Introspecting at the coffee shop

I tried to go to the library to write this morning, but dammit it doesn’t open until noon on Thursday’s. I should know this because, in the past, I’ve tried to go twice on Thursday mornings with my kids and ran into the same dumb luck.

So instead of getting free library parking downtown I parked in a public lot, which is probably more honest anyway. I was going to sneak out of the library, against policy, to get a bite to eat, move my body, and pick up a new game for my kids at the local toy story. I have a 20% off coupon. The item I want to buy costs $14.99. Saving $3 makes me happy. Plus it’ll pay for the $3 I had to pay to park downtown this morning. Ahhh life, it always seems to have a way of working itself out if you give it enough time.

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Swimmingly well

I took my son to swimming lessons this morning. He did well enough. He still won’t go underwater willingly, but he is bobbing, jumping into the shallow end, and even acting jovial in the water with the others kids, unlike the first day. My daughter and I sat together as we have for the past week and a half. Today she snuggled into my lap for most of the time. The day was going swimmingly well, but it was early.

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When my son’s lesson was over we hopped into the car and ate lunch on the way to a theater downtown to see a movie sponsored by the local library. Our spirits were high as we settled into our chairs and sat back to watch the show. At one point I found my daughter snuggled into my lap, for the second time that day, during a scary part. I held her close and put my arm around my son. He snuggled across the arm rest into my chest. All I could think about during the happy and turbulent parts of the movie was how much I love my kids.  The day was going swimmingly well.

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Mental illness: The unsung heroes and information

In the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Month, this post is a second installment about revealing my struggles with mental illness in order to help fight stigmas. You can read my first post here.

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Today I’d like to tell you a little bit about the unsung heroes behind people living with mental illnesses, provide some factual information, and share a few thoughts that have come to mind since “outing myself” about my own struggles with mental illness.

In some of the response I received after writing my blog post, people called me a hero. Although that is an extremely nice thing to say, the true heroes are the family members and friends who have to live with or be around a person who is mentally ill. The people who try to convince a mentally ill person that they need help or do not understand what they are going through, I imagine, is frustrating.

My husband is one of those heroes. Although he likes to maintain a low profile online — he’s German and stoic and private like that (unlike his wacky wife!) — today I am going to acknowledge him anyway. There were many times when I was sick that he was not only my first point of contact, but the only person who’d see my worst symptoms rage up in fire. It’s a lot for a person to handle.

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An honest take on mental illness

In the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Month I am revealing my struggles with mental illness.

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Lately I have been thinking about what got my blog started. I decided to go back and read the very first post I ever wrote, almost five years ago.

It’s titled:

“First post as I try to learn WordPress… You gotta start somewhere, folks.”

The body is a whopping 23 words long:

“So I was thinking… Most of the information I process and concepts I learn in life seem so obvious after I learn them.” 

(Wow, I was like SO smart back then. And, damn I have gotten long-winded since then).

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Over the last year I have had pain in my right forearm in wrist. I’ve put off going to an orthopedic doctor because I feared I had an injury that would require me to stop writing and stop doing yoga until it healed. As a writer and someone who enjoys exercise, those orders would not mesh well with my commitment to practicing them regularly. Even worse — as a person living with mental illness, those orders would be part of a death sentence because writing and exercise are an integral part of my treatment plan.

I started this blog in July 2011, three months after I had my first psychotic episode that led to being diagnosed with a bipolar disorder and an anxiety disorder. I was deeply embarrassed and ashamed of the complete loss of control I felt during the paranoia, hallucinations, delusions of grandeur, insomnia, mania, and intrusive thoughts. I completely lost my grip on reality and was involuntarily hospitalized. The racing and incoherent thoughts, sleepless nights, impulsively, agitation, and reckless behaviors were not a pretty sight.

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The Pocketbook that Sparked Joy

I recently started reading a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo as part of my quest to go through boxes that piled up after my move in the spring 2014. Those boxes, and more from my childhood bedroom, The Shrine, have been cluttering up my space. It is not so much the physical space of these boxes sitting in an unused room in my house that agitates me, but the mental/emotional space in my brain that feels hindered by them. I realized this when I wrote I May Be a Hoarder and I Know It. Not long after that, my cousin pointed me to Kondo’s book. As I started turning the pages, it became blatantly clear to me that my problem was much bigger than I had realized. So slowly, and in conjunction with reading this book about the KonMari Method, I have been rooting through old belongings trying to decide what to keep, also known as “what sparks joy,” and what to discard.

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On Halloween night 2

In our neck of the woods, trick-or-treat was Thursday evening.

That information is a precursor into the really annoying talking pumpkin we own that sings a song that goes like this…

I’m out of my skull on Halloween.

I’ll find a way to make you scream.

I’ll be everywhere on Halloween.

I’ll find you and I’ll scare you.

Ahahaha (evil laugh).

That’s right.

On Halloween night.

On Halloween night.

On Halloweeeeeeen.

Ahahahahahahaha (evil laugh).

I’ve written about it before, which begs the title On Halloween night 2. Not exactly like a horror movie, but more like a happy mommy remembrance, like the lyrics, all over again.

That pumpkin has claimed his place as the “it” toy that my kids and their friends are going to remember from Halloween. That creepy voice that they love and get scared of all at the same time. That voice that played nonstop tonight in the already noisy background of multiple families joined together in camaraderie.

Kids, costumes, chili, cornbread, homemade wine, candy, friendship and fun beckoned my door tonight. Buckets of candy chased nine kids into our home after an evening of trick-or-treating.

I found a half eaten lollypop under the couch and few Snickers bars in my daughter’s toy baby cradle as I cleaned up long after the guests had gone and my kids were in bed. On both accounts, I smiled.

My husband wore the same clown wig he’s been wearing for a few years, and I wore my, now traditional, cat mask. As a parent, it was one of those nights that I wonder who had more fun — us or the kids?

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Now the day is over. The annoying talking pumpkin, the spider candelabra, and the decorations are all put away until next year. The kitchen is clean; the house is quiet.

When my kids wake up, the magic will be gone. Their candy has been secretly screened (by me!), yet their buckets are in the same position they left them. They will feel enough ownership to remember the magic, yet a controlled (I hope) desire to make it last.

Tomorrow we will lounge in our pajamas and watch movies and know that another spooky night has graced our doorstep.

Happy Halloween, even if a few days early for most!

Seven on Sunday 5:6 – CONFESS

List of Seven on Sunday is a weekly column that I write intended to entertain avid readers with short attention spans who like avoiding the real world at all cost on weekends. This column, written in a newspaper parody form,  falls most closely into the genre of creative nonfiction. Derived from my own life, the content is loosely structured around sections in a traditional newspaper. 

1. News — 

Today is Tuesday. Not Sunday.

Given my track record on meeting my own deadline for this Sunday column, something is clearly not working. Seven on Sunday is going by the wayside for a while.

I am a hobby blogger who, alongside my real job as a stay at home mom, has experimented with all sorts of writing styles and content. When something does not work out, it is really no big deal. I make changes, take breaks, recalibrate, and dream up the next idea as I gain another layer of experience to, ultimately, help me advance in a writing career at a later date.

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