bipolar mom shares her insights on everyday life

Archive for January, 2009

Best Dads

No, sorry, Folks, this is not going to be a gush-fest about my dad.  This is about dads we all know and love.  TV dads.

I used to be a TV addict.  In fact, before I was married, my outgoing message on my answering machine said, “Sorry, I can’t come to the phone right now.  I’m either not at home, or watching one of my favorite TV shows.” 

My mom got me this great book TV Guide Book of Lists.  It is awesome!  Check it out, buy it, whatever, but read through it.  Lots of fun stuff.

One of the lists in the book was Best TV Dads.  Which got me to thinking.  Not which dad would you have liked to have had, but which dad would you want to marry?                                   

Here are  my top 5 and why:  (Remember, it’s the character, not the actor.  I would have an entirely different list for that.)  Oh, and I would step into their world, not the other way around.  Let’s see, though, their kids or mine?  I’m going with theirs.  Too complicated otherwise. 

  1. Ray Barone (After all, EVERYBODY loves Raymond!  Not so much the in-laws.  Maybe I should re-think that one.)
  2. Mike Brady (still affectionate, spent a lot of time at home, and actually shared parenting)
  3. Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith, you know.  Positive outlook, you could just tell he’d treat me well.)
  4. Cliff Huxtable (Doctor, but often home, loves his kids, and supports his wife in whatever she wants to do.)
  5. Rob Petrie (Just because he’s sweet and funny.  Oh, and his son hardly ever showed his face, so it would be a peaceful existence.

So, now, who would you choose as your spouse?  Men, feel free to choose your wife and her children.



    My Favorite Movie is on TV!

    My daughter just shouted those words earlier today.  Her favorite movie is “Three Amigos,” by the way.  And, it has been for several years.  She’s ten.  We bought her the DVD for her birthday about five years ago.  Yep.  Some girls think “High School Musical” revolutionized the movie industry.  Or, when they were five, they couldn’t get enough of “Beauty and the Beast.”  Nope.  Not here.  Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short have no idea how little their biggest fan really is.  Yeah, 0ur family has its quirks.

    When Tom turned on the TV and started flipping channels, she saw it, and said, “My favorite movie is on TV!  Don’t change it!”  Tom pointed out that it was the end of the movie, but she didn’t care.  She wanted to watch those last 5 minutes.

    What I found interesting was the fact that she could watch that movie any time she wanted.  She has the DVD.  But, the fact that it was on TV made it more enticing. 

    But, honestly, I do the same thing.  If “When Harry Met Sally” showed up on TV, I’d sit and watch it, even though I own it.  Mark would watch any of the Harry Potters, and time stands still if Tom’s favorite “The Fifth Element” shows up.   Okay, honestly, I just pulled these out of the air.  We all have several favorites.  So if Tom and Mark read this (and they will), please don’t correct me and say, “Why did you say that (name of movie) is my favorite?  It is SO not my favorite.  My favorite movie is “Barney’s Adventures in Happyland” (or something like that).”  I was just giving examples.

    So, why is it that we want to see it right then?  Even when just a portion of it is left?  And there are commercials?

    In college, my friend wanted to watch “The Sound of Music”  one night.  We told her she could tape it and watch it later.  Her response?  “But, it’s not as fun as when you know that everyone else is watching too!”

    Is that it?  Do we like the imaginary camaraderie? 

    Ahhhh.  The great questions in life.  Will we ever find the answers?  Or are we doomed to roam this earth just searching…searching…searching…

    Help Yourself!

    Today was not the greatest of days.  A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that my stomach hurt, supposedly out of guilt.  (which has yet to be proven, but we’ll go with that for now.) 

    This morning, I thought I was going to jump out of my skin.  That is the best way I can describe it.  Anxious.  Teetering on the edge of a cliff feeling.  Then, my stomach just hurt.  Then, I worried about why I was hurting and then worrying about it.

    I kept trying to tell myself that I am not going to be “normal” anymore.  What used to be normal for me is no longer going to be.  And, what was normal then was no picnic for those around me, nor for myself, because I would always crash after a period of normalcy.  Mental illness stinks.  Calling it mental illness stinks too.

    So, I had to figure out what to do to make myself feel “better.”  My upper back has been hurting (there I go again, sounding like I’m 82), so I haven’t gotten much sleep.  (DING!  Trigger time!)  So, I popped a couple of ibuprofen and took a 30 minute nap.  Woke up and felt pretty good for about, oh, 3 minutes.

    Then, Bam!  Back to feeling cruddy.  So.  Now what, Michelle? 

    Can’t call your mom because she is going to go out to lunch with her friend.  And, two things would happen if you called:  1)  She would take time for you, and not be as ready as she’d like to be for her lunch and 2) She’d think about you while having lunch, therefore not enjoying herself.  Now, I know you are reading this, Mom, and believe me, I did this just as much for myself today.  How cruddy would I feel if I messed up your day?  Pretty cruddy.  Let’s look at Option #2.

    Option #2:  Call and talk to Dad.  Great listener, but this was going to call for more than just listening.  It would require my going over there.  And, the timing would definitely still interfere with Mom’s day, so she’d know about it, and (see option#1)  My dad rocks, and would quickly suggest we meet somewhere for breakfast/lunch.  Normally, that would be reason enough to call him.  Yum!  However, I have really been watching what I eat, and going out to eat didn’t sound good at all, and might have been counter-productive.

    Option #3:  Call Tom.  Tom had a big presentation today at work.  I really try not to call him anyway, because what can he do?  He’s half an hour away.  So, my calling him makes him feel helpless and causes him to not be able to concentrate on his job.  And, I don’t have to tell you all how important having a job is.  🙂

    Option #4:  (Yeah, I really did think of all these.  My mind tends to do this.)  Phone a friend.  No not Regis Philbin.  One of my many friends that has said, “Call me any time.”  Well, you all are so sweet, but there were reasons I didn’t call each of you.  Too numerous to mention, and possibly too personal.  Just know I thought of you.  😉

    So, I was out of options.  But, I persevered.  I decided to go to The Happiest Place on Earth.  I know.  You think that’s Disneyland.  Well, you are wrong.  It’s Wal-Mart.  Well, it was as close as I could get in under an hour to a pretty happy place.  Plus, I needed a few items.

    Well, you know how it is.  When you aren’t feeling well, things just don’t go right.  I couldn’t find my car keys.  I was sitting on them.  And, that was before I even left the house, obviously.

    I hit Wal-Mart, and stuck to my list, for the most part.  Just getting out did help a little.  And, I was proud of myself for not hitting the chocolate aisle, just ripping open a package, and sitting in the middle of the aisle looking like Augustus Gloop. 

    I then drove down to Lion’s Choice.  Ordered a sandwich, NO FRIES, and a diet Dr. Pepper.  Then I drove to/through Greensfelder Park and enjoyed the scenery and weather.

    But, what I did next was what made me turn the corner.  Get out your notebooks, kiddies.  On my .mp3 player, I watched an episode of “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”  And, laughed and laughed.  Right there in my minivan.  After it was over, I realized I felt much better. 

    Huh.  That “laughter is the best medicine” thing may have some merit after all.

    Come to the Dark Side

    I can get obsessed with something pretty easily.  Obsessed  may not be the right word, but it is pretty dang close.

    My obsession two weeks ago was watching past episodes of “Big Bang Theory.”  I would download it onto my computer and watch it whenever I wanted to.  Which was pretty much every spare moment I could grab.  Great show, but truly, I got nothing else done.  Other than spending time telling everyone what a great show it is.

    Now, another show has its deadly grasp on my mind, emotions, and time.  The original “CSI.”  We subscribe to Netflix, which now has the option of watching DVDs on your computer instead of waiting for the disk.  Well, in my mind, watching an hour-long show,  (actually 44 minutes) was better than sitting down to watch a two-hour movie.  And, that is true.  Unless of course you watch more than one episode per sitting.  And, guess who fell into that routine.  It has sucked me in. 

    Now, I mentioned that it has not only taken over my time, but my mind and emotions as well. 

    Some of these shows are pretty intense.  I have to start taking deep breaths after an episode is over, because I haven’t taken a breath in who knows how long.

    I even mentioned to my neighbor that I am NEVER going to Las Vegas, because there is nothing but crime there.  It is a dangerous city!  I do feel that, unlike the other CSIs, this one has quite a few stories of random violence.  The other two (Miami and New York) have many targeted victims.  People who have wronged others in some way. 

    I wondered a couple of things while watching my CSI marathons.  (which I am stopping today, just to make sure I can) 

    • Does Las Vegas suffer or prosper due to its exposure on the show?
    • Why don’t any of the murders occur in a casino?  (Maybe they do in other seasons, but so far none have in Season 7)
    • Why do the agents always examine a house with flashlights?  I mean, once the house is empty of the murderer, why can’t you turn on the lights, for cryin’ out loud?  Wouldn’t that make it easier to see?
    • Don’t they know that when they have a special guest star (like Ned Beatty) that we always know that if they are not the victim, then they are the killer?  They don’t come on to do bit parts, my friends.

    See?  Most people who watch the show once a week, don’t obsess with details like this, but when you watch one after the other, you tend to notice this kind of stuff.  (Anyone that watches more than one episode of CSI:Miami notices the weird stance of David Caruso every time he arrives at a crime scene, however.  He stands with his hands on his hips and then either takes off his sunglasses or puts them on, nods his head in a direction and says, “What’s that over there under the sofa?”  He’s too lazy to go check it out himself, but will still get the credit for finding it.  A little ego check, please?)  For a fun few minutes, check out this youtube video of his best one-liners before the title song comes screaming out. 

    So, yes, I’m giving up my CSI addiction.  For now. 

    Besides “Lost” starts tonight.

    First Session of 2009

    I went to see Kent today.  I did what you suggested, KC, and took my blog in for him to read.  He laughed in all the right places and nodded in others.

    We took time to catch up on what had been going on with me since the last session which was before Thanksgiving.  As always, he was very supportive and encouraging.  I told him I was really trying to take charge of my life and that things were going really well in those areas that we had discussed previously.  Tom and I have since gone to a marriage conference that was amazing.  He and I are also working on our budget, and that is going relatively well.  And, lastly, I don’t feel stress about committments.

    So, as I told Kent, on paper, things are going really well.  So why am I all knotted up all the time?

    One word…guilt. 

    WHAT?!?!  Guilt?  Me?  Never!  But, let’s explore that a bit.

    The “shoulds” have been creeping back in my thoughts and words.  Not good.  I even said it several times during our session.  DOH! 

    Kent used the analogy of a nuclear plant.  I have successfully removed the big tower-thing.  All sorts of huge things in the last year made up that tower.  The bipolar diagnosis, changing my lifestyle, realizing my limitations, etc.  Now that the tower is down, there is all this nuclear leftover crap.  (He used another term, but I won’t share that with you.)  The crap has been there all the time, but you didn’t notice it because you have focused on the tower, and now there’s this “stuff” to deal with.

    Well, by not dealing with this stuff, I’ve felt guilty.  Guilty because I don’t feel like I deserve it, and because I can’t just enjoy it.  At first, I had a hard time with his “diagnosis” of guilt.  But, as he explained it, I’m thinking about all the great things that are happening in my life, and yet, I feel as though I have fallen short on my part of making it happen.  I’m focusing on my faults (my “shoulds”), wondering why I can’t be a better person.

    Yes, I know.  Most of you that read this, love me.  You think I am a great person.  And, please know…that means the world to me.  I know I am blessed to have such wonderful and supportive friends and family.  But, just writing this blog today makes my stomach hurt.  It’s like my my head is telling me, “Come on, girl.  You know better than that!”  But, my psyche?  Not so much.  So my body is in this tug of war.

    So, Kent has given me homework.  I’m to write 50 words that positively describe a person.  He told me what we were going to do with them, but I’ve forgotten what he said.  I did ask him if he was going to make me sit in front of a mirror and tell myself how I’m a good person, like Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live.  I thought he would laugh and say “no.”  He didn’t.  I know I raised my eyebrows in a “you’re kidding, right?” look.  He said that he didn’t used to believe in the whole “positive affirmation” thing, but now he realizes it’s a necessary step and that he would explain why and how next session.

    I guess I should practice.  “I’m good enough.  I’m smart enough.  And, doggone it, people like me.”  Yeah.  I don’t see that happening, but I’ll try it if I have to.

    Teaching a Teenager New Tricks

    Seriously.  I’m sure I’m not alone on this one.

    My son is now 13 and an excellent student.  Normally, he does his homework without any problems or help.  Sometimes, he will ask us to check his answers, or ask for clarification of a question, normal stuff like that. 

    Aside from Pre-Algebra, that is.  Math not being his strong suit, he struggles to understand the concepts, formulas, etc.  Fortunately, he has Tom and me to help him out.  I’m a freak of nature that actually loves to do Algebraic equations.  He brings his work home, and I’m all over it.  Freak.  I’m aware of it.  Let it go.  Oh, and the teaching abilities of his teacher are in question.  Mark is not alone in coming home and not having a clue what is going on.  Then, when I try to explain it to him (in the way I was taught), I get the comment I dread, “That’s not the way Mr. Educator does it.”  Even though, he doesn’t have a clue what Mr. Educator does do, it sure ain’t what I’m doing.  (And, no, his name is not “Mr. Educator.”  Duh.)  Oh, and apparently, there is a THIRD method, which is what the book teaches.  So, as I explained to Mark yesterday, “You can either do it my way or Mr. Educator’s way.  But, you don’t know how to do it Mr. Educator’s way, and he’s not here.  Your choice.”  Surprise, Surprise.  He went with my way.

    But, that is not what this blog is really about.  It’s about thinking for himself.  Last night he came and asked me what Puerto Rico’s relationship is with the US.  Uh, well, you see…(Look, I know Puerto Rico is a commonwealth.  That’s it.  And, I got that from some teaching game Mark had when he was little.  I took Geography on Pass/Fail in college.  You get the drift.  Not my strong suit.)  So, I tell him so.  (Not about the college thing.  I don’t want him to know there is such a thing as Pass/Fail.  Not yet.)  I said, “Yeah, well, you know, geography and government are not my strong suit.  I really don’t know anything about it.  Sorry.”  He then sat there outside my room and just looked at me.  I said, “What are you doing?” 


    “For what?” 

     “For help.” 

    Now, Tom was at a meeting, and he most likely knew enough to help Mark out, but he wasn’t there.  So, I said, “Well, I told you I don’t know anything about this.  I can’t help you if I don’t know anything.” 

    Still sitting there.  “Mark, what are you going to do?”

    “I don’t know what to do.”

    Okay.  I’m about to blow a gasket.  But, instead I turn my attention to my daughter, who has been practically ignored since she got home from school because of the Pre-Algebra help session going on in our kitchen.  He finally left.

    Now, when I was in school, (geez, I sound like an old geezer.  “In my day…”) if we didn’t know something we looked it up in the encyclopedia.  (I didn’t even have a full set of encyclopedias.  I had to go to the neighbor’s house to borrow hers.  And, it was uphill.  Both ways!)  Kids have it so easy now.  They can look it up on the internet.  But, what killed me was that he didn’t even think to do that.  He was stuck after he heard the words, “I can’t help you.” 

    I know I’m a near genius, and he should expect me to know all things, but once in awhile concepts slip past me, and I miss something.  Seriously, this just blew my mind.  Was I honestly supposed to say aloud “LOOK IT UP!”?  I don’t think so.  This kid is so internet-friendly, I’m surprised he bothered to even ask me. 

    After I took Karen to dance, I came home and asked him if he had found the answer to the question.  He said, “Yeah.  I looked it up in the book.”  Genius.

    Low Maintenance?

    In one of my favorite movies, When Harry Met Sally, Harry has a great line when he talks to Sally at the beginning of the movie.  “You are the worst kind.  You are high maintenance, but you think you are low maintenance.”  That used to be me.  I’ve now come to the realization that I am HIGH HIGH maintenance.  Just ask my husband.

    I haven’t been to my therapist since before Thanksgiving.  It’s been my choice, but lately I’ve been wondering why I decided to stop going.

    Is it because I think I’m doing well enough to make it on my own?

    Is it because I can’t imagine what we’d talk about?

    Or, is it because I’m tired of working on handling different situations?

    When I first left the loony bin, I was so scared to be out in the “real world.”  I didn’t know what I would be facing, how I would react, or even have the slightest idea of how to handle everyday life.

    Seeing Kent was like grabbing on to a life preserver in the middle of an ocean.  I always knew I would be seeing him the next week, or the week after that.  I would keep record of the different situations that I had faced and bring them up during our sessions.  When I was finished, I was ready to take on the world!

    I thought I was handling the pressures of Thanksgiving and Christmas really well, and then I had a meltdown.  If I could have gone to Kent, I would have in a second.  But, I knew I couldn’t get in right away, the meltdown subsided, and the need for Kent passed. 

    A year ago, I was so very dependent on his insight and help.  Now, I feel like I am controlling my emotions much better.  But, there have been some signs that I could still use some work.  My fuse seems shorter than usual lately.  More like back to my pre-bipolar-diagnosis days.  But, a huge part of me is just not wanting to go to see Kent.

    So, now, I’m trying to figure out why.  And, I think it is because I wouldn’t even know where to start.  My mind seems foggy when it comes to actual incidents that would cause me to blow.  When I get some alone time with Tom, things seem much better after that.  But, that’s a lot to put on him.  “My mental health depends on you and your support.  Good luck, Babe.”

    I keep coming up with excuses as to why I’m so “testy”.  It’s because winter break was dang long!  (Geez-o.  We never had that much time off when I was in school!)  It’s because I may be going through some hormonal issues.  (I apologize to my male readers.  I probably should have warned you that the “h” word was coming.)  It’s because it’s 2009 and that’s an odd-numbered year.  (Okay, I made that one up, but I had to come up with something.)

    I’m thinking I could probably benefit from going for a refresher in the next week or so.  I guess I don’t have to go in with an agenda.  By then, maybe my health issues will be solved, but if they aren’t he could probably help me with coping with that.

    See?  This blog thing really works.  I started this by thinking I would convince myself that I didn’t need to go to Kent, and now I’ve done a 180.  Tomorrow I will call and make an appointment.  I can always cancel 24 hours in advance.  But, I will do my best not to fall into that trap.  While I feel like I’m just on a maintenance schedule, my family will most likely benefit from a few more sessions.

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