it’s not my time

I don’t have many “IRL” friends (people I know in real life) which is fine, but it means that my support network isn’t very big. It’s all about quality in my world, not quantity. I would rather have one amazing friend I can call in the middle of the night than a whole stadium full of people who kinda sorta know me but don’t want me to ever call them. I would guess I’m not the only person who has ever dealt with this.

In my friend network I am one of the oldest and I’ve been diagnosed and in treatment for my mental illness longest, all to say that I tend to be the most stable and the most able to provide a shoulder to lean on. I take my Mama Hen role seriously and the majority of the time I enjoy taking care of my chicks.

Right now I’m struggling. I’m not sure why, and it’s not awful, but struggle is struggle and this struggle is real. Lancelot is helping, making sure I’m taking care of myself and doing his best to give me what I ask for. But I can’t rely just on him, that’s not fair. I will admit I’m not the best at asking for help, it’s just not my nature.

Yesterday I sent a text to a few friends saying that I wasn’t doing well. Like in those words. And got no response.

I know that they’re both struggling with their own things, and evidently they don’t need any help or they aren’t asking for any, so I’m just leaving that situation alone.

Maybe some day it will be my time? Maybe?

I’ve been trying to knit amidst taking naps. I’m still working on the Cable it Up scarf and still entirely loving it. The yarn is really nice to work with and the pattern is delightfully straightforward. The pattern is free on Ravelry.

when life gets better

Tomorrow ain’t looking good either, just sayin’

It’s been roughly 15 years since I was diagnosed, officially, with a mental illness. I was just shy of 30 years old and admitted to my therapist that my plan was to leave her office and OD on meds. I wish I could say that was the low point, but it wasn’t.

I’ve attempted suicide four times since then, once landing myself in the ICU. I’ve done some truly ridiculous things because my brain shouldn’t have been trusted and I almost completely lacked effective coping skills. But because my mom is stubborn as fuck, and I have an amazing psychiatric team, here I am. And here I’ll stay.

Nothing tastes better than being in control of yourself

Here are just a few things I’ve learned on my journey that might help you on yours.

Don’t stop taking your meds without talking to your doctor, please. If you don’t feel like they’re working or that the side effects suck too much, talk to your doctor. There are lots of other things you can try with their guidance.

When you hit rock bottom, put down the shovel and quit fucking digging. We all have that limit; figure out where yours is and then respect it. Reach out for help.

Try to understand that you aren’t the only one who feels this way; there are lots of us who have been there and can empathize.

Also try to understand that just because today sucks does not mean that tomorrow will also suck. Trust me on this one.

If you haven’t already, try seeing a therapist. Just like not all psych docs are created equal, not all therapists are created equal. But there is a good fit out there for you. Trust me on this one, too.

It really does get better. For me it took hitting what turned out to be Utter and Absolute rock bottom and then being helped back up by my mom, some amazing friends, and great psych support. I am very happy to say that for the past five years I’ve been in a place that scares the hell out of me because I had never known “normal” as an adult. Normal is amazing, and it’s boring, and it’s beautiful.

Normal for me is a place where I can be bouncy and giggly and energetic or I can be quiet and a little sad and I can cry, and all of those things are perfectly ok.

If you need something, ask for it. If you never ask the question the answer will always be no.

no sympathy

I very clearly remember when the pandemic really hit my part of the world. We got enough warning at the university to help get the faculty ready to abruptly shift everything to be taught online and then that was it. The last day I actually got to work in my own office was March 20, 2020. I remember because that was the day before my birthday and it was the day everything shut down.

Lancelot and I both got the vaccine as soon as we were able to, more than a year after the bottom fell out of the world. I felt very fortunate to be able to do my part to protect not only myself but also those around me. We also both got booster shots as soon as we were able to, again happy to do so.

In our eyes this is nothing more “wicked” than a flu shot and we get those every year. I understand that a vaccine like this isn’t guaranteed protection, but they’ve proven time and time again that they help keep you out of the hospital if you do get COVID.

This week I’ve had two coworkers test positive, both are vaccinated and both had mild symptoms that are much like a nasty cold, but definitely not serious enough to be in the hospital. I feel bad that they’re sick, but I know they’ll get better.

By contrast I have a close friend who’s sister and brother in law believe the pandemic is a hoax and the vaccine is some government conspiracy, so they’re not vaccinated. They’re also both being transferred to the ICU this morning. I can’t bring myself to feel bad and at this point, their odds for leaving the hospital healthy are not great.

The moral of my story is that each of us has the ability to help end this pandemic. It’s taken a toll on our economies, our mental health, and our physical health. Damn near everything has changed and I truly don’t believe we’ll do the whole “return to normal” bullshit. That version of normal was kind of awful. But we get to start fresh with some stuff, make it better.

But we have to start by getting rid of The Rona.

Get the vaccine, get the booster, get your kids vaccinated, wash your hands, use that sanitizer stuff, wear a damn mask. And for fuck sake, if you’re sick just STAY AWAY FROM PEOPLE.

Because here’s how this works – if you aren’t vaccinated and you die, I will have no sympathy for you at all. Seems to me like you brought that on yourself.

I would take a little boredom right now, thanks…

Yesterday I had a root canal, the starting work of a crown for that tooth, and I think maybe a filling, I’m honestly not sure. I truly hate having dental work done and so about the only way to get me to tolerate it is to sedate the hell out of me. And that’s what they did.

I was in the chair all told about 5 hours. I remember sort of waking up at the end because my body ached, not my mouth. I kept trying to remove something from my face and my right arm was really sore. At any rate, I don’t really remember much of anything yesterday. My mom and Lancelot did a great job taking care of me.

And now here we are at the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow. One of my dear friends has offered to host so we’re bringing side dishes. I think every family has their own food traditions that go with the holidays. For my family we always had turkey for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and it was always served with sausage dressing (same as stuffing but not cooked inside the bird), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, a cranberry Jell-o salad, and dill pickles stuffed with cream cheese.

Don’t ask cuz I don’t know.

What I do know is I could easily eat my body weight in that dressing. Last year I made extra and wrapped it up really good in an aluminum pan and tucked in the freezer. We ate it last week and it was still as good as the day I put it together.

This is not the recipe for the best dressing in the world, I’d have to look that up. This is a sort of recipe for the smoothie we’ve been drinking a lot lately. You’ll need 2 bananas, unsweetened coconut milk, and pineapple juice (the no sugar added kind). For that many bananas I typically use 1 1/2 C of the coconut milk and juice, but you can adjust to taste; just go for equal parts. Either blend all of that with ice or blend and pour over ice, depending on how big your blender is.

so there I was, hip deep in yarn bands contemplating the virtues of bamboo needles versus metal when suddenly…

WTF?? This is most certainly not what I want

Garth is of the opinion, like most cats, that anywhere he plops down for a nap is his bed, and good luck telling him otherwise. He doesn’t share. He also has a tendency to find where Eric is napping and steal that spot from him by just being obnoxious until Eric gets up and leaves.

As I was sitting in my chair knitting on a relatively boring cowl, drinking my tea and watching the news this morning I realized that all of “this” – my morning routine – is likely going to change when Lancelot is working from home. But then, maybe it won’t. It got me thinking about routines and that maybe this is a perfect opportunity for me to re-evaluate some of mine to see if they really are still beneficial. I see the difference between “routine” and “rut” as pretty damn subtle, though highly significant.

It’s still going to be important for me to have consistent “go to bed / wake up” times because sleep is so crucial in managing my Bipolar. I feel like it’s also going to be important to have some time in the mornings to do a little knitting and enjoy my cup of tea. That’s almost more of a ritual at this point, and I feel that it does serve me exceptionally well.

Some of the things I do that feel sort of standard like menu planning and getting my outfits together for the week will certainly stay, though I’m hoping to be able to get L more involved with the menu because I think it would be great to get him more involved with cooking. (he has expressed an interest in this, so yay) I also anticipate some of the household chores will either stay the same or at least be pretty similar.

I honestly think the biggest difference will be with my nighttime routines. For a while I had been trying to shut down all of my electronics at 7pm and then pick up a book and read until 8pm when I went to bed. That lasted until I finished the book I was reading and sadly I have yet to get into a new book. I’m hoping that I can shift my bedtime until 9pm (since I won’t need to get up quite so early anymore) and then come up to my office at 8pm and read. I anticipate that time would allow L a little extra time in the evening to wind down how he prefers so that we both get better sleep. I hope anyway.

Today I love… hot tea with honey and cream, I love that there are no external meetings today so I can be a little extra casual, I love that today is chicken noodle soup day, I love that the cowl is coming out beautiful and I’m glad I decided to go with a non-pattern to let the beauty of the yarn shine through

time for a change

Change is easily one of the most nerve-wracking things in the entire universe. But when things aren’t right, or going well, it’s sometimes necessary. And sometimes the universe takes the choice out of your hands by tossing you in the middle of something like, oh I don’t know, a global fucking pandemic.

I would like to think that I handle changes fairly well. (maybe I don’t) I know that some situations are easier because the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” can be seen and determined to not be an oncoming freight train. But maybe it’s just because my mental illnesses have taught me that rolling with it is sometimes less of a challenge than fighting it.

Regardless, there are times when change is necessary and it has to be you who initiates it.

If you never ask the question, the answer will always be no.

Lancelot has worked at the same place, doing the same thing essentially, for 22 years. It’s finally gotten to him (I’ll spare you the gory details) and he’s put in his notice. This is scary for him but he told me yesterday that the time had come.

He’s worked an overnight shift the entire time we’ve known each other. We haven’t ever had more than 9 days in a row on the same schedule. I am beyond excited to finally get to spend more time with my husband.

More importantly, I’m excited for him to have the opportunity to have better sleep. I truly believe that sleep is the foundation of good health regardless of what’s going on with your mental health, and working the shift he has makes sleep trickier than usual. All I want is for him to be happy and healthy, and I feel that this is a huge step in that direction.

Today I love… changing things up, I love that the veggie curry and tofu I made for Meatless Monday turned out phenomenal, I love that the cowl I’m working on is striping in a delightful way, I love that I’m doing a workshop this afternoon and I hadn’t realized how much I’ve missed doing those, and I love that waking up to critter snuggles will soon include waking up to my husband

spin it ’til you win it

I feel incredibly fortunate that since the pandemic started Lancelot and I have only had to be tested twice. The first time was prior to the full vaccine roll-out and that was because I had some other unpleasant virus that was not The Rona. The second time was on Friday because one of L’s coworkers, who is also fully vaccinated at this point and very careful, tested positive. We felt that the responsible thing to do, particularly given that both of us are fighting some kind of upper respiratory yuck, was to go for testing.

I don’t mind doing the responsible grown up thing at all, especially in a situation like this. We went for the tests and then went home, neither of us leaving the house until… well, we actually still haven’t – just give me a minute here.

We had seriously stocked up on groceries the weekend before so all we needed were a few bits for the week, figuring that if we did have The Rona we would be staying isolated for at least 7 days. Everything we needed could be ordered online and then delivered to the house that afternoon for a small fee that we agreed was worth it. So we settled in to wait.

Mitts!

Lancelot worked on a massive LEGO project he’s got going and I knit. A lot. I started those mitts on 11/3 and finished them on 11/6. It’s a pattern that I modified the hell out of and done with leftover yarn from a shawl. Good stuff. I also got some work done on a holiday gift, a lace scarf I’m making for me, and I started a very basic cowl.

We cooked together, we watched goofy TV together, and just kind of had a delightful extended weekend together. It was marred only by neither of us feeling particularly grand. But on Sunday we got the results and neither of us actually has The Rona, just nasty colds or something. L was scheduled to go back to work last night but there was some kind of fuck up with them needing the test results and he still kind of feels like shit so he stayed home (yay!).

And that is why we still haven’t left the house. I am 100% fine with that. Can’t say as I am super thrilled to be back to working today, but it is what it is. At least I look fabulous.

Edgar

It’s getting significantly cooler here now so I’ve decided it’s high time I start adding knit accessories back into my wardrobe. This is my version of the Edgar scarf made with much smaller needles and using Lang’s Mille Colori Baby. I only had the one skein of yarn and had purchased it just because the colors are appealing, so it was the perfect fit. I would recommend both the pattern and the yarn.

Right now I am sitting with my full-spectrum lamp trying to stay ahead of my seasonal affective disorder. The colder, darker months are hard for many of us and this is the best way I’ve found to help. My psychiatrist recommended this in part because you really can’t overdo it. I love that she combines the best of modern medicine with “remedies” that are based in science.

Today I love… not being seriously sick, I love that I finished a pair of fingerless mitts yesterday (that were started on Wednesday), I love that time in “quarantine” has meant a lot of knitting time for me, I love that last night’s dinner had 5 ingredients and required minimal effort and tasted phenomenal, and I love that the weather is getting cool enough to wear handknits more often

and now for weekend update…

It’s done!!!

This is a vest pattern that I found online and then, in true Erin fashion, I modified the shit out of it. It’s really just a large rectangle with strategically placed armholes and I made it with this really interesting yarn I got on clearance online that is not only soft but has tiny red sequins. It fits much better than I feared it would.

I’ve spent some time this weekend trying to finish some pieces and I’ve made progress. Sitting next to me are two scarves that have now been blocked and just need the ends woven in. I also did the sewing bits on a scarf I decided did not need blocking and a cowl. Plus, I finally finished these lil things.

Headbands

This is another heavily modified pattern. The original was lovely, but it stretched too much for my liking. So I decided to add ties for a completely custom fit. I love that these take so little yarn. Pictured here are two different bits of Koigu I had in my stash.

We’ve also run errands this weekend, a lot of errands. The good news is that my house has never had so much food in it. The bad news is that I’m scared to open several of the cupboards because they’re just that full. Part of this is I got paid yesterday (I get paid once a month) and part of it is that I’m wanting to keep stocked on our essentials due to the shortages that we’ve experienced during this plague. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hoarding supplies, it’s more that I keep a few extras of most things on hand. One thing I have learned about myself is if I have food on hand that adds up to a meal I am much more inclined to cook a nutritious meal.

Synchronized bathing

I have two scarves, two shawls, a cowl, and a crocheted toy yet to finish before the end of the year (most of that before the holidays). I’ve been trying to motivate myself to work on one thing at a time, at least primarily, so that I get to that “feeling of accomplishment” place more quickly. I’ve also stopped social media interaction almost entirely because I realized that I was spending so much time on random nonsense that I didn’t have time to live and enjoy my real life. I haven’t deleted the accounts yet, but I practically never check anything. I do still post on Instagram once in awhile, but that feels much less intrusive.

I think we all need to be reminded of this now and then

i need cheese, stat!

I’m not one for whining, I’m really not, but sometimes it’s imperative that I bitch lest I blow up. I like to remind myself that whining is not my thing by gently teasing myself that any good whine requires cheese. So here goes…

I’m tired of people thinking it’s ok to disrespect my time. I’m tired of those same people thinking that the extra letters they have behind their names means they’re inherently better people. I’m tired of people thinking they can push blame off on me when projects don’t get done according to a contractually agreed upon timeline. Mostly though, I’m tired of these people thinking they’re going to get away with it.

There are actually a few advantages to having my brain, partially because of the limitations I have. See, I know damn good and well that my memory is utter shit, and because of that I have a fairly elaborate filing system within my email and in terms of how I keep notes for projects.

I. Keep. Everything.

Every email from someone, every email I send them. My calendar includes names and is color coded. I have folders where I keep documents that pertain to each person, to each class I work on. I also use a planning tool where I can link these pieces together.

TL;DR – do not fuck with a woman who has bipolar, just don’t

I think that’s all I need to say about that. I feel better. Thanks for reading that crud.

Cheese isn’t just a great accompaniment to wine, it’s also kind of a way of life for us. Few things perk me up more than a snack of good cheese, crackers, maybe some grapes, and a nice cured meat. I also love cooking with cheese and lately one of our favorite meatless Monday dishes has been Mattar Paneer, a super easy and very yummy Indian dish. Paneer is a fresh cheese that can be made at home using very few, very common, ingredients and is (allegedly) super easy. We shall see. I want to try my hand at making some this weekend.

One of the stops we’ve talked about will be one of the Indian markets here in town. The last time we were there Lancelot found these snack sticks that were out of this world. I also want to spend a little more time just looking around to see what all is available. I think Indian markets always smell amazing, probably because it reminds me of the trip I got to take to Delhi.

These two go at it every single morning

it ain’t the speed that matters, it’s the forward momentum

Everyone who has a mental illness experiences it differently, even if they have the exact same Dx. And each of us responds to the medications and therapies differently, even if we take the exact same treatment. Over the course of the last 15 years I’ve taken more medications than I remember (they’re written down somewhere) and had a handful of therapists who had different ways of helping me to treat my symptoms.

But there’s no cure for this. There is a kind of remission, a place we can get to where things are “as normal as normal gets” for us, but right now there’s no magic pill that just takes it all away. I think that’s ok.

I have a need for regularity and routine to keep me going in a forward direction. Some of the choices I made in the past have resulted in long term memory issues and that makes things a bit more challenging for me sometimes, but I just don’t know how to quit. I am a born fighter and let me tell you, when the time comes I’m going to go down swinging.

In the spirit of sharing what works for me because it might just help you, here’s some random stuff that seems to make my life a little easier. This is in no way meant to be taken as gospel or medical advice or anything like that. Think of it as the random sort of stuff a friend might tell you over a cup of whatever it is you like to drink.

Thing One: SLEEP. This is huge for me because a lack of sleep will bring on hypomania and potentially full on mania and that is just no damn good for someone with bipolar disorder. I have done my best to make the bedroom a very calm and quiet place. There is no TV in there, I have a black-out shade on the window, I keep the ceiling fan running year round, comfortable sheets, I play white noise on an app on my phone, and I use the bed for only sleeping and “quality” time with Lancelot. I allow myself plenty of time in which to get 8 hours of sleep knowing full well that I likely won’t get quite that much every night.

Thing Two: TREATMENT. For me this includes a psychiatrist to prescribe medication and a therapist to help with coping skills. The practice I go to includes both of those providers and they talk to each other about what’s going on with me, because they need to. My illness requires both medication management and therapy and this is something that over the last 15 years I’ve come to realize and I rely on it. I know that there are people who can manage their illnesses without medication; each of us is different. I hope that you all know that if you need help it is 100% fine to ask for it.

Thing Three: GET TO KNOW YOURSELF. Self-awareness is really just huge as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been working on this for awhile now and it’s sometimes really hard. But I know when I start craving certain things or avoiding certain things that it’s a sign from my brain that either something is really wrong, or I need to change up a routine. For example, sometimes all it takes to reboot my mood is to move things around in my office. We affectionately refer to this as “shit shifting” and it is by far my favorite way to redecorate. I also know that when my body tells me I’m too tired, I really am too tired and I need to slow down. This whole glorification of being busy and exhausted and everyone having a “side hustle” is just awful and it needs to stop. Slow down already, relaxing is not only good it’s important.

Thing Four: DO STUFF THAT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD. I need to make sure we all understand what this means, because it does not mean getting drunk or chemically altered or anything that is destructive, unless you’re thinking about destroying the dust bunnies under the bed or something like that. What I mean is that it’s important to have something you like you do that you feel good doing. For some people this is baking, for others it’s wood working, hell it could even be playing video games. For me it’s usually knitting. There’s value, lots of value, in taking time every day to do things that make you feel good about your skills and yourself.

Thing Five: PICK YOUR BATTLES. Not every hill is worth dying on, and sometimes it is entirely essential to surrender so that you can rest and rally the troops (that would be you) so that you’ll be ready to fight again tomorrow. There is no shame at all in calling for a time out if you need one. Take a day off work, ask your partner/spouse/friend to do a chore for you if you can’t, order delivery food, just be gentle with yourself so that tomorrow you can go back to being the amazing badass that you are.

Finally, know that even though we don’t all experience these illnesses and challenges the same way, we’ve all kind of been “there” and I for one am always happy to lend an ear to listen and a shoulder for crying on. Please don’t ever be ashamed about the fight you’re fighting.

And just so I don’t end this on a giant ol’ bummer, here is a very cute critter picture.

I am accustomed to being used as cat furniture