Mood Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified

diagnosed bipolar and pissed about it

the road to hermosillo

Where to start.

It’s hard to say, because it has felt like one big domino effect for I don’t know how long.  You know, I don’t ask for much, and maybe that’s my problem.  Today I reached the last thread on my rope, and I am just done.  Done.

Given the nature of my more recent posts, it may seem like a complete turnaround to appear to be back to ground zero again.  Thankfully I’m not at ground zero, and in the end, these trials and tribulations will stand as evidence of how far I’ve come.

But today, they are just shit.

I am in Mexico right now.  I’ve been in this country for one harrowing week already, with one more to go.  The weeks before that were filled with grading, end of semester stress, threatening students (them threatening me, not the other way around), preparing a workshop, etc.  It has literally been non-stop, and by that I mean several sleepless nights, up working, plugging away at grades and handling mundane responsibilities, and preparing all materials for a multivariate statistics workshop, and teaching the pilot version in the U.S. before bringing it abroad.

I’ve been handling my shit, in other words.  And that’s been really great, although I’ve since discovered that there is practically zero incentive for being so awesome.

Before leaving for Mexico, I got all my ducks in a row.  Grades were submitted ON TIME.  The workshop was prepared, with PowerPoints, and an illustrated (more like screenshots, but whatever) user interface manual, annotated outputs, and a complete knowledge of the material and its implications. And by the way, when I showed these materials to my advisor, who had invited me to teach the laboratory portion of this workshop, do you know what he said?  He said, “oh great, now I know what I need to teach in the lecture.”

What!?

Mind you, this was literally a day or two before the workshop was to begin.  And he hadn’t even started.  I pulled all nighters, working on this shit, and he hadn’t even bothered to start.

Lesson #1: Only work as hard as your students.  Or in this case, your advisor.

Back to my original illustration of being initiated into the superhero society: I looked up international phone services, and got instructions to avoid extra charges.  I arranged to have my neighbor watch my dogs, and paid her a hefty sum so I knew she’d step up to the plate.  I ordered rental insurance in case anything happened while I was gone.  I called the bank, and made sure my cards wouldn’t be canceled or flagged if I used them in Mexico.  I paid my mother fucking rent.  Early.

I also arranged it so that I would not be responsible for teaching in Mexico.  My Spanish is spotty and combined with public speaking fears and being in another country, I thought it best if my colleague and friend taught it, since she speaks more fluently than I do.  It seemed like a reasonable trade that I teach the material in the U.S., she teaches in Mexico, and we share in preparing the materials.  It turned out that I ended up preparing EVERYTHING, but still, since I didn’t have to teach in Spanish, I was only moderately annoyed.

It’s been hard and trying and exhausting and challenging.  That’s par for the course with, you know, life.  I made it.  I earned my fucking stripes.  I kicked ass and took names and goddamn it, I wish I could say that in real life without feeling like I had to make a fucking disclaimer, or water it down by saying it as a joke.

In any case, so everything is in order, and I’m on my way to my advisor’s house bright and early so we can drive to Mexico.  At the time, I’m thinking, Great!  I’ve got my shit done, my friend/colleague (we’ll call her Linda) is going to teach this, so I’ll have the days to myself to set up my summer course, which begins exactly two days after returning from Mexico.  The lab is, after all, only one hour out of the day.  The lecture portion doesn’t start until 4pm, and so we would teach from 6-7pm.  I’d be like an assistant, helping students with the interface and materials, while Linda reads off the PowerPoint slides.  Whole days could be spent working, getting my class together, and even working on research projects.  Or if I’m really lucky, relaxing.

Lesson #2: Nothing ever goes as planned.

I get a random call from Beautiful Disaster, who is shit-faced as expected, and telling me how amazing his life is, fluffing his peacock feathers, about how he wants to fly me to Miami, or come see me in Tucson, or whatever.  Really, I only ever talk to him just to hear about the crazy experiences he’s having.  Sadly, I can’t really empathize anymore because of, well, mood stabilizers.  They really kill highs.

Plus, it would be stupid to burn bridges with someone who has ungodly amounts of money and no idea what to do with it.  A few weeks before, he had called to ask if he should consider going into a PhD program.  To be a clinician.  Of course I thought this was a terrible idea but rather than say that right away I asked him to tell me why he wanted to do it.  His reason?  Because he’s fucking rich and wouldn’t have to go so far in debt to get the degree.  And then how awesome it would be to have this amazing degree and he’d work barefoot counseling people.  Almost like clockwork, he played right into the point I intended to make.  I said, you know, there is one reaaaaally important think in that whole answer that I didn’t hear.  Something that would be SUPER important if you were going to do this job, you know?  And he said, what?

I said, you didn’t say one word about wanting to help people.  Not one!  This is clearly not the job for you.

We went through a few more options.  But the point is not that he is a retarded kid, which he is, clearly.  The point is that someone with stupid amounts of money is asking ME what he should do with it.  Which means that given the right circumstances, I could, possibly, influence him to do something good with it.  It might never happen, but it could.  So, in the end, it’s worth it.

Back to my original story.  Mexico.

I arrived at my advisor’s house 10 minutes early, which interestingly made my advisor flustered and a little irritated.

Lesson #3: With some people, you simply can’t win.

I had just a few tasks left before heading out of the country.  I called my veterinarian to put my credit card on file, in case anything happened while I was gone.  I also tried to pre-order and pre-pay for dog food in case I ran out.  That didn’t work, so I texted my neighbor that I would send money via PayPal.  Finally, all was complete.  I was ready to go.

Or so I thought.  I gave my advisor’s wife the keys to my car, in case she needed to use it, or the alarm went off spontaneously, which it has been doing as of late.  Not 20 minutes later, it went off, and by the look on my advisor’s wife’s face, random instances of my car alarm would not be remotely acceptable.  After a few seconds, I decided that the best course of action would be to disconnect the car battery.  I asked for a wrench.  They didn’t have a single one.  I requested an old rag and tried to remove the negative terminal cable by hand.  No luck.  Eventually, I just decided to go knock on the neighbor’s door, even though they weren’t my neighbors and I had no idea if they would have the tool I needed.  The bottom line was that I was going to do whatever it took to solve the fucking problem.  And I did.

We finally got on the road, albeit late, around 10:30-ish.  The morning events, and likely the stress of the week(s) prior, left me feeling anxious and uncomfortable, tired but restless, and on edge.  Suddenly, it dawned on me that I had been irritable all week, frustrated with useless people and assholes, and I started to panic a little because I thought that the stress from everything had initiated a bipolar episode.  The feelings were identical to those I felt when she-who-shall-not-be-named told me I was experiencing dysthymic hypomania.  I was on my way to Mexico, with my advisor and a colleague, and of all possible times, I was cycling into a fucking episode.

We weren’t at the border yet, so I texted my aunt and asked her to look up symptoms and treatment.  I only had just enough meds to get me through this trip, so if I had to increase dosage, I’d need to fill a prescription in Mexico.  Not ideal, but do-able.  I didn’t want to say anything yet to my advisor and colleague…not until I was absolutely sure AND knew that it was going to impact my capacity to work.  That stretch of highway was REAL fucking lonely.  I was scared and humiliated that this was possibly happening to me, doing my best not to cry or bug the fuck out.

My aunt was able to call while we were stopped at a gas station, just before the border.  “Not the ideal time for this, now, is it?” Ha. Ha. Ha.  I made sure to decrease the volume on my phone, but Linda had already swiveled her head around the seat, one eyebrow raised, and looking very, very curious.  I tried to smile and brush it off, and dialed the volume down lower.  We made a plan for her to look up some information, send it by email, and for me to practice deep breathing exercises.  After all, I had had a lot of coffee that morning.  Maybe that was it.  Hopefully.

For an hour and a half, all I did was count my inhales and exhales.  If conversation was going on, I didn’t hear a word of it.  Only, breathe in, 1, 2, 3, breathe out, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, over miles of desert.  Maybe 45 minutes in, I started to feel myself start to center.  My mind started to calm.  I stopped trembling.  We pulled over to a restaurant for lunch right after the border at a delicious place called Leo’s.  Just one of many hole-in-the-wall places set up haphazardly on the side of the road.  I decided I would eat and make sure to use the bathroom, in the case that the caffeine was causing my symptoms.  I continued my breathing.  I distracted myself by eating the spiciest salsa I could stand.  My eyes watered and my face burned.  It was excruciating.  Excruciatingly good.

The hard work paid off.  My face was flaming hot, but my mind was calm.  By the time we finished lunch, I was able to drive, and we pulled out on the long road to Hermosillo.

Lesson #4: Exhaust all options before assuming the worst.

to be continued…

of two minds – a new documentary about bipolar disorder

somehow, an announcement about a new movie crossed my desk.  i don’t go see movies very often, but this one was a necessity.  it’s called Of Two Minds, and it’s a new documentary film about living life with bipolar disorder.  it was in town for one night only, so i canceled my appointments and headed to the theater.

i wasn’t sure what to expect, both in terms of turn out and my response to the film.  i was a little nervous because i’m still in the “not sure i’m bipolar” phase and i wondered if i’d identify with the individuals in the film.  if so, it would be bittersweet.  find community, lose hope about not being bipolar.

it played at the local artsy-ish theater in town, which means it wasn’t going to be your typical movie going experience.  for instance, the director of films for the theater pulled up a microphone before the movie to introduce it, as well as the director (!), and other representatives from the mental health community.  we heard from reps from DBSA, NAMI, and the Aurora Foundation.  they announced the post-movie discussion panel and Q&A session, which i thought was a pretty neat idea too.

but let me back up a little.  i pulled up to the theater, and saw a crowd of people swarming the entrance.  fortunately, my friend was already there, so we’d have a place in line.  i was surprised to see such a turn out.  i honestly wasn’t expecting a lot of people to show, but that might be more a reflection of my history of perceiving this town to be a desert wasteland than anything.  boy, was i wrong.

by the time i parked and walked up to the theater, the line was wrapping around the building.  i scooted past a diverse group: old and young, normal…and not so normal, male, female, subculture, counterculture… the line went on.  i must admit with some amusement that it was fairly easy to distinguish the psychiatrists and psychologists in the group.  it was almost as if they had a dress code to adhere to: business professional, tweed, the works.

we walked in to a half full theater.  even then i thought it was far more people than i expected.  but they kept coming.  lines and crowds of people filtered in, filling the theater.  the start of the movie was delayed because people just kept coming and coming.  soon we were in an auditorium brimming with people.  i caught my breath, and tears filled my eyes.

i’m not alone.

once the movie started, my palms were a bit sweaty.  what would i see?  would i see myself, reflected in these lives?  would i identify with the trials and tribulations of these individuals?  the mania?  i knew the depression would be no question…but the mania?  would i identify with that too?

the movie followed the lives of several people living with bipolar disorder, some in more detail than others.  one of the opening scenes showed a young women up close to the camera.  she said, this is what mania feels like, and started dancing while the credits rolled.  i giggled a little, because it was silly, and because it resonated with me, much more so than some of the videos i’ve scanned by searching “bipolar mania” on youtube.  i wasn’t uncomfortable, to my surprise.  i wasn’t sad.  i was amused.

the stories unfolded, and spanned a variety of experiences, although i am fairly confident that the movie captured mostly bipolar 1 and not so much of bipolar 2.  it spoke of mania, psychosis, depression, and suicide.  of being untreated, undiagnosed, and unmedicated.  it featured love and relationships: those that worked, and those that didn’t.  of self-medication and pharmaceutical medication, and alternative methods of medication.

i was a little disappointed that more mania and hypomania weren’t captured on film.  that’s what i really wanted to see, in any case.  sometimes the individuals described it, along with psychotic episodes, artistic endeavors, and the vitality that is so often paired with bipolar disorder.  but it wasn’t featured all that much.  at least, not directly.  one of the characters who was refusing to take medication was clearly cycling up and down, and i think that was the extent of it, aside from the introductory cuts of the young woman dancing.

more poignant were the descriptions of depression, of yearning for death and ending the pain.  that was all too familiar.  right on the mark, really.

but overall, the film was good.  did i see myself?  yes.  was i upset about it?  no…i think i’m in a new place to be open to this possibility without freaking the fuck out.  it is what it is.  let’s just hope i don’t cycle into depression again because i’m not sure i’ll survive the next one.

the post-movie panel was great, with a few especially memorable quips by the panel members.  one guy, a representative from dbsa who is bipolar himself, said, “isn’t stable a place to keep horses?” which i found fucking hilarious, but it didn’t translate so well when i tried to recreate the moment for a non-bipolar friend.  his response was more like “…”  i, on the other hand, was crying from laughing so hard.

the director, a mr. doug blush, said probably the most striking comment i’ve heard in reference to mental illness so far.  an audience member asked him why he personally was interested in making this film.  mr. blush went on to say how much he has learned about the mental health community, and how in the mainstream media, mental illness is always portrayed in such a destructive way, with extreme behaviors that don’t capture most of life with mental illness.  he said (paraphrasing), “i’m just so tired of seeing mental illness portrayed in this way, and i’m tired of the media making mental illness out to be the only illness in this country!”  i got the tingles when he said that.  poignant indeed.

if you want to check out the movie yourself, it’s now available on amazon and itunes.  i’m going to get it, just so i can watch the extra footage.  enjoy!

ouch

So, I decided to take a little break from work around 9am…I worked through the night to prepare materials for a workshop I’m teaching on Tuesday, and then again in Mexico (twice…and in Spanish).  I need to get back to grading term papers and exams, because grades are due tomorrow.  I got a random inspiration to read my blog, starting from the beginning.  Four hours later…

Holy FUCK.  What a shit show.

My heart is literally breaking…for myself, which is something that has never happened before.  Reading my old posts was like reading another person’s story.  I mean, I had the memories, but didn’t share in the deep, debilitating emotions I described.  By the end, I found that I was mourning for myself.  And the magnitude of suffering that I went through hit me, and forced me to realize how awful of a period it was and that I need to remain active about caring for myself and healing.  I’ve been so busy over the last academic year…even though I have made some great strides, I think I could really use some self-love and attention.  I still have healing to do.  And building, and improving, and thriving.

While I recognized that my thoughts and feelings were enshrouded in depression, I couldn’t help but notice how awful I was…to myself.  How many times did I say I was an asshole, or made of suck?  Or how engulfed I was in self-hatred and loss and confusion and suffering…and the very real, very serious intent to hurt myself and the sincere wish for death that would have been a relief to the pain I was experiencing.  I can’t identify with those feelings now.  So much has changed.

Really, the most significant (or, perhaps, noticeable?) changes and improvements have occurred in just the last 3 or 4 months.  That’s crazy when I think about it.  Although my mood improved substantially in October, I was so overwhelmed with work that it was all consuming, leaving little time for myself.  This semester has been better, but not by a whole lot.  I suppose I succeeded in one goal last fall: finding confidence that I can accomplish things again.  When I think back to last summer, and the cognitive deficits that plagued me, I shudder.  I remember the fear I felt that I wouldn’t recover.   That I would have to change all of my life goals because my brain had simply shut down.

I think the benefits and changes I’ve experienced recently have a lot to do with a conscious decision to focus on myself and creating a healthy life.  I realized that going out and partying until the wee hours didn’t serve me well, neither the amount of alcohol consumed, nor the recovery period that prevented me from achieving other goals.  I’ve done very little of that in the last few months, instead electing to stay in and do things that are more substantive or have longer term benefits.  It’s can be as simple as taking care of my home and my animals, and giving myself space and time to pursue personal interests.  I’ve also been connecting, meaningfully, with friends.  Interestingly, I have even found enjoyment living in this city, which is something I never thought would happen.

I signed myself off of online dating.  Honestly, I got bored with the whole thing, and I also realized that I don’t want to find people to date.  I’m perfectly okay being on my own and focusing on myself.  In fact, I prefer it.  For a long time, that preference arose out of a feeling of repulsion about relationships, largely due to my last experience (good GOD!).  Now, I’m not repulsed by the idea.   I’m more focused on creating a healthier, happier self that is prepared to accept something more substantive.  When it comes, it will come.  Meanwhile, I have a life to live.

I’ve come to a place of acceptance, but not complacency, about my body and fitness, and am working toward lifestyle changes, like eating healthier in general and being active.  My expectations for weight loss have changed, so that I will work at it in moderation, which I think will go a long way toward facilitating my success.

I discovered, in therapy, how my expectations of myself lead me to self-destruct in many cases.  In fact, reflecting on the past year or two, I can clearly identify some of the self-imposed expectations I didn’t meet and link them to my extreme mood and behavior fluctuations. I’ve had to think very carefully about setting appropriate expectations so that I don’t set myself up to fail because that failure leads me to lash out against myself, disregarding or even destroying personal goals I’m trying to achieve.

I’m pleased to have gotten a lot of my life back in order and that I’m still making progress.  I still have a box full of unopened mail from 2011-2012, but I’m slowly sorting through it.  It’s painful.  Not only was the emotional turmoil costly psychologically, but it was literally costly, financially too.  I have worked hard to fix my financial situation with a lot of success, and I was even able to save enough money so that I could leave this summer and stay with my aunt in Washington.  I am so looking forward to a restorative summer experience in a beautiful, abundant place.

I am in a place of peace with my family, for the most part, although hearing stories of my sister stealing from my grandma, or claiming she’s still sick but treating herself with LSD, ecstasy, and a host of other drugs, still upsets me.  I vent about it.  And then I try to move on.  I can’t fix it.  My mother flips out about how awful her boyfriend is (pfft), so I let her vent and listen.  It makes me sad.  But I have to let it go.  I can’t fix it.

I’ve found a comfortable distance from people in my life, whether it be from work or elsewhere, who have inflicted emotional pain on me in the past but who I still need to interact with for one reason or another.  For the first time since I moved here, I am not in conflict with, being bullied or threatened by, or feeling afraid or anxious about anyone.  Those people with whom I’ve had excruciatingly painful experiences exist only as an incidental part of my life…not as an integral part, as they once were.

I cannot believe how far I’ve come, especially after reading my own blog.  The truth is, I still have a ways to go.  The beautiful part about that, though, is that I am open to it, and welcoming it.  I actually find the possibilities exciting.

I turned 30 this month.  I hear that some women cry about this.  Not me.  I don’t understand what’s worth crying about.  I’ve been so happy because I believe that the second third of my life will be what I make of it, rather than being tied up in other people’s problems, or wrapping myself so tightly around other people that I experience my own problems as a result.

I’ve noticed that steadily, my priorities have shifted toward things that will help me grow and be a better person, and away from things that will hurt me or not serve me well.  I’ve been setting healthy boundaries for myself, although I could stand to do a better job with my teaching responsibilities.  🙂

I am able to look to the future with optimism and a deep sense of satisfaction about what will come.  I will be focusing on my dissertation beginning in July, and hope to be able to graduate in a year.  The post-doctorate possibilities keep coming my way, and I’ve been offered opportunities to take various jobs in Italy, Mexico, Sweden, and various places in the U.S.  The greatest realization, though, is that I am going to choose the one that is best for me, in accordance with my values and life goals.  I don’t know which option that is yet, or if I’ve even conceived of it.  I am in a place where my decisions are based on multiple dimensions and, rather than revolving solely around career opportunities, include things like love, connection, quality of life, hobbies and recreation, and friendship.

I am thankful for who I am, even though I am pained to see the full magnitude of self-criticism and self-defeating behavior that I am capable of.  I am satisfied, impressed even, with my recovery and my life choices these days.  I still struggle, but I have actively sought out skills to deal with those moments when shame, self-criticism, and self-destruction try to take over.  It’s rewarding to observe myself practicing those skills and to see them be effective.  It gives me hope for what is to come, for the healing and happiness I may permit myself in my life.

As for being bipolar…honestly, I haven’t thought about it in a while.  I suppose I decided to forget about it for now, because I likely won’t get any answers any time soon.  My life has been improving so much that I thought maybe I’m not bipolar at all.  I question that conclusion now though, after reading my blog.  The difference is that I’m not experiencing the resistance, anger, pain, and despair in response to the possibility.  It’s a factor that I need to consider when making decisions, but it has lost its centrality in my thinking and in its role in my life as a whole.

Looking at my blog categories, I see that there is not one positively-valenced category.  I’m glad to say, this post will have the first.  🙂

friday night lites

grrrreetings!

(that’s me, practicing my rolling r’s, because i’m going to mexico in a week)

sorry i haven’t been around for a while.  my abandoning hope about learning anything new about my bipolar diagnosis for a very, very long time has unfortunately been accompanied by my abandoning this blog.

that, and a lot of work.  ’cause you know, i’m actually productive these days.  which is a blessing and a curse, because i’m productive, but i also feel this crazy anxiety that depression could creep up on me at any moment and take all my success away.

anyway, this isn’t why i’m posting.  i’ll try to post a more meaningful, mental health related post after work settles down.  sometime in july…

the reason i’m posting is because a friend just texted me about the new blog entry at Hyperbole and a Half…part 2 to the infamous depression post, and it made me think of you.  🙂

here is the link to the post, in all its shining glory: http://www.hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2013/05/depression-part-two.html

enjoy!

fuck lithium

hey y’all.  :: waves ::

sorry i haven’t written.  i’ve been busy emulating super woman.  i don’t mean to boast (but i’m going to do it anyway), but in the last week-ish, i graded 195 essay questions, 65 participation assignments (also essay), submitted abstracts to three conferences, and finished part 2 of a manuscript that is now about 50 pages (with an easy 10 more coming before it’s done), ran 12 miles, went grocery shopping, bulk cooked, and re-watched all episodes of the walking dead.  on top of a 4 day trip to california, where i drank lots of wonderful champagne and IPA.  i feel like a million bucks.

i haven’t been this successfully productive in a very long time, but i have been working hard to get life back in order.  including losing the 20 (!) lbs i gained while taking lithium.  i’ve been working on it since january 2.  with few results.

lithium weight is now my arch nemesis.

to be fair, i was estimating a rate of success based on my experience 2 (short…sniff) years ago, when the south beach diet took 12 lbs off my frame in a month.  it was magical.  it was fantastical.  it was the most rewarding experience EVER.

i did the same thing starting at the beginning of january, and the scale Did. Not. Budge.  i considered the possibility that one night every week or two, going out to drink might have been the culprit.  but not with the restricted diet i was on!  there’s no way!  i started incorporating exercise (which i did NOT, i repeat, did NOT have to do before).  still nothing.

i refuse to accept the possibility that “aging” is a factor.  it was two years ago for fuck’s sake.

then i had to get an emergency root canal and follow up surgery, and being high on percocet is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle.  i got in some solid hours on far cry 3 though.  (ah-may-zing!).

so, here i am.  it’s mid-march.  i’m none-the-lighter.  i’m ready to pull my hair out.

when visiting my family in california, i felt like the fucking michelin man.  my 50-year old mother kicked my ass on a 5 mile run.  yeah, that awkward moment.  over half of the pictures we took are banned from the public because i look like a fatty mcfatfat.

there’s nothing to do but try again.  with vengeance.  and if this shit doesn’t start coming off quick status i am going to blow a gasket at my next pdoc appointment.  i am going to send the dab who coerced me to take it hate mail.

the worst part of all of this is… i can’t even console myself with cookies and milk.

don’t disclose your mental disorder on a dating website

i almost forgot.

i went out on a date last night with a guy from okcupid.  he didn’t really look like his pictures, and he was short.  i have no romantic interest whatsoever, but he would be super cool as a friend.  but that is beside the point.

he was pretty much talking the whole time.  once he decided to tell me about all the “weirdos” who make profiles on okcupid.  i was apparently the first person he had met from the site.  i asked him to give an example and dude says the following:

“well, there was this one girl who wrote about how she is bipolar but she’s on medication so everything’s fine”

this was followed by a shock-and-awe look like “omg can you believe that?!”

i just smiled.

online dating assholes

There are funny aspects about online dating too.  Take this prize, for example:

Master of Douche

Saw your you tube BS. Here are the RED flags that I see regarding YOU. A. You say you want guys 29-35 on your you tube. Yet here you put 25-35?
You are this super smart professor/student, PhD, blah blah blah. Yet you are NOT even smart enough to figure this simple and LAME, website MAIL SETTINGS out.
HELLO, if you don’t want smokers? Then make your settings block smokers. If you don’t want married? Then set that up too. If you ONLY want guys aged this to that? Then make your mail settings, age range requirements for contact.
Shallow! It’s all about the pictures for you. Gee, did you ever think that most people are not photogenic and look completely different in person?
And the final RED flag regarding you? You are nearly 30yrs OLD and the longest relationship you have had was 1 year? Lack of commitment, ADHD, always looking to trade up. Or just a plain old B!TCH that no man can put up with for to long!

These are the things that are preventing you from “getting there” beyond a simple hookup relationship.

 

Me

LMFAO how’s this instead:

“you want guys 29-35 on your you tube. Yet here you put 25-35?”
how about the possibility that checking details on my profiles doesn’t take up my entire life like it appears to take up yours.

“Yet you are NOT even smart enough to figure this simple and LAME, website MAIL SETTINGS out.
HELLO, if you don’t want smokers? Then make your settings block smokers. If you don’t want married? Then set that up too. If you ONLY want guys aged this to that? Then make your mail settings, age range requirements for contact.”
Again, clearly you are OCD about online dating.  Get a life.

“Shallow! It’s all about the pictures for you. Gee, did you ever think that most people are not photogenic and look completely different in person?”
You must be ugly then.

“And the final RED flag regarding you? You are nearly 30yrs OLD and the longest relationship you have had was 1 year? Lack of commitment, ADHD, always looking to trade up. Or just a plain old B!TCH that no man can put up with for to long!”
It was nearly two years, and I’ve had several 1 yr relationships.  You must be from some bodunk town where you probably married at 17 and got divorced 3 years later.  After two kids.

You are made of class.  I hope you feel better about yourself criticizing people like this.  Clearly you need to bolster your self-esteem somehow.

Ciao.

first world problems

<bitchfest>

i can’t believe it.  i’m seriously sitting here dumbfounded because i’ve never been in this situation before.  it’s so frustrating that i just want to shout or cry.  i also feel completely ridiculous.  here’s why.

so, i wrote about the guy who never called last time.  i am alternating days where on some i am totally okay with it, and on others i am bugging. the. fuck. out.  today is one of the latter.

i mean, i’m doing this to myself.  i keep looking him up on the other dating websites i’m on and every single fucking time i conclude that we are completely fucking compatible and should be dating NOW.  or at least getting to know each other.  texting even?  fuck…

our chemistry/personality/relationship needs quizzes all show the same outcomes.  his descriptions and style are right up my alley.  i just can’t fucking believe that i found someone so compatible but who DIDN’T FEEL THE SAME WAY.

i might sound like an ass, but THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED TO ME BEFORE.  i am just unable to comprehend this situation.  acceptance is NOT happening.  i want to bang my head against a wall.

i try not to spend too much time dissecting my behavior.  he was all into me, it seemed, and then… silence.  what did i miss?  was it something i said?  did i have food in my teeth?  what part of me isn’t good enough for you, mister?  what turned you off?  what changed your mind?  why didn’t you give me a chance?

</bitchfest>

the sting of rejection – or lithium withdrawal

i have successfully compelled psychiatrist numero tres to let me eliminate lithium from my daily regimen.  i went down to 300 mg in december-ish and stopped taking that this past tuesday.

i have noticed what appears to be a downswing in my mood corresponding with these time periods.  in december, i kept an eye on it but also kept in mind that i was dealing with far too much stress and work to distinguish between depressive-symptoms-due-to-work versus depressive-symptoms-due-to-less-lithium.  regardless of what the case may have been, my mood bounced back in full force once winter session started and i had a moderate breather.

now i am also experiencing depressive symptoms, and since the lithium is expected to be out of my system completely by saturday, its depleted levels may be taking a toll.  alternatively, my mood may be the combination of a very long, very productive, but very busy week, plus the sting of rejection from the aforementioned “soul mate” a few posts ago.

i have to admit, i was pretty excited at the prospect of dating this person.  we seemed to have a lot in common (enough to sustain several hours long conversations, anyway), i thought he was attractive, smart, etc.  things seemed to be going well until i dropped him off last thursday and i had this sinking feeling that he wouldn’t be asking me out again.

backing up.  the week we started talking, we spent two hours texting, followed by two and a half hours on the phone.  that was followed up by intermittent texting during the week.  saturday rolled around and i went out with some friends.  i admit, the second place we went was influenced by an eensy weensie suspicion that eharmony-guy might show up there.  incidentally, i was right.

i was playing air hockey and i saw him come in the door out of the corner of my eye.  i didn’t dare look directly, but i just knew it was him.  my adrenaline soared.  i played it cool for a while, but when i walked by him i noticed he was kind of staring at me so i smiled and kept going.  under no circumstances was i going to approach him; that’s against “the rules”.

this happened several times.  when i was on the dance floor with my friends, i noticed him off to the side, looking at me.  he was “on his phone” but who the hell talks on their phone next to the dance floor?  yeah right.

he finally came and stood right in front of my friends and i, and took a couple of drags off of his electronic cigarette. once that happened i was 100% sure it was him.  he was just standing there alone but i still wasn’t about to go up to him (besides the rules, i was so unbelievably giddy that i would have made an ass out of myself anyway).  his friend came out of no where and whisked him out of the bar.

my friends suggested the next bar, so i don’t have to take responsibility for the fact that he was also there, too.  again, when i looked at him, he was kind of staring at me so i smiled and kept going.  sadly, he never approached me in person.

but…around 1am he texted “was that you?” and we had a little back-and-forth about why one didn’t approach the other.  i was drunk and i probably texted too much, but it didn’t stop him from calling me the next day.  we got on the phone for another whole hour, after which he interrupted me to ask if i was hungry and wanted to go to lunch.

forgetting any “rules” ever existed in the history of mankind, i agreed to go on a spontaneous lunch date.  it went really well.  i knew he was still interested because he texted me later that night “about a video game” we both played.  we then moved on to e-cigarettes, and he called me to give me the deets on how to get one (they are quite good!).  he also offered to go with me after he got off work to get the liquid you put in the e-cigarette.

monday, he added me to facebook.  i’m not even going to go in to the degree of facebook stalking i did, but let me just say it was shameful.  i did, however, discover that eharmony-guy is a poet, and writes some really racy stuff.  the first time i read one of his poems, i literally froze in space for like 20 minutes, followed by an hour of pacing and trying to get myself back to work.  i failed, and said poem became my fantasy du jour for a few days.

we got together on thursday to head to the e-cig shop.  it was fine, although i noticed he was a bit distant-ish.  i was extremely nervous though, and i think it showed.  i left most of the direction of the conversation to him and he asked how my day was twice, showed me around the shop, but really the conversation was pretty minimal.  i dropped him off, thanked him for coming with me, and he told me to let him know if i had any questions about the e-cig and associated accoutrements.

since then: radio silence.  i’ve had to keep myself jam-packed and still i’ve felt like pulling my hair out, hoping he’d ask me out this weekend.  i was good and followed the (goddamn) rules.  by yesterday i had begun to accept the possibility that “he’s just not that into me” when my friend and fellow rules conspirator confessed she’d broken down and texted her guy.

it never fails…whenever a comrade-in-crime gives in a little, all of my resolve goes out the window too.  i gave in and “liked” his profile picture, which was taken the night we “met” but didn’t actually meet.  in fairness, i exploited the fact that he had recently posted a status update so it could appear as if “i saw it for the first time” on my newsfeed.

speculation abounds as to why i’ve been rejected.  i’ve got a couple of reasonable hypotheses, all while bearing in mind that i really have no answer at all, nor will i ever.  some possibilities include that i was way too nervous to be sexually attractive.  i have a pretty strong sexual presence, but if i’m nervous, forget it.  it also could have been something about my facebook page. in particular, i suspect it may have been the old album of pictures of my ex and his family.  he did mention the “short” lapse between the end of that relationship and signing on to a serious dating website the first time we talked.

whatever it was, it really doesn’t matter because the outcome is the same.  i’m processing rejection from a dating prospect for the first time in a long time.  it’s disappointing and frustrating and aggravating and i keep wanting to scream, hello, i’m awesome and we should go on a freaking date!  (and then make out while you read your poetry to me)

it turns out that anything resembling psychotic behavior (such as that which i’ve already displayed here) is definitely against the rules, so my inclinations are definitely out of the picture.  i’ve coped so far by filling my days to the brim, getting to the gym every day, talking to friends, family, and getting more work done than i have in months, but i found myself sitting here this friday evening just feeling kind of down despite the massively successful week i’ve had otherwise.

(although to be fair, it has waned a bit since i’ve gotten this off my chest)

so thank you bipolar-blog-diary-dealie.  if it weren’t for you, i’d be an awfully scary human being.

 

over-responsibility

today’s topic in al-anon was feeling a sense of over-responsibility for others.  at first, i was not interested in the topic because of the direction the speaker took it.  but as i thought about it more and more, i fell into a deep musing about my relationship with that concept.

one of the most difficult things for me to understand is a line in the serenity prayer we say at the end of meetings.  it goes like this:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I don’t have a firm grasp on the difference.  when action on my part is warranted.  how to distinguish between the times for acceptance and the times for action.

i thought of my family, and fell in to a deep state of contemplation.  i heard some of the things others were saying, but i fell farther and farther way, processing my thoughts and feelings.

it wasn’t hard to find something to think about.  hell, it was just the holidays, and i saw my family in full form.

i have not been home in a year, because i was in the middle of a bone-crushing depression.  they didn’t visit me during this time; it’s just as well.  i wouldn’t have wanted to see them anyway.  i barely told them what was going on, and when i did, it wasn’t taken seriously.

so when i arrived for a 6-day visit, i was looking forward to some quality time.  i shouldn’t have had this expectation.  both my mother and sister were either completely shit-faced or hung over any time that i saw them.  my mother reserved all of one day to see me.  starting at 4pm in the afternoon, by the way, before she left to head back home with her boyfriend.  look, i already know that i will always take a back seat to a man when it comes to my mother.  that’s just how she is.  i’m just glad she finally picked one that was worth knowing.  i like him a lot.  he’s completely enamored with her and expresses how amazed he is by her all the time.  i try to be as polite as possible.  it’s great practice for my poker face.

the first thing my aunt said to me when she saw me was, “are you pregnant?” and as much as i hate to say it, it completely threw me for a loop.  i know i’ve gained enough weight for it to be noticeable, but i don’t think i look pregnant for god’s sake.

the first thing my grandmother said was, “if you think i’m happy to see you, think again”.  she was in a bad mood as a result of other family members’ behavior, and we were able to resolve it quite quickly.  it’s always that way with her, but it doesn’t mean that what she said didn’t hurt.

everyone was caught up in their own shit.  my sister, too.  when she met up with my mom, her boyfriend, and me for dinner, she pulled me away to tell me how she’d taken acid at 1am that morning.  over the course of the few times i hung out with her, i learned that she is dating a coke dealer.  she has no job and doesn’t want to talk about school.  i honestly don’t even think she has the intention of getting a job any time soon.  we met at a bar, of course, and she lost her purse because she left it at a table.  it had her phone, wallet, keys, gift card from my mom, etc.  of course, this was horrible for her, but my aunt took care of helping her to fix the situation.  only to go out with her again, and to see her leaving her purse around, where ever.  when i mentioned it, she didn’t even seem to care.

my sister lives with my grandma right now.  i blogged about this sometime in the summer because i had plans to move in with my grandma before my sister swooped in and took the room.  now, the whole family was trying to be supportive at that time because she was recently hospitalized for a suicide attempt or threat or whatever.  mind you, i completely lost my mind when this happened.  i had a complete melt down.  so, it wasn’t especially pleasing when she told me that she had been doing cocaine every day for three weeks, right before the hospitalization.  when i heard that, i felt so many emotions.  anger. resentment. sadness.  it was as if she did not know, nor care to know, how her actions affected others.

as i said, she’s living with my grandma.  but she’s out every night.  getting high or drinking or whatever.  she is not available to help my grandma most of the time, and my grandma doesn’t understand my sister’s behavior, or why she’s not looking for a job or going to school.  i try to be compassionate, because i know that this the first time in her life that no one is telling her what to do or who to be, and that she was in physically and emotionally abusive relationships for 10 years.  i can’t imagine what that is like.

a couple days after i left, my grandma got sick.  the members of my family all have complex relationships with food.  my sister, for instance, admitted that she had been bulimic for years.  she might still be, but she is too gone right now to address it.  my aunt is extremely obese.  my mother is extremely skinny and compulsively exercises and doesn’t eat much.  my grandmother’s poison is laxatives.  she takes them every single day.

as it turns out, the day everyone left, she took 7 different laxatives.  over the next two days, she was very sick.  no one was around though, because my sister “had plans”.  my aunt had to fly back down earlier than planned to take care of her.  just a couple of days ago, my grandmother was admitted to the hospital.  again, my sister was mostly unavailable, not to feed or walk the dog or to sit with my grandma in the hospital.

it was after her hospitalization and my complete breakdown that i learned i could not take responsibility for her.  i had done so, up that point.  overly so.  i thought, if i had been a better sister, maybe she wouldn’t have gotten, or stayed, in a relationship with someone who beat her up.  who, by the way, she is now talking to again.  when she was hospitalized, i believed i wasn’t there enough, that i had failed her.  because i completely broke down, and because i got a stern talking to by my aunt, i had to face the fact that i needed to take care of myself, rather than take care of her.  i’ve been processing the letting-go ever since.

i haven’t let go entirely though.  when my aunt and my grandmother are angry or confused or frustrated with her living there with no goals or action, i remind them that this is the first time she’s ever had to decide something for herself and that it’s probably scary.  that she thinks that she has to come up with the ultimate answer for what to do, rather than taking small steps toward progress.  i do this because my family, when scorned, goes about things completely the wrong way.  take, for example, my aunt, who confronted my sister about this and got so caught up in her anger toward *my mother* (and taking it out on my sister) that she said horrific things and even threw a glass of water on her.

so i’ve told them to give her the space to sort it out, and i’ve told them to set boundaries and expectations that work for them so it doesn’t end up blowing up in anyone’s face.  i’ve thought that i was mostly staying out of it but encouraging my family to be better at being a family.  but now i’ve seen my sister and i’ve seen what she’s doing.  and i don’t anticipate it stopping any time soon, especially since my grandma gave us a good amount of money for christmas.  so i watch this unfold, and sometimes i wait for the phone call that she’s pregnant or was in a car accident or some other horrible thing.  and there’s not a goddamn thing i can do about it.

some have told me to be the “model” for her, to show that i am happy and healthy and that she can succeed.  what i learned on my trip is that she feels horrible about my success because it highlights her failure.  she did not like it when her male friends talked to me.  she was put off when school was mentioned.  she sounded disappointed when she told a friend i was getting my phd.  so now i’m in a position where i’m doing well with my life, and it only reminds her of her failures, feeding into her already negative self image, fueling her inability to act because she is so afraid that doing anything will be the wrong decision.

my family is made of entropy.  that’s what’s been done my entire life.  in observing it again, i was constantly reminded of one of the bill of rights we discuss in al anon… i don’t have it exactly, but it is something like “i have the right not to participate in the crazymaking of my family”… i heard it echoing again and again as i watched and mourned the self-destruction that consumes my family, and sometimes, of me.

it’s painfully difficult to realize and to accept that all of that hurt and pain they experience is one of the things i cannot change.  that i only can change myself, and that they call that “courage” instead of “abandoning my family”.  that “wisdom” means separating myself instead of getting down in the ditch and trying to help them out.

some people say we’re all so connected to one another, but when i process these feelings and experiences, it just leaves me feeling so alone.  because my experience is all about my own experience, not what others are doing.  that “helping” sometimes means leaving, or distancing, or “focusing on myself”.  and then i just feel stupid because i don’t understand what connection looks like or how to do it “the right way”.  i try, and keep getting brought back to myself and what i’m doing and how i’m interpreting something.

that’s all i’ve got for now.

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