Last Sunday I was inspired by the assistant priests sermon. This was the story. A young man is in a concentration camp with his father and all they get to eat is bread that’s almost stale and lard. The father takes the lard and uses it for candles so they can celebrate the Sabbath. And the son says, “Dad why did you take our food?” And the father says, “Son, without food we can live several days but without hope we can’t live more than an hour.”
The article appeared in the 2009 August issue of Synthesis and is attributed to the Managing Editor Isabel Anders.
I finally got a new puppy a few months ago and decided to name him Zukee Kind Heart. I searched everywhere for another rescue mini schnauzer but I never found one that would work. Some were incontinent, others did not get along with other dogs. It was a very difficult decision to get a puppy because they are hard work. Some people told me that puppies were worse than kids. Now, they are entitled to have their own opinion but I have to respectfully disagree. I don’t have any children of my own but I do have two nieces and two nephews and a lot of my friends have kids that I have watched grow up. It is so much harder to be a parent because it’s forever. You can’t just abandon a child for hours at a time unsupervised. I put my folks through a lot when I get sick. So I can only imagine how hard it would be to be responsible 24 7 for the care of a child.
Zukee is a handsome, smart, loving, loyal dog and I am grateful he is in my life. Zuke just needs to learn not to bite and has to get along better with my mom’s dog. When I bend over to get something for him under the couch he jumps on my head. And he doesn’t like the word bad, it makes him growl. Just like Jubee, he is very protective of me when I am walking him somewhere and when he sees someone walking in our neighborhood he barks and howls exactly like she used to. One of my friends said the biting and aggressiveness is just because he’s a puppy and he will grow out of it. I have no idea what Jubee was like as a puppy because when she was born there were lots of hurricanes. She was probably very similar to Zukee when she was a puppy. SAFE did not tell me about her history. I didn’t want to know. Meet the new love of my life, Zukee.
I live with Bipolar 1, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Driving Anxiety, and Social Anxiety. I take all of my meds as prescribed. I am well educated, I have a Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and I am a certified rehabilitation counselor. I am looking for a job that needs me—the unique me. One of my best friends has a successful career and lives with Bipolar and Anxiety. He has offered me hope and encouragement at times when I needed it the most. I have not found my niche in a career yet.
I had a full time job helping other people get jobs. I was rejected for the job I initially applied for partially because of my poor eye contact. I knew that was part of my Aspergers so I asked for help. I did a mock interview and two weeks later I was offered a temporary position. I told them before I was hired about my Driving Anxiety and my Aspergers. I was really blessed with how I got that job. But some of my coworkers were less accommodating than others. Sometimes I worry that I will never be financially independent. I am forty and I still live at home. I have a dream to be an author. But that seems like a selfish dream. I want to help others with disabilities in any way I can that does not involve driving on the interstate or other excessive travel. I believe with the right combination of medications and therapy, individuals with mental illness can succeed in today’s world, especially if we are given a chance!
I haven’t had a lot of good job opportunities yet and sometimes feel like I am being discriminated against. I was offered a job in 2013 and there was a lack of funding so I could not take the job. When I tried to reapply for another job in 2014 one month after my hospitalization I was told that the job I had originally been offered was given to someone else and the job I was applying for was the same kind of job only ten times more driving. They knew that I had driving anxiety. This was a job helping people with disabilities so it seemed hypocritical. I think that my disabilities make me more empathetic and a better counselor. I wish employers could see that.
At a Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance conference in Miami, I met a young Muslim woman who just published her second book, this time about her experiences with Bipolar. I got to see a Canadian woman doing a funny one woman show. But for me the highlight of the conference was meeting Patrick Kennedy. Dr. Kay Jamison is one of the most famous individuals with Bipolar. Her book An Unquiet Mind changed my life. I met her in 2008. She has been my hero since 2002 (my initial diagnosis and hospitalizations). While it was fabulous to meet this kind, gracious, eloquent lady who is hero to millions of people around the world, some of my peers became my heroes too. One fellow consumer and friend is a therapist. I have been told by therapists that I will never make it because I have too many issues that I don’t have under control. It’s so sad when the helping professionals do more harm than good. That is why we need to help each other get the resources we need to be the best we can be.
I am very thankful for my family. Lots of people have inspired me to go on when I wanted to give up. I was in a pubic speaking group for nine years. There were times that I’ve given speeches at my worst when I can barely stand but their support has meant a lot to me. Everyone in the public speaking group always made me feel validated. We have to advocate for ourselves. We always have to use our coping mechanisms and we can’t be ashamed to ask for help when we need it. We always have to see the person first and then the disability/ies. I picked the degree I did because I have wanted to help people with disabilities since I was in high school. I want to give other people hope and encouragement the way that others have helped me.
I have nothing against the National Suicide Hotline. They have done a lot of good over the years and they have saved lots of lives. There’s even a rap song called 1800(national suicide phone #). Go to youtube to listen to it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ju6Q8Azcmg. Sometimes you have to find other sources for help. You should only call the national hotline if you really are in danger of doing it. If you’re a danger to yourself or someone else. Other lines are crisis lines or warm lines but a crisis can just be you’re freaking out about something. Crisis lines and warm lines have prevented a lot of hospitalizations for me. You can call but if you hear another line ringing and it’s not an emergency, you have to get off because the other call could be. Sometimes they only give you a few minutes to talk too. NAMI is the best source of information on warm lines but sometimes you find things by accident if you’re trying hard enough to research it. I wish that everyone who volunteers for the national hotline knew about these other places. Very few do. But just google NAMI warm line and you should be able to find them. If not, just go NAMI’s Website and call the NAMI National #. Trust me, you will be glad you did. They listen without judgement and are really patient. I recently relocated back to my home state and they have a warm line they call an Emotional Strength Line. I wish I could meet these folks irl and give them hugs because they feel like my friends. They encourage me.
I have had a rough time sleeping off and on since moving back to my home state. I had a short stay in the hospital. It was the nicest hospitalization experience I have ever had. So it’s good to know that I have somewhere safe I can go if I need it but once people find out how great it is it will be harder to get in. Some stuff in my personal life has bogged me down and made me think too much but I think now that I have a doctor I really like and lots of options for a therapist I should be okay. I was really sad when my first therapist didn’t work out. I’m very happy with where we live and my parents helped me set up a really nice space for myself in the basement and I have my own entrance. I’ve wanted this for a really long time. Last night I made my first dinner for myself for the first time since my folks asked me to dogist Jesse for a weekend. I have my own cute little kitchen. My mom’s an awesome cook but it makes me happy to cook for myself and others. I don’t have a dishwasher and a few other appliances but I don’t need them. My small fridge and stove are enough for me. It was so good to use my old dishes again. I hadn’t used them in at least 12 years, to my recollection. We got them when I had my first apartment in 2006.
https://www.naminycmetro.org/insideoutwards/ I found this video as a link on the NAMI site. It’s very moving. It’s pretty short and it’s worth the time it takes to watch it because it’s very encouraging. Sarah Jessica Parker narrates it.
This blog post is a lot longer than I planned but I hope that it’s helpful. Feel free to send me a message if you need help finding warm lines in your area. When I first saw the rap video with the song, I was very moved and one individual posted 125 reasons to live. I have read that list a lot and share it when I can. Unfortunately I don’t know how to get permission from the to put it on my blog. But the most important thing is, I can say I’ve been there. I’ve wanted to give up too. I know my family would be really devastated but what about those with no family and few friends? How do we get those individuals to see the value in their life? I always try really hard to find three good things about every person I meet and compliment them on it when appropriate.
I was recently really sick for two weeks. Psychosis returned and I ended up staying one night in a local psychiatric hospital. After I got out of the hospital and got stable, I decided I had to block two people on linkedin. They were both friends a long time ago but I haven’t seen them in years and might never see them again. I decided they both triggered me. Sometimes I wonder if I made the right decision. But if someone bothers you enough and asks you questions you don’t want to answer and another completely ignores you, why hold on to them?
Let’s back up here. Everyone knows what I’m talking about here, right? You are on Facebook or Linkedin or Twitter or whatever you choose for social media. You see an inspiring post by a former classmate. Or maybe you heard your former high school crush just got married or got a great job and you want to congratulate them. What do you decide to do? 1.) You contact them directly by phone because you still have their cell number. 2.) You email them because it’s been too many years and you probably aren’t in their book of phone contacts anymore. 3.) You phone a mutual friend to make sure it’s okay and plan for when you’re ready. 4.) You decide to say goodbye to both of them because it’s been too many years and too many things have changed.
Now these are all viable options and every one of them is acceptable. But for people living with Aspergers and Severe mental illness/es such as myself, this kind of decision can be extremely crippling. I hate do this but I am going share something here that is really personal. I liked this guy for a long time and I left Facebook in 2011, glad to be free of him and happy to let him go to lead his own life but keeping my connection open with him on Linkedin.
I got re-connected with of one of our former classmates and at first, it was great. But then things got weird. I’m not going to specify who this person was or anything about them. I’m going to speak in the neutral gender here. I chose to let this person back into my life (well through email and phone not literally in my life) and it was a big mistake. After about two years of correspondence with the classmate, after I got out of the hospital and got stable I realized had to break ties with both of them.
They both ended up triggering me and making me feel bad about myself. The old crush indirectly but the acquaintance of the old crush directly. He/She kept asking me questions that I didn’t want to answer and it started giving me migraines. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make because I know He/She was just trying to help. But I started to feel that both of them were jumping on me and I had to run. Run fast. Get the heck out of where I was and move forward. So, now, my life is pretty awful getting over this. I have lost a lot of sleep and I’m a mess. So I pray for their health and success and my health and success. I now bid them adios (goodbye) siempre (always). I can’t keep looking backward when I’m trying hard to move forward. I have to put myself first and get healthy and strong again. Goodbye pain, self doubt, anxiety, and insomnia. Hello hope, faith, and determination. We have to be our own best friends.
I have so much time and nowhere to go. I am thankful that I learned how to entertain myself at a young age. I have a lot of things that I can do to make myself happy and pass the time. It’s still not easy being stuck at home all of the time. My sister gave me one of the official masks but my mom still doesn’t think it’s wise for me to go anywhere. Mom takes advantage of the hours especially for the elderly at the grocery store. I joked about buying a gray wig on amazon.com. But I would never actually do it. What I can’t understand is, I ordered the Mr. Rogers Documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? And I never got it even though they said it was delivered. I don’t know why someone would steal that. I have kept myself busy with a Great Courses class on Nutrition, playing video games, reading, doing crossword puzzles, watching stuff on Netflix and Amazon Prime, and occasionally doing my yoga classes online and doing church services.
I have spent a little time on researching agents but I haven’t been bored enough to work a lot on my book. I haven’t been inspired because it’s at the point where it’s going to be the most difficult to reminice. I have written a draft and I’m sure that I’ll have to make a lot of corrections. I probably do at least four crossword puzzles every day. I still occasionally play the piano. Yes, I’m reteaching myself. I read somewhere that playing music was just beneficial to your mind as reading. If I’m remembering correctly. I can play Misty and a few other songs pretty well. My right hand is better than my left because I’m unsure of a few of the chords.
Today we had a zoom family session and it was really nice to see everyone. I said we should do it every weekend. It’s good to connect online and I’m getting used to using my webcam again. My yoga studio has livestream classes and I just briefly use the webcam because I think it’s distracting to have people’s videos up. It’s just like when you are in class, you can’t help but look and see what everyone is doing. The beauty about yoga is that no one is judging you.
My bio feedback therapist decided she didn’t want to make me wait until after the quarantine to have therapy so her assistant comes twice per week to do bio feedback with me. He’s a really nice guy and he’s kind of my key to the outside world right now. I feel bad for him because he’s alone. I feel bad for everyone who is alone right now. I have discovered spotify and I like it very much. Almost everyone song that I wanted to buy on itunes is on there. Since my phone is not doing very well and it is my only working ipod, my brother suggested spotify.
Okay now to get serious. I have to start with this picture. When I was on vacation with my dad I was feeling pretty good but I was remembering some things that were a little bit painful. My dad helped me enjoy myself and relax but the thing that helped me the most was eating a nice dinner and finding this shirt. “Take Time To Be Kind” Hard Rock Café Honolulu, HI. A couple years back, I found a quote by the late Kurt Vonnegut. Kurt said, “There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-“God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” Since my parents named me Charity that is something that I have tried to always be: kind and compassionate. I don’t always succeed especially when I’m relapsing but I think that it’s an important message. I can be pretty mean and hard to live with when I am unwell. There is too much hate in the world right now…Let’s all strive together to have this as one of our goals. To me it doesn’t matter who you are, what you what you believe as long as you are kind to me and my friends and family and don’t yell and cuss a lot, you’re okay in my book.
Everyone who knows me knows I love to shop but rarely find anything in the stores that fits me the way I want it to fit. But I was shopping at Target and they had this tank top. It was paraphrasing a quote by Mahatma Gandhi. It says “Be The Change You Wish To See In The World.” I bought a magnet several years ago that introduced me to this saying and it has always been one of my favorites. The amazing thing about this shirt for me is that it empowers me to be my best self. But when I’m sick I get so cynical and depressed about it thinking I’m useless and have no purpose here. I constantly have to be reminded by my mother that I made a difference just by being born. I have never gotten more compliments on anything I was wearing in my life if you don’t count when I got really dressed up for the weddings i was in. I was in the middle of relapse when I had my dad take this photo. It will probably be the only time I include a photo from the dark times.
Okay bare with me I just have two more photos. I could feature different quotes every month I have found so many good ones but I will just share two more with you. I have finally been given permission to include a quote on my blog from one of my personal heroes, Pat Deegan. She is a survivor who lives with Schizophrenia and is one of the most successful people I have ever met. She travels the world to promote her program Common Ground and trains peer specialists and does all kinds of other stuff I don’t even know about. I wish I would have taken notes when I met her but she treated me as an equal. Even though I am not schizophrenic, back in 1999 that was the first diagnosis they gave me because I was psychotic. Anyway, sorry for rambling but here’s her quote.
My goal is to write in such a way that people will have hope and hopefully will relate to some of the things I write about…I wish that I could just write whatever but I am very sensitive to negative feedback. That’s why I have been writing my book for so long and haven’t been more aggressive in trying to publish it because it has some references to God. I hope my friend knows how thankful I am for her. Even if we never talk again I will always remember she opened my eyes to so many things that I used to be afraid to look at or I felt uncomfortable about. Some folks on youtube and a discussion forum for depression made me feel really bad about myself and I considered giving up posting comments but since it’s anonymous I will continue as long as people don’t trigger me. I have learned not to take everything other people say personally especially when you don’t really know them in real life. Of course, that is much easier said that done.
The final quote is from Kay Jamison I wasn’t able to find a way to get her permission but I am sure she won’t mind. She really helped me when I met her after I told her all of my diagnoses, my degree, and my dream job I asked her if she thought that I would ever be able to work. She said and looked right at me, “There’s always hope.” 2008 was a very tough year for me but meeting her and some other peers at a Depression And Bipolar Support Alliance conference made a huge difference in my life. That’s where I met Pat Deegan too.
Thank you for your patience my dear readers. I hope this is your best year yet!
I recently had a month and half relapse. I didn’t stop my medications I just was stressed,
anxious, and frustrated because I was having a hard time sleeping. I started rapid cycling between hypo mania
and depression. It started off with a
volunteer opportunity not working out and almost running out of my medication.
Relapses do not mean you are a failure and you have to
be ashamed of yourself. As long as you
seek help from others and are trying to get better then you have nothing to be
ashamed of. Relapses are a very common
part of the recovery process. It is
important to contact your psychiatrist and therapist the moment you think you
might be relapsing so that you can begin receiving the extra support and
treatment you need right away.
Sometimes this means a medication adjustment…sometimes you need
to better use the coping mechanisms you already have. Victoria Maxwell wrote a great article on how
to prevent relapse.
Every time I get sick again I hope it will be the last time
but I know my life is never going to be easy living with several mental
illnesses. I don’t mean to sugar coat relapse
because it a really awful thing. I just refuse
to let look back on it and let it ruin the rest of my life. Sometimes the nicest things happen even when I
feel terrible. I was sitting outside at
a coffee shop feeling lonely and depressed and someone bought me a cup of decaf. I was
crying walking home from where I had tried to volunteer and I got to talk to my
best friend and he was a great listener.
For me, music is a
very important coping mechanism as long as I’m not experiencing migraines. When I listen to music lyrics are most
important. I have done karaoke four
different times in my life. My favorite
was the most recent time when I was in Santa Cruz at a family friendly bar that
opened earlier than most karaoke joints.
I sang Country Roads By John Denver.
I thought it would be so much fun to have someone to sing with depending
on the song choice and the partners’ vocal range. My mom thought it would be funny if my dad
and I sang the old song Anything You Can Do.
It was a duet in a the movie Annie Get Your Gun sung by Howard Keel and
Betty Hutton. “I can do anything better
than you can…” etc.
Coping with relationship loss Song
I have been told
in the past that I shouldn’t take lyrics too much to heart because there are so
many possible interpretations. After I
had a relationship with someone end, I told one of my bffs that Love Song By
Sara Bareilles was my favorite song that would always remind me of him. My BFF had a completely different
interpretation of the song. She said it
just sounded like Sara was telling her agent she didn’t want to write a sappy
love song because it wasn’t her style. I
still think of my ex when I hear the song but it’s not a longing anymore. It’s a ‘I’m so glad that he’s not in my life
anymore’ type of a song and it’s very encouraging and empowering!
2.) Encouraging Me To Be My Best Self
There are so many
of these. It’s hard for me to pick just
one and they constantly change depending on my moods. My most current favorite is called Little
Wonders By Rob Thomas. Sometimes it
helps my mind stop racing when I think about the future and appreciate the
small good things that happen in the present.
As I mentioned in
my last post, I watch Carpool Karaoke regularly on YouTube. I appreciate the classics like Stevie Wonder
and Elton John the most but it introduces to me to some of the more popular
artists than the Millenials enjoy. Stevie
Wonder is definitely my favorite so far.
I even enjoyed Celine Dion even though I’m not a big fan of her
music. Spoiler alert: At the end of the video
she and James wear wigs and get on a boat and do a parody of “My Heart Will Go
On.” I got so sick of that song playing
over and over on the radio so I got a good laugh out of that. I wish I could thank James Corden for Carpool
Karaoke…it does get a little naughty sometimes but I still really enjoy
it. Maybe someday I’ll make a friend
that loves Karaoke as much as he does.
Find songs that make you happy and enjoy your life! Until next time, my friends! My next post will be on how to find
inspiration in unlikely places!
I am sorry. I accidentally wrote that the bolsters in classes I attend in class are softer than the one I bought. Actually the opposite is true. I love my bolster. The ones in the classes I have attended are really uncomfortable for my low back. Sorry for the confusion. I am still learning how to edit these posts. My next blog will be about music lyrics and how they have been very influential in my life and some of the songs that have inspired me to and encouraged me to strive to be my best self.
Sometimes when I feel sad I watch Carpool Karaoke on YouTube and it’s my only current favorite television show that is really popular. James Corden is a British actor who is a television host who works in Los Angeles. He drives around LA and calls a friend (usually musicians but sometimes actors) and asks for help getting to work. In California you only need two people to drive in the carpool lane and it saves a ton of time. I was looking up song lyrics on YouTube one day and it came up on my screen and now I am totally hooked. I don’t always like all of the musicians he picks but it is a really funny show. Check it out…you might like it.