Archive for May 2013

Riding out Depression

Lately I’ve been up and down, up and down…being bipolar is awesome.  I hate it.

Seriously, though, I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.  I’m still working on getting my meds adjusted…it’s a long process.
I’ve been forcing myself to leave the house even though I don’t want to sometimes…at all.  Once I do get out and go for a bike ride or visit a friend, I do feel better.  It’s just the matter of getting out of the house that’s so hard.

Sunny days don’t do it for me…as I’ve said before, if I’m depressed, the sun is just more pressure to be happy.  A good, long thunderstorm is my favorite summer weather.  I just feel more…balanced.

When I’ve been “up” lately it hasn’t been to the point of mania…which is when I do my best writing.  I just feel like I’m out of fuel or something.  It’s frustrating.  I want to be inspired, and full of creativity and energy.  But right now everything I do is a struggle.
I am better than I was in my long, deep depression…right now I still have depressed days…but they don’t seem to linger forever in a row like they were.  Like I said, it’s a long process.

I still cry really easily right now, so I know I’m not there yet…when I’m in a pretty good mood, that doesn’t happen.  But I’ve been so emotional lately…sometimes I just desperately want to trade bodies with someone else, someone who’s well-balanced, just to see what that feels like…

I am finding that the more I write and talk about this, the more other people speak up and tell me about themselves.  I think that’s great.  We’ve had some new members coming to the support group, too.  I think our group has been great for everyone involved.  I know it’s been great for me.

So despite the gloominess I’ve been feeling periodically lately, I am trying really hard to force myself into action, as impossible as it seems.  Some days I don’t succeed.  But I won’t give up, as much as I want to sometimes.  Now when I’m tempted to throw in the towel, I’ll try for a bike ride instead.

Bridge Over Troubled Water

True friends.

What does that mean?  I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.  I had a good group of friends in high school, and obviously once we all went our separate ways after high school, it became somewhat difficult to stay in touch.  But I did stay in touch with many of them, and even if a lot of time had gone by from the last time we saw each other, once we reunited again, we could pick back up right where we started.

College is one thing.  Once we all started getting married and having kids, it became a whole other situation.  It’s much harder to make time for friends when you have a husband and kids.  Life is much more hectic than it was in high school and college.  I feel like I try to stay in touch with people, but a few friends, I’m afraid, have drifted away completely.  I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me…I don’t want it to bother me…but it does.  I’ve had several breakdowns, where I cry and wonder why this person or that person suddenly seems to not want me in their life.  I know being bipolar makes me extra sensitive and I probably react more intensely to things than other people would.  Still…this is me.
I try to be a good friend…but the past few years have been rough…when I hit rock bottom with my drinking, when I became officially diagnosed as bipolar…trying to find myself sober and understand who I even am, where does the disorder end and the real me begins?  It frustrates me, again, to the point of tears.
I cry a lot.

It’s not like I cry every day…maybe a few times a month…and it does make me feel better afterward, I think.

So, as I was saying, I have always tried to be a good friend…but I’ve been told there are some shortcomings when it comes to my efforts…things I’d have never seen if I hadn’t been told.  But I think that’s what makes a true friend – someone who communicates with you and tells you the truth…not someone who just drops out of your life with no explanation…how will I know what I did wrong and try to improve if I have no idea what I did?  
It just really hurts when that happens…hurts to the core…and I’ve experienced it more than once. I think a true friend should honestly communicate.  A true friend is there for you when things are good…and especially when things are bad.  That’s when you really find out who your real friends are…when you’re in the deepest, darkest place in your life…and certain people are still there with you…they didn’t bail because you could be “bumming them out” or whatever…they’re there for you because that’s when you need them most.

I have learned a lot over these past few years…realized who my true friends are…often times it can be surprising to find out who sticks around…and who jumps ship…that’s what’s so hard for me to get past…but I’ll have to.  I have to focus on the wonderful people who have always been there for me…and I’d much rather have a handful of real, true friends than 3,000 superficial friends.
I feel so blessed to have the amazing friends I do have…they’re an eclectic mixture…and I love them all dearly…I try so hard to be a good friend and to make time for them, and I hope they realize that…

Right now I have some friends who are going through some difficult times…and they need support more than ever.  I want them to know I’m here for them…on their side, always…for whatever they need.  

You know who you are.  You will get through this.  I love you.
I think it’s important to “weed out” anyone who you’ve recognized is no longer a real friend, and keep those around who are genuine friends.  Those who make you feel good about yourself, those who don’t judge you.  Those who accept you for the way you are.  Think about it, if you haven’t.  If you’re anything like me, you need these people in your life.  They are your rock.  Your bridge over troubled water.  

Your true friends.

The Real Me

I’ve always been shy.

Believe it or not.  But I am.  I “fake it” when I have to, like when I have to get up in front of a classroom and teach English.  Or when I have to get up in front of a bunch of senior citizens and talk about the train wreck portions of my life.  I’ve always been shy.  It hasn’t gone away.

I’ve just learned to adapt…learned to accept it and work with it as much as I can.  I try to calm myself down and tell myself whatever it is I have to do, or where or to whom I have to speak, that it’ll all be okay.  And it always is.

I think I’m getting better at it…fake it ‘til you make it, right?  It just intrigues me that the way I see myself can differ so drastically from the way others see me.  For a while there, when I was drinking and partying a lot, I became known as the crazy one, the outgoing one, the outrageous one.  So I embraced that role and convinced myself that that’s who I was.  Strangely, once alcohol was out of the picture, I returned to who I really am, and that’s been…interesting…and kind of fun…and very confusing.

Being an alcoholic affects you day and night, whether you’re drinking or not.  Or, at least, it did me.  I think my behavior became more “shocking,” maybe, even when I was sober, so I could justify the things I did when I was drunk…I didn’t have a drinking problem…I was just a crazy, fun person in the first place.  Well, maybe fun.  But not crazy to the extent that I was when I was drunk.  That was a whole other level of insanity.

In order for me to keep drinking, I had to start merging the sober me to match the drunk me to show everyone that I was fine.


Every day after a night of binge drinking, without fail, I’d be hungover, sometimes suicidally depressed, crying, hating myself.  I so often didn’t even remember exactly what happened the night before, but I knew it wasn’t good.

I’m not sure why I didn’t quit sooner than I did.  Because I definitely could have.  I think my behavior was just rationalized by me and even some people around me who made me feel that I was okay.  Everyone does stupid shit, they said.  Everyone has crazy nights.  Everyone meets a 56-year-old at the bar who shows you pictures of their grandchildren and then follows you into the bathroom for a heated make-out session.

That’s not normal.

So many crazy, surreal nights like that…they sometimes come at me from different angles, at lightning speed, bombarding my brain to the point of exhaustion.  They replay in my mind, what I can remember from all the blackouts, and I can’t believe that girl was even me.  Not for a second.  That wasn’t me.  

That’s not me.

I got to the point where I started thinking the drunk me was the real me.  All these inhibitions I’d been repressing came out when I drank, right?  So those things must be what I really want…right?
Well now that I’m sober, I can express with an unequivocal NO…I didn’t want any of those things.  I was drinking myself to the point that it didn’t matter who the guy was, where we were…etc.  I just wanted to forget my problems and thrive on excitement…

Hence the bipolar diagnosis.  When I’m drunk/manic, it’s all about pleasure-seeking.  The consequences are not even on the radar.  It’s me me me now now now more more more.  And it only stops when the hangover/depression sets in.  And then I just want to die.

So I decided to change.  It hasn’t been easy…by any means.  It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  But I never ever want to go back to sleeping by the toilet or yelling mean things at my husband when I’m drunk.  I’m okay being me now, the sober me.

The shy me.

Happy Mother’s Day

I never wanted to be a mom.

Adele was a “surprise.”  And at the time, a…well…very unexpected surprise.  One that did not fit into my life plans.  I was moving away to a big city.  I was outta this small town.  

But in the words of John Lennon, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  I completely and wholeheartedly believe in this quote.

It was unreal when I found out I was pregnant.  I took six pregnancy tests just to be sure.  (Maybe there was a problem with that entire EPT shipment…it could happen…right?)  And I still didn’t believe it, not even when I went to the doctor and they confirmed it again.  I couldn’t fathom it.

I wasn’t “mom” material; I wasn’t maternal.  I didn’t have a maternal bone in my body.  (And speaking of my body, my breasts were meant for recreational use, not functional use.)  This was all wrong for me.

I didn’t really accept my pregnancy until the first time I felt Adele move inside me.  I was driving home from teaching a class and I felt that first “flutter.”  I became ecstatic.  It was just the coolest feeling.  I stopped at Wal-Mart, with a glow on my face, feeling my tummy the whole time, anticipating that next flutter of movement.

As I got bigger with each passing day, week, and month, an overall peaceful feeling settled upon me.  I used to feel anxious walking into places alone, like if I was meeting a friend for dinner somewhere.  I no longer felt anxious and alone when I walked into places.  Because I wasn’t alone anymore.

I loved just lying on the couch, sitting at the computer typing, or taking walks and feeling this unborn person inside me kicking away.  I often miss that feeling.  It is indescribable.  I could never picture what she would look like, (I wanted to find out the sex, since I had had enough surprises) but I just knew I would love her.  I hadn’t even met her yet, and already I loved her.

Once Adele arrived, I was in total and complete bliss.  (Looking back, some of that could have been the Vicodin I’d been prescribed, but anyway…)  I would go to the store while someone else watched her, and I missed her so much the entire time.  I was so in love with my baby.  I stared at her while she slept.  I was moved by every sound she made, I marveled at every tiny little baby gesture.
 I was officially a mommy.

Despite not having a single maternal bone in my body, I think I did okay in the beginning.  I was completely anal, however, making sure I fed her at the exact time intervals the doctor had told me to…checking on her incessantly as she slept…making sure everyone who came within a two-mile radius was a non-smoker who’d just washed his or her hands…I was a protective mama bear.

Now, seven years later (seven years!  Really?!) as I listen to my two children fight play, (my second child, Eleanor, is now four) it’s surreal to think about how I felt during that first pregnancy.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Any of it.  No, things didn’t happen in the order they were “supposed to happen” in the eyes of many people.  But they happened in the order they were supposed to happen for me.  For us.  For all of us.

I love being a mom more than anything.  That is a statement I thought I’d never make…but it’s true.  There is nothing like looking into the eyes of these wonderful beings you created, watching them smile, hearing them giggle…I can’t imagine life without them.  I wonder what I did before them.

I adore my children.  They are what’s most important to me now…my family.  The family that happened while I was busy making other plans.  I thank God every day for this…for this privilege of being a mommy to the most amazing little girls on earth.

To all the mommies out there, the mommies of “surprise babies,” the mommies who are unsure, the mommies who are doing the very best they can with what they have, the mommies who question every decision they make…

Calm down.  Relax.  You are doing a great job.  Don’t compare yourself to other moms.  You know what’s right for your children.  Sure, we all make mistakes – and I’m sure I’ve made tons so far…but I try not to beat myself up for it.  Motherhood is a process, and one all moms go through. 

 In the end, we’ll all look back on the memories we are making every single day, and we will laugh, maybe sometimes cry…it’s all part of it.  Part of being a mother.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Fur Kids

May is Mental Health Month.  This month is dedicated to raising an awareness of mental health issues and educating the public.
There are so many topics when it comes to mental health…the We Care People decided this month to focus on animals and pets and how they affect one’s mental health.  I decided to write about my own experiences here.

We have two dogs, Atticus and Gatsby.  (Can you tell I was a literature major?)  They are as different as can be.  They are also both rescue dogs, though.

Atticus was rescued from a puppy mill, and Gatsby was being sent to a kill shelter.  I shudder whenever I think about these things.  How can people treat animals this way?  I know, overpopulation, blah, blah, blah.  No excuse, in my opinion.

Atticus is part poodle.  He’s little, with curly, black fur, and gray accents, like on his eyebrows.  He’s adorable, and a great dog.  Gatsby is part Australian shepherd.  He’s light brown/tan, with dark brown features around his nose and ears, and medium-sized.  Both dogs are full grown.

We haven’t had Gatsby too long, but I can’t picture my life without these dogs.  They’re part of our family.  Andy’s the real dog person, as when we got together, I’d never owned a dog.  We had cats growing up.  I was a cat person.  I like cats because you have to work for their affection…with dogs, you don’t have to do a thing, and they’re all over you.  I heard someone on a TV show one time call dogs “the whores of the animal kingdom.”

So I wasn’t used to this complete show of affection from an animal from the second I walk in the door until…forever.  At first it annoyed me.  They are so happy to see me when I come home.  They follow me everywhere.  They look up at me expectantly, with big, wondering, sad eyes, waiting to be petted or played with.

I wasn’t used to any of this.

It was, at first, major culture shock for me.  I was convinced I was a cat person and I would never make the transition to dog person. 
 I was wrong. 

I now look forward to coming home and being greeted by two furry creatures who have never been happier to see me.  I don’t get that too often from people, (which is one of many reasons why I now like dogs better than people) and it feels nice.  I am just as happy to see them.  I love to give them treats and watch their tails go crazy with anticipation as I hand them out.  It doesn’t take much to make a dog happy.

As far as helping my mental health…when I’m in one of my deep, dark depressions, it’s nice to lie with my dogs and pet them…it’s comforting.  I don’t like talking when I’m depressed, and I don’t have to with dogs.  They’re there as a source of comfort.  I find it soothing to have them curl up next to me.  They’re so innocent and good-hearted…so different from many people you come across in life.  People will let you down, people will hurt you and break your heart, people will emotionally scar you for life.

Dogs will love you.

I love showing my dogs affection, I love playing with them, I love going for walks with them.  It’s gratifying to take care of an animal.  They fulfill me in ways people never could.  Their love is unwavering, unconditional.  Atticus and Gatsby put me in a good mood when I’m down.  They give me something to look forward to, every day.  So do my children and husband, but the dogs really add to it.  Our kids adore the dogs, too, and these dogs are very tolerant of them.  (They can be a little rough with animals.  Have you read Of Mice and Men?)  

I don’t know what I’d do without these dogs.  
They’ve changed all of our lives, for the better.  They make us smile when we don’t feel like it, cheer us up and are there for us when we’ve had a bad day, relax us when we’re stressed, and simply love us.

And I simply love them.

About Me

I have an MA in literature from Eastern Michigan University and I write a couple of regular columns for The Delphos Herald. I am the mother of two young girls, and the wife of a firefighter. I am also bipolar (with generalized anxiety disorder) which somewhat accounts for my occupied mind. I rely on sarcasm the way others rely on oxygen.
Powered by Blogger.