Category: Bipolar

“Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!”

Tomorrow begins the end of a decade. It seems to me, upon reflection, this has been one of my most amazing decades. Both good and bad, it has been a decade of change.

We rang in this decade at Great’s cabin. All the family together as we hadn’t been in years and haven’t been since. Aunts uncles, nieces, nephews, grandparents, greats altogether just in case the world came crashing down (Y2K) gathered in that tiny cabin in the woods. The world didn’t end, but we had a great party and a wonderful time visiting.

This decade has seen all three of my children age into adulthood; three graduations, three 18th birthdays and three beautiful, successful children become adults. This decade two of them started their own families, separate lives with their special someone. Two beautiful weddings; each unique and perfect for their own participants. And now at the end of this decade, I am the mother of all adults. No longer children, beginning to count their own decades.

This decade brought an end to our time in our home on Honey Water, the home never occupied by anyone but our family since 1998 and burned in the great fires of October 2007. Nothing left but a bit of shell, visited by us and mourned by us. A decade in which, Mr. Vixen underwent a life changing (and yet still undiagnosed) illness and the beginning of my learning to live my life with another person with depressive bi-polar disorder. The beginning of panic attacks and knee surguries and loss of jobs. A once productive and hard working soul, stuck in a body denying him what he wanted to do (support his family) and thus creating a demon in his head he cannot shake.

A decade in which we celebrated our landmark 25th wedding anniversary. And a decade in which we went from making the most money we had ever made in our lives together to the lowest position we have ever found ourselves. From helping our kids, to begging for help for ourselves. Losing our home, being evicted, and learning the ins and outs of the social welfare system. A time of many wonderful pool parties and hot tub get togethers and a time of food stamps and no health care. During this decade I have gone from working two full time jobs at the same time, to being unemployed or disabled.

This past decade has brought me the joys of grandchildren and the sorrows of loss. Joy and blessings in the births of  Ladybug and Butterball. Grief and heartache attending the funeral of my grandson and after Ladybugs strokes and subsequent seizures. From healthy kids and miracle recoveries; to necrotizing fasciitis and begging a child to keep fighting and live. Ten years of wonderful work with some terrific people and the end of that era with a financial catastrophe across our nation.

With this decade, I have finally let go of toxic relationships that dragged me down for years; but found a new community which has lifted me up in its arms with support, love and compassion of a depth I haven’t known since childhood.

Alas, this decade has also brought the ages of time for me and just as my body doesn’t respond as quickly as it used to, my mind may not be as keen as it was (although I will not admit that again). So I am sure my children will have much to add in this reminiscence and chide me for some important event forgotten. That is okay, I like it that way!

It is my wish that each and every one of you celebrate safely and happily; that 2010 brings you more joy and happiness; and that the next decade be kind to all of us.

2010 will bring about a new twist for ApronFrenzy, thanks to the help of a friend, and the expectation of another addition (RolyPoly) in the grandchild column in April. Both pretty exciting if you ask me!

I hope you will continue to share my journey with me, as I chase life down the rabbit hole.

As A Stranger Holds My World In Her Hand

Three years ago, August 31, 2006, my husband had an episode. The results of which (after thousands of dollars I spent after insurance) were they didn’t know what happened. He would pass out. He couldn’t move without becoming dizzy. His blood pressure plummeted and stayed low normal, even though he had high blood pressure and had been taking medication for years. He was unable to work. He developed crippling anxiety and paranoia. He became so depressed, we actually became afraid we would lose him. His knees were shot. After the one year of state disability was exhausted the only improvement was in his depression. The rest, most especially his knees became worse. He had several surgeries which were not helpful or successful. We applied for long term disability.

In the last three years we have been denied SSDI three times. We began our final appeal (a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge) one year ago. We tried to hire lawyers three times. One finally agreed to look at our case in January, but has not done a single thing for us. Just before this lawyer took our case, we had our first hearing with the judge, which she postponed so we could find a lawyer to take our case. The postponement was supposed to be a month or two. We finally were re-scheduled for a hearing today, nine months later.

Today it will finally end. One way or the other. My mom says even if we don’t get it, we aren’t any worse off than we are now, but I don’t believe that is true. It is true that my husband’s income was 60% of our household income and doing without it for the last years has been extremely difficult. There was an entire year when I worked two full time jobs, before I become so exhausted I couldn’t handle it. We had to give up our home of 10 years. We lived in an RV. We have been evicted, turned out for collections, had liens placed against us, owe thousands of dollars, been on food stamps, and are on MediCal. I have had to beg for money to eat. Not exactly the future we had worked hard for the last nearly 30 years. But, as mom says, we are already at the bottom.

The problem is, if he is denied, we lose hope. For all these years, we had hope. Hope that he would have some small amount of income from SSDI. Hope that it would be enough for us to sustain a bare minimum existence. Hope that he wouldn’t have to feel like he couldn’t contribute anymore. Hope we could pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and climb back up.

A stranger, a judge, holds our hope in her hands today. I can’t say I have much faith in the system anymore. I want to, but I just can’t anymore.

Here goes nothing and everything.

Creating is My Mojo

There is a long and involved story behind Cinco de Mayo for my family. It involves an insane woman I had never met before and an assault on my husband. The results were many fold. That day, six years ago, the immediate result was police involvement, a standoff, an arrest and hours in the emergency room. Short term, there was the loss of a good job, recuperation, paranoia, fear, anger, and restraining orders. As time went on there were court dates, lawyers, guilty verdicts and arbitration.

The long term result, in my opinion, was the loss of my husbands grasp on the life we had forged for 20 years. Something about the event, whether it was the trauma itself, the depression from losing his job after being assaulted (by a woman, no less. and yes, that is a big deal for his psyche), the paranoia that comes from not being able to make sense of the event, or if it was just the catalyst for something that was coming anyway, I will never know. I just know that was the beginning of the end. The end of life as we knew it.

After a few years, we being who we are, tried to make the anniversary of the date something else. We began to celebrate Happy Stick Day. We would ply Mr. Vixen with margaritas, fill a pinata with candy, blindfold him and let him whack the crap out of it. Retaliation. Anger management. Putting a fun face on a sad day.

Last year we missed Happy Stick Day. This year I felt the need to mark it again. Even though it is a weekday. (That really doesn’t matter to me right now, being unemployed, ha ha…sorry kids). So we have a pinata and a big stick. We will be making margaritas. As always, I decided I wanted to take it another step further this time. I just can’t seem to stop myself. I am an over-achiever. So I am making tamales. I don’t know anyone who has made tamales. I have never made tamales. I read all about it yesterday and cooked the meat last night. This morning by 8am, I was walking to the local tortilleria down the street to purchase husks (yes walk, remember: dead car).

It is now Day 2, Hour 3.5. I will tell you what this little Irish cook as learned: It looks hard on paper. BUT IT IS HARDER in real life. So far, I have broth, meat and soaked husks.

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The meat was cooked overnight in the crockpot with 2 onions and 6 cloves of garlic. While the meat cooled I pureed the onion/garlic in the food processor and added it back to the broth and seasoned with some chili powder and salt. I then shredded the meat (can you say, time consuming?) and seasoned with a bunch of chili powder, some cumin, some salt and some of the broth (with most of the pureed stuff). I have no idea what I am doing. I am sorta (not) following a recipe. I am off now to attempt the tamale dough and the creating of the tamales themselves. I am highly enjoying myself, but I do have doubts that there will be anything to eat tonight.

Wish me luck!

How BiPolar Disorder Affects Me Today

who is he. where did my husband go. i want him back.

what do i do. where do i turn. who do i talk to.

at first it was to be expected. anxious. angry. scared. stressed.

i treated him like shit. i know. we both did. what do you do after 20-something years and someone gets sick, but there is no disease?

i get it. i still acted wrong at times, especially after a long day at one job and 6-8 hours at the one i picked up because he couldn’t work. i carried us. i don’t mind. i took what i could get. but during all that time, i still saw the person i married. not as often. but still very much there sometimes.

about six months ago he disappeared. now he is just. there. not happy, but not unhappy. OK, he says. the drugs work (?) he doesn’t want to die anymore. he ‘functions’. he isn’t sad, but i see no joy. he isn’t angry but i see no response. i am glad that ‘the world’ thinks he is okay. he can’t (won’t?) work. he can’t (won’t) make a decision. he can’t (won’t?) participate in life.

i am lonely. never felt this way before. life is hard right now. i’m unemployed and scared and freaked the fuck out and alone. he wants his cigarettes. otherwise he just ‘knows’ or just doesn’t care that things will be taken care of. we had brief conversations about how he could help, but that is all they are. sounds people make when no one is listening.

where is he? he has always been the instigator in our physical relationship. always, even after 25 years. we were both comfortable with that. but now he is gone. now, even i try. now, even i have screamed in the night the unsayable. at first i thought i could take it. but now there are no more brief kiss-goodnights even and i don’t know how to get around that.

really. i am a touchy/feely person. i don’t know how to get away from it. the loss of physical contact is like a giant, deep, dark, bloody, gaping whole in my side.

just put aside the fact that i can’t talk without him becoming defensive. i can’t move without him thinking something is wrong. can’t function without being attacked. BUT

mostly I miss a hug. a light kiss. just a touch. a hand squeeze. something that says hey, i still love you. or even hey, i don’t hate you.

On The Outside Looking In

Mysterious Marble Maze by *TheLionofOZ on deviantART

The mysterious workings of the mind have frazzled my nerves and rendered me helpless. Lost in a maze, she is, and I jump into the middle trying to guide her out. The ground within is like sludge and I can barely move forward. My baby, oh my baby. I reach out with fingers that meet a mist, no solid being. Peering around corners, trying to navigate the maze. I can feel her confusion. It seeps in my mind. Don’t take that route. It only leads to panic. Turn, turn, turn. Why are there so many obstacles. Hang on, baby girl. I will save you. I will.

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