When My “Sparkly Brain” Pukes

Sometimes my brain pukes out on me.  I’m not sure why this happens or even exactly what goes on when it does.  It’s this weird thing where I’m not in a distinct episode of depression or mania, I’m not having a panic attack, but I also can’t think straight at all.  My brain gets “swirly and sparkly,” which is apparently what I told Andy last night.  When I tell him I’m “not doing so great,” he knows exactly what that means.  I frequently go sit in the closet when this happens (don’t ask me why…), and I’ll sometimes write rambling weird things on bits of notebook paper.  It’s strange to look at it the next day, because even my handwriting changes when I write in this state.  It’s very, very weird.

Last night I apparently had no notebook paper, but I did have my phone.  I logged on to WordPress and typed the following “blog post.”  I was going to delete it today because it was so strange, but then I thought, “Well, this is kind of an interesting look at what’s going on when my brain is AWOL.”  I ran it by Andy today and asked, “Is this really how I talk when I’m not doing great?”  He read it and said, “Yeah, that’s exactly what you sound like, except all of that should be in caps because a lot of times you’re yelling.”

“I do not yell,” I said, indignant, as if I had a clear memory of last night (I never have a clear memory of these episodes, which is terrifying in and of itself).

“It’s not like you’re angry,” he said.  “You’re just…really loud.  Sometimes yelling.  I don’t know.  It’s just how it goes.”

Sounds pretty awful.  Glad I don’t remember a lot of it.  My mental illness guru readers – any clues on what’s going on here??  I would love some insight.   Anyway, here’s last night’s literary genius:

Sometimes I can’t think right.  I say the same things over and over again.  I keep saying them.  I say them over and over again I do not know why I keep saying them.  It’s like I have to say it one more time.  One more time.  One more time.  I don’t know why.  It makes me feel a little bit better to keep saying them.  It’s weird.  I think I’m a bit mad.  I mean, I know I am, but sometimes I also feel that way.  That’s very strange.  Then I think and speak in ridiculous run-on sentences when – HELLO – I am an English teacher and avoid run-on sentences almost as much as I avoid sushi, which is an awful lot because I really really hate sushi.  I am telling you I really hate it. You have no idea.  I hate it a lot.  A lot.  So I avoid it

And then I sit in the dark typing blog posts on my phone, but I have to go back every two words because my brain types much faster than my fingers even though obviously my brain isn’t typing so what I end up with is a jumbled mess of auto corrects that I have to fix because maybe I can’t stop thinking in run-ons, but I’ll be damned if I’m also going to let this thing be riddled with typos.

Wanna see what happens if I type without rereading?  Here:  this iswhay happens when I’m typing without feedstock and unfeeling like ohm going at a normal typing speed but obseear to you that my normal texts arntw so humpback and what the duck jab an overeat anyway because THAT MAKES DNO SWNSE.

So.  There’s that.  A bit disconcerting.  Trying to be intelligible forces me to slow down at least.  Maybe I should stop typing this in the dark and go take a shower.  Who can be stressed in the shower?  I mean, it at least puts a damper on things.  Okay.  I’m gonna do that.   Hazel out. (Like Ryan Seacrest – does anyone else remember that?? Man, American Idol was my life.  I wish Clay Aiken’s devastating second place finish was still my biggest problem).

Brilliant, no? *eyeroll*  Anyway, wherever my brain decided to escape to last night, it’s back now.  That’s good.  I wish I could find a way to lock it down and keep it from leaving me in a lurch again.

That Time When Someone Said the Right Thing

It’s not easy being crazy.

It’s even harder when it’s a secret.

Secrets have weight.  Some secrets are relatively light: “I’m the one who ate the last piece of cake that one time” or “I’m actually three pounds heavier than what I told you.”  Some secrets are heavy.  Having bipolar disorder is a heavy secret.

Not many people know my heavy secret.  I’ve changed my last name for this blog so that my students and friends won’t stumble upon it (and really, “Hillboro” is a cool last name anyway.  Let me pretend).  Keeping my secret is a good thing for now, maybe forever, but it comes with its challenges.  One of them is that people say really stupid crap that they would never say if they knew I have a mental illness.  They make jokes about moody people being bipolar.  They joke about cutting themselves and killing themselves when it is so, so not funny.  I’ve had multiple nurse friends talk about their mentally ill patients like they are sub-human, when I don’t see why those patients have any less worth than their otherwise-ill peers.  It’s strange.  I think people would be more sensitive if they knew, but it makes me see the world through new eyes.  Did I ever make those kinds of jokes?  Is that how I viewed people with mental illness?  I certainly hope not, but I also don’t remember.  It’s tough to remember what life was like a decade ago, before I started down this road.

Last week, I was riding with my brother-in-law to Ann Arbor for something he had to do for dental school.  He needed someone to ride along, and I said sure.  My in-laws are 89% cool, but none of them know my secret.  They’re the kind of family that doesn’t talk about problems.  We talk about the weather and recipes and baseball games.  It’s the all-American family, and I don’t want to wreck the magic by having a mental illness.  My husband is a great support, but I think his family would be horrified and completely lost on what to do with that information.  Anyway, they’re all in the dark.

While I rode with Jake to Ann Arbor, I asked how his girlfriend is doing in nursing school (she is scheduled to graduate next year).  He said she’s doing fine and that she’s working in a psych ward rotation this quarter.  I immediately wished I hadn’t asked, because I was pretty sure I didn’t want to hear anything he was about to say.  I couldn’t completely shut down and stop talking, so I said, “Oh. Ummm…how’s that?”

“It’s hard,” he said.

“I can imagine,” I replied, staring out the window.  I was suddenly very interested in the highway.  I wanted this conversation shut down NOW.  Jake elaborated on his previous statement even thought I hadn’t asked him to continue.

“She says it’s mostly sad,” he said.  “Like, her first day there, she worked on someone who looked just like her mom.  She realized that these patients are real people, you know?  Just like us – with families and dreams and stuff. Most of her patients are voluntarily admitted.  They’re not dangerous or anything – they’re just sick.  It’s like any other sickness, but it’s in their brain.  People don’t understand that, which bugs her.  And me.  People need to get that it’s just a sickness.  They need help just like someone who has liver disease.  But it has to be so scary to have an illness in your brain, because you can’t even think straight.  Wouldn’t that be scary?  I hope that never happens to us.”

“Me neither,” I automatically said, even though that probably would have been a great time to say, “Well, actually… I sort of do know what that feels like…”  I was too stunned.  No one – no one – has ever said anything like that about mental illness to me.  Especially someone who doesn’t know I have one.  Occasionally people will say encouraging things when they already know my secret, but then I always feel like maybe they’re just saying that because they feel obligated.

I was embarrassed to find my eyes filling with tears because I was so-freaking-happy to hear someone say what Jake just said.  I wanted to hug him.  I was glad he was driving and couldn’t see me getting all emotional in the passenger seat.  I immediately texted Andy and asked, “Does Jake know the secret?”  I figured maybe this was Jake’s way to try to get me to open up about a secret he already knew.  No one could actually hold that logical of an opinion about mental illness, could they?  Andy texted back, “No, I told you I wouldn’t tell anyone, and I haven’t.  Why – did he say something stupid?”  I laughed because Andy immediately thought his brother said something dumb.

“No,” I texted back. “What he said was perfect.”

Why Teaching Junior High and Having Bipolar Disorder are Basically the Same Thing

Don’t ask me why I teach junior high.  I guess I fell into it, people started telling me I was good at it, and for some odd reason I find it fun.  I’m also certifiably crazy, so there’s that. Perhaps that’s the best explanation for why I thrive in junior high: I’m nuts.  Junior high kids are their own special brand of crazy.  Most of them will grow out of it.  I suppose I just didn’t.

Since being diagnosed with bipolar disorder last fall, I’ve been on a revolving cocktail of medications and therapies that are slowly bringing me to a place of stability.  I texted my husband last week and said, “The more sane I get, the weirder these kids seem.”  Because they are so. very. weird.

Do you know what else is weird?  Mental illness.  And, in possibly the weirdest simile ever created, here is why teaching junior high is like having bipolar disorder:

1. Everything is extreme.  The things I hear kids say on a daily basis are some of the same things that my brain has told me at various states of depression and mania: “This is the BEST DAY EVER!” or “My life is COMPLETELY OVER!” or “MY LIFE IS PERFECT!” or “EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD IS TERRIBLE!”  Bipolar disorder is frequently thinking in capital letters.  Lots of capital letters.  Junior high kids don’t only think in capital letters; they speak in them too.

2. Other people don’t get it.  When people find out that I teach junior high, they have one of two reactions: they either get a completely baffled look on their face and say, “Ummm…why would you do that?!” or they look sympathetic and say, “Oh, bless you.  You must be a saint. I could never do that.”  Seriously.  Those are the only two reactions.  Next time someone asks what you do for a living, tell them you teach junior high.  I bet you $10 that you’ll get one of those two reactions.  It’s actually a bit creepy how everyone says the same two things. Anyway, I get variations on those two reactions when I’ve told people about my bipolar disorder.  Most of them are super confused because they don’t know what it is, or they have gross misconceptions about it.  Other people start crying (literally) and act like I’ve just told them I have terminal cancer.  I mean, I’m not going to lie…bipolar disorder sucks, but it doesn’t help when people act like I’ve just been handed a death sentence.  People don’t get why I teach junior high, and they also have no idea how I’ll live with bipolar disorder.  Trust me, both can be done.  I’m doing both of them.

3. Sometimes I wish everyone would please shut up.  I cannot tell you how many times a day I hear, “Mrs. Hillboro!  Mrs. Hillboro!”  I answer to that name quicker than to Hazel, for sure.  In my life, I get called Mrs. Hillboro at least twenty times more than I get called Hazel.  That is not an exaggeration.  Anyway, when my students are working on a project or asking me questions in between classes, five or six of them will all start talking to me at once.  They have no concept of taking turns or waiting for someone to be finished talking.  It’s a very egocentric age group.  Sometimes I want to yell, “EVERYONE LEAVE ME ALONE!!”  Obviously, that’s a bit…erm…unprofessional, so I don’t do that.  When everyone’s talking, though, sometimes it reminds me of my brain.  When my thoughts start racing, it’s like I have five hundred things to think about all at once and I can’t think fast enough to get to them all.  My brain starts doing this weird jittery thing where I think about everything for about 0.2 seconds each before moving on to the next thing, and I can’t actually concentrate on anything.  I want to yell at my thoughts, “EVERYONE LEAVE ME ALONE!” but I can’t because they (like junior high students) are very loud, obnoxious, and persistent.

4. The little things become big things.  In junior high, everything is a big deal.  You have a zit and picture day is next week?  Well, you’d better freak out and try every single home-remedy zit cream Google can give you.  You’d better worry constantly from now until next week because if you have a zit on picture day, obviously everyone will hate you, you’ll be a social outcast, you’ll never get a boyfriend, and you might as well start adopting cats now because THAT’S ALL YOU’LL EVER HAVE FOR COMPANIONSHIP!  Obviously, all of the worrying will probably cause more zits instead of fewer, and you basically just shot yourself in the foot.  Call PetSmart and start stocking up on MeowMix.  Perhaps this pertains more to an anxiety disorder than bipolar disorder, but I have a hard time differentiating my crazy.  Sorry.  Anyway, sometimes I get fixated on one thing, and I absolutely cannot calm down about it until it’s solved.  I need to pay an insurance bill?  Well then, I need to pay that RIGHT THIS MINUTE, because if I wait until after work I’ll probably forget, and when I forget then I’ll probably get distracted and forget tomorrow too, and when I keep forgetting then they’ll eventually discontinue coverage, and that will be the exact moment that I get into a terrible accident and look like one of those cartoon characters all wrapped up in bandages like a mummy with their leg in one of those lift things by a hospital bed.  That’s what will happen if I don’t pay this bill RIGHT NOW, so I need to use my lunch hour to do it and probably need a teacher to cover the first ten minutes of my fifth hour class in order to get it done.  It’s like my mind has no “back burner.”  I can’t table that issue until later.  It will bother me and sensationalize itself until I just-freaking-do-it.

5. It’s a bonding agent for those of us that understand.  When I meet another junior high teacher, we are instantly friends.  That’s the truth of the situation.  Even if they’re a horrible person and we have nothing else in common…oh,they teach junior high?  Besties.  Not many people understand the intricacies of this job.  It’s nothing like teaching elementary school, but it’s also not like teaching high school.  It’s its own little universe, and not many adults live there.  Similarly, people who struggle with mental illness can understand each other in a way that other people can’t.  If someone struggles with bipolar disorder specifically, then suddenly I want to talk to them for hours.  I want to know everything they’re willing to tell me.  More often than not, we have a lot in common and it is so comforting to realize that yes, having bipolar disorder is isolating and feels like it’s own universe, but guess what?  Other intelligent life exists there too.  Let’s find each other and build a colony, because then we can all make it through this wasteland.

6. Sometimes it’s confusing beyond all reason.  I’ve been in this profession and with this age group for quite a few years now, and still there are days when I find myself thinking, “What?  What just happened?”  The kid stuck his testicle in another kid’s eyeball?  A student just crashed a teacher’s car into the creek by the school?  Someone brought his cat to school, and the cat just had explosive diarrhea in the hall?  WHAT?  (Those are all true examples, by the way).  One of the best and worst parts of my job is that you never really know what’s going to happen next.  It’s the same way with bipolar disorder.  Once you think you’ve got everything under control – BOOM – curve ball.  Something totally unexpected happens.  I have a delusional panic attack.  I need to switch meds again.  Old thought patters resurface out of nowhere.  I think the only standard is that I’ve come to expect lots of curve balls (both in teaching and in having a mental illness).  This is probably a good thing, really  You can be a lot better at catching them when you’re expecting them.

There you have it: why teaching junior high and having bipolar disorder are basically the same thing.  I’m already pretty good at the first one, but it took a few years to get there.  I’m sure I’ll eventually be alright at the second one too.

This Squirrel and I Refuse to Do This Day

I got home from work today, dropped all of my crap on the couch where it isn’t supposed to go, and went to check the mail.  It was only bills and a flyer from some political dude who wants me to vote for him in November.  To that dude: it’s April.  Asking for my vote in April means you’re an on-the-ball overachiever type, so I don’t like you.  I am making a mental note not to vote for you because you were harassing me six months before I prefer to be politically harassed.

I let the dogs outside and then put some meat in the microwave to defrost for dinner.  The digital green numbers told me I had twelve minutes and forty-seven seconds before my meat would be ready.  That seemed quite specific, but I wasn’t about to argue with my microwave.

Okay, twelve minutes and forty-seven seconds.  I considered what I could do with this time chunk.  I could probably do the dishes, except that I don’t like doing dishes.  I could put some laundry in, but that would mean going upstairs and scavenging around to find all of my dirty clothes. I could take a shower, but then I’d have to leave my hair all wet and towel-wrinkled.  Everyone knows you have to have time to dry your hair or taking a shower is practically pointless.  I could clean the dining room, but…umm…the dining room looked very content the way it was.

Finally I went to the window seat in my living room.  One of the walls in my living room is covered completely in (full) built-in bookshelves, and it has a window seat carved out in the middle.  It’s my favorite place in the whole world.  I curled up with a pillow on my seat and looked out the window.  I was going to take a quick break before getting back to my chores (Which I was FOR SURE going to get back to, because come on – I had almost thirteen minutes.  It was fine to take a two-minute break).

I watched a squirrel across the street doing squirrel things (I’m not sure exactly what they do all day…mostly swish their tails around and try to dodge cars).  He climbed partway up a tree and then decided against it and came back down.  He scampered across the street to our yard and climbed up on our fence.  He stood on the fence, alert for a moment, and then must have decided, “Forget it.  I’m over this day.”  This is what he did:


This squirrel was inspirational.  I thought, “You know what, squirrel?  I’m not going to do this day either!”  So I watched him, and he watched me, and we were mutually lazy for a little while when all of a sudden the microwave pinged.

I about fell off of my window seat.  It had already been twelve minutes and forty-seven seconds!?  That was impossible!  Sure enough, my meat was done.  Because I’d already defrosted the meat, I went ahead and made dinner.  I went back to check on the squirrel at some point, but he was gone.

Now it’s almost bedtime.  I didn’t do the dishes, I didn’t do my laundry, the dining room is still messy, and I haven’t even showered yet…which I should probably actually do…

Nope.  Channeling my inner lazy squirrel.  I can shower in the morning.  It’s a “lay on the fence” kind of day.  Trees will still be standing tomorrow.  There will still be cars to dodge.  This squirrel and I are bucking the system and taking the night off.

The Final Moment, Tokyo Drifting, and Marlboros

Have you ever seen a little girl playing on a beach near the water, back turned toward the ocean, happily playing in the sand?  Suddenly, out of nowhere, a huge wave hits the girl and sends her rolling across the beach.  This causes her to look surprised, dazed, and varying degrees of upset.  That’s what it feels like to have painful memories triggered.  You think you’re finally putting your life back together, you think you’re doing better, but you see or hear something and suddenly everything you’re trying to forget comes back in screaming color.

It’s a lot like the game Chutes and Ladders – remember that one?  You’re plunking along one square at a time, trying to get to the top of the board, when – BAM! – you suddenly hit a chute and slide all the way back to square two.  Then you’re like, “WTF?!  I’ve been climbing this whole-frickin-board just to undo all that work by slipping on one stupid chute?!”


Life has a lot of chutes.  I wish there were ladders in real life, where something happens and suddenly you make ALL THE PROGRESS.

Real life doesn’t have ladders.  You have to take that motherfucker one square at a time.

There are a lot of things that momentarily (or not-so-momentarily) knock me down.  Three specific memories are the trinity of go-away-I-don’t-want-to-think-about-that.  I went three for three today.  I’m haunted by three-for-three on most days, to be honest. I’m hoping that maybe by writing them out I can try to overcome them.  It’s like when you get a song stuck in your head, and you finally think, “Okay, I’ll listen to the ENTIRE STUPID SONG, and then it won’t be in my head anymore.”  It always works for me, anyway.

The first and most difficult memory for me is the day I tried to kill myself.  It’s closely linked with my diagnosis of bipolar disorder, another memory I would love to erase.  This memory is triggered by a lot of things (if this is going to be a memory trigger for you, feel free to skip it.  I won’t be offended.  Promise.)  Today it was triggered by a story about a person whose friend asked if he could get together and talk.  The guy didn’t make time to talk to that person, and two days later the person killed himself.

When I hear of people killing themselves, I suddenly remember how it feels to be there.  I remember the desperation, the certainty that there is no way out, the days and weeks of spiraling into an existence that I didn’t even recognize, and then finally that moment – that final moment – when I felt an intense rush of calm, a relief in knowing that it was finally going to be over and I wouldn’t have to fight anymore.  In a very twisted way, everything was finally okay.  A tragic ending is still an ending.  The book would finally be closed.

Of course, that did not end up being my final moment, but it so easily could have been.  I’m not always thankful that it wasn’t.  Either way, I remember how it felt.  I feel like I have an idea what suicidal people went through right at the end.  I want to hug them and I want to be them and I want to make sure that no one on earth ever has to feel that way.

The second memory that’s rough for me is my time in Tokyo.  Today I went to a restaurant that had a Tokyo Drift arcade game.  The front of the game showed, in vivid colors, the lights and buildings and rush of Tokyo.  It had Japanese characters behind the English words, and it momentarily transported me back to that time last summer.  It was the time when that other American guy fell head-over-heels for me even though I’m very decidedly taken.  It was when I fell a little bit for him too.  It was when we got lost in Tokyo and he was the only one who understood me (not metaphorically here – literally.  I couldn’t speak to any other people or understand any of the foreign chatter around me.)  It was when, among the lights and unreadable neon signs and a movie-perfect sudden rain shower, he tried to kiss me.  It was when I said no.  It was when we got back to our hotel, and he threw me up against the side of the wall in the elevator to try again.  I still said no, I pushed him away, and I got scared.  He didn’t stop trying to get me to say yes until I left, and every time he told me how perfect I was and how beautiful I was and how not-like-other-girls I was, my resolve weakened by one percent.  I knew he was a player, I wanted to get away from him, but I literally could not.  There were only a few people in our grant team, and neither of us would be released from our grant obligations until July 10.  Even though I knew this guy was trying to achieve a goal he wouldn’t reach, it was still nice to hear his torrents of praise (mostly because I’m an awful person, that’s why).  He kept telling me sweet, delicious lies, and I started trying to figure out how many percents of resolve I had left and how many days and how many hours I had until I could get on that plane and go home where no one would make me eat sushi and I would once again be in the arms of my husband.  I wanted to be back in a place that was familiar, where nice guys don’t try to sleep with you and boys aren’t walking around masquerading as men.

Speaking of boys masquerading as men, my third memory is about my husband’s cousin.  I used to be good friends with this guy.  I trusted him.  He was a groomsman in our wedding, for goodness sake.  I’ve been friends with him since he was fourteen, which is when my husband and I started dating.  He’s like my little brother.

Imagine my surprise on the night he tried to kiss me.

It was also last summer.  Unlike the aforementioned Tokyo situation, in this case there were no mutual feelings whatsoever.  He’s family, so it’s tough to avoid running into him or remembering him.  His sister posted something on facebook today about how he’s such a great uncle to her kids and how they want him to come visit soon.  It was just a facebook post.  Innocent enough.  Suddenly, however, my mind was flooded with the image of the harsh convenience storefront lights battling the darkness of the night sky.  I was on the back of his motorcycle.  He’d stopped for cigarettes.  Marlboros.  In my world, betrayal smells like Marlboros.

It was that night that this guy, one of my best guy friends, a “safe” person trusted by my husband and by me because – hello – he is family, shattered that trust as easily and as irreparably as throwing a vase to the ground.  He was stone-cold sober, and yet he still tried to kiss me.  I don’t know why his being drunk would make things easier in this case, but sometimes you want something on which you can blame a bad situation.  You want to say, “Oh, that happened because…”

There’s no “because” in this case other than “because we never should have trusted him in the first place.”

I was so shocked.  “YOU ARE MY COUSIN!” I nearly shouted.  “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!”  He looked around nervously.  “Be quiet,” he hissed.  “Someone might actually think we’re cousins!”

“YOU ARE MY COUSIN!”  I said again, hoping the man taking out the convenience store trash would notice us and make Max as uncomfortable as I felt.  I thought cousins-in-law counted as family.  Apparently they do not.  He turned back to me, and his nervous gaze softened.  “Hazel, I have never considered you to be a cousin.  Ever.  I’ve thought you were sexy since the first time Andy brought you over.”

He wasn’t making anything better by talking.  I guess since his cover was already blown, he decided to go on confessing:  “When you visited me in Korea, I tried to hook up my Go-Pro in my shower so I could see you naked.  I didn’t end up being able how to figure it out.  And that dress you wore that one night?  Oh my gosh.  Hazel.  I absolutely could not take my eyes off of your legs.  I can’t believe you didn’t notice.  And I never noticed this until tonight, but your hair smells so good.  I even like your hair.”

Are all men that pervy and disgusting!?  Maybe yes.  I’m going to start assuming yes.  That probably makes me some sort of jaded manhater, but I had a very disturbing summer.

I made Max take me home.  I was on the back of his motorcycle, so I had to wrap my arms around him.  It….wasn’t great.  Obviously, things have never been the same between us after that night.  He had been a confidant, someone I could trust with any secrets, and now I can’t even talk to him.  Did he really think I was going to kiss him that night?  He knows me well and he certainly knows his cousin even better.  In what universe did he think that would be a good idea?  He apologized profusely the next day, said he didn’t know what he was thinking, but no apology could take that night back.  Trust me, I wish it could.  I know I’ll get to a point where it doesn’t bother me, but right now whenever I see him or hear about him I’m still sad for losing that friendship and angry that he took it away.  I know we won’t ever be close again.

Well, there you have it: the trilogy of memories that I will delete as soon as someone invents a way to do that.  I don’t know if I feel better or worse for having typed that all out.  I guess it’s just a step on my road to recovering from these things.  On to the next square.

And Now For Something Completely Different…

I’m going to take a break from talking about bipolar disorder.  Just for one little post.  Is that okay with you?

See, the thing is that I was nominated for the Liebster Award by lifevivified.  She’s witty and fabulous.  You should probably check out her blog.  I am so pleased that she felt that I was cool enough to be nominated, and I’m accepting the award.  I mean, it’s SPARKLY, y’all.  I can’t refuse it.


Anyway, this means that I have to answer the eleven questions she posted for her nominees, then I have to list eleven facts about myself, then I need to nominate some other new-ish blogs and give them questions to answer.

This strangely reminds me of those e-mail chains in middle school where you had to answer completely pointless surveys about yourself, and I would always sit there thinking, “Wait, do I like Coke or Pepsi?  I don’t know!”  or “Hold on…what ice cream flavor would I be?  People are going to read into this…I HAVE TO GET IT RIGHT!”  Like there was a wrong answer.  I was weird in junior high (who wasn’t?).  In a throwback to those dumb surveys and because I’m happy to have been nominated, here are the answers to the questions posed to me by lifevivified:

1. How did you get into blogging?  

I started blogging in college almost ten years ago.  I actually have no idea why.  A few years after I started that blog, someone asked me why I write so much. I said, “I don’t know…I guess for the same reason I breathe?  I just have to.”  I blog, I freelance for magazines, and I’ve written three novels (one has been published…but I think my mom bought the only copies that sold).  Anyway, that blog was humorous and light.  That’s why people liked it.  After my bipolar diagnosis, I needed an outlet through which I could try to find the bright side of this disorder and still be allowed to be serious when I needed to be.  I have LOVED the community of followers I have on this new baby blog, and I love the blogs I read. I read all types of blogs, but bloggers with mental illnesses are the most fabulous.  We’re in an exclusive club that none of us wanted to be in.  Rock on.

2. If you could have one superpower (real or imagined) what would it be and why?  

I would want…hmmm…  The ability to make dolphins swim through air.  That’s only because I don’t think anyone’s thought of that one before, and also how cool would it be if dolphins periodically swam down your street?  “Oh look, honey, there’s that pod of dolphins again.  Do we have any sardines to throw out our window?”

3. What are your long-term goals in life?

Hmmm… this is a bit broad.  I would say #1 is to figure out how to follow God better, because I sometimes suck at it.  Then again, try having a brain tumor that causes a list of health problems longer than your arm, and tell me you wouldn’t at least feel a LITTLE bit “what the heck” once in a while.

Other than that, I would like to figure out how to manage my health issues, make a difference to my students, and keep writing.  If I accomplish all that, I’ll be a happy camper.

Oh, and I want a pug puppy.  BADLY.  I must have a pug puppy to achieve maximum happiness levels.

4. If you could live within the setting of one television show or movie, what would it be and why? 

I would pick That 70’s Show.  It’s the only show in which I’ve seen every single episode.  I’m not a binge-watchy type of person, but I got a bad case of mono/strep throat/cocktail of illnesses in high school which put me in the hospital for five days and a month out of school – EEK!  Anyway, the characters on That 70’s Show were my best friends during that period.  We spent a lot of hours together.  I think we could be friends in real life.  I’d need to go back in time and be in high school, though, because otherwise they wouldn’t be friends with me.  Since this is a completely hypothetical question anyway, I’m claiming that this time travel would be possible in that scenario.

Also, in 1970 there was no social media and no Donald Trump.  It was a simpler time.

5. Same question, but pertaining to the setting of a story or book?

I feel like I should be really sophisticated here and say Pride and Prejudice or Twelfth Night or something, but let’s be real.  It’s Harry Potter. I’m a teacher, and I wish I could teach at Hogwarts.  If I had a magic wand, classroom management would be easy like whoa.

6. Which of all your own blog posts, is your favorite?

Uh, I don’t know.  Maybe my first one?  It explains why this blog exists in the first place, so that’s probably significant-ish.  You can read that here.

7. How did you come up with the name for your blog?

My name is Hazel, and I’m explaining my journey with bipolar disorder from my own perspective (behind my eyes).  Also, the current bane of my existence is my brain, which is located behind my eyes.  Lastly and obviously most importantly, it was a catchy Kelly Clarkson song back in the early 2000’s.  Who doesn’t love Kelly Clarkson?

8. If you were going to own an exotic pet (in theory only – we know wild animals do not make good pets), what would it be and why?  

I would probably domesticate the swimming-through-air dolphin that I created in question #2.

9. If you could spend a day with one person (real or fictional), who would it be and why? 

I would pick the queen of England for a very specific reason. My grandma is British, and she’s extremely insistent that I’m proper and ladylike at all times.  For my entire childhood, she would say things such as, “Dah-ling, you’re buttering your roll incorrectly.  Here, let me show you.”  Then she would show me how to butter my roll (or whatever else I was doing wrong).  Then she would always follow up her correction with, “I’m only telling you this, dear, so that if you ever have tea with the Queen then you won’t embarrass yourself.”  I heard that phrase SO MANY TIMES.

Basically, I would love to have tea with the Queen in order to say, “Hey, Nana!  I had tea with the Queen and didn’t embarrass myself! HA!”

10. If you won the lottery today, what would you do tomorrow?

Pay off student loans.  (I HATE STUDENT LOANS!).  Then I would pay off my friends’ student loans.  Then I would pay off a couple random people’s student loans just to give them a nice surprise, because how cool would that be?!

Then I would start surfing the net and planning my trip to Fiji.

11. What makes you happiest in this world?



Okay, now that I’ve answered all of the questions, I guess I’m supposed to list eleven facts about myself?  Haven’t you learned enough about me yet?!  I certainly don’t want my arbitrary-yet-sparkly online award to be stripped from me, so I’d better follow the directions.  I’ll make this brief:

  1. I never wear matching socks.  Ever.  Unless it’s an accident.
  2. My beagle is sitting by me while I write this, and he just burped.  Gross.
  3. I think burps are gross.
  4. I secretly do care what happens to the Kardashians.
  5. I hate sushi as much as it is possible to hate a food (which, surprisingly, is A LOT)
  6. I met Caroline Kennedy while at the Japanese embassy and had this overwhelming urge to say, “Hey, sorry about your dad getting assassinated.”  But I didn’t say it. *phew!*
  7. That’s the only famous person I’ve ever met, which is probably good.  Turns out I act like a goob around famous people.
  8. I bred rats in college.  Sold them for $5 each in the dorms.  My roommate was awesome.
  9. Then I became an R.A. and couldn’t do that anymore.
  10. I’m fluent in Spanish and German
  11. One of the aforementioned ten items is a lie.

That’s enough about ME.  Now I have to nominate some fabulous blogs.  Here we go:

  1. An Exercise in Trust – This is one of my friends who blogs about her time living in India.  It’s been a transition for sure, but she recently started this awesome street project where she helps kids learn to make shoes so they don’t run around barefoot all the time.  She’s also helping impoverished women learn how to make and sell bracelets to make money.  She’s a rock star, basically.
  2. Hope in Holland – I found this blog about a woman who’s being SO STRONG while going through her second round of IVF treatments and praying, praying, praying for a baby.  It reminds me that everyone has their struggles.  Maybe mine is a mental illness and hers isn’t, but everyone’s got something.  We all need to be kind to each other.  I admire her strength and openness, so I really like this blog.
  3. 365 Days in the Garden – This blog is also about a struggle with bipolar disorder, and I’m pretty sure this author and I would be friends if we knew each other in real life.  She’s real, she’s honest, and I identify with a lot about what she has to say.
  4. Keanna Moseley – In keeping with the theme of “everyone has their struggles,” Keanna is bravely blogging about what it’s like to be married and divorced by age 25.  It’s sad, but her story is poignant and well-told.  It’s about looking back but also looking forward.  That’s what you have to do with any struggle, right?  Acknowledge what happened and look at how to move on from there.
  5. The Bipolar Mama – This blog deserves a shout-out just because this lady is so awesome.  She does a great job of talking about bipolar disorder in a way that’s serious without being “poor me.”  She’s taking life by the horns and just making it happen.  She’s a little bit my hero.

BipolarOnFire…just so you know, you’re my secret favorite, but I can’t nominate you because you’re all popular and established and crap.  You’re my other hero, just fyi.  🙂

Alright my people, here are your eleven questions:

  1. Describe your life in three sentences.
  2. What would be your one piece of advice to someone going through a struggle like yours?
  3. What’s the weirdest thing in your purse at this moment?
  4. Why do you blog?
  5. Where is the one place in the world that you must see before you die?
  6. If you were an ice cream flavor, what would you be?  (Ha ha…middle school throwback.  You’re welcome).
  7. If a song played every time you walked into a room, which song would you pick?  Why?
  8. Describe your childhood in one scene.
  9. Who is your hero?  Why?
  10. If you were about to be stranded on a deserted island, which four items would you bring in your backpack?
  11. What is something very few people know about you?

Phew!  Done!  Thanks again, Vivienne, for the nomination.  🙂