Awake, and not so ready to greet the new day

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Well it's 6:02 am and I am wide awake. Really, so awake I'm starting to get hungry. My brain just won't shut off. That's it, tomorrow I go to the health center and I am getting something to make me sleep. Something very strong. I had another sinking feeling tonight. Thoughts about what to do about it: burrow through my mattress and straight into the ground, live under my desk for a few days, refuse to acknowledge any life outside of my cinderblock walls, move to another country and now I want to switch my major to genetics to try and figure out what the hell is wrong with me. Dear brain, will you pretty please stop screwing up my life and just allow me to function like a normal person? Everyone close to me keeps saying that it's so much better that I've figured it out early, they're so glad I've told them, that I've caught it before it's too late. But what the hell? It's WORSE. It is SO MUCH WORSE knowing what is going on. Living hell. I see it, I recognize it and I can't do anything about it. You know what? I'd rather go on and be COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY OBLIVIOUS to the mass that is swirling around in my brain. Then I wouldn't feel so crummy about not being able to do anything about it. I feel helpless. Good news: Thomas is coming up Thursday. Can't wait to see him again. He's a ray of sunshine in a dismal darkness. That sounded like bad poetry, but it's the gosh-honest truth. I love him. I dare this Bipolar thing to try and change that. Love indeed does conquer all. Bad news: It's 6:19 and I'm still awake. Off to hide under the covers until the need for sleep overpowers my hyperactive brain. Write later. -L

Dear Reader

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I promised I would write later this weekend, and now it's the end of the weekend- so here it goes. Things in my life don't seem to be getting any better. That's the honest truth. The bipolar thing is really starting to drain me. That and not being able to fall asleep until 4 (I'm really not exaggerating, that's the earliest I fall asleep) is killing me. I've also developed something very odd on my scalp. Sounds gross. It is. It's weird but writing seems to be the only way I can talk about this. The verbal thing was explained in the last post. I wonder if this ever helps anyone or if I'm just spilling my guts to people around the world and the 281 friends I have on facebook. Apparently someone is reading it because the number of hits I've gotten in the last week have been off the charts. And the response has been really interesting as well. I think that's what I'd like to talk about today. I'm getting calls from friends, emails, facebook messages, and texts with this flood of support. I don't know why but I always find it amazing when people start with "so I read your blog and I just wanted to check in with you." It honestly makes me smile every time. I really have the best friends. I just wanted you all to know that this tiny blog means a lot to me and even though it has the biggest audience of anything I do, it's where I feel uninhibited. Free to write whatever I want and be completely honest. I don't lie here. And though I think my comment count is a whopping 14 on all posts combined, the support that I get outside of it is amazing. Thank you everyone who has just said "I'm thinking about you" or "I'm here to talk if you want to." It means more to me than I can express right now. When I'm ready to talk to you personally or send you an email, I'll let you know. Until then, thanks for the support!


Friday, September 23, 2011

I've been trying to think of something to write all week. I've been trying to think of how to explain this to my new counselor. I've been trying to think of how to explain this to my new friends at school who I have little to no history with. I can't come up with anything. All I have is a list of symptoms. No explanation as to why I have missed most of my classes this week, why I've cancelled appointments with friends and lost hope. I told God I hated him. Yes, I believe it was around three am one night in the past week and a half that I told the Holy Of Holies that I hated his stinkin' guts. That's going to bode REALLY well for me when I am waiting at the gates of heaven later on. I know there is punishment listed in the Bible for disbelief or unfaithfulness, but verbal abuse of God? I don't know. And if you do know- I DON'T want to know. Pretty sure it's not good. I don't feel like reading the Bible because I don't care. At the moment I refuse to believe that any good is coming from me feeling this terrible. I can't muster much other than being fake. I am very good at this. I used to be so good at it that I could fake myself out. Now, not so much. It's gotten old and I've gotten good at recognizing it. "It" being Bipolar Disorder. I can fake it pretty well. You can have no idea what's going on with me. Unless I tell you. Unless you poke some random nerve and I start to inexplicably cry. I am good at lying by omission. In the past that's been because I didn't want to admit to myself that anything was wrong, so telling anyone else would have shattered the illusion that I held. Now, it again is for selfish reasons. I don't want to explain. I have nothing to explain. Want my list of symptoms? Okay, here it goes. I can't go to class. I can't face large amounts of people. I can't fall asleep until 4, 5, or 6 in the morning. I hate talking about anything that resembles my life, so I prefer just to hear about other people's lives. I watch episodes of tv, so again, I can live someone else's life. I ignore anything that might make me feel worse than I do. I feel like crying, screaming sometimes. I don't look at people when I talk to them. I usually pick a point somewhere on the floor to the left of them and if I am forced to talk about "it" then that's where my gaze stays. I have no emotion in my eyes. Other than endless amounts of crying that leave them red and puffy, I simply don't care. I talk about "it" in a detached monotone voice like it's not even a part of me. I despise living this way. God, it's so pathetic. I feel like I have nothing to offer anyone. I lose track of eating, sleeping, bathing, brushing my teeth, things that most people do automatically. I can't write. Nothing makes sense- no two sentences can form a complete thought. Look at this. It's a paragraph made up of single thought sentences that only connect in a way to one thing- symptoms. Anyone can write a list. My academic brain is shot to hell. I can't spell. And I have no idea if this is in anyway connected but I almost fainted three times today, threw up once, and heaved several other times. Been fine for the last 8 hours or so. Can't explain it. And I look like crap. That's the final one. Could pick a stronger one, but that would be inappropriate. But probably no more so than telling God I hated him. Meh. Probably should sin less after that one. The title of this post is "Speechless" which may not seem so apt after this long list, but did I come any closer to explaining it. Nope. I still can't verbalize it. Hours on the phone, hours in counseling, hours going over it in my head and all I can come up with is that I hate being Bipolar. Awesome. Back at square one.

Wisdom from another because I just can't muster it myself

Monday, September 19, 2011

So I had a nervous breakdown/panic attack/bipolar episode last night and early this morning it was not pretty. I still don't feel well, but I won't be able to write about it until I process it. Until then, I must leave you with this. I'm trying to read it, trying to remember that I have to follow this. At the moment treading water is getting exhausting. I can offer nothing now other than the wisdom from another. I promise to write later this week.

2 Corinthians 12:1-10
It is necessary to boast; nothing is to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given to me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

Fight Tigers, fight Tigers, FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Okay, so did you see that game between Clemson and Auburn?!?!?!? It was awesome. Beyond awesome. Other than my sunburnt nose and arms, that was the best game that I have ever been to. I actually like football. Did you ever think you would hear me say that? I didn't. I am talking about American football, by the way. Clemson won, 38-24 and played really well. I got to see my family and Benjamin and Hannah also came up with their new family- three Angora rabbits. They are adorable and little puff balls that are sooo soft. I also got a new GPS from my fabulous parents (my old one was less than accurate and... old).

Back in March I wrote a list of things I wanted to do. Let's see if any of those things have happened:
1. Finish my quilt. Well, that hasn't happened yet. However, it is sitting under my bed here at school and that's a start.
2. Compile a list of the majors offered at Clemson, USC, and the College of Charleston and slowly circle the ones that sound interesting and cross off the ones that in no way shape or form will I ever be interested in. Well, I got into Clemson and have decided on a major in Philosophy and Religious Studies with an emphasis in Global Politics/International Relations. And I'm quite happy with it. Check.
3. Write enough postcards to PostSecret to get them published. It hasn't happened yet, but I am writing them.
4. Tell people that I love what I really think of them. Which is how awesome they are. Almost done with that one.
5. Clean out my computer. Check!
6. Listen to all of the music on my iTunes and throw out the junk and enjoy the things I forgot I had. Then make really fun mix cds and send them to all my friends. Check!
7. Read the entire Bible- every line. I have the time. We all have the time. Not yet. But I am working on it!
8. I will attempt to read "the classics" and try and understand why they're called classics. After all, Mark Twain said that "A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read." I have read several. It's an ongoing thing, but a check never the less. Check.
9. Go to the grocery store. Yeah, definitely been there several times since March. Check.

So 5 out of 9 large things on my list have been done. That's pretty good for about 7 months. So I'm going to add another 5 things to replace those that I have done.

1. Give this semester all that I have. The last week has been particularly difficult and I've really been struggling with my Bipolar Disorder more than other times. But this time around, I am aware of the struggle. That makes it harder, but it also makes it safer. If I am aware and I'm letting my friends and family know, then I've got a fighting chance. I'm trying not to let my shame get in the way.
2. Make my bike up the hill to my house. It's a really really really steep Lance-Armstrong-Tour-de-France kind of a hill and I want to ride it up, not walk it up. It's a steep hill. You can feel the car shifting gears. Clemson is very hilly.
3. Do the extra credit and extra reading. I know I feel crazy for adding more work to my load, but if that means writing better papers and really learning the material, then why should I disregard that?
4. Remember to do one thing I enjoy every day. Take my own wisdom.
5. Be braver.

Remembering and Enduring

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Everyone has their own ideas about this day. I have mixed feelings. I won't argue with the insanity of that day. I was 12, in 7th grade, and in French class that morning when I saw my guidance counselor running down the halls at a full sprint, ducking in her head and asking which of the school's tv's had access to public television. When I saw our tv turn on and start to flip through the channels, and every picture look the same, I got that sinking feeling that something very terrible was happening. Why was that building billowing huge clouds of black smoke, like when you blow bubbles through a straw? The newscaster's voice just kept going on and the whole jist of it was that she didn't have any clue what was going on either. Something about a plane that ran into a building and they couldn't figure out why. Tons of speculation, nothing but silence in our classroom. What, what, what, WHAT IS THAT PLANE DOING? OH MY GOD IT'S FLYING INTO THE SECOND BUILDING THAT LOOKS JUST LIKE IT!!!!! Look, we lived in Charleston, SC, maybe 2 people in the class had ever been to New York City and certainly no one knew what the World Trade Towers were or their significance in life up until that point. And there aren't any buildings in downtown Charleston that are over 15 stories high. We didn't even move, we just sat there for hours, classes weren't changed, they just all turned on the tvs and huddled us into classrooms. I don't remember us talking through it. A few hours later someone thought about lunch, but I just remember all of us crammed into the classroom, watching tv about possible "terrorist attacks" in other places, worrying about other planes, wondering if we had any relatives who were traveling that day, if our parents knew yet, if life was going to change. I remember riding the bus home and going by the National Guard post that's in Mt. Pleasant. They had rolled out huge spirals of barbed wire around the whole building and men and women were standing guard with giant guns. And I was thinking- what are they doing? This building is smaller than a grocery store and of all the places to get hit in Charleston, why would they (whoever "they" are) go through the trouble to go here? Weren't they further north?

It was all anyone could talk about, they were all going madly out of control, things were on lockdown, "national security" was a buzzword, everyone thought they were going to be a target (oh especially the ports in Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, N. Charleston), the bases (Navy, Air Force) were going insane, no one could find their relatives, the body count was a horrid phrase that had no meaning because they couldn't find everyone, people were scared of everything. People look back now and say "oh we came together as Americans" and they play those same 5 Americana country songs and a montage of footage to this music to make you cry. And I did cry. But not until September 12, 2001- where I spent the entire length of breakfast crying, inconsolably, into my Cheerios in the dark, for reasons that were far beyond what my intellect could gather and form into words.

And now I'm 22, sitting on my bed in Clemson, SC writing this to you as a Philosophy and Religion student. I could simply reference a date when trying to explain my choice of major and minor (Global Politics and International Studies). Anyone with half a brain could figure that out why, if that were my reason. My reasons are complex, but much of it has to do with how small people fit into a big picture. How we respond and adapt within large institutions like religion and political systems with events like September 11. Like how I watched in terror as President Bush announced his intentions to invade Iraq a year and a half later- 3 days before we were supposed to go on our 8th grade class trip to Washington, DC. I remember yelling "SERIOUSLY?!" And in my pacifist opinion (which I have now developed further than holding a grudge against the President of America for declaring war on the week of a class trip), I still think that blowing people up or invading them because they might have weapons probably isn't the safest of ideas when you're hoping that country doesn't decide to use them. So yeah, the reactions of many people who just seemed to want to find someone to fight because a terrorist organization did something horrendous, didn't seem reasonable to me. Or logical, if you want to get philosophical about it. It did seem a bit jumpy when former president G. W. Bush took Afghanistan to the mat on September 14, 2001 to go find those terrorists.

I think 9/11 was a horrible, horrible, horrible thing. But I don't feel that living the last 8 years of my life in a state of multiple wars or the last 10 in a state of fear of wars and additional terrorism is the way to live. But in the reaction of a group deciding that it's days work is going to be killing several thousand Americans on or over American soil, this is the world in which we live. And so my studies will ever be shaped through that day and the events that followed in its wake. Religion will never be the same because we still see one religion as the enemy. Philosophy will continue in its quest to make sense out of the life we lead and why we lead it that way. Global politics and international relations are still continually shaped by our thoughts and information about other countries and their citizens and how they relate to Americans.

In case you were wondering: The United States congress is the branch of government that has the authority to formally declare war because they are the group that governs the military's rules. The President of the United States has the ability to use force because he is Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Congress hasn't issued a formal declaration of war since June 5, 1942 in which it declared war on Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania. The reason the Iraq War is never formally called that is because it isn't technically a war. It's "Operation Iraqi Freedom", then renamed "Operation New Dawn." It is Congressionally-approved military force. That doesn't sound any better. In fact, it sounds worse that all of those people there and our own soldiers have died without the formality of war.

But now I get off my soapbox, go back to my math homework, work on my essay for my New Testament class, and deal with the fact that I also am dating a mechanical engineer in the Navy. We don't talk about war much. And for a minute I'll ask you to think of the repercussions of the terrorist attacks 10 years ago. For the rest of the day, keep thinking about those who died. Then tomorrow go back to living in the post 9/11 world- realize just how different your life is and how differently you think (for better or worse) about the world that surrounds you because of it.

22 Life Lessons

Saturday, September 3, 2011

One of my favorite blogs is Craft Nectar. I've probably mentioned it before, but one of the latest posts was 50 bits of wisdom (as the author just turned 50). And I thought I could do that! It's not my birthday, but surely I can think of 22 things I've learned in 22 years and 10 months. So here it goes:

1. Never underestimate the power of a good hug by someone you love. It instantly relaxes you to let you know that someone else will hold you close. Moms and Dads are really good at that. And almost anyone (stranger danger) will give you a good hug if you just ask.

2. Have a dance party when no one is watching. Let the boogie, the rap, the waltz out and find yourself completely uninhibited.

3. Once in your life you need to travel somewhere by yourself. There is nothing scarier if you've never done it before, but the thrill of doing something on your own gives you a rush that empowers you.

4. Make lots of best friends. Everyone has something unique to offer you- the person you know with the most wisdom, the friend who will just listen, the friend who picks up instantly where you left off without a moments hesitation no matter how long its been, the friend who shares your sense of humor, the friend who knows your craftiness, the friend you can talk to about anything. Near or far, never close yourself off to someone who has something to offer. The flipside is to offer something in return. You always have something to give. Even if it's just listening without judgement or giving hugs. You have something to offer someone.

5. Gore-Tex is worth every penny.

6. Have a hurricane box. (Or whatever natural disaster may befall you.) Something you can grab in an instant that cannot be replaced. Mine is a box of letters and postcards. I have one from my deceased aunt, a picture of me and my grandmother, letters from best friends and completely irreplaceable items.

7. Find something you like to read and read it. Jane Austen, Sports Illustrated, an atlas, the dictionary, mystery novels, something with lots of pictures- trust me, no matter what it is, your spelling will get better, you can always find something that interests you, and you may even learn something. (Hey, sometimes baseball stats are useful.)

8. Do one thing every day that you enjoy. It doesn't have to be the same thing. Take a nap, kiss your significant other with passion, eat 10 M&Ms, bake, take a long shower, doodle, watch your favorite tv show.

9. Loving everyone makes it so much easier to accept, not to judge, and to learn to take people as they are.

10. Pick a major you like in college and then minor in something you think will sell you on your resume. Or, if you are in a focused major like engineering, minor in something else you like that may seem completely random. Sure, go pre-med if that's what you love, but minor in English. You'll be happier and it stretches you in multiple directions.

11. Don't be afraid to do something you've never done before.

12. Find your correct bra size. Life is so much better.

13. Don't be afraid to open up about a disability or illness. I promise you that someone else has it and they want to talk about it too. You both become stronger. And by opening up, you can change the stigma you think other people have about you.

14. Go to Target for trendy clothes and always find quality clothes to keep for your staples (your preference: I love J.Crew, Gap, LL Bean, Patagonia, Banana Repubic- and I get no payment for saying that). Thrift stores are just fun.

15. Try something creative and if you like it, stick with it even if you don't think you're any good. If it makes you happy, who cares if your clay bowl turned out lopsided?

16. Keep a journal- even if it is just the important moments. I've had the same book for 4 years and it still isn't full, but I have some of my happiest and worst times and I am glad that I wrote them down.

17. Find a way to turn sucky things into good. Even if you get stuck with Bipolar Disorder- no good may come from it, but find some way you can use how it's impacted you to help yourself or someone else.

18. I believe that all religions and denominations are people searching for God- they just found a bunch of different ways to do it. And that passes no judgement on right and wrong.

19. Try and learn something you know nothing about.

20. Live in abundant joy and endless love.

21. Collect something, even if other people don't understand why: postcards, fabric, stamps, coins, pens, fancy papers, scarves, books, plants, stickers, or anything that moves you.

22. Genuinely greet someone, always say please, always say thank you. It's amazing how many doors open up for you and smiles you get.

Those are only 22 things. Feel free to comment and add your suggestions.

Oh and one more thing: Always buy the fun bandaids.