Saturday, July 19, 2008

Being Bipolar

I was diagnosed a long time ago, back in the early '90s. My boyfriend at the time and I were in for couple's counseling and (probably because raving bonkers) the psychologist asked to see me alone. Now, when we are in our '20s, I believe we are least receptive to criticism of any kind, even imagined. So I did nothing.

Having children made it more important to get help. The post-partum period is very dangerous for women with mental illness; it tends to exponentially exacerbate depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and personality disorders. I had three children in five years and suffered each time, silently. Pride and embarrassment at work there.

After my divorce I began rapid-cycling: moving from mania to depression in a short time, sometimes within the same day. When depressed I stayed in bed and prayed for death. When manic I destroyed relationships, lost jobs, and squandered money. Still I resisted treatment.

It wasn't until I entered into an abusive relationship that things changed. I knew what he was doing was wrong, but was in too much a fog to resist. He broke through the restraining order, picked my comatose body out of my bed and took me back to his house, where I was a prisoner for several months. It was during this time that he dragged me to the County Clerk's office and we got married, although I don't remember it. When I started violently hallucinating he had no choice but to take me to the hospital. I quickly responded to Lithium treatment and on release got an Annulment and got the fuck out of Dodge.

That there are easier routes to treatment in this world does not escape me, believe.

Back at home in PA, I continued to adjust to Lithium (WEIGHT GAIN! BRAIN GONE NUMB!)and went to therapy, yoga, and all the other things recommended to me. I filed for and received Disability status based on my mental illness.

I don't feel disabled, truly. But I recognize how the disorder manifests in my brain, what it means for me to be bipolar.

Hostility is my main challenge. I'm prone to conspiracy thinking and obsession. Lots of obsessive-compulsive behavior and oppositional attitudes. Lithium has done wonders in providing balance in my mind in all these areas. I am profoundly grateful.

So what does that have to do with being able to work? Why should I get Disability?

I've been fired from almost all of the dozens of jobs I've held. Usually I would fixate on someone, become hostile and obsessed with them. Or would calmly tell the boss exactly what was wrong with them and what they were trying to do. Also, I showed up generally when I felt like it and picked fights on a regular basis.

The truth is, you can only get away with these behaviors if you are the boss.

So I work on a freelance basis, from home, where I am the boss.

Still taking Lithium and the much-ballyhooed side effects are no longer an issue for me. I go to therapy and my psychiatrist tells me things like I am one of the lucky few who respond beautifully to Lithium, or that I am one of the highest-functioning Bipolar I patients he's seen. Which I will go ahead and take as compliments.

I don't wear a "Hi! I'm Bipolar!" sticker, or propose that my life is typical of Bipolar people. Everyone is affected individually, it seems. I do what's right for me and I do most of the things my doctors tell me to do.

I hate taking pills: two in the morning and one at night. But I never want to go back to that person cowering in a mental hospital bed. I exercise and eat well. My mind is clearer now than I ever remember, and my relationships are repaired and credit rating restored. My personality makes this possible; I know plenty of Bipolar people who struggle every single day because of theirs.

There are no defining traits of Bipolar Disorder. There is a diagnostic tool which parses behavior and past issues common to Bipolar sufferers, but it is no means an end-all, be-all for rooting us out of a crowd. It is not a personality disorder, as some believe. The area of the brain affected is the same as MS, almost more of a neurological disorder than a mental one — but the "symptoms", if you will, are all about bad judgments and decision-making problems.

I don't feel any shame about being Bipolar, I didn't choose it and I'm doing my best to live with it. There are so many writers, bloggers and activists out there fighting stigma and pushing for better treatments for the mentally ill, I don't feel qualified to throw my hat into their ring.

I'm Trouble, and the reason I got that nickname is probably because I'm Bipolar.

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Hate List

Well, hate is a strong word. How about: I am displeased with the following list of people's very existence. Better? Of course my indefensible reasons accompany.

Geo. W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Bill O'Reilly for obvious reasons. This gruesome threesome, working within the Republican/Conservative Xtian/Fox News axis of evil, are responsible for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; 9/11; Oil & Gas shakedown; banking and mortgage crises and the fatal deterioration of news reporting and journalism in general. I don't care how "fatigued" you feel about Bush bad news. Time for a reality check, people who still admire el lame duck and his evil cronies — YOU, personally, were hoodwinked, fooled, and turned upside to discharge the change in your pocket.

Fameballs. Or, that's what Gawker calls them, anyway. They are people who want to be famous, without regard to any contribution they provide in exchange. As a society we ought to be ashamed of ourselves for rewarding these useless, needy narcissists with their drug. We are enablers of the worst sort. Not listing names, I don't want to add to the problem. Suffice to say that if someone lacks demonstrable talent, i.e. musicality, dazzling artistry, or important wordsmithing, they do not warrant incessant media coverage and photo ops. Being someone famous' child almost always means you are a useless, spoiled brat. Sleeping with someone famous is a terrible way to get attention, stupid. Especially if you are a prostitute. Appearing in a bit part in a B movie, or a starring role in a pornography video (amateur or professional) does not mean you should be photographed endlessly, wearing a dizzying array of unsuitable and revolting outfits (all the better to 'build your brand', eh?) to earn internet mockery (=internet fame) and higher search engine rankings.

It's all despicable and I can't hardly wait for the backlash. Me and my black Sharpie do a lot of creative photo editing in the magazines I read. Mature, I know. Duh! One of these fameballs is so noxious, I can't resist a focused and meaningful curse: Die, Julia A. Baugher. Die shamefully. If you aren't ready to die then at least marry some millionaire and move to Connecticut, never to be heard from again.

Poverty. Mine and others. Which means that I despise rich people twice as much. I hate seeing families consider ditching their upside down mortgages, and Foreclosure signs dotting my neighborhood. I hate that no one so far is stepping forward to help the poor. Economic Recovery checks my ass. The Feds are in a hurry to help millionaires and billionaires in finance and banking hang on and the President wants to help out domestic O&G with offshore and national park drilling — a windfall for those millionaires, but no help whatsoever to the people forced to choose between gas and food. Apparently, nothing was learned from the first Depression.

That's all the vitriol I've got for today. Feel free to join in!


Monday, July 14, 2008

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

Our President, audacious criminal savant that he is, is on TV talking about how offshore oil drilling will put food on poor people's tables and allow kids to go to school. It's also, he claims, a matter of national security.

Is that a fact?

Seems to me (and to plenty of people who know more about it)offshore drilling — and the bill's unmentioned additional opening of Alaskan wilderness, national and state parks for drilling — is a last-ditch effort to assure O&G speculators and profiteers future domestic earnings.

As BBC put it: "Even if offshore drilling begins tomorrow it will show whatever limited benefits to the average American in several generations. A matter of Too Little, Too Late."

Please take a moment to check in with your local Congressman and see how he/she intends to vote on the subject.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Dear Recruiters

Listen, I appreciate that you contact me with "exciting job opportunities" that I am "perfect for". I've worked as a recruiter and I know how things work, believe me.

But from now on, do not contact me with your bullshit. I know I am experienced and talented in my career field. My resume does indeed kick ass. My interviews are spectacular and my references glow.

I also know a fishing expedition when I smell one and I am truly sick of them. Don't lie to me! Go ahead, tell me they've already decided to hire so-and-so's friend from college, but have to go through the motions of fair hiring.

This is the third time in one month that a recruiter called, begging. The third time I spoke with various poobahs, who oohed and aahed at my experience and skills and laughed at my jokes. This is the third time I got a "we just loved you but have decided to go with another candidate" email. Another, "It's not you, it's us."

Yeah, oh Hell Yes I'm bitter. But it truly is their loss and I will just move on.

From now on, however, all recruiters will be treated with the same urgency and respect garnered by bill collectors and telemarketers.

That's your fair warning.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hopped up on Goofballs

Goofball #1: The Endless Dental Problems. Another filling yesterday, and the dentist joked that I was running out of teeth to drill and fill.

I've always had bad teeth: first dental surgery at age 10 when skin from the roof of my mouth was grafted onto my quickly receding gum line. Metal fillings, composite fillings, braces for two years, impacted wisdom teeth removed. All before I was 21. At this point, I am seriously thinking dentures, or wooden teeth a la George Washington.

Plus side
: I have amazing dental insurance. No, really: 100% coverage in most cases.

Goofball #2
: The Stressful Summer. Superfly fiance and I are both looking for work, we have the troublets all summer and we are trying to plan a Labor Day weekend wedding. Other issues continually crop up to annoy and/or cause panic.

Plus side: We are having a lot of fun with the kids, spending plenty of QT together and our families are selflessly helpful and kind.

Goofball #3: Politics. As a registered Independent, my voting choices this year are pretty darn challenging. Neither Presidential candidate has shown so far to be adept at foreign policy or national economics and the local politicos are a sorry lot.

Are we not weary of political rhetoric and corruption? Haven't we been beaten down and trampled by real estate and energy speculation and racketeering? We are bankrupt, barely hanging on to jobs and homes. We are sick of war and cynical of warmongering. It's during times like these that anarchy and revolution fester in the minds of a population.

Which of the candidates, the mild-mannered Senator with liberal views and his race working for and against him, or the loose cannon Senator who was a veteran and POW, a moderate in a sea of arch-conservatives, who nevertheless is an alienating crazy person in public appearances, can lead us through disaster and doom back to prosperity and balance?

Plus side
: No Bush family members or outright cronies are running for major office this year. Go get 'em, Bugliosi!

The best remedy for goofballs is resting with your feet up on your porch and enjoying the beautiful sunsets while sipping an ice-cold beverage. Repeat as needed.

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