I Want You to Meet Our Cousin, Gary

Every year in October, my father-in-law’s family has their annual “camp-out”.  It’s really just a family reunion that takes place in the woods, next to a creek that runs through his cousin’s property.  A road made of worn down grass and weeds winds around until it gets to a clearing in the trees.  As always, they build a big bonfire, and all the women bring food, and lay it all out on the back of a wooden trailer.


Every year it’s usually the same folks that come…everyone is always happy to see cousins from far away.  This year a new baby made an appearance.  A miracle baby, in a way.  A cousin’s oldest son is a little person.  Two years ago, he married another little person.  About a month ago, they give birth to a baby little person.  She is a beautiful baby, and so far, she has no health issues to speak of.  Everyone knows that could change, because little people can have big health problems.


So, they were there, and that was cool.  Both of my kids were there, and that made me happy.  The usual older aunts and uncles were there, sitting in the fold out chairs around the smoking logs.  They don’t talk as much as they used to.  They just kind of look around and smile, say a few words here and there.


The people you notice right off the bat, though, are the two-year old twin boys.  They aren’t identical, but pretty close to it.  They remind me of the odd couple.  One is all neat and clean, and the other has scabs and scrapes on his dirty face, his blonde hair sticking up everywhere.  They had a big, red wagon equipped with fold-out back rests in the front, and the back.   They would climb in and sit facing each other in the wagon, after successfully charming a relative to pull them around the campground.

The person you most often see pulling those two around is a large, hulking man wearing overalls.  I noticed this year the buttons on the sides of his overalls were barely keeping his belly reigned in.  He has reddish gray hair with a matching mustache and beard.  His name is Gary and he is the twins’ grandfather.  It is his land that the campout is held every year.


Gary’s hair used to be red as fire, but it almost looks strawberry blonde now with all the gray that has grown in.  He is my husband’s first cousin, and they’ve been more like brothers than cousins.  Gary used to work at my father’s hardware store, back in the 80’s, when he was a teenager.  We still laugh at the memory of him burning out the clutch in my dad’s work truck.  Which, of course, wasn’t funny at the time!   If it wasn’t for him, though, my husband and I wouldn’t have met!  His family was very active in one of the Methodist churches in our town, and my husband’s family never went to church.  When they were old enough to attend youth activities, Gary would drive fifteen minutes to pick up my husband and take him to church, because he couldn’t drive yet.  A couple of years later, we started going to that church and the rest is history!


Gary can talk more than any one person I’ve ever met.  He’s always had stories, and man, are they long!  He loves history, and he is deeply devoted to his family, even the ones that are long gone.  See, his family has deep roots in a rural area outside of the town we grew up in.  Great-great grandfathers, great-great uncles, and the farms and land they all grew up in, are still in his family.  That land and those stories are part of what makes Gary who he is.  When he would tell stories about those folks, his eyes would light up.


He and his wife finally could afford to build a house on some of that land, and I’ve never been happier for anyone.  It’s like he was home.  His brother lives a couple of acres over, and Gary was always figuring where the best building sites were for his son and daughter, should they ever decide to build.


Yesterday, I was standing next to a tree talking to one of the cousins, when I looked over and saw Gary in his old overalls, walking towards the makeshift road.  In front of him ran one of the twins, and the other quickly caught up from behind, his arm raised as he ran, so that it could find Gary’s hand.  I stood there in silence and watched as Gary slowly walked across his beloved land, with his two precious grandsons, and my heart broke in two.

The person who wasn’t at the camp-out was Gary’s son.  His name was Jack, and he died six months ago.  He took his own life.  He was 25 years old, the same age as my oldest son.  They used to actually camp-out at the camp-out.  My husband and boys, Jack, Gary, our nephew Dylan, and some of the other young cousins would sleep in tents and go for night-time strolls through the woods. They have so many stories of camping out there next to that creek, scaring each other, talking all night long.  Jack never missed a camp-out.


Gary is one of the kindest people I know.  He was his son’s biggest supporter when he was battling addiction and demons, and never gave up on him.

The image is burned into my memory, Gary in his overalls, holding his grandson’s hand, walking away from us through the grass.  He moves slower, and he doesn’t seem quite as tall as he used to.  The little boy awkwardly maneuvers through the tall weeds with his grandfather’s help.  I recall his face as we talked earlier, how he wasn’t quick to smile, and he hasn’t told any stories today.


Gary doesn’t get to share his family land with Jack anymore, but he will share it with Jack’s children.  He shares it with my children.  Someday soon, I pray that his eyes turn bright again, and he tells us stories that never end.


Are We a Burden?

Do you ever feel like a burden to your spouse and/or family because of your mental issues?  I have always felt guilty about the stress and problems I have caused my husband, especially, even though I know it’s not my fault that I have bipolar disorder and PTSD.  He’s never once done anything to make me feel guilty, it’s just how I feel.  Especially when I’m depressed.  I think that’s common.



So, I think, “Man, it must suck so bad to have to put up with a wife with all these depressive periods, and mood swings.  I’ve been in the freakin hospital with this crap, squalling on the bed for days at a time, manic episodes where I’m trying to quit my job or cuss out my friends.  Always going to the doctor, tweaking my meds.  He’s had to call in sick to his job so I wouldn’t be home by myself.  God, I feel so bad that he has to put up with this shit from me.  I’m a lucky woman to have this man in my life.”


The other day I was diagnosed with neuropathy.  Neuropathy!  What the hell?!?  We don’t know why yet, I just started bloodwork yesterday, and I have to do nerve testing on my feet.  I’ve had pain in my feet and legs for a while, but the last year or so, weird symptoms, different pains, and numbness have showed up, so I went to the doctor about it.  For the longest, I just figured that leg and foot pain was just part of being a hairdresser…you know, an occupational hazard!


The pain has gotten to a point where, I can work about five to six hours and then my feet hurt so bad it kills me to continue standing.  If I sit for more than a few minutes, I look like a ninety-year old woman walking on hot coals for about 15 or 20 feet before it works itself out.  I just spent $250 on another pair of shoes and inserts that seem to just be a waste of money.


There’s not a whole lot you can do about this condition, they say, except try to keep it from getting worse.  That is already proving to be a difficult task.  I’m trying to adjust my work schedule to not work too many hours, and get a stool to sit on for time consuming services.  My doctor says I should swim for exercise, instead of more walking to get the twenty pounds of weight off that Latuda and then Lithium were kind enough to help me pack on.  Swimming?  When in the hell am I going to go swimming?

So, who knows why I have neuropathy.  We might never know, or we might find out I have diabetes or some other condition.  And, you know what keeps running through my mind?  That I am possibly adding another burden onto my family!  I don’t want to complain, or bitch about the pain if I can help it, because I don’t want my husband to have to listen to it all of the time.  I don’t want him to have to worry about me or my health.  I don’t want to have to work less hours and make us strapped financially.  I don’t want to walk like an old lady and have to wear big ugly shoes (Ok, that’s about me lol)!


The guilt I already am beginning to feel is something I know I’m going to have to fight.  Logic tells me he knows I can’t help it, he loves me, blah blah blah.  But, dang!  Sometimes I can’t help wondering…if he knew twenty-seven years ago what he was signing up for…would he would sign up again?

Mental Illness and the Sins of Man

I’m deciding how to deal with the person who offended me a couple of months ago.  She’s the one who told me that mental illness is God’s punishment for the sins of Man.  I wrote about it in my post, “I Can’t Believe She Just Said That To Me!”  https://idontwanttotalkaboutyourhair.wordpress.com/2017/06/02/i-cant-believe-she-just-said-that-to-me/   Well, she’s back!

I got through that horrible appointment, but now she wants to come back for me to do her hair again. I don’t want to do it, but I can’t decide how to handle it!  Do I just avoid her and never return her phone calls?


Or, do I grow a pair and tell her that she offended me so bad at her last visit, that I never want to see her face again, much less spend a two hour hair appointment with her!


Maybe I should suggest that she do a little more research on autism, (which she had shared that her young son had), because there is quite a debate going on because many professionals believe that autism falls into the category of mental illness in addition to a developmental disorder.  And you know why some just don’t want it to be labeled “mental illness?”  Because of the stigma!!!  Give me a break, people!  Why does this has to be so hard?  We can’t help it!  They are both disorders of the brain that we all have through no fault of our own!  Why does one have to be demonized?   I found this article that talks about autism and the brain:



Whatever!  These people can categorize and draw little lines between titles and symptoms til the cows come home..BUT, DO NOT tell me that mental illness is God’s punishment for us for the sins of man!   That’s the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard!  I guess I should probably ignore her, cause I get pretty riled up just thinking about it!  My scary mental illness might cause me to get the chainsaw out of the trunk of my car and chase her around the parking lot, while screaming “The sins of man! The sins of man!


Is it possible to educate and enlighten, while giving the finger at the same time?

I’ll probably just avoid her phone calls.

Is Your Gut a Liar?

How do you make decisions?  Not when your moods are normal, but when you are in a period of mood cycles?  What do you do?

Since I’ve been on Lithium, I still experience rapid cycling.  Thankfully, they’re just not as severe.  They typically last about a week or so, and run the usual roller coaster of emotions.  Then I might get a break of a couple of days, and then the bar closes on my lap, and slowly the coaster climbs the hill again.


But, what do you do when situations arise, where you are faced with life’s punches in the gut?  When important decisions need to be made that will affect you and your family, your friends and co-workers?

Monday’s girl is sad and depressed.  She can’t take the anxiety and pressure of her job and the people in it.  It’s time to make a change.  My body just can’t do this anymore…the physical demands of my occupation are too much!  My body is hurting, something is wrong.  I’ve been doing this for over 25 years!  That’s a long time to stand up all day every day!  I just can’t do it!  I have to quit my job and shut down my business.  It’s so sad, but I really don’t have a choice!  We’ll be okay.  We have to be, cause, I can’t take it anymore…sob.  I tell my husband, “Honey, we have got to talk about my retiring.”

Wednesday’s girl is pissed.  Fuck these people.  All they want is what they can get from me.  They don’t give a damn about me!  I cannot deal with these people anymore.  They keep pushing!  They’re so selfish and pushy, and cheap!  I haven’t gone up on my prices in forever!  You can go anywhere and pay more than I charge, and I have way more experience!

ten minutes and work girl

I’m so close to cussing my friends.  They’re not my real friends.  They don’t appreciate me, or give a damn about me.  They don’t listen when I’m talking, they’re always “busy”, and can’t hang out.  I don’t know why I do this.  Fuck this place…I’m done.  I don’t care if we have to live on beans and rice, I’m not working anymore, and I don’t care if I never see these people again!  “Honey, I’m not kidding!  I’m not doing this shit anymore!  We’re going to have to sell some shit, cause I’m done!”



Friday’s girl turned on a dime.  What the hell was I thinking?  I can’t quit my job, Silly!  I’m saving up for that vacation next summer, and if I’m not working, I won’t be able to make that monthly payment!  Oh, I forgot, if I’m not working, I can’t keep paying to have our house cleaned every other week.  Screw that!  I’m not cleaning toilets!  And, I have to have my own spending money!  Well, I’ll figure something out.  I’ll change my hours around and hopefully my legs won’t hurt so much.  It’ll be fine.  Oh!  I have got to clean that refrigerator out today!  My bathroom vanity looks like hell, I’m going to get that done today, and I should have two hours that I can spend on Ancestry.com obsessively researching and combing the internet for minute clues about my dead kin people.


I’ll end up being on it until midnight, but I can’t stop!  It’s so much fun!  I wonder how my friend is doing?  I need to call her this afternoon.  She’s so damn funny!  Oh lord, I don’t know what I’d do without her friendship!  You know what I need to do?  I’m going to go through all of my pictures, and make a collage of all of our amazing memories we’ve shared over the years!  I’ll go to Hobby Lobby first, then….

Today is Sunday.  I’m Sunday’s girl, and I recall the last week’s ups and downs.  I feel tired and defeated.  I realize what has happened.  Every day this past week, my feelings were real and authentic!  I wanted to quit for all of those reasons!  I had severe animosity towards my friends, clients, and loved ones! My moods dictated this story, and I lived it out loud!  That was my GUT talking!  One of the things about being bipolar that is the hardest for me, is that I can’t trust my gut.  Ever.  My gut is a liar!


When the cycles are subtle, other people can’t really recognize what’s happening to you.  Sometimes, you don’t even recognize it until it’s over!  I’ve tried explaining it a couple of times to friends, and they kind of brush it off, attributing it to hormones, or just being in a plain ole bad mood.  They say, “Oh, girl, everybody gets like that sometimes!”  Yeah, yeah.

I know I’m supposed to not make any big decisions if I’m going through a cycle.  But, I wonder, how in the hell do you know what’s real and what’s a cycle?



I made it through another weekly cycle.  Hopefully, these cycles will stop pretty soon. wonder though, am I the only one who can’t trust their gut?




Faith, I Guess.

Things are difficult right now as I know they are for a lot of people.  I’m not going to list everything that is weighing on my mind, God knows I went over it all plenty this weekend.  But one thing that is especially hard right now leads me to revisit my faith, and the people I loves’ faith.

It was over twenty years ago when I met a guy who, when he was growing up, lost his mother to cancer. His name was Greg.  His mom was sick for a long time, and from her bedside, he had to watch her suffer.  Greg was in his mid-twenties when he talked to me about it.  He knew that I lost both of my parents suddenly in an accident, and he was puzzled at how I made it through that ordeal seemingly “intact”, I guess.  Greg was openly bitter and angry at God for letting his mother die in front of him.  She was a young woman and didn’t deserve to lose her life in such a way!  He didn’t deserve to lose his mom at such a young age!  He genuinely wanted to know, wasn’t I angry?  Didn’t I hate God, or even lose my faith in Him?

First of all, of course his mother didn’t deserve to die!  No, Greg didn’t deserve to lose his mother at such a young age!   And for that matter, my parents didn’t deserve to die in their forties by a freak accident.  However, I do remember being surprised at his question, although I suppose it was a perfectly understandable question. It had never really occurred to me that God didn’t exist, though I’m sure I felt maybe abandoned by Him more than once.

I really didn’t know what to say to Greg, except that my faith is what got me through.  I just knew that my parents were with Him, and one day I would be too.  He seemed surprised, even skeptical.  I added, “If that isn’t true, what’s the point of any of this?  What was the point of us even existing?” I asked.  “I don’t know”, I said. “I just feel that, somehow, and that’s what makes me want to keep going.”  I wasn’t trying to convince him, I was just saying what I felt.

Two people have said to me that they question their faith in the past month.  They both know my friend who has cancer.  “It’s so unfair, so cruel!” they say.  “Why her? When horrible people walk the earth and live well into their nineties?  How can He be good?”

I didn’t say anything.  Maybe I should have, but they were both so upset that I felt that anything I offered up would sound hollow and inadequate.  And they’re right to be angry at the world!   I’m angry and devastated too!  I’m scared to death to lose her!  I’m scared for her family!  It shouldn’t be happening to her!   We all agree on that!

But, I think God put us on this Earth a long time ago, and we did what we did.  I don’t think he picks and chooses who dies when, or what happens to those people over there, and not those other people over here.  I think Man has fought and killed.  Nations of people die of starvation, while wealthy nations eat themselves to death.  We have created things that can cure us, and other things that destroy us.  Our cigarettes and old asbestos sickens our lungs, we have deadly car accidents on our interstates, and we make chemical substitutions for the sugar in our coffee.  Abused children have grown into adult abusers and even murderers.  You get the point.   I don’t believe God should be blamed for the consequences of man’s choices.

But, what He did do, is give us love.  Love is what makes life matter.  I believe that God is that love, and that’s why we’re here.  The best illustration of that point that I always think of, is a dying person.  Let’s say a man.  His last few hours or minutes of his life, what is he thinking about?  His job?  His stuff?  The old grudges he holds against some family member?  No!  He’s thinking about the people he loves!  It could even be a loved one who has died!  He loved them!  He wants to see them!  When you strip away all the crap and junk of your life, what’s left at its’ core is love of another person.  I love Victor Hugo’s line in Les Miserables, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”

For love to be right there at the last few moments of life, where only the most important of important things would be…you could say it’s the meaning of life!  Makes sense to me!   So, when I die, I know with all of my heart that I’m going to be with God and the people I love.

motherandchild love

This is what I believe, somehow.  I believe it with everything I have.  It’s what gets me through devastation and loss, and what makes me grateful for the people in my life.  It gives me peace and it gives me hope.  If it’s not like this, I just don’t see the point.

My meds made me gain weight!

Have you ever bitched about your birthday that’s coming up?   You casually mention that getting old sucks, or how your birthday cake is going to melt because of all the candles.  There’s always that one person who says it,

“It’s better than the alternative!”

When someone is expecting a baby, and they tell you that they are going to find out the gender in a couple of weeks.  You ask, “Do you want a boy or a girl?”

“We don’t care about the sex of the baby, as long as it’s healthy!”

Have you ever been on medication for your mental illness, and then later you find out that weight gain is a side effect of your new medication?   Which explains the fifteen pounds you’ve packed on between December and June!

“A little weight gain is nothing compared to being emotionally stable!”


Don’t all of these responses fit into the category, “It goes without saying,”  or “No shit, Sherlock!” or “Thanks, Captain Obvious!”   When people say that stuff, it kind of leaves you standing there looking like an asshole!

It sounds like they are quietly insinuating that you are just complaining about your life instead of being thankful for the precious gift of life!  You only care what the sex of the baby is, when all that really matters to everyone else is that it is healthy!  Last, but not least, you shouldn’t be so vain and be worried about a little weight gain, when your mental health is at stake!

Is this really necessary?  What they’re saying is that you need to quit being so greedy, and be happy with what God gave ya!  That’s how the pregnant people feel!  They don’t care about the sex, because that’s not what’s important, unlike you!  Ms. Happy Pants doesn’t care how old she gets, cause she’s got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in her heart because of the gift of life!  Aging doesn’t bother herShe’s a better person than you!  Of course Skinny Minnie, who’s never had to take a valium, much less an antidepressant, really wants you to know that you shouldn’t be upset about gaining weight through no fault of your own!  You should just be grateful that there’s a pill that made you not be crazy anymore!

I’m a little worried about the weight I’ve gained since I’ve been on these new meds.  However, let me clarify, OF COURSE I’d rather be bigger than face down in the river !  But, do we really need to feel guilty for not being happy about being two sizes bigger?  Is it that selfish to wish for sanity and to be able to fit into our clothes at the same time?  NO, it is not!   I should be able to talk about my weight gain without somebody making me feel guilty about it mattering to me!

When I talk about my weight gain, it goes without saying that I’m so thankful that I feel better and I’m mentally stable!  Of course I am!  To suggest that someone cares more about their weight instead of their mental stability is insulting!

Obviously, I was being dramatic about the birthdays and the pregnant ladies.  The birthday one really does annoy the hell out of me though.  “It’s better than the alternative!”  Thanks Asshole Captain Obvious!

Moods and Real Life

Do you ever wonder if the way you are feeling a particular day is real or not?  Are you really feeling good and motivated, or is it the beginning of mania?  Often times, it’s hard to tell the difference.  Sometimes I feel like I don’t really know who I am, because I don’t ever truly trust that my feelings or actions are genuinely mine.  When I become aware of my positive feelings, it is always followed by fear that the ride of mania is beginning, which takes away from simply enjoying my day.  Of course, I try to dismiss it.  But, it’s there in the back of my mind.  You know what I’m talking about.  No one truly knows except others who deal with this disorder.

One of my last posts was about mood tracking.  I talked to my psychiatrist about it, and showed her my new tracking app.  She agreed that it was good to keep up with mood swings and possible triggers, and I’ve been faithful every day.


Jo and I at a friend’s birthday party

I don’t see how I can track my moods anymore, however.  One of my best friends was diagnosed with lung cancer.  One of her lungs has collapsed, she was borderline septic when she got to the hospital, it has spread to her lymph nodes, and her liver.  Her abdomen has swelled with fluid, which I am told is a bad sign.  Then, the hospital unexpectedly released her. They gave her pain meds and said there was nothing they could do for her and they needed the bed ( thank you Vanderbilt for sucking at your job).  They didn’t give her a prognosis, any direction to her family as to what to do next.  She’s in a great deal of pain, breathing is difficult, and she has got to be dehydrated.

Her mother is completely devastated and understandably, can’t even spell her name right, much less take care of her dying 46 year-old daughter.  So  there her daughter lays, on the living room couch, dying, and no one knows what’s coming or what to do.

So, our other friend and I are talking to every person we know in the medical field, Hospice, and Centennial Hospital to get an official diagnosis and get her the care she needs.  It has been an absolute nightmare.  We are trying to get her admitted to another hospital through the ER for intolerable pain and difficulty breathing, and hopefully she can get in and get comfortable with an IV for fluids, oxygen so she can breathe, and the best pain meds they’ve got.  They can then go over any options that she might have, even the ones that have slim possibilities of buying her time.  But, she should be able to hear an official diagnosis, possible treatment options, or if there are no treatment options.  After that, her only option shouldn’t be for her to go home to her mom’s house in the boonies and suffer for God knows how long on the couch, in front of her three children, one being 13.

Hopefully, today we’ll have some real answers.  The doctors at Vanderbilt told her all these horrible, scary things that were wrong with her, and then sent her home with a bottle of antibiotics (which never worked), and pain pills.  WTF?  We know her future is very grim, but she has refused to tell her girls (or anyone else), anything because she wants to be able to answer their questions.  It’s like everyone is in complete denial, even while she withers away and suffers in front of them.  We don’t have any definite answers, but we have to respect her wishes.  Her mother makes sure of that, and she aggressively reminds us on a daily basis that “our loyalties are with her.  We have to do as she asks”.

I do know that my friend of twenty years is dying.  It was only about two weeks ago that she was at work at my salon and going to the doctor because her pneumonia wasn’t getting better.  They transferred her to Vanderbilt and a day later they said lung cancer.  Then lymph nodes, then liver (from the PET scan).  But, they didn’t even give it a stage!  Google and common sense says no doubt it’s stage four.  I just don’t understand the doctors being so vague.  I’ll tell you what they did feel obliged to do…three of her doctors prayed with her.  I guaran-damn-tee you she didn’t know why the hell they were praying for her!  When you’re very sick in the hospital, they need to break that shit down so you understand what the hell is going on.  Or at least your family does, so they can make decisions if you can’t.

I am devastated.  When I think of her girls, especially the youngest one, my chest aches and my heart hurts.  If anyone reads this post, please say a prayer for my friend Jo.

I might as well delete my mood tracker app for now!  There’s not a mood level named “devastated and sad because cancer is taking one of my best friends.”  It’s not a temporary mood, anyway.  I believe it’s going to be permanent.

“I’d rather have ______ than bipolar disorder.”

It wasn’t that long ago, I remember literally listing the illnesses I would rather have than bipolar disorder.  I was driving home, my body slumped heavily into the seat of my car, depression had sunk its’ claws in a few days before.  I felt desperate and scared.  I’ve lived this long enough to know how it works, and the only mystery is how bad will this cycle be?  Will it be as bad as the one two years ago when I ended up in the hospital?  I almost jumped in the river that time.  Or will it be as bad as the one last July?  I thought I was going to have to quit my job and go into one of those three month programs at some expensive ranch.  It was awful.

My dark thoughts circled, my hands hung from their perch on the steering wheel, my dead, hopeless eyes stared ahead.  “I’d rather have one of my arms cut off”,  I thought.  “I’d rather lose one of my eyeballs or not be able to hear anymore”, I sulked.  “Diabetes would be better than this, or thyroid disease.”  “If I had breast cancer, I could do chemo and lose my breasts and my hair, but I’d get better.  That wouldn’t be as bad as what I have.”   The losing limbs was a theme, “I’d rather have one of my feet cut off than have bipolar disorder.”

That cycle ended and I’ve felt better for several weeks now.  I forgot about my grim analysis of my horrible life and my torturous illness.   Until now.

One of my best friends had cancer last year.  It was thyroid cancer, and everyone said, “If you’re going to get cancer, that’s the one to get.  It’s the easiest to treat.”  So, she had her thyroid removed, had to take some kind of radiation pill, and take medication for the rest of her life.  It was scary, but she’s tough, and she got all better.

She got pnuemonia several weeks ago and it turned into a collapsed lung.  They hospitalized her, treated her, and sent her home in two days.  She was still in pain.  She could hardly talk she was so out of breath.  Then her stomach bloated, so she went to the doctor.  They sent her by ambulance to Vanderbilt.  She has lesions on her spine, a suspicious lymph node, and possible thyroid cancer residue.  Something about her lung is suspicious, and I don’t even know what else.   All everyone whispers is, “They’ve mentioned the C-word”.

My friend is 45 years old.  She has three daughters, and a grandson.  Two are grown, but her youngest is 13.  She’s divorced, and has raised the three girls by herself.  The youngest, though.  She’s a momma’s girl.  She’s just now willing to spend the night with friends every now and then, and at home she sleeps in the bed with her mom.  She’s a good, sweet kid.

I’m scared for my friend.  I’m scared we’re going to lose her.  I’m afraid that little girl is going to lose her mom.  I can’t even wrap my head around this, it doesn’t seem real.  Last night I remembered that day I took that depressing car ride home.  Then I sadly thought, “I bet she’d rather have bipolar disorder”.

Psychiatric Help

My beloved therapist of seven or eight years lived over an hour away. She didn’t charge me for our sessions (I guess I was a charity case), so I felt guilty and didn’t call her unless it was an emergency.

My husband and I were having major problems in our marriage, so we decided to go to couple’s counseling. We got a name from a friend of a licensed clinical social worker, and went to a couple of sessions. Lori was her name, and she was okay. The sessions weren’t very helpful for our relationship, since looking back I can see that I was manic at that time. No one could convince me that he and I were supposed to be together. I remember the counselor giving us homework, and we were to list the things we liked about the other person. I literally could not come up with one thing. I can’t even imagine that now.

Anyway, one day at work I began to have some anxiety. It was early, and I had a book full of appointments for the rest of the day. Anxiety ballooned into panic, and I started to hyperventilate and freak out. The only thing I knew to do was call the new therapist who was close by for an emergency session. She agreed to see me, and I jetted over there.

I sat down in her office and unloaded. I cried and choked out the words to my tales of woe. I remember telling Lori how much pressure I felt from my marriage, and how it was affecting our son, and our families. I felt bad for the pain I was causing my husband. I had also gone in with two other girls and opened a salon, so I had all of these work pressures. I had so much guilt about everything.

When I got all the words out, I looked at Lori and her eyes were kind of wide and she seemed alarmed. I must’ve looked quite the mess. We talked a minute about what I told her, and she told me that I needed to go home and rest, that I was too upset to go back to work. What?! Go home? I explained to her that I had people counting on me at work. People had made appointments with me ahead of time, and they expected me to be there for their service. Not to mention, I needed the money. The thought of not going back to work was not even an option I would consider.

Lori didn’t let it go. She tried several times to convince me to cancel the rest of my day, and the more she pushed, the more adamant I felt about what I felt I needed to do.

I went back to work. As I was driving back to the salon, I remember thinking how pressured I felt from Lori. I got where she was coming from, but the way she kept pushing was too much in my opinion. One of the whole reasons I went to see her was because of all the pressure I felt from every direction, and then my therapist is in my face, almost bullying my to do something I told her adamantly I didn’t want to do.

The next week, I broke down and went to see my long-time therapist, Mary. I told her what happened, and she waved her hand dismissively, “You’re a venter, Sammy. As soon as you get it all out, you feel better, and then you can go about your day.” Wow! She was right! I am a venter! It’s like boiling water inside me, the bubbles get bigger and the water rolls violently until I take the top off and let the pressure escape! Then I can breathe again, I can function.

Lori didn’t know this about me, of course. We hadn’t been working together long enough. She had the best of intentions, but her persistent pressuring rubbed me the wrong way. I knew I wouldn’t go see her again for one on one counseling. She backed me into a corner and put me on the defensive. I didn’t like how that felt at all. She could’ve suggested that I cancel my day and go home. We could have briefly discussed it, and that should’ve been it.

I simply didn’t call her again for any more sessions. No hard feelings. Just business. It’s kind of like my business. If I don’t hear from someone again after doing their hair, I don’t get upset or mad. I figure we were just not a good fit, or their cousin just got out of beauty school, or they don’t have the money, or my hours don’t work with their schedule. A million things!
If I got my feelings hurt every time this happened, I’d have a lot of hurt feelings. It’s part of any service industry, and if the service provider is a professional, they understand how it works. If you run into a therapist or doctor that gives you grief or crap about switching to another provider, run far away! That’s not professional or ethical, and it’s just not good manners! That shows insecurity with their practice, and I don’t want anyone that’s insecure messing with my medication or my therapy. Who knows what else is going on with them.

You are not a prisoner to one particular doctor or therapist. You don’t owe them anything. If it’s not working for you, move on. Find someone who is a good fit. It might take several tries, but it’s important. It’s your life we’re talking about!

The Right Therapist?

Is Mood Tracking Helpful?

iMood app

There’s an app I found called iMood Journal that I installed on my phone. I’ve had other mood trackers in the past, but I like the features this one has. You can pick your mood throughout the day as many times as you want. There are ten moods to choose from, and you can customize what they are. Also, you can make as many entries, thoughts, or notes as you like, as often as you like. Your moods will show up as a daily graph, so you can see how they are fluctuating.

The feature that I really think is cool though, is you can highlight anything in your notes by putting a hashtag symbol in front of the word(s). You might suspect that alcohol is a trigger, so #alcohol or #gotdrunk. You may have certain stressors like, #inlaws, or #exams. The app will keep up with all of the hashtagged words. In my case, if I have a headache or migraine on a particular day, I type #headache in my daily notes. Then, when I look at my summary or history later on, I’ll be able to see if there are any cycles or patterns that are related to headaches. This helps me determine whether or not headaches are a trigger! Brilliant! #Startedperiod is a hashtag that I’m trying to keep track of. I’m hashtagging all kinds of stuff to see if I can detect any triggers that I wasn’t aware of. The other mood tracking apps that I’ve used didn’t have this feature, and I think it’s a great idea.

I was thinking about why it is so important to me to do things like this. This is my third mood tracking app for my phone. Not too long ago, I typed a big list of all of my moods, and wrote detailed descriptions of each one. Then I listed them in their usual order of what usually comes first, then next, etc. I don’t know about ya’ll, but my moods don’t just consist of happy to sad, manic to depressed, and just the varying levels of intensity of these moods in between. I labeled one of my moods in the app as “Bitch”. When I’m at work, my dear friends and coworkers piss me off constantly. Normally, the little things they do don’t bother me in the slightest. Then, one day, they make me so mad I want to punch them in the face. When I look at them, I feel resentment and anger. I almost closed my business one time when I was in this phase.

There’s also, “Little Bit Down”. This usually comes before Bitch. This is where I’m unmotivated to do anything whatsoever. I want to lay on the couch all day every day. I’m not necessarily sad, but I’m definitely not happy. I beat myself up during this mood, because I feel guilty for being so unproductive and lazy. It sneaks up on me, and I don’t really recognize it as a mood, and part of a bipolar mood cycle.

I think that tracking my moods and trying to figure out patterns and triggers helps me to feel like I have some sort of control over what is happening to me emotionally. Obviously, I can’t actually control whether or not a mood cycle starts, but being even slightly aware of what is happening to me, when it’s happening, makes me feel less helpless. And less hopeless. If I can recognize that usually my “Little Bit Down” cycle lasts about three days, and it’s my bipolar disorder that is causing it, then I know what to expect. I feel less “crazy”, out of control, and guilty. I can say to myself, “Hold on, only a little bit longer. It’s not your fault.” I’ve talked to my husband about this, and explained to him that I needed him to remind me that I’m in a cycle, and it’s only temporary. I need to hear that I’m not lazy, and it’s not my fault. If I want to lay on the couch for a couple of days, then lay on the couch! It’s not the end of the world! Sometimes when you’re in the middle of your cycle, you don’t identify it as being in your cycle. You just think you suck.

Hopefully tracking my moods and triggers this way will help me manage my disorder a little better. Not surprisingly, I’m also a list maker and obsessive organizer. I could just be trying to neatly organize my cycles into neat little categories and lists because I’m just weird! If that’s the case, so be it. But I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I’ll do anything to feel better.