Happy New Year.

It's New Years Eve.

2 years ago on this night I checked myself into the local mental hospital. I don't remember how I managed to get myself there, but I do remember after they took my belt and stuff and showed me to a room I was lying there and I heard the staff count down and yell "Happy New Year!"

At that time I couldn't imagine making it through another year.

That time, I was there for three months. So much has changed since then.

I'm happy. I'm looking forward. I'm in school and I'm not flunking out. I cope. I can't imagine not making it through another year.

I am very thankful for what I have and the opportunities that exist, but I am also proud of myself. I've come a long way.

I may not be partying with friends tonight, but that's a far cry from being locked up.

Happy New Year.


The Little Things

It's been a while. I have a few half-started posts but nothing's actually made it to the blog for a few months.

I'm still around. Still trying to kick bipolar's ass. The whole psychosis episode, which seems to be behind me now, got absorbed into the bipolar diagnosis because they didn't want to add any more labels.

That said, I've been dealing with less of the psychosis lately and more of just feeling like crap. I've gone off of a few of my medications because of negative reactions and it's given the depression some room to play. I did a bang up job of convincing doctors that I would be okay without an anti-depressant. I'm already on several strong medications. And so, I'm trying to make do.

A friend reminded me that when I feel like this it's important to just focus on the little things that may bring relief, like a bubble bath. I actually hate bubble baths but I'm sure there are little things out there if I think. Just a walk in the sun would make me feel better right now - it's been nothing but cold and rain for the past few days.

As I was trying to come up with little things, I remembered a song I've written. It's called, coincidentally, "Little Things". The audio is here.

Some of the lyrics:

It's the little things, you know
a rainy day, a child's laugh
a walk in the park, diet cream soda
the things you miss when you're pushing too hard

a 2 hour phone conversation
french fries without panic attacks
fabric softener, dancing in the snow
just to know someone's there, it's all so beautiful

It's the little things, you know
a brand new book, the seasons change
holding someone's hand, wearing new snowpants
6 am comes around, the world's still turning

autumn leaves covering the sidewalk
a windy day when the world is alive
flying a kite, wearing a sweater
try to stay in this world it's all so beautiful.

I haven't had many little things in my life lately. It's all been big things. Go to school, get good marks, figure out what to do with your life, be happy, choose your future.

But every day 6 am comes around. And when I wrote this song I wasn't sleeping much and it felt very reassuring to affirm that 6 am would always come around, and the world would still be turning.

So here's my homework for myself. I need to find the little things that make life more liveable.

What are your little things?



It's hard to describe the world of bipolar disorder.

Yesterday was great. I felt like I was the smartest person on the planet, like I could solve international dilemmas, like I was worth a million bucks.

That's one side of bipolar.

Tonight I feel like a pile of animal waste. Yes I'm going to school but why? Yes, I'm getting good marks but what for? Yes, I'm trying to make a future for myself but what's the point?

Life is only that you are there, you exist, you die.

And sometimes I get tired of it.

This is not saying that I want to die. Normally, I am quite engaged with life and don't want to even think of leaving that behind.

But there is this insidious beast in my chemistry called bipolar disorder that can just as easily have me queen of the world as it can have me lower than shit.

It's been building up over the past few days. First I noticed that things just weren't exciting any more. Then, I started feeling like I was just trying to get through the day. The days stretched longer and longer. And now I'm getting peppered with moments that just make me wonder why. What's the point? How am I going to get through this?

But I'm not at the end, my friends, no. Not yet. If this pattern doesn't stop soon I'll start realizing how hopeless things are. How tired I am of what has been and how I'm not sure I can face what has yet to come.

The end comes when I start thinking about it being over. When I feel like I'm through.

I don't want another of those moments.

I feel like it's a personal failing. But it's not a failing, really. It's not me. It's the beast that controls my brain chemistry. I have a disesase. It's called Bipolar Disorder.

I wanted to stay off medication. I wanted to stay out of the hospital. I may only get to keep one of those. I may have to once again give into medication.

But it's not the end. Bipolar will never get me completely. It can knock me down, drag me through the mud, take my dreams, suck away all the happy, make me feel like I can't just take one more step,

But it will never have me.

It will never own me.

I might wind up in the hospital again, if it encroaches too far. I might wind up on 15-minute watches by nurses.

But it will never own me.

I have family.

No matter how far the bipolar disorder encroaches, no matter what psychosis tries to take me, I have family.

And they care.

So there's the answer to the whole "should I keep going" debate. The answer is a wholehearted yes.

Because no one is expected to get through all of this alone.


all I want for christmas is an allergic reaction

A few days before christmas I woke up with hives. Sometimes I'm sensitive to what I'm wearing, so I thought it was only that. It didn't go away, though. The patches of hives turned bright red, and the raised bumps were itchy and then they hurt like a burn to the touch.

I take Lamictal for bipolar disorder. It comes with a black box warning that if you get any sign of a rash to discontinue right away. There's a rash called Steven Johnson syndrome (SJS) that is associated with Lamictal. It's potentially fatal if it progresses enough.

So after dealing with this rash for four days I finally clued into the fact that it could be the Lamictal causing it. It was Christmas though, what could I do? Finally on the 29th I went to the hospital to get it checked.

The doctor took one look and told me to discontinue the Lamictal right away. Yep, lucky me - it could be the dreaded rash. The doc said that if I stopped the med it would hopefully stop the rash but just in case I should come straight back in if it continued to spread, especially to my mucus membranes. So I started dosing myself with benadryl and watching anxiously. It was a little bit scary.

But it went away. I stopped the medication and after a few days the rash had stopped spreading and then it slowly started healing. It's mostly gone now. So thanks, Santa, for that little bit of Christmas fun.

I'm off the Lamictal now though. Which means I'm not on a mood stabilizer. Which means there's a big unknown thrown into the mix with my bipolar disorder. Will the rest of my medication be enough? I mean, things were unstable as recently as May. Losing a med might bring mania howling down again... or god forbid, the other direction. I'm fighting off psychosis as it is.

Sometimes I want to throw everything down, cry "enough!" and stop all of this. No more medication. No more constant monitoring.

But then I spend an hour of class trying to think above the nagging voices that tell me the government is after me.

I still don't know. I would kill to be 'normal' and not need to swallow pills every night - pills that could be doing god knows what to me.

But really, there's no such thing as normal. Everybody has a story. On this day last year I was in the hospital. I was shut up in a small room at the mercy of the freakin' voices in my head. If taking a few pills will give me one more day away from that, I'll take the damn pills.

Normal is just a setting on the dishwasher.


Twas The Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
Henry was watching to keep out the mouse
The symbols were posted up all here and there
in hopes that the aliens wouldn't be there

I tried to hide quietly, snug in my bed
While visions and voices all danced in my head
So then I stayed up, Henry in my lap
While around me the city prepared for their nap

When outside my window there came such a clatter
I leaped from my bed to see what was the matter
Away from the window I flew like a flash
I looked to the door in case I had to dash

Now, Henry! Now, Charlie! Bus lady and Jane
don't think that I'll hesitate to call you by name
If you come on the grass, if you come through the wall,
I'll smash away, smash away, smash away all.

Henry spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
He watched all the doorways, where spirits might lurk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
He made a nice bed from my discarded clothes.

I sprang to my bed, covered my ears against the whistle
The people all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard them whisper as they drove out of sight,
"Better not turn around, 'cause I'm haunting tonight."


gratitude/ two worlds

This blog has received over 400 hits. I'm thankful to anyone out there reading... it's hard to go "well no one's reading this" when I'm confronted with 400 hits. Thank you, guys. And PS, the quiet ones, don't be shy, you can comment too. ;)

I've been hospitalized in two worlds. The mental hospital world and the medical hospital world.

The medical route involved surgery, intense pain and months of rehabilitation therapy. The pain revisits me usually at moments I'd rather it didn't.

The mental route was a whole different horse. It's not something physical that they're trying to fix. They can't cut your head open, stick some pins in it and say "There, all fixed." The mental route is scary. Because this isn't just a leg. It's your mind. The thing that makes you, you. The thing that interfaces with the world to try to make sense of it. All of the sudden your entire world is unsteady, not just a leg.

Instead of surgery there are things like electroconvulsive therapy. Instead of pins there are medications that hurt your body enough to require regular blood tests just for the hope that the benefits it has will outweigh the damages it's doing. Instead of screws there are psychiatrists' shots in the dark trying to figure out what medication will help you.

When I was in the medical side of the hospital things had clean edges (at least, after the surgery and I wasn't freaking out anymore) Check the wound. ("Wow that scar is nice. The doctor did a good job." Do I say thanks?) Test strength. Exercise for range of motion. Walk with crutches. Once you can get down the hall you can go home.

In the mental side, there are no edges. I have memory holes of my times in the mental health ward. I have flat days and electric days and angry days but they don't join up in any sort of order. Life feels both heavy and fleeting, and I bounce around electric for a bit and then I go flat for a while and then I'm angry and it all seems to serve no purpose. Everything is blurred, and you stay that way for a while, while the doctors circle you and decide what medication they're going to try you on - and you don't get a voice here.

On the medical side, the only medication I freaked out about was a laxative and that was because I'd read the bottle and they'd given me a very large dose. The nurse came back, said "oops, shouldn't have let you read that," and took it away. But then she came to talk to me about it and allay my fears.

On the mental side, they try you on what they think will help. The side effects are horrible. You can't stand the fact that it's excruciating when you try to pee, that you're gaining weight, that you're grinding your teeth, your muscles ache, that you've lost your libido. And when you ask to be taken off of them, they say wait a week, see what happens. On the mental side they rarely allay your fears. And your body is running on their time. Your body isn't your body any more, it's a testing ground for this medication or that medication. And it continues that way until you speak up on behalf of your body and ask to be taken off of something, and then they drag their feet and make you (or at least me) feel guilty for asking.

On the mental side you get so stuck in a web of medications that you're not going to be finding your way out any time soon.

Am I free? Not really. One of my medications is giving me some pretty distressing side effects and I'm having trouble convincing my doc to take me off of it. (um. It's my body.) I'm not stuck in too big of a web right now though. I know what to expect from my regular meds. It's this new one that's making a mess of things. Gone are the days of shooting my brain with everything until the mental illness goes into remission (it never goes away). And if that remission ends, I suppose I'll have to get ready for another blast.

But for now I long to trade it for the simplicity of a broken leg.



It's a strange, strange world when you hate it and don't want to but your mind has to.