Monday, November 30, 2009

Best real shows on TV start tonight

There is a family crisis small, but time consuming. - which is why I haven't been blogging. That and a yearly turkey coma.

I just want to inform all out there - that A&E channel will be starting two new seasons tonight. That of Intervention, and Hoarders. I cannot say enough for these two shows- both are fascinating, and worth a view, or a place on your Tivo if you cannot watch them. Both are graphic, raw accounts of mental illness, those who are addicted to something, either drugs, alcohol, or have eating disorders, or a combination.... and those who cannot stop collecting things. (Follow the above hyperlinks for archived shows on line)

On a lighter side, for those who have the cable channel and cannot wait til January 29, for Fox to air the US version, the UK version of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares starts on December 2, on the BBC America channel. ( I love watching Gordon Ramsay for some reason).

And just for fun- the NFL announced the half time show for the next Super Bowl will be The Who. It's like, I don't care who is in the game this year, let me watch the half time show in peace!

Hopefully back soon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

In honor of Thanksgiving, enjoy this turkey recipe, by celebrated chef and Jersey Boy, Anthony Bourdain! Have a happy holiday everyone.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Strange Week- and other thoughts, including turkeys

There is an old joke- you know you are old when...

This week I can answer that. You know you are old, when your parents can no longer do Thanksgiving, and ask you to take over.

Needless to say, I don't know if I am coming or going, and right now, cannot wait for Black Friday! Just too busy to write, blog, or do too much else.

On a sadder topic, blogger and one of my own personal muses, Philip Dawdy, of the Furious Seasons blog had to put down his beloved cat, Katie yesterday. I had to put down my beloved cat in December of 2002, and it was the hardest thing I ever did, and I still miss her muchly. Please stop by Philip's site and send condolences. It must be extremely sad to loose your friend right before the holiday season. Philip is also doing a fund drive, any spare change that can be sent is appreciated.

Back to the world of turkeys and trimmings.....and what to wear for dinner.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New NJ Law Reports on Ancora Incidents

Soon to be leaving Governor Corzine (D), signed nearly two dozen bills into laws on November 20, 2009, in an attempt to get his house in order before Governor-Elect Chris Christie (R) takes office in January. Most bills have been sitting on his desk for months. Among the new laws, Measures will be taken to restrict marketing of credit cards on college campuses, it's now illegai to sell and distribute novelty lighters, doctors can write several prescriptions at once for certain drugs, and police must now tell school principals when students commit certain crimes.

And according to NJ.Com:
One law, written after a series of violent incidents at the Ancora Psychiatric Hospital in Camden County, requires the Department of Human Services to report physical assaults and deaths at state-run psychiatric hospitals online and to the Public Advocate.

The law is "a direct response to delays in the release of statistics on assaults at Ancora Psychiatric Hospital (in Winslow)," the legislators said.

According to the Courier Post:
It requires the Department of Human Services to track the number of assaults and unexpected deaths at the hospitals. An online report is to be updated quarterly.

Another health bill, inspired by the death of a developmentally disabled woman who lived at a group home in Edison, requires facilities to give the medical examiner contact information for the deceased's relatives.

The sponsors included Assembly members Pamela Lampitt of Cherry Hill, Louis Greenwald of Voorhees, Sandra Love of Gloucester Township and Nilsa Cruz-Perez of Barrington, all Democrats.

Kudos to Corzine for signing these two mental health laws- but why did he have to wait until he was almost out of office to do it?

Schadenfreude?- (Rewrite)

I was driving home from my parent's house and turned on the radio to get the weather report. Instead I got a minute of a talk show , the host on a rave about big pharma destroying our souls with their pills.

I've always thought this guy was a jerk, but every now and then someone, anyone gets it. Even a radio personality who I have never agreed with can shoot a fish in a barrel once in his lifetime.

Since I am almost off meds, just on Lithium, I can tell you honestly I am sleeping a bit better. 5 hours of sleep a night average. One night this week was nine hours and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The humidity dropped a bit but it's still almost too hot to sleep. I want to get out of Dodge and move to Alaska, where it's cold and I might actually be able to catch some Z's.

My skin keeps acting like it's moulting. But it's not moulting, or even shedding. It itches constantly, and it's all on my back and neck. I can reach my neck, but I cannot reach the spot on my back. I've tried a back scratcher, I've rubbed up against walls, all to no avail. I've even put baby powder on it, which brings some relief until it wears off. Same with cold showers, and an exfoliating bath wash with my loofah.

What kills me now is the concept of schadenfreude. I never felt it personally until yesterday. I take referral calls from both my local mental health support group, and the state one. Usually they are pretty tame, when is the next meeting, how do I get there, where in NJ are the meetings, etc etc. I usually can answer the calls, or I refer them to NAMI. It's all good, NAMI refers their callers to me. Sometimes I get social workers and pdocs who are looking to get more help for their clients, and think a peer run group sounds great. Often the social workers will ask me about the types of training it takes to run a meeting, and again, I state that too.

But the woman I spoke to yesterday was different. I've spoken to many like her in the four years I have been doing this. A mother of a son in his twenties who was just diagnosed. Just started taking meds in February. He was having a hard time with side effects and developed ed. His girlfriend/fiance left him because of ed. He moved back home to his parents house, he was mopey, still grieving over the loss of what might have been and the fact that the meds were not only putting on weight, they had taken away his sexuality.

She asks if this is normal. I tell her I've seen my weight go up 50 lbs from different med cocktails since I was diagnosed back in 86. I am only 5 feet tall, so 50 lbs on me looks like 75 lbs on someone taller. I have had relationships end because of the illness. Either because I (and I am being candid here and I realize this may upset people and say you COULDN"T have been like that). I lost one boyfriend because I was hypersexual and wore him out. Yeah, it's true. I know most guys would love that , just as they wish for the four hour erections advertised on Viagra or Cialis. I've almost been engaged to someone who, finding out I was bipolar and it could be hereditary, dropped me, citing, he couldn't be responsible for a bipolar child. I've written here he said he could continue to fuck me, but marriage and relationship was off.

I can tell you it was the first time my heart was broken, and the pain hurt for months.

I can also tell you that my bipolar cost me my marriage. I don't like to talk about this in public, because I really don't believe in airring your dirty laundry in public. It takes two people to make a marriage, it should take two to end it. In my case, it didn't. While he accepted the fact I was a fellow Beeper, and embraced it!, he never could cope with it. My pdoc at the time sat down with him and told him I was one of the "sickest" bipolars he ever saw, and he didn't ever think I would be able to get off my meds and I would always suffer from things that didn't effect him ever, the hypersexuality, the suicidal ideation. He only took Depakote. I was on a med cocktail at that time of at least 4 or 5 different drugs.

I was a hero to my husband, i was working in a newsroom, doing all the grunt work for the reporters, and making a very good living at it. I was making a nice bit on the side by entertainment blogging, at one time I was considered one of the five best entertainment bloggers in the country. I was working on my third novel. He thought I would be able to keep my job, support him totally and we would live happily ever after. And at first, for the first 3 months it was fine. Every day we would ask each other if we had taken our meds. But then I started fllipping into mania, and it depressed him. Seeing him depressed depressed me, and I floated back to depression, mine worse than his because I would get suicidal ideation on top of it.

It wasn't anyone's fault, but it was a deal breaker. He could understand in theory what it was like to be bipolar, but living with one was not something he liked. He wouldn't go for marital counseling, he just felt I needed to try harder. Some days I couldn't get out of bed I was so blue, and he would get upset with me and not understand. Yet when he couldn't get out of bed, couldn't make his own writing deadlines, I would ghost write things for him, try to help him get out of the depression.

We grew apart as people do. Perhaps it was for the best, the marriage was concieved in mania and it was too fragile to last. The ironic part was when we met he was more in love with me than I him. I grew to love him more as his love for me faded. When he left I thought my world would end because at that time I loved him more than he did me.

Back to this lady. She asked how many meds I have been on and I replied I stopped counting at 30. She said she couldn't go through that with her son, is this normal? I told her I have met quite a number of people who have been on as many meds as me or more. I told her honestly, I had been in the hospital 4 times in 20 years, and have tried almost every type of therapy imaginable, Freudian, Jungian, Ericksonian, CBT, you name it I've tried it.

I've even tried ECT in a feeble attempt of living a semi normal and productive life.

"What a strong woman you are". She said. She got off the phone saying she would be there next Tuesday and could I talk to her son.

I've been hearing that a lot lately. I don't feel strong. I have done what needed to be done, but never thought it was anything remarkable. I had to learn to re use my muscles after a psych med made them all go to sleep, because I didn't want to wind up in a nursing home, hooked up to a catherter and unable to eat or dress myself at the ripe old age of 45. It wasn't anything wonderful or brave, it just WAS.

I take lithium because I don't want the kind of mood swings I would get if I didn't take it. It's not perfect but I would be rapid cycling and that's not livable.

I've dealt with crippling depression and suicide attempts, the last one came very close to succeeding. I am lucky. But what choice do I have? I can view my bipolar as either a blessing, a curse, or both. I don't feel extraordinary. I feel human. But I do feel like a fraud for someone to think I am inspirational, extraordinary. Maybe it's the depression talking.

All I know is last night, I couldn't sleep. I was upset about some things going on in my personal life, and kept dreaming the same dream, I was hanging from a tree, birds pecking out my eyes. I know why I was dreaming this, my last attempt, in November of 2002 was a hang, and as I lost Consciousness the rope broke. Had it not broke, I would not be here right now writing this. I know someone who has a gun, and I called him to see if I could borrow it. The old black dog had me by the short and curlies, saying he was boss of me.

I got so far as in my car to collect the gun, and tried to figure out if I would do the deed on my bed, or the couch. Would it look like a scene in Pulp Fiction? Could I really put gray matter and blood on my two favorite pictures? Over the couch hangs a framed print of "Wheatfield with Crows" by Van Gogh. The irony alone in that statement made me decide against it.

The painting over my bed is the famous Red Poppy print by Georgia O'Keefe, that they were selling right and left at the Met when her show was there. I always liked that print, even if it does look like a giant c**t.

I calmed down when I felt the air conditioning on my face and told myself my brain is playing tricks on me. Ignore the voices and you won't drown. You don't want to be like Prufrock, you want to be alive.

I went back to bed. Sleep did not come easy, but at least, as I counted each breath, I was grateful I didn't listen to the mermaids sing. Not this time. Instead I listened to the soft purr of the cat, and closed my eyes.

Maybe I am stronger than I give myself credit for. Who knew?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Gates- A Remembrance

The New York Times is reporting tonight that Jeanne- Claude, the wife of Christo, died today in Manhattan.

I just wanted to pass on the pictures I took of The Gates, back in February 2005. They were really stunning. Thank you Jeanne Claude and Christo, for this lovely day.

(Please click on the pictures to make them bigger).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Last Leaf, Part One

I was in the hospital two years ago, in November 2007. It still seems like yesterday somehow. I was depressed, but I was also on a seven med cocktail. I knew my brain was broken, I had spent the entire year doing major volunteer work with my local DBSA chapter, arranging for two "A-List" speakers to come to our struggling group, working on major hypomania, and a spell of extreme mania over the summer. Now it was November, and my brain was trying to come down from the high, and in doing so, was turning against me as it continually flashed suicidal images and thoughts in my head, much like the subliminal words and pictures put in movie theatres back in the Fifties for soda and popcorn.

I was scared and chagrined when my little stuffed panda was removed by the nurses, and I was strip searched before I was allowed into a pair of sweats and slippers. I told them to just take my sneakers, if they removed the shoe laces, they would have to cut leather and I would be out a pair of shoes. The nurse understood. A few minutes later, I was sitting on the bed assigned to me, crying into an old yellow T shirt with the image of Spongebob on it,rumpled up to serve as a makeshift stuffed animal and tear catcher.

I had a lovely, lovely roomate. An elderly woman, in her eighties, suffering from major depression. She was inconsolable about the death of her husband, someone she had been with over sixty five years, most of her entire life. She was a vibrant person before her depression hit her, hit her hard. She was involved in her church, had raised children, and was a grandmother and great grandmother. And she had volunteered for years with her church, ministering to those at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital.

Her minister came one night to visit with several women from her church. They were going to pray, and they asked me if I would like to stay and pray with them. I replied, yes, but I do not have a bible. No worries, sit next to one of the ladies with one. I felt good as the matronly lady made room for me, and gave me a hug. I needed that hug. I had never prayed like that before, but it was the right thing to do at the time, and I felt so much better.

I would spend hours in the bed. I wasn't depressed, but there was nothing else to do. This time, the hospital had been re done, pumped with money from Big Pharma. The TV being left on 24/7 was no more, it was only on from 6-11 in the evening. The rooms were sumptious, as luxurious as the Hyatt a few miles away. But there were no talk therapies, no breaks for the smokers- even if you don't smoke to go outside for five minutes an hour to get some fresh air. There were 30 people on the ward. 21 of them were getting ECT, and I thought of it as a production line. I tried to read the book I had brought in with me- a book by Ben Elton- and just couldn't concentrate enough to read. There wasn't anything to do, and even the monotony couldn't be broken by a smoke break, just to go outside, because the facility was now smoke free.

I would sit forever in a sterile, non-descript faux hotel/industry chair and look out the windows, watching the leaves fall. And as I watched the leaves, gorgeous in their hues of brown, orange and red, fall from their tree, I had a feeling of doom. The birds stopped coming, the squirrels too. Snow came in flurries, and I just watched sunrise after sunset from the chair, until I stuck to the plastic coating and shuffled off to night meds and bed.

(Part Two coming).

Failed anti depressant drug might be marketed as woman's viagra

Well they got the blue pill for men. I guess it was just a matter of time before they had one for women.

Monday, November 16, 2009

These folks aren't lion around

My very first blog award I was given was by a young woman in SF named PhC, who was struggling with HIV. She has dropped off the blogosphere for the last two years, but I want to replay her gift forward. I don't know if she has left this earth, or left the blogosphere, but I miss her.

Here are my awardees for the Golden Lion Award- for their shameless writing and muckraking and inspiration. In no particular order.

Mary, at Letting Go, because when I grow up I want to write like her, with the grace and humility she writes about unpopular things and the 12 Steps.

FP, at Writhe Safely, for the same reason as above, and her latest piece shows her to be a master of words and I wish I could write like her as well.

John at a Storied Mind, because he inspires me with his writing and story telling and enouragement.

Stephany, because she can write with courage and love while describing her youngest daughter struggling, and breaking your heart at the same time. (Bring Kleenex when you visit Stephany, as of late).

Harrad, at Access Denied, for writing so lovely about MS and helping me understand my friend G- who has been struggling with MS her entire life.

Ana, at Just Ana, for being all alone in Brazil by herself and still be able to raise hell.

Fiddy at Seroxat Sufferers for raising hell about the good, bad and ugly in the world, whether it's political or Big Pharma, and for introducing me to Beautiful South, a group I am liking almost as much as Lighthouse Family.

Mark, at Psych Survivor 2.0 because he gives me hope and cares about things, takes time to look at the roses and smell them and cares for squirrels.

Will, at Will Spirit, for writing about such deep complex things with absolute beauty and knowledge.

Bunker at Psychiatry.... for proving the buck stops here, and his first name is D, not Archie.

Stan at Is there something wrong- for having (at least in his blog) the largest set of brass ones I've ever seen to tackle what he tackles, without any sugar coating and using only spell check ( I think) to find some of the things he prints.

Anthony, at My Sick Mind, for having the guts to write about NJ with passion the way I wish I could write with, and for being an interesting guy and fellow (albeit brand new) stripey cat owner.

and Bitter, at My Medicated Cartoon life, for making me smile with his cartoons and then writing such beautiful posts on depression and life, I cannot help but wonder, how someone can draw and write so beautifully at the same time, but can he walk and chew gum at the same time? Please don't close your blog down Bitter. We need you.

I'm done for the year. I was only supposed to give six, but I couldn't narrow it down. Thank you all.

'Despair' gene linked to bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia

An interesting article from The Big News Network. Com.

Washington, Nov 14 : A gene, touted as the "despair" gene, which earlier had no relation with mood disorders, has now been found to have a link with bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenic conditions, according to pharmacy scientists at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB).

The researchers have identified antidepressant and anti-anxiety behaviours in tests of mice lacking the gene.

The story continues,
"The knockout mice [without the gene] displayed behaviours indicative of changes in mood function, such as increased perseverance and reduced anxiety in open spaces," said Wang.

"We don't yet know why the deletion of the gene altered the mood status of the mice," she added.

Probably a lot more research needs to be done on this.... it seems to be a study in it's infancy, but I am just putting it out there as food for thought, in case this gene does turn out to be a legitimate thing. It might help figure out is being bipolar environmental or biological?

I hope I can know the answer to this in my lifetime.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Blog Look

Every one deserves a new winter look, my blog just got a make over from my friend Peter. I hope my readers will like the cleaner look, blogroll updates, and streamline.

Thank you Peter!

He can be reached at Blogmakeovers, Inc. and accepts payment in either bullion or feline nom noms. (I paid him in fish flakes).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Depression is the inability to construct a future

I wish I had written this. It was actually written by Rollo May.

Anyway, this is how I feel, right now. I am writing for what it's worth, but cannot finish anything and wrap it up in a nice bow for the kind folks who read me. But I cannot. I don't even want to get out of bed, I don't want to eat. I just feel there is no future for me, nothing to look forward to. The only thing comforting right now is the cat, flipping her tail on my hip bone when I try to sleep, or her soft breathing on my arm if I am on the couch. I am not suicidal, I just feel for the first time in my whole life there is no future for me, no dreams, just banal existence.

Nothing is worse than reading the mediocre writings of someone struggling like this. So I am going to take a a few days, maybe a week from the blog, and just turn off the computer. This blog actually has been my raison d'etre for the last two years, but rather than posting cute fixes and taking away from the blog's theme, I am just going to take a few days off from writing and try to find myself and feel better.

One more blogger who gets it is Bitter Animator.  Check out his blog, if you haven't already.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lest We Forget

November 11. Veteran's Day.  May we never forget those who gave their lives for us, and those who are fighting right now for us.

Hat tip: Fiddy

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I wish I could stop feeling like Percivale

 "Thereafter, the dark warning of our King,
That most of us would follow wandering fires,
Came like a driving gloom across my mind.
Then every evil word I had spoken once,
And every evil thought I had thought of old,
And every evil deed I ever did,
Awoke and cried, 'This Quest is not for thee.'
And lifting up mine eyes, I found myself
Alone, and in a land of sand and thorns,
And I was thirsty even unto death;
And I, too, cried, 'This Quest is not for thee.'

Tennyson, The Idylls of the King.

I have always thought I could be  Percivale the most true and noble of all of Arthur's knights. Going through life thinking you aren't good enough for anything, and if something good should happen to you you still aren't worthy.

Sometimes I feel like I am being punished for past sins. For  sins in this life and in past ones. I have stopped expecting anything good to happen to me. A good day is a day when my brain actually lets me read or watch TV, a bad day is a day where I have a migraine from my med cocktail and stay in bed most of the day. A good day is a day I can call my mother and conversate, a bad day is I cannot even talk.

I don't know what sins I must atone for, if I knew, I would write them down, weave them into a hair shirt and flagellate myself.  But I feel I must have done something, so bad, so horrible in this this life or a past one I cannot get better until I atone.

I once did see the Holy Grail- my version of it, what it would be to me. I saw it for a moment and it was gone.  In fact, here is my whole life put into one haunting song lyric.

"When I was a child,
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown
The dream is gone
I have become comfortably numb"

Pink Floyd, "Comfortably Numb"

But I don't feel comfortably numb anymore. I feel dead, hollow, stuffed with straw, waiting for the worms or madness which ever comes first.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dona Noblis Pacem

November 5, 2009

The Peace Globe Gallery

Today, a group of bloggers have decided that today, November 5, 2009 is a blogblast for peace. It is a beautiful thought. I thought of a poster every teenager I knew had over their beds when I was a child. It went like this...

And then all of a sudden, this afternoon, I run out to get some milk, refills on prescriptions, and some nom noms for the cat- and come home. What do I see? In my mail box, "urgent news alerts" from major news organizations, Video news, Print news, American news, International news. All saying the same thing.

"Soldiers open fire at Fort Hood (Texas), 12 killed,  31 wounded."  This could be the biggest massacre the state of Texas has seen since Charles Whitman opened fire at UT-Austin and killed 14 and wounded 32.  The counts are still coming in and it will most likely be slightly higher as the night wears on, and more news is known. Right now they are saying the shooters are other Army soldiers, this might be from Post Traumatic Stress. Take the scene from "Full Metal Jacket"   where Private "Pyle" guns down his Sergeant with his gun, Charlene (that scene still gives me goosebumps), by ten or more soldiers, and you get the idea.

I am not the sharpest bulb in the drawer, but I know so many people who have family serving in this war, or who did serve in previous wars. My dad is a Veteran. But somewhere along the line, when my dad came marching home, and the next generation came marching home, people stopped, or seem to stop caring for Johnny and Janey. Medical help like M*A*S*H units were able to save soldiers and civilians where in previous battles they would have most likely died from their wounds.   Johnny might have gotten his gun, but came home this time, with broken bodies, slowly healing, and broken brains that needed healing.

Just like the intersection in town that claims two or three people a year from car accidents, nothing is done for years until either a very cute child or prominent citizen is killed there. Then it gets the traffic light.

It's time for the traffic light now. It's world peace day, and if it was possible, there wouldn't be anymore wars, people wouldn't judge others by their race or creed or religion and children wouldn't go to bed hungry or have people in their lives who abuse them. I don't know the answers, I just wish we all had that poster on all of our beds.

Peace to those who were murdered today and their families. Peace to us all.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Do dreamers really live forever?

"Loose your dreams and you will loose your mind
In life unkind".
Rolling Stones, "Ruby Tuesday".

I never have had a problem not dreaming. I love dreaming. I keep a tape recorder and a note pad by bed when I wake so I can write down my dreams.

Lately, all my dreams have been like something out of a Jungian nightmare, old family trips, school, all surrounded  in symbols. But nothing about the future. No dreams, no hopes, no nothing.

The other day I got a piece of spam that said in the header 'Are you living or existing". Oh that was easy. Existing. Not living. Because I don't have any dreams to live for. Not anymore.

Or in other words, I do not know what dreams to dream to live for.  The ones I had as a child and a woman in my twenties are gone. I can re build them again, like the Six Million Dollar Man, stronger and better than they were.

"And if your hopes should pass away/
Simply pretend,
That you can build them again". 
Simon and Garfunkel,  "Hazy Shade of Winter".

I always was able to take shattered dreams and rebuild them. Not a problem. Easy.  But now, it's all the dreams have shattered my hands like holding on to broken glass. My writing, bits and pieces, lie in the trash can, like some type of abortion. Just a little mouse click, and they are gone, forever. Little whispy ghosts on the ethernet of the hard drive. I know my illness has turned me into a gifted and talented writer in my 20s, with so much promise and a book offer, to someone who can barely string two sentences together. I doubt now I can even write, let alone see that level again. What do I do if my brain turns on me and this last desire fails?

...Like carpenters they want to know which tools.
They never ask why build....
Anne Sexton, "Wanting to Die".

I'm not suicidal. I just don't know what to do with the remaining 40 years of my life.

How do you rebuild if you don't know what to rebuild in the first place?
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