The Hot Seat

Ok. So I am Jumping Into The Hot Seat.

I’ve re-pressed this from Kevin who writes “Voices of Glass”.  I thought it was a fantastic idea, and I’d like a way to really reconnect with my audience after such an extended absence.

The rules are simple.

The rules state that you cannot lie. BUT you can decline to answer if…
a) your answer would break a confidence.
b) the answer would get you or someone else in trouble,
c) the answer would cause hurt or embarrassment to someone else, or
d) the question (or the answer to that question) is too personal for you to give.

The last of the rules will not be an incredible problem for me.  I feel as if there are a lot of things I should get out into the open.  So, fire away.  At this point, I should be working toward being an open book, since I’ve decided that I’m going to go public soon.

Fire away!

12 thoughts on “The Hot Seat

  1. Lulu, Are your real life friends the kind of friends that you can be open about your mental issues with, and are they there for you if you were to need their help urgently? I worry about that when you are not doing good.

    • This is not an answer that the crowd is going to like to hear.

      No. I have two real life friends that are even aware that I have Bipolar Disorder at all. One of them is my sister. I have attempted to be pretty open with her about it, but she’s a pretty closed off kind of person. So, I am not really lent much in the way of help and support. I don’t think it’s a matter of disinterest, as much as it’s a matter of her just not really knowing how to help.

      My other friend, well, I know I could tell him. I have shared incidents of self-injury with him. He’s not really reactive, but I know he’s an alarmist. I can tell when he calls sometimes just to check in with me – just by the way he asks, “Em, how are you?” I am one of those people that doesn’t want to involve others unless it’s really situation critical. And then, even after that, I’m embarrassed by the hypervigiliance of others. I know, without a doubt, that I could call him anytime (he’s out of work), and he would find a way to be down here.

      I also know that would piss my husband off royally.

      That’s another issue, but I can’t go into it too much because it violates a few of the rules. I have to be careful what I tell people. My husband is very sensitive to “our business” being “out there”. With the exception of writing here. But, I am still very careful not to put his “business” in a public light.

      Back to the heart of the question. That’s why Pendulum exists, born out of a complete lack of a support network and the pain of suffering in silence. Everyone here has really helped me get closer and closer to just coming out with it and asking for the help that I need. Lately, I’ve resolved that if someone or something can’t meet my emotional needs, then I need to rethink it. I’ve begun to start the process of just being myself and letting people do what they do. I’ve been in hiding far too long. And if people can’t be around me, then they can’t. I can’t keep giving everyone my best and leaving me with nothing to deal with my worst.

      • well I understand not wanting to explain things and feel like you are being to open. I am a little relieved that your one friend would take it seriously enough if you really needed someone to be an “alarmist”. I have some to that point to in the last few years that I am me, not the person I was, and it really doesn’t matter what anyone I meet on the street from the past thinks. I am glad that you started Pendulum also! lol Even though at first I was upset that someone had taken my title lol. The pendulum to me is a big symbol of bipolar disorder too. I have used it as an analogy many times before. But I think your title is what caught my attention and I am glad it did!

  2. Hey again Lulu,

    Ok here is my question to you…

    Looking back on your childhood did you have a relation/relative or relations/relatives who were considered to be (and perhaps labeled by others as being ) ‘eccentric’ or ‘a bit weird’ who, knowing what you know now about mental illness and having experienced it for yourself, you now know probably suffered from mental illness?
    Kind Regards and God bless

    • Where do I start?! LOL!

      If I had to point the finger at anyone, I would definitely point it at my dad. My dad had long periods of time where he wasn’t okay. And there were periods of time where he would just kind of disappear, or my mother would tell me not to bother him. Sometimes, he’d be really involved, but most of the time he wasn’t. Sometimes he would be really angry. I just knew that he was really intense, and you didn’t want to make him mad. Oh, and there would be long periods of time where he would be “in the hospital” because he was “sick”. That’s scary as hell when you’re in a kid. Every time he went, I would ask my mom what was wrong, and she couldn’t answer me. And I’d be scared he was going to die, or he’d never come home.

      By the time I was a teen, it was really clear to me that my dad was not like other parents. My dad was inconsistent my entire life. Sometimes, he was super involved. Sometimes, he was really happy and really wanted to spend time talking to me. But, most of the time he was an abusive jerk. I knew other people’s parents didn’t call them names or ground them for months at a time.

      According to the VA hospital, my father suffers from PTSD. A doctor at one point suggested he had bipolar disorder. But, the BP Dx happened after I was already an adult. My father didn’t want to hear BP, so he stopped going to that doctor. The label didn’t matter at that point. My dad was already on the right medication and had made a huge improvement. It only took 30 years.

      It’s really clear to me that he has mental illness. What I didn’t realize is that he has more problems than just PTSD or BP. He seems to exhibit symptoms of BPD as well. He freaks out if my mom is gone for more than a few hours. He doesn’t want her going out. If he can’t find her in the house, he’ll freak out and call me and claim she ran off (to his credit, she did run off on him once, but not in secret. She gave him a choice to move with her, and he didn’t. Eventually he came.)

      Now, for a person that I had an idea wasn’t quite right and then figured it out later, totally my mother. My mother always seemed really nervous, but she would sometimes unexpectedly lash out. Like, if you hit just the right button. A lot of her “motherly” behavior didn’t seem right. It seemed forced. A lot of her seemed projected.

      I had to get a little older, like 8 or 9, before I figured out that she drank. It took me until I was about 11 to figure out that she was an alcoholic. It took me until just this year to realize that she isn’t just anxious. She’s a lot of things. She’s feels a whole lot of things that she never expresses. That she’s not really stoic like I thought. She has just mastered the art of repression. Because when she goes on her benders, everything comes out.

      It makes me wonder two things. Does everyone have an issue, and some are worse than others and some are better at hiding it than others? And how hard is it for everyone else to accept a notion that they might not be okay after all? Because, it never came as a surprise to me when a doctor confirmed that I was not okay, and that I was not like everyone else. It was actually a relief.

  3. I have to say it really saddens me when I read some of the things that you went through. That is not to say you shouldn’t share them because I absolutely feel you should share them, it is just to say I care I guess.

    It is so sad to me how we often hide things from children in an attempt to “protect” them or to “cushion the blow” a little and yet so often without realizing that very often the truth is much easier to handle than the things that are going through their mind asa they try to process why what they are being told just doesn’t seem to fit or feel right.

    As for everyone having an issue, I can understand and have to say I do wonder that myself. I have often reflected on whether our understanding of “normality” and thusly our understanding of “abnormality” when it comes to mental health and our minds is all messed up.

    I seriously wonder if our whole perspective on it is completely wrong?

    My father and I had a very strange relationship partly down to my mental health, partly down to his demeanour but interestingly I was 37 before anyone spoke of his possibly having mental illness and even then it was not in respect of his mental illness but in response to something I had written in my book.

    I think that is so very sad,

    Oh and since I am very sefl-conscious at the moment please forgive me if the question raised any painful memories for you. I had not considered parents in my question and was actually thinking of eccentric old aunts etc.
    KInd Regards and God Bless you.

    • Personally, I feel that if I can’t tell it to a child, then something needs to change. I have explained to a couple of my students that I am “moody” and “sensitive” and those things are okay to be. I didn’t go into depth with disorder or anything. Even when I had come back after having my surgery, I had to explain to them that I had to have some bad cells taken out from the inside so that I didn’t get cancer. But, I explained that I was well, and that I would be spending time getting better by sitting down. They were all very nice and offered to do errands for me, since I couldn’t run the stairs.

      I don’t spend time pretending like I’m happy in front of my kid when I’m not. I explain to him what is going on with me. One day recently, I spent most of the day in bed. I asked him if he wanted to come, hang out with me, and watch some Netflix. I told him that I was sad and tired, but I wouldn’t be like that forever. I cry in front of him. I yell. It’s something he needs to see. He’s emotional like me. In all likelihood, he doesn’t have autism spectrum disorder at all, he probably is showing anxiety like I did as a kid, and will end up with a mood disorder. If that’s the case, then he needs to know that it’s perfectly okay. I don’t like him seeing me that way. But, he knows that I’ll be better soon. I always am.

      So, now he’s better about it. He doesn’t freak out when I cry, and most of the time he ignores me when I yell. We’ve both learned to be a little calmer around the other one, but genuinely so. Just to live life a little slower and process things openly and honestly.

      Maybe he won’t grow up to have a mood disorder. It’s unlikely, because both of his parents have a mental illness. I don’t think he’s getting out of this one. But, if I show him that even though I might be mixed up in the head, it has nothing to do with him. I’m just like that. And my mixed up head has nothing on how much I love him and how I can always put my junk aside to help him, teach him, and be there for him. He might be able to tell people that his mom has Bipolar Disorder, but he’ll never have to question whether I love him or not. That’s something I wish I had.

      It’s interesting that you say that about your father, his potential illness in respect to your own. My mother did something like that recently. She’s been under a lot of extended family related stress, which always brings out the worst in her. One day, we were sitting across a table talking to one another. And she looked at me really hard and said something like, “I see so much of myself in you, in relation to your, you know…” And then she remarked on there being some similarities, or something to that effect. It left this impression in my head. She sees the same things I see now.

      I’ve been agonizing over it for the last few months. My mother and I, alike? Ugh. But, I start to see the similarities in our lives come out. I stay at home with my son who has ASD. I have a husband with mental health problems. I developed alcoholism at a young age. In all likelihood, we both have eating disorders. She had told me about how she had a “temper” when she was my age. I’ve had a temper for awhile. I actually feel like my temper is less than it was before.

      The difference is that I own up to my disorder. I take care of it, and I realize that all of these things hurt not only me, but my family too. I don’t want my mother having to tell my son about me “being in the hospital” one day. I just want to be the mom I never had, because my mom was just too busy, stressed out, and mentally / emotionally unavailable to be that for me.

  4. Lulu, I know what my own answer to this question is, but I often wonder what other people will say. My question is this: if you were given a choice, and could go back in time and relive your life without mental illness, would you do it?

    • No, as odd as that sounds. I remember what I was like before I was seriously symptomatic. I would be in a place very far away from here. I don’t know if I would have the same things that I love here. My husband – as much trouble as we go through, we love each other. Really, honestly. It’s something that some people wait their whole lives for, and I was blessed with it very young in my life. Then, my son. He’s just everything to me. I know he’s imperfect, but he could not be more perfect to me. I wouldn’t be working the same job. So, no. It’s a part of me and something that defines my life.

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