholic church.  We have already had Russia involved in an election, do we really want Rome involved?

I am so incoherent about this because I have big emotion around it and I lack the patience to process an argument about it.  I mean argument in the debating sense not in the fighting sense.  I have no problem with the idea that people may disagree without getting worked up.  Or at least that they can keep it civil.

I don’t know.  I feel like this goes against some basic tenets of my country’s foundation.  And Mr Trump’s supporters seem to believe that saying anything that disagrees with the president is un-patriotic.  I am saddened by the loss of discourse and certain freedoms about which this current administration seems so proud.


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Thinking About Spade and Bourdain

Handbag maven Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain have both died from suicide this week.  Very sad.  Any death by suicide is sad and touches my heart.

The usual “if you’re depressed, please get help” noises have been made.  Someone I follow online  has angrily and rightfully reminded us that sometimes the help people need, well, it’s me.  They need an ear or a babysitter so they can get a break for a while or a place to take a shower or someone to bring dinner over.  There is real concrete help that we can give each other, that might just be the break someone needs, or the reminder that their life is valuable.

Here’s another thing.  When successful people commit suicide, the response tends to be, “They had everything to live for, they must have had problems we don’t know about.”  Odds are, the problem they had was depression.  When life is good, when things are going well, when there is no obvious cause (grief, for example, or stress) and you still feel like life is not worth living, well that’s depression.  That’s pretty much the definition of depression.

Sure there are things you can do to combat depression.  You can take medicine if you’re so inclined (I take it myself).  You can try prayer or meditation or biofeedback.  Physical activity is good.  Being sure you are properly fed and hydrated is good.  Do some things that you enjoy, for me that would be making art or spending time with my cats.  Be kind to yourself.  Socialize if that helps, spend time alone if that’s better for you.  Be sure that you are doing what’s better not simply what’s easier; easier could reflect your energy level which is likely low when you’re depressed.  Sometimes you have to make the effort.  Not always, but you know for yourself when you’re just too overwhelmed and when you really could do it.  Balance, balance, balance.  Not pushing yourself too hard to socialize but not isolating either.

Depression is when getting out of bed seems like too much.  Have you ever had a flu so bad that you are just physically worn out and it feels like your brain isn’t working?  You don’t need any stimulation, just breathing is enough?  Depression feels like that.  You just don’t want to do anything.  Only it’s worse, because the illness lies to you.  With nothing to distract you, you find yourself thinking what a failure you are, how socially awkward you are, that you are all alone and will be alone forever.  Why am I here?  I am useless.  I am a drain on people.  I can’t even take a shower.  I wish this was over.

And often “I wish this was over” feels like “I wish I was dead”.  The idea of being dead feels like a relief.

I’m thinking of my ex husband, who also completed a suicide, about 2 years ago.  His life looked good.  He was married to a woman who loved him, he had a nice house full of children, he was driving a Porsche, he had a job he enjoyed.  What’s not to be happy about?  Except he wasn’t.  His relationship with his daughter was strained, he was searching for his place in an industry that was changing around him, he’d had to file bankruptcy with his second wife, he felt his financial responsibilities keenly.  And he was bipolar.  So the stresses that make life difficult met his depression and he couldn’t see his way out of it.  I believe he could have handled the stresses if he hadn’t become depressed, though I also believe the stress exacerbated the depression.  For him it was a deadly cocktail of emotion, one that felt like there was only one way out.  But really I am speculating.  I can only guess, I will never know what was actually going on for him and I choose to believe the thing that gives me sympathy for him.

Why guess at all?  Because suicide is such a drastic solution and to a person who is not depressed, it seems like life is not that bad.  Maybe it’s not good but it’s still worth living.  And with these two famous people dying so close together, we are looking for answers.  We want to know why.  We can’t know why, because each suicide has a different root cause.  So we are shocked and saddened.  We think, if that fabulous life was not worth living, what about my average life?  I have it worse than they did.  Maybe, but your inner self is probably resilient in a way theirs wasn’t.

Because the opposite of suicide is resilience, the ability to bounce back.  Bad things happen to people, to all people, but many of us manage to get along anyway.  I have a friend who says I am an inspiration because of all the times life has kicked me in the teeth and still I keep going.  I don’t feel inspirational.  Sometimes I feel like quitting.  But what I am is resilient.  I am an optimist at heart.  For all the times I’ve battled depression, I know it will pass and I don’t get suicidal.  I’m lucky.  And I work at maintaining that luck.

How do I do that?  Well, that goes back to my list above.  I try to eat and drink enough, to get the right amount of sleep, to exercise.  Yeah, I suck at the exercise part of it, but I still try.  I pet the cat and write letters, make art and visit friends.  The things that make me happy.  For me the meds are the biggest part, but not for everybody.

So that’s what I’m thinking.  So long, Kate and Anthony.  I believe we’ll see you again.  I hope you found what you were seeking.