Friday, June 26, 2015

Needing Help vs Wanting Help

My daughter has a friend, who for the sake of anonymity we'll call... um... Suzi. Sure, that works.

Suzi has suffered from some form of depression since I've known her as a junior in high school. I don't know if this has ever been treated by a doctor or otherwise diagnosed by some form of professional. Judging by what I have seen of her personality, I would guess bi-polar, but I am certainly no expert. To date, Suzi has had two failed attempted suicides, but no visit to a psyche ward, and as far as I know, no medication.

Last night, Suzi came to visit my daughter. Suzi's mother isn't speaking to her because she doesn't approve of some of Suzi's lifestyle choices. Also, she told my daughter that she had found a way to numb the constant sadness: Percocet.  She'd had a bottle of 36 pills and had five left. After a week.

My daughter, having had to live with me and my struggles the past couple of years, asked some questions.

"Maybe you should go see a psychiatrist?"
"No! They'll lock me up in a white room, with a white gown, and feed me white food."
"No, it's not like that. I went to visit my mom in the psyche ward, it's not like that."
"Well I have friends who've been there, it's like that, I'm NOT talking to a psychiatrist."

So she tried another route:

"Maybe you should come in and talk to my mom. She knows how you're feeling, she can probably help."
"No, I don't need to talk to your mom. I don't need help. I've figured out how to help myself. I'm fine."

So she came to talk to me.

"Mom, how can I help her? She doesn't want my help and she doesn't listen."



I'm not a therapist, but the way I see it is either:  A - we report them for illegal use of a prescription drug, they get put in jail or I pull some strings and have them put in a psyche ward for detox. They don't want to be there, they don't think they need to be there. They smile and nod and do what they have to do to get out, and then go back to their life, one friend less, and still make the same choices.

B - We love her, we continue to try to point out where professional help would be effective, we try to be there without being taken advantage of. And in a rose-colored world, they'd see the light, realize they need help, then WANT the help, and then get it.

B doesn't happen often.

In 28 Days, Sandra Bullock's character didn't want to be in rehab. Thought it was stupid, that she had her life under control, and that the rules for everyday normal people didn't apply to her. And then things happened to her in rehab that caused her to have a change of heart, have some serious introspection, and take a good honest look at the world and people around her. By the time she got out of rehab, she *wanted* the help.

therapy, advice, meds, whatever, they are all available, but they aren't half as effective as they could be if the person being subjected to them either doesn't want them, or doesn't believe they'll help.

A psychiatrist can get the med combination 100% perfect, and it won't do a damn thing if the person is convinced their life sucks, nothing ever goes their way, it's not going to work out, so why bother trying. If it's not worth trying, they're not even going to see the great things around them even when their mood does lift.

A psychiatrist can get the med combination partly right and a person who wants help will notice a difference immediately (Or if not capable, their family will notice) and communicate back and forth with the doc about what's working and what's not.

Depression changes thought processes, so part of being on meds is working to change those negative trains of thought into positive ones. Or if that's not possible, then learn to recognize the rhetoric and de-rail it with something else. If a person isn't willing to examine their thought process, the meds can't do a whole lot to help them, either. Meds can do a little, but meds cannot and will not do the actual thinking for you.

People who WANT help, will find it. People who don't want help but need it, then have it thrown at them, won't be grateful for it. While it might keep them safe and out of jail, they won't truly get better until they want to. That's just how it is.

All that being said, you don't magically heal and get better from depression. you know that, right? But the helps, the coping skills, the meds, the advice, the small things friends  can do, all of that helps and matters. All of that helps dealing with the illness *easier*

Friday, June 19, 2015

My Recent Art Project

I don't do birthdays well. People wishing me a happy birthday, or sometimes just wanting my attention to make plans for a different day, make me cry. I can't explain it, I have no idea where the root of the trauma stems from; it just is how it is. My husband fields calls and texts while I pretend the world doesn't exist.

So yesterday I survived the day with headphones, loud music, and art. I have this intricate art project I've been working on for over a month. My goal being that I would give it to my friend for his birthday (which was clear back in May) for my birthday (yesterday).

I have kept this project secret from most folks, and I was really excited to give it to him this morning. It didn't work out that way, and I find myself hurt and crying all over again. How stupid is that? This giving of the gift was a present to myself to make the muscle aches and bruising on my hand and thumb worth it. (the dremel did a number on my hand, and using my right thumb is extremely painful) And, oh, have I mentioned that patience is not one of my virtues?

Anyway...

I am going to share the stages of this project with you. Because I can. And because I don't want to wait until Sunday. And while it's the day *after* my birthday, I still feel all traumatized and vulnerable. My bed seems like the safest place in the world today, but I crawled out so I could clean up the art mess and put everything away.

I'll just preface this with a disclaimer:  My first time working with a dremel. This piece is far from perfect and my design instructors would cringe. I couldn't figure out how to get the polycrylic to NOT goop up in the knotwork, so... I kind of want to just hide this in the closet and chalk it up to practice. So maybe it's a good thing he wouldn't come get it today.



Laying down the gridwork and learning how to do celtic knots. My very first time doing celtic knots.
I looked at a lot of tutorials. Threw in some steampunk gears for fun.

Finalized the knotwork, added the raven, and decided on a lunar theme for the top


Starting to dremel. This took hours. and hours. and hours. A - because I was learning to dremel as I went, B - because I was trying to figure out which bit worked best, and C - Because there's a lot of work to do.




At this point, I took it down to my father-in-law's house and we routed the edges. It was also at this point that I decided it was in the best interest of my elbow, thumb and forefinger to only dremel the knotwork.

Onward to the next stage:

Sanded, stained, and raven outlines inked in. The raven looked like a chicken at first, and I was mortified. 

Inked in gears and added the lunar phases

Finished. Knotwork painted so it stands out, gears highlighted, raven done. The zeppelin specs were not part of the original idea, but the feather pen I painted on looked terrible. I probably should have darkened the ink on the specs and weathered the edges to make it fit in better.  The raven was done with Acrylics over the ink.
I hope you can pardon the poor photographs, but I committed art!  Poorly, but it got me through yesterday, so that counts to me for something pretty big.


-- Do you know how many layers of yellow India ink it takes to actually make something look yellow instead of the color of whatever was under it? At least six. I kept inking and inking and inking until it looked yellow instead of brownish green. Note to self: In the future put a white background under anything I want to ink yellow.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I am what I am

I *HAVE* BiPolar Type 2, Depression, and Anxiety.

I *AM* an Artist.
I am a Mother
I am a Friend, Lover, Sister, Aunt, Grandchild, Daughter

I am me.

I am not my illness, nor does it define me. It is something I have to deal with constantly. It is something that I have not completely figured out how to control.

This illness has changed my life, yes. I used to be able to row my boat, listen to the spiritual guidance, and -- haha -- argue with the Lord about where I was going, but I knew how my oars worked, I knew how the boat handled the eddies and rapids, and I felt confident that I could handle any further things my river had to throw at me.

And then I went over a waterfall. When I surfaced, I had to find a new boat - it feels like I had to make it myself, but I know I've had help. I have new oars, and this stretch of river that I'm on has hidden rapids, whirlpools, and very strong undercurrents that I don't know how to navigate anymore.

I've fallen out of the boat a couple of times. And I'm not the one steering. It's extremely difficult for me to ride this river of faith and not know where I'm going or if my boat has leaks because I'm an imperfect builder.

I'm readjusting to how my oars work. How the boat handles and knowing when to adjust course for the dangers and rapids that I can see is very tricky for me, and I haven't quite gotten the hang of it yet.

However, the soul of me, my essence, is still here in the boat, determined to make it to the ocean so I can dance on the beach. I just have to re-learn some of my essentials.

Some days, like today, it seems extremely difficult to row. There are some things that hurt too much. Last night it seemed almost easier to let the current take me into the rocks. Not that I considered that option for longer than a half second. I'm too stubborn for that, and I really don't want to capsize again.

I am not my illness.

I am still here.

I dream vivdly, I love deeply, I play enthusiastically, and laugh loudly.

Monday, June 8, 2015

I love books, I do, but really? REALLY???

I have spent most of my life with my nose buried in books. For the most part, I love sci-fi/fantasy. I love to lose myself in stories and imagine I'm one of the starship smugglers or heroines on horseback saving the day with magic and thunder.

I also love some classics, like To Kill A Mockingbird, 1984, For Those I Loved, and Fahrenheit 451. I also enjoy plays from the Theatre of the Absurd genre. I especially love Equus with its mix of vivid history and strange.

Overall, my taste in literature runs on the odd side with some 'normal' stuff thrown in for color.

The last couple of years as I've been battling depression, I have primarily been reading romance novels. Fluffy and predictable, I don't much care about the plot or the setting. I'm guaranteed a happy ending and some feels along the way, which is important when things are so bad that I can't feel anything.

During this phase, I have purchased quite a few e-books. Most are SFF that I've shelved for when I will have the brain power to be able to think enough to enjoy the ride, the world, and the characters.

See authors??  I'm a reader. I LOVE books. I love stories. I love fun new ideas, new takes on old ideas, dreams, visions, and strange. I WANT you to take me to these places you dream about. I'd love to know about these worlds you spend months or years building.

*sigh*

Last night I tried to read some. It annoyed me. I'm talking crazy ANNOYED. Now, either I'm not in a place where reading is enjoyable, or these authors seriously need to pay good money to decent content and line editors. I fell back on Ole Reliable and tried some of the romance novels I had shelved for a rainy day. Those just irritated me even more.

Dammit, people, I want real dialogue. Read your freaking paragraphs OUT LOUD and see if those are words that would honestly and truly come out of your mouth.

Oh, and this is a personal preference, but STOP, for the love of Helvetica, writing in first person present tense. Unless you are Howard Tayler, don't do it. Just don't. You know that saying, "Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should?"  Yeah, most of you can't, so quit it.

First person is cool if it's past tense and you don't give me every stupid thought and every teensy memory of every last thing they see. I want to smack half of you with a frying pan, because if you tell me something once, I promise, I know how that character feels. Reactions to future things are understandable, as long as you don't rehash the old event every. single. time. grrrrrrr

If your character is a detective? Or the victim of a crime? Can you NOT be so obvious with the foreshadowing?  Can your character NOT know every last thing or have relatives or friends who have all these secret powers save the day? Or, contrarily, can your victim not be a complete airhead? The cops told them to stay where they're safe because the bad guy is ON THE STREET RIGHT THERE. So they take off running anyway? Seriously???

Oh, and fight scenes, folks. I love them, I do. A good testosterone moment or cat fight is pretty cool. However, I do not need a blow by blow account of every single fight. I get it. They whack each other. You can tell me some super cool moves, that's fine, but please, PLEAAASE, no five page fight scenes. I *will* skim and I will resent you for it. Unless you're Larry Correia, because he knows how to do fights that move the story forward and HELL YEAH, they are fun.

Yoo Hooo! Oh you lovey dovey Romance novelists? OMG do I have some rants for you folks. >:(

A - If you're going to open with a smexy hot scene, for crying out loud make it freaking believable. Having the awe inspiring double rainbow is all fine and dandy, you know, whatever, that's par for the course. But then immediately AFTER the guy has professed his love and she's thought he's THE ONE because angels sang and the heavens opened, one of them just says 'bye, it's been fun'??  Within two seconds of all the professions of "I'll love you forever"? Yeah, no. NO.

If the guy is an ass, then the sex would be quick and dirty, ***AND*** he'd have said all the sappy stuff to begin with. He would not have ended with it. I kid you not. They use that to get you IN bed, not out of it.

If he's a good guy and just leaves, it won't be immediately after the 'how can I live without this' moment. It just won't. Because he's a good guy. He'd obviously want to make the moment last forever before his incredibly good reason for taking off drives him away without an explanation or a note. Give the guy at least a few hours.

Even better? Don't open with the smexy hot scene, kay? Chances are it's not as hot as you think it is.

B- If you want to open with an 'ouchie my favorite person ever in the whole wide world left me high and dry' then use your brains and do it the right way. Don't start with the leaving scene. blech. And THEN, after ten years, the character may not have found someone else, sure, but I guarantee by then they wouldn't be all mopey and pining. If they are still crying over it, oh honey. I will throw that book at the wall and wish the character a horrible death.

C- There is more fun to it if you actually make me, your reader, feel the tension between the characters BEFORE you get to the all the rainbows and sweaty life changing moments. You know that's part of the fun with real life, right? Sometimes that's even better than the actual sweaty bit. And hey, if there's a one night stand with consequences, then STILL build up the tension before that problem is resolved. Let's be real here; there are gonna be issues to work out even if there is still some attraction.

D- Let's talk about vampires for a minute, mmkay? Most of your readers, in fact about 99% of them, know and understand vampires. Most of your readers have that same love and fear of vampires that you the writer do. If your breed of undead are different, do NOT spend pages and pages describing why and how and what. I don't care; I really don't. Give it to me in bits. I'm not even kidding.

If I read one more cafe scene where the 'in the know' character sits and explains for two hours to the 'wtf just happened' character how cool and scary these different monster are, I guarantee I'm not reading any further. Instead, it simply convinces me the author likes to hear themselves talk.

E- Anger. Yeah, I'm angry as I write this, but what's worse is when the main guy is *always* angry at the girl. Oh sure, from his point of view, he's angry with himself because he's attracted to her. And that's an excuse to take it out on her?? Trust me, there's a huge difference between being professional and being rude. From her/my point of view the guy is an ass and she's an idiot for not leaving the job or changing whatever situation she's in that requires her to be around him.

Or Are you secretly marketing the story as a BDSM? Because if so, you might want to change your freaking blurb. And also if that's the case, trust me sweety, your bedroom scenes need some massive changes. As well as the character interaction.

If you really think anger makes awesome romance tension, listen up. As someone who's married to a constantly grumpy angry dude, let me tell ya, it's not sexy and it's not a turn-on. In fact, it's a really great way to drive someone far, far, far away. K? This means that if your hero is upset with himself and is then rude to someone he likes, you MAKE THE JERK APOLOGIZE. Otherwise I want to destroy the book with fire. Lots and lots of fire. -- except that would ruin my laptop.


I swear, these authors should just let me beta read their stories. I could cut out half the crap they're throwing in that is stupid, poorly written, and completely irrelevant. THEN they can let real editors do the final polishing.

AAARGH

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Motherhood and Depression

Motherhood comes in different stages that start the moment you first find out you're expecting. (Or adopting; I don't believe there's a difference.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Conversations with Shoes

Crocks:

Crocks: Yo, hon! You wanna do some yard work?

Me
: Ok, sure. Let's get something done.

Crocks: Listen, sweety, don't hide me in the closet. I'll be right here when you need me. Looks have nothing on comfort, hon.


Me
: Awesome. I'll grab ya when I need ya.





Hiking Shoes:

Boots: Heeeey, you are doing yardwork? You know you want me.
Me: I know. But, laces. That means effort.
Boots: I'll protect your tootsies from all the gunk out there. I'm good at it. I'm great for more than just hikes, you know.
Me: I know. And I love you. But laces.

Sandals: I knew you'd pick me; let's do this.
Me: Awesome. Your velcro is my favorite. Let's get that yard mowed.
Sandals: Whoo! That was fun, what now?
Me: A shower. My feet are grass stained. This is why I have boots...

Boots: I told you so!


Slippers: 

Me: My toes are warm and comfy!!
Slippers: Don't wear us outside in the snow! You have other shoes with which you can drive, walk to the garbage, get the mail, or pick up a child from school!
Me: But that would mean taking you off, and my toes are warm and comfy!
Slippers: You're really going to wear us to Ihop? In the rain? for the Girl Scout Pajama breakfast?
Me: Yes. And my toes are warm and comfy!
Slippers: We're not going to be beautiful for long, you know that.
Me: Yes. But my toes will be warm and comfy.


Dress Shoes:

Dress Boots: Girl, you lookin' FINE. MMM HHMMMMM. Smexaaaay.

Pumps: Do wear the pearls; it is better to be overdressed than under. And please ignore the boots. They simply don't know better. Besides, have you seen their heel? Can't be trusted.



Exercise Shoes:

White Nike: come on, come on, come ON! Let's go, let's go, let's GO GO GO!
Me: Yeah, but laces. I'd rather do aerobics barefoot.
White Nike: You love the support, you know it. Remember all those great workouts we've had together? Let's go, let's go, let's go!
Me: Nuh-uh. Laces. Maybe next time.



Gray Nike: It's Gym Time!

Me
: I miss the gym. I loved the gym. I can't even look at you, now.

Gray Nike
: Come on! I'm comfortable and supportive and fit in the gym machines perfectly.

Me
: You're not comfortable anymore. You covered my feet in blisters. My entire feet were bruised and sore for nearly a week because of you.

Gray Nike
: I wasn't designed for a suicide attempt, I was designed for running and exercise. Come on, you want to be healthy, right? That walk was a good start, let's go for a walk again.

Me
: Shut up. You still smell like lake mud. I can't wear you. I can barely stand knowing you're still in my closet.

Gray Nike
: I am what I am.

Me
: I want to throw you away. I want you to never have existed. I want you to be clean and sparkly and smell like sweat and feet and gym.

Gray Nike
: So take me to the gym.

Me
: I can't get rid of you. You are as much a part of me as my feet are.

Gray Nike
: I'm just a shoe.

Me
: You were there. I almost made the walk barefoot, you know. That was part of my original plan. But there you were, part of my workout habit, so on you went. You kept my feet from being ripped apart by the asphalt, gravel, thorns and lake detritus. You absorbed the lake mud. You protected my feet.

Gray Nike
: That is what I am designed for.

Me
: How can I hate you and love you all at the same time?

Gray Nike
 I am just a shoe.

Me
: You are a constant reminder.

Gray Nike
: I am a tool.

Me
: You are the worst of me. You are part of me that tried to end everything. Yet you are still here, still whole, and largely unaffected except for the traces of mud.

Gray Nike
: I am complicated.

Me
: You survived that night with me. You survived the cold, the wind, the dark, the conversations with God. You are as much a survivor as I am. Yet I can't ever wear you again.

Gray Nike
: So donate me. I'm sure there's someone else who could benefit from my design and purpose.

Me
: How can I get rid of you? I can't do that. You represent my strength of will - my complete and utter stubbornness to get to the lake in the first place. And then the determination to get home when God said no. You are a testament to the ability to fight for what I feel is right, even if what I feel is right is completely wrong. You are a testament to my commitment to do something, even when it's hard.

Gray Nike
: Walking was hard that night.

Me
: It still is.

Gray Nike
: But you kept going.

Me
: And so did you. Your soles aren't coming off. The spring in the cushion is still there. You are still a very viable and good shoe.

Gray Nike
: So use me.

Me
: I already did. I think you met and fulfilled the measure of your creation. I cannot even think of putting you on again. I will re-tread those steps, those miles, those thoughts. I can't do it. But I will keep you. Because while you make me sad, and embarrassed and I wish I could throw you away, I still need you as proof that I survived. That I'm not dreaming the rest of this life.

Gray Nike
: An athlete and her shoes.

Me
: A warrior and her weapons.

Gray Nike:
Together we will survive.

Me:
Maybe, but you're still living in the back of the closet until I can come to terms with this.

Friday, May 29, 2015

External Processing and Secrets

I am quite open about a lot of things:

* Bipolar Depression and its ups and downs, vulnerabilities, realities, etc.
* Suicide
* Psyche Ward Stays
* Motherhood (well, maybe 70% of it)
* My art processes, whether successes or failures.
* My daily ups and downs

I talk a lot. I like to talk and/or type because I feel like I'm having a conversation, even when there's no one home with me.

It is strange, however, when people I've never met before come up and talk to me as if we're best friends because they've read my blog. It's very surreal. I don't really know how to handle it when I'm staring them in the face wondering who they are. I suppose because I'm so open and let people see a lot of my inner thoughts, in a very real way they do know me.

Yet there are pieces of me that no one sees. I do not share everything. Some things I hold close and will never talk about. A few of those things are painful and hurt my heart. Others are wonderful and joyous and are too precious to be shared.

One of those precious pearls was my affection for Antelope Island, my love for that place in the middle of a giant smelly lake. Thus my wish to die there near it. Although now everyone I know and love is aware of that fact. I suppose it's for the best, but that's a part of me that was once very private and mine alone. I still don't talk about the why's of that island, although a couple of my daughters think they know. A part of me mourns that the secret of its existence in my heart is no more. However, that lock was broken open by my own hand whether I meant to do it or not.

Once in a while I wish I could talk about the painful or the happy bits that I hold close, but they are mine and mine alone. There have been a few brief moments when I have thought, "Maybe if I share with so-n-so, or *that* person, the emotions surrounding this won't be so intense."

Perhaps that's true. It usually is for me; I talk about things or write about them, and it feels easier to live with whatever it is that I've ranted, whined, explained, or proclaimed joyously about. 

I don't even know why I'm sharing this, except to admit that I have these feelings, thoughts, and wishes that sometimes surface. Private secrets so intense that they put huge smiles on my face and I dance around. And sometimes they hurt so badly that my chest and heart physically ache. 

This is how I know the difference between sadness and depression. 

I'm probably not making a lot of sense, but I felt the need to admit this much. While I refuse to talk about the specifics, I had to take the time to at least admit that they exist. That in and of itself helps a little bit. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Saturday, May 23, 2015

One of My Favorite Things

I have mentioned several times that I use World of Warcraft as one of my coping mechanisms when I need to shut off my brain. If you're not a gamer and don't care about this kind of thing, this post will have no interest for you.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Art and Obstacles

When I started this second art project, I had envisioned the body at the bottom as the left over char with some flames coming through, or perhaps just the hint of embers. Then smoke rising from it to become a flaming beauty rising from the ash, having overcome ... I don't know, whatever it was that caused her to burn to begin with. I can see it in my mind, beautiful and shining, with a dark background.

However, not being experienced with producing flames by hand, I had to do some trials. I don't know *why* I am showing you my process of thinking out loud, but here it is.

First thing I did was play with the shape of flames. And whether or not I should give her wings.

In the end, she just looked furry, but I figured that's what sketched flames look like, since I wasn't coloring anything, just messing with shapes.