Crafting

Feb. 1st, 2016 03:27 pm
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I decided over Christmas break that I needed something to occupy my mind that didn't require a lot of effort or forethought.

Bipolar people cannot achieve resting state neural connectivity. Research has proven this. What this is means is that we can't just sit around and do nothing and relax or be comfortable. We can't binge watch on Netflix or sit around watching TV, I even have trouble meditating without a guided audio to listen to -- the audio helps me focus my mind on something. I've talked to other bipolar people who experience the same thing -- an innate feeling of restlessness with doing nothing. You sit around doing nothing and your mind starts spinning and you start worrying.

To combat this, I have taken up crafting. More specifically, latch hooking. I may move on to sewing, knitting, and embroidery once I've mastered latch hooking. I usually have a mug of warm milk and calm myself down with some latch hooking at night before bed, or on a boring weekend afternoon. I find a good feeling fills me after I've done the crafting. So not only is it relaxing, it fills my brain with feel-good chemicals.

There's another problem going on concerning my bipolar disorder. I have a generalized, vague anxiety that follows me pretty much everywhere I go. My psychiatrist and I agreed meds aren't the answer, and the cognitive behavioral therapy techniques I've learned can only do so much.

Multiple people have talked about the option of an emotional support animal. I like the idea, I just don't know if I have the time and money to take care of an animal. If the animal were an officially trained service animal for psychiatric disorders, then it might be different -- I could take the animal with me to public places, etc -- but those apparently don't exist.

So I'm just going to have to go through my options and decide what I want to do here.

But for the most part, I've been feeling great lately. I've fallen into regular sleep and eat schedules, and aside from the occasional cold or bad experience I've been feeling calm and at peace. Christmas break was good to me and helped me gain some perspective.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
So something bad happened last night. The thing itself is insignificant, just a small thing that wouldn't have bothered a mentally healthy person, one of those slight daily disappointments. Anyway, it's not worth mentioning. That's not the point.

The point is it was late at night and I was tired from rushing around over the past few days, and that plunged me briefly into horrible, horrible depression. I went from happy to depressed in less than 2.5 seconds. It was impressive.

It starts with exhaustion -- moodiness. I took a relaxing hot shower, trying to make the moodiness go away, and I felt a little better. Then me and my sister Skyped our parents and they all started laying plans for tomorrow, and I suddenly got so exhausted I retreated into my bedroom and shut the door.

There, with the lights off, I curled up on my bed in a little ball of misery and cried. I don't know why I was crying. There was nothing, except for how I felt, to cry about.

Here's the thing about depressed people: they don't want comfort. What they want is understanding. I literally Googled search images of depression, and the depressing messages in the pictures cycled me lower and lower into depression. It's cyclical. I started having suicidal thoughts.

I knew in the part of my mind that was rational and logical that I needed to reach out to someone -- that this was the only way to make things better. So, taking a deep breath, I went out into the living room and told my sister how I was feeling. It was hard. Very hard. And very scary.

By the way? Never reject a depressed person who has reached out to you. They may never reach out to anyone again.

My sister didn't reject me. She talked me through it, gave me a hug, and told me everything was going to be okay. I hugged her back and let a few tears leak into her shirt.

Then we had dessert -- birthday cake, pie, and wine -- and went to bed. I slept in unusually late this morning, and I woke up today and I feel perfectly fine. Maybe a little tired and irritable, but basically fine.

Bipolar disorder is weird.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Me, my sister, and my closest friend all had lunch together yesterday. We went to an Italian place and ate too much spaghetti and pizza and chatted. Then we went shopping around the nearby mall -- my friend bought some stuff from Old Navy.

We took our friend back to our place, where we sat around and watched movies (The Fault in Our Stars, Kill Your Darlings on Netflix). We were originally only supposed to finish Kill Your Darlings, which is about Allen Ginsberg as a young man, but then we got to the part where the two boys pretend to hang themselves, then fall off the chairs they're standing on and almost really hang themselves, then free themselves... and then laugh about it.

My friend and I, who both suffer from mental illness and have both been suicidal, felt so sick that we turned the TV off. We turned on The Fault in Our Stars instead and talked about how Augustus Waters doesn't use words like "metaphor" or "soliloquy" correctly. English major problems.

Anyway, there was lots of laughter and Googling hot celebrity guys, lots of movie analysis. It was fun!

Then we went with my friend's husband to a nighttime showing of Concussion with Will Smith, which was playing in the next town over. I don't have much to criticize. The movie was superb. Will Smith did the performance of a lifetime, and the movie was REALLY intense. Unlike with Kill Your Darlings, there was suicide in this one, but it definitely wasn't joked about.

I did like the message to Omalu's speech at the end, that people just need to know this is a risk in playing football. I enjoy football as much as the next small-town country gal, but I agree. People have to know the risks of what they're doing -- you can't just shut that up.

We had an interesting talk on the drive home later that night in the car, me and my friends. It all started with someone commenting in amazement that Omalu spent over 20,000 dollars on this personal research project into CTE. Then my friend's husband pointed out that with the houses Omalu owned and the cars he drove, as a doctor with several degrees, that might not have been such a big deal for him. He made the example of someone he knew: both he and his wife made about a hundred thousand a year, and this man decided independently to spend ten thousand a year to pay for the childcare of the daughter of a friend who was struggling. When he finally told his wife about it at the end of the year, she shrugged it off. Said she'd spent that much on a horse earlier this year. When you get wealthy enough, ten or twenty thousand doesn't really mean anything, the way it would to most ordinary people. We're not even talking about the top one percent here. Maybe, like, the top ten or twenty percent.

That's how we got to talking about how people spend their money. We talked about an experiment Howard Stern did -- he and his show gave a homeless man forty thousand dollars. The only stipulation was that they got to see over the course of one year how the man spent the forty thousand dollars. It turned out? The man bought a really nice coat and a hotel stay through the winter. But a year later, he was back in the same position he'd always been. It did not seem to have occurred to him that for forty thousand dollars, he could pay for a year of college and dorm living while looking for a job. For forty thousand, he could have bought a house -- not a great house, but a house. It's all about how you spend your money.

My friend's husband put it best with a quote from a book he'd once read. There's an old homeless man talking, and he says: "There are two kinds of poor. God's poor and the Devil's poor. God's poor are people like orphans and widows and those who would benefit from Christian charity. But then you have the Devil's poor, vagrants like me, who you can't help no matter what you try."

Unfortunately, there's a grain of truth in that.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Dear Teenage Self,

I’m not quite sure how to begin. There’s so much I want to tell you; so much has changed. Most of it for the better.

First, I know being a teenager is hard. It seems like people are always trying to under-rate the problems of being a teenager. But I remember: being a teenager is insanely difficult. Just know that things will get better, if you give them time.

I know you think you’re ugly. I know those bullying girls in middle school make you feel like you’re ugly. And I remember what you look like in middle school: long frizzy hair, braces, snobbish little gold-rimmed cat’s-eye glasses, tomboyish clothes. I remember that you cried the first time you heard “I’m Not That Girl” from Wicked. You pretended you were smarter and more arrogant than everybody else to hide the truth -- that you never felt like you fit in, that you doubted you’d ever find a boyfriend or fall in love.

Well, guess what? All those bullying girls in middle school? They’ll lose interest in you in high school. Your braces will come off. One day you’ll just decide to cut off all your hair, and it will feel incredibly liberating. You’ll get some new square plastic black-framed glasses. You’ll learn to make your tomboyish look work for you, with band T shirts and checkered open sweaters and long wool coats and skintight jeans.

And guess what else? Guys will call you pretty. So will girls. You’ll be asked out on dates. You’ll make new friends. College will free you from the confines of teenage hierarchy -- yes, you have to wait till college, and it will frustrate you because it seems like everyone else has it all figured out in high school. (They don’t. Trust me.) In fact, you’ll go to prom stag with a bunch of your girlfriends instead of with some immature teenage boy, and you’ll have the time of your life. You’ll rent a white limo and put on a lavender ball gown, and you’ll giggle and silly dance on top of a ship overlooking the sea sparkling in the night. And then, eventually, a year or two later in college, you’ll have the courage to ask somebody out and romance will happen for you.

But you’ll also learn not to let your beauty define you. I know you can’t even conceive of this right now, but you’ll get into a relationship, realize this guy’s not right for you, and you’ll have the courage to tell him “no.” He will validate this idea of the beauty you never thought you had, but he will not be the right person for you, and you will realize that it is okay. It is okay for him not to be the right person for you. You don’t owe anyone anything just because they called you pretty.

And it is okay not to have a boyfriend. Especially in high school. Ya got time, girl! Go easy on yourself!

Also know this: you still haven’t completely fallen in love. I think you’re probably one of those people who falls in love really intensely, but only once or twice a lifetime. And you’ve realized that’s okay too. You’ve kissed boys, held hands with them, even made out with them, but you have never given your virginity away to a guy who hasn’t earned it. And your inexperience? That doesn’t bother you as much as it used to. In fact, you’re a little proud of it. You go slow, and that’s okay -- your relationship experiences will be more rewarding that way. It’s okay to wait until the time is right.

You will try to force it. There will be a point in college when you try to force relationships that aren’t there, out of some misguided idea that you’re supposed to. And guess what? You’ll get over that, too. It’s a phase. You’ll grow out of it.

Don’t get me wrong. You’re not always the paragon of self confidence or anything. You still have your self conscious moments, but you’ve learned that those are okay. Progress can be imperfect and still be progress.

I know you have a lot of celebrity and book crushes right now. You’ll grow out of those, too. Don’t get me wrong, admiring sexy guys is awesome and so are idle daydreams, but the intense crushes on people you’ve never met? I’ve found those usually fade as you get older as well.

I also remember that those bullying girls used to call you a freak. Behind your back, which is worse. Even now, you still haven’t forgotten that girl who cheerfully told you, “I know everyone says you’re a freak, but I think you’re really nice! Oh, wait. You did know people call you a freak, right?”

You hadn’t.

Yeah. Ow.

That one still hurts a little.

But overall, you’ve come far. Time heals most wounds, and all those times you were socially humiliated in middle school? Those times don’t seem so important anymore. You can look back now and see those bullies for exactly who they really were: immature airheads. You can remember the memory, and be exasperated by it, and not feel pain.

And you know what? You ARE a freak. And you should be damn proud of that! The freaks are the best! They’re the originals, the daring ones, the ones who will change the whole fuckin’ world! Dare to be different! Live it up! Don’t let those assholes weigh you down!

And don’t give up on your childhood dreams. Remember when you wanted to be a novelist, a poet, a musician, an actress, but everyone told you that would be too hard and so you gave up? Don’t give up! You’ll get to a place where you’ll feel brave enough to start dreaming those things again.

You’ll also get better at talking in front of people. You don’t just babble incoherently and shake like a leaf in a high wind when you get up in front of people anymore. You’ve learned to deal with crowds, parties, and yes, school presentations -- at least to a certain extent. They can even be kind of fun!

Don’t start drinking. Stick to your principles and instincts and don’t get caught up in that addictive cycle. It may separate you from your peers now, but you’ll be so grateful for it later. For the ability to have an occasional beer or glass of wine without feeling the need to get drunk.

Yes, you WILL find jobs. You'll volunteer at the local library for a year in your senior of high school, edit someone's book for publication for a fee, and you'll have a really cool virtual internship doing business writing for an environmental company. (Your major right now is Creative Writing, with a minor in Marketing -- this may surprise you because I know you were thinking Psychology. But really, budding young writer, is it such a surprise?)

Also, you know that girl you’re best friends with? The daring, original one who loves goth stuff and who you walk home with every afternoon so she can show you her anime collection? The one you really admire and envy for her sheer comfort in being different? The one who takes you to the cool rock concerts? The one you wear bandanas with because you want so badly to be her? Yeah, you’re not really friends with her anymore. Not because you had a big falling-out or anything, but just because you both went off to different colleges and she turned out not to be the kind of friend who wanted to keep in contact with people she didn’t see every day -- even though you DID turn out to be that kind of friend.

I’m not going to lie to you and say that won’t hurt. It will. It’ll hurt like hell. It’ll feel like a betrayal. But eventually, you’ll come to the realization of this: that girl you admired and envied? You ARE that girl now. You’re comfortable being yourself, and being different.

And maybe you’re not different in the same way she is. Maybe you don’t wear dark eye makeup and dye your hair twenty different colors. But that doesn’t make you any less special and unique. Guess what? She’ll admit to you one day that SHE always really admired YOU -- for your dedication to your creative endeavors, especially to your writing, a dedication and creativity she’s found she can’t quite match.

Another compliment you’ll get, from a completely different girl, at the end of high school? That you’re “mysterious” but “passionate about your music.” And here was you always thinking people don’t talk to you because you’re a dorky loser. They may actually have been intimidated by you!

Speaking of that girl you’re friends with, you actually did want to go to the same college she did. She got in. You didn’t. And guess what? She was fucking miserable there. You cried when you didn’t get in, and she didn’t even like the goddamn place. So you moved far away, to a college in a different state right in the downtown area of a big city. You explored different kinds of cuisine. You tried online dating. You got interested in politics. You became addicted to coffee. You found out that snotty private school kids can be cold, bitchy, judgmental, and mean.

What I’m saying is -- first, you’ll get into college. Don’t worry about that. But second, the college you first went to? That wasn’t even your final destination. You ended up transferring to a totally different college, a public one in a small, rural town, and meeting some absolutely incredible people there. You’ll move out on your own, share an apartment with your college-age sister. The two of you will become incredibly close. You will successfully become independent.

Somewhere in between the first college and the second, you’ll be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. That’s right, all your online research proved you right. And I know that right now you’re trying to convince other people that how you’re feeling is an illness, and they’re grownups so they’re trying to tell you it’s really just because you’re not doing THAT and THIS and THAT OTHER THING.

So I just wanted to validate you. You were right. And finally getting that diagnosis and starting on the path to recovery? It’ll feel like a huge relief.

That brings me to my central point. I know you’re feeling suicidal. I know your parents are angry with you because you withdraw and hide in your computer so much, but you’re just trying to get good grades in class (you feel a lot of pressure there) and ignore the feelings welling up inside you. And I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you -- it’ll get worse before it gets better. There are times when you’ll sob and scream. There are times when you’ll just want to fucking die. There are times when you’ll feel broken. You will lose people. You will be bullied and abused. You will act fucking insane. Horrible things will happen to you.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret: It. Gets. Better.

You will go see a psychiatrist and a therapist. You will find a medication regimen that works for you, and learn self management techniques to keep bad thoughts from controlling your life. You will also start being healthy -- going out walking regularly, eating more frequently and healthier, sleeping more (but not too much), and you’ll travel and find tons of new hobbies! (You’ll even feel brave enough to take night classes in swing dancing downtown above a really sketchy bar.) These might all sound cheesy in isolation, but put them together and you’ve got a great recovery strategy.

Recovering from depression and suicidal thoughts is the most incredible feeling on the planet. All of a sudden, you’re grateful for everything -- you’re so much wiser, and you take a whole new lease on life. Life is an incredible journey, and you’ll want every part of it.

And the realization will come to you, over and over and over again: That you made it. You survived. You’re a survivor. And that realization never stops coming. It’s the gift that never stops giving. You will feel that triumph again, and again, and again. Every time you learn something, every time something good happens to you or you get reflective, you will feel that triumph again.

Like today.

So congratulations, kid. You’ve hit your twenties. You made it.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
So I was in a shitty mood. I'd just finished with all the stress of finals, which isn't good for my disorder; I was having relationship frustrations; I was menstruating and moody (my meds stop working on my period); I wasn't happy with any of my writing projects.

And then me and my sister decided to watch Begin Again with Kiera Knightley and Mark Ruffalo to cheer ourselves up, and we got to talking about music.

And we just randomly decided: we have two guitars. We're going to learn music together.

See, I took guitar lessons for about a year during my Ultimate Low Period talked about in my very first post. (See the top of my memories list.) It was a way to vent, pass time, not stare at the walls and feel depressed. But my teacher kind of sucked. He was obviously only in it because he couldn't make any money in a band. That's not to say he was a bad guitar player, it's just to say he wasn't a very good teacher. And I had no one to practice with, and I felt like I was learning little, and it was very frustrating. Guitar fell by the wayside.

But my sister revealed tonight that she's always wanted to learn music, so I gave her one of my two guitars. I taught her how to tune up, and it was just so rewarding, doing music back and forth with someone. The buzz when you get it all just right!

We have everything all set up. I have an online tuner and guitar chord-book bookmarked, as well as books I've bought on the guitar. I even have a capo, and several different kinds of picks. I'm all set to go because I was doing this a year and a half ago. We will practice guitar, and diaphragmatic breathing for singing (I took choir for a few years) until summer hits, and then we will take lessons -- with a GOOD teacher -- over the summer. Even if we have to get jobs to pay for them.

I'm hoping some of my sister's frankly incredible work ethic will rub off on me. I'm also hoping being in a partnership will help with songwriting, which we've already discussed as a possibility.

You never know. Maybe nothing will come of it, and it'll just be a fun thing we do together as a hobby. But you never know where life will take you, and I would love to be in a band. Even one that never went anywhere -- although of course going somewhere would be even better. I would be willing to put the time in, I think, not only because I would have something to fall back on (college), but because I genuinely love music. I do. I love music like I love breathing, or water.

And I don't know. I just feel so much BETTER. I'm riding this wave of enthusiasm. I've always loved music in this really intense and incredible way, and to be able to play it with someone else who I know also loves music -- that would just be the most incredible thing for me.

Maybe the enthusiasm will fade in the morning. But maybe it won't. Maybe all our plans to learn every chord in the online chord-book will actually come to something, and we'll start practicing together tomorrow. Maybe this is just the beginning of something great.

Music has always been my solace. Perhaps playing music can also be my solace. It seems I always turn back to playing music when I'm feeling really down.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
We got a weather warning saying winds should hit seventy miles per hour. Power lines and trees were expected to go down. We were told to "stay safe."

I immediately felt the first stirrings of anxiety.

I went outside and that made it worse. It seemed every sharp-blowing wind was about to knock me off my feet. The world seemed dark and scary. I had to hold my sister's hand all the way to the bus stop. I needed to go to class today; this class in particular I've been missing a lot lately.

I got to class, but about ten minutes in my heart started racing. I got dizzy, numb, and tingly, and I was having trouble breathing. I stumbled out of the classroom in the middle of someone reading one of their poems for a workshop, which I'm sure was incredibly rude. I sat outside for a couple of minutes, just breathing, and then I went back inside and whispered, breath ragged, next to my teacher's ear that I was having a panic attack and I needed to leave.

I was making anxious noises and squeezing my sister's hand all the way home.

So now I'm probably going to fail that class, I feel like shit, and the weather's awful. Great.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I signed this petition and thought I'd give you the chance to as well:

https://www.change.org/p/my-wife-is-imprisoned-in-iran-demand-her-release?utm_source=action_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=429810&alert_id=finXtiJSaS_FCXL7k8jAe8BZgfRfItrhOQ40bWuYuEk8xROWisNPwo%3D

This Iranian woman was a women's rights defender and activist. She was arrested and imprisoned for fighting for women's rights in Iran. She has served six years in prison.

She should have been released this summer according to Iranian law, but officials have elected to keep her imprisoned for at least another two years.

The woman -- Bahareh Hedayat -- has failing health (in the area of the kidney and reproductive organs) and is suffering major depression. She may not survive another two years in prison. This is completely ignoring the fact that she was unjustly imprisoned in the first place.

In recent weeks, Iran has been releasing many political prisoners, and Bahareh's husband is hopeful that with this petition his wife will be one of them. Please sign and support justice and women's rights in Iran.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I talked in a previous post about having weird sleep time disturbances? Well, they're still going on, and have been leaving me exhausted now that school has started.

My psychiatrist tried switching me over to a new antipsychotic, but the first medicine he recommended was too expensive -- 500 dollars with a 125-off coupon and health insurance! -- and the second he recommended was a medication my grandmother was on for senile dementia that caused her to tremor and be insensate to the world around her. Needless to say, bad associations, no way in a million fucking years.

So I went and got a second opinion, and she recommended keeping my old antipsychotic -- which has worked perfectly otherwise -- and adding a dosage of an anti anxiety medication used to sedate people for sleep. And guess what? It's been working perfectly! I've been deeply asleep every night for the past couple of nights!

So there you go. Happy ending.

The only thing is that the pills are habit forming, so after a while I may not be able to sleep without them.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
So far, college this year has not been going well.

It's everything, I think. I'm taking five upper-division classes. FIVE. I also have to cook for myself, clean for myself, etc. So I have basically no free time. I don't live on campus anymore, which means long waits at the bus stop and in between classes on campus, and this sounds really wimpy but I have a terrible phobia of bugs and there are bees EVERYWHERE.

I know it's just my adjustment period, and I'll get over it and winter will come and I'll adjust to taking the classes and living on my own and everything. But right now it just majorly, majorly sucks. I stayed home from school because I was sick to my stomach from stress yesterday, and today I couldn't go to poetry class because I was on the verge of having a panic attack.

Poetry is a whole story in and of itself. The teacher wants two poems within a week's time, and then he's going to have you sit there while the whole class critiques your poetry directly to your face. (You're not allowed to say anything till the end.) My first thought was to write about what I knew well, so I wrote a poem about depression and mental illness and turned it in but then today I had the sudden, horrible thought, OH GOD THEY'RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT THAT TO MY FACE.

I think that's what caused the panic attack of sorts.

I emailed the teacher and told him I couldn't come, citing mental health reasons. He was very understanding. He says next week we're just going to skip straight to my much more people-friendly poem on the hard work of being a ballerina. I turned in both poems to him, so I should still get full credit.

In fact, I don't think I've lost any points for being absent yet. I've emailed all my teachers and have still managed to finish all my assignments and get them turned in. So there's always that little ray of hope.

Thank God a three-day weekend is coming, because I really need it.

The feminist club meeting was a little ray of sunshine. I'm doing some more extracurricular fun stuff with my sister later, so that should be nice too. More on that after it happens.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Thought this was an interesting article:

http://www.ibpf.org/blog/mania-spiritual-experience

Mania is an experience that is kind of impossible to describe. You react very strongly to everything, are constantly convinced of your own rightness, and everything suddenly takes on entirely new meanings that they didn't take before. Some common symptoms of mania are recklessness, excitement, irritability, delusions, hallucinations, and bizarre behavior.

When I experienced mania during my last episode, I became convinced that people were watching me and trying to communicate secret messages to me via things like my music and my social media. I became convinced that everything was a secret message to me, written in code, and that unseen people were trying to speak to me in my daily life.

The thing is, these people were not always a negative influence. Sometimes they were very encouraging (though they could turn sharp very quickly).

I mentioned this to my mother, and she said that sounded like a spiritual experience. She said it's natural to feel like someone is watching over you. She gave one example from her own life: She was in the car at a stop light. The light turned green, but she didn't go immediately. She paused. To this day, she has no idea why. Just at that moment, a car came speeding outward, running a red light. If she had gone immediately, the car would have hit her, and she'd have died on impact, and I wouldn't exist.

The way my Mom put it, she became convinced there was someone watching out for her that day. Someone stopped her from hitting the gas pedal. And she thinks I have the same thing. I've lost my grandmother, for example, and my Mom is completely convinced she is out there somewhere and fighting from my corner, helping me out.

So now the real question is: Are spiritual experiences a kind of mania, or is mania a spiritual experience?
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Our "new friend" texted us and wanted to hang out tonight. That didn't go well.

First, she wanted to go to her favorite restaurant, not to ours. She only went to the restaurant we wanted to go to after her restaurant had an hour-long wait list.

At the restaurant, things seemed okay. We revealed to her about my bipolar disorder and my sister's stutter and learning disabilities; she, in turn, revealed that she'd had a learning disorder and a speech impediment when she was younger. She also liked astrology, sci-fi, video games, and anime, and so did we.

But then she took us shopping. I kind of felt like she wanted to give us a whole new makeover. Like she thought we were these fashionably challenged, socially retarded poor people who needed help. She kept inviting guys over to meet us, telling us about huge parties, pushing us to try more expensive and girlier clothes, and asking us to tell our parents "we were making friends!"

Another person might have enjoyed that, I don't know. But I was kind of annoyed, I felt condescended down to, and my sister was uncomfortable. We were fine the way we were. We had a few good friends instead of lots of distant ones, dressed casually, didn't spend much money, and preferred relaxing in front of the TV on Friday nights, and we were happy like that. It's not the first time people have told me my retiring preferences are wrong, but it never gets any less infuriating.

Eventually, I put my foot down. We couldn't spend more than forty dollars per person, I didn't do well at parties, and I wanted to go home after this because I was tired. It was the end of my first week back at school, a Friday night, and I was tired. She seemed really unenthusiastic after that. She took us to a cheap clothing store, stopped trying to dress us up, and just let us pick out a couple of five dollar shirts. She agreed to drive me home.

When my sister said she wanted to go home too, however, the really uncomfortable thing happened. "Well, I need a girl with me at this hang-out I'm going to," she said. "My ex boyfriend will be there and I don't want to be alone."

"Your guy friend will be there," I said. (We'd met him earlier. He was nice.)

"I need a girl there," she insisted.

So, what? She was just going to shove that on two girls she'd only met three days ago and make us feel guilty? After we'd already told her we were exhausted?

"I think my sister's really not feeling well," I said firmly, "and she needs to go home." My sister wanted to say that, she'd told me so earlier, but my sister's never been good with verbal confrontation.

In the end, she drove us home. It was basically a complete fiasco.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
My writing process is almost entirely defined by my bipolar disorder.

Let me explain what I mean. When I first come up with a writing idea, I get obsessed over it for days. I hardly ever spend any time on anything else, and I can write for hours at a time. I get excited and a little manic.

Eventually, the mania fades away and I'm on an even keel for a while. I write for about an hour a day. During this time is when my best and most detailed work comes out.

I just start writing the story, and makes notes and plans for myself as I go -- I'm too impatient to write out character and plot sheets beforehand, so it just all floats around in my head and eventually comes out on paper. The plus side to this is that I can create whole characters and keep them in excellent characterization without ever writing anything down at all -- I've trained myself to be able to do that. I get compliments on my characters all the time, characters I've never written anything down for, characters I just made up off the top of my head. Each character has a certain feel, and I immediately know everything important about them as soon as my head creates them.

At some point, one day, the inspiration just stops. It just dries up and I stop writing the story completely. Maybe I stop writing entirely, or maybe I just turn to a new project. Either way, the inspiration never lasts forever.

Now this is when the true test comes out. If my inspiration eventually returns and I go back to that original story, I know what I came across was a good writing idea. If the inspiration never returns, the story wasn't worth it and it dies on my computer. The vetting process is pretty harsh, and I'm sure many of the lost story ideas would be good enough for almost anyone else -- but not for me. I have to feel it to be able to write it.

In this way, I'm a very moody and intuitive writer.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Sleep is one of the most important things a mentally ill person can have. It's critical to keeping healthy and feeling better. But there are strict rules -- it is ideal to sleep eight or nine hours a day. No more, no less.

The problem is, for mentally ill people sleeping can often be a struggle. Especially if you're bipolar, both mania and depression can trigger insomnia. (Mania creates excitement and energy that makes it hard to get to sleep, depression can make it hard to sleep just because you're so damned miserable all the time.) Then, especially if you're depressed and lack energy, or if you've stayed up all night, you can have trouble waking up again.

With that said, here are some tips I've found for getting to sleep and waking up:

- Meditation. This is one of the most vital tips. I meditate every night before bed. I switch what I listen to from night to night. Sometimes I listen to ASMR videos, other times I listen to guided meditation podcasts, self hypnosis sessions, or visual relaxation audios (which describe a beautiful place to you in a soothing voice and ask you to imagine yourself there). Basically, I just need something to listen to in order to wind down and help me get to sleep.

- Music. Some people check their Facebook or Twitter right before bed. I try not to do this, because it will only keep me awake. Instead, I listen to the radio. Music is much more relaxing and requires much less thought than an article on Facebook or Twitter. I also have a sound maker that does something similar, playing soothing sounds of waves crashing and seagulls calling to help me sleep. Use sound to your advantage -- it's one of the most powerful psychological forces we have.

- Warm drink. Sometimes I warm up a mug of milk, other times I make myself some non caffeinated herbal tea. This is a little something to look forward to each night before I go to bed, that helps me power down.

- Bath. I always take baths and showers at night, instead of during the day. It helps me wind down, feel nice and clean again, and get into "sleep mode."

- I take medications at night that make me sleepy. This is vital. I used to have major problems with insomnia, so I talked to my psychiatrist about them. Now I take a nightly medication that suppresses delusions and hallucinations, but also helps me relax and feel sleepy. And if you do have a medication like this, and you're taking it during the morning instead, why are you making this so hard on yourself? Just take it every twenty-four hours at night instead. Use the sleepiness to your advantage.

- I know when I feel tired, and I don't try to push myself. The average person feels tired at about ten or eleven o'clock at night, even if they don't realize it. Take the time to listen to your body. Don't start reading a bunch of articles or embark on some major project. Listen to some music, watch some TV (that is not the news), and then go to bed.

- When you want to wake up the next morning, set your alarm for a time before you actually want to get up. This will give you some time to wake up and force your way out of bed. And when you finally do, voila! It'll be at the time you wanted to wake up anyway.

- Have something to wake up for. This is important, too. Especially if you're depressed, schedule something to wake up and look forward to each morning. For me, it's having a cup of coffee and going for my morning walk. If you have nothing to do, you'll probably just stay in bed all day.

These are just some sleep hygiene tips I've found. I'll let you know if I come upon any more. Stay healthy!
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
This might be the last time I'm seeing a friend in my hometown before I move up permanently to take apartment residence near my college. It's the friend I was talking about the other day -- the one I've known since I was six. So today, we went out together, and for once (on my behest) it was just the two of us.

I wasn't feeling well to start out with. I'd just gotten my period, so my stomach and back were in pain, I was hungry except not hungry, and I was going to the bathroom about every five minutes. But I felt much better after the day was through! A nice day out was good for me!

We listened to music on the drive to the movie theater, chatted, shared drunken stories -- my friend had just recently lost her phone while on a drunken misadventure. Then we went to see Paper Towns in theaters. It's based off a John Green novel. I love John Green's books. The Fault In Our Stars is one of my all-time favorite novels ever.

On that note, I loved the movie!

It made me really like Quentin, but that wasn't a big surprise because I had always liked Quentin. What was a bigger surprise was that they made me like Margo! I hated Margo in the book; I LOVED her in the movie. It made me see her in a whole new light.

The movie was funny, too. And not just for actual, movie-based reasons. A guy in the theater made the bathtub scene with Lacey HILARIOUS. He kept filling in Quentin's lines for him.

"Do you want to get in the tub with me?"

"YES."

"And I don't have chlamydia -- anymore."

"Oops. Better get outta this tub fast!"

It was the funniest thing.

One thing I noticed is that the search for Margo wasn't as intense as it was in the book. But I suppose they only have so much time. Not much room for mystery. I also noticed the actor who played Augustus in The Fault in Our Stars in the gas station scene! I did not miss that! Girls in the theater started gasping!

They changed the ending. I actually liked it better. I think this is the only book-based film where I liked the movie better than the book. (I actually cannot say that about The Fault in Our Stars, so this admittance is a big thing for me.)

After, we went on a great mission to have lunch and find my friend's lost phone. We didn't manage to find the phone, but the trip was fun. We sang and laughed over song lyrics, and made morbid jokes about how underweight we both usually were. (We both have an illness -- hers physical, mine psychiatric.) I also told her I had just reached a normal weight for my height, and she gave me a high-five!

We had pasta for lunch at a restaurant. The music there was pretty good -- I liked the playlist. We talked about people we knew who had gotten married too early, about our frustrations in not finding men who were mature enough for us and also our age, and she confided in me about some things. I'm a good listener, so people come to me to confide and ask for advice a lot.

This time, she talked about her friend's unhealthy on-again, off-again relationship, her divorced parents and pushy, controlling father, and about how she wants to start her own business but doesn't want to go back to school and finish her degree. She seemed interested in my virtual internship and asked questions about how I had gotten it. I told her I went to my school's career center, made an account on their website, asked them for help writing my resume, and then sent said resume to companies who had posted up ads saying they were interested in college students on the school's website.

On our way home, something really funny happened. Two military-looking men in a Jurassic Park truck were next to us. "Oh, cool, Jurassic Park!" my friend said. Then she looked closer. The two men were making out. And the look on my friend's face -- oh my God it was priceless! I laughed so hard!

We danced in the car and sang (loudly and badly) along to "Bringing Sexy Back" and "Blank Space" on the radio on the way home. It was the most fun I've had in ages.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I have a strange new symptom I've been experiencing.

Let me just say that except for this symptom, I am very healthy. I'm emotionally stable and in complete control of my faculties. My flights of fancy are confined to imagination and I'm not depressed or irritable at all. That's what makes it so weird.

I've been having hallucinations at night. When I'm lying in the dark and almost asleep, weird things come up before my vision. I see everything, from people to insects to screens. I also hear things like voices and laughter, and feel brushes against my face. It's very creepy and it's very scary.

The strangest part of it all is, it only happens when I'm lying in the dark and almost asleep. Never in the daytime, and never when I'm fully awake.

I think it might be some kind of sleep disorder. The antipsychotic I'm on can cause sleep disorders, and I've experienced sleep paralysis and sleep walking while on it previously. It all started when I doubled the dosage of this medication, because on the previous dosage I was experiencing anxiety and delusional thoughts.

So if I halve it, I'll experience symptoms. If I double it, I'll experience side effects.

I called the psychiatrist at my college. He said we could try an entirely new antipsychotic, but he wants me to be back at school near him before we go that far. So for now, he's lowering my dosage, but not going so far as to halve it.

We'll have to see what that does. Most psychiatric treatment is really a kind of experimental shot in the dark like this.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I've got a confession: I hate perfect people.

They're simpering. They're annoying. They make me want to smack someone and strangle people. I hate people with perfect photoshopped bodies and perfect straightened hair and way too much makeup -- I think they're terrifying and hideous. I find people who never make mistakes and never fuck up to be utterly boring. And worse than that -- they're typically hypocritical and judgmental.

I have another confession: I'm not perfect.

I'm not. I'm an antisocial, too-smart-for-my-own-good, eccentric, don't-touch-me FREAK. I don't like people but I do like people but I really only like people in abstract. I'm horrible at expressing my feelings. I don't really like hugs. I'm not very playful. My boobs are too small. I think I'm smarter than everybody else. I'm stubborn and prone to getting obsessive over things that I want. I get random anxiety attacks that make me unable to interact with the normal human population. I hate parties and public speaking. My sense of humor is flat, dry, and sarcastic.

I'm not perfect.

Now here's something revolutionary: I don't want to be.

I like my hair messy! I like that I only ever wear jeans! I like that there's cat and dog hair all over my clothes! I like my tiny boobs and my obsessive-anxious-passive-aggressive-antisocial personality!

Imperfection is human. It's natural. And more than that -- we can learn to love it. Mistakes make for great stories and help us learn to laugh at ourselves! Screwups can sometimes end up being the most precious moments of our lives!

I spent so long being told by bullies growing up that there was something wrong with being imperfect. I was supposed to want to fuck boys and go to parties every weekend and look like this and dress like that! And I wasn't! The horror!

I used to be ashamed of myself for not fitting into the social norm. But you know what? I've grown up. And now it's time for me to celebrate it. I propose a celebration of imperfection.

So, on that note, here are my three favorite songs about imperfection:

1."Girl Next Door" by Saving Jane

It's not about the prom queen. It's not about the celebrity. It's not about the princess. It's about the girl next door to the celebrity/princess/prom queen that no one ever notices. It's about her and how much she feels ignored and how much she HATES the seemingly perfect girl next door to her, who always gets the boys and always looks pretty and never acts like a bitch. This is basically my song.

Favorite lyrics:

"Maybe I'll admit it:

I'm a little bitter.

Everybody loves her,

BUT I JUST WANT TO HIT HER!

She is the prom queen,

I'm in the marching band,

She is a cheerleader,

I'm sitting in the stands,

I get a little bit,

She gets a little more!

She's Miss America, yeah,

She's Miss America, and I'm just the girl next door."

2."Little Moments" by Brad Paisley

It's about all the mistakes his wife makes throughout a typical day, how funny he finds all of them, and how those moments are when he truly realizes how much he loves her. Need I say more?

Favorite lyrics:

"I know she's not perfect,

But she tries so hard for me,

And I thank God that she isn't,

'Cuz how boring would that be?

It's the little imperfections,

It's a sudden change in plans

When she misreads the directions

And we're lost but holding hands.

Yeah, I live for

Little moments

Like that."

3. "Secrets" by Mary Lambert

It's all about a bipolar overweight girl with a screwed-up family who defiantly doesn't care WHO knows her secrets. She's tired of pretending to be someone she's not!

Favorite lyrics:

"I've got bipolar disorder,

My shit's not in order,

I'm overweight,

I'm always late,

I've got too many things to say.

I rock mom jeans, cat earrings,

Extrapolate my feelings.

My family is dysfunctional,

But we have a good time killing each other!

They tell us from the time we're young

To hide the things that we don't like about ourselves,

Inside ourselves.

I know I'm not the only one

Who spent so long attempting to be someone else.

Well I'm over it."

In conclusion...

"No one likes perfect people! Perfect people are boring!"

- Two Weeks Notice
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I have not had an episode in over a year. So I'm sharing something with you today. These are the things I do to keep from swinging into episodes:

- I take my meds.

I cannot emphasize this enough. I TAKE MY MEDS. I went through a lot of different medication regimens before I found one that worked for me. Relentlessly, every single time I felt an unacceptable side effect, I informed my psychiatrist at once. In this way, I weeded out the unlikelies and finally found a medication regimen I could accept taking every single day. And I do. I have an exact time to take my meds that I've worked into my schedule each day; I even have an alarm on my phone to remind me to take my meds every night.

- I've become very self aware.

Funny thing. I think you'll find, if you really try to keep track of how you're feeling each day, usually the answer is "I don't know how I'm feeling." Unless you're in some extreme state, like exhaustion, usually you really won't know how you're feeling. You're in "neutral." But what bipolar people have to do is tease apart their feelings even when they're in "neutral." The minute moodiness hits, they have to take steps to minimize it: through medication changes and self management techniques. The minute I start to feel depressed or anxious, I do something about it.

- I have a great support system.

I let my family read about my disorder, and inform them every time I start to feel high or low. They try to talk me through it, and advise me on things like medication changes and self management techniques. I also know that if I get really bad, they'll be there to help me, and that can be very comforting.

- I do self management techniques.

I've been through lots of different kinds of therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy. I have gotten many techniques from this to be used at my disposal. I know how to stop, analyze, and then distract any stray depressive thoughts. I know how to relax after a lot of stress or depression. I know what to do and what not to do to make myself feel better. I understand that I have to do things like stay away from drugs and alcohol, and I need to get plenty of sleep. Self management techniques can be incredibly invaluable.

- I know how well I've done, and I never let bipolar disorder hold me back from doing what I want.

I've accepted my illness. (That alone is critical.) But no away am I letting it get me down! I'm still going to get my bachelor's degree, I'm still going to get a job. I can still fall in love, travel, and do all the things I would otherwise do. And every so often, I congratulate myself on how far I've gotten already. I try to concentrate on the good things instead of the bad.

- I don't sweat the small stuff.

I try not to let little, everyday stress get the best of me. An argument. A bunch of phone calls and emails. I try to remain calm in all situations, and I make sure to have good things scheduled into my day along with the bad. Life isn't perfect and we shouldn't expect it to be. But it's up to us to make it as good as we possibly can.

On Guilt

Jul. 25th, 2015 05:16 pm
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I'm here to talk today about bipolar disorder and guilt.

Guilt is a common feature of bipolar disorder. We're hard to live with and our actions are often completely out of our own control, and that can lead to bad decisions, which can lead to guilt in the aftermath of the bad decisions. We hate, in the rational part of our minds, that we make things harder on other people. But we can do little about it at the time it's all happening.

Some things I've been guilty about: Bothering the people I'm living with by staying up too late with insomnia. Getting reckless and manic and doing things like bustling around and singing loudly when other people are trying to go to sleep. Doing stupid things like hanging up and storming out on people during moments of mixed episodes. Basically anything that makes me come across in public as "crazy" or "mentally unhinged", I also feel guilty about. Making social faux pas during manic episodes, I definitely feel guilty and ashamed about.

Some people have it a lot worse, though. Drinking, drugs, violence, ruinous spending sprees, angry shouted words, ruined relationships. You name it. All can happen in people with bipolar disorder.

So how do we deal with this guilt? Here are some things I've found.

The first thing I do is try to stop and analyze the bad thoughts. I acknowledge the feeling I'm having and then put my brain to it. Is this thought reasonable? (In other words, does it use unreasonable words like "never" or "always" or "hopeless"?) Why am I feeling upset? Is it over something I can change? Can I keep myself from going through that behavior again?

If the answer is yes, then I change my life for the better. No need to feel guilty anymore. If the answer is no, there's nothing I can change, I try to stop feeling guilty over it. (Sometimes healing meditation can help with that -- sitting with the feeling without doing anything about it.)

Because sometimes, that's the answer. There's nothing I can do about it now. It was all in the past, over, done with. Also, I was out of my own control. Which moves me to advice #2.

I try to tell myself I was out of my own control. I was going through an episode. I can't do anything about the fact that I'm bipolar and sometimes my brain gets sick and makes me do stupid things. Just that reminder can make me feel a lot better.

Once I've gone through options one and two (acknowledge and analyze the thoughts and possibly meditate with them, remind myself I was out of my own control) I move on to step three. I distract my mind from guilt by doing or concentrating on something else -- preferably something enjoyable.

This can be something as simple as taking a walk, running yourself a bath, or curling up with a cup of tea and a good book. You could watch a movie or a standup comedy routine. Just something healing and healthy that makes you feel better and distracts yourself from what's troubling you. I find that if you ignore thoughts long enough, they at least temporarily go away.

One additional step is very important to me. I engage in positive self talk. This means that when I do something good, I pretend there are people encouraging me, acknowledging how well I've done. I imagine what they would say. In this way, I remember to dwell on all the positive things I've done as well as the negative ones.

This may take some repeats. The negative thoughts may keep coming back and you may have to engage these techniques against them over and over again. But I've found that with a little time and perseverance, the thoughts start to sting less than they used to. Time, I think, can heal almost anything.

We just have to open ourselves up to the possibility of healing and of life getting better.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
In response to the recent Lafayette shooting, I would like to post this article:

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/health/2015/07/21/Becoming-aware-of-mental-illness-Law-requires-training-for-police-judges/stories/201507210005

There has been evidence the shooter was dealing with bipolar disorder and mental illness. This is a story we hear all too often. It seems every violent or strange crime has been committed by a mentally ill person. Not surprising -- one could argue that no sane person would do something so horrible and senseless. As someone who's experienced bipolar disorder firsthand, let me tell you my thoughts on this.

First, it's important to keep in mind that not all mentally ill people are like this. I've never considered being violent with someone in my entire life. The idea is horrible to me, and it should be. Considering the number of people who have battled mental illness -- depression, for example -- the number who end up doing things like this is actually fairly small.

But mentally ill people do often turn to crimes, even if they are just minor or non-violent crimes. The most typical examples are of people who are acting inappropriate or belligerent (or even delusional) in public, even to police officers, and people who have problems with drug and alcohol addiction. What you get with these people are those who have no mental health care and no support system. Our mental health system is broken. We closed down all the asylums, which is good because they were abusive, but then we never built anything to replace them. So many mentally ill people end up homeless or in jail.

For more on mental illness in the homeless, read this article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/miami-group-is-helping-homeless-people-access-mental-health-treatment_55ad32afe4b065dfe89ee144

I guess what I'm saying is, the problem is two-fold. First, this small minority gives other mentally ill people a bad name. (The media does nothing to waylay this -- in fact, they fan the flames.) And second, we have no strong way to help these mentally ill people unless they voluntarily seek out treatment and have the money to pay for it, or end up hospitalized, which is a very temporary, get-in-get-out thing. (And then sometimes, even when these people get treatment, they're not monitored closely enough because they're on an outpatient basis and they choose not to follow their treatment plan.) So these people who don't get the help the help they need end up in prison and on the streets.

This is probably one of our greatest social problems in modern day, equal to the vast inequality gap between the poor and the rich.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Yesterday, Dad handed my sister something. "These have been in the safe for a couple of months," he said. "Should we get rid of them?" My sister looked at it, stared... and then slow disbelief came over her face.

"These are tickets to an Imagine Dragons concert," she said softly.

We looked wildly around at our parents. They were smiling. Surprise! We were going to an Imagine Dragons concert that very night! Me and my sister started freaking out.

When we got to the arena, tons of semi trucks and tour buses were parked outside. This was going to be a big to-do -- the amount of equipment they must have brought is amazing. There were long lines to get into the arena, and local radio stations had set up tents outside the doors.

I bought an Imagine Dragons tote bag as a souvenir, and a hot dog and some water at the concession stand. The water was so I could take my meds, according to my alarm, at nine o'clock. I was not allowed to keep the cap for the water bottle, as a rather strange request from the band.

We sat down, and at 7:30, all suddenly went dark. The screaming immediately began. And then Halsey came out on stage, with flashing lights accompanying all of her singing. She wasn't bad. She had lots of positive messages accompanying her singing -- something about a generation born of diversity that isn't afraid of change, and something else about how no one owns you but yourself.

When Halsey was finished, the lights came back on as equipment was moved around on the stage. I had the time to ponder just how many different kinds of people were out to see Imagine Dragons. I spied kids, preteens, teenagers, young adults, and older adults, all coming together.

Then Metric came out. Metric positively made me deaf. Another girl was the lead singer, which I thought was interesting. More positive messages about staying true to yourself, and more flashing lights.

There was another, longer pause, and then at 9:30 Imagine Dragons came out. And they. Were fucking. INCREDIBLE. Mom and I every so often looked over and grinned incredulously at each other throughout the absolutely insane performance. They pulled out all the stops: They made their silhouettes appear behind a screen before the screen fell to reveal them, just as Linkin Park had at Projekt Revolution. There were lights, smoke machines, lasers, and leaf colored confetti that fell from the ceiling when they were singing about fall leaves.

One moment was kind of funny. The lead singer was introducing the bass player, who was dressed all in white. "He was his high school class president, just in case you were wondering," he joked. "He also took a chemistry scholarship and used it to go to music school. And now look at him. What a disappointment."

People waved their cell phones around, stood, sang along to the music, clapped, screamed, waved, and danced around. I was up on my feet for most of their set, dancing and screaming and waving my arms around. The lead singer was a great showman -- he was all over the place, jumping around, getting the audience involved. He teared up a few times when people kept cheering in the middle of his song -- he said the band had come a long way in four short years, and he made sure to thank everybody for coming out tonight. He also said he'd struggled for years with depression, which I thought was interesting.

All in all, it was an incredible night. I'm so glad we went. We didn't get back home till midnight.

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Hopeless Dreamer

March 2016

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