bipolar mom shares her insights on everyday life

Archive for June, 2008

Richie, Potsie, and Me

My family went to the drive-in on Friday night.  We had never been to one in Missouri before.  When we lived in New York for 4 months, we went to one twice.  The kids were only 1 and 3, so they really didn’t remember it.

Before I tell you about Friday night, I have to tell you about Wednesday night.  We tried to go to the drive-in on Wednesday night, but once we got down there, we drove by a gas station and saw police cars and police tape all around this pickup truck, the pumps and the entrance to the convenience store.  Definitely something was afoot.  But, we drove into the drive-in and NO ONE was there.  Then a woman who apparently owned the place told us that they were not going to be able to show the movies that night.  Our faces fell.  She said, “Yeah, the authorities recommended that we shut down.  There is a manhunt going on tonight.  A guy stole a car and then ran across our field here and they are looking for him.  The police think it is too dangerous for everyone to just sit in their cars here tonight.”  (Uh, Yeah!)  When she saw our faces, though, she asked if we had driven far.  When Tom told her St. Louis, she went inside the concession building and brought us out a card that got us in for free the next time we came.

So, we returned Friday night.  We drove almost an hour down to Cadet, MO to the Starlight Drive-In.  The movies that were showing were “Get Smart” and “Speed Racer” so we were all equally excited.  We settled in with our popcorn, soda, and licorice from home and got ready to watch the movie.

Then the complaints began.  “I can’t see.”  “Yeah, me either.”  “The rearview mirror is in the way.”  Finally Tom and I said that we would sit in the back of the van and the kids could sit up front.  In all honesty, once we got back there, we wanted to say, “We can’t see!  The rearview mirror is in the way!”  But, we slumped down as low as we could, put our heads together, and watched the first movie.  We did tell the kids they couldn’t move their arms or heads because if they did, we wouldn’t be able to see!

So, instead of having to call the chiropractor the next morning, Tom came up with the brilliant idea of turning the van around, swapping the seats, turning it into something only an engineer could think of.  It worked out much better.  The rain started coming down, but the rear hatch protected us.

We had a really good time.  Get Smart was excellent and very funny.  Speed Racer was, uh, hard to follow and a blur of activity.  But it was still worth hanging around for.

We got home at 2am and the kids both said they had a great time.

I was thrilled because it was my idea and it actually worked out. 

Tickets: $20 

Gas: $25

Funnel Cakes and Pretzel: $9

Drive-in Memories:  Priceless

Deep Thoughts with Kent

Yep.  Today was another session with my therapist Kent.  I had a long list of things I wanted to talk to him about.  There was a big issue that took most of our time.  (Fortunately, I saved it for last.)

I have been attending this marriage class/small group study about marriage for the past several weeks.  One of our assignments was to discover our own strengths and weaknesses and to discuss them.  Then we were to ask each other to work on one of our weaknesses (which happens to be the other’s strength).  I asked Tom to be more vocal; tell me what he’s thinking, more than just a few words when he answers questions, etc.  He asked me to be calmer when dealing with the kids and not fly off the handle.  Fair enough.

My question for Kent was “How can I get him to comment on my progress?  I feel like I am handling things with the kids better, but I am not getting that response from Tom.”  Kent then asked me why it was important to me that Tom thinks I’m doing a good job.  And I said it keeps me trying.  I said everyone likes an “atta boy!”  He nodded, but prodded deeper, until we got down to I felt as though I needed Tom’s approval to make me feel good about what I was doing.  As you can guess, this is not a good thing.

As usual, Kent made a comparison to food.  🙂  “If you make some potatoes and Tom thinks they aren’t salty enough, does that make you a bad person?”  Well, no.  But it does make me feel bad.  Again, wrong answer.  “Michelle, you are who you are.  Those potatoes are a separate entity.  They are not a part of you.”  Okay.  So?  “Now, the next time you make potatoes, you may add extra salt.  If Tom doesn’t say, ‘Hey!  These are the best potatoes I’ve ever tasted!’ does that really matter?”   Well, yeah, it does.  I always ask “Do you like this recipe?  How does that taste?” 

Kent starts to grin, realizing this is going to take awhile.

“Okay, let’s start out with the fact that MOST people take ownership of this kind of thing; MY potatoes, MY pumpkin pie.  So, when someone says, ‘That is a beautiful pie,’ that makes most people stand up straighter and all happy.  But, think about it.  They didn’t say YOU were beautiful; they said the PIE was beautiful.”  I laughed and said they might be thinking (yeah, you are UGLY, but that is one beautiful pie.)  “Exactly!” he said.  “That pie is just a separate entity and is not a part of you.  You are who you are.  You are a whole person and that pie does not complete you nor does it take away a part of you.  You don’t really need anyone to tell you that you are more than you think you are.  That would be like someone telling you ‘Hey, Michelle, you have ten fingers!  You thought you only had eight, but you have ten!’  Now that’s a completely different story.  That IS a part of you.  The pie is not.  If they say, ‘You made a terrific pie!’ is that going to give you another arm or something?”

Now, I’m finally catching on.  (Sometimes I am a little slow…)  But, I am also getting a little teary.  I’ve spent my life trying to work for approval of someone, be it my parents, friends, or husband.  I do feel like their approval is a part of me.  When I don’t have it, I feel as though there is this hole in me, that only they can fill.

Kent said, “We’ll work on this the next few times.”  Obviously, he thinks this may take some time. 

I will write more about this tomorrow since I’m just writing this from memory without even looking at my notes.  I know what you’re thinking, “How could there possibly be more?  This whole thing took me an hour and half to read!  Her session is only an hour, for cryin’ out loud!”  Yeah yeah.  Whatever.  No one is holding a gun to your head and asking you to read this…

Maybe I just need Jerry McGuire to say, “You complete me.”  Then, I’m good.

Happy Birthday, Aunt Vena!

Yeah, I’m one of the few people that can say that.  What?  You don’t know anyone named Vena?  Well, that’s because her real name is Ivena.  What?  You don’t know that name either?  Well, you won’t find it on a personalized key chain rack or personalized pencils (unless you special order them, of course).  Nope.  Ivena is an original name.  Just like she is an original person.

You will not find a more giving, caring woman that Aunt Vena.  She is always doing something for someone else.  Always.  Whether it’s inviting new people from the congregation over for dinner, taking food to someone, or going to Kansas to check on a relative.  She is very giving of her time.

As an example, one time, a friend of mine from church was in an accident on the way to Springfield, MO from St. Louis.  The Jeep she was in overturned in the median and they were all taken to the hospital.  No one was available to recover any of the items in the Jeep.  My aunt and uncle live near Springfield, but not exactly close to the accident site, nor did they even know these people.  They just heard about it from my mom and they took off and recovered as much as they could.  Now, my mom told them the story, not because she wanted them to go get the stuff, but because it had happened nearby and the friend needed prayers, etc.  But, immediately my aunt said, “Well, we’ll go get their things!”  She didn’t even hesitate.

Her door is always open for us.  She provides a great bed and breakfast for us each Christmas.  And, always tells us to come anytime.  (And, unlike most of us, she really means it!)  When Tom’s aunt died suddenly right after Christmas, she insisted that we stay with her before we went down to the funeral, since all of Tom’s family’s homes would be crowded with other relatives.  I stayed with her before my sister-in-law got married and she helped me make a double batch of Watergate salad and even provided me with a beautiful bowl to put it in!  (I love Watergate salad, btw.  In case anyone wants to know.) 

She is also an amazing needleworker.  Is that the right word?  I don’t know, but let’s just go with it.  She does the most BEAUTIFUL counted cross-stitch pieces.  You wouldn’t believe it.  Seriousy.  She made us a beautiful quilted bedspread that I am looking at right now and still can’t believe she did all that work for us.  It’s just gorgeous!  And she made one for each of her nieces and nephews as their wedding present.  Fortunately none of the families have tons of kids!  She makes these amazing Christmas stockings for her family that are to die for!  (She did say she was glad that she only had to make one more for her grandson’s future wife.  They are very time-consuming and they look it!)  She makes little Christmas stockings for my dad for each of his grandchildren every year.  And each one is personalized with some item that signifies what the child is interested in.  One year, she even made one with a computer on it for my son!  You know there aren’t many patterns out there for that!  🙂

She does other crafts too, in fact she goes to War Eagle in Arkansas and learns new crafts once a year.  I’m sure I’d forget some of them, so I won’t even bother trying to name them.

She also has the patience to teach anyone that wants to learn how to do the crafts that she does.  She taught me counted cross-stitch and even gave me the supplies I needed to get started. 

She’s an excellent cook.  She’ll try new things all the time, and whatever it is, I love it.  There’s not many people I’d try whatever they made, but I would for her.  She and my uncle make this pineapple candy every Christmas.  It is AMAZING!  She always puts aside a portion for Tom, my mom, and me to take home.  Apparently, making this is quite an ordeal.  Their daughter doesn’t like it, so she doesn’t want to learn how to make it.  I have told them that I would like to be the one to carry on that tradition, so hopefully this winter I will be able to go down and learn.  But, the fact that she makes it every single year, makes me feel so good.  I know she’s not doing it just for me, but I also know that she’s aware of how much I love it!

And, how much I love her.  One time my mom told me that I was just like Aunt Vena.  Apparently, I am quick to forgive someone.  Aunt Vena is the same way.  Mom would always have a story about how there would be a disagreement between my aunt and my grandparents, and in an hour or so, here would come Aunt Vena with a cake or some delicious baked good and the disagreement would just be a memory.  My mom actually said that she wished she was more like Aunt Vena and me. 

So, Aunt Vena, happy birthday!  May you have many, many more!  I love you!  (Oh, and by the way, spell check doesn’t like “Vena” or “Ivena”.)


In and earlier post, I had written about a good friend that had sent me an email about the spoon theory.  Since it is of significant length, I chose not to just paste it in here.  And, at the time, I didn’t know how to put a link in my post.  Well, many months later, here I am.  Yes, my son showed me.  This is typical.  I try to figure something out on my own, and when I can’t, he comes to my rescue.  So, this post is available thanks to Marla and Mark!  🙂

I hope this website will give you  a little insight into my bipolar disorder and many other “invisible” diseases, chronic pain, or disability. 

This week I am having to use a lot of spoons just to make it through the day.  So, to those of you to whom I normally keep in touch with, either by email or phone, I am not ignoring you, I’m just saving my spoons, so I don’t have to get out a knife!!!!!  😉

I’ll Be Wrapped Around Your Finger

How do you remind yourself to do something?  I don’t know of anyone that actually ties a string around their fingers. 

The other night right before I went to sleep, I remembered something that I had to do in the morning.  I had this friend when I was teaching that told me she opened her bedside drawer.  That way when she woke up the next morning, that was enough to remind her why she opened it.  I have since adopted that practice (I don’t have a drawer, but I have a door.  It works just as well) and it works 98% of the time.  (One time it didn’t and it drove me nuts all day.)

I know some people keep a pad of paper and pen by the side of their bed.  I think that would wake me up too much, and then I couldn’t go back to sleep.

I’ve tried telling my husband, “Hey, remind me in the morning that I have to do “whatever.””  Yeah.  That works 0.5% of the time.

So, when I opened the door of my nightstand the other night, it got me thinking.  What do other people do?  And, look at me!  I remembered to blog about it!

God Provides

I am halfway through helping direct VBS.  It hasn’t been easy, but I am loving it.  The pastor’s wife said to me today, “I am so glad you are the one in here (the office).  I just couldn’t do that kind of thing.”  Wow.  To me, this woman is amazing.  She is teaching music to the little 3 year olds up to the 11 year olds.  And she does such a great job!  Our theme is Cosmic City and I walked through there one day and she was teaching the words to little kids by putting different pieces on a rocket ship as they learned them.  She is so creative. 

But, today she helped me realize that God gives us all different gifts.  And, it is up to us to find out what they are and use them to His glory.  Considering my bipolar issues, I was tempted to sit this VBS out, for fear of having a setback.  I just couldn’t do it.  I was offered the position of just managing the week by composing and sending out daily newsletters, making sure everyone has what they need, putting out fires (not literally), and generally being the go-to gal.  That was right up my alley.  I was shocked that the others on the Steering Team didn’t want to do it.  And, after talking with my therapist, I realized I could do it.  I had to give up a lot of control, which wasn’t easy, but the motivation was there.  🙂  And, amazingly, things got done without me worrying about them!  (How is that possible?!?!)

I even had a mom say to me, “Hey!  I thought you said 3 years ago you were done with doing this!  I remember it because I was so disappointed because you do such a great job!”  I only see this woman once every year, and yet she remembered me.  My own son said, “Mom, you do such a great job on VBS.  And, even though you are not completely in charge this year, it has the “Michelle Farmer touch” that makes it so great.”  Wow. 

God provides us with what we need.  The Bible verse yesterday was “The Lord will guide you always.  He will satisfy your needs.”  (Isaiah 58:11).  I’ve needed strength and rest to get me through this week, and God has definitely given it to me.  He’s also had my family looking out for me and reminding me to leave when I said I’d leave. 

We’ve seen others be provided for this week.  There is a woman who desperately wanted to help this week.  She has some major back issues.  After the first day, she was wiped out and really felt that maybe she shouldn’t continue.  There was another woman who felt called to come and help at VBS, had no specific job, but came anyway.  Yep.  You guessed it.  The two women became one person for the week.  The first woman is now able to enjoy her week with her grandchildren at VBS, and the second woman has a place where she is needed.

We also had a guy come who does not belong to our church, but his wife and daughter do.  He has helped all week with the financial stuff.  Donations for VBS, donations for our mission trip, a count for the luncheon on Friday, and keeping track of the bowling outing we’ve decided to tackle after the last day.  What a blessing he has been!  His talent is spreadsheets and finance.  He’s whipped up an excellent sheet to keep track of everything, and everything balances!  The great thing about this is, at this time he doesn’t have a job, but this has given him the opportunity to help and feel needed.  (Plus, I usually end up doing that job, and things don’t always balance when I’m done!  AND, I’d still be up at church counting money!)

So, God really does provide for us.  Just look for it in your daily life.  Our assistant pastor’s wife calls those sitings “God kisses.”  I like that.  And this week I feel VERY loved.

Take Care of Yourself

I’m taking the day off today.  It’s Thursday and I’m wiped out.  I’ve been helping with VBS and even though I am not in charge this year, I’ve been up a church a lot this week.  Plus, my daughter has had dance recital and practices all week.  And will have through the weekend, so that involves shuttling her to and from and  doing my part in volunteering.  But, today is my day to stay home.

I was able to go over to a friend’s house and help her start selling stuff on ebay.   I could sleep in without thinking that if I didn’t get up, I wouldn’t get much done at church, and I can lounge around in comfy clothes.

As I told my mom, if I don’t take care of myself, then I can’t take care of my family.  I learned that in MOPS.  And, it is so very true.  I realize I’m pushing it when I feel like I’m on the brink of crying more than once a day.

You know what else I realized today?  No one cared that I was taking today off.  What I mean by that is that I didn’t get any calls saying, “Where are you?  Can you come help?”  None.  Na da.  Zip.  That just shows me that I put more pressure on myself than others do, plus I have a great group of friends that understand me.

That is worth more than they can possibly imagine.  I’ll tell them that.  After my day off. 

Smiles, Everyone! Smiles!

I have a confession to make.  I have not had my teeth cleaned in a over a decade.  I know.  Gross.  I know a lot of people fear going to the dentist.  And I am certainly among them.  I have had two wisdom teeth removed in the past nine years, but no cleaning.  So, obviously, I’m not afraid of the pain.

It’s the sounds.  EeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeee!  Yikes!  Sends me into a state of Rigor mortis.  I would come out of there as stiff as a stiff.  My muscles would ache from the tension.  Seemed hardly worth it.  I’ve been blessed with good teeth (thank you, Dad).  And, I brush, brush, brush so that I don’t HAVE to go to the dentist. 

I make sure the kids go (well, actually, Tom does, but I would do it too).  The other day I took my daughter for a follow-up and she was really nervous.  Afraid it would hurt.  (They were filling a pit)  After she was done, I told her I was really proud of her and that I would make an appointment myself. 

YIKES!  I timidly went up to the window and asked for an appointment.  The receptionist smiled and said, “Sure we can get you in on Monday!”  (four days away)  YIKES!  YIKES!  YIKES!  I took a deep breath and said, “Okay.”

After four days of anxiety, I got up Monday morning and everyone in the house said, “Good luck!  You can do it!”  I don’t think I’ve had that much support since I gave birth to my daughter! 

I took my mp3 player and cranked it up.  The hygienist was extremely nice and completely understood.  In fact, she told me at one time, “Okay, I’m going to use a Sonic “something or other” and it makes a high-pitched squeal, so crank it up!!!”  I could still hear it, but it was in the background of Aerosmith, so I was good.

Best news of all, NO CAVITIES!  My dentist even said, “Hey, for someone who has been away for so long, your teeth look good.  Like someone who wants to avoid the dentist!”  I do have to go back for another follow-up cleaning.  It has been so long, she couldn’t do it all at once.  I’m not at all worried.

As long as my mp3 player is juiced up, I’m all over it.  I even promised to come back in 6 months.

Thank goodness for technology.  And Aerosmith.

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