Friday, November 30, 2012

Do You Like Your Cats?

"Do you like your cats?"  If the answer to that question is "not tonight," then I know something is wrong.  I'm off again.  We've thrown it into reverse are a rocketing back toward crazy.  Welcome to Wonderland.  The other Bipolar Guests have been waiting.  In case its not obvious, at the moment, I dislike my feline friends. (They won't leave me alone) No one told me being bipolar would be this hard or that Wonderland could be so lonely.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

You Shook Me All Night Long

She was a fast machine, she kept her motor clean
Was the best damn woman that I ever seen
Shad had the sightless eyes, telling me no lies
Knocking me out with those American thighs

Taking more than her share, had me fighting for air

She told me to come but I was already there
The walls start shaking, earth was quaking
My mind was aching, we were making it

And you shook me all night long

Yeah, you shook me all night long

Confession: For years now, my favorite song to exercise to is AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long."  Yeah, I'll admit it.  Every time I listen to it I get all worked up.  I just can't help myself.  The same parts of my personality that cause me to either love fully or not at all, also makes me perpetually excited.  Just say it with me now: "Taking more than her share, had me fight for air.  She told me to come but I was already there."  You're a little aroused, too, now, aren't you?  See its not just me.  Okay maybe part of it IS me, but that can't be help.  I was raised evangelical, you know, and its common knowledge that Evangelical Gals are just bursting with sexual energy.  The good Lord made us that way.  Now, my Darlings, go to bed and have naughty dreams.  And YOU shook me all night long, yeah, YOU shook me all night long.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Down in Fraggle Rock

Dance your cares away.  Worries for another day.  Let the music play.  Down in Fraggle Rock.  <Said in a small and frightened voice>  Yes, when Yours Truly is a wee bit crazy, she whistles and sings the theme song to Fraggle Rock over and over again.  No, really, tonight I am certifiable.  I keep alternating between  nearly bursting into tears and wanting to punch the Obnoxious Hipster who refuses to stop talking on his phone while dancing in the middle of Bloomington's Soma.  Everything seems either annoying or dangerous.  For example, I didn't even start at Soma.  No, I began my evening at Starbucks, but, after three minutes, concluded it was an unacceptable spot.  No rational reason why...just a hunch.  Starbucks was bad, tricksy, FALSE!  And, for that reason, should be avoided.  Okay, FINE, maybe its not the coffee chain that flipping my switch tonight.  Maybe its that life provides no reassurances.  No promises that things won't hurt.  That I won't fall apart again.  That my birthday, which inches ever closer, won't leave me in the fetal position again.  I'm terrified...and, outside of praying, I don't know what to do.  Maybe I just to take a leap of faith, believe things will be alright, and sing while I go wembling along.  Dance your cares away.  Worries for another day. Let the music play.  Down in Fraggle Rock.

Marbles: A Review...and Confession

Last Saturday, Yours Truly ran across Ellen Forney's graphic memoir Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me in Lexington, Kentucky, and quickly concluded I must read it.  Now can you guess why this Hysterical Historian might be drawn to a book about someone who learns she's bipolar right before her thirtieth birthday?...  No?  Well, think about it a little longer.  Anyway, back on topic here, in my opinion, on the plus side Forney's work is frank, honest, and provides a good description of what it is like to be bipolar.  The euphoria and insensitivity to others during mania followed by the crippling, sadness that the author compares to grief during a depressive episode.  And as if the symptoms weren't enough to cope with finding the proper combination of meds to keep a bipolar patient steady is also difficult, and takes time and patience.  I should know because I, too, am Touched With Fire, as Kay Redfield Jamison, one of the leading authority on this mental disorder, puts it...and have been struggling to find the right combination of meds for almost a year now.  Forney's illustrations are well drawn and the book is a fun read...but.  

Yes, there's always a but.  As a person who suffers from bipolar, I found Forney's complaints and sense of hopelessness over struggling for four years to find the right combination of meds a little hard to take when she openly admits to smoking pot almost daily and doing a line of cocaine at Comic Con (where she had a particularly bad episode).  Now, hold on Hipsters, this is not a rant against smoking pot.  In my opinion, its pretty harmless drug for healthy people, but the hard truth is staying emotionally stable is difficult for a bipolar patient at the best of times. This means extracurricular drugs, no matter how harmless, simply do not fit into the picture.  Yes, eventually, after four years the author admits to her psychiatrist she smoked weed on a daily basis and gives it up, but it seems rather hypocritical for Forney to complain so often about her meds when she actively took  drugs that would alter with her mental state.  In other words, she really had no idea with her meds were working or not during that period.  

My other complaint is that Forney, to some extent, idealizes her maniac state noting how unbelievably creative and uninhibited she was during mania.  For instance, Forney discusses, at length, having random sex with total strangers during her manic period.  Rather than mentioning the dangers associated with this behavior, Forney suggests superiority for having done so.  Hum...alright then.  Here's the issue, Kids.  During mania, most patients with bipolar disorder overwork themselves, engage in risky behavior, and fail to think about the feelings of their friends and loved ones.  There's no glamour here.   Just because there is a correlation between creativity and bipolar, and because many authors and artists have suffered from the disorder does not mean the condition ought to go untreated.  A large percentage of those same individuals also attempted suicide...again, its not something I recommend.  The most I can say is that sometimes I do miss the endless energy I had during mania, but, not at the expense of my health or the feelings of those I love and care about most.  Overall, Forney's book is worth the read, but I'd take some of what she implies about mental illness with a grain of salt.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I ENVY Seas Whereon He Rides

I ENVY seas whereon he rides,
I envy spokes of wheels
Of chariots that him convey,
I envy speechless hills

That gaze upon his journey
How easy all can see
What is forbidden utterly
As heaven, unto me!    

I envy nest of sparrows
That dot his distant eaves,
The wealthy fly upon his pane,
The happy, happy leaves

That just abroad his window
Have summer's leave to be,
The earring of Pizarro
Could not obtain for me.

I envy light that wakes him,
And bells that boldly ring
To tell him it is noon abroad,-
Myself his noon could bring,

Yet interdict my blossom
And abrogate my bee,
Lest noon in everlasting night
Drop Gabriel and me.
~Emily Dickinson

Given the sheer number of posts on my blog dedicated to Emily Dickinson, it should come as no surprise to find out Old Em is one of my favorite poets.  Why, you ask?  Well, I'll tell you.  Miss Emily lived in unmarried, isolation for most of her adult life during the nineteenth century, and, because of that fact, fair or not (I'd say not), most of society would have deemed her a dry, old maid, yet, reread the poem above.  Can't you feel her longing for her lover?  In my opinion, Emily was anything, but dry or dispassionate.  Look at how she teases and flirts with language: The very hills that gaze upon her lover's journey are blessed with a gift forbidden her.  Haven't you felt that way?  Envious of the little day to day routines that allow others to see someone you love, while you remain far away?  A twinge of pain pricks at your heart when you think of how others take such a gift granted.  Dickinson, a woman who spent so much time alone, and perhaps lonely, captures those feelings in a way no other poet I've ever read can.   She is timeless.  Literature professors will assure you that there is no other poet like Emily Dickinson.  This woman died in 1886, and now, over one hundred years later we've yet to find her equal.  Dry and dispassionate?  Surely not.  In this poem, I like to think that Dear Emily reminds us to remember that still waters often run deep.  

Saturday, November 24, 2012

It is to laugh, huh, Mister J?

[Holding a Batman Gingerbread Cookie] "Hello Mister J.  I'm Batman.  Eat me! Eat me! Eat me!"

"Aw, c'mon, Puddin'--don'tcha wanna rev up your Harley?  Vroom!  Vroom!"

"I'm crazy about... Hey, I'm just crazy."  (Harley Quinn)  No, really, I'm certifiable.  And perhaps because of that no matter how much I want to be a Femme Fatale, down deep, I'm a Harley Quinn.  Big eyes.  Lots of Devotion.  Severely Protective.  And totally Insane.  Really, I've asked my best friend, Maggie, about this, her response: "You just let it all hang out. No one could call YOU subtle.  I think its because you don't come and go in your affection.  You're pretty stable in that respect."  True enough, I guess.  Listen, Kids, being a Harley Quinn is tough.  In many respects, we're delicate creatures capable of getting squashed like a bug.  Of course, in other respects, we are Sadistic Little Bitches who reign punishment on anyone who dares mess with our Puddin'!  No, I don't have any idea where I'm going with this.  In fact, I'm not sure there is an actual point to this post. Come to think of it, given the information I've just supplied you with your expecting some sort of moral to my story seems unreasonable on your part.  Why are you asking so much of me?  I'm just talkin' here.  Seriously, People, never expect a Harley Quinn to make much sense.  So for now: "It is to laugh, huh, Mister J?"

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Second Confession of the Night

Second Confession of the Evening: I am frightened.  Yeah, yeah.  No shit, right?  Only a truly terrified person cancels all her birthdays until the end of time...or the end of her whichever comes first.  My brother says there's no reason to be scared.  That I make up the worst scenarios in my head.  That there's no evidence to support my fears.  Evidence. <Sigh>  Manipulating evidence in order to make an argument is part of my job, and I'm nothing if not imaginative.  And I'm afraid the same overactive imagination that helps me tie together historical tidbits also gets in trouble when it comes to day to day life.  Loving other people.  Being vulnerable.  Having hope.  In my experience, those things come with some pretty hefty repercussions.  The evidence is all there.  This is gonna hurt.  Maybe its why I don't want to have a birthday.  I'm just scared.

The Day Which Shall Not Be Named

Confession: I hate my birthday.  No, its not because I'm worried about getting older.  You are so freakin' vain. Here you sit worrying about a few gray hairs, and I'm expecting my entire existence to fall into the crapper. Listen, historically, December 11th as been a bad day for me, so much so, that this year, I'm taking an OCD page out of Jenny Lawson's book and renaming my 30th the Day Which Shall Not Be Named.  That's right, People!  There is NO December 11th.  You had plans that day?  Well, too damn bad. Forget em'!  And don't tell me I'm being melodramatic here. I spent my last B-day in the fetal position.  No, really, I have witnesses.  After sobbing over a plate of delicious, mostly untouched blueberry pancakes, I'm still afraid to go to Bloomington's Runcible Spoon. No one wants to see that...not to mention, I worry the place is cursed or something.  Seriously, Guys, all kidding aside, I'm terrified.  From here on out, I do NOT have a birthday.  No day shall be celebrated or remembered (well, it rarely has been so no loss there) to mark my entrance into this world and I expect the same will be said for my exit.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Happiness Doubled By Wonder

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." (G. K. Chesterton)

"Well I came home like a stone/And fell heavy into your arms/These days of dust, which we've known/Will blow away with this new sun/An I'll kneel down wait for now." (Mumford and Sons)

Listen Kids, craziness comes with few perks.  Oh, sure, you've a proper excuse to burst into tears at any moment, but, keep in mind, your waterworks are tiresome to those around you.  Not to mention, you draw looks.  But that's the problem with being crazy, isn't it?  You can't help bursting into tears, begging for grace, and being generally insufferable.  So where am I going with this, right?  Well, when you come apart you find out who means the most in your life.  You see, its easy to love and care about someone at their best, but when you're at your worst the people who stick around are the ones you hold onto.  They're the ones who matter.  Screw everyone else!  For me, a person who fell face down almost a year ago now, that means that this Thanksgiving I think I'll say an extra prayer for the friends who supported me, a brother whose always there, and someone very special because gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

Friday, November 16, 2012

What I Want

"Can you understand me a little, love me a little?  For all my despair, for all my ideals, for all that-I love life.  But it is hard, and I have so much-so very much to learn."  (Sylvia Plath, Unabridged Journals)  

"And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter-- they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long." (Ibid.)

I want to sleep, but I can't.  I want to write, but the words won't come.  I want to paint, but I haven't the time.  I want to run away, but I can't find the proper excuse.  I want to finish a novel, but I can't concentrate.  I want to read the end of my story, but I can't find the right book.  I want to know everything will be alright, but life doesn't provide that reassurance.  I want to be saner.  I want to be kinder.  I want to know my heart is safe.  I want so many things, but they all seem just out of reach.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Citizens of Wonderland

"But I don't want to go among made people," Alice remarked.

"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all made here.  I'm mad.  You're mad."

"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice

"You must be," sad the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

Now compare:

Counselor: Why do you second guess yourself?

Me: I just don't trust my judgement.  If I come to a conclusion and it makes me happy than it must be wrong.  I must be drawing that conclusion because I WANT that outcome.  Not because its the truth.

Counselor: Can you give me an example.

Me: Well, lets say the blueness of the sky directly impacted the outcome of my desires.  No matter how blue the sky is deep down I would assume that it wasn't really or not the right sort of blue because I want it to be that perfect type of blueness so I'm just fooling myself.  The sky is probably more of a green or purple color in all reality.

Now, I'm gonna be honest, Kiddies, if you can follow my warped line of logic than you're crazy, too.  Stop trying to argue with me.  Its no use.  You can't help it.  I'm mad.  You're mad.  We're all mad here.  In fact, reading this blog is just further evidence you've drifted off the straight and narrow, and have fallen down the Rabbit Hole.  Welcome Wonderland.  Now here's the question:  How are you going to survive? Well, as a long time inhabitant allow me to give you a couple of tips.

1.)  Buy a Cheshire Cat: Crazy people need pets.  No, really, we do.  Listen to me.  Mad people must employ all means of therapy at their disposal.  Pets walk around our homes acting cute and distracting us from the fact we're sitting in Wonderland.  If you're the wrong sort of person than you could purchase a dog, but if you want my opinion (or my friendship) feline friends are the way to go.  They're delightful.  Need proof?  Sure you do.  Last year, someone special to me introduced to Simon's Kitten's and I've been hooked ever since.  Enjoy!

2.) Chase the White Rabbit: Citizens of Wonderland the hard truth is you won't be sane over night and, let's be honest here, our version of sanity is still a rather loopy.  You can wait for the day when you are the least trippy to follow your heart, but, I wouldn't suggest it.  Hearts are funny things, my Friends, and listening to them tends to change our outlook.  Gives you something or someone to hold onto when you're down and to pray for when you're alone.  A light in the darkness.  Good news here is that being just a little crazy makes it easier speak up.   Personally, I am fit for a straight jacket but I can only hope that makes me somewhat attractive or endearing on a weird level.

3.) Look to the Hookah Smoking Caterpillar: Allow me to add one caveat to Chase the White Rabbit.  Crazy people sometimes say too much.  We don't mean to, but its in our nature.  All our desires and thoughts come spilling out because we lack the proper filtration system that would make us more cautious...and sane.  This means we need wise friends to slow us down and talk us off the ledge when we go goofy.  Personally, I turn to my friend Maggie and my brother on a regular basis for advice.  But as a rule of thumb, running a plan by the Caterpillar before launching into action is always a wise move.

Finally, do not ask yourself why you are in Wonderland.  Why is raven like a writing desk?  We don't know.  All we know is that we are mad.  If we weren't, we wouldn't be here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Grace: Sigh No More

"Love it will not betray you/Dismay or enslave you, it will set you free/Be more the man you were made to be/There is a design, an alignment, a cry/Of my heart to see/The beauty of love as it was made to be." (Mumford and Sons, "Sigh No More") One of the reasons I adore Mumford and Sons music is because their lyrics so often deal with the topic of grace. Why is grace so important to me? Well, allow me to explain. In my humble opinion, grace, which I would call the ultimate expression of love, is what makes this life bearable. The problem is that, sometimes, I forget to keep an eye out for it. You see, grace isn't trumpeted from the mountain tops. Instead, I think, it reveals itself in quiet ways. Grace is a silent prayer. Grace is driving forty five miles to meet someone whose falling apart when it would be easier to say no. Grace is unexpected book review that makes you smile when you're about to cry. Because, Folks, while mountain top experiences are well and good, we live our lives in the valley. And its those people who stay with you there and provide day to day encouragement and comfort that mean the most and give us the grace to carry on. Thus, when I hear "Sigh No More" I remember to look for all those precious acts of grace.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Angelic Expectations

"I am not an angel," I asserted; "and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself.  Mr. Rochester, you neither expect nor exact anything celestial of me-for you will not get it, any more than I shall get if of you: which I do not at all anticipate." (Charlotte Bronte, JANE EYRE)   One of the few perks that comes with mental illness is gaining a firm grasp on the need for grace.  Grace to overlook our tedious insecurities.  Grace that moves our loved ones to email, call, and tweet reassurances time again.  Grace to accept our bizarre "quirks".  Because when we receive that type of grace, like Jane Eyre, we understand nothing celestial can ever be exacted from us, and we stop placing those childish expectations upon others.  Or as someone quite special told me: "we are all damaged goods; it goes with being human."  

I often think relationships would go so differently if we stopped expecting the impossible from other people.  Far too often, we enter relationships looking for others to fulfill our needs.  Not only is this misguided, its selfish.  Loving others isn't about what we can "get" from someone else.  Its about what we can give because we love them.  Sure, that's an ideal.  All of I Corinthians Chapter 13 is a fucking ideal.  And, yeah, despite our best efforts, we're gonna screw things all up.  Make mistakes.  Hurt the people we love.  Because that's part of being human, too.  But I think what matters most is being willing to talk things out.  Knowing that misunderstandings and miscommunications will happen because none of us are celestial beings, but those hurts aren't worth losing the one's we love.  In other words, we need to give the people who me the most to us (and in my opinion, that's the individuals who stuck by you at your worst/craziest) room to be human, too.