Friday, February 24, 2017

Happy kid

List #11:
Watching VH1's Top Ten music video compilations from week to week (or, sometimes, day to day) -- notable chart toppers: Meatloaf's I would do anything for love (but I won't do that), Tom Petty's Free Fallin' and Don't Come Around Here no More, Mariah's Fantasy, Seal's Kiss from a Rose, Blue's Traveler's Run-Around, TLC's Waterfalls.
Watching 7th Heaven, Full House, Figure it Out, and Friends.
Watching the following movies over and over and over: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Wayne's World, Wayne's World 2, Big, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Selena. I also frequently rented a Disney sing-along video from the movie rental place (where Mom would treat us to Bubble Tape and other candy treats).
Playing Dr. Mario (I was and still am very good at this game), Super Mario Bros. 3, Donkey Kong 1 and 2.
Watching my brothers play a particular Sega game, the name of which I don't know. I also remember eating iced animal cookies while doing this. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmm.
(Um, yes, I did have a lot of screen time as a child. But I also played outside a fair amount and did my homework and read several books. So quit judging.)
Getting tickled mercilessly by my dad. There was (and still is) a very extensive vocabulary surrounding this activity. The most important one you should know is that to get Dad to stop tickling you, you must say "S-T-O-P STOP!" This is much harder than one might think to accomplish while you are laughing maniacally.
Assembling cow scrapbooks. Yes you read that right, and yes you have no idea what that is because I'm probably the only kid who did this. I went through a very long cow-collecting phase. Mainly people gifted me with stuffed animals cows, as well as various bovine paraphernalia (boom! I just spelled that correctly on the first try! Eat that, spell check!) such as a cookie jar, a coffee creamer pouring mechanism, candy, popcorn tins, etc.
But! I also made not one but TWO cow scrapbooks. I spent much time cutting pictures of real cows (from Country magazine) and figurine cows (from catalogs) and milk mustache ads and then gluing them onto colored construction paper (each page alternating through the rainbow, then repeating the pattern), then hole punching that paper, numbering the pages, and sticking it into 3-ring binders. I used to plant myself in front of the TV or the stereo and rubber cement my way to bliss. For hours. These scrapbooks are still at my parents house. Obviously. Who would toss such hours of labor?
Sometimes my fifth grade teacher would let us read all day at school. I loved those days. I still long for those days, and do my best to recreate them at home.
When we went on vacation, we always took our minivan, never an airplane. We would drive to DC or Iowa or around Colorado, and I pretty much enjoyed the destinations (DC was a little boring for my 7-year-old self, but we celebrated my birthday there which had its perks), but I always loved the car ride best. My older brothers sat in the back bench seat, and I would drive them crazy mostly but also gifted them with "The Giggle Hour," a time in which they could say anything and I would lose it. I always sat in the middle seat on the driver's seat, Riley in the middle on the passenger side. I would read, stare out the window, enjoy cans of Coke and Pringles and sugary candy (my parents fed us vegetables, I promise). I loved it loved it.
Doing math homework. I always did it first thing because I enjoyed it so much. It was an ease into the reading and writing (which I also enjoyed, but for sure had a love-hate relationship with).
Doing crafts. Cross stitch, latch hook, filling up pages of sticker books. Etc.
Jumping on friends' trampolines.
Babysitting, especially at night. What a thrill! And I made money! I divided my pay in half, to the penny, kept some at home for spending and took the other half to the bank. (I wish I could say I kept up that habit).
Checking email, and composing long responses to my friends who I saw every day at school. (I still love email). I also loved those email surveys that would circle around -- filling out my favorite color, book, etc.
Having sleepovers with various girlfriends.
Writing poetry.
Dr Pepper and Sunny-D (mostly during eighth grade I loved these things)
Walking through knee deep snow, cutting through backyards, from the bus to our house. With a backpack full of thick books and a trumpet case in hand (that, probably, my brother carried most often), my brothers and our neighbor would walk and walk. We'd get home, ditch our wet shoes at the door, grab a soda and chips and dip, and plop in front of the TV. We'd fight over who got to choose the show, but pretty much we'd stick together in the living room for a couple of hours anyway.
Talking to my friends on the phone.
Going on band field trips. Solo and ensemble competitions, playing at elementary schools, and competing in full-band contests in "the Springs" (Colorado Springs). I loved missing classes, wearing my cummerbund, playing cards on the bus with my friends, and stopping at Burger King or Fargo's Pizza for lunch. Pure fun, and made me feel grown up.
School dances. Yes!
The giant Super Bowl parties my parents used to have every year. I mostly ignored the game, watched some commercials, ran around with church friends, ate cheese dip and my mom's delicious brisket, and drank lots of soda. I always lamented when it was over and I had to do homework and was up so late on a school night, but the party itself was great fun.
Watching all of TGIF every Friday night, followed by 20/20 (oh, Hugh Downs and John Stossel)
Having the house to myself. A rare occurrence in a family of six, but sometimes it happened and it was glorious. I popped a CD into the living room speaker system, made macaroni and cheese, and just OWNED that house.
Church youth group events. And church retreats. Retreats!!!!! Loved. Still love.
Daydreaming about my crushes.
Going to amusement parks and water parks.
Playing and watching football.
Gym class.
Going on "Girls' Day Out" with Mom. We would drive to the Springs, shop for earrings and clothes at the mall, usually run some errands, and eat a special meal.
Going to the outlet mall in Castle Rock. Mom would set us loose and I would buy cassettes and CDs at the music store, jewelry and keychains at Claire's, and troll dolls at the Russ store.
The Wednesday night routine. During eighth grade, my dad was living in Missouri studying at the seminary, and my mom and brothers and I were in Colorado waiting for the house to sell. A dear church friend, Julie, was also a teacher at my school. On Wednesdays, she and I would leave school together, go shopping, eat dinner together, and then she'd drop me off at my mom's office or at the church for my confirmation classes. I still treasure those Wednesdays.
Hanging out at Mom's work -- the library. I would go to her office, grab some candy and cash, head to the cafĂ© and get a soda and animal crackers, then scour the Babysitters' Club collection and do my homework.
Dubbing music onto cassette tapes from my brothers' CDs and the radio.
Oldies music. Also Christian rock.
Shooting hoops in our driveway and the neighbors'.
Running through sprinklers. Duh.
Snow days.
Guys, I'm going to stop. I could keep going. Super happy I had such a good childhood. Very lucky to have been so loved and cared for. XOX

Thursday, February 16, 2017


List the ways that you feel lucky
I have a cat who loves to be right next to or on top of me, and he purrs a lot. He also -- generally speaking -- likes other people. And he's mighty cute.
I have a boyfriend who's so patient I can't understand it, to be honest. He's so smart it sometimes makes me mad, and he has great fun hair and he's tall and sometimes wears red pants. When he walks into a room/bar/party/restaurant, I feel relief and calm and comfort. I can talk to him about pretty much anything, and he hugs me and makes me laugh at all the right moments. He can make popcorn on the stove, and he's willing to do most anything with me -- go to concerts of bands he's never heard, travel to the four winds, or wear Halloween costumes that were my brainchild. (He's told me I'm on my own when it comes to Celine Dion concerts and viewing Fuller House, however.)
My parents were, and are, beyond supportive. My whole life they have called me by pet names -- Mitsubishi, Bucket, Girlfriend, Peach, Honey -- and told me how cute and pretty I am. They have put oodles of money toward my education, food, shelter, car, phone, etc. They love that I am a writer and compliment my work; they could choose to be terrified about my financial future as an artist, but instead they think I'm on the right path. I know that I am welcome at any time to move back under their roof, and in fact lived there until I was 25. Though my mental health journey has been very different from their own, they have always applauded my decisions to go to therapy and to take medication. Mom sends me care packages several times a year, and cards with Starbucks money in them. She hems and repairs my clothes. Dad just gets me, because we are frighteningly alike. When they were in town last weekend, they bought my meals and paid for museum parking and train tickets and bought me books and a watermelon-painted suitcase from a thrift shop. Together, they show me what 40 years of love looks like. Thanks to them, I know that long-term love exists, and can exist in others, myself included.
I have a working body. I can walk, bend without too much creaking of joints, see, taste, hear, smell, and feel.
I have a car that still runs and is paid off.
I don't feel like I have to try hard to make friends. Strangers are often willing to talk to me, and I love that, because I love talking to them.
I am educated beyond the amount required by our government. And I have had some wonderful teachers and mentors throughout my days.
I have a full time job with benefits.
I have never been unable to pay rent.
Don't even get me started about my friends. My closest friends in this world live in Boston, Chicago, Memphis, Seattle, and Kansas City, but their distance does not take away from how loved they make me feel. It is such a privilege to care for them -- to hold their memories and insecurities and happinesses and fears; to know their idiosyncrasies and have a good grasp of the kind of things they need to hear at various times. Beyond those five superstars, I have SO many people who make me happy and who think I'm worth spending time with. I have an amazing family, plus friends who are family.
I'm content in the city where I live. I never have to check the weather, I rarely deal with gray days. There are so many places to get tasty eats and drinks, sing karaoke, shoot pool, blah blah blah.
Bethel! I love my church for so many reasons. I have been embraced by the people there, and they continue to embrace others who walk in the door. It's not a closed off community, and it is a safe, happy space where I am eager to be.
Brothers. I have three kind, funny, smart, creative brothers. They are not afraid to be affectionate with me, to say "I love you" out loud. They are wonderful to their wives and children, and put me up in their warm, much-cleaner-than-mine homes when I am visiting. I can call them for comfort and laughs, they will pray with and for me, and I'm just so lucky to be in regular touch with them as an adult -- I'm glad that during our past tiffs, we didn't tear each other to shreds.
I was introduced to a faith that made me interested in believing in someone bigger than all of this. And, thank the Lord, I was never pushed in a way that turned me fully off from it. I've had doubts, I've been extremely judgy of churches and church people, I've been bored, worried, etc. during my hanging around church and church things -- Bible reading, small groups. Even though I haven't "felt God's presence" a lot, or at least not in a way that I recognize, I have lost count of the times when I have been rescued by people and words of encouragement and warm meals and pets and laughs, and I have felt that that's been provided for me not just by the human vehicles who deliver them, but by someone who orchestrates it all. And I like that.
I have a large personal music collection.
I have a library card, and several of books on my own shelves. I am literate, and that is a lucky thing.
And, finally, I feel lucky that I feel called to write. And I feel lucky that people read my writing. There was a long time where I didn't see either of those things coming. And here they are.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Today's brave step

I am reading Marbles, a fantastic graphic memoir about living with bipolar disorder. My friend Steph told me about it, then I suggested it to my friend Jill, who was gobbling up graphic novels and memoirs, and she read it and was like "Bailey you have to read this."
So I started it, and in one sitting I gobbled up 150 pages and am kind of maybe setting it aside so it doesn't have to be over yet. I know I can reread, but I so seldom (basically never) do.
So I took a break and started The BFG, which -- can you believe it? -- I've never read. So far it's delightful, as all Roald Dahl things are. What a treasured gift he was, and continues to be -- that Matilda and James and Charlie could all come out of one head?! Amazing.
In 2 hours and 15 minutes, I have a psychiatry appointment.
I am nervous.
I need to go, but I hate talking about my feelings with medical professionals. Weird, right? I write so easily about them here, for any Internet stranger to read. But put me in a sanitized office and close the door and I quake in my sensible flats, not wanting to tell them that I cried a bit on my Valentine's date last night.
I just made a list of my recent symptoms and complaints (and a few positives in there, too), and even with the margin setting on "Narrow," it spilled onto two pages. I emailed it to Alex to look over, in case I'm missing something. (Though it can be annoying, I find it's good to have someone around who keeps you honest regarding your mental health issues. And if you're dating or married to that person, they (hopefully) know you really well, so their insight will not be for naught).
You know how some people hate going to the dentist so much that they start to get anxious a week before their appointment? That's me when it comes to psychiatry and therapy dates on the calendar.
I have psychiatry today and therapy on Saturday, so you can imagine I'm not exactly relaxed right now. Plus I'm still playing Let's Figure Out The Right Med Combo For Bailey, so life's a real picnic.
Did I say 'picnic'? I meant panic.
Anyway. (That's our second "Anyway" of this post. This is going well.)
Ellen Forney, author of Marbles, depicts several scenes with her psychiatrist in her book. I am envious of her willingness to communicate with her doctor. She seems so at ease with her.
In 10 years of therapy, I have never cried in front of a counselor or doctor.
I know that's not necessarily wrong, but it is curious, isn't it?
OK, so here's my brave step for the day: I'm not going to cancel my appointment.
Oh, and I'm going to show up for it, too.
I'm going to print out my symptom list and have it in my tote bag. I'm going to feel like I'm annoying the doc for bringing a laundry list with me. I'm going to be embarrassed by some of the items on it.
But I'm going to do it.
And maybe I'll buy myself a diet soda at the gift shop downstairs, to carrot myself along.
Ugh. 1 hour and 55 minutes.
Catch you on the flipside.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The weekend that fed my soul

List all the little things that happened today that brought you joy
I'm going to expand this from today to this weekend. I was honored, humbled, privileged, and am thrilled that I was asked to chaperone some high school youth from my church this weekend on a retreat up in the snowy, muddy, mountainy forest of California. I had no idea what it was going to be like, and it was certainly a mix of things, but I came down that mountain on a high, and woke up Monday (after 12 hours of much needed chaperone sleep) buzzing.
So happy to have been involved and can't wait to help with another event. I'm thinking girls only and nail painting and dance parties and maybe no sleep (well, for them. I will for sure pass out at some point).
So now let me tell you about all the little things that made me so happy this weekend:
First, I'm going to tell you about the snack I had on Saturday night.
Are you ready?
First, I toasted some bread. European wheatberry or something else titled in a similar, weird manner.
Then I buttered...EACH...slice of bread. (Did I mention calorie counting was out the window on this trip?)
I put jam on one slice.
Peanut butter on the other.
And I took. that. sandwich. DOWN!
Mmmmmmmm. Still thinking about it.
So. #1 on this list: The Sandwich. Now that we have that covered, let's move on.
I enjoyed that I slept in what I believe was the warmest bunk bed of the cabin. The heat was barely and/or not working the first night, and it was 27 degrees outside when our Saturday alarm went off. Many of our campers were very cold that night, but up on top nearest the heater, cradled by the slanted, A-frame ceiling, I have to say I slept just fine.
I'm joyful for the many cups of tea I drank.
I love our kiddoes. Very few of them are in the practice of attending worship services at church, and I think most of them aren't sure about this God thing. But they were respectful, willing to participate, kind, and fun, each in their own way.
One of our girls got a concussion while sledding, sadly. I'm NOT joyful for that, but I'm so glad there was cell phone reception, so my RN sister-in-law could talk to the camper, then tell me that we should get her checked out. I'm glad Sam didn't get stuck in the mud driving down to a medical facility, and I'm so glad we didn't just chalk her injury up to an ordinary headache. And obviously I'm so glad she got medical attention.
I love that the kids in our group didn't punch me out for being a chatty (chatty chatty chatty) Cathy all weekend.
Both car rides, to and from camp, were super fun and giggly.
Loved spending time with my great pal Sam.
Enjoyed meeting some other youth leaders from SoCal, and connecting on Facebook.
The food was superb. Refried beans at dinner on Saturday get an honorable mention for sure.
I love that I had some adult self control (where it came from is a mystery) on this trip and ate two apples as snacks, and put salad on my plate at three whole meals. I love even more that I enjoyed those apples and salads.
I love that when I weighed myself Monday morning, I was the same weight as when I left, despite the delicious PB&J snack, the cookie snack, and the ice cream snack of the weekend.
I enjoyed being without my phone for an evening (Sam took mine for road navigation on the way to seek medical help).
I enjoyed watching our campers participate, including the quieter ones, even when they didn't have to.
I loved meeting our campers where they are.
I like that after not taking a shower all weekend, I really didn't look or smell too offensive by the time we returned home.
I enjoyed skipping the Super Bowl entirely.
I liked being in charge for a night, while Sam was gone.
Sam got a jingle stuck in our heads over the weekend, and I, for one, cannot stop chanting it, nor am I upset about this.
I loved hearing and seeing how happy the parents were, in knowing that their kids had fun.
I like that none of them have sent me a letter of complaint, considering one of our kids gained a concussion under my watch.
I enjoyed getting some use out of my selfie stick.
One of our kids wore an Iowa Hawkeyes sweatshirt on Saturday. I'm gonna call him my good luck charm.
One of our breakfasts included a bowl of bacon. A bowl! Of bacon!
During free time, I planned to make friendship bracelets. However, upon finding this as my supply stash:
I decided instead to untangle some thread. For an hour and a half, I created little bows of string:
This was extremely soothing for me, and I loved it. I thought a few times how I should be working on my freelance piece during that time, but I'm glad I sipped my tea and wound purple and pink around my fingers instead.
When I was a middle/high schooler, I loved the idea of a relationship with God. I loved knowing and believing that He loved me and cared about who I was and what I could accomplish and appreciated that I was kind to people. If you consider my hyper tendencies as a person, you can imagine that I LOVED church retreats. Every little detail, from buying soda at the camp store to talking about the Bible in small groups to singing silly songs to washing dishes when I was on KP duty.
I remember getting back to church one time after a retreat weekend, laying my pillow on the concrete sidewalk in front of the building, and attempting to nap. I wore myself out, but I had the best time doing it.
The kiddoes I went to camp with this weekend are not real interested in attending church worship services -- at least it doesn't seem to be so; I rarely see them in services on Sunday. I could tell some of the songs at camp made them uncomfortable this weekend, and I could understand that, even being the woman I am who was once a girl who would have sang with abandon.
I feel like when I was their age, I would have been more concerned about their participation. This past weekend I was just so glad they were there.
I went to this weekend's retreat willingly and enthusiastically, but I didn't know how I would feel when it was over. I didn't know if I would want to participate in more youth events.
I can say now I'm really interested in making relationships with this awesome group of youth.
And as I am with all my friends, some of whom aren't sure where they lie on the faith spectrum (this is true for a lot of my friends), I want to just be me, and be honest in who I am, and mention my faith when and where I can. I know that religion -- particularly Christianity -- has left a really bad taste in people's mouths, and even though I've clung to it my whole life I get it that people have reservations.
I'm not on a conversion mission, but I do know that I've found healing in God, over and over. I know that others have, too. A great example is a couple from Minnesota who just lost their premature baby, Afton. Lindsay, who's hardly mentioned her faith before on her popular blog, is being incredibly real about how God fits into her heartbreak. If you get a sec, head over there and read her stuff; it's...just, wow.
My point here is that I just want people to know what's held me together in my life, so if they ask I'm going to tell them: An incredibly supportive family, funny friends, falling down and getting back up, therapy, meds, purring cats, the sun on my face.
And a mysterious God, who makes me ask waaaaaaay more questions than I get the answers to. I just know that I have a hard time reading poetic verses in Scripture without crying. I have always been taken care of, with amazing people who didn't have to be kind to me, but they were, and they are. It's my choice to believe that someone big and powerful who created heartbeats and eyelashes and laughter have put those people in my path. I believe that He/She taught us to love, made us naturally inclined to love, and that didn't have to be a part of this life equation, but it is.
I just want people to get a taste of that. I don't want anyone, whether they're 15 or 83, to wander through this life feeling sad and broken and like they can't express themselves.
I could talk your ear off about effective ways of communicating one's faith to others, but what it comes down to is this: I don't want people to be sad and feel like they're grappling for anything out there that will make them feel better and have them gloss over a beautiful Psalm that might make them feel better, even for a moment, just because it's associated with Big Bad Christianity.
When I was untangling string this weekend, Sam was dumbfounded that I would choose that as my voluntary activity. All I could tell him was that it was comforting to me. Touching something soft, having color -- my favorite thing -- in abundance in front of me, digging through a giant mess and making some, slow sense of it.
I want that for everyone -- the youth I'm just barely getting to know, my parents, the people who may never set foot in a house of worship because they're just so hurt. I want for them color, and a softness to meet their touch, and to see the pain untangle. And I hope one day they can make knots in the string and not beat themselves up for the mistakes they've made, but see the art that comes out of it: a friendship bracelet. And God, do I want everyone to have a friend. So much. That's why I'm always trying to share mine, obnoxiously connecting people who have anything at all in common.
This morning I was listening to a CD my friend Caleb made for me. It has a song on it by MercyMe, called Something About You.
I LOVE the lyric in it:
Still, there's something about You, that keeps me in pursuit of who You are.
If I had 10 seconds to tell someone why I'm a woman of faith, I might just quote that.
I'm pretty protective of my weekends. I want to Netflix and read and snuggle Max to my heart's content. But I loved every second of this past weekend, never wanting to be anywhere else.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Med check

Where to start in what I am about to tell you? I guess I'll just start.
Friends. Countrymen.
Dealing with drugs that treat your emotional struggles is a wrestling match.
Well, it can be. I'd say I had a good run for about a year and a half with the right dosage; two drugs, 20 mg of the one, 2 mg of the other. I felt content, happy but not too happy. I recognized when things were uncomfortable or sad but didn't dip down to the depths when life wasn't cookie cutter perfect. 
A couple of things left me when I got on that medicinal regimen: I cried a lot less; barely at all, in fact. And I lost my love of dancing. I still wanted to dance, I thought I loved it, but I didn't have as much energy or interest in painting strokes in the air with my hips, in tapping the floor with my shoes. That was a bit of a bummer (I've crafted a whole post about dancing, which I will probably post soon, P.S.).
But life as a whole was amazing, particularly when I got started on a mood stabilizer. I still felt creative and motivated to write (this is a thing that makes a lot of people wary of psychotropic drugs -- they fear they won't want to make art anymore, or won't be able to; I found the opposite to be true. I was able to harness my creativity and focus and actually execute clear, but still interesting (I hope) writing. I didn't start writing my book until I got on a mood stabilizer). And I didn't feel crazed or miserably sad -- I could DO life so much more easily. I didn't feel like I was continually dusting off my knees from the last emotional bender.
Goodness gracious, I already hate the way this post is going. It's honest, that part I'm down with, and I'm not at all ashamed of what I'm telling you. But I am babbling and unfocused.
That's how I've felt all morning. All over the place. Tasks that I could focus on yesterday are like 100 times more difficult to do today.
Yesterday, after a great weekend, I was buzzing. I felt a little hyper, but I could still get stuff done.
Today I feel, well, not good.
I don't feel sad, that's a positive.
Why did I come here to talk to you again? I'm not sure, honestly. Oh yeah, I think it was just to give you an honest snapshot of what it can be like to be on a change in your drugs.
So let's see. Around...November?, I went to a new psychiatrist. The one I was seeing had the bedside manner of a robot, maybe. He wasn't unkind, but I knew I wasn't being candid with him, because I felt like I was talking to a wall. A wall who wouldn't get it if I tried to explain that I was mostly feeling normal, but was feeling a little more blue than usual and wanted to figure out why.
I didn't get the sense that this guy understood what it felt like to be a little blue. I didn't figure him for much of a feeler himself, and I guess I need to talk to a feeler in order to make some headway and actually be honest.
So I moved on.
I found someone new who took my insurance, and I feel worlds more at ease talking to her, but I'm not thrilled with the way she's treating me. I like the way she treats me as a human -- very kind, personable -- but I'm not real thrilled with how she's treating me medically.
Let's back up. I apologize for the rambly nature of this post. But I still think the message is important so I am BLAZING AHEAD!!
When I walked into her office the first time, I was on an antidepressant and a mood stabilizer -- the same dosage I'd been on for two years, the dosage that had worked wonders for me, the one that turned my life around.
I was feeling a little down, though, as of late, and I couldn't pinpoint it.
She immediately doubled my dose on the antidepressant. I wasn't sure about this, but I trusted her enough to try it.
I came back some weeks later, told her I was having some side effects -- wasn't super interested in everyday stuff.
She threw another antidepressant at me. 5 more milligrams twice a day.
For those following along at home I was now up to three drugs in my cerebral cocktail. I wasn't thrilled about being on so many drugs, not knowing about the long term effects and feeling like my doc was handing out M&Ms instead of prescription drugs.
She told me that my mood stabilizer is in fact an antipsychotic drug, and I was like, What??? I don't exhibit psychotic symptoms, at least not the intense ones (hallucinations, delusions), and no one had ever told me that the drug was an antipsychotic.
(I have read up on this a bit, and apparently the mood stabilizer I was on, while yes, an antipsychotic, is sometimes used for people who do not experience traditional psychosis. So it's not crazy that I was originally prescribed to take it).
The other thing she told me is that if on the antipsychotic mood stabilizer long term, I could develop tardive dyskinesia, a condition in which one makes involuntary movements of the mouth and hands.
I'm super grateful she told me that, because that does not sound like something I want. No thank you.
So, here's where I was left with, per her instruction:
Take double the original dose of drug #1, to keep me from feeling too sad.
Take this new drug, drug #2, twice a day, to get me more interested in things that were suddenly not interesting.
And cut the dose of drug #3 (the mood stabilizer) in half, to eventually be off it completely*, in order to avoid eventual tardive dyskinesia, and to get me off an antipsychotic drug since I don't exactly experience psychosis.
*I officially went off it last week.
[I'd just like to pause and say this doc is great, I'm just having some wariness regarding my treatment, because I'M not comfortable with it. I don't think she's doing anything wrong, and in fact I'd recommend her to a friend. I don't think she's being unethical and I'm not going to charge her with malpractice. It's just hard to find a psychiatrist you can communicate with really well, in the same way it can be hard to find a therapist who perfectly meets your needs.]
So I've walked you through the boring details of my drugs.
Here's another thing you should know: no therapist or medical professional has ever said to me: You have bipolar disorder.
Yet I'm on a mood stabilizing drug (or, was, until a week ago) that is often used by people who have bipolar disorder or schizophrenia or whatnot.
And, before I was on that mood stabilizing drug, I would get sometimes very happy and sometimes very sad. And I always told my docs and therapists this.
So I'm a little confused. Do I have bipolar??? There was a time that I was petrified of that being the case, but now I'm like, Dude. If I have bipolar, JUST TELL ME. And then treat me, with maybe a drug that's not going to make me eventually smack my lips and roll my fingertips together. Because I just want to live life without bouncing off the walls and/or crying way too much.
Breathe, Bailey. Breathe.
Today, I'm super not focused. And I need to be. I have regular work and a freelance piece due tomorrow and parents coming in town tomorrow. I'm so excited Mom and Dad are coming to see me, but I want to be able to have a normal conversation with them, I don't want to feel super hyper while they're here.
I'm uncomfortable, and I'm worried. I'm trying not to panic. But I'm also being mindful of the feeling I have today and the fact that I haven't felt this way in a very long time. Sure, I get unfocused, and hyper, a lot. If I could get my picture in the dictionary next to the word "excitable," I would.
But I know that a week ago, a day ago, I could get things done if I needed to. I could snap myself out of the hyperness and do real tasks.
Today I'm worried I can't.
So where do I start?
I'm going to go to my psychiatry appointment next week. I'm going to tell her all this jazz I just told you. Then, I might look into a new psychiatrist. We'll see.
And if I get extra worried today, I'm going to call my doctor today. I'm going to tell her that, No, I don't feel sad today, but I do feel like a squirrel who just got into the peanut butter supply.
Some people might frown on the idea of posting so much personal information online, and I'll admit I'm a little afraid that some people who are really close to me might even be upset with me for divulging so much. (In the picture above I've expunged my address, but that's it. I don't want any crazies stealing my cat, all right?)
But I think it's important. Important for you to know where I'm at, and important for people out there to know the truth about psychotropic drugs:
1. They can help, a LOT. There was a time that I thought my life might eventually end in suicide, and I got on a drug that gave me confidence that would never happen. I got Bailey back, and that is huge. To have YOURSELF inside yourself is a gift that is so priceless I may never be able to explain it.
2. Prescription drugs can be annoying, aggravating, disheartening, to navigate. But because of point #1, they're totally worth trying if you think you need them -- either in the first place, or need to make a change up in what you're currently taking.
So here we go. Today I'm on two drugs. I feel off. I have things to do, and I'm going to do my best to do them. But you can bet your bottom hard knock life dollar that I will be keeping a hard eye on the pumping of my sensitive heart and the active firing of my synapses. This girl doesn't go down without a fight.
And nor should you.
Be well. Reach out. Love and be loved.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Non-technology things I enjoy

List the things you like to do that don't involve technology
Cross stitch.
Enjoy beverages in the company of great people. Over coffee in someone's apartment, or over Bud Lights at a dive bar.
Pet and talk to cats, particularly mine.
Clean and organize.
Walk outside.
Read books to kids (particularly when they're snuggled in on my sides!!!!).
Read books to adults.
Public speaking -- sorta, kinda. Yeah, I like it.
Lift weights.
Go to church and church activities.
Ask and answer ice breaker-y questions. I can do that for hours.
Does the stove count as technology? Because I do enjoy cooking, when I actually do it.
I rarely do it, and I wouldn't say I actually love or even like it, but I feel great after I write in a paper journal for a bit.
Shoot pool.
Hosting. Refilling beverages, offering blankets to cold guests, explaining the menu. I love it.
Get my hair cut.
Have someone do my makeup.
Write notes and mail them.
Peruse the library. Discuss my literary haul with anyone will listen.
Talk about young adult books with Mom (this usually involves the phone, since she lives far away, but hey. We talk in person sometimes, too).
Lie by the pool. Jump in when it gets really hot, get out, dry completely in the sun, jump back in.
Window shop. Or actually shop.
Have someone braid or style my hair.
Get a mani-pedi.
Go to bed when I'm tired.
Wake up before everyone else.
Make friendship bracelets.
Groom. Take a quick shower, spray in some dry shampoo, clip my nails, throw on some mascara and perfume. Just that little bit of jump start helps me feel good and ready to go and take on the night, or whatever social meeting/gathering I have going on.
Being in a cabin. Refolding the contents of my suitcase, checking out the retreat schedule of events, chattering away with my cabin mates.
And of course, always, anywhere, talking to strangers. Makes me HIGH.
This list had way more on it than I thought. I guess I'm geared up for the next power outage! Ooh! Lighting candles! Another thing I love that's sans technology. :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Breathing through the Wednesdays

Sometimes you just have to live through a moment.

Just breathe.

All we can do is keep breathing, sings Ingrid.

I'm not a huge fan of this method, but I do preach it on occasion to others, and on more rare occasions, take my own advice.

Tonight I came home from work, fed the nugget, washed a pot, poured frozen veggies in it, cracked open a beer.

Finished an episode of The OA.

Started an episode of the Gilmore Girls reboot (I'm struggling to get into it).

I got up to pee. Went in search of the cat. Found him, under the bed.

Now he's in my lap. So warm and content is he.

I read a bit.

I texted a friend. Told her I feel weird. Bored and upset, maybe.

Told her that I'm telling myself it's fine, and that telling myself is kind of working.

And here I am. Putting my heart on my sleeve once again. I love doing this, but when I put my heart out there too much too often, I think about the people who will send me uncomfortable messages, ask me uncomfortable questions about am I OK?

That's what we all need, of course, is genuine concern so we don't slip away, but it seems to be the people who don't get it who ask questions sometimes. Sometimes the people asking are too harsh in their asking, and it makes the askee want to turn on her heel and run for the exit.

Just me who feels this way?

Of course several people show concern in non-awkward ways. I'm grateful to all for their concern, but I prefer not to feel squirmy.


I thought about getting up to take a shower, but Max has me pinned down, and no way am I ending that bliss unless I really have to relieve myself. Until then this body of warmth is staying put on top of his mama!

I turned on some music. That seemed to help. When Sara Bareilles' familiar piano tones started up, I calmed a little.

The cat warmth is truly great. It doesn't change the weird patterns of my moods, but if I focus on it it's like Ahhhhhhhh, the way a bubble bath used to feel -- before sitting in a tub became just another place to let my mind run wild, a place where I want to be but nonetheless have to will myself to stay there, letting more hot water plunge from the tap, warming the pool long enough so I'll soak for five minutes more then inevitably give up on this should-be-relaxing action.


The thing is, right now, I'm fine. I really am. I think I'm a little bored, a little restless -- Netflix and my book couldn't really hold my attention. I'd like to be in the mood to clean my room but I'm not.

I'm stressed out because I've put off a freelance assignment. I'm stressed because of my procrastination but I'm too chicken to start right now. Chicken's a strange choice of word, because the job is actually very easy, but still takes leg work. There's this weird feeling of chicken that comes over me a lot, though, when I do a writing project for a third party; it's like I know I'll get it done and that I'll do what it takes to make it right by the time I turn it in, but I still wonder somewhere inside if I'll run out of time, if I'll choke.

Just me?

This coming weekend I'll be out of my regular living space. Sometimes this is fine, but pretty much any time I travel, I balk a little. The homebody, child version of me comes back to remind me she never fully left. I don't like to be away from my cat, and call me a criminal but I like to take my nighttime routine of vegging out for granted.

Wow, am I privileged. Privileged enough to be maybe simply bored and then turn to my blog to dissect whether perhaps it's more than just boredom.

And yet.

I'm not so privileged that I'm not allowed to have feelings, unpleasant ones, unclear ones, and then wonder why.

Because in the wondering, I'm trying to solve the issue. Get at the knot.

It's hard for me to hear things about how part of the reason we have lows is to make the highs more appreciated. But I don't know that I'm ever laughing gleefully with friends at the bar thinking, "Well, I'm sure glad I'm not bored and melancholic and confused in my bedroom right now."

OK I lied, maybe I have made comparisons like that, even in the midst of saloonful glee.


So why am I writing this?

Well, to defeat the opaque doldrums, for one.

Two, to journal, and try and figure out what's going on in this head of mine. (I'm not great about writing in paper journals, and there's a cat on me so I'm not able to grab some papyrus besides).

And three, I guess I'm here to tell you that it's OK to have weird, blase moments -- even several of them in a relatively short time -- and just breathe through them.

I mean, heck, I'm not even a great spokesperson for simply breathing, because I had to bring my restless fingers over to this keyboard and tap out my wandering thoughts, so they could catch on a dirty screen instead of just circling and circling and circling through the grooves in my brain.

But the point is something weird happened for me tonight. I didn't text Alex in a rush of sad emoticons, because I'm not particularly sad, not really, not exactly. I didn't feel like I needed to make some grand promise to myself about calling a doctor tomorrow (I did, however, yesterday, schedule a therapy appointment, so brava for that).

I was able to look at myself, 10 years deep into therapy and meds and living and learning and living again, and say,

"Hey, Bailey. Maybe you're just bored."

And it's kind of hysterical in a way, to be honest.

So there ya have it. Maybe I'm bored. Maybe I'm a little down, but not quite exactly for sure, no.

The Gilmore Girls reboot isn't that great, nor is the novel I just started, so it's not like I should fault myself for not feeling like I'm a teenager at an amusement park -- with no parents -- right now.

It's just Wednesday night, and I have a busy day tomorrow and then I have to come home and pack and then be away from my cat and my precious Netflix the day after that.

And perhaps in that last sentence I've just sleuthed my way to the answer to this puzzle inside my troubled insides.

Maybe it's just Wednesday.

It's not always Saturday.

And here's the great thing. After 10 years of therapy and living I can laugh at the fact that it took me a whole blog post to figure out that maybe I'm just bored (and maybe a little sad and that's fine), and I can also recognize that I am healthy and that I successfully stayed in my weight-loss calorie allotment today, and there is STILL A WARM CAT LEANING INTO MY LEGS RIGHT NOW.

Sold. I'll take this Wednesday night. And Thursday? You, with your early morning and big meeting and later suitcase packing? You just send yourself right on over. I'm ready to breathe through your tough moments, too, the moments that make me ask questions and want to think there's something wrong with me and pedal until I feel just great.

Because each day teaches me new lessons. Today's moral? It's OK to be bored. And it's OK to recognize it as a privilege and a struggle, in the same breath.

Breath. I thank God today for breath.

[And warm cats. Well, I thank Him every day for those.]

The best compliments and encouragement I've received

List the greatest compliments and encouragement you have ever been given
From SM: Something along the lines of: if we were all to reorganize our priorities in life, they would look a lot like Bailey's.
From CB: "Keep up that great writing!"
From AS: Told me I should apply to Iowa, even though it will throw a big hitch in his life if I get in.
From TB: "You have books in you."
From a Starbucks barista at an airport: Told me I look like Celine Dion. This is not at all true, but I his comment brought me some levity.
NH and DL: Said (looking at only one picture ever) I look like Claire Danes. (No one has ever compared me to her before or since).
DK & TB: Referring to one whole day in my life, when I was a bridesmaid in a wedding. Each said I looked like Taylor Swift.
(And then BB and CR said I looked prettier than T. Swift (T. Swoon!))
RG: Said that me and my brother were some of the most adaptable youth she had ever encountered.
SH: In saying I should be with an older man, she explained that it was because while some of our friends found their strength and identity in their skin color or gender, "I don't know where your strength comes from," she said.
SS: Said that I could have worked a specific editing job, had I applied for it.
JD: Compared me to Anne Lamott
LBR: Compared me to Donald Miller
From Grams: When I was in high school, she thought it was so neat that I didn't have a mirror in my bedroom. She was really proud of me for not being overly focused on my looks.
And finally, from Office Max the cat: When I first went to see him at the shelter, he was in a box on top of a filing cabinet. He looked me over warily, and wouldn't come out of the box to say Hi. I was moments away from moving on to another room, to look at other cats, and then he came out of the box. That was one of the best compliments I've ever received: Max, the greatest cat on earth, deciding that I was worthy of coming out of the box for. Love him SO MUCH and couldn't be happier with his decision.
(Do you like how Max makes an appearance on every one of these lists???)