How I Ended Up at My Brother’s Soccer Game (Pssst…I Don’t Have a Brother).

You probably haven’t met my parents. If you had, you’d be mystified that I’m the crazy one in the family.

A few weeks ago, I got a call from my dad. “I think we’re getting a kid,” he told me.

My parents are empty-nesters. I moved out over a decade ago, and my sister graduated from college this year. It’s probably logical for parents to miss their children or feel a little lonely during this time of life. It is a big transition.

But um…get a puppy. A parakeet. A goldfish. Not a random kid!

I briefly wondered whether he meant a baby goat. After all, baby goats are freaking adorable. My parents live near neighbors, though, so that might be illegal. And they wouldn’t have anywhere to put a goat house. Wait, house? Pen? Barn? Coop? What do you call the place where a goat lives?

Never mind. It doesn’t matter. They weren’t getting a goat.

He said they were getting a foreign exchange student from Spain, and he was moving in with them in about a week. They had just thought of it, and wasn’t it a great idea?

That is so like my parents. I can just picture it: they’re sitting on their cream-colored wraparound couch watching America’s Got Talent, and this happens:

Dad: I miss our girls. Remember when they used to put on talent shows for us?

Mom: Awww. Yeah, that was fun. Maybe we should have another baby.

Dad: Um, we’re over sixty.

Mom: Let’s adopt one!

Dad: Too expensive.

Mom: Let’s get one of those free ones that you just keep for a while. It’s an exchange something.

Dad: Like a rent-a-kid?

Mom: Yeah!

Dad: Is it free?

Mom: I think so. *quickly Googles a couple things* Look! A free kid!

Dad: Okay. Order on Prime so we don’t have to pay shipping.

In my head, that’s how it happened. In real life, maybe not. Anyway, they randomly decided to “get a kid” (*ahem* host a high school foreign exchange student), and my dad has been all pumped about finally having a boy and isn’t it great that now I have a brother?

My dad can’t even pronounce the poor kid’s name. His name is Jaime (HI-may), but my dad calls him Hiney. Yes, like butt. I told him he was saying it wrong, so now I think he may have graduated to Himey. It’s still not great.

When I met Jaime, I immediately said, “If my parents are crazy, sorry. It’s not my fault.” Except I said it in Spanish, because finally the years of high school and college Spanish have come in handy. He was very excited that I spoke Spanish, because he had some things he wanted me to translate. Question 1: who would be picking him up from school tomorrow? (The next day was his first day of school)

My parents looked at each other and shrugged. “Tell him we haven’t thought that far ahead,” my dad said.

WHO APPROVED MY PARENTS AS EXCHANGE STUDENT HOSTS?!

I gave Jaime my number and told him to call any time. I’m nervous my parents are going to send him to live with us. They go to Florida for six weeks every winter, and uh…home boy is gonna have to go to school. They claim they’re going to “figure out” somewhere for him to go while they’re gone, but they keep joking that he’s going to come live with us. After all, we always take care of their pets while they’re gone, right? To which I laugh nervously like, “Ha ha ha…NO.” He’s nice and all, but…his high school is twenty minutes away, and I don’t want to drive back and forth to practices and stuff. I don’t even own a minivan! I’m too young for this!

Speaking of practices, when they took Jaime to enroll for classes, he saw the soccer team practicing. He got all excited because he loves futbol, and he didn’t know that it was going to be soccer season in the fall. Unfortunately, he missed tryouts due to, you know, living in Spain. My dad asked the coach if Himey could try out. The coach reluctantly agreed to let him practice with the other guys to see if he was any good. Since Jaime didn’t know he was going to be trying out, he was in jeans and didn’t have cleats or anything.

Turns out HE’S REALLY GOOD. So they let him on the team. Yay Jaime!

That’s how I ended up at a high school soccer game this week. Because my dad called and was all, “You have to drive down for Himey’s soccer game. After all, he’s your brother.”

What I wanted to say was, “Dude. He’s not my brother; he’s your weird midlife crisis experiment who will probably end up living with me in December. In which case he’ll be my son. And my brother. And the whole thing is too bizarre, so you have got to stop watching so much TV. It gives you strange ideas.”

What I said instead was, “Okay, see you soon.” It seemed less complicated.

Go Jaime!

Jaime

Stay tuned to find out if he moves in with us.

Anyone want a free kid?

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What Did You Do in the Last Hour?

I don’t want to be all, “Oh hi! Me again! I’m sure you’re all wondering why I haven’t been posting in months!” Because let’s be real – none of you were wondering. BUT I was talking to my husband yesterday, and I talked about how it makes me jumpy when people in the mental illness blogging community stop posting. Because…what happened to them? I like to think they suddenly won the lottery and moved to an island in the Caribbean where they’re so busy swinging in hammocks and reading books that they’re no longer bothered with blogging about the trivialities of life.

But as anyone in this blogging community knows…that’s not usually what happens. Best case scenario, the blogger’s life got busy. Worst case scenario…well. No one likes to think of that, but we all worry about it.

So – here I am, just in case anyone wondered. I’m not in the Caribbean, but I’m also not a worst case scenario. I’m still over here navigating life on this side of normal – how have y’all been?

Here’s a nugget from my life for you:

Thursday night, I went to a new book study group. I love books, and I marginally like people. So a book group should be fun, right?

For our icebreaker, the woman leading it asked us to detail what happened in the hour of our lives that immediately preceded book study. I think it was a way to show, “Hey, we’re all busy, frantic women. No need to keep up pretense and pretend that we have it all together.” But I couldn’t tell the full truth. I just couldn’t. Because do you want to know what happened in the hour preceding that question? Check it out:

An hour before she asked that question, I was failing at therapy. Oh, you didn’t know you could fail at therapy? Me neither. And YET I DID.

I was sitting in therapy, about to leave, and my therapist said that we should make an appointment to meet again before our next scheduled one. She said it seemed like I could “benefit from some extra support.” Which, okay, I admit that she was right and that an extra meeting isn’t technically failing therapy. But it felt like, “What?! I’m not capable of doing life without you until our next appointment?? AHHHH! How messed up am I?”

This is obviously a me issue, and I probably need therapy to get over the fact that I have declared I failed at therapy (how very metacognitive of me. Someone somewhere give me a gold star, please).

So I reluctantly agreed to remedial therapy, and then it was time to go. Plot twist: my mom works at the same clinic where I go for therapy, but she doesn’t know I go there. My mom gets all jumpy if she knows I’m seeing a therapist or if I’m not completely 100% stable-to-the-point-of-emotionless. I’m still not positive she believes in mental illness as a real thing…in the past she’s told me to pray my way out of it. SO. I didn’t want to run into my mom. My therapist knows this (and even books my appointments under a pseudonym like I’m a spy or something). She peeked into the hall to make sure my mom wasn’t there…but my mom was in the office. Crap. She was doing paperwork, so it could be any length of time until she was finished.

My therapist offered to sneak me out of the back door. She said I could sneak around to the parking lot through the woods and tell anyone who asked that I was looking for deer. L.O.L. But I took the offer. I tiptoe-sprinted through the back hallway like I was trying to escape the KGB, and I got to the woods undetected. Once I got to the parking lot, I breathed a sigh of relief.

PSYCH! NO RELIEF! Just then, my mom walked out the front door. EEEEEP!

I did the only logical thing to do in the situation. It was time to come clean and be honest with my mom like a mature adult, right?

HA. No. Definitely not. She wasn’t looking in my direction, so I dove into my car like an action movie star and hid under my steering wheel. I didn’t really fit, so I was also sort of curled around my gear shift. I was not breaking the line of sight through the window, though, so that’s all that really mattered.

I heard her car leave the lot, and then I waited a couple of minutes before peeking out. Just in case she was waiting out there to be like, “HA! I CAUGHT YOU BEING CRAZY!”

(Wow…I’m suddenly understanding why I need more therapy – lol!)

Luckily, the coast was clear. I turned on my car and high-tailed it out of there before she could realize she forgot something and decide to come back.

I drove straight to book study, where that lady asked me to detail the last hour of my life. And when a lot of women said things like, “I just got done making a homemade batch of applesauce!” or “I found a great sale on avocados at Aldi!” I decided they weren’t quite ready for my full dose of crazy. I went with, “I had a medical appointment that almost made me late” rather than, “I failed at therapy and then had to escape through the woods to evade my mother, where I then got a neck cramp from hiding under a steering wheel while I waited to see if she was going to bust me.”

Come to think of it, I should have said that. Because how many times do I have something so bizarre to say about the last hour of my life?

Missed you all, blogging peeps. Hope you’re doing awesome.

I Wasn’t Drunk Driving. I Was Spider Driving.

I don’t know how long the spider had been living in my car, but he chose the moment when I was halfway through downtown and dodging construction cones to show up on my dashboard to say hey.

I screamed, not because I was scared of the spider but because things aren’t usually SCUTTLING ALONG MY DASHBOARD. It startled me, and it was headed right for my steering wheel.

Women driving a car

I jerked the wheel (to maneuver around the spider inside my car, which made sense at the time). Unsurprisingly, it did nothing except make me say, “Eeeep!” and then dodge the other way to stay in my lane. The spider, unfazed by this, kept inching toward me.

For whatever reason, this didn’t strike me as a nice spider. It was nothing like Winston, the giant spider who lives in my garage. I say good morning to him every morning. It was also nothing like Ned, the stink bug who lives on the lampshade by my bed.

Actually – time out – “lives” is a stretch. Ned is more, well, dead. But he died perfectly perched on my lampshade, and his tiny exoskeleton is a reminder to enjoy the little things in life, like the friendly bug who wishes you sweet dreams every time you turn off your lamp.

At this point you may be thinking, “No way. This chick does not actually wish a dead bug good night every night.” But if you saw Ned, you’d understand why I couldn’t just throw him away.

Well, come to think of it, you might not. But that doesn’t matter.

Back to the point – the car spider was nothing like Winston or Ned. It was more akin to Elsie, my cat who tries to suck out your soul with her eyes. Spidey stopped perfectly centered with the steering wheel and glared at me. Glared. And spiders have eight eyes or whatever, so that was a lot of glare. I was in an invertebrate stare down.

Turns out I had less of a backbone than the spider (which is saying a lot), because I broke the stare down first. If you recall, I was DRIVING. So I had to look out my window to, you know, not crash into stuff. But I wanted to keep an eye on the bugger, so I looked up and down and up and down to try to minimize the time that I didn’t have a visual on the predator.

Unfortunately, I hit one tricky curve, paid full attention to the road, and then when I looked back…no Spidey.

NO. SPIDEY.

It’s not like he got off at his stop and was trotting down the road. Nope. Spidey was hunting me from somewhere in my car, and now I didn’t even see him. Sniper Spidey.

So then I was looking all over the place and also driving, which was probably quite unsafe when I think about it.

When I finally found him again, he was halfway down the dashboard on the passenger side. I wanted to let go of the wheel and smash him, but I’d already been driving like a texting teenager. So I did a look-front-look-sideways combination all the way home. He started crawling toward me again, like, “Na-na-na-boo-boo. I know you can’t take your hands off that wheel.”

But then – fatal error – he didn’t see me put the car in park once I got to my driveway.

I’ll spare you the gory details, but Spidey ended. And I got home safely. So all’s well that ends well, and I didn’t have to explain to any cops why I was driving crazy.

Hang Up on Your Brain

Someone leaked my phone number to a world of telemarketers. In all honesty it was probably me, because I have the technological capabilities of a dumber-than-average goldfish. I’m sure I put my number on some form somewhere that said in small print, “Yes, I would like everyone who would like to sell anything on earth to contact me.”

But this is OKAY, friends, because I am developing an important skill: hanging up on people.

Not in a rude way, of course. Just something like, “I’m not interested…no, thank you for your time, but I’m still not interested… Actually, this isn’t a great time for me… Well, um, I’d prefer you don’t call back later, because I still won’t be interested then… Okay but really I have to go so I hope you have a great day but please don’t call this number again bye!”

CLICK

Now I’m going to make a metaphor out of telemarketers (never thought you’d see that, did you?). Brace yourself. *cracks my knuckles*

phone

All people, but especially mentally ill people, need to get a lot better at hanging up on our brains. Because I don’t know about you, but my brain tries to sell me an awful lot of crap that I don’t need. Too often, I keep listening way past the part where I should hang up on it.

Example:

Ring ring!

Me: Yes, hello?

Brain: Hi. I’m calling to inform you that you’re basically worthless.

Me: Oh, that’s kind of harsh. Are you sure I’m not worth anything?

Brain: Yep. Definitely sure. You’re a waste of the earth’s oxygen. 

Me: But wait, I thought maybe I was helpful to my family that one time when-

Brain: Nope, not helpful. They’d probably be better off without you.

Me: Now hold on…they say they love me!

Brain: They’re just saying that. They probably feel bad for you because you’re such a frickin nutter.

And then this internal conversation keeps going on, when really it should have gone like this:

Ring ring!

Me: Hello?

Brain: Hi. I’m calling to inform you that you’re basically worthless.

Me: Sorry, not interested.

CLICK

I’ve been trying this recently, and it’s been surprisingly helpful. I know the negative tracks that my brain likes to follow, and when I feel myself getting sucked into one of those familiar spirals, I’ve been literally thinking, “CLICK.” Then I immediately have an alternative track that I start thinking about or busy myself doing something else so that my annoying telemarketer brain can’t keep trying to convince me of things that are unhealthy.

That might be super weird, but hey – my blog, my rules. It’s been working for me, so I thought I’d share it in case it could help any of you.

What negative messages is your brain trying to sell you? You know the ones – the ones that start as a niggling thought in the back of your mind and end with you on the couch eating ice cream straight out of the carton while you binge watch a show you don’t even like. THOSE ones. Start hanging up on them as soon as they start.

CLICK.

It’s Not a Relapse – I’m Leveling Up

Bad news.

I mean, good news?

Well, NEWS.

I’m going back to therapy.

I haven’t been in over a year, and I was irrationally proud of that. Like, “Look at me! I’ve been successfully handling life all by myself for a YEAR! Look, Ma! No hands!” (As I then hide in the corner and hork down a handful of pharmaceuticals).

I’ve been struggling lately, so I decided to go back. I was initially frustrated with the decision and told Andy that it feels like a relapse. “I’ve been off therapy for a year,” I said. “It seems a shame to break my record.” Like therapy is some illicit drug that I went to rehab for and am now one-year clean.

“You’re not relapsing,” Andy said. “You’re leveling up.”

Say what?

He went on to explain that when I first went to therapy, I was extremely suicidal and was literally trying to survive. This time around, when I’m not suicidal, I can work on Level 2 therapy problems, which focus on how to deal with life now that I’m committed to living it.

Look at me! I’m at Level 2! That sounds way better than “relapse.”

Super Mario Brothers is the only video game I’ve ever played, but I think level 2 is the one underground with the blue turtles, right? Yep – this one:

level1-smb1d

I get fireballs, y’all. Who’s gonna hate on Level 2?? I’m a brick-smashing, coin collecting badass.

So I contacted my dealer (oops, I mean therapist) and asked if she would see me again. She said yes. Phewf! So at least I’m not going to have to start over with someone new.

Bring it on, Level 2!

My HSA Badge (and Other Perks of Adulting)

There’s a lady in my husband’s HR department who thinks I’m completely nuts.

To be fair, she isn’t wrong.

My husband recently started working for a company that has an HSA as part of the employee benefits package. Now, you probably already know what an HSA is, because you are a mature and financially savvy adult (which I am not). For anyone who doesn’t know…it’s a health savings account. Basically, his company puts money on a debit card that we can use to purchase health related things. HOW COOL IS THAT? It’s like free money to pay for the crap that you hate using your actual money for. Now I just need a GSA (grocery savings account), a CSA (car savings account), and a BOGFMIDLSA (Buying obligatory gifts for family members I don’t like savings account)

Anyway, because I’m on a ridiculous amount of pharmaceuticals, I figured I should learn how to use my new shiny HSA thingy to pay for them. I asked my husband, and he told me to call his HR department. That’s how I started chatting with Hayley.

Hayley is the type of person who probably laughed at some point in her life…but we can’t be sure about that, and it’s probably not ever going to happen again.

To be fair, I guess HSAs aren’t super hilarious.

So I called Hayley and asked her to explain the whole “HSA situation” to me. Where do I get the card? How does money get put on the card? How do I spend said money? Then she started talking about how we could put some money in from Andy’s paycheck that would then be tax free, and my mind was blown.

“Why didn’t I know about any of this?” I said on the phone. “They don’t cover this in school. You know what? There should be a class on adulting. It could cover all the things necessary to be an adult: HSAs, insurance, how to help your friends through a divorce, dealing with your in-laws, etc. That would be a great class, you know? I would take that class.”

“Ummm…sure,” said no-humor-Hayley. “That would be…cool.”

So then we talked about HSAs some more. Finally, after I learned all I needed to know about this magical card, I said, “Awesome, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I think I’ve now earned my HSA badge.”

“Badge?” I could almost see her eyebrows raise even though we were on the phone.

“Yeah. The adulting class I told you about? We’re going to have vests. Like girl scouts. And I just got my HSA badge. Later today maybe I’ll change the oil on my car, and I could get a badge for that too. I’ll have tons of badges.”

“Okay…”

Not even a snicker.

I wanted to yell, “HAYLEY! I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT REAL BADGES! THIS IS A JOKE, EVEN THOUGH IT WOULD BE SO COOL IF I COULD ACTUALLY HAVE AN ADULTING VEST. I OBVIOUSLY CAN’T BECAUSE THE COST TO PRODUCE THE VEST AND EMBROIDER ALL THE BADGES WOULD BE COST PROHIBITIVE TO EARNING MY ‘FINANICALLY SAVVY’ BADGE, WHICH IS ONE I’VE BEEN AFTER FOR A WHILE!” But I didn’t say that because she clearly wouldn’t get it. Instead I just said, “Knock knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“Audi”

“Audi who?”

“ADIOS! HAHAHAHA.”

And then I hung up the phone.

Okay fine. I admit I didn’t do that knock knock joke. But I should have.

Come on, y’all. Who wouldn’t love a class on adulting? And badges for our adulting vests?? What badge would you want? Tell me in the comments. 😊

I’m Emotionally Immature and I’M NOT MATURE ENOUGH TO HANDLE THIS!

He he…okay, yes I am mature enough to handle it. Because recognizing the issue is the first step, right? I mean…RIGHT?

HEY! GIVE ME VALIDATION TO STRENGTHEN MY BUBBLE-THIN SELF ESTEEM!

Oops, there I go again – making jokes to cover up an underlying layer of mental fragility. But who doesn’t like, jokes? HMMMMM?? I’M HILARIOUS. EVEN IF ONLY I THINK SO.

Hold up. Is speaking in excessive capital letters a sign of emotional immaturity? Let me check.

*switches tabs a second*

I guess that would fall under “over-exuberance.” Fine. No more capital letters. I’m getting rid of them all. Sayonara, over-exuberance.

(side note: spell-check wants to change “sayonara” to “savonarola.” wtf is “savonarola”?)

on wednesday night, i totally embarrassed myself in front of my pastor. that’s a long story that ends with, “and then i quickly said goodnight and excused myself to the other room to curl up in a chair and wonder why i can’t ever act like a normal human adult.” then, when i talked to my husband, i said, “seriously. why do i act like i’m twelve? i think i’m emotionally stunted or something.”

and do you know what he said? DO YOU KNOW WHAT HE SAID? (oops, sorry. the capitals leaked out)

he said, “eh, maybe. but that’s okay. it’s a common symptom of bipolar disorder.”

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(is excessive punctuation over-exuberant?)

so then I said, “what?!” all freaking out. not offended, really, but just mad that i really might be emotionally stunted, and it might be due to my obnoxious brain. like, my occasional childishness isn’t a quirky piece of my personality – it’s a flaw due to my dysfunctional body. i don’t want a flaw! i want a quirk!

so i immediately got online and googled this to see if he’s right. not that he’s usually wrong…he’s got a doctorate, he’s taken abnormal psych classes, and he (clearly) knows more about my disorder than i do. sure enough – there it was. emotional immaturity can be a symptom of bp.

things started clicking into place like when you arrange random scrabble tiles and they start to form words. maybe my emotional maturity is why i’m such a good middle school teacher…because i’m as mature as my students. perhaps this explains my consistent low self-esteem and need for near-constant validation from people, accomplishments, etc. does this explain my low resiliency and inability to handle change effectively? is this why i can’t handle scary movies – because people under seventeen shouldn’t watch rated r movies and i’m not emotionally that old yet?

here’s a super embarrassing secret: i really like stuffed animals. one time i told my psychiatrist, “hey, when i’m about to have a panic attack, sometimes i can hold a stuffed animal really tight and literally feel calmer and comforted by it. but then i feel like i’m about three years old because i was comforted by a stuffed animal…is that weird? should i be concerned by that?”

my ever-practical psych answered with, “if you have a way to calm yourself down, do it. if you’ve found a strategy that works, don’t question it – be thankful that you have it.” which is true, i guess. i’d rather get drunk or something, but that’s not advisable for people on my meds…or people with bp…or really, people in general. so i’ve got a stuffed panda instead of jack daniels.

judge away, friends. judge away. just don’t tell me about it, because clearly i’m not emotionally mature enough to handle criticism.

blog

can i have my capital letters back if i promise not to be over-exuberant anymore? the lack of proper capitalization is hurting my eyes.

You’re cool with it? Okay. Thanks.

Anyway, my husband seemed super unconcerned by this. He said, “I love you just the way you are. I love that you get excited about things. I love how much fun you are, and your challenges don’t bother me.”

To which I responded, “But if I’m secretly twelve, it’s like you’re having sex with a twelve-year-old. That’s messed up.”

He put his hand to his forehead. “Oh my word, Haze. You’re not secretly twelve. You just might have more emotional challenges than some other people, and that’s totally fine.”

Totally. Fine.

HA!

Not fine. But then I looked up ways to increase my emotional maturity – how to age myself like a fine wine – and it looks kind of impossible and/or boring. For example, lose my over exuberance? Like I have to hand over all of my capital letters and my birthday tiara? NO THANK YOU.

On the other hand, it would probably be in my best interests in increase my self-esteem and be able to handle change better. But that seems like something I’d have to go to therapy for, and I’ve been trying to stay out of therapy. I haven’t gone in over a year. I’d really rather pretend I don’t have these problems.

Wait. Hold on. *switches tabs again*

Shoot. “Unwillingness to face reality” is another symptom.

Arrrrrghhh!

Okay fine. I might be a little emotionally immature. And I might have a little bit of bipolar disorder. There. I faced reality. I’m growing up now. I faced reality, and it’s ugly. U-G-L-Y it ain’t got no alibi!

No wait, now I’m going backwards.

*facepalm*

Why I’m (Sort of) Thankful for Bipolar Disorder

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! This morning I came across a post on bphope.com titled “I Am Thankful for Bipolar” (You can read it HERE). My thought before reading the article was, “Uhhhh…no. You, my blogger friend on bp hope, are clearly even more nuts than me.” But as I started reading, I realized that maybe there are pieces to be thankful for. And, on this national day of thanks, I thought maybe I’d try it. Can I really be thankful for what seems like the worst thing that’s ever happened to me? Well….maybe yes. I’m going to give it a shot, anyway. And it’s like coping with bipolar itself – you don’t go from “my life is over” to “total acceptance” in one day. I haven’t even gotten there in two years. But maybe I can baby step my way to this thankfulness thing. So, here we go:

REASONS WHY I’M SORT OF THANKFUL FOR BIPOLAR DISORDER

1. I learned what true love is. My husband has always been a great man, but now I am truly humbled and blown away by how much he has been there for me. The lesson I’ve learned is this: true love isn’t roses and diamonds. True love is when I was hiding in my closet because I was scared during a panic attack, and he found me, wedged himself into my tiny closet even though he totally doesn’t fit, and said, “I’ll just hang out here because it’s hard to be scared alone.” Umm…HEART-EYED EMOJI. That’s what love looks like, my friends.

2. I learned who my real friends are. Turns out I had a lot of fake friends, and I didn’t even know it. You would be shocked at how many people drop off the map as soon as they learn you’re bipolar (no, you probably wouldn’t be shocked. Most of the people reading this are my mentally ill friends, so YOU KNOW). But I’ve had friends who have been there for me in huge ways. It’s like I threw all my friends into a colander and saw who came out on the other side still with me. Now I know who to count on when things get rough.

3. It humbled me. Looking at the first two items on my list, you can see that I’ve needed a lot of help and support. Everyone does. I used to live under this delusion that I was fine by myself. Literally my first sentence as a toddler was, “I can do it” because I was mad that someone was trying to help me into my high chair. Well, newsflash, baby me: you need help. We all need help. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we’ll stop running ourselves into the ground trying to do the impossible.

4. It taught me about hope. If you’ve ever felt depression, you know the crushing darkness of the word “hopeless.” But that also means that hope, when you find it, is the most glorious treasure imaginable. It’s like people not appreciating the sun unless they’ve seen the rain. Friends, I HAVE SEEN THE RAIN. But then I have also seen the sun peek out from behind the clouds, and I’m able to see that with a joy that people who have always been stable would never be able to experience.

5. It helps me see life as a second chance. A suicide attempt is never good. Ever. But the fact that I tried to take my life two years ago means that every day I live now is part of a second chance. I really see it that way – I am thankful for every good experience because I occasionally realize, “I almost missed this.” Also, I see life as fragile, and I am determined to make the most of the second chance I have. I don’t waste experiences like I may have if I took it for granted that I’d live to be old.

6. It changed my view on mental illness. When I was on SSRIs for depression and they never worked, I started thinking that maybe most mental illnesses were just people not handling life well and looking for a scapegoat. HA. I was wrong. I don’t need to explain this to you, but mental illness is very real. You know that, now I know that, and some of my family members and friends know that now too. I’ve raised awareness for these issues with my life. Maybe people know a little more now, and it can make other people with mental illness experience 1% less stigma than they would have otherwise. That’s a definite win.

7. It gave me a book to write. I’ve always loved writing, but since being diagnosed, I’ve written my best book yet. It’s about a high school girl with bp. I just finished revising it about a month ago, and I’ve had eight agents request the full manuscript. Keep your fingers crossed for me that it sells – I could be raising awareness on a larger scale if this book were to be published.

8. It gave me YOU! You blog people are some of the finest people I’ve known. You’re supportive, you’re not judgy, you’ll laugh with me, you’ll cry with me, and I can feel infinitely less alone in this struggle. Thanks for being there. I’m thankful for literally each person reading this post. For many of you, I read your stuff too, and I love it. Thank you for writing. If not for my bp, I never would have met you.

9. It made me who I am. In a book I once read, a girl with Asperger’s said that her disorder saved her from “the banality of normalcy.” I like that quote. Even though sometimes I wish for “normal” more than I want anything else, I do have to admit that normal can be boring. Whatever this illness is, it is NOT boring. I’m wild, I’m goofy, I’m a creative writer…who knows how much of that is tied to the way my brain works? I wouldn’t want to lose any of those things, so if any of them are connected to my freaky brain chemistry, then I’m thankful for that.

There you have it. The reasons why I’m sort-of thankful for bipolar disorder. Here’s your challenge for the day: take that thing that’s making your life difficult (you know – that one thing – we all have them), and find a way to be thankful. If you can’t be thankful, find a way to be sort-of thankful. Today of all days is a good day to give it a try. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

thankful brain

Now my kitchen smells like smoke, which means I probably forgot about something cooking – eeeep!

Worth it. 🙂

I Didn’t Technically Lie to the Pastor’s Wife

Here’s the thing: I might be a little depressed. A little.

BUT I’M MOSTLY FINE.

I hate admitting I’m depressed, because then everyone freaks out and goes on high alert and treats me like some infant invalid. But I think I might be a little depressed. I finally admitted it to myself a few days ago when my husband suggested we rake leaves together. He definitely didn’t need the help raking leaves…he just knew he wasn’t going to get me to go for a walk, and he said some fresh air would be good for me.

Then I said, “Ugh. I don’t want to rake leaves. There are so many STEPS to raking leaves!”

“Steps?” He gave a confused glance to my FitBit.

I sighed. “Not those kind of steps. Think about it. In order to rake leaves, I would have to…step 1: get out of bed. Step 2: walk over to my closet and pick a sweater, because it’s cold. Step 3: Find some gloves. Who on earth knows where I might find gloves? Step 4: Walk downstairs. Step 5: Put on shoes. Step 6: Go outside and actually do raking of said leaves. There are so many steps.”

He smiled a strained smile and said, “Okay, yes, that’s a lot of steps. But I’ll be there with you for all of them! So….step one. How about you get out of bed?”

So I did. And I did all of the steps. And we raked leaves. But it shouldn’t have felt as monumental as our (ginormous) pile of leaves to be able to do those things.

I was supposed to lead a Bible study on Saturday, but I texted the pastor’s wife and asked if she could cover me because I “haven’t been feeling well.” WHICH WAS TOTALLY TRUE. Except I wasn’t puking or anything, so I felt really shady about bailing. I told my husband as much, and he said, “Aren’t we always saying that people need to regard mental illnesses as real illnesses? Then you need to regard it as a real illness too. If you’re not feeling well mentally, you’re not feeling well. It wasn’t lying.”

So I think it wasn’t lying.

(?)

But then I realized maybe I haven’t been doing so well, because one of the ladies in the church group was a little concerned about me. I didn’t show up to church last week, or our committee meeting on Tuesday, and then I bailed on the Bible study. She asked if I was okay.

Sure. Of course. I’m fine. Even though I missed all of those because I was in bed…

As I said, I think I might be a little depressed.

My focus is super off… I’m still showing up to work, but I’m making DUMB mistakes like forgetting about quizzes or completely blanking on things I should know. The other day I was reading answers to something and I read the answers to numbers 16…17…18… and then started back at 13. My students were all confused and asked why I just skipped back five problems. Oh, did I? I had no idea.

Arrrrghh!

So…..what do I do now? Wait for this to be over? It’s been about two weeks. It’s a lot of crying and sleeping. If I call my doctor she’ll make me take more or different meds. I HATE MEDS. And this will probably go away soon. As a matter of fact, I feel better today. Maybe I won’t take a nap when I get home.

MAYBE I’M MAGICALLY FINE NOW AND I WASN’T DEPRESSED AT ALL.

People who have been here before – holla at me. What do I do?

cat help

I’m in the Wrong Coffee Shop

I’m working on a craaaaaazy stressful revision project right now (Pitch Wars, for those of you familiar with the publishing Twittersphere). I always work at a coffee shop near my house – we’ll call it Fifth Shore. I love the coffee shop. It’s a hipster, let’s-compare-our-tattoos, the barista has purple hair and goes by the name “Mojo” kind of coffee shop. I’m pretty sure I could get a whole stack of Coexist stickers simply by raiding people’s backpacks. Also maybe drugs. Whichever.

Not that I want drugs. Also I have no tattoos (YET). Don’t ask me why I love the place so much. I think it’s a combination of the fact that I never run into anyone I know there, and seriously the people are so cool. I love talking to them. They’re totally different than me, and they’re mostly awesomer. I know awesomer isn’t a word, but I bet I could use it at Fifth Shore because anything goes.

The problem is that people are starting to discover Fifth Shore. It’s a little hole in the wall place, but now it’s getting popular. When I went in today, I literally couldn’t find a place to sit. I wanted to yell, “Excuse me, I was here before this was cool. All you bandwagon fans can leave now. No, not you, Man Bun. You can stay. You fit in. And you, with the leopard tail coming off the back of  your pants, you can stay too. But the rest of you – out!”

(Side note: there was really a guy with a leopard tail coming off the back of his pants. See why this place is so awesomer than other places??)

So now I’m across town at a different coffee shop. I almost went to – gasp – Starbucks, but I just couldn’t. It would have been the opposite vibe from my beloved Fifth Shore. I don’t want to listen to well-dressed baristas loudly mispronounce names to let the local richie riches know that their tall-double-lattee-no-whip-extra-pretentious is ready. No one there would have a leopard tail. How could I possibly get writing done in a place that reeks of financially and culturally successful humans?

(This is the part where my husband would say, “Hazel. You’ve got issues.”)

So now I’m at this new place, we’ll call it Coffee Avenue, and it’s okay. It’s a lot of hippie Millenials on their MacBookPros. The place markets itself as being all local, fresh, and organic. I have nothing against organic food, but this seems like overkill. The Wifi password is “Freshcrops.” Not joking. Someone just called from the counter, “Who ordered the tofu burrito?”

Tofu. Burrito.

They also charge a dollar more for tea, but I guess that’s because it’s so very local and fresh and organic. Unfortunately, they don’t have my right flavor (Mango Ceylon), so that threw me off too. I had to try a whole new tea. I got peach – what is this madness?

If you can’t tell, I get a little crazy about my routines. Now my groove is all off. I’m probably going to write junk. Don’t hit up my comments section with, “How dare you impune the hallowed name of Starbucks!?” or “Tofu burritos are the best thing ever!” I get it, okay? Everyone has their thing. There’s a coffee shop for all of us. If this post is offensive or otherwise crappy, it’s because MY COFFEE SHOP IS FULL AND HOW ON EARTH AM I SUPPOSED TO WRITE WITHOUT IT?!?!?!

I should forget the whole thing and go buy a leopard tail.