Kiss5Tigers

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


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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 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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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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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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Small Victories

It’s been a couple of rainy days and I’ve been in the house since I got home Friday. It’s now Sunday.

I don’t have any money so I can’t exactly go places. I did request my first unemployment payment today, but they have me down for receiving checks and that means it can take time for the money to arrive. Then I have to cash the check, and send some of it to the bank.

Yes, Citibank does not have any branch offices in Texas, so I have to mail them my opening deposit. Very frustrating as well as causing delays, but once I get that initial deposit in, I can use direct deposit. As long as I can get it resolved before the second payment. The second request is right before my trip and I’d like to get paid for vacation.

I have had another sale in my Etsy shop, so that’s cool.

I finally managed to take a shower this evening. I should have done it while my roommates were out of the house but I couldn’t pull myself together. This is a small victory, but the bipolar didn’t win today. My hair is washed, my jammies are clean, my legs have been shaved. Not well, but shaved none the less. I am all girly again and I don’t smell.

You know, personal hygiene is such a struggle for me. It’s like, it’s just a pain in the ass and it feels overwhelming. I don’t understand this because once I’m actually in the shower, I am happy to be there. It just seems like getting over the threshold into the tub is nearly impossible. I don’t know why that is.

I had a shower. I took my meds. I ate. I didn’t exercise though, I am bad at doing that. And I’ll go to bed soon, which is a reasonable time for me. I don’t have any obligations until tomorrow afternoon.

Life is full of small victories. I made my own breakfast. I journaled. I made some plans. I taught that vision board class last month, I just need to find something else to teach now. I might see if I can get certified to teach WRAP.

I am hoping to hear that I’ve been accepted for coach / evaluator at work. I know it’s only been a week since I applied for it so it may easily take some time to be approved. But I am an optimist about time.

Of course I am a pessimist about the background check. I’ve been doing the job for a year now, 2 years if you count my time as a local hire. I would hate to lose it at this point because of my credit report. And I’m afraid I will.

Still, I am clean and ready for bed, and that’s a good thing. Sometimes little things are all there is.