Tag, I’m It! – Pittsburgh Edition

MM172001 tagged me this time.  And actually, after reading some responses, I am really eager to do this!

I’ll refrain from tagging anyone.  I am almost positive that this has made enough circles!

Onto the questions!

1. If you could go back and tell your younger self something.  What age would you go back to and what would you say?

I have often thought this over, although I mindfully refrain from asking the “Coulda, woulda, shoulda”s.  Had I been asked this question a year ago, I would have gone back to eighteen.

At eighteen, I had already been diagnosed and was being treated for MDD.  At the same time, I was already beginning my spiral into alcoholism.  Those are two pressing factors.  The other is the matter of my husband.

There was a brief moment in time where my husband and I were both single.  We shared a moment and a sofa.  I mentioned our history in my post Possibility and Ascension.

I would have advised myself to tell my doctor the truth about everything.  I wasn’t fine.  I had lost faith in her, because I wasn’t well after three years of treatment.  And I would have suggested bipolar disorder.

I would have told myself to stop with the alcohol.  It would almost be my destruction if I continued on that route.

And most of all, I would tell myself that C.S. and I belonged to each other.

But, I’ve thought it over.  I realized that everything happens in it’s own time for a good reason.  Though I would never wish the trials and tribulation I went through upon myself, I quite possibly needed them to get here.  My husband and I were meant to go through our awful relationships before we could be together.  Probably so that we could appreciate each other.  We needed to go through our respective hells so that we could grow toward each other.

If it weren’t for everything, I wouldn’t be me.  And as much as I don’t like myself sometimes, I actually do.  Sounds contradictory, but I like my life.  I love my husband and my son.  I wouldn’t want to change it.  So, why would I want to go back and take a chance on ruining it all?

2.  Favorite food.

Largely depends.  I find myself getting obsessed about a food.  Lately, it’s been egg white omelets.  Yum!

3. When did you start your blog? Why?  And has the purpose changed as time has?

June 19, 2011.  I often reference this post, because it was a big step for me.  It was my step into the public about my disorder.  Up until that time, I had really tried to tuck it into a corner and deal with in very privately.  I realized that I couldn’t.  Had I not written that post on June 19, 2011, I may not be here today.  It was the replacement for a potential suicide attempt.

The purpose is still largely the same.  It began as my internal monologues (and sometimes dialogues!) as my voice in this world.  That largely stands.  Except, the focus has shifted into less of a diary to chronicle my life, and more of a narrative as an outlet for my thoughts, ideas, and experiences.

It has expanded to include mental health advocacy, developing a mental health community, and a sounding board for others.  It will continue to develop in these areas, as I am now moving toward more mental health advocacy and publications.

4. What do you think your best character trait is?

Hands down, versatility.  I am extraordinarily flexible.  I can take on multiple roles, and handle a variety of situations in different settings.  I didn’t say I always do it well.  But, I can do it.

5. What do you think is your worst character trait?

Volatility.  I have come to realize and accept that I have a nasty temper.  Unfortunately, I have not yet figured out how to temper myself.

6. What is the last thing you read?

Book or blog?  I just started reading “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”.  As blogs go, I just finished reading the post that prompted this one.

7. Hero?

I don’t have heroes.  Heroes are often people we turn into characters that we idealize.  I am careful not to idealize any person or situation.  It often leads to disillusionment.  I am not good at handling that.

8. How much time do you spend on the internet in an average day?

About two hours or so.  Usually in the morning before anyone wakes up.  It’s the only time I can get the computer to myself.

Unless you count the time that I’m on my Blackberry.  Then, we’re looking at a total of about three to five.

9. If you had to chose only one social issue to fight for what would it be?

Human rights.  It covers just about everything I’d be fighting for.  Mental health advocacy, creating less of a socioeconomic gap, discrimination, and all kinds of things.  Human rights is extremely important.

10. If you could live anywhere, where and why?

Right here, in Pittsburgh.  Anyone who even talks to me about Pittsburgh will get an earful.  I love this city.  I have been a lot of other places in my life, and none have compared to this city.

Everything you could ever want in a city is here.  It’s not overly populated, only having about 300K that live within city limits and 1.5mil that live in the county surrounding.  This city and surrounding suburbs covers every mode of living a person can want.  Currently, I’m suburban / urban.  My husband would like us to move to a place that is more suburban / rural.  All within 10 miles of city limits.

We have the best sports teams, if you’re into that.  We boast the best healthcare in the US.  We have a wealth of universities to study at.  CMU is among the leading in technology.  Crime is not too bad.  There are very few areas that I would consider “unsafe”.  Our cultural district is amazing, ranging from community theater to Broadway musicals.  We have an entire district dedicated to nightlife.  And another district that is like a farmer’s market every morning!

We even have our own local dialect and slang.  Pittsburghese!

Everything you need is pretty accessible.  It can be both a driving city and a walking city.  I prefer walking.  Jaywalking is a sport.  (For me, anyway).  It’s just an incredible place to be.

11. If you could chose to have the power to read people’s minds/know their thoughts, would you choose to?  It’s not something you could turn on or off, you have it or don’t.  Why?

This is another one of those questions, just like number 1, that if you had reached me in years prior, I would have given you an entirely different answer.

When I was young, I used to think of Gene Grey from X-Men.  I thought telepathy / telekinesis was an incredible ability.  It was something that I thought would give me such potential, and such an edge.

But, I’ll tell you this.  Since the onset of my symptoms associated with bipolar disorder, I have changed my mind.  Bipolar disorder make my ability as an empath so much more pronounced.  I feel what other people feel.  Sometimes, so much that it bleeds into my own emotions and I cannot distinguish between the two.  And at times, it drives me mad.

If that’s how I feel, just being able to sense emotional vibrations, then I would refuse telepathy.  I know there is an abundance of opportunity afforded with that.  However, I don’t think I could handle all of those voices in my head.  I have enough, thank you.

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.

Mind-Reading: A Futuristic Possibility

I’m not typically one to report the news.  In fact, I tend to keep my opinions on religion, politics, parenting, and most other volitile subjects to myself.  But, this was entirely too disturbing.

An article on CNN’s belief blog entitiled Keep Government Out of Mind-Reading Business caught my eye this morning.

How would you feel if someone where able to reach into your brain and extract any information that they wanted to?  I would feel pretty violated.  I’ll admit, I still feel pretty violated after an invasive exam.  But, mind-reading goes above and beyond any procedure.  My mind is my mind.  The end. 

I see the practical applications of this technology.  It would provide more accurate lie detection in law enforcement and aid in national security.  It could solve crimes without sufficient physical evidence and out possible terrorists.  All of these things could help make our society safer.

But, how invasive is too invasive?  I agree with the author, Paul Root Wolpe, in his sentiment that our legal system is already incredibly invasive when it comes to violating our human rights.  Once we are a suspect, it seems as if our civil rights go out the window.  We become subject to searches in every aspect of our physical and internet lives.  In fact, there was just a story about how a judge ordered a divorcing couple to swap Facebook passwords in order to collect evidence against one another.  It goes down to even providing DNA samples.  We are fingerprinted for jobs now.

Again, I see the useful and probably life-saving application of these measures.  But, it’s completely unnecessary.  Some may retort, “Why would it be a problem if you have nothing to hide?”  This is where mental health concerns come into play.  The differences in brain chemistry between a typical brain and an affected brain would become apparent in these mind-reading brain scans.  Then, do we become profiled?

It’s already bad enough that many of us hide in the corners of the internet, safely writing behind our screens.  This is all out of fear that someone will discover that we have (insert disorder here), and then the sensitive information is in someone else’s hands to do whatever they want with it.  We can go on about how this information is protected under HIPPA and The American’s With Disabilities Act.  However, we’ve seen people circumvent the law before.  I’ve seen people use the knowledge of my disorder against me in many different ways and make my existence unbearable.  Why should I be in favor of someone extracting this information by accident?  Ben Franklin once said, “The only way to keep a secret between three people is if two of them are dead.”

We would become profiled.  I’m sure it would be notated in some government file somewhere that would come back to haunt us.  I can only imagine it.  I go to renew my clearences for work, and I’m denied.  Why?  Because someone, somewhere in the chain of command sees me unfit for my job.  Ridiculous, but true.

Your thoughts?

Silence in Disillusionment

I’ve attempted to write this post about a dozen times now.  Maybe more.  I don’t know.  The words aren’t coming out right.  It feels like there is nothing to write and everything to pour out, all at once.  There’s this battle going on inside myself between what I want to write, what I should write, and how to convey all of these thoughts.

I’m just going to blurt it out.  My blog, my rules.

This has started at work and with blogging lately.  For some unknown reason, I’ve been getting the feeling that I’ve been talking about myself too much lately.  I’m not self-absorbed, at least not in the way that my interests and motives orbit my being.  People seem to give me these blank stares of intense disinterest when I’m relating a situation to them.  The objective is to relate to someone else, not grant my pity.  I feel strongly against pitying people.  It’s insulting to some and enabling to others.

This has been the case with my blog, I’m sure.  I don’t often look at my stats, and when I do, it’s only to see what topics are the most popular.  If I’ve run a topic out, say about my upcoming surgery, then I’m done with it.  There is all that is to be said on that front, and I move along.  My stats are consistant with days that I write, and there is no immediate drop off.

However, there is no dialogue.  This is not incinuating that every post sparks something within each reader that makes it relevant and interesting.  If there is nothing to be said, then so be it.  But, I’m not running a blog to whine about my life.  It was never my intent to create a blog that dissects every situation and magnifies it to intensely overdramatic levels.  My objective was to become relatable in my trials and tribulations.  That does not to seem to be the case.  At least, not to me.

It seems that my comments and insights into other blogs are not enjoyed and in certain occasions, seem less than welcome.  It was my assumption that I was among a community of bipolar bloggers, to say the least.  I’m sure there is a mishmash of alphabet soup among us, and I can accomodate that.  Perhaps, I was mistaken in certain aspects of how these relationships work.

My goals were simple.  First and foremost, write a blog for me.  As my reader base increased, I had decided to narrow it down to important topics in my life.  As the community grew, I attempted to welcome everyone with open arms.  I was pretty sure everyone started their own blog with similar objectives, so my next goal was to provide insight and occasionally suggestions to other writers.  And finally, to bring our community closer together.

Maybe I was wrong, and I’ve failed in some fashion.  Or, I’m delusional with depression.

That’s what I wanted to write, sort of.  I wanted to include something to the effect of my suspicions of an on-coming depression, that is coloring this entire ordeal in my mind.  But, that can wait.  It’s not something I’m considering dissecting at the moment.  I am too disillusioned to be remotely objective.

I’ll write when I’m ready.  Whenever that is.

Books Speak Louder than Words

Yesterday was not a complete loss.

After the episode detailed in I’m Not Okay, C.S. suggested we go to Half Priced Books. We dressed and headed out in an unusual October snowstorm. The ride was enjoyable, although I was too anxious to sit still. It’s always a wet day outside when we go to the bookstore. That’s the last weather a person would want when transporting books.

Between the three of us, we must have purchased 25 books, two flash card packs, and three journals. I’ve been keeping handwritten journals in flimsy composition books. It’s nice to finally have a sturdy home for my ramblings, so they may live on for years to come.  And we put quite a dent in our bank account.

As I was sitting with C.S. this afternoon, peeling off price tags after our retail therapy, it hit me. We were in a fortress of books, and I looked him.

C.S. have a thing between us we call, “The Golden Thread”. It’s a subatomic line, coiled around each of our hearts, that runs upward through our brains, and connects to the other. It is the line that allows the one to know, at least on a subconscious level, what is happening within the other. It’s not a perfect connection, just as any other. It is susceptible to interference, outages, etc. But, it is the one thing that has always bonded us.

The only thing The Golden Thread can’t provide me with is any intelligible positive emotions toward me.

He never said the words, but I heard them ringing out, clear as a bell, “I’m sorry. For everything. I want you to be okay. I love you.”

Today, a very dear friend and I had a conversation about the LEEP procedure. She’s was more affected by the precancer than I am. She had the procedure done many years ago, when it was new, without complications.

And on this date, she is healthy and cancer free. She helped ease my fears. I’m extraordinarily thankful for her and all of her support. Without her words, I don’t know what shape I’d be in.

Thank you all for your encouraging words and support. This is one of the hardest times I’ve ever faced in my life. I’m grateful for everyone – for Ruby, Monday, James, ManicMuses, Always (yes, I saw your post on Canvas), and anyone and everyone else I may have not named. You’ve all given me a special kind of support that no one else in my life could. Again, thank you.

Garnets and Rubies

Today could not have been a more perfect day to meet her.

It was one of those days when everything was just so seamless. I climbed into T.D.’s new, twin, big-boy-bed to wake him for his last OT appointment. He was curled up in the center of the bed with books encircling him. I smiled and thought it was so like both C.S. and me. He opened his eyes, and he was all smiles too.

T.D. met most of his goals in his ISFP, and exceeded expectation in some. I showered and mentally picked out an outfit. White slouchy tunic and black and white floral skirt – with wooden and bronze jewelry, of course, for a more bohemian look. Wavy or straight? Easy, wavy. I was showered, dressed and out the door in less than an hour.

Everything was so fluid.

I stepped onto the sidewalk to a gorgeous day. The air was warm without the sun being hot on my skin. I headed to the restaurant on foot, two bags on my shoulder, with a cigarette in one hand and a Blackberry in the other.

About halfway there, it struck me. I had to ask, “Wait. Why am I not nervous?” I’m famous for The Big Deal – where I am so excited before something and suddenly get stricken with anxiety when it’s about to happen. Even just thinking about the absence of anxiety didn’t trigger anything. It was as if this was business as usual.

I had a little bit of a description to go on. As I approached, I did get a little worried I would be mistaken. But, I spotted her in the distance against the brick wall and knew who she was. It was incredible. She looked exactly as I had pictured her.

She started toward me and I asked, “Is this it?”

“Lulu?!”

“Yeah, Ruby?!

Ruby Tuesday, was my first contact on WordPress. She has become a very dear friend and the mother of A Canvas of the Minds, although we are co-founders. Without her birthing it and nurturing it, Canvas would have never come to fruition.

We sat there in the little Italian restaurant, talking as if we had known each other since we were children. It was easy. We chatted about everything and anything. There was no strain or grasping for words. It was all there, as if it had been all along.

She did trip on her way out. I saw her on her ass on the sidewalk and all I wanted was for her not to be embarrassed. I thought that it was just so real. Everything about her is so real.

Maybe, it was because I was looking at her in the flesh. But, I suspect that it goes deeper than that. She’s absolutely gorgeous in the most natural way. Her words are meaningful, and her eyes are wide and interested, always looking at the world as if she is seeing it at the first time.

After we were finished eating, we sat on a bench in this little suburb of Pittsburgh and talked some more. The time flew by, and two hours just wasn’t enough. There so much to share in a bond like this. I really considered going in late just so we could have more time. But, I knew, even if I stalled, it still would not be enough.

The only thing I really wished we could have done was take a beautiful picture together with the gorgeous Pittsburgh foliage. Then, we could have both had a memento of what promises to be a lovely, close friendship.

To my radiant Ruby, thank you for the most perfect day.

My Sitter’s Spare Time is an EPIC Fail

I’m always all about leaving some funnies on my site.  It’s a nice pick-me-up when things are crappy.

I happened to be on IRL FB last night and saw a status from my good friend.  She was talking about how sick she was but how she and her roomate were still going to the bar.  Yeah, that’s while her kid called off for the entire week.  So much for getting her fine paid off so she could get off of probation.

Apparently, that’s not a problem.  This is what my sitter does in her spare time.

Comments, questions, and hilarious laughter are welcome.

Meet Our Community

I have recently started a “Meet Our Community” section of my blog.  The inspiration came from mwam8 when she began her “Get Famous” section.  I’d like for everyone to tell their story and a little about their blog.  In addition, I will add your blog to my subscriptions and blogroll for others to refer to.

So go ahead.  We all want to meet you, here.