Costumes and Cammie

Speaking of creativity… My mom hosted her 70th birthday party last month at the Hilton. It was a costume party with a Bollywood theme. She put it all together, the centerpieces, giveaways, and party gifts. She even did a Bollywood dance with her friends. The costumes were all very colorful. It was festive like all my mom’s parties. It seemed like everyone was having a good time dancing (ballroom and line dancing), taking goofy photos at the photo booth, and getting henna tattoos. I didn’t stay the whole night because of my back problems and arthritis, but I was there for awhile. It was a long day and I even got my hair done at the salon with my mom. The costume was all my mom’s idea, but I didn’t mind because the day was all about her. Anyway, here’s a picture of me, my parents, my sister-in-law Elsa, and my brother Eric.

 

Eric and Elsa also brought over their six-month-old puppy when they were in town for the party. Cammie is a Cavapoo, which is a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Poodle. She’s so cute and funny, and she knows a few tricks like sit, down, and shake hands. Shake hands was the best and made me laugh and feel happy. There she is walking all over my brother’s workstation in order to get his attention.

 

Things are somewhat back to normal with me and my parents. I am not angry anymore. I have been directing my thoughts toward writing, and am not going to worry about the disability review for now.

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Creativity

Creativity comes and goes. I’m not sure if it’s related to my mood or my medications. Probably a little of both. Many people with bipolar disorder think that their bipolar meds–mood stabilizers like Lamictal or Lithium–stunts their creativity. I have been taking Lamictal for ten years, and for a few years also had been taking Lithium, which made me fat. Anyway, I was rather unstable at the time, and also taking an antidepressant. My moods were all up and down, but I managed to do some writing. It wasn’t very good writing, but I was writing anyway and almost finish a book. I gave up on it because I just couldn’t figure out the ending, and though I believed in my characters I didn’t believe in the plot.

So, now, my disability is up for review, and I am anxious and worried that I might lose my benefits–disability income and Medicare. When I had first applied for disability in 2009, I had been having trouble working. I had quit my lost job in 2008 on the spot, after frequently calling in sick and showing up late, and going on temporary disability twice in 2007. I had been hospitalized in 2007 for ten days for a mixed manic episode and had difficulty returning to work. After I quit my job, I received either unemployment compensation or State disability benefits for about year. It was awhile ago, and I can’t remember. But it must have been State disability, because I was immediately approved for SSDI in 2009 and and received a retroactive lump sum going back to the date SSA determined I was first disabled.

I don’t think I am ready to go back to work, and I don’t know when I will be. I think I have a serious mental illness, and now I have arthritis which limits my activities. Now, I am feeling depressed and angry with my parents because they think I should just get up and get a job and go to work. Just because I look fine on the outside doesn’t mean I am okay. My parents really don’t get it. When I was a kid, I used to wish I hadn’t been born. Like if I had a choice, if anyone had asked me if I wanted be a sentient human being, I would have preferred not to exist. I realize I must sound very negative, but I feel like there is nothing special about me, nothing special about my life, and no special love. I have many interests but not much passion for anything in particular. I really wanted to write a book, but I haven’t been writing anything. When I was growing up, my primary ambition–my quest–was to write a book and get published. That was it. I didn’t think about getting married and having kids. But I have noticed over the years that I am usually happier with my life when I am in a good, stable relationship.

Anyway, I am thinking maybe I need to go back on Abilify, because I seemed more active and motivated then, when I was taking it. And I want to talk to my therapist again, because I stopped seeing her when I was doing physical therapy for the arthritis, and I am feeling angry and depressed and anxious again and as I mentioned above thinking that I shouldn’t have been born because lately I haven’t been feeling motivated to do anything except the most basic things in life. Of course, I still enjoy my TV shows and audiobooks, and I started playing WoW again, just an hour a day or so because of the arthritis and my neck and shoulder pains. Of the TV shows I have binge-watched these past few months: Supergirl, Shadowhunters, The Crown, Poldark, and Harlots. I watched Poldark twice in fact. I can’t wait for season 3, and I hope Harlots will get a season 2, because I really want to know what is gonna happen next. Other than that, most of the time I just wanna stay in bed. Oh and watch prime-time MSNBC, especially The Rachel Maddow Show.

That’s it for now. I probably won’t blog again until I receive news about my disability review. I hope my creativity will come back. I just wish that I could have had a normal and happy life when I was growing up. Maybe I would have been stronger and well-adjusted. Maybe I would have written half a dozen books by now. Maybe I would have a passion for life and feel like a have a reason for living and maybe I would want to go out and be around people and do purposeful things. But whatever. I haven’t talked to my mom since yesterday. I am still feeling resentful and angry about what she and my dad said. Oh, I’m sure they mean well, but they just have no clue what it means to have a disabling mental illness.

This April

Well, the news is that we returned Harley to the breeder. I was just stressing out too much and the pain from arthritis was not improving, especially in my hip area. I think I really tried with Harley, even took her to puppy class. My parents were helping me out as well, but it was all just too much for us. I felt that Harley needed more time and attention, but I was constantly in pain. After we returned Harley, I saw my doctor again, and she referred me to physical therapy. I really want to get better, especially because my mom’s 70th birthday party is coming up in June. I am improving a little and feeling less pain, but I am still spending a lot of time in bed resting. My mental health is a bit more stable though. I haven’t been doing any of the things I used to do before I was diagnosed with arthritis. Haven’t been playing WoW, haven’t been writing, haven’t been reading that much, though I have been listening to more audiobooks and I continue to update my romance book blog. As a consequence of my current quality of life, I have been watching a lot more TV. LOL. I watched Supergirl Season 1 on Netflix and used my 7-day free trial of Showtime on Amazon to watch Homeland Season 6. I also wake up every morning wondering if Trump got us into war while I was asleep. So, 2017 is way more awful than 2016, and the Trump administration is truly scary. I’m just glad I have my family and few friends on/by my side.

Back Pain Update

I’m still having trouble sleeping. I think a lot of it has to do with my back pain, because I feel so uncomfortable and have trouble relaxing when I’m trying to sleep. All of which causes anxiety and is not very helpful for my mood. So, I went on a mission to find out why my back has been hurting so much recently and how I can relieve the pain. I saw a chiropractor a couple weeks ago who told me that my back pain was caused by hip degeneration from sitting too much. My primary care physician then ordered X-rays to confirm that I have arthritis. The treatment is 600mg ibuprofen every six hours as needed and a muscle relaxant up to three times a day as needed. My doctor advised me to call her if I needed stronger pain medication.

Aside from medication, I should moderate my time at the computer, take more walks, and keep my weight down. I also should avoid foods that cause inflammation like milk products and wheat. The arthritis generally hurts less in the morning and gets worse as the day goes by. This does not make me happy because who wants to be in pain for the rest of their life? But arthritis is a common ailment some people get as they age. Some days will be better than others, some days I will have flareups. It’s unfortunate and a little depressing that I have so many health problems that prevent me from doing what I want in life. Because of my back pain, I only went raiding once last week in WoW. I haven’t been playing WoW much at all or socializing irl. But the upside is that I’ve been doing a lot more writing. I guess I don’t have any choice but to try to be strong. I’m not the only person in the world who struggles with chronic pain and mental illness. My problem is that I don’t have very good coping skills. I hope I can manage and cope with my back pain well.

The good news is I’m getting my puppy on Thursday! I’ve bought all kinds of doggy stuff for her 🙂 I can’t wait to bring her home and post pictures on my blog to share with my dear readers.

Because there’s no shame in being mentally ill

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, #2016 yet again snuffed out another bright star in the galaxy, but for many fans Carrie Fisher will live on in their own light. I will remember Carrie Fisher not only as the fierce, heroic Princess Leia in Star Wars, but also as a mental health advocate who spoke about her battle with Bipolar Disorder. I can tell you many of my mentally ill friends looked up to her and admired her, because she was one of us.

Fisher has been unusually outspoken for years about her mental health battles, something many fans mourned when Fisher died at age 60 on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack several days earlier on an airplane. The actress talked candidly about bipolar disorder and her treatments and how they affected her life. She acknowledged there was still a stigma when talking about mental health, but she wanted to help fight it.

“I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on,” Fisher told ABC News.

Source: Carrie Fisher, the inspiring mental health advocate: ‘I am mentally ill. . . . I am not ashamed of that’

My story is a little different. Though I am no longer ashamed about being diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder and having been hospitalized multiple times, I have felt shame and embarrassment about being so ill and disabled. I dislike feeling vulnerable and weak, and I also felt guilty and unworthy of sympathy. I was living in the Bay Area when I was first hospitalized, I was no longer able to work, and I soon ran out of money to pay for my health insurance and treatment. I didn’t want to go home so I borrowed money from my parents.
Continue reading “Because there’s no shame in being mentally ill”

Volunteering

After the election, I decided to do something to make me feel better and more empowered. I felt that I had failed because the wrong person won the election and as a result a lot of people will suffer. I felt that I had to do more, to take action in my own way that will make America better. Hillary said not to give up the fight and get involved in the community, that America is good because we are stronger together.

So, I joined a women’s club that does volunteer work in the community. I heard about it from my friend, who is the president of the club and involved in many community organizations in town. So far, I’ve only attended two meetings and done one service event. It’s truly been a learning experience. I hope to become more involved and do a service event once a week. On Thursday I spent a couple hours wrapping gifts that are going to homeless families.

gnowithcharHere’s a selfie with my friend who has been encouraging me to go out more and get involved. She’s a wonderful, positive, super social, compassionate, self-reliant, and strong woman, and I’m grateful to have her in my life. A couple Saturdays ago, I was supposed to help out with a tree building made out of canned food for a FoodShare, but by the time I got there they had already built the tree (because I was late!). So my friend decided to take me along with her plans that day. She was on a mission to keep me out of the house for as long as she could. At the end of the night, she bought me a glass of wine at a bar in downtown. I have developed a liking for Cabernet. It was one of the best days in my life this year.
Continue reading “Volunteering”

Disabled Dreams

I’ve been having trouble writing for a couple years now. I started up this blog in hopes that blogging will start up my writing. I need to write a book, whether it’s a novel or a memoir. I just need to feel like I’m doing something with my life. It’s depressing that I’m not doing anything meaningful, that I’m not creating, that I’m not achieving my longtime dream of being a writer and getting published. I used to want to make a living as a writer. Instead, I have been disabled by mental illness, and I don’t know if I’ll ever make my dreams come true. If I were manic, I would probably be writing a lot. But sometimes I don’t even know if it’s worth it anymore, if it really matters.