Through the Wood

I feel liberated!

Something happened today.  There was no click, or anything that proceeded it.  It came as a light trickle from an empty well.

I felt inspired. I started generating original thoughts again. The dense fog dispersed, and I could see once more. I awaken from an inky, dreamless slumber that lasted millenniums.  The breaths I took were like the first out of a dim room with recycled air.   The clouds parted, and the sun warmed my face, rekindling the fading fire inside.

I am still within the forest. But, the sun has penetrated. The path seems more defined. I may be on my way back to civilization.

I feel the synapses in my mind sparking. My body is energized. I am not yet with brilliance. It still filters in, trickling slowly through my veins, pumping eagerly through now beating heart. My shackles anchoring my soul loosen. The chain lengthens, and there is hope.

The bright, white, shining hope embraces me, and I nestle into it.  It has

There is a light in everyone's life that beckons.

been nearly two months since I was enveloped by shadows cast around my world.  I was sinking, anchors tethered tightly, nearly choking the very life around me.  I wasn’t living.  I was merely surviving from day to day.  Moment to moment. Nothing else could possibly exist in this world, for it was too overwhelming to even consider that the next second could contain such misery.

I crawled, belly on the ground.  I could not stand; the weight was too incredible to bear.  It prevented me from resuming life as myself.  It began to nibble away every morsel of my existence.  I took refuge in the shadows, receding into myself, folding once, twice, thrice over.  Until I was nearly a speck.

It, the shadows, the creeping, seeping darkness, took possession over me.  This horrible, unseen monster made the attempt to claim me.  Whispers.  Sever from this.  Sever from the world.  Retreat into me, and you shall not have to bear these incredible burdens.

I stood, breathless.  Tortured and tormented.  The air was in my lungs, but would not vibrate through my throat to create words.  I dared not refuse, but I hesitated to accept.  I refused to leave all of this, the wonderful people, community, and life I had built for myself.

Finally, I stood defiantly.  You are the burden that tears at my existence!  You are the shadow that blinds me!  And I refuse you, as I cast you away!

No longer do I feel oppressed, hopeless, and helpless.

It’s not as if my life has mended. The circumstances are much the same.  My grandmother is coming home, despite the fact that she is practically an invalid. My mother has been on a long bender.

I have $5 dollars to my name, and have been subsisting off of cup o noodles, doctored with some spices, accompanied by the last vegetable in my refrigerator. One more day. Just one more.

But, no matter. I am better than surviving, actually thriving in the puckered, sour face of stress and anxiety.  I am conquering, planting flags in remembrance of my victories, reclaiming my mind, life, and body. It is truly an incredible rush.

Invigorating, in certain moments. It provides the momentum to traverse these woods, and climb that mountain to take my place at the top.  Though the mountain is large, it is solid.  I walk once again upon solid ground, even if I am slipping on rocks that give.  I cling to the earth, determined to pull myself back to a vertical position.

I feel nearly free. The shadow has diminished, and I stand without it’s ominous presence. I am far from where I started, from in the beginning, still further even in these two lost months.  I have not backdrifted as much as I have deviated course.

Yet, a new path lies ahead.  It is forward, north and true.  Perhaps one day, it will cross my original path.  But, which will I choose to remain on?

Medicine from The Doctor

As of late, my disappearing act has largely been a result of the longest running series on television and the largest Sci-Fi franchise in the United Kingdom.  Some of my fellow Sci-Fi geeks may have already guessed it.  If you don’t know, then you may just be living under a rock.  I have been obsessed with Doctor Who.

At first, it started out pretty innocuously.  I am an avid Sci-Fi fan, raised in a family of Trekkies and long-time Doctor Who fans.  I recall my parents watching Doctor Who weekly in the evenings.  It would bore me to death and I’d end up going to bed early.  I detested it’s airing.  And now, I’m hooked.

Why the sudden change of heart?

Imagine watching this brilliant, lovely, quirky man traveling through time and space with his various companions.  It’s quite a spectacle to behold.  Alternate universes, twisting story lines, all contingent upon past and present events.  Even events that occur in the future that are yet to happen come into play.  When you are with The Doctor, anything is possible.  That’s the beauty of Doctor Who.

Today, I found myself searching for a sonic screwdriver replica for C.S.  He, too, is absolutely obsessed with the show.  In fact, he was so enthralled by it that he went out and bought a Doctor Who-esque coat.  I wanted to try to get him one for Christmas, but there’s no way that’s going to happen.  Why didn’t I think of this sooner?

In the meantime, I sidetracked with the plethora of Doctor Who backstory that exists from the previous series.  I came upon a timeline of the history of the various incarnations of The Doctors, when they appeared in the series, and who their companions were at the time.

In fact, there was a clever graphic I found:

Doctor Hoo!

And then I saw it.  The 4th Doctor, Tom Baker.  I remembered Tom Baker very vividly from my childhood.  He was the only Doctor that ever existed to me.  He had this curly, puffy hair, smashed down by a fedora he wore.  And there was the long, autumn colored scarf.  It was tangled all over the place and hung to the ground.  He was quite a character.

I was prattling on and on about my recent Doctor Who findings to C.S. in the van-buggy when POOF! – the realization hit me.  Certain things about this man had been subconsciously affecting me for years.  The scarves.  I’ve always been obsessed with the multicolored scarves.  And the coats.  There is nothing more sexy on a man than a trench coat.  There was always this idea in my head that quirkiness and eccentricity were preferred traits.  It conveyed a certain cleverness, imagination, and intelligence.

The 4th Doctor has been there all along!  The only thing that brought it to the surface was my admiration and fascination with the 10th Doctor.  Fantastic!

But, I can’t help but wonder – what else has Doctor Who left subconsciously dormant in my mind?

What secrets lie beyond?

Bipolar Inspirations

When I attempted to make the graphic media additions to the Original Graphic Media page, I made a discovery. It wasn’t practical to showcase my graphic media in a hidden page anymore. It had outgrown the tiny mention on Pendulum. It was time to build a new home for all of my graphic media.

A new home for Lulu's original graphic media

All of my graphic media will eventually be moved to the new site Bipolar Inspirations. As avid fans of Pendulum, you may have noticed many posts have graphic media associated with them. That will not change. However, if you have a longing to know the stories behind the pieces, Bipolar Inspirations may be exactly the place you’d like to visit.

Shameless self promotion alert: Don’t forget to hit the “Follow” button at the top!

Thanks to you all for following Pendulum! Posts will still remain frequent on Pendulum, but may be a little less frequent on Bipolar Inspirations.

As The Pendulum Swings

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my blog and the psychology of color.  We are all aware that colors around us alter our perceptions about the place, people, and situations we encounter.  I live in Pittsburgh, and I experience The Grey Season throughout months primarily between November and March.  Part of this is also known as Winter.  In The Grey Season, my perceptions are altered.  Everything is just more, well, blah, for lack of a better word.  It’s depressive but not necessarily depression.

Here’s a run-down of the psychology of color.

  • Black: considered to a serious color.  Usually is representative of any subject that is exclusively serious.  It usually revolves around death.  Invokes feelings of seriousness, gloomy, and despair.
  • White: considered to be a color of purity, cleanliness, and impartiality.  It can be thought of as a clean slate and new beginnings.  White bears no judgement.
  • Grey: thought to be a color that represents mediocrity.  It is not a moving color.  It is absolutely uninspiring.
  • Red: is considered to be a color that represents aggression and anger.  Think of the bullfighters holding the red drape.  The bull naturally feels aggression when seeing the color red.
  • Orange: is a vibrant color and typically represents change.  Orange is a color that is found most in the fall.  It is the color of pumpkins in the harvest, and leaves falling from trees.
  • Yellow: thought of as a joyful color.  Yellow is the color of the sun, and the light that it brings into this world.  The sun brings warmth, and is necessary for plants to grow.  It is considered a high energy color full of happiness.
  • Green: is thought of as an intelligent color.  Green is the color of money, but also the color of plants.  It is often representative of fertility and luck.
  • Blue: considered a color of serenity.  Blue occurs naturally in the world as the largest entities.  The sky is blue.  The oceans are blue.  Many people don’t realize that the water represents the fluidity of our emotions.  Blue water is calm water.  It is healing for the mind in nature.
  • Purple: is a regal color.  The robes of kings and queens were made from precious and rare indigo dye.  It represents wisdom, respect, and stimulates the brain for problem solving.
  • Brown: thought of as a stable color.  It is the color of the very earth we walk on.  It is reliable and constant.

As you may have noticed, my banner changed.  The banner was a hand-crafted graphic of hand selected clocks.  Each clock represents a frame of mind.  And every clock represents the seconds that are passing in our lives, during this very moment.

As the Pendulum Swings is a term that represents a number of ideas and concepts.  First and foremost, it represents the swinging of a pendulum in relation to the nature of bipolar disorder.  For every swing in one direction, I experience a swing in the opposite direction.  Whether they are long swings, or short swings, the pendulum will never stop until I am dead.

As the Pendulum Swings is also a play off of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum”.  If you are interested, the link will take you to the entire text for your reading pleasure.  Poe’s writings have always resonated with me, even as a young teen.  There was something in there that seemed to describe my very nature.  I felt the title of my blog was an appropriate reference to this work.

And finally, As the Pendulum Swings represents the swinging of the pendulum as it ticks our lives away.  Each swing is a second we have either gained for ourselves, or forever lost in the folds of the fabric of time.  It is a constant reminder that we should be constantly aware of our precious mortality.  Our physical lives are actually not exclusively owned. Rather, they are on lease, and we cannot be sure when that lease will expire.  We may lose our mortal flesh, but our souls are ours to keep.

What will you gain today from your mortal seconds to assimilate into your undying soul?

Perfectionists Anonymous

We're all guilty of this at one point or another.

Hello, my name is Lulu. And I am a perfectionist.

I have at least six half-written posts ready to roll out. Each contains explanations of what has been going on in my life lately. Yes, I’m aware that nearly a week has elapsed since I posted anything.

Why don’t I release any of them? Because, they aren’t quite right. None of them are actually completed. And every time I read them, I deem that there are entirely too many non sequitur tangents, and start editing. Before you know it, I pulled the wrong thread and the whole thing unraveled! Well, sh*t!

At least I know that I’m getting closer to returning to my original condition. You see, I was born into this world as a perfectionist. It is one of those . . . (dropped the word. Thanks Lamictal!), neurotic tics in my very DNA, bred into one generation after another since the beginning of time.

During the big bang, a collection of cosmic dust got together and became determined on being perfect. In evolution, this was found as a specific enzyme that became a tiny molecule in long DNA sequences. From an amoeba, all the way through vertebrates, into the homo genus, it settled into my first line of ape ancestors 9 million years ago. This was the same ape you saw engaging in curious behavior of sorting leaves for no specific reason. Later, it was the caveman who etched, and then went back to attempt to re-etch cave drawings. Today, it’s a genetic line, mostly comprised of dark blonde Scottish women, that are consumed with the urge to perfect everything.

I hope you could find that as amusing as I did. That was exactly one of those sidebars I was describing. But, since I have deemed this a stream of consciousness post, I can write whatever pops out. Now, I want you to do something for me. Locate the little red X at the top right of your screen. If this gets to be a little too Woody Allen-esque or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, you have your option. Otherwise, note the comment section below.

Back on track, or thereabouts. This started earlier than I have memory. When I was four, I recall the need to conquer everything I hadn’t yet mastered, but I was aware of. My handwriting was always meticulous. That was until I learned that handwriting is not meant to be uniform and is unique to each person. Of course, this happened during the “I am Unique, Hear Me Roar!” phase all teenagers eventually go through. For me, it was more like the discovery of self-loathing in depression that causes complete defeat and perpetuates the cycle of self-loathing.

Here’s where I’m going.

I do not have OCD. Okay, maybe I have some tendencies, but it doesn’t cause me significant dysfunction. I do have a threshold for this. Eventually, I’ll get too frustrated, throw my hands up in the air, and scream, “F**k it!”, as I’m seen setting the proverbial (or actual) fire to the whole thing. (Note: I am not an arsonist. I think. Define arsonist.)

Joking!

That’s pretty much what happened to me. Bipolar disorder probably put the stop to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Before, I was obsessed with perfecting skills and creations. I actually remember my life before Bipolar Disorder! Granted, I was only eleven and younger, but it did exist!

Then, I became distracted with myself. My feelings, my consciousness, my cognition, and my world. It was all about me. I went around with the blow torch and sledgehammer and demolished everything. Because, if it came from me, then it was flawed in design from its origins. It was as flawed as I was.

And for a very long time, I went through a cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies through self-sabotage. I carry an inherent flaw. Time to get to the incinerator!

But, as years of treatment have ticked by and the medicine has coursed through my veins, I began a process of ecdysis (look it up, I’m not linking it, I’m busy). I don’t consider this a process of reversion. But, it is not synonymous with metamorphosis, because I am not coming out of the cocoon as a different being. It is something different entirely.

I am moving in a corkscrew fashion down a time line that is supposed to be linear. It is only linear in the sense that one can draw lines down the outside of the corkscrew to find a correlation between that snap shot and the next at the point of intersection in the corkscrew.

So, here I am. A whole month of bipolar of stability. The longest point in my treatment that I have experienced this. And if I were idly questioned, I’d remark that I hardly feel stable. My life is a hectic mess right now. But hey, when is anything hectic organized? Pristine chaos – HA! But, my emotions are solid, though they rattle. Is this what non-Dx people feel like?

Now, I’m busy, so I’m going to stop writing now. Have a lovely day.

Eleven, Eleven, Eleven

I am completely luck impaired. If I had luck as a stat like in role-playing games, it was be a -3. I swear.

But today, on the luckiest day of this millennium, I thought that I would acknowledge all of the luckiest things that have ever happened to me.

  • From what I understand, some people search their whole lives for that one special person. I met him in my teens. I became romantically involved with him, and nine months later we were married.
  • I am blessed with a wonderful son. Many women have fertility issues. Even if this surgery results in infertility, I still have T.D.
  • I was lucky enough to have a mostly uncomplicated pregnancy with T.D. and a complication free labor. He was born healthy and beautiful.
  • Through pure chance, I fell into the job of my dreams. This was the spark that started my passion for education and love of children. Some people search forever for the job they love, and I received mine by chance.
  • I am naturally gifted in many areas. I was afforded so many different chances to hone my abilities.
  • I am lucky enough to have a permanent home.
  • By chance, I have found a mental health community. Here, I find warmth, comfort, guidance, and camaraderie.
  • C.S. was lucky enough to walk away from a potentially fatal accident. I am lucky to have him alive.
  • Through absolutely random chance, I met a stranger on the bus who helped me save the big spring musical. It saved my job, gave me work over the summer, and promoted me to Music Director.
  • Once, I found $123 on a sidewalk with no one in sight.
  • And best of all, I am the luckiest gal on the planet to be surrounded with people who love me for who I am. This one goes out to you.
  • Maybe I’m not so unlucky after all. Happy 11/11/11!

Me and Magee

I can’t remember the last time I knew of 5 o’clock in the morning’s existence. I was so exhausted, my memory is fragmented down to the moment I set foot into Magee Women’s Hospital. First, I stood in my living room hugging my mother and saying goodbye. Then, I sat in the gas station parking lot when the voice started screaming, “Get out of here! Go! Run away!” Next, we were at the light to the on-ramp to the highway. And finally, we were entering Oakland.

I arrived to check-in at 5:30am. I was ushered through registration so quick that I didn’t even have a chance to fill out the papers before I was in pre-op.

Pre-op is just like when they call you from the waiting room to the examination room. Then, you’re required to sit and wait for an eternity. Various nurses came through. One to instruct me to strip down and don the teal and white pinstripe hospital gown. Yes, the one that leaves little to the imagination when it comes to my backside. Another to make notes of my current medications. There’s certainly no staff shortage there!

And finally, I met my OR nurse. She was a pretty lady, probably at the end of middle-age. She had fluffy, curled blonde hair, tiny sapphire eyes, and a warm smile. I related my extreme loathing of IV’s. The first time I had an IV, it was in my hand continuously for 48 hours. The last time, they gave me a pain medication that sent me through the roof. I paced the room screaming about how I wanted the IV out now or I was going to rip it out myself. I can always feel it in my veins and it hurts my whole arm.

She smiled and said, “You’re in luck! I’m going to put a local into your hand. You won’t feel a thing.” I didn’t! I stared at the IV in my left hand in amazement. She put a blue gauze hair net over my head, pulled my blanket closer around me, and fixed the one in my lap. Everything felt so warm and maternal. She looked at me confidently. “You’re all ready!”

I took a milligram of Xanax at 5am. I must have timed it perfectly. It grabbed me hard just before I was about to go. I joked with C.S. about silly things. The pangs of panic existed, but they hardly echoed from their distance.

Dr. T. came in and I knew it was showtime. I was eager to introduce her to my husband. I felt like it was a long time in the making. Really, it has been. April 2011 was the beginning of round two. It was at that point that the nurse and anesthesiologist joined her. They plugged the sedative into my IV while I kissed C.S. goodbye.

He had the talisman. I was in caring, capable hands. I was wheeled into the OR completely soothed.

The sedative was interesting. It messed with my vision first. The fluorescent lights seemed to have a runner, a beam of light than ran along them. The staff helped me off of the gurney and onto a soft, heated OR table. They asked how I felt and I told them that it was all wonderful. I had two snuggly blankets around me and I felt like I was lying on blankets fresh from the dryer. “It feels like a cocoon.”

The staff was helping me to put my thighs into some elevated pads instead of cold stirrups. And that’s the last thing I remember.

I started telling the nurse that was talking to that I needed more medicine. I think my mind thought that I was still in surgery. She told me that I didn’t. I woke up and started sobbing. I looked around and didn’t know where I was or what happened. I asked if I could have a few tissues.

I inquired between sobs, “Is this normal? I have bipolar disorder.” I was terrified that all of this triggered a vicious episode.

She put the box of tissues in my lap and assured me, “A lot of our younger patients experience this. It’s completely normal.”

I remembered something from my childhood. I would fall asleep not remember doing so. Then, when I woke up somewhere else, I’d bawl my eyes out, because I was so confused. I felt like it was akin to that.

“Are you in any pain?”

“Surprisingly, no.”

“Can you walk?”

“I think so.”

A young, brown-haired nurse helped me off the gurney and over to a quiet, private area. I sat in a nice leather recliner and she asked if I’d like something to drink. “A soda, Pepsi. It’s all I’ve wanted this morning.” She assured me that I’d have a cold soda and C.S. in a short moment.

I was delighted to see him and smiled. He smiled back in relief, at beside me, and I started crying again. I laughed and sobbed at the time time, “I woke up crying in the post-op!” He laughed and hugged me.

The local started to wear off, and I was in some severe pain. C.S. was on the phone promptly to get me relief. Considering a had a part of me electrocuted off today, I’m great! I’m a little cranky, emotional, foggy, and tired. But nothing unusual.

Crossing my fingers and toes that the LEEP took care of all of the bad cells for good.

C.S. bought me a few “get well” presents!

Buried Treasure

Thank you, Tori. Thank you, Trent. It’s still a bit hazy. But it is all trickling back into my memory now.

I listened to a lot of Tori Amos and Nine Inch Nails in my teens. Really, I actually went out on a bus to the music store in the square or center and purchased the CDs. (That might put some of you with Mr. Peabody on the Wayback Machine). Since my bout with pneumonia that came fully equipped with laryngitis, I’ve had problems with my singing voice. I wondered how I trained my voice before I had a teacher. And it took me back to Tori and Trent.

Anima and Animus, feminine and masculine sides of my personality and thus, my art. They weren’t role models in the familiar sense that I looked up to them. Something inside me resonated with these two figures through their music.
I sang Caught a Lite Sneeze in the shower. I know, so cliche, right? I guess I hadn’t put any thought into what the song meant in many years. Seeing it now, through adult eyes, made it mean something different.

She’s describing the push and pull of a relationship and the particulars about the man. Why did it have to be so complicated? I wanted to hear it again, so I started to listen a “Sessions” version on Youtube. And then, I knew who it was about. In the end, it was about two people who were meant to be that never were.

The hazy memories of who I started my life as came into focus. Other than shedding some naïve notions and gaining some cynicism, I have finally come full circle. I am that girl in the woods. The only difference is those woods became my home.

I was a dark blonde, long haired, chubby, short girl with big, dark framed glasses. You could always find me with a pen or an instrument in my hand, a song in my heart, and an ache in my soul. Mostly, I looked brooding or electric. I was quite a character.

“At work, I really let my freak flag fly,” I said proudly to C.S.

Today, I am a bleach-blonde, moderately weighted, short woman with Buddy Holly glasses. You can always find me with a Blackberry or a Pilot G2 pen in hand. There is a strong voice with song that made a nest in my heart for loved ones. My soul sparks and stirs, with both warmth and burns from the fire within.

Why did I have to lose myself, to throw myself away entirely, in order to really find myself?

Construction Zone – Self Improvement in Progress

Per Brandon who writes The Daily Bipolar, I’ve been inspired by his post Too Much At Once?.  In his post, he was examining goals for himself and prioritizing.

Obviously, I seriously have a problem with that.  I’m often stuck in the here and now situation.  I tend to focus on the most pressing problem of the moment instead of continually striving for the bigger picture.  It wasn’t always like this.  I’ve really lost faith in my ability to carry a plan all the way through.  And worse, I have been neglecting responsibilities through extreme procrastination.  In order to reorganize my priorities and get back on track, I’m going to make a list of the things that are most important to me, instead of the most pressing issues.

Make Appointments and Keep Them:  I have difficulty keeping appointments.  Typically, this is because of the pressing issue at hand.  If I am deep into a depressive episode, I’m not motivated to go.  Especially if I know that it’s going to be bad news.  Even so, I’m still fearing the bad news that is coming my way and the challenges that are ahead of me.

Since when did I start living my life in fear?  I’m not sure how that happened.

Quit Smoking For Good: I made what started out to be a very successful attempt to quit smoking between last April and last June.  I was down to between five and seven cigarettes a day.  That’s quite a record drop from 12 to 14.  I was so close to being able to throw out all of my ashtrays.  (Except the Kennywood one.  My mother bought that for me.  I was going to turn it into a hard candy dish).  Smoking is literally killing me.  My doctor and I have concluded smoking is the reason the cervical dysplasia continues to return.  My asthma is getting worse.  It’s bad for my heart which is already having problems.  And more than anything, I want to be a good role model for my kid and the children I teach.  How can I possibly tell them smoking is bad when I wait until I’m in Downtown to jump off the bus and light up?

Return to Journalling: I have been severely neglecting my journal.  It’s not really on purpose.  I had a few Pendulum posts that I wanted to include in it.  However, I do not have a printer, so I’ve had to transpose them by hand.  It was taking much longer than anticipated.  I’m really behind now, although I do leave post-it’s of important thing I want to talk about within it.  I really need to spend some time catching up and make the concious effort to spend at least one hour a night working at it again.  I was doing a lot better when I was keeping a constant log to work out my emotions.

Regulating My Biological Cycles: I am having some difficulty regulating my sleeping and eating cycles due to mood changes and, of course, stress.  I have to make a real effort to sleep and eat when I know that I need to.  It’s unhealthy and obviously is a trigger for disaster.

Start Taking Time for Myself:  I don’t care if anyone around me thinks that it is selfish.  I am starting to realize that it is perfectly reasonable and absolutely necessary.  I think that a number of factors went into my most recent episode(s?).  One of those was being over-extended.  I was performing duties that I was pressured into doing in the here-and-now.  After that, there was no time for me.  Obviously, I’m burnt out, and I’m not taking it well.  I’m holding it together, but there are some serious cracks in the walls.  I don’t want to crumble.  And I don’t want to start over.  Not after I’ve worked this hard to get it all built up again.  If I have to take this time by force, I will.

Become More Focused: Obviously.  But, in order to do accomplish that, I have to continue to keep a set of goals in tangible form.

Appreciate the Pretty Things: I wrote a blog post called All the Pretty Things back in July when I faced the possibility of another surgery.  I need to refer back to the pretty things and update that list frequently.

Start Confronting My Emotions: Talk is cheap.  I could probably go on eternally about the things that are currently upsetting my emotional state.  Sometimes, I do.  What I need to do more than anything, no matter how painful it is, is start conflict resolution.  I must grow the chutzpuh in order to confront situations and people that are harming me.  Action is what gets things done.

Most of all, like it has been pointed out to me, I don’t have to take on the mountain in a day.  This didn’t begin in a day, and it’s not going to be resolved in a day.  It took God six days to create the universe.  Why should I expect to do the same?

I am not God.  I am Lulu.  That’s it.  And I will have respect for myself in knowing that I am capable of doing anything I want to do.