person of spirit

Graphics011BeingOfLight2My ‘disability’ is only in the world of working 9 – 5 that rewards people who over-extend themselves, and don’t need any personal time for processing, dreaming, visioning and reflecting.

I cannot be satisfied with any normal run-of-the-mill office or customer service job. I am a creative and spiritual worker, and this is the only field I can be successful in.

I do not fit in with the status quo. I need more time for resting, eating, processing and visioning than the average person, and my creativity and spirituality need to be engaged more than the average person.

I become easily over-stimulated, and my threshold for logistical stress and last-minute changes is extraordinarily and cripplingly low.

When I am over-whelmed or –stimulated, I become irritable and exude an energy of high-stakes stress that is disruptive and un-productive. I vent inappropriately and become ineffective.

I then become exhausted and reclusive. Basic duties of self-care become extremely challenging, including sleep, exercise, grocery shopping, making food and getting exercise. I miss social and professional engagements and opportunities, which is almost a guarantee for depression and panic. With one or two things disturbing me and my emotional equilibrium, I become isolated to the point of dissociation and suicidal ideation.

Most people think I am (more than) fine and extremely talented, and wonder what all the fuss is about. It’s just that the disparity between doing well and not doing well are extraordinary in me.


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10 little things about me, written on an irritable day

  1. I hate the word ‘positive’ or any of its derrivatives. It reminds me of all the people who said ‘just think positive’ when what i actually needed was a complete mental breakdown, a major overhaul on my life, a relocation and a radical shift in my daily reality. It’s also dangerously close to my other personal ‘favorite’: “You’re choosing to see the negative.” Actually, the later one there is worse than the ‘be positive’ one but not by much. they both make me want to vomit or murder someone, or both, while screaming, in public.
  2. In case you haven’t noticed, I do have an extremely dry, dark and sarcastic sense of humour that comes out in me from time to time, or when I am irritable, such as today. I also have a wide-eyed clown character who likes to come out with any sort of physical comedy going on. Sometimes I’m hip and chic; sometimes I’m a hippy, sometimes I’m a preppy, sometimes I’m a wise old bird wearing flowy fabrics and speaking my intuition like a psychic, and sometimes I’m a redneck because I like to smoke weed.
  3. I’m extremely timid and fearful, but under certain circumstances, I can become a daredevil / adrenaline junky. It runs in my family. My dad forced me onto Montezuma’s Revenge ride at Knot’s Berry Farm when I was four years old, much to the alarm and disdain of the crowds waiting in the line up with us, who witnessed a little girl crying and screaming that she didn’t want to go, and her father forcing her anyway. Thing is, I wanted to go again and again after that first one.
  4. One of my compulsive activities is jigsaw puzzles. I can spend 12 hours or even several days with few breaks completing a puzzle from beginning to end. I have to finish it once I begin, and that can wreak a little havok in my life.
  5. People who know me well, will only talk to me once they’ve confirmed that I have had my coffee. No one calls me before 10am.
  6. Nothing will have me losing all politeness, maturity, self-restraint and diplomacy skills more quickly than bureaucracy – passport applications, large corporations who rip people off, electronic answering systems, long and needlessly wordy document or department names, being put on hold for longer than 20 minutes with ridiculous elevator music.
  7. I’ve always gravitated to those women older than me, but I am never fully accepted by them as an equal friend because of my age. This has been the case since I was a teenager. I feel like I don’t fit in where I am supposed to. I am often a loner, but unbearably ashamed and embarrassed by it.
  8. I often end up leaving the house too late in the day to accomplish everything I set out to do that day. It’s like my clock is not aligned with the rest of society. My lunch break is often at 4 o’clock, with dinner at 9, bed at 1 or 2am. I have tried to change this in several different settings, to no avail.
  9. I am often struck with creative urges or emotional revelations between the hours of 10 pm and 2 am. If I do not get it out of my system, it goes away and is no where to be found the next day. So, I am impulsive and compulsive in my creativity and personal growth, and I cannot see another way of being in these aspects.
  10. I am intrinsically either just in the nick of time, or late, to most appointments.

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Walking the line in flip-flops

My intensity–in anger and enthusiasm–has scared me (and others I think).

In other moments, I feel like there is nothing wrong with me; I’ve been making it all up and being a drama queen. When I am strong enough to embody that, I feel guilty for receiving the support I am receiving, like I don’t really warrant or deserve it, and there are so many others who need it. I feel like a fraud.

Then I have nights like tonight when I see why I am here. I am fragile like a leaf on the highway. Interactions with others in my life have brought up such intense feelings of rejection and abandonment that I feel unable to sustain my relationships with them. I have awoke in this state at 3o’clock in the morning crying (and breathing deeply). I may have to miss some engagements tomorrow.

I feel like I can’t be seen by non-recovery people, or those who don’t know my story. They are Outsiders. I don’t like this feeling of hiding what is going on for me–something I did around everyone before I attempted to end my life. I promised myself since then that I wasn’t going to do that anymore, that I couldn’t do that any more, that it was a matter of life and death.

I don’t have my skin on around the Outsiders, and I feel way too vulnerable to be with them. It’s like I have no skin and the air is filled with tiny knives that pierce my fascia.

I am a child’s heart isolated and abandoned at times by my intellect.


i feel like screaming today

why do people suddenly stop returning messages. why do people suddenly shut me out. i wish someone would tell me what i have sticking out of my nose. deep breathing. stretching the bones. raging child, raging child. left in the dark again.

when i was in my late teens and first started exploring my “inner child” i wrote about her:

quiet child sits alone inside the fire cold

rage and death can look the same, when the rage is so intense it shuts you down.

i feel like screaming today.

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Less than Crazy

As i am digesting and exploring this chronic reality called bipolar II, I am reading lots and learning lots. At first, there was still that lingering question in my mind about whether or not it is true. Maybe i am just seeing everything in a negative light and having low self esteem, or i am afraid of the pressure of success so i need an excuse not to be successful. If i just don’t give any of these things any energy or time of day and keep focusing on the positive, they will heal and go away, and i will wake up feeling better and there is always tomorrow. I thought that if i was really bipolar two, it would have to be way more obvious that i was “crazy,” like talking really fast and not making sense or not leaving my house for weeks at a time or spending thousands of dollars, or getting into car wrecks or having secret affairs everywhere with anyone. As i am hearing more and more bipolar II stories, finding new definitions and discussions and writings, I am landing in such a greater understanding of myself, what it is to be bipolar II, the level of confusion about the condition among professionals especially the general population.

It seems like possibly the most mysterious and misunderstood mental illness there is. One of the hardest things about it is that it is so subtle. It’s not obvious enough for most people to recognize, so that instead of being perceived as a person with a mental illness who may require some additional patience, compassion and effort, we are “off” only enough so that we ourselves suffer more than anyone else around us. At this point, I would describe it as a very internal experience of intense emotion, repeated anticlimax in life endeavors and repeated isolation. I don’t think anyone would say that they dislike me; I think people (and myself) have been overwhelmed by the intensity i bring to anything i have done; the stakes are a little too high. And, I think it has simply been hard to form lasting connections with people because i have been so inconsistent in mood — one day i am outgoing and vivacious and full of great conversation; the next, i am not answering my phone and isolating myself with work. I think that’s had a devastating effect on my ability to form relationships, which has had a similar effect on all other aspects of my well being, and ability to thrive. People haven’t been aware of my suffering because i have simply disappeared and stayed hidden until i feel better. I was never able to make sense of these two extremes in me, and always on the fence about which one i should run with. Am I strong and passionate with great ideas, talent and drive to make them happen or am i the person who feels like she is always just distracting herself from the dark and vast hollow pit of isolation that consumes me from time to time and makes me forget what the light of “day” looks like. I have felt like such a failure for not being able to overcome this aspect of me; each time I’d come out of it, I would have some revelation that would make me think i’d conquered it, only to wind up in the same place inevitably again. And again, and again, and … Every time, i felt like more and more of a failure, and more hopeless of ever escaping it.

I guess the fact is that i may not ever truly overcome it for good. Whether i choose to believe that it is solely a chemical imbalance in my brain or a deep psychological wound from my past and the cumulative effect of my life on me, the thing that i am realizing with a lot of relief is to give myself a break for not overcoming it. Even if it were the later, this has been a chronic pattern and reality in my life and it will take a great, great deal of therapy and growth over many, many years for me to over come, and that would probably be a miracle. I can’t simply wake up one day and lose all the baggage of my experiences. I could go on and on and probably get deep into the philosophical aspects of biological vs. environmental influence, and I would probably end up with the conclusion that both are true. My experiences have created a chronic chemical imbalance out of so many unfinished threads and open wounds that their effect has become almost permanent in my psyche.

Whatever the case may be, it is a relief not to beat myself up for being so emotionally damaged; to get a little more real and honest with myself and others, and live a life that is a little more realistic. Knowing that my ideas and visions can get so out of hand and my intensity can sabatauge it all and that i can come crashing down at the end of it is simply good information. It helps me to know where i need support, admit that i need it, and gives me a vocabulary and context in which to ask for and receive it.

I’m still in the aftermath of the episode that brought it all to the surface, and probably caused a little bit of further imbalance from stress and exhaustion and trauma. I don’t think i’ve ever had the time and space to simply observe myself in the context of symptoms. Without any projects, endeavors, money or ambition in my life, i am observing impulsive, compulsive activity and distraction, scatterbrain, short memory span, racing thoughts, anxiety. It’s still very difficult for me to imagine that drugs can do anything to improve this phenomenon. How can a drug change the core of my experience. I can admit that it is a new ground zero. And yes, though it has always felt new to begin again, I can appreciate that this might just be the nature of my existence and enjoy the exploration and freedom of discovery along the way. For now.

Though there are some inaccuracies in her account, I’ll post a link to Karla Dougherty’s book Less than Crazy. It confirmed for me my growing perception that a person does not have to act overtly and obviously “crazy” to be bp II. That not all mental illnesses involve psychotic behavior. That there are a cazillion different versions/experiences of bp II at the moment. That no one but “the patient” might know, and that, along with the fact that most people don’t even know that there is a bp II that is not associated with full-out mania, is maybe the most difficult thing about it.

(click on the image of the book to read a sample of the book)

Love to y’all from HJ.

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a long way down, a long way up

In this time of deep rest, recalibrating and healing, I often feel like a useless human being. Maybe the extreme stress i just went through could be said to have inflamed the “disease” or damaged my brain in other ways. I often wake up with a great deal of anxiety and depression. The pressure of the day. Of fitting in with the norm expectation of being productive. I don’t know what to do, how to be productive; and furthermore, when I try, I get overwhelmed or distracted and I can’t do anything anyway. And when I say anything, I mean like, buying bananas. Moving a table out of the way. Making food to eat.

There is a 6 year old in the next room from me. She is having a birthday party today. She is saying, “I gotta get ready for the party, like … washing myself, picking out clothes …” What is striking me is that she seems to be enjoying having to do something. Having to prepare.  Wow, she must be young. I can’t remember the last time I felt that way. Excited to have something to “get in a tizzy” about. I’m seeing how much joy has been missing from my life.

This morning, I woke up to the sound of the 6 year old jumping and leaping above my head, excited for her special day. I came upstairs to make coffee. Everyone in the house was in a tizzy, and within minutes, I was asked to do something.

It felt terrible, but I just needed a half hour of peace and quiet with my coffee. I got grumpy, feeling useless and helpless and scared and kind of stormed upstairs. Yargh.

I haven’t been feeling excitement to do anything; I feel extreme anxiety that is actually keeping me from doing anything right now. I have a hard time thinking clearly about the practical parts of daily living. I don’t want to see anyone, I don’t want to “have” to do anything. I am completely unreliable and dependent and that is terrifying.

There is a lot of healing to do. There is a long way to go.