Kiss5Tigers

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


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Hoarding Taskforce

I went to my Recovery International meeting this morning and got invited to stay for the Hoarding Taskforce meeting. So I stayed.

It’s a community meeting with everyone touched by hoarding. So it included EMT’s and other emergency personnel, code enforcement, public health, adult protective services, animal control, and of course individuals who deal with hoarding disorder. I was surprised that a crime scene cleaner was there, because they also do clutter clearing, as well as several people who identified as organizers, which I understand to mean folks who organize someone’s stuff.

I found out about a workbook called Buried in Treasures. I understand you should get the 2nd edition because it includes new diagnosing guidelines from DSM 5. (DSM 5, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual version 5, is the handbook for diagnosing mental health issues in the US. I don’t know if the ICD or International Classification of Diseases manual put out by the World Health Organization, known as WHO, includes mental health diagnoses.) If you are interested in the topic, you want the most up to date information. One of the host organizations offered free copies of the book to the group, so I signed up for it.

The presentation was about long term care and hoarding. The idea is, people usually enter the system for other mental health reasons but the hoarding gets included along the way.

So, using me for an example, though I don’t claim to be a hoarder. I am bipolar. When I am manic, I shop and I am disorganized. When I am depressed, I don’t clean. That leaves a very small window for dealing with my accumulated possessions, which I often find overwhelming. I could easily enter the system by being bipolar. I could have needs that I can’t meet myself, that can be supported by community agencies. In dealing with the shopping and disorganization, I would also have to face any hoarding tendencies. Though in reality I may fall into the category, based on guidelines in the DSM. But I would need to examine that more. So I might get long term care as a bipolar person, and it might include a certain amount of housekeeping since I am apparently bad at it. And in dealing with the housekeeping issues, we would have to deal with hoarding.

Now there was one very vocal lady there, who pretty much insisted that non-hoarders don’t understand. She is probably correct. She wanted speakers who were certified for working with hoarders, for example, not simply people who had experience with hoarding. She also endorsed the book, which the hoarding support group is working through. She passed around her copy, a hard-used book with underlines and highlights. I know because I flipped through it, looking for a section she hadn’t used that I could look at without invading her privacy. I couldn’t find one.

So now I have a new area of mental health to explore.

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Brrr. Well, For 4 Days, Because This Is Texas

It’s cold. It’s so cold, the dogs are sleeping on my roommates. It’s so cold, both cats are sleeping next to me, under a blanket. It’s the “under a blanket” part that is unusual.

It’s so cold that I have a blanket over my lap because my feet are chilly. It’s just plain cold.

It was colder today in Texas than it was in Connecticut. Probably the only place colder is Alaska, where several of my friends are working.

Ah, I wish I was working. But that’s another matter. That’s just because I live better when I’m working. Of course, last time was such a good experience, I was quite spoiled. I would do that again, it was that good.

The regular facilitator for DBSA Monday afternoons is gone for the next 2 weeks so I’m taking over for him. I actually like facilitating. I want to get the peer support specialist certification so I can lead more groups. That would be wonderful. Then I can figure out how to get paid for doing it.

I am really pushing for a geriatric group, though we should no doubt call it something else. We’ve had several people who were over 70 come through, and they are dealing with end of life issues that could be addressed separately from the rest of us. I mean, younger people (and I am younger in this situation) don’t really understand in a visceral way what it feels like to deal with your body slowing down or facing mortality. Well some do, some are facing those issues, but not most of us. It’s not that older folks don’t belong in a general depression group, it’s more that they have issues a typical group is not prepared to understand. And being understood is the biggest thing any of us get out of peer-led groups. I know this because we all say it.

Tomorrow is Mardi Gras and I am meeting a friend for early dinner of pancakes. Yep. I am knowingly blowing my keto, but every once in a while that’s okay. Plus I’ve wanted pancakes for a while now. Fat Tuesday indeed.

I sent out a round of postcards, St Francis of Cape Fear, to a list of mailartists I found online. I have heard back from a few past mailings. I hope to hear from some real mail art / fluxus type people, not just the arty-crafty folks. I love the work the arty people do, but fluxus is more within my aesthetic and ability. I am working on developing my eye more. I need to draw, that would really help. Drawing is pretty basic to almost all art.

I am out of Lamictal. I called the pharmacy to refill it and got a message that 2 scripts were ready, I just assumed the Lamictal was one of them. I was wrong. So I called the pharmacy again and was told that there isn’t a renewal available. Now I have called the doctor’s office, but I don’t know if they got my message. I’ve left one earlier today and one after hours since I didn’t hear back from them. I’ll call them again tomorrow. Hopefully I can get back up to regular dose soon. It’s the one that helps manage my mania and I am seldom manic but I don’t want there to be any backlash from missing doses.

Looking forward to tomorrow, Recovery International in the morning, see my daughter, then pancake dinner. Should be a good day.


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Love Cat and Better Days

My striped cat, Charli has been all over me today. You’d think I’d been gone for a week or something. (Sarcasm, since I was gone for a week.) She has been sitting where she can see me or touch me all day. When I am not petting her, she is patting me or even poking me with that one claw, usually in the side of the face, trying so hard to get my attention.

At the moment she is sleeping on the back of the sofa. That means I can take a minute to lean forward and type. She is sleeping so hard, just limp with her ribs rising and falling.

Black Momo and striped Charli, who doesn’t like the flash. Yeah I take bad photos

I ordered a recovery workbook called Better Days. It’s a different kind of workbook. First of all it’s rather thin. Then the exercises are maybe a half page of reading and 3 or 4 questions to answer. But I think it will be perfect for my Wednesday afternoon depression support group. We need something to keep us on track but we like to talk. This is more open ended than a lot of the other books have been.

The back page includes a link to a webpage called Punks In Recovery. They have a book about, guess what, punk rockers with mental illnesses or substance abuse issues called You’re Crazy that looks pretty interesting. I might have to order it sometime in the future.

My roommate is making whipped cream by hand. It’s taking a long time. I can hear that he is getting tired because there is more time between the whisk hitting the side of the bowl. Longer and longer pauses. But it no longer sounds like it’s sloshing so it must be firming up.

I have letters to write and “morning” pages to get to. Supposedly they are written in the morning but I just can’t seem to focus early. I am a slow waker. I fall back to sleep without much effort. But I have Recovery International tomorrow at 10 am, so I’d better get up by 9 at the latest.

Then I am taking to car to the shop. When I picked up K at the airport the other day, the service engine light came on. I took the car for an oil change and had them run the diagnostics. I have cylinders misfiring and it looks like I have an emissions fail. Inspection is due in March so that emission problem is huge. But so is the cylinder problem. Though I’m hoping that’s mostly spark plugs not the pistons kind of thing.

Charli has woken up and is fussing for attention again, so I guess I’m done writing.


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Failing at Visualization

I missed Recovery International today. I woke up in time if I didn’t need a shower, but I had a job interview in the afternoon so I felt like I needed to be a little more careful with the personal care.

Job interview went well. It was about half an hour. I think they just want to see that you know what it means to dress for an office. I am only looking for temp jobs that are actually temporary so apparently that makes me highly desirable as an employee. Most people are looking for temp-to-hire whereas I have a job, I just need to do some other work while I’m on leave.

I attended a group mentoring session with SARK this evening. She mentioned me by name, which was flattering. It was just a hello but it was like “oooh, someone noticed me”. We worked with Shakti Gawain’s method of creative visualization. I got stuck on the first step. You start by deciding on something you want to manifest. The caveat for us beginners is, pick something you find relatively easy to believe in. Well. The things I want are not so easy for me to believe in.

For example, I would like a boyfriend again. I can be pretty specific about what I’m looking for: Tall, around 6′ to 6’4″. Long hair; this is negotiable, but hair not bald or buzzed. Prefer blue eyes. Good job. Able to pay for things for me; I have had several relationships where I was the high paid one and I am tired of paying for everything. Smart. Gets me. Likes to go places ranging from the museum to Europe to nice restaurants to faires and cons. Likes to drive; I have done a lot of driving for boyfriends in the past. I’m 55 so he should be 45 – 65. Healthy; I am not ready to be a nursemaid to an old man. Adventurous. Maybe an entrepreneur. Likes book stores. Likes cats. See? Darn specific. But I find it hard to believe such a person, if he exists, would be interested in me. I am not pretty or hot. I think I might be a little boring. My worthiness is in question. So I find this hard to believe in.

I would like to manifest a gym membership, and the commitment to follow through with it. I know I have enjoyed working out, but right now it feels like such a hassle. There isn’t a place near home. I don’t want to have to come home to shower so I have to carry toiletries and clean clothes with me. They don’t really offer classes at a time that’s convenient for me. And if I get called for work, I won’t have time or motivation to go. Oh yeah, and if I’m deployed, I need a membership that is good basically nationwide. If I have time to work out while working 12 hour days. Feels like a lot of roadblocks, I don’t really believe in this either.

Education. My own place again. To work in mental health. Leading groups, public speaking. More cats. Buy a house. All kinds of things I want that just don’t feel doable. This isn’t supposed to be the hard part of visualization. Manifesting now that could be difficult, but finding something you believe is possible? That should be cake.

So I will continue working on it. I mean, there has to be something that’s reasonable to visualize. Something that is a stretch but doesn’t seem impossible.


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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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What I Did Today

Today has been a rather eventful day. Especially considering it was supposed to be a relatively slow day.

The plan was to start the day about 8:30 or 9:00, take a shower, go to Recovery International, and have lunch with a friend. I did actually wake up at 8:45 but it all went to hell after that.

It started with a text message from my daughter: “Dude the last 12 hours have been ridiculous and a waste of $100.”

I knew she was serious because she doesn’t usually call me dude. It took a few messages, and you need some back story to know what was going on.

Daughter is on a road trip with some friends. They went to Rainbow Gathering in Georgia, then spent a few days in Naples, FL and were headed to New Orleans. At 5 in the morning they hit Pensacola and decided to stop. They were going to sleep in the car under a bridge but they found out that someone else had tried the same thing about 10 hours earlier and got shot dead. Now we are talking about 3 girls in a car who don’t know anybody. That means some random person — and in my head it’s a homeless guy bumming a cigarette — told them this story that made them uncomfortable. They decided to rent a hotel room instead. This is the $100. Check out time was 11:00 so they didn’t even get showers.

Then before hitting the road again, they went to a dog park. One of the girls had brought her 2 dogs which seems like a lot but personally I’m glad they had the protection. One of the dogs got off the leash, and someone pulled a gun on the girls. I asked my daughter about this, because I thought the whole point of a dog park was to let the dogs off their leash. She replied, “THAT’S WHAT YOU WOULD THINK, HUH?” And followed it up with, “Fuck Pensacola!”

The problem of course was that they had no money and no food. Uh huh. I’m surprised I didn’t get this call sooner. I’m on unemployment right now and I hadn’t gotten paid for the last two weeks yet, so I said there was nothing I could do. My roommate F gave me $60 to send her. We spent an hour trying to figure it out, and finally I paypal’d it to her. She is in New Orleans now, no further incidents.

The girls lucked out in New Orleans, too. They got an Air BnB a couple blocks off the French Quarter for 3 days for under $150. I might be jealous!

All of this took the hour I had for getting to my meeting. I still had to take shower before I could go and get dressed. I made it to RI but I was an hour late.

What is RI? In this case, Recovery International. It’s a sort of rational recovery program for mental health issues. Dr. Low developed the method back in the 50’s, so that was early days for psychiatry in a lot of ways. He referred to his patients as “nervous” rather than ill. He believed that getting worked up was an expression of either fearful or angry temper. He defined fearful as internal and angry as direction outward. His method is basically to have people talk themselves down using sayings and adages that he calls tools. They might be as simple as “peace is our goal” or as complicated as “people do things that annoy us, not to annoy us,” or even as pithy as “Try not to take your own dear self too seriously”. We meet weekly as a group and talk about how to use these tools in our daily lives.

I was so late, I missed the reading for the day and about half the discussion. At least I got to check in with everyone.

Afterwards I caught up with my friend R. He is the president of the local chapter of DBSA ( Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance )and he was delivering flyers around town. He wanted company while he did it, and basically he bribed me with lunch. It was a good day. I met several people in the mental health field, ranging from EAP workers (employee assistance plan) to the folks at Prism Health (AIDS Arms) .  I really feel like, when I get done with the government, I can find a place in mental health, which is where I want to be.  Eventually.

Lunch was at a place called Henk’s which does German food and has a European bakery and chocolate shop in the restaurant. We got the lentil soup, which was amazing. I also got a salad. R got a side of sauerkraut and a beer with his. Turns out the bakery provides the treats to the Black Forest Cafe, a coffee shop that’s in my favorite bookstore, Half Price Books. Later we stopped for coffee. I had an iced cold brew which was very refreshing. R paid both times, which I thought was very kind of him. Basically, it took us all afternoon.

On the way home, I got a message from my roommate. His meds were ready at the pharmacy so would I pick them up? I ended up going to the pharmacy, the grocery store, and a local chicken joint. I stopped at the mailbox because I was hoping either my new headphones or my book had arrived but alas, no such luck. I finally got paid my unemployment, so I ordered some stamps online. I really like the current round of stamps, they are becoming very creative.

It is finally bed time. I have group tomorrow afternoon so I can sleep in a little. The cats are sitting on the bed waiting for me. All I need to do is take out my contacts. It’s been a busy day, but a good one.