Tag Archives: struggles

The Family Tree Project

There are a lot of problems with the Family Tree Project. It’s not Mr. B’s, Small’s teacher’s, fault, but I am just uncomfortable with the entire idea.

When they assigned it to my aide’s daughter, she called it nosy. I don’t have much of a problem with that – but can see there are times when revealing my past would not do me well. When I worked in the capitol, I would introduce myself using my first and last name – both are rare. Occasionally someone would scrunch up their nose and try to think where they had heard the names before. The Capitol’s major and I share the same name, and that was probably why, but once or twice I said, “you don’t know anyone I’m related to.”

Now, fifteen years older, I see that was a snotty thing to say. While my parents were state employees, stirring around in law enforcement and tax evasion, my paternal grandfather was a tom cat, sprinkling the rest of us around the country. He was guilty of a lot of poop and I have never met him, nor will I ever. The man is dead, and lays in a pauper’s grave in the town my father grew up in.

My maternal grandfather was a carpenter. My grandmother was an artist. I have no shame that comes in that, but I do not bear their name. I can’t brag that I am one of them as soon as I am introduced to someone new. Those grandparents will take up a large amount of my daughter’s family tree. Their children might be another story, one being a leech and another a meth user. In my own recovery, though, I have met many an addict that is a genuinely good person who happens to have some serious problems that they solve (or don’t) using drugs. I am naive enough to believe the drugs I take are different than the drugs they do.

Enough for now. Monday my husband and I start marriage counseling. We’re dropping the baby at 3:30 and the sitter will have her until 7. Will keep you up to date.


A to do list

Just like you, I have too much to do. There is a lot of basic things I need to do every day to be healthy and whole. However, I do not do them. Life itself is so difficult, then ya throw in a few psychiatric issues and a job and a kid and things get totally unmanageable.

What I feel like I should do and want to do everyday:

Wake up at 6:30
Read some Bible
Do some yoga
Apply skin medicine and sunscreen
Wake up Small
Eat a nutritious breakfast
Brush teeth
Take medicine
Put on cute outfit with socks
Go to work
Come home
Do chores or go to Psychiatrist/Therapist/whatever appointment
Get Small from school.
Spend time doing creative, productive things
Participate in event/outing.
Exercise
Put on skin medicine
Brush teeth
Go to bed at 9:30

And sometime bathe, shave, and wrangle hair.
Also, blog and do other writing.

There is no way I can do all of this. I wouldn’t even want to try. But I want to do it.


New Title, do ya like it? Also, letting stuff go.

Having a medium tough time but learning a lot about myself so that makes me really happy.

My friend, D, calls obsessing, “pit-bulling”. It’s when you bit yourself in to something and hold on with a locked jaw. Sounds pretty perfect, doesn’t it? You don’t have to have an alphabet of diagnosis to obsess over something, do you?

Well, for me it was a minor art supply that I lent to a friend with the understanding that she’d replace it. I’d asked her a few times about it and she always made excuses. It honestly wasn’t a big deal to me in someways, but in others it was. It seemed like she really wanted to give it back. I saw the item in the craft store and pmed her about it. She kind of went crazy, listing all the things she’d done for me and given to me and how could I possibly want that back? I wanted to talk in person but she wouldn’t do it. After all that she said she wanted to drop it.

Of course I couldn’t do that. I had to consider what she said, and I was going to do it without obsessing on it. I talked to my husband and he told me I was more of a taker than a giver. I talked to my mom and she basically said the same thing. She pointed out how her poor (as in financially poor) great aunt and uncle always brought a gift to them whenever they were invited over or whenever my parents did anything nice for them, which is frequently. I didn’t have the funds to buy things for other people, but I had the means to do good by them.

I am sure the woman with all her (valid) accusations is gossiping about me up and down the block. Maybe I deserve it, but maybe I don’t. Just “dropping” things means not talking about them anymore, right?

I could think that there is no joy in this, but I would be wrong. I have learned I need to give more. It can’t always be about me and the almost astonishing gifts I have been given by friends with little else in return. It’s a chance to change myself. When I am able, that is not sick, I will make a dish for the pot-luck, and find a way to bless other people materially. I neglected to do that. It’s easy for me not to do so because I either count myself doing enough. (I host parties, right? I listen to your whining, right? (Not yours, the people I am talking about don’t read this blog.) But I also take without hesitation. My husband was really disturbed at the amount of “freebies” I accept. I honestly assume that, if people give to me, they are glad to and don’t expect anything in return. In the rare chances I usually give with that attitude. I guess that I don’t do that enough. No, I agree that I don’t do that enough. I want to be giving, I really do. I have so many good examples, like my friend T, my fabulous sixty-something friend who would gladly give me the cashmere sweater off her back if she thought I wanted it. Even the friend who kinda exploded on me is a giving person.

That I can change myself before I alienate, or wear out any other friends is a cause of great joy. I feel lighter, and although I haven’t done anything yet, I feel like I am better because of what she said. It doesn’t matter if I felt like she was being petty (I was being petty, for the record) or even manipulative, I need to change, I will. It’s part of my Wonderfully Fabulous Journey.


Don’t pop your gum at a wedding.

It was about 100 degrees at Chris Jantz and Abigail Williams outdoor wedding. They had golf cart driving us from the parking lot to the wedding site and “shade worshipers” under the oak trees. The groom’s mom set up the cake, a five tiered white square cake with black ribbon. Her catering company also prepared the food. I knew it would be perfect.

We sat on chairs that had water bottles underneath the seats so no one was (that) uncomfortable. The sun glared right on the guests, but it really didn’t matter. Relatives were marched down the aisle by the appropriate groomsmen. My favorite part of any wedding, ever, was the look of surprise and joy on the groom’s face and I missed it.

The bride entered and she, of course was beautiful. Her dress was gathered around the skirt with a strapless bodice. I told her later her dress was amazing and she was one of the prettiest brides I had ever seen. It was true – but to be honest with all of you – the reason I say that is I don’t remember hearing that enough at my wedding – People told me how gorgeous my brother’s girlfriend looked about 1,000 times (she was not in the wedding), andhow my bridesmaid looked like Audrey Hepburn. There must have been some people who told me I looked pretty, but I just forgot about it. It is true every bride I see last is my favorite bride, and I make sure to tell her that.

The ceremony was beautiful too. The couple had been friends since elementary schools, and in third grade the little girl wrote on her Christmas tree ornament, “Abigail Elizabeth Jantz”. She had her eye on him for a long time.

The groom owned and ran a screen printing company (Only twenty(!) years old). As guest gifts we were given t-shirts with their Romans’ wedding verse. The food was delicious, the toasts were joyful and encouraging. Everything was wonderful and seemed to go off without a hitch.

Except. Here is when mental illness rolls in. One of the women three rows ahead of me was chewing and popping her gum. I could not believe anyone could be so tacky, who would make extra noise anywhere and be so rude at a wedding. I don’t mind gum, actually, but popping gum turns me in to a nutcase. I was trying to calm myself down, I prayed for peace for myself, I tried to relax, but I couldn’t do it. I started crying (which is okay at a wedding). I couldn’t accept myself or the situation. All I thought of was how this not so terrible woman (see, I’ve made some growth) was popping her gum and I was so upset that I couldn’t enjoy this wedding.

I took an Ativan, something I try not to do, even though I carry it and Xanax. I called B and was crying, trying to get soothed and get cared for, but my metropcs phone had been dropped enough times that it is difficult to make a real call. (Texting is okay.) The call was dropped and we couldn’t understand each other anyway.

I really try not to make things be about me that aren’t. The wedding wasn’t not about me and about poppy-girl. It was about Abigail and Chris. My craziness took over. The Ativan calmed me enough to give me some sort of relaxation and perspective, and it helped me not be so sad at what had been stolen from me.

During the bride/grooms dancing, Small got up on the tiny dance floor pretending to snap picture from all angles. I regrettably,left the camera at home. They looked wonderful together.

I wish I could have been more present, but that’s not what happened that day. I’m needing to work radical acceptance in to my life more. I don’t like it, but it’s part of the package that is my life. I’m growing in this, I’ll keep growing in this.

Abigal and Chris, best wishes.


You’re a mean mommy

She said it calmly, as we were de-pressurizing from a minor altercation.

It was simple. Her backpack was open. She was chattering away down the drive way. I said, “Stop!” and she didn’t so I said it again. Then again. Finally, I hit the car to make a loud noise so she would listen. (It was already an exercise in stupidity.) She stopped. I zipped her backpack. I said, “Let’s try this again.” She didn’t want to, but she did.

“I thought you told me to stop talking. So I did.” She is a sparkling, spirited and obedient girl. I tell her something once and she usually does it. If she doesn’t I start counting, 1, 2, 3) and she hates that so much she straightens up very quickly. (There is no spanking at number five, or anything like that – she just hates being counted on.) I explained it was because I wanted her to stop walking with her open backpack. “Maybe we can communicate better next time? You can stay ‘stop’ but you can explain what you want me to stop.” (She just turned seven and is able to analyze the conflict better than many adults.)

Next time was going to be right now, so we went back to the porch and tried again. We walked to school. She asked me, “Why did you hit the car?”

“Because I wanted you to listen to me.”

“It just scared me.”

We had a short discussion on whether I am a “mean mommy” or not. I probably am a partially mean mommy. I think that children use that phrase to garner revenge on their parents but I don’t think that is what she was trying to do, I think she was trying to quantify her experience. Two years ago the mommy of which she said, “you don’t just cook and cuddle, you do all things loving,” was not acting like someone who does “all things loving.” This required a new evaluation of the situation.

I am not a yeller. I can lose my temper, but if I do, I try to remove myself from the situation and check in later. It was a source of pride for me that I had yelled or snapped at her less than five times by the time she was five. It just wasn’t part of my parenting tool kit. Mind you there were plenty of other things I squeezed in the kit that were both ridiculous and futile, it’s just that yelling or stomping my feet or hitting the car had not been one of them.

Earlier in the week I was on the phone with something to do with the bills. I was on the computer, and my husband was on one side of the breakfast bar and my daughter on the other. They were asking me to press 1 for blah blah and 2 for another blah and three for blah blah blah. I couldn’t hear, I had already pushed the wrong button once and I raised my voice (notice: didn’t even yell) “Stop talking!”

My husband was surprised, and I was shocked. Small was terrified and confused. I said I was sorry, even though I felt justified. I should have taken the computer and phone upstairs, but that didn’t occur to me until about three minutes ago.

So I was being grouchy. I don’t know what is happening to me. I don’t think it’s a bipolar/OCD/ADD thing – I think it’s a human thing. A bipolar thing might be to throw the phone at the offending party. (I don’t throw things, though). An ADD thing might tap into her secret spider sense to be able to hyper focus, or at least moved her computer out of the way. I don’t know how OCD might play into it, but I’m sure there is some way to blame it and not take responsibility for my own actions. (A charged statement. Many times my mood takes chemically over my body, but this was not the situation.)

I’ve been doing yoga pretty regularly, and it has helped a lot as far as feeling like my body is healthy and my mind is clearer. It hasn’t helped with my mood, though. I need to spend more time in the Bible, in my DBT (Dialectal Behavior Therapy) and to take my pills. That will be enough to probably keep me stable. Then again, bipolar still wins sometimes.

I’ll be gone for the next few days, so I won’t be on the computer until Sunday/Monday. Be well over the next few days.


“Wouldn’t You Like to be Popular?” (G)

Small was seven yesterday and she already wants to be eight.  She’s one of the youngest people in the class and thinks their age gives them authority.  She is a month older than one of her friends and a year older than another and she lords it over them.  She is always the one in charge, she makes the decisions and they execute them.

Is she always going to be like that?

I sure hope she’s not bipolar.  Bipolar gives you weeks of being on top of the world followed by weeks of crashing in to the ground.  Your friends who loved your energy and love of life often abandon you.  It’s not that they don’t like you anymore.  They probably didn’t really like you in the first place.  For someone who enjoys people and wants to be around them, this could be detrimental.  When she is at the top, she’d be at the top.   When she would be depressed, no matter how much she struggles  she won’t  be able to snap out of it.   She does care about what other people think, and psych-hospitals are the joke to end all jokes and she would probably be shunned.   I don’t know if she’d be able to be on top ever again.

Does it seem like I’m obsessed with my daughter’s future popularity?  I guess I am, because I see that being around people and having BFFs feed her spirit.  I have real friends, now, like T and L.  They cook for me and invite me over.  I have a feeling they aren’t talking about me behind my back, or if they are, it is not picking me apart, or finding fault with me.  My friends in high school weren’t that real.  I had mauditmo but she lived very far away.  Other didn’t even notice they were trampling my body in to the ground.  None of us were knowledgeable enough about anything to notice I had something serious going on. I have the twisted idea that, if Small is at least moderately popular she will have more friends, and among those friends she will have good friends.  I should find some former homecoming queens (are there any “former” homecoming queens or is it something like in the Marines, “Once a Marine, always a Marine”?”) and ask about their friendships and relationship.  Or football quarterbacks.  (Can I think of any other stereotypes?  I never even knew our school had a quarterback.)

It occurs to me, in a flash, that punitive parenting would destroy my daughter.  I don’t think it’s good for any kid, but a kid like Small could be crushed.  I raised my voice to my husband earlier this week.  They both were shocked, but Small was spooked.  It reminds me it is good that I don’t yell.  I don’t want her to get used to being yelled at or at hearing yelling.  Same thing goes for corporal punishments, from slapping hands to spankings.  I got ticked at her when she was almost two years old for grabbing at something.  I smacked her hand and she laughed and smacked me back.   It was silly.  It put the whole thing in perspective.  I said I was sorry, but she had dropped it before I could.  I can hear dissenting voices – I should have hit her harder.  I should have been doing it more consistently. I can’t expect punishment to work if I don’t make it hurt.  What?  Why?   As Small says, “That doesn’t even make sense.”

It also doesn’t make sense I was able to fly below the radar.  Although I had obvious symptoms, I was not diagnosed or treated for any mental illness until I was in late twenties.  I struggled  alone, fighting to do the very best I could.  I didn’t have the luxury of any kind of support team or the counseling I desperately needed.  When I was first diagnosed I used to joke that, although  was sick for over a decade, I didn’t get “caught” until much later Most people get diagnosed in their late teens/early twenties.  I managed to plow through those times with sheer willpower, fighting against my body and mind and was chronically suicidal.  Maybe you could have met me and I’d look fine, maybe you would be insightful enough to tell.

P.S.  The title of the entry comes from the 80s flick, “Can’t Buy Me Love.”


The Parents

The other day my good friend, CH, asked me how my parents reacted to my manic-depression diagnosis. Excellent question, and I know some of you have already heard a part of this story. Nevertheless, here is the answer:

After the psychiatrist confirmed my psychologist’s diagnosis, I wanted to use his phone to call my dad. The doctor wouldn’t let me to privacy reasons, so I drove around until I found a pay phone. (I didn’t believe in cell phones.) I called my dad at work. “Daddy, I have bipolar.” He responded, “This is J. W.” I told him again. I started to cry. I asked him to call my mom. The whole time I was on the phone there was this guy in a dark red truck ogling me. When I got off the phone he asked if he could give me a ride. I almost spit on him, but all I did was give him a dirty look. I knew even then I wouldn’t ever forget him.

My parents rushed home from work, threw some clothing in the car and drove to my house three hours away. By that time I was in the hospital. My eighteen month old was with B. I had secured breastfeeding rights for her, so my parents brought her every morning and every night to nurse. My dad would cry the whole time we were together. I kissed him and tried to soothe him but I couldn’t really do it. I was the cause for his grief. So long as I stayed in the hospital, I could not assuage it.

I think a lot of my dad’s sorrow came from guilt about his family of origin. My uncle had schizophrenia. He died in a mental health facility for disabled veterans. Their mother probably had some sort of mental illness as well. My dad had escaped it, but I hadn’t. I learned later my father was also afraid because of the other patients. Many of them were fresh after a suicide attempt, so they were drugged even further out of their minds. Perhaps I was not as sparkly as I was when I came in, but I wasn’t suicidal any more. At least not that suicidal.

He talked to my therapist once and asked her how did it get so far without him knowing? That question is one I have asked myself many times. Why didn’t they figure it out? I knew I was different than everyone else at a very young age. (We’re talking early elementary school). I started asking for counseling in the seventh grade but my mom told me I didn’t need it. My parents must have thought that I was just quirky and slightly crazy. My severe mood swings were dismissed as part of my personality. I was great fun high, and was mean, spiteful and unthankful when I was low.

My mom is usually more emotionally reserved than my dad, and this instance was no different. She likes to take care of things, and she did. Not only was she caring for my toddler daughter, but she did things like scrub the carpet to get the sizeable stains out of it. She brought me my new clothes to wear in the hospital. (I had gone on a shopping spree the Friday before. I bought a vacuum and about about $1,000 of clothes. In retrospect she had the option of returning them, they still had their tags and I had a receipt. She didn’t, so I got to look cute while most everyone else looked like hell.)

I will always be thankful for them for coming to see me every morning and every night and bringing Small. My thankfulness extendes to their attitude: They were excited to see me and wanted to be there. There was no resentment that the visits were inconvenient or too long. They wanted to stay as long as they could to spend time with me and to let me spend time with their granddaughter.

I got out of the hospital and resumed living, only with doctors or therapist appointments three times a week and a handful of drugs morning and night. Life was difficult. Only B saw the grueling pace I was working at. No one else could fathom it. I wanted my parents to know, and to understand, though. For a while there, if they were around when it was time, I’d sort my pills in to pill boxes in front of them. I wanted to show them how serious this illness can be. I have a lot of bottles of pills. Most recently I’ve added an anti-nausea drug because my B-100 pill makes me throw up several times a month. That brings my prescription bottles up to a grand total of seven. This is not counting the vitamins. I asked the pharmacy tech if I had more prescriptions than any other customer and she said, “for a young person, yes.” They even know me by name.

But back to my parents. My mom lives with us four days a week. I know part of the reason is that she wants to keep her eye on me. She and my dad are getting a grip on all this means. Bipolar can be fatal and I feel like, even if I have long stretches of stability, The way I see it I am always going be on the brink of a episode. A mood swing can be triggered by just about anything, it’s just a matter of how the symptoms present themselves. Sometimes I’ll be elated and deflated, up and down, in a day’s time. Sometimes I’ll sleep until 10 (we’re normally awake at 6:30). Sometimes I’ll buy everything in the mall that is my size. Sometimes no symptoms will present themselves, and my new goal is to try to at least look like I’ve got it together the way I used to when I worked full time. If I work hard I won’t do most of those things most of the time, but, aside from death, I can guarantee that no episode will be my last.

I do want to be well. I rarely miss a dose of my medicine, no matter how unpleasant it to do so. I am on a diet that helps regulate my mood and I make an effort to exercise. (Not enough of an effort, if you ask B, and he is right.) I try to do little things, like go to bed at the same time every night and follow doctor’s orders. I’ve stopped overeating, for the most part, and started dieting and losing weight. All these little things contribute to a centered life and a healthy brain. I think my parents know that I usually am doing my best and working my hardest, and they do a lot to help us along.

So there is my answer. My parents were grieved, but strong and generous in their response to finding out about my illness. It is hard to ask for more.