Kiss5Tigers

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


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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.


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Zines!

*Cough cough hack hack* That’s sound effects. I have developed a cough that I just cannot tolerate any longer. I have an appointment with the doctor tomorrow.

In order to help me feel better, I ordered some zines. Some from Broken Pencil, which I’m so glad to see is still in print! I miss Factsheet5, which used to be for sale as a business. Only I didn’t have $10,000 to give them to own the name. I don’t imagine it’s still available.

I am taking a course from Leonie Dawson about making e-courses. The thing is, I need to pick a topic I know something about. I don’t have to know everything about the topic, but I can’t know nothing. I don’t feel like I know much about anything! And yet I must know things about things, I mean, I’ve lived this long and been pretty successful at it. Not amazingly successful, but I’ve made it this far, and I can keep going.

I am thinking about dinner. I don’t know what I want. Probably chicken and pasta, since I know we have that. Though I could go with a salad from Subway. But that would involve going out and spending money, and I just spent $70 on zines and books. I spend too much on printed material and I have no place to store it.

Speaking of my bedroom, I need to tear it apart one of these days. F and L will be out of the house for a long while on Friday so I am going to see how much I can get done with them gone. I need to move stuff out of the bedroom and re-pack it, but I don’t have anywhere to put stuff except the living room and that’s hard to do while people are using it.

F is having issues with bed bugs in his recliner, and he assumes they are migrating from my room. Now I will own it: I brought the little buggers home from a trip with a friend. She also got an infestation so I believe we picked them up at a hotel. So originally, they DID migrate out of my bedroom to the rest of the house. However. They have already colonized his recliner. I am not having issues in my room so I don’t believe they are migrating, I believe they have been reborn in situ.

F doesn’t agree. I don’t know if he thinks I’m lying or so oblivious that I wouldn’t notice bug bites or what. So I will tear the room apart and spray everything. It’s a pain in the ass but what else can I do? Either I have bed bugs that I’m not aware of, in which case I need to spray. Or I don’t have bed bugs but F doesn’t believe me, in which case I need to spray. To appease him. *shrug*

So Friday, while everyone is out of the house, I will remove some of the big pieces out of my room and spray. Then later while they are gone for a few days, I will bug bomb the room. I can sleep on the sofa while they’re gone overnight and give the poison time to work. It will actually be good to clean my room, I just hate doing it.

Actually, I hate cleaning when I feel like I’m being observed. That’s why I don’t vacuum with people in the house (well, besides the fact that I don’t vacuum, but I’ve already told you about that). I don’t enjoy cleaning to start with and I don’t like feeling watched. Watching me do something that I resent doing makes me very unhappy.

Well, time to find food. My tummy is telling me it’s empty so I’m off to raid the fridge.


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Life Moving Forward

I got an invitation to speak at a DBSA meeting in December. I accepted, pending deployment. At this rate, I assume I will not be.

It’s a panel discussion, sort of “meet the facilitators” type of thing. I don’t really have much to say. I feel like I’m something of a unicorn. I haven’t been hospitalized, I haven’t tried suicide, I gave up self medicating without a struggle, the doctor got the medication right the first time. I mean, I’m proof it can happen but I don’t feel like I’m typical. I am a little embarrassed by how easy it’s been for me.

The WRAP class is coming together. The facilitator has picked dates and times, I am just looking for a location. If we get enough people, we can have a room at UT Southwestern, but that location alone will cut down on the people who can get there. Ah, the balancing act. If they want it badly enough, they will come. But if you make it impossible for them to get there, you are not serving the population.

I have a dreadful cough. It’s making my ribs hurt but is rarely productive. Clearly an itch, post nasal drip. Probably an allergy. This is Texas after all.

Took my daughter to Planned Parenthood the other day. She has a boyfriend and doesn’t want babies, so she needs birth control. I like Planned Parenthood. They were affordable and professional, and she felt comfortable. Clean. Kind.

We tried a new poke place, Royal I.T. Cafe. It was adorable. We both got the Seafood Bowl. It was huge. The rice was hot which was a nice contrast to the chilled fish. There were 6 shrimps, an ice cream scoop of spicy tuna with mayo and a huge serving of salmon. Plus red onions, avocado and furikake. Neither one of us could finish it, but it was SO GOOD.

I went to art therapy today at Dallas Art Therapy, sponsored by Foundation45. It was interesting. I am too much in my head, though. I did better the first one than the second, but I did learn something. I wrote “the pain is not symmetrical” by which I meant physical pain, but it applies to my emotional pain as well. Most of my pain is due to loss. I feel it. The other person, the dead person, doesn’t miss me. Which is okay. I would hate for my mother to spend her afterlife missing me. Grief is rather one-sided, I’m afraid, but that is the nature of it.

I have signed up for a course from Leonie Dawson called “40 Days to Create + Sell Your ECourse“. I figure, I can be inspirational. I can use a stream of income that flows even when I’m busy. And Leonie, well, I remember when she was figuring it out. She’s got it sussed. I should definitely follow her path.

Maybe instead of writing a book, I should release a series of e-courses. Each chapter could be another course. There’s a thought . . .

I am also working on a book about human pollinators. They do the job that bees used to do, but by hand. I am trying to work out the action in the plot. I have some ideas, but no real outline yet. Still, everything starts somewhere.

I think that covers it for now. Like most of my posts, not really anything earth-shattering, but then life is full of average moments. I’m thinking of a nap now, actually bed based on the time, though it’s a bit early. Rest is so important.


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Quiet House

The house is quiet. One roommate is asleep already. The other has gone to her room to wait for a phone call. I have laundry in the washer, I wonder if I should move it to the dryer. The noise would break the quiet of the house.

It’s not unusual for a house to be quiet at half past midnight, but it’s unusual for this house.

F is disabled and doesn’t work, he doesn’t have to get up in the morning. L is retired and doesn’t work, she doesn’t have to get up in the morning. I am demobilized at the moment, I don’t have work tomorrow. I don’t need to get up in the morning. So usually we are up until all hours. No fixed schedule.

I often go to bed about now. I like waking up in the morning before everyone else and getting a calm start to the day. Now that’s still 9 am, not like I’m an early bird of any kind!

There’s something about being awake when everyone else is asleep. It’s peaceful. I feel like I’m watching over them, keeping night guard.

Most of the laundry in this load was hang-dry, so no dryer tonight. The few items that weren’t can wait for the morning.

My mind is clear to think about things with no distractions, but what I think about is, I like my wardrobe for the most part. It isn’t extensive but it reflects me.

What a shallow thing to think about! I could be planning to save the world or learning something, watching a TED talk. Instead I am doing laundry and being pleased with the contents of my closet.

So bizarre.

So small.

And yet the world and daily life are made up of small things. Making meals, petting the cat, writing this blog. None of it earth-shattering and all of it part of a life.

The way we spend out minutes is the way we spend our lives. I feel like I “should” be doing more, bigger, important stuff.

But what I do is facilitate groups. Love people who need to be loved. Hold space for those who simply need to be heard. Try to make the world a little better than when I got here, in some small way.

Beauty is small sometimes. Maybe I can add beauty in some way.

The trains go by outside like thunder in the silence. The cat snores delicately. The keyboard clicks. I will sleep soon. I listen to the rhythmic breathing of my roommates in their respective beds. My bed calls me.

So much to do in this peace. One more glass of water. One more chapter to read, One more tour of the house being sure everything is shut up for the night.

Then the house will settle into full silence, all of us asleep in the quiet and dark of sacred night.


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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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My Cat Is a Jerk But She Loves Me

I got very sick yesterday evening. Ended up in hospital, where they decided it was either food poisoning or a virus so they sent me home.

I had been visiting my friend Kelli, so I said my goodbyes and went to QT for some apple juice and Gatorade. I drank the apple juice and took a nap in the parking lot. I was just worn out from being sick.

I fell asleep about midnight and woke up about 3 am. I’m surprised nobody bothered me, like the police. But okay, nap was good. I got home about 45 minutes later.

Of course by then I needed to throw up the apple juice, so I projectile vomited all over the living room. I didn’t even remember until my roommate asked me about the stain on the carpet. How embarrassing. I mean, I just left a huge mess and climbed onto the sofa to pass out. I feel like I ruined the living room.

But she was nice about it. I think she wanted to be mad, but I am a little puny still, so she just got out the disinfectant. I didn’t even think of it having a viral load. I feel like crap about it. Or I would, if I was feeling better.

All I’ve done today is sleep. I’d swear I was on the Disney channel, I’ve seen movies like Alice Through the Looking Glass, and Beauty and the Beast. Well I haven’t really seen them, I’ve slept through them.

So this is me whining. I want a little more sympathy for being sick than I’ve gotten, but there it is.

Now my cat, Charli, hasn’t left me alone since I came home. She doesn’t sleep with me, but she sat on the arm of the sofa and guarded me. She also knocked everything but the computer off the table, and I think the only reason she left she computer alone is she likes to lay on it. It must be warm. I’m just glad I had the lid on the Gatorade.

You know you need Gatorade when it tastes like water. Usually it tastes like sweat.

Charli has patted me on the face and asked for attention this afternoon. She seemed really concerned about me, as much as a cat can seem concerned about anything. Momo kitty has just appeared and it laying on the table now.

Reminder, this is a folding tray table that I set up to use my computer. The cats like to lay on it; I don’t know why. So they push everything off. I had thought it was an accident. You know, they lay down and spread out and happen to push things off.

But no.

Today I saw Charli target certain items, like the mouse, and just push them over the edge. This is the most cat-like thing I’ve ever seen her do. So I am annoyed yet charmed, the usual opinion of cat lovers, I’m sure.

So pet love trumps bending over to pick things up. I’m thinking of another nap and Momo wants attention. I hope to feel better in a couple of hours.