Triumph and Loss: Emotional Stability and the Price We've Paid

A friend, or rather an acquaintance, once suggested — not jokingly or kindly — that, in short, I was kind of a mess. Not only a mess, butRearview mirror elephant a mess with a persecution complex. To be fair, he wasn’t far off, at the time. Back then, I was experiencing a full-blown depressive episode with anxiety, which – again to be fair to my friend – is difficult to understand if one hasn’t experienced it. Just because I’ve been officially (“officially” means medical professionals have deemed it so) stable for three years doesn’t make it any easier to manage now. I’ve lost long-term relationships because of it. Hell, in the past, I’ve lost apartments and family support over it.

The worst part of my predicament is that I was never addicted to drugs or alcohol. I never stole from my family and friends, and I never lied to them. I never had to leave a marriage because of a sudden divorce, which, by the way, is probably more horrible than some of the trauma I’ve lived through. But I was homeless, I was alone, and I was helpless for a while. The worst part of being emotionally unstable is that there’s no one and nothing to “blame.” People look at you and wonder why you let everything go to hell. You look at yourself and wonder the same thing. Here I am, and I have faulty brain chemistry. I’ve had it approximately since puberty. When I look for reasons for my past maladjusted behavior, I usually just see a distorted reflection of myself. Like a carnival trick, you get a twisted version of your own reflection: your behavior is not the same as your personality, but you will find yourself and others mistaking it as such. It’s tough to face these ideas and admit that, impaired as you might have been, you are the author of your own pain. Even tougher, however, is simultaneously realizing that your brain chemistry is not your fault and you must move forward.

Continue reading Triumph and Loss: Emotional Stability and the Price We’ve Paid

Midnightferret Munches: Torchy's Tacos Spicewood

I thought I might make another effort with my blog, so I decided to review a restaurant. I love restaurants. Mostly, I

This is not my picture. This is Torchy's picture, from their website. I ate my taco before I could take a picture of it.

love not having to cook. Last year, we […]

Social Media: I'm Doing It Wrong

I used to pride myself on my “internet solidarity.” Having been “on the internet” since before there was a word for it, I always thought I was just kickin’ it old school or something. I resisted LiveJournal, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. At one point, I used LiveJournal and MySpace as RSS feeddumps for my […]

Guns Don’t Kill People, Mentally Defective People Kill People!

I’m sure I’m opting in for a whole world of pain (and trolling) here. But I can’t help myself. Because this (http://www NULL.rawstory NULL.com/rs/2011/02/million-dangerously-mentally-ill-missing-natl-gun-check-system/) article  came onto my radar today, I read a couple of articles today about Virginia’s ban on gun sales (http://www NULL.washingtonpost NULL.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/30/AR2007043000556 NULL.html) to the mentally ill. That link is […]

Seductive Self Pity and Sweet Anger Part 1

Part 1: They Meet

Ok, Not Really.

Identifying Unhealthy Patterns of Anger and Self Pity

I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.    — D.H. Lawrence

I found some of my notes from my posts on how I fight bipolar disorder, and I thought I would treat you to some of the issues I wanted to address but which were probably too narrow to include in a general mood disorder article. You lucky people, you.

About two months ago, I went through a little slump.  Just a couple of days of sadness and fatigue, nothing really out of the ordinary. It passed. Then I went to an event which involved a great deal of activity and stimulus (http://texrenfest NULL.com) for me, and so I intelligently stopped taking my meds regularly. Don’t worry, I was still taking them, but I would miss days here and there. Ok, I missed about two out of three doses. For a week or so. The consequences of doing so were that I had a huge meltdown about a week ago, spent the next three days recovering, and then I had to be really strict with myself about the meds. I experienced more side effects, and I was less stable than usual. Welcome to fatigue and nausea city! Fatigue and nausea town? In any case, it wasn’t a spot you’d choose for your destination wedding. The moral? When you’re experiencing fluctuations in mood, and when you’re engaging in activities that you know might make you fluctuate, make sure you take your medications correctly!

I noticed during my meltdown that the first emotion I felt was a sort of self-righteous anger. Yes, I notice things when I’m having an irrational mood swing. If you have a mood disorder, you may have noticed that you tend to detach when experiencing strong emotions. People often describe it as a feeling of “watching” themselves and having no control over their actions, as if they were “someone else.” This is called “dissociation (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Dissociation).” Wikipedia says so. While I was crying hysterically, I noticed that I was very very angry, mostly because “no one ever listen[ed] to me,” “no one care[d] that I have a right to feel this way,” and “I listen[ed] to everybody all the time, but when I need[ed] someone to listen to me, no one [gave] a shit!” This was about the time I noticed that I was feeling really sorry for myself. That’s a classic bipolar pattern, in miniature, because these emotions went away the next day.

Continue reading Seductive Self Pity and Sweet Anger Part 1

A Response to a Response

How about this: Don’t Bother (http://happilychildfree NULL.com/rants/?p=633&sms_ss=wordpress).

I read a response to a parenting article on Happily Childfree (http://happilychildfree NULL.com/rants/) today.  The author posts a response to a parenting article entitled “How to Stay Friends With Parents (http://blogs NULL.news NULL.com NULL.au/naughtycorner/index NULL.php/news/comments/how_to_stay_friends_with_parents/).” (The grammar in some of these articles needs to be ignored, by […]

The Picayune's Creole Cookbook

514Uks1rpqL._SS500_

Today we did some errands and, as usual, couldn’t stop ourselves from visiting Half Price Books. I was so pleased to pick up an actual treasure: The (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.com/Picayunes-Creole-Cook-Book-Sesquicentennial/dp/B000I0PL7Y%3FSubscriptionId%3DAKIAJEQD5TKKEYDMJSTA%26tag%3Dblogferret-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB000I0PL7Y) Picayune’s Creole Cook Book – Sesquicentennial Edition (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.com/Picayunes-Creole-Cook-Book-Sesquicentennial/dp/B000I0PL7Y%3FSubscriptionId%3DAKIAJEQD5TKKEYDMJSTA%26tag%3Dblogferret-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB000I0PL7Y)! It contains 150 years worth of recipes compiles from The Times Picayune (http://www NULL.timespicayune NULL.com/), the New Orleans daily newspaper. The Picayune itself is somewhat sentimental (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.com/Picayunes-Creole-Cook-Book-Sesquicentennial/dp/B000I0PL7Y%3FSubscriptionId%3DAKIAJEQD5TKKEYDMJSTA%26tag%3Dblogferret-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB000I0PL7Y) for me, in part because my grandfather always said it phonetically to make us giggle when we went to visit. Also, a lot of my mom’s own recipe clippings come from the Picayune, and, miraculously, the paper has two pages of comics on weekdays! Weekdays! Can you believe it?

This isn’t the newer version, printed in 2002, with the pretty cover. The hardback of that edition seems not to be available now for less than a C-note,  but I’ll settle for the more “homey” version from 1987.  It is a reprint of the second edition of the Picayune Cookbook from 1901, which is considered the definitive collection.  This edition was edited by Marcelle Bienvenu, of St. Martinville, LA. She worked for the Brennan’s family of restaurants, as well as opening her own restaurant, Chez Marcelle.

Continue reading The Picayune’s Creole Cookbook

On Health And Weight Loss

Scale in a doctor's waiting room.

Scale in a doctor's waiting room.The other day I was surprised to discover that even with the bizarre month of July I’ve had, I still lost a little weight this month. Four pounds, to be exact, bringing me up to a total of fourteen pounds since May. I’m going to tell you how I began to lose weight, and how, miraculously, I continue to lose and the weight isn’t coming back. It may not work for you, but it may help you decide what your needs are and how to achieve your own nutritional goals. I hope it does!

Because of my friend Andrea’s continued updates on her trials and successes in this department, I decided to create a little post of my own on the subject of weight loss and healthy nutrition in general. I may even make a series of posts. Yes, I know how envious you are of this demonstration of my organization and planning skills. Don’t grovel. It’s unattractive.

A bit of history and background on my fat, and/or lack thereof, in a convenient bulleted list:

  • Anyone who knows me will know that I was obsessed with weight. In fact, I still probably am, but I’m working on it and get better every day. In the past , I spent years thinking I was “fat,” when I wasn’t. I dieted all the time. I worried all the time. Part of this was body image, and part of it was just, well, who the heck knows? Anti-depressants and mood stabilizers seem to help.
  • When I got married eight years ago, I was heavier than I had ever been before, due to quitting smoking, being depressed, and later taking lithium for bi-polar disorder. I gained a total of 35-40 lbs. This was not awesome, but worse, I couldn’t lose it. I lost some before the wedding, but it popped right back on again because the diet was ridiculous and un-maintainable.
  • The only way I started to lose weight was a) by accident and b) by focusing on health and a lifestyle change that I can maintain. I highly recommend that everyone focus on health first. As Count Rugen (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/The_Princess_Bride_(film)) correctly asserts, “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.”

Continue reading On Health And Weight Loss

The Elephant on Your Head Part 3

Two people examining an elephant.

“Achieving Your Goal, or The Care and Feeding of Your Elephant:  Part Three of How I Fight My Mood Disorder Every Day “

Two people examining an elephant.It’s pretty hard to live with an elephant, even one that doesn’t sit on your head. They’re really large. They’re moody. Ok, well, they have moods (http://www NULL.pbs NULL.org/wnet/nature/unforgettable/emotions NULL.html). In any case, they’re often inconvenient, impossible to ignore, they leave a mess, and boy can they eat! My mood disorder is on a similar scale, and I admit that I occasionally doubt my ability to manage it and still be able to have some semblance of a life.

It’s a sticky situation: if I don’t manage the disorder, I have no quality of life, but if I do manage my disorder, will it take all of my time and energy? Will I have anything left for my family, friends, pets, or hobbies? The short answer is, “Not at first.”

Having More Good Days Than Bad in A Million Easy Steps

There is no simple path to your goal. You can’t do one, three, or five specific tasks a day and achieve mental health. Mental health, similar to physical health, is a lifestyle. If you, like I did, lived for a long time undiagnosed, un-treated, or non-compliant,  getting healthy will be pretty difficult, feel strange, and take a long time. I found myself relieved at first, because feeling anything but bad was so new and wonderful to me. A relatively short time later, however, I began the old “why me?” pattern. Sure, I felt better, but it was so much work. I was on the way to stabilizing but wasn’t there yet, and I was both impatient and at the same time wondering if it was worth it. I have learned, however, that I need to maintain certain habits in order to keep my hard-won mental health. Continue reading The Elephant on Your Head Part 3

The Elephant on Your Head Part 2

Elephant and Girl Head to Head

“Making Peace With Your Elephant: Part Two of How I Fight My Mood Disorder Every Day”

When I was 21, I had been in treatment for depression on and off for about six years. At one appointment with my psychiatrist, I told her, “Well, I feel miserable. I feel like something is terribly, horribly wrong, and I’m Elephant and Girl Head to Headso angry and sad I can hardly move. But I know there’s nothing really wrong!”

She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Christine, something is wrong, and it has been for a long time.” I was devastated. I went home and cried for a long time. Even twelve years later, I have trouble with the idea that a mood disorder doesn’t simply mean that your emotions are all “messed up” and your feelings aren’t “all in your head.” What? Of course they’re “all in your head,” because emotions are run by chemicals in your brain! Sure, but that perception is inaccurate: just because your brain chemicals are “messed up” doesn’t mean that your feelings are any less real than anyone else’s feelings! Continue reading The Elephant on Your Head Part 2

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Countdown of the Moment

Happy St. Parick's Day!