Tag Archives: Bipolar disorder

Mixed Episode, Party of One?


It’s taken me four days just to start writing this post, though it’s had a title for that entire time.  My posts to date have been more upbeat, or at least introspective without being too depressing.  For whatever reason, I decided I needed to keep the truly depressing and frightening posts to myself or to a very select group of readers over at Livejournal, where I have kept a semi-private blog since 2001.  After unleashing a black spew over there this morning, I decided to edit it somewhat.  Submitted for your approval, then: a look into the bleaker corners of my mind.

Bleaker?!  Did she say bleaker?  Good gods, I better get my emo hipwaders on.

While there has been some improvement in my mood since I began the bipolar journey about 5 weeks ago, it has been with growing dismay that I’ve descended into some deep, dark holes of late.  Some are merely depressing.  Some are very angry.  And yet a few more are just downright destructive and filled with nothing but hate.  Illogical, unfocused, unfiltered hate for whatever and whomever is unlucky enough to tweak my brain’s nerve cells in just the wrong way at that particular moment.

I.hate.it.  Ihateitsomuch.  The irony of hating my hate is not lost on me, but we have gone way past the land where logic and reason are the rulers.  Here, they are just words.

It’s a weird state of mind that thinking about death puts people in. That book I now consider my bipolar bible, “An Unquiet Mind“, talks about it quite extensively. The author and a friend of hers, on a good night, made a deal with each other to call the other one and let them take them wherever for a week before they killed themselves, if they indeed still felt like doing so. Each was to give the other a week of reasons not to do it, to go back on their meds, to call their doctor, etc. Despite this deal, the author’s friend didn’t keep their end of the bargain, with predictable results. Neither did the author on several occasions that she was feeling suicidal. She admits that in those darkest of hours, the thought of calling anyone else just didn’t occur to her. Which doesn’t surprise me. Logic changes its rules in the mind of a suicidal person. What makes sense to everyone else doesn’t make sense to someone who wants to die, or is at least thinking it might be better.

I dislike having this kind of knowledge about humanity, and about myself. I don’t like knowing how the dark clock ticks in the minds of the disturbed. It has many hands and many chimes, most of them as loud as a klaxon horn, blaring one’s misery in cacophanous tones that are unignorable. Interspersed are the rings of guilt, which serve to amplify all of the others.

What’s wrong with you? How can you possibly feel this way? You’re broken. You’re bad. You should be punished for feeling this way because it doesn’t make any sense, you whiny fucking baby.

A hundred years ago, you’d find someone crouched in a corner with their hands over their ears screaming, “SHUTUP!” Today, you find them like me: parked in front of the television watching Doctor Who for as many hours as it takes to dull the sharp bite of a monster I *know* is meaningless and powerless. Then trying and failing to stay asleep as anxiety attacks set in *during* sleep, making me feel as though I’m suffocating. When sleep does come, it’s punctuated by very strange dreams that always involve swimming in dirty water and being at risk of being eaten by large industrial machinery, also underwater. Talk about waking up with the heebie fuckin’ jeebies. Let’s add a sprinkle of the constant doctor search anxiety, too, just for flavor.

*headdesk*

I *am* getting things done today, though. I’ve already made a few necessary phone calls, and now I’m doing what is probably the most important task for the day: “write down analysis of moods for last 2-6 weeks, and further if possible“. Really I should analyze back to getting on lithium and trazodone, then back to quitting smoking, then back to getting rid of the IUD. These things all come to bear and I feel it’s crucial to figure out how and when and in what way they interact. For instance, obviously a hormonal IUD was doing some good stabilizing things to my mood, but wasn’t fixing the problem since I felt vaguely PMS-y pretty much constantly, and some of my worst episodes happened while I had it. So obviously that’s not the only issue. Then there’s the quitting smoking, which I feel had a much more deleterious effect on my mind than getting rid of the IUD. Indeed, on my bad mental days, I still feel a super strong urge to smoke that I feel is indicative of far more than a mind dumping nicotine receptors, and I have felt very unstable since I quit. Those who have been supportive of my effort to quit smoking really have no idea of the Herculean effort it has taken not to smoke again, because I know it will make me feel better mentally.  My mouth and brain ache with desire to smoke sometimes.

Then there’s the last 5 weeks, which is how long it’s been since I took myself to the psychiatric ER after the mother of all PMS episodes. According to my reading, it’s completely possible for one’s worst episodes to occur during PMS time, but for them not to be directly attributable to hormonal influences. Everything gets ranked in terms of primary, secondary, and tertiary effects. The PMS is just secondary for me, with the supposed bipolar disorder being primary (although I’m beginning to question if that’s really my problem, or if I’m on the right meds, or if I’m on *enough* of them). I definitely have some unaddressed symptoms, though, which I would very much like to go away right about now, thanks very fucking much. I do not enjoy having a head filled with suicidal and otherwise violent thoughts (which had gone away for a while but have returned). I do not enjoy having to construct my day so that I avoid certain kinds of stimulus, or else I’ll lose my temper. I do not enjoy not knowing which days these things will occur on. There’s a whole lot about this ride that I really don’t like, and if I had my druthers, I’d have a bottle of PRN Haldol sitting around for when I’m feeling just a wee too crazy. Or something like it. Let’s kick it old school with Thorazine! I’ll pass on the modern atypical antipsychotics that give you horrible weight gain, diabetes, or high cholesterol, though. No thanks.

I’ve been doing a shitload of reading, though. I may very well have bipolar disorder, but I’m pretty damn sure there are some others glommed on there too. PTSD from growing up in such a fucked up house and never, ever having a childhood, for starters. The two parents dead of suicide don’t help that one, either (you should have seen the looks people at the clinic gave me when I told them that). I’m not sure if my OCD-like tendencies are actual OCD or if that’s just how hypomania and mania manifest in my life, because it’s certainly not in the stereotypical “I’m awesome, let’s shop and fuck!” sort of way many manics manifest that phase. I would really like to be tested for adult ADD or plain old high-functioning autism given my complete inability to look at anyone in the eyes, along with some other behaviors (don’t move my shit. really, don’t move my shit). Hell, I’d even take the epic-length MMPI if it would figure out what’s wrong with my brainmeats. I took that once for a grad student friend who needed volunteers to finish her degree. My results were apparently……strange. She asked her professor what she would do with the results: “Hit her with a battery of tests.” Maybe it’s time for the battery, so to speak. I don’t care what the answer is, I just want to KNOW so I can take care of it.

*sigh* Some of the websites are nice enough to admit that it may be several weeks before anyone bothers to get back to me due to the high demand for psychiatrists (maybe *that’s* what I should major in at UT, if I ever go back: people are like cellophane to me, they’re so transparent – perhaps it’s my karmic duty to use this knowledge and ability to help other poor crazed individuals like myself). I’mma keep on callin’, though. *sigh* I should really get paid for this shit, it’s a lot harder than most people’s jobs, and it’s certainly a lot less enjoyable.

Today, though, hopefully my GP and/or his nurse will call back and either schedule an appointment for me or just call in something to help me feel less hostile and like breaking things. I love my family and I really do love the world, but right now it’s all buried under a burning pile of hate and dissatisfaction that doesn’t listen to logic or reason, it just wants to destroy and it’s on a very unpredictable hair trigger. My other option is going back to PES and going inpatient in a building that looks, sounds, smells, and feels like every hospital Mom ever stayed in. I don’t think that’s the right place for me. I think just being around that shade of green for more than a few hours would send me right over the edge.  The view is frightening enough, thanks: I don’t need to ride that merry-go-round.

Whee!


First, a bit of happy news: I got my yellow belt in Seido Karate last night!  W00t!  😀  My daughter got her advanced yellow belt, and this Saturday she will be competing in the regional science fair with her model of an electrical motor.  My little girl is not quite *8*.  🙂  Okay, back to your regularly scheduled blogging.

So it’s been almost a month since I was driven to the psychiatric ER in an effort to alleviate my increasingly agitated brain.  In that time I’ve been from one extreme to the other, although I’m extremely happy to say that lithium apparently puts a lid on suicidal thoughts no matter how sad I get.  So that’s a good thing.

I’ve also learned that my particular bipolarcoaster (one of my new favorite words, thanks to friend Dianne Sylvan: she writes fabulous vampire books, look her up) is heavily linked to my womanly cycles.  So I’m like that character Chameleon in Piers Anthony‘s Xanth series: when it’s fertile time, she’s dumb and happy, but when the other half of the cycle comes, she’s ugly and mean.  Okay, maybe I’m not dumb when I’m happy or ugly when I’m mean, but you get the idea.

I was happy to discover that the website Crazy Boards is still around.  I found them back in 2006 when I had my “holy crap I’m at home alone with the kid for the first time EVER” freakout.  I doubt there is a finer discussion forum for mental illness of all flavors.  I love them for their forum descriptors.  Here’s the one for bipolar:

Bipolar Spectrum Disorder – The Pole Dance

If life is a ride, BP’s a fucking theme park. Whether you’re riding the roller coaster, spinning ’round the demonic carousel, buying souvenir toenail clippers for the population of Rhodesia, or weeping on the sidelines as some kid pukes on your head, we’re here for you.

Goddamn, that’s fucking perfect! Theme park indeed.  In fact, some bipolar oriented websites seem to play off the whimsical sounding nature of bipolar disorder.  Bipolar World!  Which makes me think of Benny’s World of Liquor from the movie From Dusk Til Dawn.  Or a retail store with sales from hell.

Sale, sale, sale!  Get your mood swings right here!  We got ’em all!  Up, down, sideways, whichever mood flavor you want today, we’re here for YOU!

What else have I learned?  A LOT about pharmaceuticals.  It’s a good goddamn thing I took so many freakin’ science classes between the ages of 10 and 20 and that I’m blessed with critical thinking skills or I’d be lost in a pharmaceutical morass from which there is no escape.  Mood stabilizers, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics (typical and atypical), antidepressants, anxiolytics, so on and so forth.  Let’s not forget that in large part, scientists still have zero fucking clue, or at least very limited clues, about how any of this shit works on the gray matter.  They can guess, and that’s about it.  Length of time on the market makes absolutely no difference.  Lithium is probably the oldest psychiatric medication still in use and the only true mood stabilizer, and they only just very recently have begun to figure out how it works (probably by regulating DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, which reduces inflammation in the brain that leads to the mood swings).  Which is why so many people wind up spending months if not YEARS figuring what meds work for them because all you can do is try one and see if it works.  Not to mention that you have to wait several weeks or months for each one to really stabilize before making a judgment as to its efficacy.  Fun!  Not.

Then there are the side effects of many if not most of these drugs.  Tardive dyskinesia (a Parkinsonian-like tremor that never goes away, even after you stop taking the offending medication).  Akathisia (an inability to sit still).  Dry mouth.  Kidney and liver dysfunction.  Diarrhea and/or constipation.  Tremors.  Sexual dysfunction.  Weight gain (probably the most common side effect of all of them other than sexual dysfunction).  Fortunately I don’t have any of these problems (yet: the weight gain was because of those damned birth control pills), and I don’t want them, which is why I research the fuck out of everything.  Hopefully the doctors that have to deal with me in the future will appreciate this tendency and not find it annoying or infringing upon their God complex (and there are still quite a number of psychiatrists who would prefer you describe your problem as briefly as possible and then STFU so they can write you a prescription).

I still have to find a psychiatrist, a task that daunts me for some reason.  Same with a therapist.  I at least have a general practitioner to check my blood levels, but I need to get going on those other things.  The first task causes me the most anxiety because I really do NOT want one of those God complex shrinks who just wants me to shutup, and goddammit, shrinks are EXPENSIVE!  I try not to think about it too much and how mental health is only for the rich and those lucky enough to have just enough to take care of such things to the detriment of things like replacing broken washing machines (raises hand).  I’m glad I have the resources available to me that I do, but there are so many who don’t, and the way our country treats and thinks of mental illness in general is just loathsome.  Oops, got on a soapbox there.

I am also on a quest for books for children with parents with mental illness, particular bipolar.  I’m finding a lot of books about kids with bipolar illness (which strikes me as odd: aren’t mood swings just one of those characteristics of childhood?), but that’s about it.  So I may have a writing project in my future, because I want to help my daughter, and other children, understand what’s up with Mum (or Dad), and since I seem to have a gift for the written gab, not to mention a Bodhisattva’s heart, I feel obligated to use my talents and knowledge to help others.

But first, let’s finish helping me.  *sigh*

I Am Awake


As I detailed in my post “Avoidance and Acceptance”, one of the reasons I failed to get any real assistance for my mental health over the years was because of my parents.  I didn’t want to be like them.  However, in learning about my bipolar disorder, I’ve discovered that it very likely has a genetic component, and as such, I probably wouldn’t have been able to escape being bipolar, even if I led the most perfect and balanced of lives.

I was also led to curiosity by reading An Unquiet Mind, the bipolar memoir by Kay Redfield Jamison.  At one point she is sitting with a friend and colleague, putting together a mental health pedigree.  Circles for women, squares for men, and each blackened for those with bipolar disorder or some other kind of mental issue.  Suicides and attempts were also noted: asterisks and slashes.  In my head, I began to fill in my own pedigree.

My mother had mental troubles my entire life.  She was in and out of mental wards constantly, her worst episodes typically triggered by the holidays, by remembering old family hurts, and by her husband, my adoptive father.  Each time she would go on medication and try to get stable, my “father” would ruin it.  I’ve learned that it’s common for relationships to suffer a lot of misery when someone is diagnosed with bipolar disorder or any other mental trouble.  They’re formed under unhealthy circumstances, so once someone decides to get healthy, the entire dynamic is disrupted.  Often, the newly healthy person sees the other’s unhealthy behaviors more clearly and is unable to put up with them any longer.  Unless the other person gets on board, bad things happen.  Over time, he would wear her down back to the weakened state that served him better, and it would all begin again.

She was set up for failure nearly from birth, though.  Her own father was abusive.  Her mother divorced him after a few years for “cruelty”, and later when she would visit him or stay with him during visitation, he would beat her.  Her mother’s second husband wasn’t any better.  They divorced after only a few years when discovered that he was “getting after” my mother.  Which is 1950s parlance for discovering that he was molesting her.

Mom spent her entire adult life in a series of abusive relationships.  The last, her sixth, killed her, for all intents and purposes.  After finding herself in yet another abusive marriage and with no way to support herself should she choose to leave, she chose the final exit in the backyard with a gun.  She told me she wouldn’t come to stay with me.  Our relationship was too volatile.  One of the most horrifying things about mental illness is that it really isn’t the ill person’s fault, but their behavior is unacceptable to “normal” people, and compassion and understanding only go so far.  After a while, you just have to distance yourself from someone who is abusive and mean, even if it isn’t their fault.  So you feel guilty and the other person feels angry but you both know perfectly well there isn’t anything to be done except maintain the distance.  This is one of my biggest fears about having bipolar as it relates to my own family.  I think I would die on the spot if my daughter decided she didn’t want to have anything to do with me.

Then there’s my father.  Dad was the last of seven children, and the only child from his particular parental combination.  I have no idea what life was like for him growing up, although I know he grew up in River Rouge, probably THE poorest, and certainly the dirtiest, part of Detroit.  River Rouge is where the steel mills are.  They turned the sky a devilish orange-red at night when they were firing the steel.  A drive through River Rouge is a drive through despair.  It’s no wonder that Dad’s first move upon turning 18 was to join the Marines.  He was stationed at Camp Pendleton in California until he was shipped to Southeast Asia for a year from 1963-64.  He returned with a case of PTSD so bad that, once married, Mom only woke him up by shaking his foot at the end of the bed.  Standard methods of awakening resulted in his launching out of bed prepared to choke the Viet Cong.  Not a good way to start the day.

In an effort to deal with his shellshock, he started drinking.  After a while he joined a rehab cult called Synanon, which is where he met my mother, who had her own substance abuse problems.  They left after a couple of years, got married, and had me.  Things were great for a while but then he began to drink again and abuse my mother.  Things grew worse after my brother was born in July of 1974.  After a particularly bad beating in October, Mom packed up us kids and left.  Two days later, during a fireworks show at the nearby high school, Dad shot himself with his service rifle, two weeks before my third birthday.  I sometimes wish he had at the very least waited a few years so that I could have some memories of him.  As it is, the only thing of my father’s that I possess, is my name.

I wish I could say it was just them, but there don’t appear to be any healthy people in the family, whether current or past.  Of them, I seem to be the healthiest, which makes me break out in great guffaws of laughter.  My grandmother’s father was extraordinarily physically abusive.  After beating all of his children with the cord of an iron (mind you, this is the 1920s, electrical cords were big and thick) for a few years, he left in 1929.  He left a legacy of sadness and gave his descendants a forehead crease that you can see in my brother and I when we’re focused or angry.

Gram lived longer than anyone in her family, mostly because she did not commit suicide.  She hardened her heart, though.  She and my mother did not speak, ever.  I think that was her way of not succumbing to the mental demons that plagued both of her siblings, apparently, and certainly her daughter.  It was her opinion that they had both killed themselves; her sister in a “traffic accident” involving a tree and no other cars, and her brother by “accidentally” overdosing on his heart medication.

I know little else about the family history other than what I’ve been able to glean from Ancestry.com.  There is so much hurt and fracture in my family’s history that I am occasionally amazed that people managed to have children together.  I’ve counted two definite (four possible) suicides, literally dozens of suicide attempts between my mother and brother, several cases of physical abuse, at least two of sexual abuse (bet there’s more), not to mention rampant drug abuse and alcoholism going back at least a century.

I think it’s a fucking miracle I’ve reached the age of 39 and don’t seem to have some of the worst problems in the family history.  I’ve never been a drug addict or an alcoholic, I’ve never been beaten by a man (by Mom though, that’s another story), I’ve been in the same healthy relationship for 15 years, and I don’t have any of the health problems that have plagued the family due to their inability to take care of themselves (bad teeth, bad joints, bad hearts).  I should probably get my cholesterol checked, but that’s about it.  Yes, I’m bipolar, but I seem to be a more pastel shade of crazy, while others in the family have been brightly technicolor crazy.  Brightly technicolor drunk crazy wielding dishes and flying fists.

Of course, there is the long-standing psychiatric question of nature vs. nurture.  Are people born mentally ill, or are they made that way?  I think it’s both.  I think our genetics make us more likely to be certain ways, and if our environments growing up push us in those directions, then we wind up with some headmeat issues.  Even if we grow up in environments that push us in healthy directions, we may wind up with headmeat issues, but perhaps not as severely.  Or it’s easier to work on them because you don’t have to worry about all the extraneous bullshit of life.

It must be horrifying to be diagnosed with a disease that alters your thinking and then realize, once you’re healthier, that you’ve built your life on things that are unhealthy.  My mother made this realization several times but was too damaged to try to live on her own, so she always wound up sabotaging her health for the sake of her husband and marriage.  Kind of like an alcoholic who’s trying to stop who has people tell them, “You know, I liked you better when you drank.”  Wow, what a confidence booster.  In fact, I believe my “father” told her that a few times.  I won’t lie: I rejoiced when he died last year.

I have had a very long-standing goal to act as the chain breaker in the family.  For whatever reason, I’ve been given the life-long ability to look at other people’s behavior and say to myself, “That’s fucked up, I’m not going to do things that way.”  I’m not always successful, because like it or not, I was raised in a fucked up place, and it left its marks here and there.  But I have awareness, and I am able to identify those places in myself and say, “You need to work on that.”  In that way, I’m my own Buddha, because that’s what Buddha’s all about: being aware.  When a passerby saw the Buddha sitting beneath the Bodhi tree, he asked him a series of questions trying to figure out who and what he was.  After a series of “no”s, he finally asked, “Well what are you?”  To which the Buddha replied, “I am awake.”

And so that is my job, my dharma, in my family, what little of it is left.  To be awake.  To be aware.  To not be so wrapped in my ego that I cannot see my own mistakes, particularly if I am repeating any of the big, old ones.  To begin the family threads anew with my own family.  To dismantle and rebuild the foundation from which my own daughter will build her own life.  I pray that she escapes this illness, but if she doesn’t, she will have a much softer landing pad than I did, and she will have someone to gently point out, “Hey, have you considered things this way?” without making her feel bad about herself.  And hopefully in a couple of generations when my great-grandchildren, should I have any, are thinking of their own pedigrees, hopefully there will be fewer blackened squares and circles, and few if any asterisks and slashes.

Starting Over


I’ve learned an awful lot about myself and my new chronic illness over the last couple of weeks.  It feels much longer than that.  Here are some of the things I’ve learned.

1. I have a disease that has a 1 in 5 chance of killing me.  Rather, a disease that gives me a 1 in 5 chance of killing myself.  I’m not an expert on chronic illness, but something tells me those odds are kind of high, whether death is self-induced or not.  Good thing I made a pact with myself a long time ago not to do that.  I know what it does to everyone else left behind.  It certainly explains some of my thought patterns, though.

2. The medicine I’m taking (lithium carbonate) may only be good for 3-5 years, depending on what it does to my kidney function.  Though if my kidneys aren’t unhappy, I may be able to take it for the rest of my life.  I hope so.  Lithium is still the best treatment for bipolar illness, not to mention the simplest and cheapest.  In the meantime, it makes me ravenously hungry 4-5 times a day, particularly for protein.  Something tells me I’ll have to up my exercise.  For now, I’m tolerating what is in essence a poison salt fairly well.  Aside from the odd hand tremor, everything’s good.

3. The hunger: if I don’t pay attention to it, bad things happen to my brainpan.  Low blood sugar seems to be one of the absolute worst things I can do to myself.  I’m finding this to be the most annoying aspect of my journey so far.  I’m terrible at paying attention to my diet, which seems to be something I have to change immediately, particularly if I don’t want to completely pork out.  I’m already twenty pounds heavier than I was a month ago, something that all by itself just about makes me suicidal.  I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life, and to be where I am now makes me incredibly sad.  A year and a half of work, completely ruined.  😦

4. Sleep is the other thing that, if unbalanced, will send me spinning very quickly.  If it was just depression, or just mania, that would be one thing, but since I get mixed episodes, I have to stave that shit off as best I can.  Mixed episodes are a peculiarly nutty generation of the human mind that makes someone depressed and manic at the same time.  That’s all kinds of fun, lemme tellya.

5. People are going to be insensitive and rude on occasion when they find out I’m bipolar (which means I’m probably just going to keep that to myself for the most part).  It’s only been two weeks and it’s already happened once.  They probably didn’t even realize they were being rude.  I imagine it’s something that anyone with a chronic illness has to deal with sometimes.  I just have to get really good at identifying such people and saying, “You’re bad for me, go away.”

6. Waiting for my meds to settle in and even out is not fun.  I’ve missed several hours of work because of it, but if I can’t think, then I can’t work (or worse, I can’t work if I’m sitting sobbing at my desk).  I won’t be done with this dance for at least a couple of months and not until after several blood tests and possibly dosage changes.  I have to tell myself it’s all temporary and that better things will be on the other side.

7. Apparently I have to be hypervigilant about staying hydrated.  Lithium is one row above sodium in the periodic table and as such can screw with the body’s sodium and water levels because it has the same valence (aka charge: gosh I’m glad I was paying attention in chemistry class).  Which means if I’m exercising and get dehydrated, my serum lithium levels can get too high, aka TOXIC.  Which means a trip to the ER, two days of no lithium, and treatment with a lot of salt and water.  No thank you.

8. Caffeine is no longer my friend, mostly because of #7.  Caffeine is a diuretic, and its stimulant properties can bring on mania, in sufficient amounts of course.  It doesn’t meant I can’t ever drink caffeine again, but I have to do so in moderation.

It’s hard not to be discouraged by the list of things I can’t or shouldn’t do anymore.  On the other hand, there are a lot of things that are better now that I’m taking proper medication, and have stopped taking birth control pills.  My skin is clear again, I sleep relatively well and regularly, violent/suicidal thoughts came to a screeching halt, mood is about 60% stabilized, anger is down about 40-50%, I’m getting more done, taking much better care of myself, I’m less anxious/more calm, more in tune with mental boundaries (i.e. what I can and can’t do without “triggering”), more thirsty, and more hungry.

Then there are the more nebulous effects.  The ones that make me think I may have had this disease since my late teens, because that was the last time I remember experiencing life with the vividness that I have lately.  Colors and sounds are just a bit MORE, feelings are sharper, my brain seems more HERE.  At first I thought I was feeling nostalgia, but it’s not that: it’s just been that long since I felt life this way.  I do think of things that I haven’t thought of for a long time, but they’re neither good nor bad.  Just experiential, like the way my mother’s apartment looked, or the way Lucia’s Garden, a store in Houston, smells.

I wonder how long I’ve been “asleep”.

Then there are the philosophical implications of it all.  Where do I stop?  Where does the illness begin?  Is there a difference?  If not, how do we judge which of my behaviors are “normal” and which ones are not?  Psychiatry has been asking these questions for over a century, and there are some who believe that all psychiatric “illness” is created as a way to pathologize anyone not conforming to the current standards of “normal”.  I disagree.  I believe someone goes from being eccentric to being diseased when they can no longer function in life, or they become a danger to themselves or someone else.

I’m sure I’ll be asking myself these questions for a looooooong time to come along with a lot of others.  In the meantime, I keep trying to Zen-ify my life.  It really does need to be as simple as getting good sleep, eating good food, getting a lot of exercise, doing things that make me happy (gardening, karate, yoga, cooking), and staying as stress-free as possible.  I imagine that means some things and perhaps people will have to be pared away, but perhaps for the first time in my life, I am the most important person in my life, and when I am done taking care of myself, then and only then will I make room for others.  Obviously there has to be some leniency when it comes to the husband and daughter, and we’ll all need help through this transition, but after 39 years, I’m done being second fiddle to anyone.  It’s a pity that it took a near mental breakdown to get here, but I’m finding an awful lot of silver linings in this black cloud, and I feel as though the Universe is watching over me for the moment.