both useful and decorative

A friend of mine has this legitimately delightful habit of gently (ahem) correcting people who are exhibiting negative self-talk. “Are you saying mean things to my friend Erin?” And she’s right, we shouldn’t do that sort of thing to ourselves. It’s not helpful and often just makes things worse. The most important thing here though is that she listens and then offers this support immediately. It’s another way to tell someone you love them without using that word. Food for thought for us all I suspect.

Mildly remodeled plant area

My plant area in the sunroom was feeling Very Cramped, but since there are kitties in the house I have to be careful with what’s where not only because they are destructive little fuckers, but also because some plants are toxic to them. Lancelot helped me select and then assemble this very modular solution that fits in the space on top of the cabinet where the plants had been living. There are no new plants here they’re just arranged differently. I think everyone will be getting better light now and it certainly doesn’t seem as cramped. L even commented that the whole room feels different now.

psych update

I met with my psychiatrist last week and it went very well. She agrees that being off the Lithium seems to be going quite nicely. She also agreed with my thought that I might have been a tiny bit overmedicated. However, the entire support network has rightly been concerned about me not being medicated enough for a hell of a long time, so better safe than sorry.

I’ll meet with her again at the end of November and, assuming things are still smooth, we’ll talk about possibly lowering the dose of one of my other medications.

This is a paraphrase from something I said to someone last week, and it’s utter truth: If you had told me in 2006 that a time would come when my life would feel “normal” and I would be “happy” I would have laughed and called bull shit. But here I am. A mental health diagnosis is not a life sentence, it’s a call to arms.

week one check in

I started the taper last Tuesday which means that today I took my last morning dose of Lithium. So far so good. I’ve had a reasonable amount of energy – not too much – and things seem to be going well. This long holiday weekend (Labor Day in the US) has seen me trying to capitalize on the motivation I have and get some things done outside that I’ve been putting off, among other things. So, since I got off work on Friday we have:

  • Gone to two grocery stores (standard for us)
  • Went to the farmer’s market
  • Cleaned up most of the flower beds in the yard
  • Fell and hurt myself (not badly)
  • Cleaned up the garage and swept it out
  • Cleaned up and organized the storage space out under the house
  • Screamed when I found a dead mouse
  • Had my mom and step dad here for dinner (and they loved the Indian red lentil dish I made!)
  • I made a Christmas gift for a friend
  • Finally hemmed a pair of pants
  • And I cleaned up the closet in the guest room so it could actually be used by a guest

There has also been a reasonable amount of knitting. And this morning Lancelot was kind enough to start work on our skull army. I think this has been a pretty good week.

planning and scheming

I’m going to get the business out of the way first – I’ve started a four week taper off of lithium. I met with doc yesterday and she was willing to give it a shot, as am I. If I don’t need the lithium and that gives my kidneys some relief, awesome. And as my therapist pointed out when I met with her, perhaps no lithium will mean no tremor. That would be nice.

So Lancelot helped me get my med management trays setup for this, which is super convenient given they’ll handle that much time, so all I have to do is take my meds as per usual because the right bits are in the right containers. Things that make it so I don’t have to do heavy mental lifting are Very Good indeed.

So now I’m trying to do some “normal” planning, like working in the flower beds this weekend and trying to get the landscaping around the house in general in order. I have a planter in front of the front door that the squirrels have demolished so I’m going to get a different planter for next year and load it with flowers they allegedly don’t like. I’ll use the big planter that’s there now for veggies on the deck next year.

Really I think there’s just been a lot of ignoring things I probably should have been taking care of, and so I would like to try to get more on top of that. I would imagine that a lot of people are dealing with this as a leftover from the pandemic being so intense and lasting so long. Regardless, it’s unpleasant and I finally feel like I’m at a place where I have the physical and emotional energy to deal with it.

from the depths, she emerges…

Proof that Garth and I are still alive

It’s interesting how priorities shift over time. Once upon a time it was crucial to me to write on my blog on a very regular basis. It helped to keep me centered and grounded and it was Very Important to me.

These days I find that I spend less and less time with technology in general, and apparently it’s been more than a month since I’ve blogged. Perhaps this is good, perhaps it’s not, and perhaps it’s one of those things that Just Is.

I will say that I’m spending a fair amount of time working on creative projects and hanging out with Lancelot. We took a road trip a few weeks ago, something that is becoming an annual thing, and had a wonderful time together.

The weather was lovely, the scenery was fantastic, and the food was awesome

It’s kind of an odd time of year to be thinking about doing some introspection and contemplating what kinds of life changes I’d like to make, but here I am. I know that my health, and L’s health, aren’t fantastic and that changing some of our habits would be helpful for both of us. So that’s certainly something I’m working on.

I’ve also been trying to work with what I have in terms of supplies for my creative projects. I’m working on stash busting with the knitting/crochet projects and I haven’t purchased any new beads for a while. I really would like to make use of what I have before I just blindly add to what’s here.

Not at all made with things on hand

That’s been my most recent, large scale project recently. Maybe this year. That is a fused glass serving tray that is slightly larger than one of our placemats. I hand cut most of it – except the circles and the dragonfly – and I think the result is fantastic. The ladies at the shop were impressed.

I am hoping to get some of the glass I have here at the house cut so that I can fuse it in the little microwave kiln L got for me. So many projects, so little time.

Until later, I do hope that y’all are doing well. Please be kind to one another.

updates worth sharing

Hi y’all, remember me? Life continues to be mostly in a groove for me, but I decided it was time to break out of that briefly to share an update. You know, just in case there’s actually still any humans that still read this.

First and foremost I wanted to give y’all an update on a few of my goals for this year.

1 – I have not purchased any yarn in 2022; that was the first goal on the list.
2 – I am working on a stranded knitting project (a lace-ish scarf) with two colors. This is definitely a new knitting skill.
3 – I’ve been completing MANY projects every month, so far a total of 94 since Jan 1. Included in that is 20 hats and scarves that will be donated to a homeless shelter.
4 – Recipes; this is maybe my biggest success. We try new stuff just about every week. It’s been wonderful.
5 – I have two tomato plants, two different hot peppers, strawberries, sweet mint, catnip, basil, and cilantro all growing out on the deck. I also have potatoes planted along the fence.
6 – Yeah, weight loss. This is the one goal that’s not moving forward yet. Yet.

In other exciting news, Garth has been diagnosed with asthma and will be (hopefully) starting an inhaler soon. Lancelot has also been re-diagnosed with asthma so I’m figuring we’ll have a little daddy/kitty “puff, puff, pass” action soon.

In news that I find exciting but in a less medical sort of way, I’ve been working more with seed beads and making interesting looking earrings.

Brick stitch around a metal form with key charms

I’ve decided I really like this method because it can get really wild and intricate or, like these, I can use different size beads in the same/similar color for a very delicate look. And they aren’t anywhere near as complicated to make as they look.

And now for the elephant in the room.

The decisions a woman has to make surrounding a pregnancy, planned or otherwise, are some of the intimate decisions she will ever have to make. And they are HER decisions to make – not her husband’s, not her boyfriend’s, not her father’s, not her rapist’s, not her abuser’s.

HER decisions.

The only other person who should be involved is a qualified medical professional, and that is it.

How I feel about abortion should never figure into the decisions another woman makes. It’s not for me to say what is “right” for another woman in that situation. What I feel is “right” for me is quite likely different if the man responsible for the pregnancy is my partner than if it were a random stranger, the result of an assault or just a poor decision on my part, it doesn’t matter.

Pro-choice, to me, is saying that I respect your right to make the decisions you think are best for your own body. I honor your agency as a human to do what is “right” for you, however you define “right.” This does not apply solely to reproductive rights but rather for any medical decision. Again, this is MY stance.

letting it all flow

Fused glass vase

I haven’t been writing much lately because I haven’t been spending much time with the computer, and I can’t do this much typing in my phone. I might have mentioned this, can’t remember. Anyway, I’ve been doing the whole “living a life worth living” thing here lately and I have to say, I’m seriously enjoying it.

The finally completed Old Shale Cowl

I’ve been spending most of my free time during the week knitting and then on the weekends after errands and chores are done I’ll tinker with jewelry and sometimes Lego. It’s hard to both mess with the phone and knit at the same time so… Yeah. But I’m really enjoying myself and I still have not purchased any new yarn. I’m very excited about that and about my “making stuff” goals.

Blueberry Breakfast Casserole

One of my other goals is to try at least two new recipes every month and that’s been a huge success. So far we haven’t had anything that wasn’t good enough to tweak and try again. That blueberry thing was supposed to be something else, but I didn’t read the recipe quite carefully enough and then ran out of time to get it fixed, so I massively improvised. It’s a cross between a baked French Toast and bread pudding. It was entirely delicious. And fortunately I did write down the ingredients and quantities, so one of these days I’ll write up the recipe.

Puddle of Kitty

The other “excitement” we’ve had recently is finding out that Garth has asthma. He had been doing this dry cough thing at random times, but it didn’t seem to bother him. And then it did. So the vet did some x-rays and it really looks a whole lot like human asthma. Based on how much fun it was to do the x-rays she recommended we start treatment by giving him a steroid shot. The little buddy would not do well with pills. He seems to be better now, though only time will tell.

I’m a firm believer in Art Therapy, and what that means for me is finding ways to express myself creatively, knowing that the outlet helps me to feel centered and really it just recharges my batteries. I shared a picture of a jewelry set I had made on a social media platform and added the tag of “bipolar” to it. And then someone questioned if it was about bipolar, I’m guessing because neither the image or the actual text mention the disorder and I wasn’t talking directly about medications or side effects or how awful bipolar is or any of the other thousand things people tend to talk about.

I replied with basically what I’ve just said here; the creative outlet is how I recharge and so I definitely do see this as related to bipolar. And I stand by that. But it saddens me that there are trolls in every sub-group.

makers gonna make

I’ve realized recently that I recharge my batteries by spending a sizeable portion of my weekend doing creative things. Knitting, beading, LEGO, cooking – any and all of that counts. And it’s vital. My health and well-being truly hinges on it.

Lancelot got me the pendant for my birthday. It’s resin with pieces of aquamarine and other sparkly bits. I put it on a necklace of assorted crystals and faceted aquamarine beads.
Lentil soup we had for dinner the other night that was absolutely amazing.
This is an Old Shale cowl done with Noro Tabi that I’m working on. It’s much farther along now, almost done actually. The colors are amazing.
Most importantly for me, I made an appointment and got my second COVID booster.

I hope y’all are staying safe and mostly out of trouble.

now with a side of even more random

Lots going on right now, and I can’t help but feel like that’s good. I’m getting into/back into doing some hobbies that I had put aside for years. I’m branching out more with what I cook at home. I’m really enjoying spending time with my husband. All in all, I have to think that this is what the therapists were suggesting could be my version of a Life Worth Living. (that’s a DBT concept and I think it’s pretty awesome)

Some random things I’ve noticed over the last six months or so...

I stepped away from Facebook in October 2021 because it honestly felt like a cesspool. Lots of nastiness, lots of ads, very little actual interaction among polite and respectful humans. I had a suspicion that it was impacting my mental health in negative way, and it turns out I was right. I uninstalled it from my phone and stopped opening it on the computer. I actually made sure that I can’t open it on my work laptop. The only times I got on were when Lancelot told me there were pictures of our niece.

No posts. No likes. No interaction of any kind.

It’s amazing how much more free time I found in my day, how much lighter my moods seemed overall. I didn’t miss it.

I posted something yesterday for the first time, but not until I did some major housecleaning. I ruthlessly unfriended people, removed myself from groups, and shut down notifications from pages. But after just one day I can tell you that this won’t be how it was. There’s still so much hate and trash and it’s not really worth it. So maybe I’ll post now and again, but we’ll see.

I’ve started making friends again, like real live, living and breathing humans that I can sit down with and have conversation and laugh and share food and stuff. They share interests with me, they’re respectful where it matters and brazen where it matters more.

It’s so weird making friends as an adult. Everyone is busy with their own lives, jobs and kids and being caregivers for others… But carving out time to spend with friends is part of my self-care and that’s maybe the most important lesson I’ve learned during the last six months.

These critters have helped keep me sane. They are nuttier than squirrel turds. Yesterday morning I was trying to work on troubleshooting an issue and here they all come, chasing each other up the hallway like a demon was after them, bounced across the bed to the other side, and back down the hall. I don’t even try to understand anymore, I just stay the hell out of the way.

things I am proud of

Alright, that title is just kind of goofy because in truth there are a lot of things I’m proud of. Right now though, there are some very recent and pretty specific things I’m proud of. For one, I am now done with the “hard core” portions of the dental work I needed and I was able to do these last two sessions with no sedatives, no pain killers, no numbing agents, NOTHING. The work they were doing was such that none of those were medically necessary and because I felt like I had some degree of control they weren’t psychologically necessary either. YAY!

Friday I was able to spend at the bead store re-learning a technique. I spent almost the entire day there just working and visiting. And making friends. That part was almost better than anything else. I was invited to join their official club and to participate in a class on Sunday.

One of the earrings I finished, before it was completely finished. These are about 1.5 inches long.

I made one of them at the shop with my teachers looking on and then did the other one on Saturday, swearing the whole time. But I did it and they look great and I am seriously fucking proud of them.

Not quite done, but almost!

That is from the class on Sunday. It’s a needle felted brooch that uses zipper for the outlining and is then embellished with beads and charms. I still need to sew the top to the bottom and attach the pin back. That project was so much fun that I bought a kit to be able to make more. I’ve done needle felting before but taking this class makes me feel much more confident moving forward.

I did also get a shawl finished this weekend. It’s for me and it’s one of those “non-pattern” things. The important part about this piece is that I’ve had the yarn for 16 years. It was a gift from some amazing friends as a way to encourage me to get back to feeling better after I was diagnosed.

my therapy trinity

I have oddly random thoughts at weird times, and this was one of them. In my little world I have a trinity of therapies that keep me doing well, at least most of the time. And most of the time is just fine. No one is fine all of the time. If they tell you they are they’re either selling something (like snake oil) or should be wearing a large Egyptian headdress and referring to themself as Cleopatra.

There’s a lot of stuff going on for me personally right now and during my visit with my therapist yesterday I realized just how much. But, cognitive therapy is one branch of my trinity. I go see a therapist every few weeks and it’s helpful because she’s a completely neutral party that I can talk to about literally anything. I recommend a therapist to anyone who will listen.

Moving on, I get pharmacological therapy in the form of medications my psychiatrist prescribes for me that help to regulate the chemical imbalances in my brain. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder type 2 just a tiny bit more than 16 years ago. It’s been a bumpy ride at time trying to figure out the best combination of meds, but I know that I most definitely need meds. I feel no shame about this.

The third branch of my personal therapy trinity is physical therapy, but not how you might think. I take Lithium as one of two mood stabilizers for the Bipolar. It works wonders for me and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but I do have hand tremors because of it. It’s a frustrating thing to be 45 years old and not always have fine motor control, but I’ll take the sanity over steady hands any fucking day. So I try to do things like knit and assemble LEGO kits to help. Lately I’ve been doing more with beadwork as an attempt to re-awaken some of my muscle memory.

No more meetings! Go nap!