how I deal with bipolar brain

Anyone who deals with a chronic illness deals with certain side effects, both from medications they might take and from the illness itself. My biggest, current, medication side effect is hand tremors from the lithium. This has put an end to my beadwork and to my drawing. But the trade off is that I’m mentally more stable than ever.

I’ll take it.

Most of the rest of my issues come from my illness itself, such as my brain’s weakness in the face of chaos. I’m not talking about comic book villain type chaos, more like “there’s too much mess on my desk” chaos or “I have too many options and I feel crippled so I can’t make a decision” kind of chaos or “I can’t remember stuff, like that word I’m trying to say or where I’m supposed to be right now” kind of chaos. It probably sounds strange, but those things really can take me down for the count. So how do I deal?

First, I have a tendency to keep my living / working spaces very tidy. Chaos in my physical surroundings leads to chaos in my brain. I also use music as a form of white noise when I’m at work and an actual white noise app at night to help me sleep.

Second, I make as many decisions as possible in bulk. What do I mean by that? I spend about an hour on the weekend getting my outfits/jewelry for the next work week together. I hang everything in my bathroom so it’s ready to go. I also spend time making breakfasts, lunches, fruit salad, and coffee on the weekend. If there’s time I take what I can to the office and have my fridge ready to go for the week. If not, I carry it in on Monday. The food prep stuff also makes sure I don’t end up buying lunches.

What was that last thing? Oh yeah, my rotten memory.

I’ve been using an app called Keep. It ties in to my Google account and I can access it on my phone or on the computer. I can use it as a notebook, it will remind me of things, and I can setup regularly scheduled reminders. It’s amazing and it’s free.

Those are some of my tricks. I’m sure there are others. What do you do to deal with your issues like this?


why I f*cking HATE daylight saving time

I’m in treatment for Bipolar Disorder II, and by that I mean that I take my prescribed meds as prescribed, I see my psychiatrist when I’m supposed to, I see my therapist every month, I don’t drink excessively, I don’t take recreational drugs, I try to eat more healthy food than crap, and I work really hard to get at least 6 hours of sleep every night.

Every. F*cking. Night.

It’s important y’all. Too many nights of not enough sleep in a row will screw my life up faster than damn near anything else. For reals.

I take roughly 15 pills every night before bed. Nine of those are actual psychiatric medications. Two are OTC things that help with sleep and the rest are vitamins. I turn off the TV, the computer, and the phone so that the blue light emitted from their screens don’t stimulate my brain. I keep my room nice and cool. I run an essential oil diffuser with lavender oil. And sometimes it’s just not enough.

I can tell you with 99.9% certainty that next week is going to be rough. You wouldn’t think a single hour, 60 minutes, would make such a difference, but it does. I will have trouble falling asleep and I will have one hell of a time waking up. There will be much grumping. There will be industrial quantities of coffee required.

Man this sucks.

mental musings

It’s no secret that I have a mental illness. I actually have multiple official diagnoses. I take medication every day, I see a therapist on a regular basis, I’m under the care of a psychiatrist. People who don’t know me well or only know me professionally wouldn’t know any of that based on any outward signs. I choose to take care of my mental health much as I take care of my physical health.  I would guess that most folks with mental illness, those receiving treatment anyway, feel approximately the same.

Mental illness is first and foremost an illness. There is something about the body, in our case the brain, that doesn’t work right. If I had diabetes it would be my pancreas in need of support. But it’s no different.

Only it is.

No one would ever tell a diabetic that s/he shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun because of their illness.

Just let that sink in for a minute.

I don’t want a gun, that’s not what I’m saying. I sold my rifle because I stopped going target shooting before my grandfather died more than 20 years ago. I learned to shoot, to reload bullets, proper respect for firearms at a young age. I’m not comfortable having a gun. But that’s my decision to make.

Y’all know where I’m going with this.

These are my opinions:

  • Teachers have enough to do without worrying about carrying a gun
  • If teachers did carry guys that would save the mass shooters the trouble of buying the guns
  • What about the poor kid who’s being bullied and snaps while at school? If the teachers have guns, see above
  • Don’t judge us by our diagnoses – we are 2.5x more likely to be VICTIMS
  • If there was easier access to mental health care maybe some of this shit wouldn’t happen

long time no write

Not dead yet! Life has been hectic and there have been bits where I’m doing good to keep my head above water. But even though life has been more about the treading than making progress lately, I haven’t drowned yet. I call that good.

While I haven’t done super great with the goals lately, I haven’t done super awful either. I haven’t lost weight but I also haven’t gained. And I spent money on stuff I didn’t truly need, but I haven’t gone beyond the funds I had set aside. And of the the things I did buy, none of it was craft supplies. Mostly it was digital music and a new small set of markers, both of which I use at work.

Work is good these days, and it’s part of what’s keeping me going. There is no shortage of stuff to do. And I love these crazy people. Over lunch today I had one of my faculty friends stop by needing a favor and he was all “I totally owe you coffee for this!” No sir, this is called doing my job. I told him that I’ll take care of him and he can take care of the students.

Honestly, that’s how I measure my success – retention and graduation rates. If we aren’t keeping students long enough for them to graduate then we aren’t doing something right and I feel like that comes back, at least in part, on me.

Anyway, still working on the other goals. I’m trying to get back on the whole healthy eating wagon. I spent time last night getting some lunches and fruit salad made. I’m also making good progress on my latest knitting adventure, a beaded shawl.

the beads are really subtle, they’re along the left edge in this pic

The pattern is simple and I’m loving it. Not sure how long it’s going to take to finish but I have been working on it regularly. And I finished some smaller projects in February so I feel pretty ok about that.


all the things, all the time

By way of a quick “goals” update, it was not a great week. I ate more junk food than I should have and was not quite as stringent with the budget as I should have been. On the plus side, the Visa has been paid off and I sent a hefty chunk to another card. But this super cold winter weather is just dragging me down.

At any rate, I have still been doing my best to keep moving forward, even if more slowly these days. I’m approaching my 42nd birthday and my 12th year in active treatment for Bipolar Disorder. I feel totally justified in slowing down.

There was a time in my life when I really did think I could do all the things all at the same time, which is utter crap. But I felt bullet proof and I was out to prove that I was. Oh how wrong I was…

Getting enough sleep, eating healthy food, and taking the right medications have made a huge difference in my world, as has having the world’s most amazing mom.

I live with my mom and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. We take care of each other, we do stuff together, and she helps to keep me on the straight and narrow. I can’t even imagine how lonely I would be if I lived alone.

Here’s hoping y’all have a good week.

month one – official wrap up

Sorry y’all, this is likely going to be a shorter than usual post. I’m not feeling so fabulous today and so sitting in this desk chair is not a good thing. But, accountability is a good thing, so here goes.

  1. Weight – I have lost exactly 5lbs since I started tracking this on January 1st. Yay!
  2. Money – I stuck to my budget last month. I ate out exactly 3x, I kept every receipt, and I didn’t even suffer for it.
  3. Eating better – I paid much more attention to what I was eating. Part of that is because of the food prepping I do. (hopefully more on that in a future post)

All in all, I’m counting January as a very good month and I’m proud of the progress I’ve made.

week four

Coming at you a day early this week, but hey, I’ve got good stuff to share.

Easy one first, the weight. In spite of making the decision to have dinner out last night, and eat a large order of french fries, I managed to lose another 3/4 of a pound. My guess is that it could have been even more if we’d had something healthier for dinner but I honestly don’t feel bad. This was only the THIRD time this month that I’ve eaten out and a girl needs some fries now and then. I’m still considering it a win. I’m down 4lbs for the month. My goal was 5 and I still consider next week part of January. I’m seeing a victory in my future.

On the financial front, I’m doing awesome. I still have cash left in my wallet and in the bank. I recreated my budget spreadsheet (it got lost when the laptop tanked) and then started adding up my receipts and I’m actually in really good shape. Assuming the government does eventually let me file my taxes, my returns are good enough that I’ll be able to pay off one credit card entirely and then start working on the others. My plan is to pay off the highest balance, because it would require the highest monthly payment to eliminate this year, and then put that payment amount with the next highest balance. This should result in all of the cards being paid off well before the end of the year.

I’ve decided that the next step is going to be increasing what I pay on my vehicle loan. I moved that to my credit union, where I do all of my banking, late last year so it’s ridiculously easy to pay extra on it via their website. Once that’s paid off I’ll start putting money aside for the down payment on the next vehicle.

I totally sound like a grown up.

there’s a really funny story with this pic but all you really need to know is that no, it was not my birthday, but it’s stuff like this that makes it hard for me to think of myself as a grown up

I am starting to use my Google Assistant more often. I even figured out how to have it set reminders for me, and then promptly felt foolish because it’s stupid easy. I am quite enjoying it though.

And last but not least, the “bigger than a washcloth” craft project to be completed. I am probably 95% done crocheting the pieces and parts for the kitty cocoon/bunting thing for K’s bambino. Next comes assembly. Lots of little parts that will make for an adorable baby kitty. My plan is to get that finished this evening.

So YAY! I feel like I’m making really good progress with everything and because I’m not focusing all of my attention on just one thing it seems to be easier. It’s lots of baby steps that are all taking me in the direction I want to go.

gratuitous cute kitty picture