Heya, Monster.

A SoberBlog by a TallWoman.

Archive for the month “March, 2016”

Happy World BiPolar Day!

party_balloons-9Well, Happy World BiPolar Day-coming-up-this-Wednesday,-March-30th!

Whee!

As many of you know,  comorbidity (Definition: noun. 1. the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions in a patient.) happens a shit-tonne (a medical term) when dealing with alcoholism. It (alcohol) is such a ready and easily available and socially okay way to ‘deal’ with Life, and/or Mental Illness. Oftentimes, like in my personal experience, a person won’t even know they’re self-medicating with alcohol in order to lessen the mental effects of a comorbid condition, which in my case is bipolarismness.

So here I am to tell you, ‘Don’t be scared of looking deeper!’ One of the most positive things I’ve done in my adult life is this “short” series of actions:

1. Sought cognitive behavioral help with regular (biweekly) therapy sessions, because I was SOsosososoSOso sad and could not find my way out of it.
2. After about two years of therapy, I decided I was ready to pursue a medication regimen to see if that would help (Had been turned off by a horrible experience ten years previously.).
3. Sought said-psychiatric help and worked over the course of a year to find a balanced med routine (mood stabilizer and occasional anxiety med).
4. For the first four months working with a psychiatrist, I was lying about my alcohol consumption. Then, scared of what I might do to my body, or because of my children’s safety, I came clean and told her the real numbers of my alcohol intake (a LOT). On June 9, 2015, I committed to sobriety in order to give me the best chance at ‘making it.’

Almost 10 months later, on meds and sober and without regular therapy appointments any longer, I am happy and doing very well. It’s interesting to me, because for the longest time, when I was first diagnosed with BP at the age of 20, I fought it and fought it and fought it. I did not WANT to be bipolar. I thought if I was, then it was all that I was, that I would be defined as being bipolar and only bipolar. Eventually however, it became a part of life. It became what I was, or rather, I learned it was only what I had, that it did not define me as I was so scared it would. Even with this enlightenment, I wasn’t necessarily willing to do the work to help manage it in a positive way. Instead, I drank. And in a very similar way as the BP, I struggled with accepting that I had a problem with drinking. That I was, in fact, an alcoholic. And I did everything possible – above all, IGNORE – that I had a problem with alcohol. However, after two years of therapy, it got to the point of, ‘Well, something has to change, or else nothing will.’ And so, meds first, then, using my brain, I finally got sober.

Untangling the BP from the alcohol, and vice versa, has been instrumental in dealing with each of them in their own turn. In understanding them each in their own ways, they have become less threatening and less overwhelming.

It’s interesting because I am still quite secretive about them both. I am more and more comfortable telling people I am sober, but being bipolar is still not something I want to share openly. The stigma is so harmful. I read this article yesterday entitled “Thriving with Bipolar Disorder,” and I was struck by Melody Moezzi’s beautiful quote: “While psychiatric disorders account for some of the leading causes of disability worldwide, with depression now topping the list, these conditions are not nearly as inherently disabling as the scorn and stigma that surround them.” And I just wanted to shout, ‘YES!’

Later, she uses the phrase psychiatric condition, and I was struck with the openness of those words, as opposed to ‘mental illness.’ I’ve always felt deformed or poorly made when talking about mental illness, but just relabeling mental illness as a condition is incredibly liberating. The struggle I had with ‘alcoholic’ created a large hurdle to jump, as well as a social stigma hard to ignore, and was and is a term I am not one-hundred percent on-board with. Even in my own head, I find comfort thinking I am sober, or in recovery, as opposed to saying, ‘I’m Monster and I’m an alcoholic.’ I mean, yes, I do say that whenever I attend an AA meeting, but other than that, I still really resist the word. Amazing how words can have such power, isn’t it?! But of course they do. They absolutely do.

In the past year of work, I think the phrases ‘mental illness’ and ‘alcoholic’ have become smaller issues for me, because I’m just getting the shit done, do you know what I mean? Instead of over-thinking the words, I’m just getting through the work and just doing it. (Swoosh.) And now that I am here in this point of recovery and stability, I can think about the words more philosophically, without getting hung up in them too much, too tied-down or defensive, as long as I still remember to just do the work.

For those of you out there wondering if you are an Alcoholic or if you have a Mental Illness – bipolar, depression, anxiety, etc. – don’t get scared by the words. They may put you off from finding help sooner rather than later. There are many of us here to help and to listen. You’re not alone. You truly, truly are not alone.

Day 291, swoosh.

Resources: The International Society for Bipolar DisordersMental Health.govCrisis Connection

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Sober & Stable.

Monster here. On a mini-vacation blgging from a location even Norther than my usual quite-North locale. The babes and I are visiting my parents for the week, whch is already lovely and good just to be here with them.

About a week ago, I had a check-in with my shrink anout my meds and life and all of that (In a 10-minute session no less! (How do those doctors get to the heart of things so quickly? Do I give her the most focused version of my story because I know our time is limited? Is she a mind-reader and can sense what is going on? Is she at one with the Force? Or worse, is she at one with the Darkside? …. At any rate, it feels like magic the way she can distill my lofe and my needs so quickly.)). And during the session, she said, ‘This is by far your most stable 4-month period.’ 

Her observation surprised me, because … Well, she was right! I have been stable. Stabler than I’ve ever been in terms of mood and anxiety and all that. (I don’t know that stable can be talked about in degrees like that – can it?) It felt so good hearing her say that. It made me realize she was right, and it made me appreciate how good Life has been these past couple of months – even with the Shit happening at work, and even with the time stresses of doing three shows in a row, and just Life…. So grateful to be enjoying it all for what it is.

The doc’s words also made me realize that my sobriety has helped me be more reliable and responsible. I’ve been on my meds for as long as I’ve been sober. (Woot.) And the effects of the mood stabilizer have been really positive. Considering my horrible experience the first time round with a psychiatrist and a cocktail of drugs (in 2001), this go-round has been eye-opening to what benefits a daily drug can have on me. I am absolutely, 100% certain that my sobriety has aided my drug regimen in every way. If I had one without the other, I would not be experiencing the regular gifts these two actions – together – give me.

  
I am so grateful for a calmer, more focused, and surprisingly (to me), more creative mind. One thing I’ve mentioned before, and that I experienced again on our long car ride up to my parents’, is the joy of music. I cannot stop listening to it, which is such a wonderful thing! The kids in the backseat actually called up to me yesterday and said,  ‘Mama, turn down the music! It’s too loud!’ I felt like a teenager. *smile* I felt happy. I felt whole. Wonderful.

Day 287, Grateful to be Here.

p.s. Note to add this was written on my iPad. Lots of typos as a result. Was going to go in and fix them, but they’re funny. ‘Lofe’ – Ha!

BossTalk Update.

Good morning, everyone.* First off, thank you for your wonderful words.

The meeting went… Okay. …. I was in quite a bit of trouble for initiating something without asking for permission first. (Sorry to be vague.)

I’m heartbroken, because the initiative I created was/IS really important to me. I think our community could benefit from it in big ways. And yes, of course there would be obstacles and maybe some not great moments, but overall? It could be great! If we would be brave and go there, but we’re not. …. Lastly, I am not someone who functions with fear as my guide, and I truly feel Fear is motivating decisions right now. That makes me incredibly sad.

I’m going to continue The Work, but am feeling underwhelmed with the lack of support by the higher ups.

On a related note, morale is incredibly low as quite a number of older employees have announced taking a retirement deal for the coming year. These teachers are incredible and inspiring, and it will feel like a very different school without them. I know budget is a huge concern, but man, is our school changing.

I miss the trust. And I miss the positive energy.

Day 277, A little wisdom from Madame Fey:

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And an ‘Amen!’ from the Monster.*

BossTalk.

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It’s happening. Today. In 28 minutes.

I had horrible dreams all night last night. I kept waking up, figuring out that it was still night, that it was only a dream, and then going back to sleep and falling into an even worse one. Argh.

I feel sick to my stomach. Nervous. Anxious. Like I want to throw-up.

I would sweat, but it feels like my whole body has gone into shut-down mode and is constricting itself into the smallest possible space.

I’ve gone over my notes.

I had a mini-preview of a conversation with Person #2 last week, so that’s something. But who knows how Person #1 will be today?

Ugh.

I have my principles and my beliefs, but I just don’t know how or if they will be invited to the conversation at all. If they will be heard. I don’t know that I am going to feel welcome at all… I hope so, but I don’t know.

Day 274, eep….

 

Older & Wiser.

Well, here I sit on top of another birthday. It’s actually been a love-ily birthday week. The hubs has been surprising me each day with little gifts, my fave of which has been the cast recording of Hamilton. Go, Reader. Go right now and listen to this music. It is aMAZing and brilliant. … Seriously. Go.

*2 hours later…*

Right? See? I wasn’t kidding. PheNOMenal.

Okay, and what else? Oh, a little pressure off at work, but not all, and I wouldn’t even say most of the pressure is off. Going to meet next week with the Big Boss, so we will see how that goes. …. And even apart from some things that are more personal to me being discussed, there is a larger layer of pressure because the whole school is experiencing a population drop. Our projected incoming class is almost 50 students lower than our usual, and it may be even lower. There is an atmosphere of the unknown as everyone is nervous about whether or not our jobs are safe, or not. We won’t have our contracts until May, which is 2 months later than usual. So I am feeling stuck. I am tempted to look for work because I want to have some say or control over my situation. Ideally, I do not want to leave because I love my job, but I honestly am not loving the atmosphere change in the past year. I’m torn and not sure what to pursue.

But anyway! Enough of that. It’s my birthday and I am going to celebrate dammit.

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(To Me!)

So the past week or so, I have been doing much better at keeping up with my sober blog reading, and have even had a few days where I’ve had time to go back and read a few of my old posts. I am stunned by how similar our journeys are, aren’t you? Of course there are variables and unique details to you and to me, but really? So many echoes from yours and from yours and from yours and from mine…. It is so beautiful to feel so close to others, especially when on some days, it feels like I am the only sober person for miles around. It is so nice to know you are here, too, and that, no matter which step of the journey we are on, we get it, and we just know. It’s nice to release and to trust in that – to trust in You. So Thank You.*

Also things happening in the past week…. With my show wrapping up, it’s freed up some headspace so that I can actually delve into other creative things and not feel too tired or distracted by them. In the past 10 days, I have watched the entire series of Transparent (gorgeous!), started four books, gotten back into The Newsroom (love!), and watched Temple Grandin (so good – except for the after-school-special-ending). It feels good to be a human again. Ha!

At work, we had the end of a trimester at school, so I hurried up and did my grading yesterday because today is actually a day off. Whee! Last night turned into an everybody-squish-into-Mama’s-and-Dada’s-bed kind of a sleepover, so that was perhaps just the beginning of my birthday celebrations. *smile* Then, this morning, because I have the day off, I got to take the babes to school. I was planning on going to my fave coffeeshop and sitting and blogging with a cuppa, but it was so packed, I took my tea and drove back home (whilst listening to Hamilton, mind you). So, here I am in my own home, and it’s quiet…. and still…. and just me and the cat. I’m not sure I can remember the last time this ever happening. hee. In a bit, I will pick-up the babes, spend a little more time with them, then off to a mini-afternoon-date with the hubs, and then dinner with my in-laws. I would say it all sounds practically perfect in every way.

Alright, all you lads & lasses, if you haven’t figured it by now, this post is only a blatant plea for birthday wishes. (*wink*) … No, but really. If you do feel like celebrating, I am going to steal an idea from a friend and say – share a piece of cake or a cupcake with me wherever you are in the world. And if you’re feeling sinister no! That’s an album title…. If you’re feeling indulgenty, then yes. Let us eat cake (together)! Take a pic and post it, if you would.

I am happy to just be Here. In my Life. Present and Grateful for every day – Sober and Happy! … With all of you.*

Day 269, Glitter Birthday Bomb!

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