Bugged & Bummed Out


So, yesterday happened. I’m not happy about it, but i lost the face from late afternoon to this morning. I was fully switched, so i have no idea what happened. Those hours are a blank, and so far, nothing’s coming back. I do know that an angry part was in charge, probably for most of the time i was gone. Some of my Bits N’ Pieces are so intense, they leave a trace of themselves behind. It’s like talking closely enough with someone you can tell what they had for lunch.
Rage, terror, garlic…

Plus, i’m absolutely knackered. The angry ones use up all my energy; when i come back i feel like a scooped out melon. These days i’ve been waking up early, and i mean early. Usually, i get up to use the facilities between 3 and 4am. The last couple of months i’ve been unable to get back to sleep.

There’s a few reasons for it. One is the writing. I’m trying to be a real live writer, i.e. writing like it’s my job. I read about how to be better at it, and other general thoughts from others on the craft itself. I’m learning about a career as an author. I’ve tapped into the passion i feel about it. It’s always been there, a pool in the centre of me, limpid but deep. Its quiet mystery always beckons, yet i’ve only ever dipped a toe in, or sat carefully on its edge and dabbled my feet.

Now, i’m fixin’ to swim.

There are other issues, but isn’t there always? Unfortunately, i fractured my left arm a couple of weeks ago. It’s causing me more irritation than pain. Don’t get me wrong, it aches like a bugger, but it isn’t unmanageable. The real problem is that it’s holding me back a little, and i’m chafing at life’s current restraints already. I have so much i want to accomplish. I’m not sure why i feel held back, exactly. Most of what i want to do can be done right here at home. I think i’m just grumpy and as fed up with all of this as everyone else.

I’m isolated and safe out here on our farm, though. We have money coming in and want for nothing. We’re all healthy and we have each other.

It could be a lot worse. I have dear friends who’ve endured nothing short of tragedy over the last couple of years. Many have lost those dearest to them.
I’ve been inconvenienced and delayed, nothing more.

Well, there you go.
Sometime’s a girl’s gotta kick her own ass.

Now that i’ve decided not to write about how tough i have it (because i don’t), on to the matter at hand. I lost time yesterday, and i have no idea why. I know my triggers, and while i deal with those every day, nothing was enough to trigger a switch. Yes, i’m tired and in pain, but –not to sound like a martyr here– i’m often tired and always in pain. I was writing, and it was flowing well. I’m receiving support and positive feedback. My fractured arm doesn’t keep me from writing or walking, which has become important for my physical and mental well being. My real life friendships are in some flux, but my online friendships are stronger than ever. The changes in my routine are stimulating, rather than overwhelming. I’m excited for what the future holds, not trepidatious.

I don’t know, man. I just don’t know.

I was up early, got some chores and some writing done before the hubs got up for work. I fed him breakfast, made his lunch, got dressed and ready for the day. I watched the news with him for a bit, but i quickly felt anxious, so i walked away and did more housework. I frequently hitch a ride with him into town, where he stops for gas and coffee before heading to the big city for work. I clocked 9,000 steps before i got home at around 8:30 or 9. I made 2 loaves of Friendship Bread and 5 pints of jam.

The jam didn’t set properly, which bugged me.
I kept trying to write, but it felt like i wasn’t getting anywhere with it, which bugged me.
An appointment i had, cancelled. Didn’t bug me, but change can be unsettling for me.
Couldn’t get my ass up to do any more housework, which was frustrating, and got me talking crap about myself, to myself.
I tried distraction, but nothing on telly grabbed me.
All my music – same.
Dogs were constantly underfoot, wanting walkies. I was annoyed.

And that’s really all i remember.

Woke up in the morning with a hangover/headache. I’m not drinking, it’s a rage hangover.

Feedback from my partner is that i was snippy and out of sorts. My texts were clipped. I didn’t have the right leash for our bigger dog. She would have been harder to handle, as she’s used to having around 3m of play. At some point after i met up with my husband after work, i got angry and demanded to be let out of our vehicle. Off i went on an angry walk.
My son relates that when i got home, he was downstairs but could hear me yelling. Said he knew immediately that i wasn’t myself.

These days i don’t struggle with shame over switching, like i used to. I’ve mostly accepted that i’m a multiple with bipolar disorder, who minors in anxiety and obsession. The thing that’s getting under my skin a bit is that i don’t know why i switched.

So, i came here to use one of my most productive tools. I’m writing about it. I came here yesterday morning, to write because it’s been a couple of weeks. I try to be somewhat regular and reliable these days. I want my readers to be able to count on me producing a couple of times a month. It’s not a stress, really. It’s helpful and appropriate. I’d drop it like a hot potato if it wasn’t helping or using spoons i needed for something else more important. But i wanted to write, and i needed to write, and here i am.

It came to me yesterday while i was walking. Because it’s actually the second day after i switched (Friday, if i’m hard to follow):

– I’ve been having trouble focusing;
– I can’t seem to get much done besides the basics.

I was irritated again, all day, so i decided to get my ass outdoors for a good long walk. It helped. Headphones on and just wandering around town aimlessly cleared my head. My thoughts were wandering around aimlessly, too.

It was then i remembered – i’m still manic.
Mania does not pop in and out of my life. While my cycles are significantly shorter than they were when i was first diagnosed (years long), i’m still a long, slow cycler. I could feel mania lapping at the shores of my consciousness months ago, but i’ve only identified being in an actual mania for, i don’t know, less than 2mos.

One of the chief symptoms of mania is irritability. I don’t know how i could forget that, except that i’m currently in a mania. My thoughts can jump quickly from one topic to the next, making it easy to lose track of things.
And you wanna know what?
I forgot about that insight until i made myself sit down and try and write this blog post again, today.

I would guess a large part of why i switched is that i’m experiencing a mania.
Another thing occurred to me though, during my walk. It struck deep and has stuck with me.
There may be times when i have no idea why i switched.

Not many people know themselves as well as i do, but i have limits. We know enough about the human brain to know we don’t know very much about it at all. And psychology is a very, VERY soft science, including the study of psychiatric disorders and neurodiversity. I know how my brain works in a general, non-specific, uneducated way; filtered through my own beliefs, experiences, and understanding.

What i know about my brain is that in some ways, it doesn’t function like other people’s. It does these extremely weird, often inconvenient things for myriad reasons – only some of which i’ve been able to suss out. There are things about my childhood i’ve forgotten, and others i’m not certain i’m remembering correctly. I know a bit about how trauma affects the brain, but i’ve only a lay person’s understanding. The abuse i survived was extreme and long term, and i imagine the effects have mirrored that. If nothing else, my multiplicity has taught me there’s a shitload going on up in this bat-filled belfry of mine, and i’m unaware of most of it.

I’m glad that i booted my ass out of the WHY-MEs earlier on in this post, but the truth remains. I live with serious, debilitating, complicated, life-altering mental illnesses, and at the moment my plate is FULL. I’m dealing with my own stuff, loved one’s stuff, and the world in crisis, on top of everything else. Whether or not everyone else has got a tonne of stress (and they do) doesn’t change the reality of my situation.

My brain will do what it’s going to do.
My job is to cope the best i can.

Yeah, not the most interesting or inspiring of posts, but it’s helped me to write it. The tool got the job done. Maybe now that i’ve got this out of the way, i can get back to my writing job.
I’m hopeful.

ETA: I’m posting this Saturday afternoon, and my time loss occurred on Wednesday. Since then, while chatting with a friend, it came up that one of my medications may be at least partly responsible. One of the known side effects is “mood swings,” so i guess i’ll be looking into that, now.

Love and Peace,
~H~



IMAGE: mana5280

GRRs & ARGHs

Today i am frustrated.
There are people in my life who aren’t doing what i think they should.
There are things in the world that i hate.
I want to change all the things.
Most of all though, >>I<< am not doing what i think i should.
There are things in my personal sphere specifically, that i hate.
There are things about >>ME<< that i hate.
I want to change them NOW.
I want to be at the place i want to be NOW.

Yesterday i felt how far i’ve come.
I have grown tremendously and come so far.
I’m growing away from things and i’m not sure i like it, but i do like it.
But it’s not enough.
I. want. MORE, but i’m tired,
but i’m motivated and energised.
I’m fully trepidatious, but mostly unconcerned.
I mean, that just seems natural and appropriate.
So i discard the mental message as not worth troubling over.

This morning my body was screaming at me.
It purged and purged and purged until i was a dry husk.
There is no sickness in my house, and we all consumed the same things.
They are fine, but i’m left sore and dehydrated. Spent.
My legs twitch with the desire to go.
My biceps are jumping.
My head feels like an empty gourd, my neck aches,
my skull is too hard and it’s screaming at me.
Everything wants to be busy and engaged and in full swing.

Wait, though. I can’t.
I’m heavy. I feel weighted down.
I’m tired of feeling opposing things at the same time and with the same intensity.
It’s exhausting and i don’t want to trifle with tiredness any longer.
I see things on my horizon, peeping over, and i want to be THERE.
The light is so bright and glowy and warm and welcoming.
It looks like winning and it beckons me come.
I’m tired though, and i want to skip the distance between us.
I want to BE THERE ALREADY.

This dangling promise frustrates me.
This beauty in front of me, but just out of reach.
I’ve come so far, why is there farther still?
Why must i still DO? Why can’t i be at the just being part now?
My temples are throbbing and my hands feel as if i’ve been wringing them.
Shaking my head, over and over. Wringing my hands.
Drumbeating WHY?! over and over.
The petulant child having one last tantrum.
I endeavour to make that last true.

Ever plodding along,
Always hanging in there,
Peace and Love To All,
~H~

IMAGE: Jordan Wozniak

Beneath A Star

Look around you find the ground
Is not so far from where you are
But don’t be too wise
~ Nick Drake, Things Behind The Sun

Still very low. It feels like i have zero energy. Sometimes i’m okay with baby steps and sometimes it gets to me and i just want to scream, RESULTS NOW! Bigger, better, faster, stronger, moremoremore!
I keep stiff-upper-lipping, i am persevering, i’m moving slowly because i bloody well must, but good goddamnit, why must this take so long?

Playing the long game takes so much time and so much consistency and i wonder if this is a mere blip or am i genuinely almost out of spoons? It’s usually a blip, but what if it isn’t this time?
I sit i stand i lie down with reality these days. In truth, in my body. In hope, in my face, looking directly into the sun. I’ll make new spoons from my dripping eyes as they melt in the brilliance of real life. I’ll be blind but i won’t be in pain… Right?
RIGHT?!

Has anyone noticed that i’m the quiet one now?
Has anyone marked the peace in me?
I’m okay with spinning along with the earth most days.
But today, oh today i want answers, please. I want to KNOW things. Today i want to read the last page. I want to know if all this work and all this investment and all the interminable waiting will be fucking worth it. JesusChristingGoddamn it, i clean up one mess only for another to be revealed.
And it’s taking so long that i’m running out of good years.

It’s my body, you see.
I’m getting my brain together only for my body to fall apart.
It’s my personality too, you know.
I’m getting a handle on my emotions and behaviours only for my relationships to peter out.
I’m becoming the person i’ve always wanted to be, but will anyone be left to enjoy me with me?
I’ve gotten myself mostly together just in time to see that everyone around me is still fairly messy.*

It seems as if i was liked better when i was more broken. It was easier when i blamed myself for everything. When i cracked a joke or acted the fool instead of crying out in pain or screaming out no. I could be dismissed when i was ranting about things i was mostly clueless about. Up on my soapbox, shouting about politics and religion. Snarking about science and sex and celebrities. Silly girl. Forgive her, she knows not whereof she speaks.
The less i’m seen, the more favourable my reviews.
Easier to consume in small doses.

Now, i’m not speaking unless i’ve done a whole lot of listening first.
Now, i’m not saying things to cozen or toady.
Now, i’m far less concerned with being liked than i am with being real and true.

Blech. I just read this over and it reeks of childishness.
A blip it is, then. This will pass. I’m at a low ebb because i’m in physical pain and i’m running low on energy and hope and determination. I’ll ride it out for now and spend some of my hope on tomorrow being better. Some days it’s harder to fight than others.
One day i would like not to have to fight. At least, not all the time.
How is anyone supposed to notice this brand new me in a pandemic, H?
I mean, how many folks have you actually shared space with in the last 15mos?
Who can/would/should track your progress besides you?

Some days i am so low i could almost wish for a thing to pray to. Almost.
I would like health in my body, peace in my mind, and solid ground in my relationships.
That might not be possible, but they are worthy goals.
And it is not for a thing to grant, but for me to attain.

Trudging on…

And open wide the hymns you hide
You’ll find renown while people frown
At things that you say
But say what you’ll say


*I’m discharging emotion for my mental health. I don’t think i’m better than the people around me. I am perhaps more invested in self-improvement (and probably more in need of it).

IMAGE: Sven Scheuermeier



Behind the Curtain


I’m extremely low today. There is something on my horizon that is going to change my entire life, and i’m so sad about it. I’ve done everything i can to avoid it, but the time has come to admit defeat. I cannot fix this thing. I’ve done as much as i can and the rest is not up to me. I could manipulate things to be more what i want them to be, but i don’t do that anymore. I have learned to accept people for who they show me they are, even when it hurts. Even when it’s not what i want. This is the last thing that i want, but it’s what i have.

I’m sorry for being so vague, but for now that’s all i can do. It’s too awful to fully acknowledge. For the record, i am okay today. I’m not in any danger, either from myself or someone else. If i get too low and need help, i will get it. I’m seeing my therapist every month, but i’ll probably bump that up. My heart is broken. I feel sick to my stomach. I could cry for days; i probably will.

I fell this spring, and did some serious damage. It’s looking like i have a pinched nerve in my back that is getting worse. I wound up in emerg this weekend with chest pain, numbness in my arms and legs, syncope, high blood pressure, and dehydration. After all the tests it seems likely it’s either a pinched nerve or degenerative discs. I think it’s the former. I need it to be the former. I’ve got too much to do, to prepare for, to take on, for it to be the latter.
I’ve incorporated some extra stretching that targets my upper back specifically, and i’m hoping that helps. This yawning pit of sadness that’s opened up in me is making the pain much worse, i think. The anxiety that gripped me late last week has only amplified over this weekend’s events, and my pain level is high.

My bruxism gets worse when i’m upset, and right now my face hurts so badly i wish i could take my jaw out. One more week until i can do a couple of things that have been waiting for nearly 18mos – i need Botox shots in my face to handle the teeth-grinding/jaw-clenching, and i need a new prescription for glasses. I have halos morning and evening, and wicked headaches and eye aches from straining to see. I’m in fibro flareup, which isn’t likely to get any better while i’m this stressed.

My game plan is to focus on routine:
– personal hygiene;
– clean house;
– writing/blogging;
– stay the course regarding eating/exercise goals;
– therapy;
– getting my affairs in order in preparation for future changes.

I will need all the tools in my kit to get through this, but i think when it’s all done i’ll still be standing.
I’m going to be okay, but i can’t write anymore today. I need to go and be sad, now.

Y’all hang in there as best you can. I promise i’ll be doing the same.

Clearly I am not a fat ass
I am active brain
And lip smacking peach deep
Sometimes too aggressive in its honesty
And heart sweet
That loves wholly and completely
Whom it may choose
Whom ever it may choose
~ Jill Scott, Womanifesto



IMAGE: Michael Dziedzic

Staying the Course


I’m trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
~ Indigo Girls, Closer To Fine


Still feeling like Pig Pen from Peanuts. Depression is following me around like my own personal raincloud, and i’m kicking up moody dust wherever i go. My affect feels flat. Everything is either meh, or ugh. I don’t hate it, but i don’t love it. I’m working on a piece about anger, and it’s occurred to me a number of times while writing it that my creative juices aren’t flowing well. It’s getting done, but slowly.
And it’s struck me that nothing is riling me up, lately.
And i am easily riled.

I’m asking myself if this is a good sign or not, and i don’t know. It could be because as i mature and become more functional, i’m better at coping with the world and all that happens in it, and people and all the shit they get up to. WE get up to. (You know, cuz i can still get up to some shit. Heh.)
Or…
Is it because depression is settling in and dulling my senses and reactions. As i’m writing this i immediately thought No, because where is the characteristic frustration, irritation, and explosive anger? When i’m depressed i’m not so much sarcastic as caustic, and i’ll spit that acid at any and all comers. I’m churlish and cranky. I’m morose and i mope and think sad and dark thoughts.

I honestly don’t know. I don’t even have an intuition which one it is. In my life it’s usually both, but to what degree? Welp, since i don’t have enough evidence to draw my favour one way or the other, i shall just press on, as mindfully as i can. I’m still functional and accomplishing small goals. My routine is still in place and i’m pleased with its flow. I’m still on track with some longer term goals regarding weight loss, fitness, and relationships. I’m on track with planning for how i’d like my life to change once my area opens back up and i’m fully vaccinated.

Things are okay. They’re not great, but they don’t have to be. Life is like this for me at the moment, and that’s okay. It’s not ideal, i wish it were different, but i can work with it. I’m aware and conscious and intentional and committed. If and when more information becomes available to me i might add or subtract to my daily routine, but unless or until, i am staying the course. I am still moving forward, and while it’s slower than i’d like, it’s still positive and enriching and good.

There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less i seek my source for some definitive
Closer I am to fine


Love and Peace, Everyone,
~H~



IMAGE: Alex Siale

Ouchies and Old Shoes

My body is rebelling against my return to walking. I have a number of health issues that i’ve dealt with for decades, the return of old ones, a relatively new one, and one or 2 that might be on the horizon. Yeah, i’m not just crazy, the old bod has been falling apart for years. Heh.
Still, i fully intend to get into as good of shape as i can.

This is going to be a rough week. I’ve been back at it for a few now, and this is the part where fibro flareup hits. I must also walk the line between accomplishing my goals but not triggering a mania. The reappearance of sciatica some months ago, as well as Plantar Fasciitis saying Hi, remember me? this last week, have made things more difficult. I can still do what i want to do, it just keeps me religious about stretching. Oh, and i had to get arch supports. I’m flatfooted, which doesn’t usually trouble me at all. The problem is, my running shoes need replacing, but i can’t go into any stores until i’m fully vaxxed. It’s too much of a risk considering my health issues, and buying online is just not an option for me with shoes. My feet are too weird, manufacturers are always changing their construction, and with me usually trying on a dozen or so pairs before i find something wearable, good exchange policies don’t matter much.

I’m waking 3 or 4X every night, too. And i’m so hungry, which is odd. I take THC drops sublingually to help me sleep (it’s legal in my country and i’m a lifelong insomniac), and i’ve found that eating something helps potentiate the effects, and more quickly, too. I have to be careful, because i’m eating at a calorie deficit for weight loss. I’m telling you though, i wake up at 1 and 3am and i’m not just hungry – i’m ravenous. My stomach is growling and i’m slightly nauseated. I eat a piece of bread with peanut butter or half a banana, but then i have to adjust my calorie intake during the day…

My concern is this: My mind is a very powerful thing. I can get a headache by just thinking about having a headache. Nausea, back pain, simple ailments like those. I can also sometimes think my way out of these issues. Which is cool. I bring this up because i can get physical hunger pains when i’m not actually hungry. There could be something else going on and my brain wants to handle it with food. I could be dissociating from a relationship or situation that requires my attention. What i’m saying is, i have some concern that this intense nighttime hunger might be a red flag.

I’ll handle it by writing down a list of things that are currently annoying/bothering/irritating me. I save that tool for times like this because, while it can work well, it can also rile me up pretty good, y’know? I don’t think that it’s gonna bring up anything, but i am next level magic at disappearing shit that i don’t wanna deal with, so i need to look under some rocks to make sure. If that reveals something, i’ll handle it, but i have a feeling that ain’t it.
I think i genuinely need to bump up my calorie intake.

Today i am walking longer distances, but at a lower speed. It’s easier on my body, but i can still achieve some distance goals that will feed my self esteem and keep some momentum happening. My mood is very heavy, and it’s like pulling teeth to get anything done. I’ve had to prioritise, and since my house isn’t messy, i’m not doing any extra housework today, and i’m focusing on the things that are most important to me right now, which is exercise and writing. I might even try doing a ZOOM thingy later, which i have never done. I won’t hesitate to nope out of it if my anxiety gets too big. My online friends know me and won’t take it personally. In fact, most of us deal with anxiety and depression, so there’s lots of empathy and no judgment.

When i’m low on spoons i have to prioritise what’s most important, and get realistic on what i can achieve. If i try to do too much, i’ll fall into a pattern of being too tired in the morning to do anything, so then i nap, and then i feel guilty for not doing anything and i do too much, and then i’m too tired the next morning to do anything, so i nap…

My aim is 10,000 steps, down from my preferred 10k, but still good.
I am blogging, GREAT. But it’s an easy one; not too long or emotional.
It’s hot, so i’m staying in and out of the sun. If i get dirty and sweaty when my mood is low, it pulls me down lower.
Setting up ZOOM and gonna talk with my friends for at least 20mins. If i can do longer and it feels right to do it – i will. If i would be pushing to stay longer, then i’ll bow out and feel good about taking good care of me.
Supper will be simple and vegan. Meat and dairy can be hard for me to feel good about eating when i’m low. Something light and full of crunchy veg will make me feel virtuous.
Nighttime toilette and 10:30pm bedtime are essential. If i can’t sleep i’ll read. This sets me up for a better tomorrow.
Staying mostly off of social media, and sticking to candy floss and bubble gum in my viewing choices.

This is how i navigate a day.
Today, to be precise.
Have a nice evening, if you can.
Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Gia Oris

Taking A Breath On Sunday

I woke this morning with the old tiredness and shame wanting to settle over me. Dissatisfaction already pricking into my flesh, and irritation, like a strand of hair i can never get off of my face. I was up 3 or 4 times during the night, which makes it hard to wake up on the right side of the bed. I wonder how much it’s gonna hurt when i swing my legs out to the side and attempt standing.

I pull up my sleep mask to check the time and he’s there, of course. But he’s already awake, and i suspect, waiting for me to rouse. He puts his hand on my breast and says, Well, hello. He kisses me good morning, and his breath could knock over a bison at 50 yards, but it magically chases away all my demon companions. I wrap my arms around him and kiss him back. He asks and i answer, and everything is better than all right.

There’s thick cut bacon left from last Sunday, and burgers from last night’s barbecue. I decadently toast the buns in the leftover grease, and it is BBQ bacon burgers for breakfast. Pickles, fresh tomato, thinly sliced Spanish onion, 2 kinds of cheese, melted, and we wash it all down with orange juice and chocolate milk. Not at the same time. The boy joins us and we make plans for the day. I leave them to go into town alone; they’re making their way towards each other, and it happens faster and better without my “help.”

My body doesn’t hurt as much as it should, and i’m fully here. In the face and functional, yet not planning to do much of anything. Some cooking, some laundry, a walk later to gather cow poop for our flower garden and new raspberry bushes. I’m listening to Bowie and JJ Cale and The Velvet Underground as i write, the dogs sleeping contentedly beside me. The wind is kicking up, the crickets chirp and the gophers whistle. I can hear someone using some big machinery on the back forty. The headache that wants to come is dulled by birdsong and the smell of freshly cut grass.

May this post bring you some of the peace that i currently, blessedly feel.

Be as well as you can, today.

~H~

IMAGE: Marta Ortigosa

Integration: A Day in the Life

One tiny Hobbit against all the evil the world could muster. A sane being would have given up, but Samwise burned with a magnificent madness, a glowing obsession to surmount every obstacle, to find Frodo, destroy the Ring, and cleanse Middle Earth of its festering malignancy. He knew he would try again. Fail, perhaps. And try once more. A thousand, thousand times if need be, but he would not give up the quest.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings


I wanted to give my readers more insight into how my brain works and with what i’m currently dealing. (There you go, a sentence that didn’t end in a preposition. I think it sounds weird, and prefer to end with with… Heh.) To that end, i took my phone and a notebook, and recorded audio, video, and/or jotted down everything that happened on a recent 24hr period of time.

At 5am the alarm goes off, and it’s time to get my husband fed and off to work with a lunch. As i swing my feet out onto the floor i check in with my brain. Is it quiet or busy up there, and if it’s busy, why? If there’s nothing going on that requires my immediate attention, i ground myself mentally for the day, while connecting with my system. I remind them that i am in charge, that i love them because they are me and i love me, and i reassure them that i’m going to do my very best to take good care of us today.

My husband always asks me how i slept, which provides an opportunity for me to think over the night:
Did i sleep okay?
How many times did i get up?
Did i take more meds? (I live with chronic pain, insomnia, RLS, plus other things that can rouse me and keep me up.)
Do i remember any dreams, because if i do, it’s generally wise for me to go over them, just to make sure my brain isn’t trying to bring my attention to something important.

I make the bed, get dressed, and wait for him to head in to work before i walk our dogs. I catch the basic world news headlines and the local weather, but only if i’m in a good place. If i’m tired or struggling in any way i avoid it. The hubs will inform me of anything i’d want to know. Sometimes i sit through it all – a couple hours worth. I’ve been working on handling triggers more calmly and functionally when i can. Nothing like politics and world events to set me off. If something hits too hard and i feel myself dissociating or getting more anxious than i can bear, i get up and do something else. I keep our house, so there’s always stuff that needs doing.

We live on a farm, and walking the dogs gives me 2 choices; to listen to music, or nature. There’s no rhyme or reason to the choice, however making it helps keep me mindful. Some mornings music helps muffle the chatter, some mornings i’m dragging my ass a bit and all the birdsong puts a skip in my step. There are times when a particular emotion is weighing heavily on me, and listening to the right music can help me emote. (Think “dance it out,” if you’re familiar with Grey’s Anatomy.) When i return home, the dogs are happy, and i have either earned a 20min nap, or i can cruise into my daily chores while coasting on self-esteem. I purposely give myself choices throughout the day, as it makes me check in with what’s going on in my brain. Without the gentle mental poke to do so, i can shift into a dissociative state, easily and often. It’s like sleepwalking through my day, and i’ve done it for the majority of my life. I don’t want to do it anymore.

NOTE: An interesting aside here, is that i’m having trouble tapping into my writing voice. The programming i received as a child was so intense, and being a multiple made me so good at everything they wanted from me. They wanted me malleable and obedient and above all, to keep my mouth shut about everything. They purposefully steered me away from asking questions. (I was regularly beaten for asking anything, even something as simple and innocent as, May i have a glass of milk, please?) My mother was a student of every new pop psychology craze, and became adept at prying into my thoughts to shape them to her will. I was only allowed to think what she wanted, and my survival depended on toeing her line. It wasn’t enough to do what she wanted me to do and say what she wanted me to say. I had to think what she wanted me to think – and think nothing else, besides. I had precisely zero privacy. I couldn’t even hide from her in my mind.

Except i could, and i did. I was a multiple, and unbeknownst even to me, i hid parts of myself that she would have destroyed had she been aware of their existence.

This level of sharing and this depth of introspection, go against all of her training. The parts of me that she and my other abusers actively created, are coming up against this post. I feel scattered and slow, like i’m walking in a fog and keep running into things and getting turned around… I’m having trouble finding my way. I might not be particularly cogent. Nevertheless, i will press on.

**********

Thus begins a day that’s been years in the crafting. I work a bit, and then i don’t work a bit. Sounds simple and obvious, i realise, but sometimes i just have to get there on my own. I have to put my own super unique and slightly crazy spin on it. Okay, maybe that should be slightly unique and super crazy, but let me toot my own horn, will ya? This too is designed to keep me mindful; conscious, in the face and in control.

Where i’m at mentally, emotionally, and physically determines how long i work and how long i don’t. This keeps me checking in with myself all day, ideally. Lately i’ve been doing so well i’m not watching the clock, i’m just going by how i feel. But if things are tough, i keep track. It’s incredibly helpful. If depression is heavy on me, or anxiety has me nearly immobile, i even use a timer. Sometimes 10mins of work followed by a 50min break is the best i can do. Sometimes after 1 or 2 go-’rounds, i determine even that is too much – and that has to be fine. It has to be because, in my experience, not finding a realistically based sense of peace about my capabilities can push me into a downward spiral. It can also amp up my anxiety, and that can nudge me towards a mania. And the common thread through it all, whether too down or too up, is dissociation.
As Johnny Cash once did so melodically, i walk the line.
Although, my line is rather pitchy.
Think Neil Young.*

Writing this post has taken me a few days, due to some personal issues here at home. As i’ve stated before, this blog is about me only, and i’m careful not to share things that might have a negative impact on others in my circle. However, there will be rare occasions where i deem it necessary and appropriate to include some information that involves someone else.

I have a close association with someone who has debilitating anxiety issues, depression, and struggles with anger and aggression. It makes our relationship rocky and contentious. Over the last couple of days, things have bubbled up again, causing significant strife and stress. It’s been difficult, and has amplified my own anxiety, as well as anger and frustration. Over the course of the last couple of years, i’ve been learning to set firm boundaries with this person. It’s been an opportunity for me to care for and protect myself, rather than the feign/fawn/freeze responses that have been typical for me in the past.

This morning, after my walk and before i write, i was catching up on some emails and a bit of reading, which is part of my daily routine. I read something that grabbed me immediately. While it was about someone and something else entirely, i could see how i could apply it to my current situation with the person in question. It took me from tired and anxious, to refreshed and hopeful. I have fashioned my life in such a way for just this reason, and so many others, besides. It has taken years worth of trial and error, but it is finally, FINALLY! paying off. My job was to hang in there and keep trying. I knew it would bear good fruit( …eventually, usually, mostly), but it is a damn fine thing to be enjoying how right i was to believe it.

And this too is because i practise mindfulness, and am working towards being present and accounted for as often as possible.

Even as i’m writing this, i am taking breaks to do other things, including “nothings,” that are integral to my peace of mind and continued successes. I make myself something to eat, i clean something, i exercise, i do something artistic, i connect with someone, i make a joke, i organise some clutter, i wash myself, i watch some telly, i go outside and weed the garden, i stand in the wind and sing like Beyoncé (okay no, but i am feelin’ myself!), then laundry and doggy shnuggles… And so on and so forth.

And i am regularly checking in with my brain. I listen to my thoughts and reach out to my people in there: Is everybody all right? Anyone got somethin’ to say?

Somebody’s always got somethin’ to say, and i listen for a bit.
Because they are me, and i deserve to be heard, and being heard starts with ME, listening to ME, MYSELF, and I.**

Before i know it, it’s time to get supper on, and the day is nearly done. While i’m cooking i go over things, and if there’s something i didn’t accomplish that i’d wanted to, i ask myself if i can fit it in yet. If i can’t, i let it go. Maybe tomorrow. I’ll decide that in the morning, when i start all over again. The day is gonna do what it does, and people are gonna be who they are. The only thing that i can truly affect is myself: my thoughts, my actions, and my attitude. And to truly be effective, requires mindfulness on my part.

As i swing my legs into bed and settle down to welcome sleep, i rededicate myself to all of this, and i check in one last time. I touch those parts of me that are still somewhat separate, with thoughts of love and comfort, assuring them (ME) that i will be there for them (ME) to the best of my ability tomorrow, and hopefully always.
Perhaps one day i won’t need to reach out at all.

At one time or another we are all called to leave the safety of our homes, the certainty of what we know, the illusions of who we are. Not everyone will heed this call, of course. And those who do will risk losing themselves completely. But if we choose to ignore the invitation, we risk never knowing who we might have become. We risk dying without knowing what it is to live.
~ Thomas Lloyd Qualls, Painted Oxen


Love and Peace,
~H~

*For the record, i love his music. He consistently goes flat at the ends of his notes, though. When David Foster had him do a bunch of takes on his solo line on the Canadian charity single, Tears Are Not Enough, he finally said, “That’s my sound, man.”
It is, and it works. But he is pitchy AF.

**Beyoncé reference, for us fans.

IMAGE: Vitor Machado

And Just Like That…

I think my mania is over.

Suddenly, a few days ago, i couldn’t get out of bed in the mornings. I mean, i did, because there were things for me to do, but i had to mentally drag my butt outta bed. The last 2 mornings i’ve gotten my husband fed and off to work with his lunch, taken a couple of pain relievers, and crawled back under my blanket. I hide in old dreams, told over and over again. Only the faces change; all the situations are familiar ones. Then it wakes me around 9:30 or 10 – the pull inside to get out of bed and do something, but i’ve been resisting until 11 or 12. Today i got up at noon, pottied myself and my dog, took a phone call and a text with tears streaming down my face, grabbed a mug of tea, and plodded back to bed.

I am here now, writing. It’s something i should do, and i’m glad that i can.
I’m so low, and i feel nothing inside but despair. I’m so sad and so alone. That empty, sucking maw has opened up inside me, but instead of it being in my guts, today it’s in my chest. My heart hurts. My throat is clenched and reaching out at my shoulders, gathering them in. My eyes keep filling with tears. I feel weighted down, heavy and lethargic.
I think this is depression.

This last mania is the first i’ve been mindful through, so i cannot think/write these things with full assurance, but it did seem to be particularly mired in irritability. Everything and everyone annoyed me. I immediately went as news-free as i was able, and dialed back my social media presence, which is what i’ve learned to do, and it’s a smart thing to do. Anything can amp me up; my emotions can go from baseline to off the charts in literal seconds. I’ve been wound very tightly, which was intensified by the mania, but its origins were in legitimate situations.

It’s hard to say for sure, but i feel a bit like a tiger in a cage. Yes, i’m more of an introvert than i ever would have guessed, but i still love my fellow humans, a few of them in more than a kum by yah kinda way, even. I’ve got 1 real life BFF that i can go to for intimate talks and deep connection, but the pandemic… She was the only person i could have had as my cohort, but she needed someone other than me to meet her needs. I live with 2 adult males, so i could go to them for connection and commiseration and comfort… Except i couldn’t. I’m having serious issues with my 2 primary relationships, and that’s where things started to get big and burdensome. I could go to my husband about my son, except things are strained for me there, and of course i cannot go to my son about any of my marriage problems. I have a therapist, and she is the best therapist i have ever had, but we’re financially strapped, and she hasn’t been as receptive as i’ve needed when it comes to my problems with him. I had 1 very close and special online friend queued up for this specifically, but she’s suddenly got a lot on her plate. I am alone, and i feel this in my bones.

I will not be blogging about my marriage issues. I never have, and anyone who knows me would probably be surprised to know that i even have any. But i do, and they are not insignificant ones. My mental illness, my multiplicity, and my struggle for literal survival, and then day-to-day functionality, has taken precedence over all. But once things got markedly better for me and i became fairly functional, the problems were more obvious. I didn’t go to anyone for help, because i didn’t feel worthy. >>I<< was clearly the fucked up crazy woman, and he was the obvious long-suffering saint. Who would believe me? Who would hear me out as anything but histrionic and unreasonable (and ungrateful)? My therapist didn’t. Fortunately, my medical doctor did, and walked me through 2 particularly terrible years. I found my BFF around that time, and she supported me 100%, which i desperately needed. It saved me from the depths and kept me from pulling the trigger on the marriage.

The healthier i get though, the less willing i am to settle, and the less likely i am to be controlled by guilt and shame and the old programming that tells me everything is my fault. I’ve been easily controlled by the aggression of one, and the distance of the other. I back down, i pull inside, i blame myself. And i dissociate, naturally. These interactions and their implications are too frightening and painful to feel – so i check out. Yeah, i’ve felt like i’ve been in a cage, but upon reflection while writing this, i don’t think i am the tiger. I am the prey, hiding in the corner, with 2 big tigers who could eat me at any time. So far, as long as i’m quiet, they only torment me in the hours before feeding time. But if the zookeeper was ever late, or i tried to get out…

Personal growth + mania = not tolerating any bullshit.
I’ve been standing up for myself more and more. It’s been difficult, because in the past, i let various parts of my system handle confrontations and the spectrum of anger. Even those closest to me might be surprised to know how meek and compliant i actually am. I can be a lot of bark, but i have no real bite. Yes, i have a history of being caustic and cruel and cold, but it was a rarity. And it was me, but it wasn’t quite me. Most of the time, behind closed doors, i was easily cowed by anyone who wished to. I was sailing rudderless, on an ocean made of the past, speckled with childlike flotsam and jetsam. Now that i have the helm on this crazy ship, those huge crashing waves that once tossed me hither and yon, have calmed considerably as i navigate more confidently. I look up, to the stars, and i’m charting a course.

It takes a great deal of energy and intent to stand up to someone in a healthy way. I must trust myself, in order to put down the tried and true methods of fight, flight, freeze, fawn, and feint. This applies to anyone and everyone, but especially those i hold most dear. I walked a tightrope through this (shortest ever!) mania, aware that i had to keep a tight leash on my emotions, not make any decisions, but still find a way to take good care, and not allow myself to be harmed.*

Some of my boundaries have become more clear over the last few weeks. Some by virtue of having been crossed, others i have pointed out for the purpose of their edification. One has pushed back a little, but not more than i can take, and the other has upped their passive-aggressive game. I can and will handle both, but i am scraping the bottom of the barrel, here. I don’t have much left.

Still and always, there is cause for hope. This is the quickest and most consciously i’ve ever gone through a mania. There is zero wreckage to clean up. My relationships are all still standing, much the same as they were when it started. Nothing has fallen by the wayside. I’m in my second year of feeling exhausted most of the time, and i’m still managing to learn and grow and move forward. I think i’ve walked away from a mania relatively unscathed. Unfortunately, i fear i’ve walked smack into a depression. I’m not certain, though. Time will tell. If i can yank out enough weeds to see where i’m going, i should be okay. I’m no longer tolerating the intolerable. I will assume responsibility where appropriate, but i will only carry the burdens that are mine. I’m not shouldering the blame for anyone else any longer. Their stuff is their stuff, regardless of who i am and what i do.

I could still take the blame for things that aren’t my fault. I could still kiss ass and/or keep silent. I’m a stubborn, willful, tenacious human who is beyond determined to survive. Yes, i’m exhausted, but when i look back on the first 10yrs of my life i am emboldened and energised. Because if i can live through that, i can live through this. Yes, i’m so low today that i can barely raise my head, but i damn well raised it. My BFF went to the store for me and brought me something i needed more than the pain relievers that i’d run out of – she brought her loving, concerned face, and plenty of air-hugs. After she left i went to my room and cried, and then i changed out of my jammies and got supper planned. I washed my face and brushed my teeth. I’m taking a break from coffee, and only drinking water and tea. I ate something healthy. I wrote this.

Now i’m going to do nothing but watch telly and shnuggle the dogs.
My 2 problematic relationships are going to be what they’re going to be. My guys will think their thoughts and make their choices.
Whatever happens, i’mma keep on truckin’.
I hope you do the same.

Love and Peace,
~H~
* I’m referring to emotional harm, here. I’m not in any danger at all of being hurt physically.

Grumpasaurus Maniacus*

Woke up in a foul mood. Everything is irritating and i hate people. I want to throw things around and smash stuff up. I’m catching myself muttering under my breath. I am at YIKES level grumpy. This is mania. More than that though, i think this is mania under control and parts of me don’t like it much.

I can hear some of them bitching about everything up in my head. Mania makes sliding and switching easier and more frequent. Mania makes it more likely i’ll use drugs/alcohol, go out partying, and spend a lot of money. I’m not doing any of those things, and some of my Bits N’ Pieces are pretty worked up about it. They see handling mania as THEIR job, and an opportunity to get out and get some fresh air. Some parts like being in the face and in control, and they aren’t getting many chances to do that anymore. I think i’m feeling some resentment coming from up there. Pouting. There’s some serious pouting going on. Heh.

Yes, they’re me, but they’re parts of me that have been dissociated/disconnected for so long that i experience them as somewhat separate from me. I don’t know if that’s what others with this diagnosis experience. I don’t know if they’d relate to me much at all. It took so long and was so hard for me to accept this diagnosis, in part because, for whatever reason, i can’t tolerate being around other multiples. It triggers ALL of my childhood programming at once, i.e. i shut down and run. I was taught to denydenydeny from the start. I was indoctrinated to have an instantaneous and visceral hatred for any references to MPD (what it was called at the time), plus a deep distrust and need to get away from anyone who spoke of it.

That being said, one of the best friends i ever had was also diagnosed multiple. We met at a halfway house for women in crisis. I’d already been through the program, but came back regularly for visits with the ladies who ran the place. She mentioned DID when i was first getting to know her. I remember internally rolling my eyes, but liking her so much that i became friends with her anyway. I only remember her mentioning it once after that, and we still weren’t close. If she talked about it after we’d become besties (and she was without a doubt the closest girlfriend i ever had), i must have been in an altered state. (“Altered.” Okay, that’s funny to me.)

Back to my main point, which is my crappy mood and why that might be. Most of the “people” floating around in my brain are very flat characters: they’re an emotion, a moment in the past, or they’ve been created to handle or accomplish a specific task, e.g. talk to people in authority, take a shower, absorb a loved one’s anger, take care of children. However, there are a couple who are very well developed, and it is from them i think i’m getting the stomping around and grumbling. I can still feel and hear my various parts (a few have gone completely silent since i began therapy for DID), but they’ve become quieter, and carry less mental “weight,” over the last year or 2. If my brain is a ship, i am now truly the captain. I chart the course now – we’re no longer being tossed about on the waves, at the mercy of the weather.

This is an adjustment for me. When i finally acknowledged my multiplicity i was in the grips of a powerful mania, and i couldn’t control my dissociations. Later, when my mania had faded and i was deep in therapy and more depressed than i’d ever been, i didn’t bother even trying. I’d seen how my past had been spent in resistance to many truths, and i made the decision to just let things happen and see what was what. Once i had an accurate picture of myself and my past, i thought i could figure it all out from there. I was right, and that’s exactly what i’ve been doing. This is the most capable i’ve ever been during a mania, and i’m coming up against some internal resistance.

Today, i have a conscious and mindful experience of what it means to be a highly dissociative individual. The boundaries between me and my system are blurring more still, becoming nebulous and losing meaning. Today they are more me than not me. They always were all me all the time, i know that, but my clever and imaginative brain had created a house with many hidden rooms. It was to help me survive. It worked very well until the danger was over, at which time my house needed to be gutted and rebuilt, lest the foundation crack and the building be condemned. I’m a fixer-upper, but i’ve got great bones. So says i.

I don’t know if there’s anything i can do to improve my mood, but i’ll try. I have the ability to weather these thoughts and feelings if i can’t change them. Hopefully tomorrow will be better, but whatever it is, i’ll handle that, too.

Y’all Take Care,
Love and Peace,
~H~
*The Latin name for my current affliction.

IMAGE: Wonderlane