I’ve started a million blog posts (well, half a dozen, anyway).

But I get them to about a hundred, two hundred words and I think, “This sounds so totally stupid, and what am I trying to accomplish with it?”

And I don’t know.

I wanted to write more posts for Mental Health Awareness Month. And I started a couple. Didn’t finish.

I did finally finish and submit TPA 3. Waiting to see if I passed. I should feel good about that but I don’t because I have one more to go and the amount of work to do on it is daunting. Makes me want to go take a nap.

I’m feeling a bit lost for a direction on this business.

The readings was a way to get started, start bringing in a little income while I worked on a couple of offerings. But every time I start to do something it feels stupid or like something someone else has already done/said.

I know that I do work in fits and starts, but lately the fits are less and less prominent.

This week, at least two days, I took “naps” in excess of 2 hours. Today, it was 4 hours. I mean, really, why does an unemployed person need a 4 hour nap?

I have a “to do” list a mile long.  And here I sit, going through my little ritual of checking certain websites over and over and over again.

Yesterday, I had a bad day, similar to today, and I did some free readings trying to turn my energy around. It worked, yesterday, but I can’t do unlimited free readings every day, and I didn’t carry the good energy over to today.

I feel like I’m drowning, even though I have some good things happening.

Turning in TPA 3 .. . . I’ve been putting that off for almost a year and a half. I should feel something about it. Relief? Accomplishment? Something. I don’t feel anything, except fear over the next hurdle.

I’ve been super nervous about not having enough money for the second installment of the pet deposit, but I talked to my doctor, and I’m entitled to an emotional support animal for my disability. Once I get the letter from my doctor, I should be able to submit that, and maybe even get the installment I’ve paid back and stop the pet rent.

That’s a good thing. And I’m not happy, I’m just nervous about not getting the letter in time.

This seems like I’m whining, and I’m not meaning to, I do have some stuff going on and I’m doing ok, I’m making progress, I’m just feeling like I’m starting to sink again.

I have pulled out the Ganesh chant and a mini altar to help push through this time.

Self-love: 4 Songs That Make Me Smile

Sometimes it’s difficult to remember good things in your life.

Through my last depression, I realized something. When I’m on the way down or depressed, I don’t listen to music as much. I will put NPR on the radio in the car, watch TV shows at home, but rarely turn the radio to a music station or Pandora on the computer.

When I’m feeling better is the time when I go back to music, which means I tend to like upbeat stuff.

I almost titled this: 4 songs to make you smile. But, I don’t know if they’ll make you smile. I can only say that they make ME happy. I do believe that music can help shape our emotions, give us focus, make us feel better (or worse – there are songs that evoke anger and pain, too).

I’m often scared to talk about what I like in music. My tastes are usually a bit behind the times, and all over the musical map. I tend to like quite a bit pop stuff, which used to mean some of my friends would make fun of me when they were into alternative and underground. I eventually developed a taste for a lot of alternative stuff, but usually 3-5 years behind my friends.

Now, I tend to not care too much what others think, but I still sometimes feel like I have to justify my tastes. I know, intellectually, that is ridiculous, but sometimes old feelings creep up on me.

1. Pop  – Pink – Try

When I first started to hear this song on the radio, I would turn it off almost immediately, because the music sounded sad.
A couple months ago, C forced me to watch this video of Pink’s performance at the AMAs. 
First of all, totally love Pink. She’s unapologetically strong and individualistic, but also compassionate and kind: everything I love in a female role model.

Watching her do this modern dance interpretation of her song was amazing. I was blown away by her strength and grace and for the first time actually listened to the song.

The chorus really speaks to me.

Where there is desire,
There is gonna be a flame.
Where there is a flame,
Someone’s bound to get burned.
But just because it burns,
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die.
You’ve gotta get up and try, try, try.

For a long time now, I’ve been able to keep getting up when it has to do with survival needs. But I have pushed a lot of people away.

Lately, a particular person has been reminding me that I need to do this with relationships, too: open myself up again, allow the possibility of being hurt. The song says that even if you are hurt, it won’t be fatal, and then you can try again. And something about the flame mentioned here is reminiscent of a time long ago. 🙂

2. Electronica/goth-rock – The Cruxshadows – Indivisible

Itunes calls this band “electronica” and Pandora classifies it as “goth-rock”. I don’t really care. 🙂 I was looking for new music and someone on FB suggested this band. This was the first song that jumped out at me. My itunes tells me this is the most listened to song on my computer and iPod at the moment. (Their song Valkyrie from the same album is almost as played).

And call it courage, overcoming the fear
to conquer first the demons inside.
That when the madness descends on our dreams
we have the strength to keep them alive
The purpose of one becomes the purpose of all
A phalanx made from what we believe.
A ghost or an angel, a wish or a prayer,
Just open your eyes, your heart, your mind

3. Pop? – Gotye – I Feel Better

Gotye hit the charts this past summer with “Somebody That I used to Know“. I like the song, even though it was way overplayed for a few months. But it is a break up song, with a lot of sadness and bitter-sweetness in it.
But this song, from the same album is even better. It reminds me of some upbeat 70s/early 80s stuff.

I’m having a hard time picking just a snippet of this one; I like almost every lyric, so I’ll just put the first part here; but listen to the whole thing. Something about it kind of reminds me of “I can see clearly now“.

There was a time I was down, down
I didn’t know what to do.
I was just stumbling around, around
Thinking things could not improve.
I couldn’t look on the bright side
Of anything at all.
That’s when you gave me a call!
And I feel better, better, better than before!
I feel better, better!
Now I’m not down anymore!

That sounds like someone who has been depressed and found a way out of it. In some ways I don’t like that it takes another person to get him out of it. But there’s nothing in the song that says this was definitely a romantic attachment that made everything better. It could be a good friend, an old friend, or an estranged family member that helped him find his way back.

4. Chant – Om Gam Ganapatye Namaha

I like chants, all kinds of chants. Somewhere I have a CD of Gregorian chants. I have some tapes and CDs of Pagan chants. And Buddhist and Hindu Chants have always fascinated me.

There’s something .  . .  soothing about repeating syllables in a musical manner. C, on the other hand, can’t stand them. She’s been very frustrated when I listen to 20-30 minutes of “Om Mani Padme Hum”. 🙂

My friend Trudy  reminded me of this one earlier this week.

It calls upon the God Ganesh (or Ganesha).

Ganesh had his head cut off and replaced with an elephant head.

He is known as one who removes obstacles (because an elephant can move anything out of his/her way!), facilitates success (you’ll often see small altars to him in businesses), and is also very playful.

In the brass sculpture here, he is dancing on top of a small mouse – his usual ride! And if the image of a fat guy with an elephant head riding a mouse doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what would. 🙂

From Vishal International

From the website Humanity Healing (click on the link for more info on Ganesh).

Om gam ganapataye namaha!
A very loose translation might be:
Om = Salutations! Everyone wake up!
Gam = The secret power sound of Ganesh. It is his “seed syllable” or bija mantra.
Ganapataye = Another name of Ganesh, the breaker of obstacles.
Namaha = Yo! Ganesh! You da God!

What about you?

What songs never fail to make you smile? What songs speak to what you’re going through right now? I’d love for you to share in the comments or on the Facebook page

On Depression, Bipolar and Medication

I want to talk about some trouble I’ve been having with my medications lately, but first, my friend Diana wrote this fantastic post about her battle with depression.

In it, she says:

The one thing you do NOT see on this list is taking anti-depressants.  This is not because I particularly have anything against anti-depressants, but it has more to do with my philosophy that most pills address symptoms rather than root cause, and I prefer to try non-pharmaceutical methods that seem to address root cause. If I ever run into a situation where I don’t improve using other means, then if my therapist and doctor recommend it, I will go with it.

Now, I love D, and it’s great that she is able to get herself out of these problems without meds. She has situational depression, not major depressive or bipolar disorder and that is a reason why she can handle it without meds. And I respect her decision.

There was even a time when I felt similar to the way she does, so I understand it, especially since I’ve always been interested in self-help and spiritual growth. I thought I ought to be able to get myself out of it, that I could think/force myself to be better. I don’t need no stinkin’ medications. I’m so enlightened, I should be able to meditate and exercise myself better!

Um, no.

When I was first diagnosed with bipolar (after having at least three previous bouts of depression that sent me to doctors), they would not even begin therapy until I was stabilized on medications (and that took months).

At the time, I had a friend who sometimes acted like she thought she knew everything about everything. She was angry on my behalf, because she thought they weren’t doing enough for me because they were not giving me therapy. And I admit, at the time, I felt the same way.

But here’s the thing. . . In my deepest places, walking in darkness, being so out of it that crawling out of bed takes all the energy I can muster for the day, falling into the hole that feels deeper and harder to crawl out of each time. . . I simply could not do the work necessary to be successful in therapy.

Back when Prozac and other SSRIs were still new on the market, I started to hear the phrase “I don’t need a crutch” or “medications are just a crutch.”

Here’s the thing. . . . If your leg is broken, you NEED a fucking crutch, and a cast, and maybe pins to hold the damn thing together until it can heal.

While part of me knew that I was bipolar by my early-20s, another part of me insisted that my depressions were situational.

– 91/92 – I was in Italy, and I was depressed. I was socially isolated because the American military community there was pretty small. I didn’t have access to a spiritual teacher/group. I made relationship and career mistakes. I spent too much money. There’s this one particular road that I drove where there’s a sharp turn near a cliff overlooking Naples Bay and I wanted to drive over this cliff. I’d think, “I just won’t turn this time. . .” I had at least two other plans, as well. But, I knew that as soon as I wasn’t in that situation any more, as soon as I paid back the money, as soon as I could go back to where I had non-military friends, as soon as my life changed, I’d be fine. Right?

– 94-96 – My second marriage fell apart spectacularly quickly (just like my first – but the first marriage was my fault, and in the second, I felt like the wronged party). I was pregnant by a guy I wasn’t in love with. I was living with another guy I wasn’t in love with, who wasn’t really capable of pulling his own weight (although he did get his shit together shortly after I kicked him out, go figure). It was becoming increasingly obvious I was not going to be able to remain in the military and be the parent I wanted to be, so I was losing a career I thought I’d have for another 11 years. Add into that the post-pregnancy hormones – of course I’m depressed! But I knew that as soon as I got out and could concentrate on being a mom, as soon as I finished my degree (not gonna take more than a couple years, right?) I’d be fine.

– 99 – In the beginning of the year, I was dating a great guy, had a job that worked with me so I could take classes, was teaching a spiritual group, on the surface, things looked fine. I moved back to a city I loved, with people I knew and cared about nearby, with the great guy, and we were talking about getting married. 5 months after we started living together, he was moving out, moving to another state with another woman, and I was so depressed, I was crying on the drive to work every morning, not to mention during work. But that made sense, too, right? I mean, my relationship was ending (again) and everyone gets depressed when that happens, right?

By the end of that year, I finally had the bipolar diagnosis, in part because of the apparent cyclical nature of my depressions.

When I look back now, I can see that I was in those situations because I was sick, not the other way around. But at the time, I couldn’t see that. When you’re in the middle of it, you can’t.

While part of me was relieved, because deep down, I always knew, part of me was also defiant. I guess I always will be.

All this to say: I have a love/hate relationship with my medications.

I know they help me. They help me seen things more clearly. They help me have the energy to do things I have to do when I just don’t want to. They help me sleep longer and deeper than I had in many years.

I hate taking them. I hate being tethered to them, making sure I have enough, making sure I bring them with me, etc. I hate the idea that I probably have to take them for the rest of my life. I hate some of the side effects (although my current regimen is much more gentle than my first one – at least my hands no longer shake, most of the time). I hate my alarm going off several times a day to remind me to take them.

I really, really hate when people tell me I shouldn’t be taking them, because they don’t know, they don’t understand. Sometimes people think that because I’m intelligent and articulate, that I can’t be mentally ill. But I am.

On a daily basis, I take an antidepressant and a medication that acts as a mood stabilizer along with some supplements.

I also have an anti-anxiety medication to take on an “as needed” basis.

And this is where my most recent “hate” sequence comes in.

I’m getting scared about a couple of things, lately, causing anxiety.

Last week, I was having trouble sleeping because the anxiety was getting pretty high.

I do have the “as needed” medication, so I took a very small dose with my regular night time meds for 3-4 days.

And for the whole week, I spent all day sleepy, groggy, hung over feeling. I didn’t get anything done last week:  nothing towards business, nothing towards school, nothing towards my business and not any housework.

So, I’m stuck here.

Either I don’t take that medication and I feel too anxious to think clearly with my belly feeling like its full of snakes OR I spend my days nearly comatose.

Yet another place where I can’t find a middle ground.

Medication Discovery

While my daughter is visiting family back east, I’ve been working on getting some stuff organized in the apartment.

Today, I started going through my old medicine bottles. I’m a little freaked out.

I know that I’m not always “good” about taking my meds. Sometimes I skip a dose (or three). For several months, I only took half of the anti-depressant I was supposed to take. I’m *usually* good about the mood stabilizer, because I find it difficult to sleep without it. My prescription for that is “one or two as needed” and most of the time, I only take one. I only take two if I’ve have trouble sleeping for a few nights.

I’ve also got anti-anxiety meds that are supposed to be on an “as needed” basis. Since they are addictive, I very rarely take them.

Then there’s the vitamins, calcium with vitamin D and iron pills (all prescriptions). And the allergy nose spray, and the new prescription nose spray that’s supposed to stop my nose from running. . .

Is it any wonder I didn’t want to go back on birth control pills? Sheesh, I’ve got a lot of meds.

Anyway, I was going through, consolidating half-full bottles and the like*, and found unopened bottles from 2009, 2010 and last year. Holy crap! No wonder my mood states had been all over the place! I’ve been “better” about taking them since about the time I started working on fitness, but still skip the vitamins and such quite a bit.

This is just yet another area where self-discipline comes into play.

If I’m not disciplined enough to take my medications regularly, which I know help me with other parts of my life, how can I be disciplined in other ways?

I was talking to my high school BFF the other day and one of the things we talked about was having a clean and organized house. Neither one of us has been good about that for some time. She grew up in a very organized home. My home wasn’t as organized, but my step-father really, really tried to make it so.

There have been times that I can vaguely remember that I was much more organized. Particularly when I had this small apartment in Chula Vista, after my ex left. Things had been chaotic for several months (including having several roommates), and I reveled in having my own space, with my own things, organized in a way I wanted. That was the most organized and clean place I’ve ever lived. I liked having people over. I didn’t have much to be embarrassed about. I even had a party there. It was a bit non-traditional (I didn’t have a couch and only one chair in the living room), but it was mine. Once a week, I did a deep clean, and it wasn’t hard because everything else was mostly ok.

I miss that place.

Even when my daughter was small, I was better about things than I am now, particularly after I got rid of the (then) deadbeat roommate (who has apparently turned out to be a really good guy).

I was writing in my journal** and talked about how I would sometimes “clear the decks”. By that I mean I would clean, organize, throw stuff out, make things fresh. I was always like that. Things would get out of control, and then I would spend a whole day clearing the decks. Even that was better than what I have in place now (i.e. chaos).

It made sense, when I was working full-time, running the tutoring business AND going to grad school. But since January, I haven’t had that excuse and I still haven’t done more than casual cleaning and the stuff that HAS TO get done.

I have gotten into a fairly good routine with working out. Now, I need to make sure I’m taking my meds the way I’m supposed to and get other routines into place. When I start working again, I’m going to need those routines.

*If I misplaced the current open bottle, I know I have more, and so just crack open another one. Yes, I’m really that disorganized.

**I swear I’ve done more writing in the last two or three days than I have in the last three years. Am I manic?

NOT sending a letter

This is sort of a continuation of my last post.

One of the things I don’t like about myself is my capacity for stupid obsessions.
Ever since that phone call, I’ve been obsessing. It wasn’t going away or getting better. In the comments, Monday’s Child suggested that I allow the fantasy to play out.
That sort of made it worse.
Yesterday, it was even worse.
Now, logically I know that this is just a way for my brain to distract me from other things I need to be doing or from the fact that I’ve (almost) failed at something.
I posted on Facebook that I was mad at my “diseased brain”. One of my friends, another math teacher who has been a long-distance mentor, posted about my brain not being diseased. We then had a private chat where I told her some of the background information.
She said all the right things. And I know all those things.
He’s a liar; he’s a manipulator; he’s not worth my time and energy.
I know.
But knowing that doesn’t stop my stupid brain from running the fantasies.
If I squash it during my waking hours, it shows up in my sleeping ones. If I try to consciously redirect it to where I’m beating the crap out of him, it still keeps running back to reunion scenarios. If I don’t find a way to fight this, I know where I’ll end up – depressed and anxious.
Last night, after chatting with JF, I pulled out my affirmation notebook and wrote a few simple positive affirmations to try to clear the psychic decks.
By the time I was done writing three affirmations twenty times each, I felt like writing something else.
I wrote a letter to him.
Six pages.
I had no idea I still had six pages of stuff to work out about him. I haven’t written that fluently in years.
It has some bitter-sweet stuff, some anger, some pity, some sadness in it.
But there was a theme through all six pages. His lack of respect for me came through very clearly, maybe more clearly than I’ve seen it before.
When I was done, I felt . . . empty. 
I have no intention of sending this to him. It wasn’t for him. It was for me.
Maybe now I can actually get some work done. 

Catch up, where I’ve been, things on my mind

So, yeah, it’s been almost a year since I wrote.

From mid-August to mid-January, I was student teaching while taking a grad school class to finish requirements for my teaching credential. It was exhausting, physically and emotionally.
Smack-dab in the middle of it, I had gallbladder attacks, near constant for most of the month of October. In mid-November, on my 42nd birthday, I had surgery to take it out. 
I only missed four days of teaching, but I think I pushed myself too hard.
When I finished the semester, I still needed to finish writing one paper to close out my grad school class. 
But I collapsed, physically and emotionally. It took more than four months before I was even able to leave the house. I had intended to substitute teach during the remainder of the school year, and the mentor teachers I worked with would have had me fill in for them, but I could not bring myself to finish the paperwork necessary to do it.
How messed up is that?
I just finished that paper, finally. But it was after the Incomplete had already reverted to an Unsatisfactory. I don’t know yet if I’ll be able to get it accepted. I’m waiting to hear from the department director and my counselor about it. I think it will probably go through, or there is an appeal process I can use. 
I’m beating myself up over it. There was no reason for it to take this long.
Except, now I’m wondering if I can really handle teaching? Can I? If one semester wore me out that much? Should I have tried harder to get full disability back when my therapist thought I needed it instead of fighting to work and finish school? 
Anyway, during the workups leading to the surgery, I discovered that I’m insulin-resistant. The doctor also had mentioned metabolic syndrome. When my mother was diagnosed diabetic a few months ago, I finally got serious about losing weight. 
My friends and I started a blog 2 years ago to support each other losing weight: . However, all of us gave up, and stopped writing. Since March, I’ve been blogging pretty consistently over there, working out and counting calories. My highest ever weight was last June at 199.6 lbs, in March I was between 193-196 lbs. Right now, I’m around 178 lbs and lifting heavy weights. The others tell me they’re inspired, but they rarely write.

What I really wanted to write about today, though, was something that happened in early May. I wrote about it on the Las Flacas blog as “an emotional punch to the gut” but I didn’t talk about it in detail over there.

I think I’m ready to talk about it now.

My ex-husband called me, totally out of the blue.

It’s been 18 years since he left me, and 11 years since the last time I spoke to him. He called a couple of days after what would have been our 19 year anniversary. 

He told me he’s been seeing a therapist and the therapist wants him to explore problems in his previous relationships. So he called me.

Now, he knows that I’ve been in therapy. And I know there’s no way in hell that his therapist told him to call me. Because, you know, of course I talked about him in therapy, but I was never encouraged to CALL him. Because he needs to explore HIS feelings about the relationship, not mine.

There were a couple of times when his voice trembled, like he was nervous. And toward the end of the very brief conversation, he said he’d call me back when he had more time to talk (because he called me on his ten minute break from work – to talk about relationship issues! Um, yeah). 

I said, “You know what? Just don’t.”

He sounded very sad when he said, “I shouldn’t? Don’t?”

No, really, just don’t.

Thing is, you see, he’s still with the woman he left me for, 18 years ago. And I’m fairly certain they are actually married.

And if he’s in therapy and exploring previous relationships, that means there’s issues in his current relationship.
I really don’t see where it’s up to me to help him fix his current relationship!
But also?
He called me on his break from work. 
So SHE wouldn’t know he’d called me.
And he’s obviously been online stalking me for awhile.
Last year, he sent me an email when his cat died.
He sent it to my tutoring email address, which had to be found on my business’ website. I assume that’s also how he got my phone number.
He said he’d been “keeping tabs” on me for some time.
That’s creepy, isn’t it?
I mean, he left me and cut me out of his life. So why is he “keeping tabs” on me?
It could be that he’s turning 40 next January, IIRC. I’m sure this is a mid-life thing. Perhaps he has some regrets.
I don’t know.
I don’t care.
Except that he still has this stupid effect on me. 
My dreams have been full of reunion scenarios.
That pisses me off no end. At least I’ve been able to use that anger to fuel my workouts.
But it also distracts me from the million and one things I have to do.
I still have steps to take to finish my credential.
I have to create invoices for the contract job I’ve been doing. I need that money.
I need to look for a job, write a teaching resume, contact people for letters of recommendation. . .
And I’m fighting my brain coming up with stupid fantasies.
It’s a waste of emotional energy.
Maybe if I were dating someone, that would go away? But it’s not like I’ve had any energy to spare for that.
I put up a profile on OkCupid a few days ago, but I’m thinking of taking it down, because I’m not really ready to date.
I need my energy for other things right now.

Early depression signs

Over the last 5-6 weeks, I’ve been sliding slowing into depression. I’m not non-functional yet, but there’s a lot of negative signs.

This came to my attention in earnest on Sunday, when I realized I had not showered since Friday morning. This is not as bad as it has been in the past (when I’d go up to four days without paying attention to basic hygiene). But it is definitely a bad sign.

I think it started early in March.

My truck (a 1992 GMC Sonoma) had a major problem. It has had a lot of problems in the last few years, that I haven’t had the money to fix. The whole exhaust system needs to be replaced. The radiator has a slow leak. It’s been leaking oil, and getting worse. It started out where I’d have to add a quart of oil every 4-6 weeks. As of March, I was adding a quart a week or more. Driving one day in early March, the temperature gauge showed a higher temp than normal. I stopped and put water in the radiator, and realized the oil was low again, too. Added oil. It seemed fine for a little bit, but when driving to a client, the temp gauge was still high. I don’t know what happened, but SOMETHING happened when both the radiator and oil were low that day. The engine now smells wrong. It feels wrong, it sounds wrong. There’s something majorly wrong.

Serendipitously, that same day, the client I was seeing mentioned that she was selling a car she bought for her daughter. The car is a stick shift, and the daughter couldn’t get coordinated enough to drive the car. It’s actually OLDER than my truck, which gave me pause at first. But it has very low miles.

So, later that week, I bought it. I felt pretty good about it, except that the money used to buy it was supposed to help me through summer, when I’ll be losing Voc Rehab money. Then there were the associated costs and headaches. Smog check. Insurance. Registration. All that stuff. On the one hand, I feel pretty good that I was able to handle it all in a timely manner.

But I think doing so drained my emotional reserves.

The class I had in March also worked on draining some of my energy. There were problems with the class and my procrastination was pushed to the limit. I turned in everything late. I got my lowest grad school grade, a B+. Now, a B+ is not a BAD grade, but I was doing well with A’s and A-‘s. I’m a bit annoyed at myself.

I’ve also forgotten client appointments.

I’ve lost a couple of clients. Not because of the missed appointments, but because of schedule changes, and one client’s mother is losing her job.

C’s laptop died. I first thought it was the monitor. It wasn’t. It’s the graphics processor, and a known problem in models similar to this one. $175 repair.

On top of buying a car and the associated costs, replacing a damaged tire recently, C needed new shoes, now this. . . My very little monetary reserves are drying up, and I’m stressed about this.

I should start to hustle for more clients, because I need the money, but I can’t bring myself to do it.

I haven’t even submitted my invoice to the company for my hours for March yet.

Yesterday, I went to the gym. I’ll go again tomorrow. I’m becoming more diligent about my medications. I have a dr’s appt with my pdoc on May 2, 3pm

I know part of the problem is that I haven’t been sleeping enough at night. C’s been up every night really late, which means I’m up late, too.

So, I’m taking steps to fight this. But it’s difficult. And I’m feeling kind of drained.