Is it Weird, or Is it Cuckoo?

Mental Mama’s Seven Weeks of Weird has left me baffled.  The first three (weird foods you eat, weird things people don’t know about you, weirdest thing you do to relax) were all somewhat challenging, but do-able.  As I’ve said before, I didn’t consider myself a very weird person, but I guess I do have my quirks and once I got to writing, it became apparent that I am a little on the cuck0o, if not weird side.  I’m leaning more heavily toward cuckoo…maybe I just don’t like the word weird.  Semantics, semantics!

Last week saw me in a downturn, so I didn’t get around to Weird Wednesday.   I’m gonna double-book this post and do last week’s and this week’s all in one.  I’ll try and keep this from turning into a 1500 word essay on why Rosa is weird/cuckoo.  (I know, Bradley, 600 words, 600 words).  😀

Last week’s topic challenged me to describe the weirdest routine or habit I have.  I don’t think the routine in itself is weird, but it’s how closely I stick to it that might be a bit cuckoo.  Now, throwing the last six weeks out the window, I keep a very strict sleep/wake cycle.  I have a morning routine and I have a bedtime routine.  I’m talking more than just brushing your teeth and washing your face.  Certain things are scheduled at certain times and I get slightly distressed if I get off schedule.

It all kicks off when I take my evening meds at 8:00P and ends when I lay down in bed with my Kindle at 9:00P.  I “allow” myself to read for an hour, at which point I must try and sleep.  In the morning, I rise at a certain time, drink caffeine of some sort, and sort through the Internet until it’s time to get ready for work or do whatever else it is I’m doing that day.  I do this every day, and if I don’t, my mood gets seriously thrown off.  Schedule and consistency are key to managing bipolar disorder.  At least for me.

This week’s topic questioned the writer what the weirdest thing they collect would be.  I thought about this for awhile, as I don’t collect figurines of any sort or belly button lint.  Then, as I reached for my water, I realized — I collect oversized plastic cups.  Yup.  That is a little weird, isn’t it?  My current favorites are 32 oz double-wall-insulated faux Solo cups.  They are AMAZING.  They will keep a drink cold from the fridge without ice for hours.  They’re a perfect size so you’re not always getting up and refilling.  They might just be the perfect cup.

I also have a slew of glasses, and that was at the request of DSB, wh0 couldn’t stand to drink out of plastic.  I need to make room for some new plastic cups Mom found for me, and I am seriously thinking about boxing up all the glasses and giving them away.  Or at least putting them out in the garage.  I have little use for a real glass.  They never get clean in the dishwasher, and they break.

So, what’s cuckoo or weird about you?  It’s not too late to sign up over at Mama’s!

Early Morning Perspectives

Morning wakefulness eludes me.  Today is a rare exception.  I wake at 5:00 a.m. and I feel energized.  I did not have a particularly good night’s sleep, so I’m really not sure why that is.  My and DSB’s coffee morning ritual generally doesn’t start until at least 7:00 a.m., so I have two hours on my hands.  I rub my hands over my face, thinking, knowing that I should go back to bed.  There is a stubborn part of me that resists.

The world is so much different, two hours earlier in the day.  Feeling rested and alert at 5:00 in the morning is so much different.  I wonder at all I could accomplish while the rest of the house is still sleeping.  It’s really dark outside.  Even the dogs are asleep, and my neighbors haven’t started any of their annoying comings and goings yet.

I ponder, for just a moment, sending my early-rising sister a text message to see if she is up for a chat.  And then think better of it, think that it is possible my pregnant sister is still resting, sleeping in more than she is accustomed to, and perhaps, herself gazing around in wonder at how different the day is, just two hours later.

An hour passes, with me journaling and drinking large glasses of cold water, trying to rid myself of a headache.  That’s my cure.  Large glasses of cold water.  And a Tylenol.  I know the headache is from lack of sleep, but I press on.  Writing my letters that I will never send to those people that have abused me in life.  A therapy assignment.  At 5:00 in the morning.

And then it is 6:00 a.m. and I am beginning to get restless.  I know I should go back to sleep, but that stubborn part of me wants to get.things.done.  I continue on with my letters, and I long for someone to talk to.  No one I know is awake this early.  I ponder reaching out to a bloggie friend, but I don’t know if any of them are up yet, and I don’t know how to contact any of them.

I finish the letter I have been working on most recently, and the feeling of needing to talk to someone intensifies so greatly, I have a tightness in my chest and it seems the only way it can be relieved is to connect.  After all that writing, all that work, I have to connect.  I don’t want to wake DSB, and still, no one I know will be awake.  Seven o’clock cannot get here fast enough.

Then it comes and 7:00 finds DSB in rare foul humor.  He has had another sleepless night and has “a lot of shit on (my) mind.”  But he doesn’t want to talk about it, and really doesn’t want to talk at all.  I babble for a bit, but mostly we sit there, staring at each other and saying nothing.  It’s not an altogether uncomfortable feeling, but that need to connect is not being met.  Not by all of those unsaid words.  Not every coffee morning with DSB is perfect.  And, by extension, not every coffee morning with DSB is even enough.  No words is not enough.  I need words.

At 8:00, after sitting in silence for an hour, DSB announces that we need to go run some errands.  I resist, because I am not ready to get up and get dressed.  I want to finish my coffee and have another smoke, in peace.  I want to make him talk to me about what is bothering him and I want to be able to talk with  him about what is running through my mind.  Choosing battles being what it is, I compromise.  I will go, if I can finish my coffee first.

By 8:30, we’re out on the road in his big, ancient truck.  It’s loud, and I don’t mean just a little loud, I mean really loud.  And he drives it like it’s on a racetrack, squealing tires and all.  I grab the “oh-shit” handles as we fly around curves and corners, and give him a dirty look, all the while laughing, because he is laughing at me.  He starts to talk a little.

He has too much on his plate.  Too many things to do, not enough money, and not enough time.  He doesn’t feel good because he hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in over a week.  He is worried.  Worried about everything and nothing all at the same time.  And he doesn’t want to talk about it because he doesn’t want to burden me with it, because, he says, I am doing so well, and he doesn’t want that to end.

By 8:50, we’re sitting in Tractor Supply’s parking lot, waiting for them to open.  We already went to the grocery store, where I bought the essentials…orange Kool-Aid packets, French vanilla creamer, and toilet paper.  We drove past a small hardware store that DSB considered going into, but then decided against, for whatever reason.  At Tractor Supply, we watch cars come in, waiting for the doors to open.

A surprising number of cars come wait in line.  What can possibly be inside Tractor Supply that is so essential at such an early hour?  After DSB goes in, and I start seeing people coming out, I can’t help but laugh because most of them are carrying out 50 pound bags of dog food, horse pellets, chicken scratch and mash, and other edibles for animals.  That’s the emergency, the urgency…hungry animals.

When DSB comes out and gets back into the truck, he is silent again.  Out of money, again.  Frustrated, again.  This is such a vicious cycle and I am reminded at once to think of the good things, all the while wishing that DSB could feel more secure with what we do  have.

We get home, after a quick stop for gas, and I come inside to blog and he goes to the shop to work.  The plan is for me to attend to comments and reading, and then blog.  After, I am to go outside and use the riding lawn mower to pick up leaves.  Here I sit, blogging.  And outside, DSB is picking up leaves.  There goes that idea.  And the urge to connect grows stronger and stronger.

The person I most want to connect with is in foul humor and it is unlikely that will lift soon.  I called my dad and texted QoB but it still isn’t quite enough.  I will have a busy day today, and have already accomplished much before lunchtime, but I have to wonder if I will be able to feed that urge to connect today.  Somehow, I doubt it.

My Path to a Happier Place

Over the past couple of months, I have been involved in a group therapy curriculum that focuses on achieving goals through gainful activities.  It also emphasizes staying in a routine and building structure.  Much needed stuff to stave off depression and anxiety, or so it turns out.  I was a damn mess not that long ago, and now I feel like anything is possible.

I am keeping my house clean, cooking every single night, socializing, blogging regularly, and my spirits are high.  I don’t feel like I owe this to anything but what I learned in group therapy.  I’ve learned to keep a planner handy, and to schedule myself activities each night for the following day.  I’ve learned that it’s better to stay busy and it keeps you from wallowing.

As I have been doing increasingly better, I also find that I am changing directions, in a way.  I am becoming more accepting of my traditional role in my romantic relationship.  Actually, it would be easier and more succinct to say, I’ve accepted it.

And I don’t think it had sunk in that I had accepted it a long time ago, until I had a comment-conversation with the lovely blogger, Kim.  I don’t know why I didn’t come to it sooner, the term “traditional” to describe what DSB and I are.  In all those months of therapy, I couldn’t have an “ah-ha!” moment?

Turns out free conversation between bloggie friends might have better results than paid therapy, at least sometimes.  Both of my recent therapists told me that “traditional” gender roles just do not work in a relationship.  I call bullshit.

So DSB doesn’t do the dishes, or cook (very often), or clean, or take out the trash.  So what?

He does work out in the shop nearly every day, takes care of the lawn/leaves/snow, and is generally an all-around handyman.  And he kills spiders, mice, snakes, and all matter of creepy-crawly things.  It’s basically called division of labor.  Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair, but I know that he does a lot of things that I just couldn’t or sometimes wouldn’t, do.  And that’s how he feels about housework.

I told DSB today that it was a lot easier to be happy than to be sad or depressed or anxious.  I told him it was almost a choice to just accept what is going on around you.  A choice to be happy.  Another “ah-ha” moment.  Now, I don’t believe for a second that you “choose” to be depressed or anxious or manic, for that matter.  I do believe those are chemical processes.

But what I also believe, is that we can make our own happiness.  By accepting, by loving, by getting it out there.  We can make ourselves feel better, if just for ten minutes, by doing something small.  And pretty soon those ten minutes here or there add up.  I know that, even in the darkest of my depression (which I know will recur, and I will be ready), if I could do one nice thing for myself, I felt, temporarily, a little better.

Unfortunately, the brain often doesn’t have access to these thoughts when actually in the throes of depression.  Which is why I’m writing it all down so I can read later, silly.

I really do feel like I have been saved by a schedule, by acceptance, and by love.  This go-round, I won.  And next time, I’ll be ready.

Coffee Mornings

Early morning, still dark outside.  Slightly chilly, as we turn the heat down overnight.  My head is congested and still sleepy from nine hours worth of humid CPAP air.  I’m slowly waking up, coughing as I light up my first cigarette of the day.  Within moments of that cough, I get the old predictable text message:

“Coffee on, hon?”

Even though he’s just in the other room, lying awake, it is always my duty to make that first pot.  I don’t begrudge him that, even though I could.  The way I look at it, chances are he didn’t sleep worth a damn, and it just makes it all the more special when he makes the first post on that rare occasion.

I finish that first cigarette and stumble, foggy-headed, to brew the first pot.  It’s a ritual and I take some comfort in knowing what the grounds and the water will create: a special liquid that bonds DSB and I tighter and closer every morning.  Coffee-time is our everyday time together.  Some of our best moments are before 8:00 a.m.

Nine minutes later, the coffeepot is gurgling loudly, signaling DSB from the back rooms of the house to come to the dining room.  He shuffles in, hitching up his jeans and smiling at me.  Every morning, “Oh look!  You made me coffee!”  And every morning I smile back at him, saying, “Well, someone had to…might as well have been me.”  Every morning, like clockwork, like something that could stand the test of time.

We settle, with our Folgers and French vanilla creamer, into the comfy green rolling dining chairs.  We scoot around until we are directly across from each other, and DSB teases me with the third chair, offering it so I can put my feet up, with me pushing it back at him and telling him to let it sit, for our dog, Kizzie.

With our dogs, Rascal and Kizzie, running in and out of the doggie door, barking at the neighbors leaving for work, barking at the trash truck and the school bus, we are in the best seats for the show.  We put our everyday questions out there:  “How did you sleep?” and “What’s on your plate today?” come first and foremost.  I usually have a dream to tell him about, and he usually tells me that he heard me up four times the night before, using the restroom.

We talk about our plans…for the hour, the day, the week, our life.  We dream big and smile, laugh, and joke.  DSB gives me static and makes blonde jokes, telling me that if he didn’t give me a hard time, I’d think he’d fallen out of love with me.  That’s probably true.  We laugh until we’re wide awake, ready to take on the day.  With a kiss and a hug, we go off to our separate missions, confident it will be a good day because of how it started.

Lack of Routine = Epic Fail

I am blogging now because I am hopeful that I can talk myself into cleaning and laundry and dishes by the end of the post.  I had so much energy about 10 days ago when I started Project Re-Invent, but I’ve had a few days off due to working and Monday QT with DSB.  It seems that all energy for the project has been sapped from me.

I woke up not feeling well today, a common side effect of my meds.  I took a few Immodium, and decided to rest for a little bit.  Well, I fell back asleep and woke up about an hour ago, still in need of more Immodium.  What is it about these drug cocktails that cause such horrible bowel problems?  This has been going on for years and years and years!

I ate a few dry Saltines a little bit ago, popped a few more Immodium, and took my noon dose of Ritalin.  I am convinced that I will be feeling on top of the world within the hour.  I mean, really, I NEED to be!

I was very much not pleased at falling back asleep this morning.  I took my sleeping pills too late last night and therefore did not have that pleasant morning wake-up around 7:30am.  Instead, I woke up groggy at 9:00am, thus the falling back asleep when deciding to rest my tummy.

Is it just me, or is there this fine balance that we have to walk in order to function like an average adult?  I mean, in order to get the chores and “have-to’s” done, and leave a little time in for play, I have to stick to my routine like my life depends on it.

If I don’t get my meds taken by 7:30pm, I am totally screwed for the next day.  If I don’t head for bed around 9:00pm, I am totally screwed for the next day.  If I don’t wake up by 8:00am and take my Ritalin and drink two cups of coffee, I can’t function.  My day is shot, both in getting done what I need to get done, but also in my mood and my interactions with other people.

I would like to be more flexible in my routine, but I have tried and time and time again it fails.  When the time changed, my mother suggested I try staying up later since it was light later.  I have learned from past experience and I told her there was no way I could do that.  She reconsidered and agreed it would be a bad idea.  It’s just that the IDEA IS ALWAYS THERE.

Hey, I could do this or change this or it would be ok just this one time.  Well, hell, it just doesn’t work that way.  Almost 15 years I have been living with bipolar, and it hasn’t sunk in.  Therapists and doctors and books and websites and research papers reiterate it: you must find a schedule or a routine and stick with it, no matter what.  Why hasn’t it sunk into my thick head yet?

There is such an urge to be “normal” and do whatever I want, go to bed at midnight and get up at two the next day.  I spent many years drinking alcohol, but decided over a year ago it just wasn’t in my best interests due to the bipolar and the meds.  I deal with it ok, but there are times, fleeting times, when it sure would be nice to have a margarita.  There is a big fireworks show at the lake this year, but it doesn’ start until 10:00pm and the lake is 30 minutes from my house.  The chances of me watching it, getting home, and getting anything recognizable as sleep are zilch.  I so much want to, but I so much know I can’t.

The worst is that the majority of the world around you doesn’t have to stick to a strict schedule.  My mom can stay up poppin’ tops until all hours, and still go out and put in eight hours worth of planting lilies in the sun like a rockstar.  Sure, she feels a little crappy, but she CAN DO IT.  DSB can live with three to five hours of sleep for weeks on end and not have his mood, his attitude, or his demeanor change.  My dad can stay up until two or three in the morning and sleep until nine the next day, and then the following day, go to bed at ten and get up at five, and be JUST FINE.

The one person I know who needs a strict sleep routine like me isn’t even bipolar.  Big Dog needs his nine to ten hours of sleep each night, or his mood, his attitude, his outlook starts the road downhill.  He tries to do more, of course, and in the busy season, he does.  But then he has to take naps, just so he can function.  I wish I could take a nap and not have it ruin my whole day.

I am throwing my hands up in the air at this time.  Ok, I have to stay on a schedule.  I screw myself when I don’t.  I am going to see if I can salvage at least part of this day, being as it is already 1:00pm.  I just hate feeling like I have wasted most of my day and it seems like I get that feeling a lot.

Making it Click

I must admit, blogging is addictive.  Especially when you have some free time.  I spent the morning changing the appearance of the blog, using a new thing-a-ma-jigger that I found.  I think they’re called templates, but I could be wrong.  I left up the header picture that was on there, because it’s pretty, but not really “me.”  I have this fabulous little digital camera now and I am pretty sure I can get some great fall pics taken in my own backyard.  The trees are starting to turn and it’s gorgeous.

The new house is technically “in-town;” however, just across the street is considered outside the city limits.  There is a big patch of forested area very close to my house, and I have a humongous back yard with lots of trees and other prettiness.  I even have a huge asparagus patch that looks very mature and a stand of concord grapes.  Unfortunately, it seems that my neighbors’ have picked all of the grapes, so I will be putting up a sign because I am SO not sharing my asparagus. 

It has been a rather painful weekend for me.  I had to have a cyst removed on my lower back and have been back to the urgent care clinic three times since Saturday mid-day to have it drained and re-packed.  My fingers are crossed that I don’t have MRSA, but they sent in a sample to be cultured and I should know for sure by Tuesday.  Wonder what work would say if I did have MRSA?  Questions to be answered on Tuesday.

I am really rediscovering blogging here in the past couple of days.  It is something that I have missed doing regularly and never make time for.  I think it is high time that I start again.  Many thanks go out to Pasha for prompting and reminding me what a joy it is.  WordPress has really changed their site, so there may be a few little glitches here and there.  There is now a place where you can “like” a post on FB.  I am not sure I really want that up there, because I don’t want my work friends reading this.  Thinking I will just leave that one alone.

Speaking of FB, I have really been getting out of that scene lately.  I still read it, but find myself posting less frequently.  I get annoyed by people who complain on FB, and I don’t want everyone to know my business, so I generally just end up saying something goofy or replying to others’ goofy posts.  I have put a few pictures of my dogkids up and they seem to be well received.  It seems like that is a lot of what FB is about — showing off your kids/grandkids/etc.

So, as I said in my last post, I am looking for winter projects, doing much better when I have “missions.”  I have a little list going on my home computer and am adding a few more things.  I recently started reading again a blog that a friend of mine puts out.  She blogs religiously and seems to really love it.  She is always doing crafty things with her kids and she reminds me a lot of my mom in that respect.  Much love to you Adriana!

Adriana is another reason I am blogging.  I am interested in keeping up with what old friends are doing, and I would like for some old friends to know what is going on with me.  I am not a hugely social person, don’t go to bars or parties, but like to keep in touch with a few people.  I have a friend who is getting ready to have a baby and I am really excited to be back in touch with her.  We were Rocky and Bullwinkle back in the day, and even now when we get together we’re chatting nonstop, finishing each other’s sentences.

In other news, I started Weight Watchers a little over a month ago.  Prior to that, I was using SparkPeople and tracking what I ate.  Since the beginning of SparkPeople and into Weight Watchers, I have lost almost 25 pounds.  It is amazing how that small amount of weight off can make you feel so wonderful.  I have more energy, my clothes are getting baggy, and I am fitting into things I haven’t work in over a year.  I am more active and feel happier, not guilty all the time and feeling physically ill from eating crap and laying around.  For me, Weight Watchers is easy because you can eat anything you want and you have weekly support and pep-talks.  The website has what is called “E-Tools” and you can do all of your point tracking there, read success stories, build a recipe, search recipes, and read all kinds of interesting articles.  I am really loving it and what it has done for me so far.  I have not set a final goal, but am working on my first five percent.  After that I’ll go for another five percent, and then another and another, and so on.  I have a huge tupperware container and three large boxes of very cute clothes that will be fitting within the next 25 to 50 pounds I lose.  So very exciting!!

I found a great-looking recipe on The Sphors Are Multiplying called Slow Cooker Chicken Chili Verde.  I am making that in the crock-pot tomorrow with a few changes.  I am really loving fall and the idea of having dinner made at the end of the day by dumping a few things in a crock-pot in the morning.  Next up is pork chops in sauerkraut.  Served with a baked potato, it just doesn’t get any better. 

Not really about food, but cute nonetheless…

Kate Nash, Pumpkin Soup

Getting Back on Track

Merry Christmas to all!  I have been up since 5:00 a.m. so I could see my dear Dr. Love off to work.  I wanted to send him off with a nice breakfast, but he refuses to put anything in his body besides Mountain Dew until at least 8:00.  Guess that means more eggs and toast for me!!

I appreciate the support I receive on this blog, especially from Pasha and QoB.  Very wise souls, they are.  I am receiving additional support from my SparkPeople site.  I have been very on track lately with eating and exercise and I owe a lot of that to the articles, community support, and food and exercise trackers.  I feel like I can actually DO this, LOSE this weight and get into a healthy zone again.

We went to the big city yesterday afternoon to spend time with my Dad, his wife, and my sister and her husband.  We had a really great time.  My sister made an awesome dinner of crab and mushroom soup, and cheddar biscuits.  We also had my very favorite hummus and pitas from my very favorite Middle Eastern bakery.  YUMMMM!  My sister is quite the cook and presents to us involved a variety of homemade candies, homemade peach preserves and pickled beets.  Even some homemade elderberry syrup.  My sister and her husband gave very thoughtful and creative gifts and I just hope they enjoy the gifts we are giving them as much as we will enjoy ours!

The thing I love most about Christmas is the giving.  I am really excited about all the presents we are giving everyone.  We gave my dad and his wife a water feature (fountain kit) that I think they are just going to LOVE.  They seemed really excited about it.  Kudos go to QoB and Big Dog for precillitating that one through the water garden store.  🙂

Many other lovely presents for our dear family, but I won’t be sharing any of the details until later because, well, my mom reads this blog and would just LOVE to get the scoop before it happens.  Love ya, Madre!  🙂

I am feeling really good today.  I have been getting back in my morning routine and it has made all the difference in the world.  Just in the past few days, I am sleeping better and am able to get up earlier.  I am love.love.LOVING my morning coffee and sunlamp routine.  I wish that I had found Cymbalta years ago, but am happy that I have it now.

I have grouped all of my holiday music onto a playlist on iTunes, and it is really awesome.  I didn’t realize I had such a great collection, but QoB still has a few CD’s I need to download.  Holiday music is one of the best things about Christmas.  I have been listening to it on the radio non-stop at work since about the middle of the month and anytime I am at home.  I am pretty sure, though, that I will be completely sick of it by the end of New Year’s.  That’s when Christmas will be over us, because we are going to celebrate Christmas in the middle-of-nowhere with Dr. Love’s family over New Years’ weekend.

Merry Christmas to all…I love you…and you…and you.  You know who you are!!

QoB and I like to rock it out to:

Mariah Carey, All I Want For Christmas is You