The Changing Face of Bipolar

I woke up in the middle of the night for some reason and what was on my mind was how manic I was in my 20’s. Sometimes I question why I don’t seem to have mania any more, and I’m thinking maybe I used it all up in my 20’s.  In my 20’s, the world was full of magic and potential.  The air was crackling with the possibilities of life.  I was full of impulsivity – financially, sexually, and then finally geographically.  At about 23 years of age, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t like my life, and it was because I had always wanted to go to Paris, and the solution was to move to Paris.  So I set about selling everything I owned and bought a plane ticket.  I had very little money and even less of a plan.  Fortunately, I had a cousin living in Paris so I could stay with her initially.  When my cousin Mimi asked me what I wanted to do in Paris, I replied “I don’t know where this is coming from, but I feel like I want to sing!”  I was full of intuitive hunches and my faith in them.  I just knew everything would work out.

At the time, I was sober and very involved in AA, so when I got to Paris I found the American churches and the AA meetings full of ex-pats and made loads of new friends. I was gregarious and full of life – I was a beautiful 23 year old girl – who wouldn’t want to know me!  I walked everywhere in Paris – everywhere I looked was beauty.  Things I had only seen in pictures were regularly showing up in my field of vision.  I felt like I could do anything!

In talking to one of the ladies from one of my AA meetings about needing a job, she said “Well, can you sing? Because there’s this place called the Hollywood Savoy that takes English-speaking girls and you wait tables and then sing in between.”  A light went on in my head.  Hadn’t I said I wanted to sing?  I went right over with her and met the management, and just like that, I had a job.  They let me start without the proper paperwork (I didn’t have permission to work), so the job was very short-lived.  Also, even though I could sing, I wasn’t used to singing with a band and didn’t know how to come in with the intro, and I couldn’t find my key.  I must have looked like an idiot.  Some of the other girls made fun of me.  Oh, the dream and the reality were not matching.  Oh dear.

At this point, I was missing my group of friends and my family very much, and wondering why in the hell I’d come to Paris. I was suffering from culture shock and realizing that I didn’t speak French as well as I thought I did.  Specifically, I couldn’t understand the French that was being spoken.  I was beginning to panic.  Even so, I tried to salvage the situation by looking for a job as a nanny.

One thing in Paris that I had never seen or heard of was “Turkish Toilets” – that’s what they called them. They weren’t toilets at all, but just a hole in the ground that you squatted over to go to the bathroom.  Any time I encountered one, I resolutely refused to use it.  It disgusted me!  I was offered one nanny job in Paris that offered upstairs servant’s quarters for the nanny, but the bathroom was a Turkish Toilet.  Based on that one fact, I turned down the job.

The second nanny job I was offered, I took. It was just watching a baby, and I was expected to do everything to take care of the baby, including getting up with him in the middle of the night.  At one point I was sitting on the floor with the baby, and I was so sad and missing my family and friends, and I started to cry uncontrollably.  Then the baby started to cry.  Then the mother walked in.  Somehow I composed myself and tried to make light of the fact that I was an emotional basket case.

All in all, my Paris fantasy lasted all of six weeks before I called it quits and ran home with my tail tucked between my legs. I was so relieved to be back in my hometown, but also embarrassed because I had told people that I would be gone for a year.  I suffered a deep depression upon my return.  The magic of life had died.  I didn’t know where I had gone wrong, or where to go from where I was.  It may have been the first time that I felt really betrayed by myself, the first of many, many, many times to come.  I would not be diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder for another ten years, many heartaches, many financial disasters, many failed relationships later.  For now, I would fumble along in life, looking for the magic, believing that something great was just around the corner, thinking that I was destined for great things.

The mania showed a person so zestful, so happy, so smart, so full of potential, that people reflected that back to me. People believed in me and in what I might do.  But the inevitable crashes that mania produced (as well as crashes caused by impulsive behavior, my kryptonite), caused me to be a shadow of that person.  I confused myself, and the outside world, with my two sides.  I thought I just had depression.  Why my therapist couldn’t link my severe impulse control issues with my mood disorder, I’ll never know.  However, it’s all clear to me now.  Although I miss the highs of life, and the belief in magic, I am grateful for the impulse control that keeps me from running my bank account down to zero, the impulse control that keeps me from shoplifting and the fear of being caught and exposed, the impulse control that keeps me from having sex with random strangers and thinking I’m a porn star.  I don’t have as many secrets to hide, and that’s a relief.  In AA, they say you’re only as sick as your secrets, and I believe that to be true.  I’m not too sick.  I am a secret smoker.  Sometimes I use pot, although I try to avoid it.  But that’s about it, for secrets.  You guys know it all.  And you’re still reading!!  Thank you.  And for now, I’ll close with saying take a chance.  Share your secret.  Even if it’s here in the comments.  You’ll feel better.  I know I do.

Do I Have A JOB?

So I applied for this part-time job working for a psychiatrist (I know it sounds like a joke but it’s TRUE!), converting all of her paper records to electronic, about three weeks ago. I had an interview which I thought went really well, but I never heard back from her.  So, I totally gave up and said, fuck this work noise.  THEN this Monday I got a voicemail from her, saying she wanted to discuss the position with me and was I still interested in the job?  Well I have to admit I felt ambivalent about it because I had resigned myself to the idea that I was (am) unemployable and now I would have to change how I was thinking about myself.  But, thinking it would be stupid as fucking hell not to respond to her, I called her back on Monday afternoon and left her an enthusiastic message saying that Yes, I was interested in the position.  And then….nothing.  So I’m like, what the fuck?  Is it possible she didn’t get my voicemail?  Did she change her mind?  Surely she didn’t change her mind based on my awesome voicemail, did she?  I mean, what in the fuckin’ fuck?  So I am just sitting here, back at square one, wondering what I am doing, with myself, with my life, am I going to get Disability, am I going to go broke, am I going to get a job, can I do a job if I get one, oh life’s little questions that torture you when you have too much time on your hands and NO ANSWERS!  AND I’ve eaten eight dark chocolate-covered espresso beans and I’m waiting for the buzz to come.  No buzz.  I swear to GOD I’m going to switch to cocaine if the old faithful, caffeine, stops working for me!  But hell no I can’t afford cocaine.  And where would you get cocaine?  Plus, it’s so impure, I’d hate to put that in my body.  Anyhoo, this is one hell of a ramble.  I think I’ll go make a smoothie.  Hope your week is going better than mine, either way, let me know!  Peach out homies!

Happy Easter!

My sister was just in San Francisco and was kind enough to buy me some Ghirardelli dark chocolate-covered espresso beans. Nothing says “do ya think I’m sexy” like a mouth full of coffee grounds, which is what I look like after chewing on a few of these.  However, they DO give me a certain energy, a verve, a joie de vivre, that caffeine all by itself hasn’t done in a long time.  It’s like I found a new drug!  Eat four or six or ten of these, and your procrastinating days are over!  You’re in the shower, you’re dressed, and you’re walking, not driving, to the grocery store to brave the hordes of other procrastinators who didn’t get their Easter groceries earlier.  Ah well, the sun was shining, and I floated on a cloud all the way there, avoiding puddles in my too-big white pants (yay, weight loss) and my easter-egg colored tie-dyed t-shirt!  And lucky-fucking-me, they weren’t out of my favorite, Hawaiian Rolls.  Those soft & gooey rolls just beg for a big dollop of butter and to be dipped in gravy, which I also bought.  Now if I can just figure out how to endure the chaos of the whole family getting together, nieces and nephews screaming and literally shaking the house.  If I thought I could maintain my composure, I’d get stoned.  But there’s the danger that I’d forget to talk, or that I would say something wildly inappropriate, which would give me away.  Or, the family might think I’m on the verge of a psychotic episode, even worse.  So, I’ll go into the family gathering sober, hoping that my frail father doesn’t have the energy to have a temper tantrum about anything.  Oh, the joy of family.

Fond Easter Memories

I was brought up way too Catholic. I was raised to be a virgin until marriage. (HA!)  I was told it was wrong to masturbate.  (HA HA!!)  I was kept home on Good Friday so that I could grieve Jesus’ crucifixion.  My brothers and sisters and I were NOT allowed to play, or smile, or have fun, because TODAY was the day that Our Lord was crucified!!  We resented being expected to cry about this.  Frankly, we didn’t give a shit.  We were just living for Easter Sunday, and biting the head off of those hollow chocolate Easter bunnies.  We would sneak out of our rooms and gorge on the loose jelly beans in our Easter baskets.  What the fuck, we earned it.  We sat through the Stations of the Cross.  We listened to a blow-by-blow of Jesus’ beating, and the walk to Calgary.  Still ahead of us was Easter Mass, where the church was more crowded than any other day of the year.  We had to get there early.  We had to wear our fanciest outfits, including gloves and hats.  We had to sit still for HOURS.  Was Easter even worth it?  We wondered as we worked through the robin’s eggs and malted milk balls.  Near-puking by bedtime, Easter candy eaten, our brains buzzing with sugar and caffeine, we thought “I can’t wait until NEXT Easter!”

The Inevitable Nasty Comment

Today I got a super nasty comment on my silly post about Demi Lovato’s missing asshole.  The jist of it was, the commenter was an experienced photographer, and no, Demi’s asshole was NOT photoshopped out, and didn’t I know anything about anatomy?  She then went on to spout about how the wrong placement of an asshole would cause shit to spray out the back of one’s backside (this DOES happen to me sometimes, maybe my asshole was wrongly placed).  Aside from feeling like I had been punched in the face, there are a couple of reactions I had to this nasty commenter, the first being that she clearly has no sense of humor, because this post was written in a very silly spirit.  The second is that the commenter sounded very angry, and like she was trying to share her toxic cheer with me.

I’ll admit that sometimes I’ve had a negative reaction to someone’s blog, but I have never written a mean, nasty or angry comment. The most I’ve done is click the “X” in the top right corner with a flourish.  What I do try to do is read blogs in a spirit of openness and compassion, because everyone has a story to tell, and I believe it’s safe to say, if they’re writing, they’re looking for validation.  I try my hardest to write something kind, or encouraging, or insightful.  I do my best.  This is what makes WordPress such a supportive community.  If there’s ranting to be done, I rant on my own blog, or I commiserate with someone else who is ranting.  I would be ashamed to dole out a written slap in the face.  No one deserves that.  It’s as simple as, if you don’t like what you’re reading, stop reading it.

Am I being overly sensitive? Maybe.  Probably.  But I’m not going to stop trying to make this a place where people come to laugh, cry, and share.  I’m not going to stop opening my heart and writing whatever it wants to say.  Even if it’s about an asshole.  I’m not going to let this be anything but my Happy Place.  Thank you for joining me here, friends.

From Assholes to Bald Eagles

This blog is called Bipolar On Fire so you’d think it’d be about being Bipolar, and sometimes it is, but sometimes I go off on wild tangents. Because I’m weird like that.  My consistently most popular post is called Demi Lovato Naked . . . Yet She Has No Asshole!  Yep if you Google “Demi Lovato Asshole” (and apparently lots of people do), my blog post comes right up!  I’m so proud!  Maybe I should show it to my Mom.  Another post that is just as stellar is called On My Way To The Kardashian Ass Factory.  I bet you can guess what that’s about.  It’s just that asses, and assholes, really seem to rule popular culture these days!  And for some reason, I am consumed by popular culture.  I spend at least a part of every day reading celebrity gossip, which is mostly about the Kardashians, and/or rappers I’ve never heard of getting arrested.  It’s so uplifting!  Garbage in, garbage out.  Today I spent at least half an hour reading about Prairie Dogs:  A Keystone Species in my neighborhood newsletter.  Sorry there’s no link, ya gotta  be a neighborhood member to read it.  Apparently there’s lots of controversy in Boulder about prairie dogs and people were getting Trump vs. The Rest Of The World militant about whether or not a prairie dog is a rodent (because it’s ok to just kill rodents instead of relocating them).  THAT is how starved for entertainment I am.  All I know is that I see bald eagles perching on the high power poles over prairie dog colonies, and they’re not there looking at the view.  This is their next meal they’re stalking.  So YAY for prairie dogs!  Because I love seeing bald eagles!  True, I almost crash my car driving past, ogling the eagles, but some wild swerving is a small price to pay.  Ya see what I mean about wild tangents??  Assholes to prairie dogs to bald eagles.  If you made it this far, I say THANK YOU for coming along for the ride.  Enjoy your weekend, oh blogosphere!  BPOF says peach OUT!

The Spoon Theory And Why It’s Kinda Bullshit

You’ve heard the Spoon Theory, right? We all get a certain number of spoons per day.  Spoons equal energy, or spoons equal actions.  Once you use up your spoons, you’re done for the day.  You can’t do anything else.  And theoretically us bipolar types don’t get so many spoons (unless we’re manic, then there’s the dilemma of unlimited spoons).  So I totally get this and I ascribe to this and I consider myself to have very few spoons at my disposal.  SIDE NOTE:  Why spoons?  Why not forks?  Or tokens?  Gold coins?  I have no fucking idea.  I didn’t make this shit up.  I’ve only heard of it.  Some fuck said spoons so I’m going with it.  END SIDE NOTE. As I was saying, I don’t feel like I’m bursting with spoons.  I have a helluva time just getting up and showering, most days, let alone doing laundry or, God forbid, COOKING A MEAL!!  That would almost require hypomania for me.  But!  Then I get into crisis mode like I’m in now, with Dad in the hospital, and my Mom is sick with the cold that Dad had that turned into pneumonia.  All of this requires me to rise above the Spoon Theory.  And ya know what I call it when I can do wayyyyy more than I would ever think that I could? A State of Grace. That’s all I can think of!  It’s like the Universe, or the spoon giver, or whatever or whomever the fuck, said this chick needs to function on a higher level right now.  Let’s throw out every belief she has about how she thinks she can function, and give her a reprieve!  Because I am functioning at a level I could not have previously imagined.  I am there for my Dad and Mom.  I am driving all over creation, seeing my Mom, seeing my Dad, hanging in the hospital for hours, being in the moment, talking to my Dad, and accepting life as it is right now.  Who is this person?  This is not me!  This is some kind of gift!  I am supremely grateful for this time with my Dad.  Yes, when I get home, I’m tired, and I feel depleted, but in the moments that I’m meant to be of service to my family, I am able to do that, to help, to be present, to feed my Dad, get a nurse, whatever, with total serenity.  And no, I am absolutely not manic.  So what this tells me, is that theories like the Spoon Theory may have their place, but there are times when we can rise above our illness.  Maybe this will last for a few days, or maybe it will stretch for a few weeks, but for however long, I’m grateful to be the strong one for someone else, for a change.  And when I get in that car, and I feel like I just can’t do it, I remind myself that I am stronger than I think I am, and I can do more than I know.  And then I go.

For My Dad

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you know that my Dad has a terminal illness, Interstitial Lung Disease. This basically means that he has scar tissue forming on his lungs.  It is progressive and eventually it will kill him.  He has already outlived the average life span for someone post-diagnosis by taking really good care of himself.  However, over the past few weeks we’ve seen him go seriously downhill, and from Thursday to Friday he went from having a slight cold to serious pneumonia and having to be hospitalized.  He was sicker than I’d ever seen him before, not able to communicate with us, just opening his eyes briefly and then falling back to sleep.  I thought that this was “it”.  After two antibiotic infusions and several breathing treatments, he improved dramatically, but he’s still in the hospital.  Regardless, we know that it’s just a matter of months, or less.

Seeing someone you love and knowing that they will soon cease to be alive is so acutely painful, it’s almost numbing. After all I’ve been through with my illness, I’ve ceased believing in God or any Loving Presence that wants the best for us.  However, I can’t help but pray for my Dad.  I’m asking his previously passed sisters to come and be by his side.  I wish I could have a sign that they’re here with him.  I want him to be comforted.  He has been such a tremendous caretaker and provider for his wife and six kids, I know he doesn’t want to leave us.  He needs to know that we will be ok.  For me in particular, as sick as I have been with my Bipolar, I need to let him know that I will be ok once he’s gone.

I’ve found Dad’s hospitalization and near-death to be extremely stressful, but I’m coping. I’m still stable.  I’m lucky enough to have some mechanisms in place to help me deal with the feelings.  I have close, supportive sisters.  I exercise.  I take time to myself.  I write.  Sometimes, I just sit down and cry.  And that’s appropriate.

I don’t know how much longer I get to have my Dad alive, but I want to be brave enough to be with him, and be with him with an open heart. I want to be brave enough to talk with him about death, if he wants to.  I want to honestly reassure him that I will be ok, and then back that promise up with positive action.  This is one of those times where life isn’t easy, and the most important thing is to be present for the moment.  I’m hoping to put into practice every life lesson I’ve learned so far, to be my best me.  For my Dad.

A Bad Case Of The Dammits

I’ve started writing this blog post about fifty-eleven times. I am so agitated that I abruptly close Word, dammit!  YES I want to write, NO I do NOT!  I have a craving for the creative – but none of my available outlets are satisfying to me.  Dammit!  I bought a tie-dye kit, but the t-shirts I ordered from Amazon won’t be here until next week.  Dammit!  I want to do it NOW!  I’m thinking about going to Target and buying some men’s v-neck tees so that I can do some now.  I like those v-necks.  But what size am I now?  Dammit!  I don’t know.  Better go XL.  But if they’re too big?  My boobs won’t look good.  Dammit!  Do ya see a little glimmer of the agitation I’m feeling?  Oh yeah and I have therapy today.  Dammit!  I don’t want to go to therapy.  I don’t want to talk about feeling agitated, scared, and out of sorts.  I don’t want to BE these things, Dammit!  Maybe I just need to get out and get some exercise.  Which is yet another thing I don’t want to do.  Dammit!  I wish I could just go back to bed, dammit.  Is there a pill for the Dammits?

Up and Down

Really, I could legitimately title every post as “Up and Down”. It’s the story of my life.  It’s the story of the Bipolar.  Having lost my income is the niggling worm that’s always in the back of my mind, telling me “YOU’RE GOING DOWNNNNNNN” and I have a hard time functioning, or living in a state of hope, when things look so bleak.  I’ve tried for a few part-time jobs and haven’t even managed to get an interview.  Shit, even I wouldn’t interview someone who hasn’t worked in two years.  It doesn’t look good.

So, that’s the down. It threatens to bring all of me down.  But, in my darkness the light has also snuck in.  I took a power walk on Saturday, which was a beautiful Spring-like day, and saw buds on a lot of the trees.   Even though I felt somewhat like shit on that walk, I took an inventory of what I was grateful for.  It’s a hard discipline but time and again it has proven helpful. I also took care of my niece and nephew this weekend and got to nurture them a little.  I asked my nephew, “Who loves you SO MUCH?” and he responded “YOU DO!”  —  good answer, nephew.  It lifts me up to show those little suckers some love.

Today I’m doing what didn’t get done over the weekend, like laundry, and prescriptions (continual pain in my ass). I’ll also go to the grocery store.  You know, Life Administration.  The shit that falls by the wayside so easily when you don’t feel 100%.  Thunderstorms are forecast for today, and although I don’t love the gray days, I do love that it’s not snow!  In Colorado it’s common to have snow through April, so I’m grateful for the warm weather we’ve been having.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but today, I guess I’m ok. I’m functioning.  I’m going to look some more for part-time jobs.  I’m trying to be open to the creative spark – maybe something I haven’t thought of before will materialize.  Oh, and I’m going to tweet, lots of tweets.  New addiction alert!  Twitter!  (Follow me on my abrupt left-turn here).  I’ve been on Twitter for awhile, but all of a sudden I’m addicted to it!  I guess it beats the shit out of sugar, or pot (current status, not a stoner), or alcohol.  I have to pick my poison, and this my choice of evils.  Shameless plug:  Follow me on Twitter:  @bipolaronfire

Ok, time to brush my teeth and get on with the day! Yes!  I am going to DO something today!  Wishing you all a great week!  Peach out!  BPOF.

Damn It All!

Today I had plans to go see my Toy-Boy and man, was I excited! I got a mani/pedi, dyed my hair, shaved my legs, all the things a gal does when she knows she’s gonna get lucky.  I even bought a bottle of Grey Goose to bring as a gift to the host (a selfish gift because I love expensive vodka).  Lo and behold, it was not to be!  Toy-Boy contacted me and let me know that he was laid off from his job yesterday.  Oh!  I was so sympathetic!  How can I help?  Do you need to talk?  I think we should still keep our plans, though, you need to keep your positive energy going (read: Don’t you want a blow job?).  Damn it all, he somehow resisted my charms.  So here I am, all spruced up with no place to go and a nice bottle of vodka, chanting “You can’t drink alone” as I contemplate what I’ll do this evening.  What a waste of effort!  I’m seriously considering taking myself out for a drink, just because I feel so fresh and new and…delicious?  Who wants to go out?  Drinks are on me.

Caucus For You, Caucus For Me

Last night I went out for a little raucous caucusing. Not knowing what to expect, I naively set out on my journey at 6:15, giving myself a full fifteen minutes to travel five miles.  No problem.  Little did I know that twenty five thousand other Boulderites headed out at about the same time, and because this is Boulder, half of them were on their bikes, in the dark, begging me to bump them off.  Roughly ten thousand were walking, weaving in and out of the cars so that parallel parking became a game of Dodge-The-Pedestrian-While-Cussing-Them-The-Fuck-Out.  Finally, I parked in front of a stop sign and became one of the obnoxious pedestrians weaving in and out of traffic.  I hated my obnoxiousness so much, at one point I deliberately stepped directly in front of a moving vehicle.  Luckily, that fucker had ninja reflexes and swerved.  Crisis averted.  I still had to caucus.

It was a mild night and I thought I’d sashay right in to the middle school and get my caucus on without delay. How many flavors of wrong was I.  The line to caucus snaked around the entire middle school campus, around six city blocks.  After ten minutes, a slight breeze began to blow.  After twenty, a distinct chill had set in.  The kids behind me were very definitely stoners and couldn’t stop talking about pizza.  Could they get a pizza delivered to the line?  Could they run and go buy several and sell them by the slice?  How about pot brownies?  Finally, one of them headed back to the car and returned with some Twizzlers.  By this time, I was starving, but declined the offer of a Twizzler, because I’m still not eating sugar.  Inside, a part of me died.

After more than an hour in line with the Stoner Brigade, we were finally admitted to the caucus. Rooms were organized by neighborhood, so people craned their necks at the single map on the wall to see the number that corresponded to their neighborhood.  I, being a tall person, glanced at the map and saw what looked like my area, not giving much more than two fucks at this point, and picked a number.  Soon I was in a room for 801.  The caucus had just begun.

The leader asked people to speak on the candidates they supported. People stood and gave impassioned speeches for their candidate.  One lady cried, she loved Bernie so much.  Another lady had a bad case of the Couldn’t Shut The Fuck Ups, and interjected, shook her head violently, and hissed whenever people pleaded for Bernie.  It was a Christmas Miracle that she didn’t get punched.  (There’s always one of those in a crowd, isn’t there?)  I personally did not stand up and speak, but I did play Hardass Enforcer when people tried to speak for the second or third time, saying in my “Don’t Fuck With This Bitch” voice:  “Let’s let someone speak who hasn’t.”  Implicit in that was “I’ll cut you if you don’ t sit down and shut up” but my communication has become so effective, I didn’t have to even go there!  Score on for Bipolar On Fire.

At last, and I mean AT LAST!!! The room separated into Bernie supporters and Hillary supporters.  Delegates and Backup Delegates were chosen.  And then…that was it!  They had a count of how many were supporting each candidate, and we turned in a slip with our names on it, and voila!  The whole ordeal was over and we were free to go.  I hauled ass to my car and headed home, only to hit the worst traffic I’ve ever experienced in Boulder.  Damned if it didn’t take me over half an hour to go five miles.  I almost cried.  I DID say every curse word I knew, repeatedly.  And the verdict on caucusing in this great democracy of ours?  WHAT A MASSIVE CLUSTER-FUCK!!!