Saturday, March 30, 2013

Faith in Times of Doubt

Sometimes, the hardest part of recovery is having faith that recovery is possible.  You may have a setback with your mental health or fall off the wagon and just not know the strength you have to find a way to keep going.  I know there were many times I gave up in my struggles and it looked like the darkness had won.  Just to put it in perspective from my own personal standpoint, I tried to kill myself 3 times and for 6 years I refused meds and was completely psychotic and delusional.  As for sobriety, it took many failed attempts before this time where I have stayed sober over 10 years.  Once I made it as long as 8 months only to fail.  And no, I'm never done taking it one moment at a time.

You never really know either, in this life, when you're going to come up against what seems like an insurmountable barrier.  Even if you've been sober and stable for a while, an event can happen that causes you to be in crisis.  Mental illness and the tendency for substance abuse are both genetic, so you don't really know what could trigger a relapse.  It doesn't mean that all hope is lost. You have to know that you are stronger than you think and you can recover again and again.  And it is worth it every time!  YOU are worth it every time!

Peace to all in their hour of darkness.  May we all continue to stumble towards the light!



Friday, March 29, 2013

Recovery Thoughts on Good Friday

Inspirational Ideas:

 "I am starting to feel an oncoming awakening in my soul like the spring shoots on the trees about to emerge." - anonymous

"Jesus was crucified for us, Jesus Christ rose again for us. We fall down, with him we get up." - Rev. Al Sharpton

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Self-fulfilling Prophecy


Night comes
And I find myself alone.
I know they are out to get me,
But I can’t find my way home.

Knowing does not help,
It only feeds the fear.
Of being destroyed from the inside
Although how is still unclear.

I can’t run, I can’t hide
They’ll get me while I wait
All that I have done
Is sure to seal my fate

Voices tell me who and why
But they do not tell me when
It amazes me each time
How they’re right again and again

I try to be at peace
With whatever is to come,
At least I have a warning
And that does comfort me some.

People say that I know nothing
That it’s part of the disease.
Then why am I so right,
I ask you, tell me please?

Now it all comes to be -
They are here for me at last.
Although I knew it all before
The time for help has passed.

-03.28.13

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spiritual Support Network

Since Passover and Holy week are overlapping right now, I'm thinking about Love and how much a support network means to the spirit of someone with a mental illness.  I wrote the other day about how it can be difficult to spend a holiday season alone.  But for the mentally ill, having a support network at all times can be crucial to day-to-day survival.

Maybe you're reading this and you're an atheist, or Buddhist or Muslim or Pagan or whatever.  You may or may not believe in a soul or God / Goddess.  It doesn't matter.  There's an intangible quality of Love (I'm thinking about John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" right now.) that is shared among all living individuals.  I don't just mean humans either.  Plants and non-human animals are people, too.  It's quantifiable, if you like to be scientific about it.  We all share in a living energy that connects life in the universe.

Mental Illness can make it hard to feel connected to that energy.  I know that with depression and schizophrenia, I personally have to make an effort not to isolate.  And frankly, people scare me.  It's much easier for me to communicate online than in person.  It's not uncommon with all kinds of mental illness to feel disconnected from others, but we all need that interaction to help keep up our spirits.

A support network for someone with a mental illness starts with a psychiatrist for medication management.  Some people only go through a general practitioner, but if you've been diagnosed with a serious mental illness it's important to have a rapport with an actual psych doctor who knows the meds and your condition and is able to help you immediately in a crisis, instead of having to refer you.

Next, social workers can help with making arrangements in society.  They can help you get a place to live, a job, disability income, etc.  They can be a strong link to the "real world."   Some social workers are also counselors, or you may see a different person as a therapist, but regular counseling gives you a human connection that helps to build a bond of trust.  Mental health support groups can help to build vital socialization skills.

Really, from the perspective of many people who are seriously mentally ill, if you have all that going for you, you're one of the lucky ones.  And while it's all in the context of a kind of professional / institutionalized interaction it's still a lot of Love.  When I was really suffering from my psychosis and on my own, I was so appreciative of all the help.  It gives you stability and solid ground.

For the mentally ill, relationships with family and friends are often a bonus (even taking care of a plant or an animal companion is a special exchange of Love).  So, if you have a family member or friend who you know has a mental illness, your interaction and support probably means more than you know.  If you believe in a God or Great Spirit or a Higher Power or anything like that you can know that your acts of kindness bring a person with a mental illness into communion with that energy.  If you don't think about it any other way, just share the Love!  You may not get the reaction you're expecting, but reach out anyway. And if you are mentally ill, then know that everyone who brings you Love in your life connects you to the whole of the universe.

We all need to keep up our spirits to have the sheer will to survive.  Help yourself and help others to build a support network.  You may find it to be a truly rewarding act of Love.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

love equality




As you've no doubt heard, the supreme court today begins to take up to issues of same-sex marriage equality. It is going to hear testimonies about California's Prop 8 (is it legal to have gay marriage in California?) and DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, (Is it unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the right of marriage equality?)   I need to weigh in on this, because I am at least, not straight, and I know how hard it can be if you're mentally ill to make relationships, especially if you're looking for a same-sex relationship.


I grew up assuming I was straight. I never really gave it any thought. But when I was 18 I fell for a woman and realized my attraction to women was there, too. For a long time I thought I was bisexual, for a time I thought I was a lesbian, now, I don't know anymore because I'm just in a healing phase, but it's fair to say that I'm "queer" for sure. I know that if some day I fall in love with a woman and want to get married, I'd like to have that right. I think the constitution gives me that right and it's part of human equality.


I know that I didn't choose this; it's biological. Yes, I was born this way. Just as I was born with mental illnesses that didn't manifest until I was in my teens and later. I can tell you that it's hard enough when you're paranoid about social interaction just to get through the day, but finding a partner when you're queer and mentally ill is especially challenging. Now, you've got two stigmas to deal with internally and externally. I noticed that at the center where I go for treatment they have gay support groups. I never joined one, because I haven't felt like meeting anyone, but it made me realize that I wasn't alone and that the need for such groups existed.


I think sometimes that there's actually more compassion in the United States for mental illness than for loving someone of the same sex, which is sad. I'm out to my family and friends, but I felt that I needed to be honest here, too, especially today. I write as someone who knows that if you are mentally ill and / or a recovering addict finding a supportive partner is just not easy. Add queer to that and it can be really lonely. I mean, for many of us who don't identify strictly as gay or lesbian or who have had both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, confusion can reign. It's hard enough making bonds without having to worry about what kind of path you can potentially take in society with a loved one. My greatest fear is that a same-sex partner would become my next-of-kin and not be able to help me in all ways if I were hospitalized. This is something many have experienced.


If you're reading this and you are mentally ill and queer, know that one more person is here with the same dilemma. And if you don't have these challenges, please listen to the debate with an open heart and realize the healing impact that love has on everyone. To be mentally-ill and denied the right to marry based on sexual orientation is cruel, in my opinion, and now is the time for change.


Monday, March 25, 2013

anxiety angst





I'm feeling really anxious in general today and it's frustrating. I get like this sometimes for no good reason. At least, I can't seem to find a trigger. I do have a lot of triggers for anxiety - I think that's pretty normal. But I also get this anxiety that I believe is pure biochemical. It's not a full blown panic attack - just this scared feeling in the pit of my stomach and some shakiness. I don't even have a sense of impending doom. It's more like something IS wrong than something will go wrong. Just one of those days, I guess.  So, this is an anxiety attack, which is not as harsh as a panic attack.

I do take klonapin (clonazepam) 2mg every night to help with the anxiety in general and if I start having a panic attack during the day I have a PRN for an extra .5mg, of klonapin, but like I said, it's not that bad today - it's just mostly irritating. The idea is just to relax, breathe, listen to calm music, work out and / or do anything peaceful.

I know a lot of people who do go through or have gone through anxiety and panic.  Without a benzodiazepene, like klonapin, I can't function.  I have a lot of social phobia, which even extends to my immediate family.  Sometimes, like today, I just don't even feel like talking about it.  It just makes me upset.  I don't want to feel this way, but I can't shake it. This blog makes me feel as if I'm telling everybody without having to go through the exhausting process of communicating more directly.  Ugh. I just want to relax.

Okay, (sigh) I can do this.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spring Holidays Alone?

The spring holidays are next to the winter holidays, valentine's day, birthdays and anniversaries for depression when you're alone.  If you're Christian and celebrating Holy Week and Easter next Sunday or Jewish and celebrating Passover this week and you're alone, well, you're not alone.  Lots of people with mental illnesses have no one to celebrate with.  Sometimes the spiritual community felt this time of year can help - joining festivities at a church or temple.  But what if you're just not that religious, or you have no transportation, or people just freak you out?  Like the official holiday season at the end of the year, it might feel like the world is celebrating around you.

For 6 years, my illness (specifically, the schizophrenia) kept me apart from family and friends and community so I tired to make it through all the holidays alone.  Easter is a lot like Christmas in that it is celebrated by a lot of people who aren't even religious about it.  I was raised Catholic and grew into something of a new age christian so this time of the year was hard for me when I didn't know how to reach out to people. Both Easter and Passover tend to be a time of people gathering together and it's all over the media, so the feeling of being left out can be hard to escape.

What can you do to make it through?  Definitely, if you're in crisis and don't trust yourself call 911 or any crisis hotline and get help right away.  If you're just depressed and you have nowhere to go and no one to be with, you can try what I used to do and just celebrate anyway.  No, an Easter basket from yourself or a seder dinner alone is NOT the same, but why not?  If you don't have a lot of money, just do what you can, but treat yourself - mark the occasion in some positive way.  Now, it's easy to go off the deep end with the Easter candy about now (I know!) but try not to - although if it gets you through and keeps you sober, it's probably the least of the evils.

Depending on your situation and level of functionality you might want to go to some extra support meetings, or go to church or temple.  It's easy to feel alone in a crowd, but finding community is a healthy way of reaching out.  There's always the internet, too, of course, but be careful not to hook up with the first person you meet online.

In other words, do whatever you can to love yourself through the loneliness. Give yourself hugs.  Prepare yourself a nice meal. Treat yourself.  Go for a walk.  Enjoy nature.  And reach for healthy influences wherever you can.  If you can afford it, take yourself on "spring break," but watch out for the urge to over-indulge.

Have a safe and healthy week and do what you can to enjoy the spring festivities!


Palm Sunday

Some thoughts from the Bible that inspire me today:


On addiction:


2 Timothy 1:7 

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.


1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.


On mental Illness:

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Romans 12:2 

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.



Saturday, March 23, 2013

digital divide

Yesterday. I started a thread on a bipolar forum about feeling disconnected from the world.  It goes a long with my theme for "sprin-ter," feeling a bit like I'm not quite back in touch with the world yet.  Someone wrote back to me and said, "at least you have the internet."  I thought about how true that was.  My laptop is a saving tool and the internet a lifeline to help and community.

So many people who are mentally ill or severely addicted are in institutions, on the street, in shelters or just can't afford even a TV, let alone a computer and internet access and the education it takes to use a computer.  I was lucky enough to be in on the development of the internet in it's DOS stage because I was in school and could use the computers and get email.  It made all the difference in my education.  But when I was homeless in a shelter in South Downtown Miami, there was no internet.  I had to go all the way downtown to the public library to get on a computer - and only for an hour at a time.  I knew that I was lucky to know how to use one.

After the shelter helped me get into my own apartment I was living paycheck to paycheck, working at a hotel in Miami Beach.  I had no computer, no TV, and not even a phone.  It took some months, but I eventually saved up enough money for a little time at a cybercafe once in a while and that's how I reached out and got myself into a better situation.

It was through internet searches after that, that I found better employment and places to stay.  I don't know how I would have survived as I did without access to and knowledge of internet technologies.  If you're reading this, you're probably lucky enough to have some kind of access and some level of skill.  If you do, realize that you're one of the lucky ones.

The internet keeps me connected to friends at a distance, gives me a chance to participate in discussions with others like myself who are recovering from a dual diagnosis, and even enables me to have my own website and blog these days.  Without access to the internet (and yes, I spend a lot of time online) I really would be cut off from all but my family (and it should be noted that when you live alone, internet time is even more precious).  My therapist always wants me to go out and have more social interaction, but it's not easy to just meet people.  Besides, I don't drive and it's expensive to go out and do anything.  And for many of us with mental illnesses, it's challenging to deal more directly with people. So, she recognized that for me, the internet is a really big deal.

It's sad to me how many people are left behind as the digital divide gets wider.  I'm hoping that this blog will help people, but how many people could be helped who could never even see it?  I hope that someday, I can find a way to reach people on the other side of the divide and help them to cross it.  For now, I'm going to be counting my cyber blessings.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

sprin-ter

Winter lingers at the beginning of spring, so they're calling it "sprin-ter" today.  It's actually snowing pretty hard, which isn't unusual for the beginning of spring, depending on where you live, but it reminds me of how I feel a lot these days.

In some ways, I've come so far, with both by mental illness and addiction recovery.  Even a diagnosis is a huge start (that's more like the winter solstice).  And I've been mostly stable on meds since 2010 (the last time I was in the hospital).  And I know that 10 years+ sobriety is significant. I even got myself into writing a blog and maintaining a website lately.

Maybe the reason I relate to the day is because for all my "successes" with recovery I feel like I should be farther along than this.  What do I mean by "further along?"  I don't exactly know.  I've seen it expressed as a question on a schizophrenia forum as, "is this all there is?"  I get that.  It's all about maintenance. When you're seriously mentally ill it takes most of your time and energy just to maintain wellness, and that's if you're lucky.

Most of the few people I'm close to (and yes, I'm grateful that I can count those few people) are very busy with their "lives."  They work, they go out, they have relationships, etc.  I can't handle too much stress or stimulation and I don't spend my time self-medicating anymore.  That makes it hard to "do" anything or find people with whom you can interact.  Plus, I'm on a fixed income and I don't drive, so I don't have many opportunities to get and "do" things anyway.

It's not quite boredom and it's not quite depression - this feeling. It's more like a grey sky or a bleak landscape.  Sometimes I miss being manic as much as I miss partying.  I miss the feeling of life being eventful, purposeful, even if those events and purposes made absolutely no sense.

Basically, when I was younger, before my illness hit in my mid-twenties, I had what a lot of people would call a "bright future."  I had a good job, I was married, I had a lot of "friends."  But all that came crashing down around me when I couldn't function anymore.  These days, it's awesome to be sober and stable, but there's very little "going on."  I'm not quite lonely, not quite lost.  It's kind of quiet.  I do meditate and practice yoga and some would say "what's there to be done?"  I wish I could understand that as much as I understand the drive to "stay interesting."

Even though it's snowing, spring is here.  I know that.  Eventually it'll get warm and nature will begin it's active time of year.  In the same way, I just have to keep at wellness, knowing that I will truly have more of a life again, in my own time.  It's that knowledge and belief that keeps me going on days like these.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Soul Equinox


A day of balance
Once a year -
Time equals out
And spring is here.

And so my heart,
Hungry for sun,
Drinks it in
Until I’m done.

Not manic;
Not depressed.
This transition
Helps me best.

In chilly air
Buds start to show,
And like their blooms,
I know I’ll grow.

Because I see
Both day and night.
With dark behind,
I turn towards light.

- 03.20.13

Spring Blessings!

Happy Spring!

The vernal equinox is especially special to me these days, because it falls on March 20th, which is my halfway point around a year of sobriety.  My sobriety benchmark is September 20th, 2002.  (Yes, knowing the beginning of spring marks half a year clean and sober does help me get through St. Patrick's Day.)

Last fall, my family made a special point of celebrating my 10 year anniversary.  I keep saying that I'm looking forward to 12 years sober, because then I'll be sober as long as I was using.  But truly, every moment counts.

In case your wondering, I did not succeed in my first attempt to get sober - it took many tries.  Once I lasted for eight months before I caved to impulse.  In fact, it took 30 days of a hospital setting for me to finally detox.  I really had a lot of support.

If you're reading this, and you're struggling to stay sober, just don't give up!  If you fall off the wagon you can get right back on.  Ask for help.  Join support groups.  Stay away from people and places that tempt you to indulge.  Remember it's never to late to get clean and it's worth it!  Your life is worth it!  Self-medicating only makes things worse and it doesn't solve any problems.  And remember, if you're on meds using at all is dangerous.

I want to give a shout out here to all the people (family, friends, social workers, peers) who have helped me get this far.  I couldn't have done it without you!  If you feel alone, know that you are not - there are a lot of people out there who want to help.  All you need to do is ask.




Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Meds and Recovery


I've gotten to the point in my life where I'm really focused on recovery. To me, that's really what this blog is about, my own personal successes and challenges with recovery from the effects of both mental illness (bipolar and schizophrenia) and substance abuse. I've noticed that the idea of "recovery" means different things to different people.  With substance abuse, recovery is generally a little more clear cut: stay sober. There are caveats of course, like don't replace one substance addiction with another, etc. but there's not a big grey area anymore at the point you realize you're an addict.  It's completely black and white - not one drop, not one toke, not one bump and so on.


There's a ginormous debate among the mentally ill, though, about what recovery means in terms of medication.  I've noticed this especially in discussions with other schizophrenics.  Do meds mean recovery or failure?  Does recovery mean that you can go without meds?


When I was first diagnosed at 24, I took meds without question.  Over the course of the next five years though, I found out how hard it is to find the "right" combination of meds.  My psychiatrist made frequent changes, for example, when I couldn't tolerate the side effects of a medication or when it just wasn't working.  I started to feel like a lab rat (and I support PETA) so I became afraid of the changes.  Eventually, I consciously went back to self-medicating and gave up on meds.  I thought that I was doing fine because I wasn't having mood swings.

I remember a therapist in a hospital one time, clearly showed me how I was an addict and explained to me also that I needed medication, even if I felt fine, because you never know when you're going to have problems and if you're already on meds, you're less likely to destabilize. Also, the medication can make you feel so much better that you think you don't need it, but it's exactly what's making you feel better and that means keep taking it.  She helped me see that I needed to sober up, but she couldn't convince me about the meds.  I thought, if I'm going to be sober then I don't want any pharmaceuticals, either.  I'll just take good care of myself and stay off all chemicals. That, I thought, meant recovery..

This attitude, this course of action, led to my major psychotic break when I was 30.  But like so many of us with schizophrenia, I wanted my delusional world. I needed it.  I just didn't think anyone would believe me if I told them what I was thinking, so I stayed to myself and tried to act "normal."  I wasn't having mood swings, though, so, without understanding the nature of my schizophrenia, I thought I was fine.  It took until I was 36 and going through horrible, rapid cycling again with my bipolar disorder that I finally agreed to go back on meds.  I was so far gone and so in need of meds that I couldn't even articulate about my psychosis for about another 6 months.  I didn't even know until then that I had spent 6 years hallucinating.

Personally, I know that meds saved my life.  I was completely suicidal when I went back on meds and utterly delusional.  Without meds I am non-functional.  The meds give me the stability I need to maintain relationships with family and friends.  I'm of the belief that meds are an intrinsic part of recovery.  I'll grant you, it's not a perfect science and any good doctor will tell you that. There isn't enough understanding about brain chemistry to "cure" mental illness yet, but the drugs we do have help, and they give us hope.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Because I Could

"Because I could," is no excuse for doing evil, it's the only reason for doing good.  -terrangrrl 

Inside a Fairy Ring


He chanced upon a fairy ring,
Where elves dance and pixies sing.

Twas there he saw the little light,
That flew so high and shone so bright.

He knew it from the start:
Twas a fairy princess, bless her heart.

And noticing just then his glance,
She came round his ear, not just by chance.

Her tiny light was glowing blue,
He heard her laughter, proud and true.

With a glitter of pixie dust so warm
He saw her in her magic form.

She told him, “you can take with you, friend,
My magic is a gift, your fortune will not end.”

“But what“, he said, “of your life here?
Will you still sparkle if I hold you near?”

And because he dared not take,
What he knew would cause her heart to break,

All the elves came to dance, and all the pixies out to sing.
He was forever sacred, inside a fairy ring.

-03.18.13

Sunday, March 17, 2013

NOT drinking green beer...


Nope, no green beer for me.  Not gonna happen.  Just gotta make it through today while everyone is talking about celebrating and partying until tomorrow morning when people have to go to work hungover and it won't seem so appealing.  Not appealing at all.  I mean what kind of fun is it to just get stupid and then black out and not remember the party anyway?  Nope, wouldn't want to do that.  *sigh*

Now, you might think that's a bunch of malarkey, and you're right. St. Patrick's Day is one of the hardest days for me to want to stay sober. There are times of the year (like New Year's) when it's harder than others.  I mean, it's easier to avoid a situation than a holiday. I don't go into bars, I even try to avoid going down the wine aisle in the grocery store.  I don't hang out with people when they are drinking.  I have a lot of support for my sobriety and I live in a "dry" household.  But, I have alcoholism in the genes on my Dad's side of the family. And anyway, St. Patrick's Day is, let's face it, a drinking holiday like no other.

In college we joked that it wasn't "peer pressure" but "beer pressure."  I mean, St. Patrick's Day was the one day to see just how drunk you could get and hopefully, not die of alcohol poisoning.  Since I've been sober (10 shamrocks, so far) I've always felt left behind by the world on St. Patrick's Day. Now, my Dad, earlier on, had tried to warn me just to have a "wee drop" so that you could always drink a little, but he was too late.  It may have been too late when I was born.  I can honestly say that I do not understand drinking for taste, or some kind of light effervescent feeling.  I don't even get why people drink who don't want a buzz - and that means as big a buzz as you can get.  Yes, smashed, wasted, blotto, it's all the same.  There is but one goal.

I do other things to celebrate holidays that don't involve drinking (as I write I'm wearing my green and listening to traditional Irish music on Pandora) and we're planning cabbage and potatoes with dinner.  I even got myself a green-looking fruit drink so I could feel like I had a "green drink."  But maybe no day of the year is as hard to get through sober as this one.

If you're struggling to stay sober today, know that you're not alone in the world.  With a little bit of luck and whole lot of willpower you'll make it. If you feel you need some support check here for a local AA chapter meeting. You can take it moment by moment if you have to. And if you're on psych meds, remember that drinking is just out because self-medicating will mess with your brain chemistry.

So, here's me wishing you blessings for sobriety today if you need to be sober and otherwise, please be careful and safe!  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

blarney

I won't tell you if I'm Irish or not, but I have a piece of the original blarney stone!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

How do you know when you're delusional?


That's the real question isn't it?  The answer is: you don't.  Otherwise, you wouldn't be deluded.  I'm not trying to be funny here, but it's like a paradox, wrapped inside of a conundrum kind of thing.  They say that if you can question your sanity, you know you're sane.  But that's like, a big overall kind of view of sanity.  Most delusions are like parts of a broken mirror. There's a chink here and there that has gone missing.  Maybe you can see enough of the picture that you don't notice the broken parts.  Maybe you just don't think to question them.  Or, as happens often with severe mental illness, someone (usually a doctor or therapist) points out the incongruity in your thinking and you react.  If you're deeply delusional, the reaction might be denial in some form and that can range from retreating into the delusion to a violent outburst.  My therapist told me once that with some people, you just have to work with their delusions, because their psyche's are too fragile to handle reality. See, delusions are defense mechanisms. 

Why I'm thinking about this today is that I'm wondering about how I survived so long with all the delusions that I had at my worst.  I was just explaining to someone today how I spent 6 years battling serious auditory hallucinations.  They were loud, they were omnipresent and they were my reality.  The main plot of my psychosis was a belief that I could read people's minds and that I was "connected with the universe" in a way that allowed me to "listen" to things that affected me - especially people talking about me.  The voices, as I call them, made it hard to concentrate on anything because they were the focus of my attention.  I remember I couldn't watch TV or listen to music without them filling in the cracks - and by that I mean I also thought that I could "hear" the residue of the thoughts that the various media personalities "left behind" when they were taped.  I thought I was getting subliminal messages.

Now, the only reason my reality was rarely challenged was that part of my psychosis was that I thought no one would believe me about my special abilities.  Twice I actually said something so out of touch that the listener questioned me and so I simply avoided those people.  See, I didn't know how to ask that question about my sanity.  I didn't want to.  Did some part of me know the answer and just not want to hear it?  All I know is that without meds, I hallucinate too much to function in society.

But what about now?  I seem to be able to share my thoughts with people and they seem to synch with reality.  I can usually pull myself away from buying into the delusions (like, I have this delusion of reference that the intercom chatter in stores is about me for some reason). Subtleties are all but lost on me though, and people still scare me.  I need to be very clear about what everybody means or I suspect the worst. It's still not easy.

So, what I want to know is: how would I know if I was deluding myself?  Could I face the answer? Could anyone tell me?  If so, how? Do people have to be careful with my psyche now?  What aren't they telling me?

There's no conclusion to be found here. I'm attempting to ask the question. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

signs of wellness


I was reading the forum on bipolar success stories today on PsychCentral.  The thread with the most replies currently is titled, "I Took A Shower Today."  That really struck me, because some days I just don't get up for a while and I don't take a shower and I don't do yoga (or much of anything) except that fortunately I'm really good about taking my meds.  Now, maybe this is true, too, for a good number of people who don't even have a mental illness. I mean, some days you probably just don't feel like getting out of bed, maybe especially on weekends or vacations, so you don't. But for me, it's a sign.  With bipolar disorder you have to watch yourself closely for signs of depression (not taking care of yourself, not keeping commitments, etc.) and mania (racing thoughts, pressured speech, lack of sleep, over-activity, etc.)  It's literally hard to stay balanced when your mood swings.

One of the best resources I ever found to help keep track of the signs of wellness for bipolar disorder is a workbook or journal where you schedule your activities in advance (as much as you can) and then check to see if you at least did what you planned to do and also, if you've like, stayed up all night painting the walls or something on a whim. If you keep at journaling on a daily basis, It can become a routine after a while and depending on how much you have going on, you may or may not be able to make a mental checklist.  Why this is so important though is that bipolar disorder can make it really difficult to accomplish simple activities or to control your impulses.

I liked to see the thread about taking a shower, because I didn't feel so alone.  I admit it, I just don't always shower regularly, or brush my teeth (let alone floss) or exercise regularly.  I'm doing much better than when I wasn't on meds, though.  Without meds, when depression hit I would stay in bed for a week and cry.  When mania hit I'd max out a credit card and just go somewhere random by myself.  I've been both obese and anorexic (sometimes a separate food journal is a good idea sometimes, too).  As a result, my health has suffered, I couldn't keep jobs and I ruined my credit rating, not too mention just doing a lot of "risk taking."

I wrote an article about how these days I "pass."  For the most part, I can keep up appearances.  That doesn't mean that I haven't been anxious all day, as usual, and that simple tasks, like hygiene, are sometimes a big challenge.  Now, it just so happens that I did take a shower today, so I was proud.  And it made me realize that I keep comparing myself to people who don't have this illness and feeling like I'm hiding the fact that I fall short of "emotionally balanced."  So, I think it's important to remember that if you have a mental illness, you give yourself credit for each little accomplishment and each impulse-control.   I'm happy for the person who took a shower today.  And I'm happy for all those of us, mentally-ill or not, who just keep trying to get through the day.  The important thing is not to give up. You may even surprise yourself.

Ides?

All I have to say about all the "warnings" of "Beware the idea of March" online today is that Julius Caesar was obviously NOT a paranoid schizophrenic, or he would have KNOWN that everyone was out to get him.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Full Circle


In case you haven't heard it on the geek grapevine, today is Pi day.  According to the Pi Day website (yes, there is a website), "Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159."  So, I'm thinking about circles.

More to the point, I'm thinking about circular patterns.  In my life, there's a big circle.  It has everything to do with values and self-esteem.  When I was a kid I went to catholic school and everything seemed fine with my peers until we started getting pre-pubescent (4th grade).  Suddenly, I was an outcast because I was the smartest kid in my class and I was well-behaved.  In fact, the year before that I had won the "Jesus Christ Award,"  supposedly for setting the most Christlike example.  I mean, I just thought that's what we were supposed to do, i.e. study hard and try to be good kids.  But my peers, starting at about that age, had different ideas.  I found myself getting bullied and ostracized for being a "goodie two-shoes". 

So, I was lonely and stopped really interacting with my classmates unless they sought me out to taunt me.  I was miserable.  And on top of that I was starting to clue in to new influences in the media, namely, Madonna, who seemed to take everything it meant to be christian and twist it around on itself.  I felt like, why be good?  It just leads to pain and torture and everyone wants you to be a "bad girl" anyway. I mean, that's how you got the boys to like you, wasn't it?

By the time I was 10 I decided that I wanted "in."  I wanted to be bad.  I wanted affirmation from my peers. I wanted to be, if not popular, not the butt of the jokes.  Well,  all through the rest of grade school (until 8th grade) I did a terrible job of being a "bad girl."  I really didn't get it and my parents kept a watchful eye on me anyway. So, I kept getting picked on.  In high school, I lucked out and found friends in honors classes and theatre who were intelligent and "eccentric" and who also, for the most part, tried to do the right thing.  My senior year I was elected to both the National Honor Society Board and Thesbian Board.  It should be noted however, that I was being pulled in for counseling on suspicion of manic depression. (I just thought I was being dramatic).  Also, I had an after-school job at a restaurant and I was starting to get myself into trouble with some older men.  Yes, I'll come out and say it: statutory rape.  So, overall I felt like I had moved up on the "coolness" ladder but I didn't even imagine what was happening to me.

18 happened and college.  Without the the thoughtful guidance of my parents, an illness creeping up on me, and too much time on my hands I suddenly found myself in way over my head.  I remember the first day I was walking around campus with a hangover and everything "made sense."  I felt like I had joined the human race.  There are a lot of stories to tell here, but for now, suffice it to say that I spent twelve years drunk and stoned among other things.  I had a series of abusive and dysfunctional relationships.  My first diagnosis (bipolar disorder) came at 24 and I kept using while I was on meds.  I got into self-destructive activities like being on the submissive end of violent bdsm. I gave up on meds. At thirty, I made my first two suicide attempts.  I went numb.

But that same year, I realized the first thing I had to do was get sober, or I was going to die, so I quit using.  And no, it still isn't easy feeling left out of all the "fun." Unfortunately, about that same time my paranoid schizophrenia really kicked in and so I went a little overboard giving up dysfunctional relationships, because I thought everyone was a threat. I spent 6 years moving around, trying to have a life, completely alone.  Finally, another suicide attempt when I was 36 and a subsequent hospitalization got me back on meds.  About a year later, I finally re-connected with my family.

Now, I don't think of it as good or bad, but survival.  It simply follows that if you want to live you have to take care of yourself.  You have to ask for respect and respect others.  For me, it means taking meds, working with my doctor and therapist, staying clean, and keeping up a healthy daily routine.  What has happened is that I've ended up rather lonely again.  If I didn't live with my parents, I don't know what I'd be doing.   I have a very small number of friends who are all awesome, but very busy with their own lives.  My relationships are functional though, and peaceful, and I can't ask for more than that.  And these days, I live with the stigma of "mentally ill" and "recovering addict," so no matter what you do, I find, it's futile to try and be a crowd-pleaser.

There you have it, back to square one: helping my parents, blooging hard, trying to take good care of myself and be a good person.  Only now, I understand why all that is so important, and yes, I'm proud if I can set a Christ-like example.  

So, I have circled all around it and given you my own personal Pi Day tribute!   Happy Pi Day!   :-)



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Feeling



Yes, I'm a sci-fi geek and Star Trek TNG is my favorite in the Star Trek series.  But what's much more significant about the photo above is that it makes me feel as though I'm somehow in synch with the universe.  It came up on my pages feed on facebook today, but I've been thinking about this exact scene for a couple of weeks. In case you're not familiar, this is an iconic scene from Star Trek: First Contact <SPOILER ALERT> where Data, the android, is being held captive by the borg queen.  She can't "assimilate" him into the collective by making him half machine, because, of course, he's all machine.  But he has been upgraded with an emotion chip.  She takes advantage of this by doing the only thing she can do to entice him to join her: she makes him more organic.  So, she graphs a patch of skin onto his arm and simply, blows on it.  Yes, Data actually considers her "offer" for a fraction of a second which he later reports is a very long time for an android.


So, why am I thinking about this scene?  For one thing, I feel as though I've recently gotten my "emotion chip." (I'm really into feminist cyborg theory and I relate to that feeling of being emotionless and machine-like.)  On top of that I'm not so numb anymore that all I can feel is pain. In fact. every tiny nuance of interaction with others is like that gentle blow across the skin was for Data.  But now, imagine if that wasn't the Borg queen trying to tempt him, but a friend like Tasha Yar (who slept with him when she found out he was "fully functional")  Or better still, a long-time "Imzadi" (Betazoid for "beloved").  


It doesn't take much when you start to feel loved after a long time of stone heartedness.  Every kind thought, every peaceful gesture is like that breeze across my skin.  And then add communication and even interaction and I'm over-the-top blown away.  I didn't think it would be possible to feel again, but it just took time to heal.  If you find yourself in pain that seems overwhelming or numbing, don't give up.  All wounds really do heal in time. And it's so worth it to have your heart back again.


I have to say thank you here to all my family and friends for the caring and support and thank you to all who come and share my experience of me here.  (And yah, if you wanna freak me out, post a comment!)  I think about it all  in a very positive way, for a very long time.

Voices 2

Last night I heard one of the more coherant statements I've hallucinated lately.  I heard, "clarity is vulnerability next to ignorance."  Now, I thought immediately that it was crap, but I also think it means that all my extra therapy and blogging are taking me outside my emotional comfort zone. Yes, it was easier to cope in some ways when I didn't see how wrong my life was going, and I do feel more vulnerable - almost standing naked - in light of the truth.  But I'm not going back to ignorance and nobody, including some voice from my subconscious is going to convince me otherwise.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

D.A.I.S.Y.


That's right:  Da Inner Sound Y'all.  That good feeling about your own personal groove.  Anybody out there remember De La Soul's album "Three Feat High and Rising?"  Hip hop is some of the best poetry I know.  Why I'm thinking about daisies today is because there's a line in the song "The Magic Number" that asks, "what does it all mean?"

At first I thought of this website and blog as just something to do - a way to be creative and fill my time. If I'm really being honest, I was bored and wanted to feel relevant.  But it came to my attention today that are still not a great number of resources for mental illness and substance abuse issues.  They exist, but for the number of people affected or who care about someone who has been affected, there's nowhere near enough.  On top of that there are still so many stereotypes and misunderstandings. I mean, I have a dual diagnosis and I still struggle to figure out what that means to me.  There's the concrete stuff like the meds and visits to the local psych clinic, and the lack of things like alcohol and drugs.  There are the voices and other delusions that are a little harder to get at directly.  But I had a stigma about my own diagnosis for a long time.  Now, I've only surrounded myself by a very small group of supportive people, but that's just it - it comes down to a very small number of people.  For one thing, when you get sober you can't hand out with the people you used with anymore, so that really thins the herd, and then the diseases themselves often lead to a sense of isolation.  It can be really lonely. And, if people who are in recovery are questioning themselves, where does that leave loved ones or the general public?

Yesterday, I talked about how I realized this blog could help educate people.  (I was originally going for bold, artistic and entertaining.) Now that I'm starting to see some traffic it's occurring to me that by sharing my experiences, by creating another space for this type of discussion, I'm adding to the pool of resources.  In other words, I could really help somebody. Duh! Right?  But I totally didn't take myself seriously at first.  So, I guess I feel the weight of a bit of responsibility, since these are such serious and life-changing subjects.

If you haven't checked the website out lately, I've started a new Links page to other online resources. They always say if what you do helps even one person, then it's worth it.  I agree.  I hope that this site helps you and that you will share your thoughts with me.  As De La Soul reminds us, "the effect is 'Mmmm' when a daisy grows in your mind."  If I can help one daisy grow, whether or not I know about it, then, yay!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Blog Trauma

It has been called to my attention now, in no uncertain terms, by two separate people, who are both close to me, that reading about some of the things I've been through can be seriously disturbing.  Part of it is certainly that  they know me, and were the situation reversed, I can only imagine how horrified I'd be if similar types of things had happened to them.  But I'm aware that people are normally disturbed when bad things happen to people, whether or not they know them.  I'm now taking into consideration that a blog this raw is not the kind of thing you necessarily read everyday.  See, it's my life, so I'm used to it, and I'm used to talking about it with a psychiatrist, therapist or in group therapy.  I think that if you're involved in recovery and wellness programs, you might be used to hearing stories like mine.  In mental health facilities and twelve step programs this stuff is just par for the course.  What I'm realizing is that while I thought about the target audience for this blog being people who are experiencing the challenges of mental illness or substance abuse issues, people outside that sphere are reading it, too.  I don't want to bring anybody down, but I think it's so important to get this stuff out in the world and out of me.  I'm now hoping this blog will help people who are involved with people who are mentally ill or addicts / recovering addicts.  And maybe if this type of thing isn't in your life at all, it'll give you a glimpse of another slice of life.  I'll try to be funny and artistic, too, I promise, but yes, I'm keeping it real.   Thanks to all who come here and read, even if it's hard sometimes. It means more to me than I can say.  Also, I encourage comments and discussion.  I'd like this to be a safe place for open discourse about all kinds of issues.

Always Remember to Bring a Towel




Today's Google doodle clued me in that today is the late Douglas Adam's birthday.  I have to mention him here, because his "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series still stands as the funniest books I've ever read.  My favorite is the secong book, "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe," for one thing, because as far as night club entertainment goes, what would beat that?  Although, after that you might find everything else wholly uninspiring.

In terms of my formative influences, Adams has a great deal to do with my sense of satire and sense of humor.  In fact, you'll notice than an earlier post of mine is titled "Don't Panic!" which is actually a reference to the cover of the hitchhiker's guidebook itself (above), which lists Earth as "mostly harmless."   I remain skeptical.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dry


I know it isn’t an oasis
Rippling at the horizon -
The heat makes that clear -
But I stumble towards it anyway,
Because it’s someplace to go:
A point of reference
In the featureless desert.
And how I found myself here
Is not lost on me,
As I have given up on the roads
Tracked beyond all landmarks
To make a fresh start.
Experience had taught me,
That some others
Venture into this no-man’s land
From time to time.
But their sojourn is a visit
Mine, a journey:
I’m in it for the long haul.


Did I have to come here?
Only if I wanted to live, I suppose.
I don’t feel lost
Or necessarily abandoned
So much as confused.
Maybe it’s the brightness
Of the sun bouncing
Off the sea of sand
That disorients and distorts.


This adventure, this exploration,
Unbinds time until it expands forever,
Aching onward, to the rhythm
Of the mirage ahead
With nothing left behind.

-03.10.13

Schizoaffective


Before I go any further with this blog, I want explain my technical diagnosis.  The docs call it "schizoaffective disorder."  According to the NAMI website:

"Schizoaffective disorder is a serious mental illness that affects about one in 100 people. Schizoaffective disorder as a diagnostic entity has features that resemble both schizophrenia and also serious mood (affective) symptoms."

Why I bring this up is because most people don't know what schizoaffective means. I noticed in rooting around online that the subject doesn't get as much attention as bipoloar disorder or schizophrenia by themselves, yet the diagnosis indicates that I have both, which is more concerning than having just one.  I like to break it down and explain that I have been diagnosed with two separate illnesses, because really, when I say "schizoaffective" most people just don't get it.  But both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia have gotten a lot of attention. Also, to just say schizoaffective is a bit vague, since it indicates that you have some kind of mood disorder and some kind of serious psychosis.  I find it helpful to be specific.

What startled me when I went to the NAMI website was that part of the quote that says that schizoaffective disorder affects about 1 in 100 people.  To me, that seems like a really significant number of people.  In the U.S. alone that would be over 3 million people.  I wonder, too, how often people go undiagnosed?

The duration of time, from the time of my initial diagnosis of bipolar, to the time I was told I was schizoaffective due to also being schizophrenic, was twelve years.  The main reason was that I was so schizophrenic that I couldn't even articulate that I was hallucinating.  The presence of voices and delusions fed into my psychosis (I thought that I was psychic and telepathic and that I was "listening" to things going on about me.  I didn't think anyone would believe me if I told them that, and I had no one to tell anyhow, because I was sure that everyone was out to get me).  How many other people don't even know to ask for help or how to go about it?  I've heard it's typical that people go about 10 years on average before they get the correct diagnosis of a mental illness, so I'm sure I'm far from alone.

For the purposes of this blog though, the actual most important diagnosis is the "dual diagnosis" of mental illness and substance abuse issues. i've also heard it called "MIS" for menatl illness and substance abuse.   It's easier than it used to be, not to be tempted to self-medicate, because I have such a supportive network and environment, but that doesn't mean that I don't always have to flick away the idea when I'm anxious, which is quite often.  But it's particularly dangerous to use while you're on meds (not to mention using instead of meds). 

So, yes, technically I am "schizoaffective" and maybe if that term comes into more general use, I'll use it as a descriptor more often.  In the meantime, I feel that what's important is to continue to educate people about what it means.

Anger Management


Yesterday's blogging and the talk about women's rights issues all over the social media sphere seems to have gotten under my skin.  I wondered if I should have posted the Rihanna video, but then I decided that I had to do it.  It's honest.  I've never been one to strike out at other people except on very rare occasions and I've never even known how to defend myself against an attacker, let alone take revenge.  I mean, I'm such an extreme advocate of all living things that I won't kill bugs or pull "weeds."  And I always tried to turn off the pain by taking  out my angst on myself.  I've tried to commit suicide three times and I did a lot of things like cutting and looking for ways to get hurt to stifle the pain.  For example, I remember getting clocked in the jaw in a mosh pit one time and thinking that being in shock was the coolest thing ever.  It was like a state of suspended animation from all feeling.  But I was so numb that it seemed like only if something hurt could I feel it at all.  Not good.

But recently, within the past four of five months, let's say, I've been getting to the point of grieving for myself that is anger.  Maybe it's because I've been in a stable, loving environment with a great support system for over four years now (yes, I'm extremely lucky)  and it seems like the dark days are in my past enough that I could look back honestly and ask myself how I feel about it. Well, how I feel about it is mad.  And just to give you the full picture, I'd guard a "weed" before I'd be moved to help many people.  I don't mean to be speciesist and lump humans into a "usually bad" category,  Bit I do. I know that I do.

My therapist has taken me on for extra sessions to help me work through these new raging emotions.  She doesn't think I'd hurt anyone, and neither do I, but the thought finally crossed my mind.  Why should I be the one suffering and they just go on living?  I mean, there's always a sesne of insecurity knowing they're still around somewhere and that people like them are all around.  If I ever got abused again I think I'd freak out totally.  I saw some skit at some point where a guy goes to mug a woman and she gets so freaky on him that she scares him off.  I think I'd be like that.

However, I wonder about that peace accord that I just finalized with myself.  If I'm only going to surround myself with peaceful, loving people and ditch the drama, aren't I kind of going in the other direction with anger?  I mean, I certainly don't want to go over to the "dark side".  It's tempting in a way, to think about having the power to destroy those who hurt you and left you feeling powerless.  But it defeats my purpose.  Besides, I'm aware that the best thing I can do with any of those individuals from the past is to disengage.  Why would I want to go asking for trouble?  That's exactly what I promised myself I wouldn't do.

I plan to do more yoga, listen to peaceful music, interact with peaceful people and get extra therapy until I get through this.  I know that I've been in denial for a long time.  I've also gone through deep depression and done some bargaining.  So, I guess now anger gets it's time.  In some ways, it seems way overdue, but the part of me fighting for the light is looking toward acceptance, somehow, but right now that idea makes me want to puke.  I will strive for balance, at least, until I can get through these murky waters.

"Man Down"


Rihanna's song here really captures where I've been lately with my greiving abuse.  I wouldn't advocate this approach as a solution, but I have to admit that I understand the sentiment. And yes, lots of therapy helps. But if you've never seen this video, it's really worth.watching.

IWD - 2013


I have some thoughts about International Woman's Day

There's a reason I still need the "grr"  in grrl.  And at the rate at which society is progressing, maybe I always will. Yes, I'm a feminist, but that doesn't make me angry. I am angry, though, about all the injustice I've experienced in my life simply because I'm a woman.  And because, we've been celebrating this day for over a hundred years, and women, as a community of diverse individuals, know how far we haven't come in terms of justice for women in our global community.

On my mind today is the violence women face on a constant basis.  In particular, it dismayed me that it took so long  for the extension of of the "Violence Against Women Act" (VAWA) to be approved by congress here in the U.S. this year.  

For me, it's hard to talk about the violence I've experienced at the hands of men.  Worse is how long it took me to realize it was wrong.  I used to think that somehow I deserved it.  I'm not that person anymore.  I have been, on the one end of the spectrum, discriminated against in the workplace and on the other end, almost killed.  Truly, I'm lucky to be alive.  Poor judgment, exacerbated by both my mental illness and history of substance abuse, made me an easy target, but that doesn't mean I chose any of it.  In the past I could go through a laundry list of things like rape and domestic abuse that I've been through, but I don't want just say this stuff happened and not explain what it meant to me.  I'm still going through the anger so it comes out mostly in tears, but when I'm ready, maybe I'll write some poetry.

What I can write about here is how I pray for all the souls of women who have been murdered for their gender.  I think about things I haven't been through, like the torture of a clitarectomy or the horror of the sex trade and I pray some more.  Really, my story is unfortunately more typical than unusual.

If you are a women or you have a woman in your life, please remember to celebrate her today and all days and do anything you can in your own life to see that justice for women prevails.

Romancing the Stone


One of my friends, who has truly been there "throughout the ages" found some writing recently that I did back in the day - in particular, it was a swanky poem about smoking weed and taking the persciption drug sonata (zaleplon). At the time, I used to love the idea that sonata was called a "hypnotic."  I remember the first night I used it, I woke the next morning feeling better rested than I can remember.  But I couldn't hold the tiger by the tail and sonata is really addictive. I started partying with it and sharing it with friends.  This is why I won't post the poem. It romanticises drug abuse and I'm trying to keep this blog about my new stuff anyway.

It's a little tough for me to start to write about my problems with addiction now, partly because I've been sober for more than 10 years now and it seems like another lifetime. And partially, I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a lot of fond memories.  I was into hallucinogens and they just fueled all my creative imaginings. I mean, there's a reason they call it "getting high."  I try not to ruminate on that point.   My buddies and I used to joke about killing brain cells, but now that's scary.  I'm pretty sure I needed them for something.  But the first drug of any kind I ever did was acid, which basically tells you that I didn't know how to swim and I jumped in at the deep end of the pool.  Over time came pot, hash, opium, shrooms and ecstacy.  Not to mention some truly stupid ideas about what to do with nitrous oxide and dextromethorphan, both of which are legal depending on how you go about it.  I tried weird, off stuff, too, like salvia divinorum and GHB.   I thank my lucky stars and angels that I never got into narcotics. But I drank way, way, way too much.  I smoked cigarettes off and on.  And "PRN" on a perscription drug label meant "party right now."

 In the end, it was the acid that got me, though.  I remember going through all kinds of withdrawl symptoms during my first six months sober (I quit all at once, using 30 days in a mental hospital to detox).  It became clear to me, before the end of my first year sober that the effects of the acid weren't going away.  I mean, they warn you that the stuff stays in your spinal fluid.  But I did my fair share of it.  Then one time, I made a wish. I was at a W.O.M.A.D. concert, tripping, and I made a decision not to come down.  In hindsight, I think this may have been more of an observation that I was "one toke over the line."  I was never the same after that. I still see trails and have moments of flashbacks.  I can still imagine that strange taste that blotter leaves on your tongue.

Now, my challenge is not to be proud that I "melted my mind."  I wanted so badly to live in my imaginery world instead of the real one for a long time.  But I had enough problems, without self-medicating, and I suppose that that's what the term "dual diagnosis" is for, after all.  So, as much as I still enjoy "trippy" stuff I've gone way further into the recesses of my mind with plain, old meditation.  And there is such a thing as a sober Deadhead.  We call ourselves "wharf rats."   It gets said often enough, but coming from a recovering addict, you really don't ever get over addiction.  There's always a glamorous draw, a nagging appeal for the ride.  If you're struggling with addiction, know that you're not alone and that you always have to take it one moment at a time.

So, I'll write new swanky poems and I'll stay dry.

Don't Panic!

"I have to remember not to panic at the first signs of the apocolypse." - terrangrrl  03.07.13

Passing


Today's Daily Om says, "Interacting peacefully with people from all walks of life is a matter of first understanding where they are coming from."  The article talks about people being in their own "universes" and how you need to approach each one as unique.

I do try to follow this practice, but I'm sort of going through the motions.  Recently I heard the expression "fake it til you make it."  In other words, I "pass."  You hear this term unfortunately sometimes when people talk about skin color - someone passes for white, for example.  You may also have heard this term used in relation to mental health; it basically means that you pass for non-mentally ill.  I'm what they call "highly functional."  I just learned recently that there's even a diagnostic test for functionality and I have a number.  I'm luckier than many in some ways, because I get told all the time that people wouldn't know I was mentally ill if I didn't tell them.  That's at my best, though.  It doesn't happen without a lot of meds and complete sobriety.  I don't knock it though, and I don't press my luck.  I'm fortunate that I can even be a bit creative with coherency

In my head though, it's another story.  I still hear voices, for one thing, though not as often.  And I'm palgued by delusions.  They have nifty names like, "delusions of reference."  Under the circumstances, I find it difficult to be in touch with reality enough to understand my own universe, let alone someone else's.  I don't know the right questions to ask someone else about their perspective, because mine keeps shifting.  I can be hanging around, acting normal, but I really want to be screaming, "this is not okay with me!!!"    What, you might ask?  I can't always tell for sure.

I'm extremely lucky to have a small, supportive family.  I'm with them often enough that I can't always hold it together, and they are adept at helping me through the highs, the lows and the schisms.  I even have a select core of friends who really care.  Beyond that I have my psychiatrist and my therapist.  After that, people start to get scary.  I want to ineract peacefully, so I act like I'm at peace with myself.  But I feel estranged from people, in general.  I do much better with animals.