January 2014

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I’ve only published 48 posts here, and I don’t think I’ve posted more than once in a day.

I’m probably drawn back to the screen because I’m having an almost out of body experience right now. I’m so uncomfortable and exhausted being sick, and I have to listen to the new next door neighbor get settled in their master bedroom, which is only inches from my own. Every bang against the wall makes my heart jump.

I’ve had it up to here (as I’ve said quite a few times by now) with living in a place that feels more like a cage than a home. It was only supposed to be six months, but it’s turned into 5 years (next month). I guess that’s what I get for not wanting to go back to Ventura county until I found a place to live, and since my grandchild asked so sweetly “Nana, can we get this one?”, what else could I do, but sign on the dotted line. My grown children would never have taken this place. They like their privacy and that’s something you don’t get here. At least not in this part of town. The only great thing about living here is the ten minute walk to the beach, which is glorious. But I can’t remember the last time I did that. Very sad.

I knew I’d want to move after a year. But what’s a year? Twelve months. And now, I’m paying for staying with my health, which is going down the tubes so fast, I don’t know if I’m ever going to get it back. I really think there is damage that can’t be repaired. My anxious mind is doing overtime.

I’m looking up at the previous paragraphs, and notice that they’ve all have started with the word “I”. That’s not good. I think that means that I’m really not doing too well.

I’m (there I go again!) just sick and tired of being sick and tired.

So, it’s time to think of the good things. Things that make me smile. It’s difficult to do, when you’re feeling lousy, but the mind can help one recover, just as much as medicine, and sometimes it’s the best remedy!

O. K. So, the next thing to do, is get out of bed, sponge bathe, dress, and get to the doctor’s, right? So simple…

Right!

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I have not been well for almost ten days. If you read my blog post, “Hotel Whatever”, I pointed out that I was at a hotel in the L.A. area, and couldn’t do much of anything, except have lunch with a good friend, because I have an upper respiratory mess going on. So, except for a three hour luncheon with my friend, I spent five days in bed in a hotel with my laptop to keep me from climbing the walls.

Today, it’s getting worse. Antibiotics failed. Prescription cough syrup only goes so far, and I had a horrible asthma attack about an hour and a half ago. If I use my inhaler too much, it can exacerbate the problem, so I held off on using it this morning, as I struggled to breathe.

My immune system is almost non-existent. Anyone who has severe asthma will understand how frightening it is to be in the throes of a full-on, brutal attack. Every breath is a struggle. You feel as if someone is sitting on your chest. You can hardly talk, and when you do, the terrible wheezing comes out which scares you even more.

Most people who have asthma are aware that an asthma attack can be fatal. That factor alone sent me into a mild panic. I drank almost three cups of black coffee to open up my bronchial tubes, so I’m really amped up right now. My body is exhausted but my brain is swimming in caffeine.

Today, as I was reading about asthma, I noticed an ad for a medication that states (at the top,not below in print you’d need a telescope to see) all the great things it does for your asthma, but it also warns that taking the medication can lead to death.

It’s awful. Just as I wouldn’t wish a mental illness on anyone, I wouldn’t wish asthma either

Off to the doc’s at 1:00PM.

Monday, Monday.

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5TH day at Hampton Inn and Suites. A large room. Very comfortable. King size bed. A bathroom that isn’t moldy, which is a real luxury to me.

I had plans to see a few close friends while I’m here. Do a bit of shopping, maybe get my hair colored. I DID get together with ONE of my closest friends, and had a great three hour gab lunch at a fabulous deli. It was packed and noisy and I felt like I was in New York again. I could eat good deli food every day!

But I got slammed with my yearly bout of winter bronchitis, which means bed rest, unless I want it to slide into pneumonia, which it’s done twice before. I was born with a lousy immune system. Asthma’s back, so back to steroids for relief when I can barely breathe and I’m wheezing all over the place,especially when I wake up. God, I hate it. Then add my thyroid and psych meds and I’ve got a whole little black bag full of stuff. And I’m only 63! If I live another ten or (God forbid) 20 years, I’ll spend half my day preparing my daily doses and popping pills, which will leave me only a bit of time for 60’s reruns and my sleep hypnosis video. I’m trying not to slide into pneumonia, but I’m DEFINITELY sliding into the “Third Act”, as some call it. Yes, as The Beatles said, “Life is very short..”. And according to statistics (and my psychiatrist) a real long life is probably not in the cards for me. So maybe that’s why I haven’t “met” many in this community who are my age. A few, but not many. If you’re a senior, don’t be shy, we welcome all ages! Get in touch with me!!

As someone whose been around a few years, it really is a good idea to try to find what works in helping to “manage” a mental illness. Then there can be a little room for a few good times and maybe even a little joy, or, dare I say, Fun!

I haven’t used the time I’ve had alone in this hotel, while my husband is working, to finish the second draft of my manuscript. It’s a real mess. No, I’m using my sickness (physical) as an excuse to indulge in escapism, while my husband has been in rehearsals, 2 gigs, and is now at Sunset Sound, finishing up the last half of an album. I was hoping to get over to the studio, to hang out, but I just didn’t want to get out of bed.

I’ve had to take care of my husband because he’s in need of a lot of good healthy food and rest, but he’s got so much going on, it’s near to impossible for either of us to keep up. One things spills into another. My husband has had a tough year, health-wise. He was diagnosed with vertigo last spring, took two trips to the emergency room, had a Cat Scan and an MRI, but nothing serious showed up. He did physical therapy to get the “crystals” in his middle ear back in place. It didn’t help much. They still don’t know what’s wrong. No tumors, nothing to pinpoint. He’s taking meds for stress and sleep, which are helping. Diet and a couple of meds and supplements is all he’s doing. But he still gets dizzy in the late afternoon and it really does a number on his energy level. He’s borderline hypoglycemic, so he’s cut way down on sweets.

No day is ever the same in our world. But what’s the big deal? For me, I never know what’s going to come my way. Bipolar 1? Generalized Anxiety? Agoraphobia? Of course not!

As soon as we get home tomorrow afternoon, my husband’s got three students and another regular gig at the Hyatt. I’ll be driving home, and the rental car is comfortable, so I hope he can get a couple of hours sleep. And we’re finally going to break down and get a new, bigger car. That’s why most older people drive big cars. They need to feel as comfortable as possible. Like they’re in their living room. Lazy boy should team up with Ford, or Chevy, or Toyota. Maybe they have already. I’m just really out of touch with that kind of stuff.

The project my husband’s working on is with three top of the line, renowned jazz musicians, and there’s going to be a tour coming up sooner than later. Quincy Jones was at the club on Monday. He’s good friends with the piano player from Toyko. This guy is a monster player, and they’re all working their bums off, but having a good time, because the music they’re making is real good. My husband wrote three songs for this album. A lot a jazz instrumentals can be boring to those who aren’t diehard fans. Some people, including one of my old friends from high school just don’t “get it”. I totally understand. Many people don’t. It’s not for everyone. And I don’t care for some of it, either. I have a lot of friends whose spouses are jazz musicians and they hate jazz. And that’s o.k.

Another time, I’ll write about my love of music. I’m all over the place with what I like! Pretty eclectic. As long as it’s Good! And I keep up. I like a lot of indie stuff! Even some hip-hop.

I do like the stuff my husband does. And you’d be surprised to know that a lot of musicians rarely listen to music in their off hours. They’re too busy making it, teaching it, writing it. And when they can, they need to get away from it for a while. They usually have other things that they like. Hobbies. My husband likes golf, and zoning out to to old 60’s and 70’s reruns. Speaking of golf, he met someone at the club in Hollywood who’s CEO of some big company and he’s going to be in our neck of the woods, to play two of the best courses around next week. His wife is doing something else, so my husband gets be a guest at a course that’s a golfers’ dream. Every so often, these kinds of perks come up for him. And he really does deserve it. We’re not rich, but where we live, the rich aren’t really snobs. A good many of them share their good fortune with others. They especially appreciate artists and musicians, who, for the most part, have to work REALLY hard to pay the rent, and all the other things that go with daily life.

I haven’t worked since 1996, and I only received a “partially favorable judgement” by the court, when I filed a claim. That means, they acknowledge that I’m mentally ill and unable to hold down a job, but denied me social security disability benefits. I have to practically be out on the street before I could qualify for SSI, which isn’t enough for anyone to have even the basic necessities if they’re disabled. And I also got diagnosed two years too late. My SS coverage ran out two years after my last job, and my diagnosis wasn’t until 2000. Four and a half years of litigation,for nothing. MY 1991 5150 record at Sylmar Hospital was lost in the Northridge Earthquake of 1994. That would have provided a little more leverage. And my psychiatrist cost me $600.00 to show up in court for me. He testified that, from my history, in his opinion, I exhibited bipolar symptoms since at LEAST 1989. No luck. So I know how tough it is out there. It really sucks. AND IT’S NOT FAIR. AND THAT’S WHY I HAVE THIS BLOG.

So my husband is the sole supporter, and we have no health insurance, until we sign up for Obamacare. And I hear it’s pretty hard to figure out what to chose from.

My husband puts the TV on most of the day, to block out all the noise from outside. I tell him to put on headphones, but he rarely complies. I can’t stand commercials. They tear through my ears like a runaway train. It’s awful. So when I’m near the TV, I always make sure I’ve got the remote close, because it’s just unbearable. Like nails on a chalkboard!

That’s a trigger for my anxiety. Commercials. But also, the touring that’s going to be happening when this album comes out. Japan and Europe, for sure. I want to go back to Japan. We’ve got friends there and I haven’t seen them since 2007. I miss the culture, the graciousness of the Japanese people, the Buddhist temples, going out with my friends and staying out late in tiny, backstreet clubs that stay open all night. The Bullet Train. And the Tube in London. I guess I’m ready for a change. The money is going to be good, and my husband needs to play with musicians of his caliber because that’s what he’s done all of his professional life. In our area, there is much love of music but there are maybe three players (including hubby) who are seasoned pros and play at his level. They do regular local gigs and “casuals”, which is musician-speak for weddings, private parties. They pay pretty well. And once a month there’s a Sunday Jam at a local hotel, where everyone, young or old, amateur or pro, gets up to play or sing. It’s beautiful fun. But it really is time for him to get back on the road. It’s just something he has to do.

With my husband being off the road for almost five years (except for some dates in St. Petersburg, Russia, and some other weekenders) and taking the direction of teaching instead, he’s looking forward to touring. There is nothing like a live audience. Musicians NEED an audience. That’s where the magic is. In the interaction with the audience. The gigs went more than well. The place was packed and the crowd went nuts. That’s good. Everyone is happy. But my husband is exhausted. Like anything, as we get older, we tire more easily. As I’ve said before, music is made for listening. I get a big kick out of watching my husband perform because he’s really animated onstage. I guess that’s why so many people ask him to play on their records and tour with them. I’ll pull out some of my road trip stories one of these days. But I’m selfish, and I will wangle my way into at least going to Japan and London (and probably Italy). I adore London. Ronnie Scott’s jazz club, was a month every year, three years in a row. I had a ball. Even though I was so spaced out on Lithium and Klonopine that I had to go down the stairs with both feet on each step and my hands trembled terribly, I had a love affair with London.

This has been a ridiculous ramble, but I guess it’s my way of getting my mind off depressing things that have happened recently that I haven’t yet processed.

You understand. You’re the only ones I can count on to understand. Or at least listen. Thanks for your time. I hope you have a good day and night.

Peace of Mind and Love,
Nana

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There’s a new dog in town. Actually, the new dog shares a common wall with me. I don’t remember if I mentioned that there are thirty units in our complex. We have townhouses, studios, as well as one and two bedroom flats.

I will be short with this post, because I have to pack for the 360 mile drive to L.A. My husband is recording and gigging in Hollywood, and we’re staying for six nights, in Agoura, where we used to live.

Where was I? Oh, yes..the new dog. The new dog and I haven’t met yet. My husband describes him as a big, chunky, white lab. He has a very hearty bark. I’ve heard it all day long, as his mom & dad move in. They also have a baby. And that baby has great lungs. The dog’s barking and the baby’s crying, as I write. I can just imagine the evenings around here. The sounds coming through the walls, especially as I try to wind down in my bedroom. I wonder if the new dog’s barking is bugging the pit bull yet. I’m glad I can go downstairs without crossing the threshold of their respective abodes.

Before I sign off, I want to acknowledge that I’m at the end of my rope with all the dogs here, in this space that has too many people, as well as too many dogs! If you read one of my previous blogs about Chamber, the pit bull, you’ll know where I’m coming from.

As my fear of being accosted on the concrete staircase leading to my front door escalates, and our new “other side of the wall” neighbor, whose name my husband forgets, gets used to his new surroundings, I’m very happy to be driving 360 miles to L.A. tomorrow. We’ll be staying in a hotel that feels like a second home to me, near our former residence in Ventura county. AND THERE WILL BE NO BIG DOGS FOR ME TO FREAK OUT ABOUT!

I’LL STATE AGAIN..I love all animals, but I need a vacation from canines. Six days will be just fine.

But my little Sammie? My precious cha-weiner? My heart is breaking for having to leave her with a friend!

So, I guess I’m Happy/Sad right now. Bipolar 1. Generalized Anxiety. Agoraphobia. What more can I say?

Thank God for my mood stabilizer and my anxiety meds!

Peace of Mind & Love to You,

Nana

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WHAT? I DON’T KNOW. BUT WHEN I ADMIT THAT I DON’T KNOW, THEN I OPEN UP THE POSSIBILITY FOR SOMETHING NEW TO GET TO KNOW. YOU KNOW. YOU UNDERSTAND..

Well, I guess there’s a lot in my life that’s new. Every moment is new. Every thought is new, even if it’s a similar thought from the past, it’s never quite like the previous one because it is a present thought.

But one thing I know for sure that is not new;my procrastination to pick up the ridiculous amount of clutter in my townhouse, which mirrors the clutter in my mind. This was probably one of the first things I knew I’d never be really good at. WHY? BECAUSE IT HAS TO BE TAUGHT AND I WAS NEVER TAUGHT THE ART OF DECLUTTER!

I proved it to myself, countless times before, that when I pick things up, find a place for them, and keep up the much less effort it takes to keep clutter at bay, I can wake up happier and go on to have what’s usually a happy day.

This is not uncommon;for some people with mental health issues to accumulate clutter. You also don’t have to have a mental illness to be a person of clutter.

And those of us who spend hours blogging, tweeting and whatever, as part of the cause for change in the systems and death of stigma, it’s an honorable thing. We can’t clean and type at the same time. That’s where no judgement comes in. At least for me.

So, I will be going now. Get out of bed, put on Grey Gardens because it’s been a week since I visited the Beales in East Hampton. Somehow, when I put them on (The documentary,not the movie, which is fab!) they get me into a mindset where I can listen to them, learn new dialogue I’ve missed, and clean up pretty well. I don’t know how, but it works. I get things done and laugh a lot, too. As Little Edie says, “You know, I have to think these things up.” What? Think about what works best for me. That’s what!

Come on Big and Little Edie. Time to go to work. And make sure to feed the cats.
(P.S. I got the Criterion Collection, which has over an hour of great outtakes you Grey Gardens fans might enjoy, I do!
Peace of Mind and Love to You!
Nana

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The Brunch Club. That’s what I call my Saturday support group. We don’t have brunch, but we meet at what can be called “brunch time”. 12:30pm – 2pm, and sometimes, we DO have a pot luck “brunch” for special occasions. It doesn’t happen too often anymore, with the cost of groceries being so high these days. Sometimes we go out to Starbucks after our meeting, for what is called “fellowship”. For us, it’s usually “femaleship”. Except when our friend Paul is in town. We miss him terribly, since he took a well-paying position a good two hours north of us. He came by, over the holidays, and it was great to see him. He’s been an important part of our lives for the last three and a half years. Having formed friendships with people who have mental illness (of all kinds), and all the ups and downs, happiness and sadness, feelings of worthlessness, and wanting out of life, it’s indescribable, how important these people are: how much they contribute to my being able to manage the daily struggle – the falling down and the getting up, and going on with the business of life. A good life, DESPITE mental illness!

What started out as a group of anywhere from 8 to 15 or so, has dwindled to a core group of five. And we’re quite happy with it. Every so often, someone we miss, or someone new stops by, and it’s good to see them, and no matter what’s going on; whether they’ve had a setback, a suicide attempt, isolation, troubles with the law, med complications, family, friend, or loved one problems, the door is open, even to family members. They know where to find us.

Going to my meeting tomorrow is what’s going to break my seven days of being homebound. It’s a much needed reason to get up and out. Its a blessing! I hope whoever is thinking of joining a support group, even an on-line one, will check it out. It could be a good thing!

Peace of Mind & Love,
Nana

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I just realized that I’ve been in our apartment since last Saturday. That means, in the house five days straight. I don’t remember if I mentioned that I now have a lovely pit bull living two doors down. My husband says she’s a really sweet dog. I’m sure she is. Her name is Chamber. Interesting name. A couple of weeks ago, she was walking in the common area, without a leash. My husband said, “Don’t let my wife see you doing that man, she’ll have a fit! She’s scared to death of pit bulls!”

Yes, I’m deathly afraid of pit bulls. And yes, I know that they all shouldn’t get a bad rap, because they are loyal and loving companions and great with kids, if raised properly, and with love. I know this. I really DO know this. But that’s where GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) comes in and it really messes with my head.

I wish I could just stand still for a minute, and make friends with Chamber, but my brain won’t let me. Whenever I see ANY big dog, while I’m walking my little cha-weiner (dachshund/cha-hua-hua mix), I just cross the street and walk (or break into a sprint!) as fast as I can. There is a chemical reaction that goes on and I’m helpless to stop it. It probably brings to mind the time I got bit by a very big mixed breed when I was around eight years old. The rabies shot was not pleasant at all.

Last night my husband asked the owner (a very nice guy) if he wouldn’t mind taking Chamber out to walk and back from the left stairway. He said, no problem. But hubby now takes our baby out to relieve herself at all times.
That’s how bad it is.

I wish I didn’t have GAD because it’s pretty all-encompassing, as far as disorders go. I guess that’s why it’s called “Generalized”. That means, you name it, if my brain thinks it’s something to be all twisted up about and a trigger for a panic attack, I’ll do whatever I can to AVOID it! Fight or flight. And, when I can help ward off the inevitable, I take flight!

I truly love all animals. I think they are all beautiful, in their own unique ways. But I’m just going to use the right stairway when I take out the trash, get in my car, or go for a walk. I have to. I’ve produced enough Cortisol to last me the rest of my life.

Maybe it’s because an angry pit bull almost got our little girl on a walk by the beach a couple of years ago. We were just toddling along and out from the back of an old truck with a broken down cabin on top, comes this very angry, roaring pit bull, whose master had him tied to the other side by a big rope. Out of nowhere – and he was definitely in attack mode. And the master? He was nowhere to be found. It wasn’t the dog’s fault. This guy parks his truck all around the neighborhood, and then disappears. And no one does anything about the way he treats the poor dog. It’s sad. Even the animal control people don’t care. And the cops, too. Very sad.

Of course, I ran. And that’s the way it is. It’s too late to change. Believe me, I’ve tried. But, I’ve accepted that this is one thing I cannot change. And it’s o.k.

When you get a few years older, you’ll understand. If you’re my age, you probably do understand!

Bless the beasts and the children!

Love,
Nana xx

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Just a quick one, and thank goodness for whoever happens by! The New Year is here, and I’ve got to admit, I’m glad I haven’t made any hard and fast resolutions because I probably wouldn’t keep them.

Actually, I’ve all but done away with resolutions. They don’t work. Or I should say, I don’t work them. But I DID mention somewhere something that I want to get back to – the practice of mindfulness, which has so many benefits for MBS (mind, body & spirit). It can change your life, and one person at a time, change the world!

My back is out, asthma requires an inhaler, sinusitis has it’s almost unbearable moments, and the last and most important part of this roster is lack of sleep. Sleep, interrupted. And most of you know how important sleep is. I went without my sleep meds last night The pharmacy closes early on Sunday and I missed it! My fault.

And the block is back. I have three drafts and I’m stuck.So, what’s the lesson here? GET THE PROPER AMOUNT OF SLEEP AND DON’T FORGET TO PICK UP YOUR MEDS WHEN THEY’RE READY! AND DON’T FIGHT THE BLOCK! AND KEEP THAT RESOLUTION TO PRACTICE MINDFULNESS! AND JUST TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. WHO ELSE IS GOING TO DO IT?!

You understand. What do you do for sleep? Do you take meds or do you use an alternative? I’d love to hear from you!
Peace of Mind, & Love,
Nana

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My Goal

Through blogging, I want to share my story, life experiences & give hope to others struggling with mental health issues & the stigma that goes with it.

Although diagnosed late in life, and with many challenges through the years, I'm finally living life fully and gratefully, with my grandchild, family & friends! I hope to make some new friends here.

 

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Resources

Feeling suicidal? Please dial 911 or contact the following:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline toll free:
1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Veteran's Suicide Prevention Hotline:
1-800-273-8255

International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP)
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Psych Central
Mayo Clinic
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Disclaimer

Information presented on this blog is not a substitution for professional medical care and a treatment program. If you or a loved one has bipolar disorder or any other mental illness or mental health issue, please immediately seek the services and advise of a medical doctor for accurate diagnosis and treatment.