Coping with myself

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I hate having to admit to myself and other people, I have Bipolar Disorder.  Mental illness carries such a stigma that trying to talk about it is very hard.  This is the first time I’ve ever admitted publically that I live with this disorder.  Only people who are very close to me know.  To be honest, since my diagnosis in high school, I’ve only told a handful of people…even my children don’t know.

I’ve been forcing myself to take a very honest look at my bipolar disorder.  I’ve denied it or considered myself “cured” for years.  I have been in such denial that I refused to acknowledge all the flashing, blinking, neon signs right in front of me.  I have justified my thoughts and feelings a million ways.

When I was initially diagnosed at age 15, all I could focus on was that something was wrong with me.  I wanted to be different and unique…but on my own terms and in my own ways.  I didn’t want to be “broken”.  I hid behind combat boots, a partially shaved head and hair that changed color every month.  I was able to deal with and live with my disorder…on my terms.  The way I chose to dress and the label society gave me (punk, alternative, grunge, etc.) allowed me to justify my behavior.  Everyone assumed my behavior was just how Punks, Alternative or Grunge people behaved.

When I was hospitalized and received my diagnosis, the psychiatrist wanted to put me on Lithium.  My mom did some research (although I couldn’t tell you what kind) and concluded that Lithium basically turns you into a zombie…so they chose not to medicate me.  That was okay by me, because I my mom was God and anything she said was gospel.  I also didn’t want to be a zombie and I truly didn’t believe there was anything wrong with me!

Throughout the next twenty years I learned to just deal with my feelings, constantly writing them off as one thing or another.  I embraced self-injury to avoid suicide.  I became addicted to releasing my psychological and emotional pain by inflicting physical wounds on myself.  Not a healthy choice, but one that saved my life.  I’ve hidden those scars with tattoos, because although I believed they saved my life, I am not proud of them.

My daughters just returned home from Operation Snowball.  Suicide and self-injury are topics they learned about and addressed amongst other things.  That program, and the friends I made there, changed the course of my life.  I am proud to say I am still friends with them today…some twenty five years later.  Even though, thousands of miles separate some of us, social media allow us to stay in touch.  Specifically Facebook.  The down side to that is my daughters are now old enough that they are on Facebook.

So…today…to help ease my anxiety about finally being brave enough to admit I live with this disorder to the public and the pain in my heart from a personal issue I am not willing to disclose, I am crocheting.  I don’t know what it is…or will be…or even if I’ll finish it, but today, right now…it’s helping me.  It’s better than cutting myself, and better than listening to my own voice that likes to criticize and belittle me.  There is something soothing and calming in the repetitive nature of the stitches and the counting.

2015_10_17_19_39_24

My kids have given me a reason to live but it is still hard to drag myself out of bed some days.  Hopefully they’ll see me showing my vulnerability and learn from it.  Maybe they too will see it’s okay not to be perfect, and that living with a mental illness is not a death sentence.  Today I will wear mine as if it was a badge or honor…not to be ashamed of, but to embrace as just another part of who I am.

Namaste

The Bucket List

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Like the rest of the world, when I saw the movie “The Bucket List” I was moved to tears and inspired into action.  I made my bucket list and surprisingly there were only a few things on it…

  1. Graduate college.
  2. Buy a house.
  3. Marry for true love.
  4. Raise my daughter to be confident, happy and full of love.

These were the truly important things to me that I had to accomplish.  I put my bucket list on the fridge, and there it sat…for years.

When I married my best friend, we had to relocate…the one bedroom, one bathroom my daughter (Punk) and I shared wasn’t going to cut it.  The bucket list came down on moving day and stuffed into a box like so many other things.  As we got settled in the new house and I was unpacking, I came across the list.

I stared at it.  After years of hanging on the fridge…I was finally able to cross something off of it!

  1. Graduate college.
  2. Buy a house.
  3. Marry for true love.
  4. Raise my daughter to be confident, happy and full of love.

WOW!!!!  I was impressed with myself…I had bought my first house!  Buying the house was a huge leap of faith for me, but I did it…and I had survived!

Finding my bucket list and being able to cross something off of it did something for me.  I liked how it felt to be able to cross something off!  I felt proud and accomplished!  Then it hit me…if I can buy a house, what else could I do?  I mean after all…a house is kind of a big deal!

I tucked that list inside a journal, and started adding to it when crazy things would pop into my head.  Pretty soon, my list started to grow…I realized it’s kind of a living breathing document.  As I grow and discover new things, it too will grow and change.

Six months after buying my house and moving in with my best friend, I married him.  Scuba is the second best thing that’s ever happened to me.  Marrying my best friend of 24 years allowed me to cross another thing off my list.  After all, we’d seen each other at our very best and at our lowest and we’d always stuck together and been there for each other.  If that’s not true love, nothing is!

Now, don’t get me wrong…I’ve done plenty of crazy stuff before, but it’s always been silly, teenager type of stuff.  I’m always the goofy, loud, crazy one…I just like to have fun too much.  I’ve always said “Life is not a spectator sport; it is meant to be lived!”  As I’ve “grown-up” and become a “responsible adult” my wild ways have calmed down…mostly because of Punk.  She has opened my eyes to an entirely new part of life I never understood.  I now know the true meaning of unconditional love…but…I digress.

I guess this is where once again, I throw caution to the wind and expose myself…NOT LIKE THAT!!!  Ewww!  Just kidding, just kidding!  It’s like this…if I put myself out there…maybe I’ll be a little more inspired or motivated to continue crossing stuff off my list.  Who knows…maybe someone else is in a situation similar to mine and this will inspire them to act instead of waiting and watching life pass them by.

So here you go…I’m sharing my bucket list with you…maybe you’ll be inspired a little to go play too!  I’ll try to write about some of these things, but as my name implies…I am a mom of four…life gets a little busy sometimes!

Things to do:

  • Write/Maintain a blog
  • Pull an airplane
  • Learn to knit
  • Learn to crochet
  • Learn Yoga
  • Meet DDP and have him help me (he’s made the offer, I just have to get off my ass!)
  • Ride on in a sled pulled by sled dogs
  • Pet a wolf
  • Feed a bear
  • Own a house
  • Graduate College
  • Get married
  • Buy a brand new car
  • The Polar Plunge
  • Run/Walk a 5K
  • Take up geocaching
  • Paint a picture

Places to see/visit:

  • Okunoin Cemetery—Mount Koya-san, Japan:  This UNESCO World Heritage site is a revered ninth-century cemetery created on the moss-covered valley floor of an eight-peaked mountain, so as to symbolize a lotus flower. The vast, forested burial ground is the spiritual home of the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism, and is filled with over 200,000 stone stupas of all shapes and sizes (dome-shaped Buddhist shrines) and Jizo statues (protector of women, children, and travelers). The cemetery is centered around the mausoleum of the sect’s founder, Kobo Daishi, beautifully lit by some 21,000 lanterns (if you go, you can light one). Two of them are believed to have remained constantly ablaze for nearly 1,000 years. Adding to the otherworldly scene? It’s not uncommon to see devout Shingon Buddhists dressed all in white carrying a staff while wandering through the labyrinth-like cobblestone paths.
DCED52 Japan, Mount Koya, Koyasan graveyard, Okunoin, line of Bibbed Jizo statues in front of tombstones

Japan, Mount Koya, Koyasan graveyard

  • Bonaventure Cemetery—Savannah, Georgia:  The Bonaventure Cemetery was made famous as the cemetery on the cover of the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and appeared in the film version directed by Clint Eastwood. But this place has been drop-dead gorgeous since it opened in the mid-19th century. Even naturalist John Muir slept a few nights in here and wrote a chapter about it in his book A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf. The twisted trunks of the chimerical, 250-year-old oak trees stretch their twiggy, Spanish moss-covered limbs over the myriad paths and give this place a mysterious beauty unparalleled almost anywhere else in the United States.

bonaventurecemetery2

  • Australia
  • Tibet
  • Alaska (Denali)
  • Redwood Forest
  • The 4 Corners
  • The Grand Canyon
  • Bachelors Grove Cemetery
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Mount Rushmore
  • Montana

Angry Wife Rant

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I am a modern day woman.  By that I mean I do not idly sit and watch.  I am a doer…a leader.

I was a helicopter mechanic in the United States Army.  I can fix shit.  I like to tinker…and problem solve.  I like learning new things.  I like trying things…even if I fail.

I don’t get the whole “I AM MAN” mentality.  Especially in this day and age!  Why aren’t my ideas probable.  Why do men feel so friggin’ threatened by a woman who can do the things they can?  I’m not better, but am just as capable!

While pulling weeds today, one of my darling daughters put her foot through a basement window.  Since my darling husband was working 12 hours today, after I begrudgingly let three of my kids go with their biological female, I ran to the hardware store and picked up everything we were going to need to replace the broken window.  Know what…no one had to tell me what to buy.

My dad had come over while I was at work to make sure what I thought I needed (single pane of glass, window glazing and glazing points) was in fact the case.  Well, that and to make sure the kids weren’t killing each other.

My point is simply this.  I had everything my darling husband needed to make the repair.  I could have made the repair, but was dealing with kids and playing taxi mom.  My darling husband likes to make repairs, so I thought I was helping by having everything ready for him when he came home.  Problem was, while watching him make the repair, I made the mistake of opening my mouth to make a suggesting when the pane of glass wasn’t going into place.

When you see someone you love struggling, its your natural instinct to try and help.  My help is not that of a person who has no experience in building, fixing or repairing things.  With a few simple words my husband was able to crushed me and infuriate me.  He did not yell or scream, but the simple act of a few spoken words, left me feeling like I was a subordinate instead of an equal.

I was mad at my darling husband…but now even more so at my self for letting someone make me feel that way period.  I know what I am capable of.  I know what I can do, why did I let this wound me so deeply?  Because it came from someone who I love and respect.

I’m sure I’ve done the same thing to him before, so I know I just need to breathe and let it go until later tonight when I’ll be able to express myself in a calm and appropriate manner.  Yeah, inside I am screaming and cussing and stomping my feet, but I know doing that on the outside won’t help, so I’m going to post this rant, take a shower and try to chill out before I talk to the man I love and remind him that we are on the same team and I was only trying to help.  I need to let him know how his words made me feel.  If I feel like I’ve been heard, then at least I can move forward.

After all…life is about moving forward, not rooting yourself in protest.

Meditations at the stove…

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Some people find clarity and answers after meditating for hours on the issues and problems that plague them.  Me…I found my answers scrubbing a stovetop on a Sunday morning.

Due to an unforeseen medical emergency a week ago, I’m on a short term leave of absence from work.  It’s one of my worst nightmares come to life.  I have to be home with my kids…over spring break…while incapacitated…and unable to drive.  My four kids are between the ages of 14 and 11.

I have to take it easy for the next two weeks…and by easy, I mean easy…as in do nothing but walk a little to prevent blood clots, but absolutely nothing else.  Me?  Do nothing but casually move around?  Oh this was not going to end well.

In all fairness, my kids are awesome…but their kids!  On spring break!  Like they’re going to clean the house, cook and run themselves to practices, appointments and friends houses!

My point is simply this.

After only a few hours of restless sleep, when I woke up, this morning to make the coffee, there are dirty dishes in the sink.  The stove…let’s just say…ew.  So…in true mom form, while the coffee was brewing, I busted out the cleaning spray, soaked the stovetop in the hopes of somehow dissolving the top layer of whatever the hell it is my family has incinerated on it.

Spray…wipe…spray…wipe.  Spray…soak…scrub.  Spray…chisel…spray…scrub…spray…soak…scrub…

While going through these familiar motions…my mind starts to wander.  My body and mind have separated as they often do when faced with shit that just has to get done. My body is going through the motions that it has a million times before.  My mind goes off to la-la land to escape the mundane and daunting task at hand.

Spray…wipe…spray…wipe.  Spray…soak…scrub.  Spray…chisel…spray…scrub…spray…soak…scrub…

My house is quiet.  My kids…and their friend whose sleeping on the couch, are happy.  My husband is home…safe and in one piece from a job that is dangerous and often sends my cortisone levels through the roof.

Spray…wipe…spray…wipe.  Spray…soak…scrub.  Spray…chisel…spray…scrub…spray…soak…scrub…

My life is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it is mine…and I am happy…and my kids are happy.  I am a good mom…wife…daughter…sister…friend.  Life constantly tries to knock me down and off balance…but  I am happy.  My stove is messy…but I am happy.

Spray…wipe…spray…wipe.  Spray…soak…scrub.  Spray…chisel…spray…scrub…spray…soak…scrub…

Then it hits me.

Spray…wipe…spray…wipe.  Spray…soak…scrub.  Spray…chisel…spray…scrub…spray…soak…scrub…

My whole adult life has been about working.  Away from or at home, my life up until this point, has been one of service.  For companies and corporations to family and friends, community both locally and nationally…I define myself by my many jobs.

Spray…wipe…spray…wipe.  Spray…soak…scrub.  Spray…chisel…spray…scrub…spray…soak…scrub…

I’ve always believed the most important years of a kids life where up until they become teens.  You teach them how to do everything.  Get up, brush your teeth, eat healthy, go to school, play well with others, use your manners, clean up after yourself (okay…so this one it takes them a little longer to master), read, love your family, get a good nights sleep.

Spray…wipe…spray…wipe.  Spray…soak…scrub.  Spray…chisel…spray…scrub…spray…soak…scrub…

Oh my gosh…I was wrong!  They need me most now!  How could I have not understood this!  Did I not live the exact same shit when I was their age?  Oh my gawd!  This is when all the hard shirt really happens!  This is when life starts teaching them the real lessons!  What a real friend is.  What family really means when your hurt and scared and trying to short though the insane feelings of puberty.  Why life doesn’t happened the way it does on TV and in the movies!  Why doesn’t that boy like me?  How am I ever going to survive high school?  Why do my parents always try to ruin my life by making me spend “family time” with them.  Why do I have to do these dumb ass chores?  Why can’t I sleep in until noon?  Why does the world hate me?  How am I suppose to know what the hell I want to do with my life…I’m just a kid!

Spray…wipe…spray…wipe.  The stove is clean.

My kids need me now more than ever.  Although this is the time in their lives when I physically have to start to letting them go, now…more than ever…is when they need me emotionally and mentally.  Now more than ever is when they need a mom and not a friend.  They need stability and structure.  They need to know that although they have to start dealing with life in all it’s glory and messiness, they won’t have to do it alone.  I am here for them.  For the first time in my life, I want to be a stay-a-home mom.

The stove is clean…my mission is clear.  My heart is light.  I am happy.

Namaste.