Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Unemployment strikes again, not that I mind too terribly. While I don't mind working, I have to confess that this past temporary job was an exercise in administrative inefficiency and frustration. My supervisors purposefully kept me out of the loop and as such, I was unable to perform my duties excellently and I'm a big fan of excellence. Honestly, I can deal with a crappy job, but I hate feeling like I'm a bad employee. I'm a good machine cog. I like positive feedback. I suppose we all do.

So, now that I have some time to myself, I've been enjoying doing nothing. Absolutely nothing. Ahhh.

And I have some questions.

Why do women wear high heels that smoosh their little toes?
Why do people who work at the post office seem either miserable or happy, but never just alright?
If we can make a hybrid car, why can't we make a movie theatre ticket seller microphone that actually transmits words instead of static?
Why do little towns have streets where the left lane turns into a left turn only lane without advanced warning?
After the road kill folks pick up their carcasses du jour, where do they put em?
Why is it that Wolf Blitzer can be a successful media personality but all of his female counterparts have to look like Twiggy (Amanpour aside, of course. She's around because she speaks 8,000 languages)?
Why is it that I can be so unhappy while my cats are content with a soft spot to sleep?
Why does the city of South Bend have such crappy side walks?
If the internet is so revolutionary, why can't I find a job with it?
Why is it that when a Mormon needs help (say finding a job), they go to their church while when a Catholic needs help, we're shit out of luck?
Is it okay to look at my old boss and think that she wouldn't last 5 minutes in NYC with people who are actually important?
How can a mushroom mysteriously disappear in an aquarium? For that matter, how can star polyps do the same?
Can tangs become obese and if so, is it wrong to think that's adorable?
Is it okay to really need money, but refuse to work at Starbucks (sorry Adra!)?
Is it okay to be pissy because books are expensive when you buy them, but cheap when you sell them?
Is it okay to be jealous of those freaks out there who have everything all figured out at 22?
Is it okay to be FREAKING OUT because your birthday is coming and you don't feel like you've done that much with the last year of your life?
Can a person actually be stressed out by the fact that they have to move in 2 years?
Is it worth it to set up a mini propagation tank to sell coral to subsidize my other aquarium expenditures?
Why is plumbing so easy, and yet so incredibly confusing?
Who decided to call plumbing parts male and female?
In fact, who decided to name anything what it's named?
Is it wrong to want to stomp around swearing when you discover that your local Home Depot will not allow dogs in it, even though it's a fucking hardware store? What, is the dog going to drool on your nuts?
Is it wrong to desperately wish you had a dagger so that when the incompentent cashier at Home Depot tells you she can't do returns, you can stab her through the heart and use her blood to paint fuck you on the exit door?
Why does every goddam stoplight in South Bend have a lefthand turn signal except the one on Edison and SR 20?
Do my cats get lonely?
Is it okay to super glue Brendan's testicle to his leg because he hasn't done laundry in two weeks even though he said he would?
Is it sad that my current inspiration comes from the African Tree frog I bought at Walmart for $2.97?

Yep. These questions aren't exciting. Nothing deep or profound.

I'm feeling a bit like I'm a thick fog; I can't see or hear very much and every breath I take is laboured because the air seems thick. It's like I'm swimming in jello.

Hmm. If that's the case, I hope it's strawberry jello. mmmmjello.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Me against the pill

disclaimer I am not going off my meds, just sharing my thoughts.


As I was munching on my Cinammon Toast Crunch this morning, I looked over at my pill box and realized that the contents of this cheap plastic container cost me more than $250. I continued munching, fighting off the occasional yawn, before I noticed that my house is a chaotic warzone filled with old take-out boxes, crumbs from the dog's expedition into the cupboard and shipping boxes from eBay and Amazon transactions.

Why exactly am I taking these meds again? Their lovely addition to my life has added nearly 40 lbs to my frame, which was by no means gaunt before my sojourn into mental illness. I still cry because I'm unhappy and my depression is as bad as it always has been. I'm teetering on the edge of complete melancholy and an excruciatingly slow trek out of my comfortable depressed haven.

The problem is, medicines are like the ripples a pond gets after you throw a pebble into it. They start in one place and act on one thing, but then they start bumping into other things and eventually, you end up with a turbulent puddle where a glass smooth one used to be. And, just as dropping the pebble into the pond is distracting and miserable, retrieving that pebble is much worse. By the time you tromp throught the puddle, grab your pebble and walk about again, there's a whole bunch of chaos that'll take hours to settle.

It's summer now. If I want to even think about tinkering with my meds, I need to tinker now. It's not like the status quo is so incredible that I'm eager to maintain my stability or something like that. I suppose I'm just more afraid of pushing the swing, so to speak. Going up and down and up and down and up and down.

If this were a movie, at this point someone would jump into my office and give an inspiring speech about how life isn't worth living if you aren't willing to conquer your fears and live beyond your comfort zones. Of course, those morons don't understand that in this instance, it's not a case of comfort or discomfort, it's a case of sanity versus insanity, comfort versus harm. Decisions, decisions.

I suppose I'll have to chat with my doctor on this one. We had been discussing decreasing one of my meds, but unfortunately, my move to South Bend and turbulent adjustment has made that impossible up to this point.

But with baby ducks, comes my happiness. And they are hatching like mad. All fuzzy and yellow and clumsy. Awww.


The illusion of help

In a move that I'm not too enthused by, a southern suburb of Chicago has implemented a new mental health policy in an attempt to help the most severely mentally ill people get on their feet.

Problem #1. In a population of 155,000 mentally ill people, the .08% who will actually be "helped" by this program most likely represent those who are unlikely to ever become productive members of society. The craziest of the crazy need a helluva lot more help than meeting with a psychiatrist with an insurmountable case load.

Problem #2. How is it that a psychiatrist gets paid $70,000/year to meet with 40 patients a week, and a bilingual social worker gets paid $58,000/year to meet with 30 clients per week. WHAT!?! Why the CRAP are you paying your social worker that much money? Not to belittle the difficulty of the job, but seriously, that should be a position with a MAXIMUM salary of $40,000 that you might get after working for 30 years.

This is part of the reason that I can't deal with the government up here. In Maricopa County (in AZ), the desperately mentally ill are put through a state program for several months. The program mandates that they see a doctor, a counselor and attend what basically amounts to school to learn basic life skills. By the time they are put out into the world, these folks have a stable medication regimen and experience with learning how to balance a budget, stay out of dangerous relationships and most importantly, apply for work. The genius of the AZ system is that the state will hire some of the new graduates to train other mentally ill patients going through the system. So, under supervision, some of these folk will be empowered by helping others like them. Great experience.

Most amazing about the AZ program, however, is the fact that the government will provide low cost drugs to graduates for a generous period of time, during which the mentally ill folk should have been able to find a job, start working and get health benefits.

And you know, that system work pretty damn well. You can't change a person and if people stop taking their meds, nothing good can come of it, but at least you've given people a structured chance for a better life.

Somehow, the Chicago formula feels like a way to justify the creation a couple of cushy jobs. That pisses me off because there are people out there who desperately need help.

My opinion? Better than nothing. Barely.


Friday, May 06, 2005

The Seasonal Shift

While this might not come as a surprise to anyone, the vast majority of bipolar patients experience changes in their moods that coincide with the changing of the seasons. For example, when spring starts to get its butt in gear, many bipolar patients report feeling slightly more energized. Manic episodes are more common in spring and summer than they are in the dead of winter.

I notice this particular phenomenon quite a bit in my own life. Back in early March, I'd come home from work and fall asleep, exhausted, at 7pm only to wake at 7am unrested and cranky. Now, I can stay up until 11:00 and wake up at 6:30 without any problems. Oddly though, I do tend to binge sleep when I don't sleep as much during the week. For example, last week, I followed a pretty consistent weekday sleep pattern of 11:00pm to 7:00am. I wasn't overly sleepy, just mildly lazy during the day. But come Saturday, I was utterly incapacitated by exhaustion. I fell asleep at about 7:00pm and only woke intermittently on Sunday. In fact, I think I spent a total of about 5 hours out of bed all Sunday long. And I slept through the night on Sunday night.

Anyway, I notice that my moods tend to vascillate with the seasons as well. In Phoenix and Los Angeles, this was not so much of a problem, but in South Bend, the impact is a bit more pronounced.

And so, stupid things like weekly bowling keep me alive when the sun sets at 4:00pm. And in the summer, life is good.

Summer is like falling into the garden of Eden. At the moment, I feel like my brain is coming alive just like the earth around me has. Dirty snow piles and drab skies have been replaced by baby ducks and vibrant flowers.

Damn the pessimist in me who quietly whispers that winter will come again.


Thursday, May 05, 2005

A duel with dyads

One of the first things that kids come to understand as they are growing up is the nature of dualistic relationships. Male or female, day or night, hot or cold and so on and so forth. Along with the more basic dyads, we also learn that there's happy or sad, crying or laughing, reasonable or unreasonable.

And that's where my daily dilemma has left me. I'm sitting quietly at my desk and I have no task or purpose other than to sit here. There are certain requirements of my sitting, however. I'm not allowed to sleep, despite my desire to take a nap. I'm not allowed to sing, or watch TV or put my feet up. I have to maintain an illusion of professionalism just in case someone happens to stroll in.

Needless to say, sitting here pondering why my betta fish likes to attack my fingertip when I put it on the glass side of his bowl has me wondering why I even bothered learning how to read. Truly, sitting in this office has led me to conclude that my education was a gigantic waste of money. A dear friend of mine who dropped out of community college in her first semester makes more money than I do. She's a beautiful girl, both inside and out, but book-learning was never her thing. I'm beginning to wish it wasn't my thing.

While some that I complain to believe that I should not be content with my position because I'm to intelligent to be satisfied by the more menial tasks involved, I think they are mistaken. I actually enjoy my job when I come to work and there is actually work for me to do. Indeed, I always enjoyed my job at a bagel shop because it had its own frenetic pace that made the hours flow by.

I loathe having nothing to do, and yet having so much to do it's not funny. I have a pile of laundry sitting at home that could kill a man if it toppled over. I need to take my pooch for a long stroll today--we have a standing date. I really should give myself a pedicure. But I'm trapped. And that makes me want to run around screaming and drooling on myself simultaneously to add to my disheveled, undone self.


The unusual thing is that in the midst of this rather stupifying position, I am also quite happy. I have an amazing significant other who makes me smile and laugh every day, I have a puppy who trots to the door wagging his tail whenever I walk in, I have cute kittens who demand love and attention, but sometimes get distracted a fall asleep in their place du jour, I have a fantastic saltwater fish tank, with zooanthids and zenia, coralline algae and blue-legged hermit crabs, damsels and clown fish and chromis, a goby with a gas problem and a mandarin who is finally getting his figure back after going on a crash diet.

I love my life. I can walk around my neighborhood and not get shot at (although someone did get mugged at gunpoint not too far away the other day). There are flowers and bunnies and baby ducks. A world with all of that stuff really can't be all bad.

But in my office, when I have nothing to do, the world seems do dismal, pointless and punishing that it can be hard to remember flowers and sunshine.

That's why my dream is to run a cat kennel. I can and do pet cats all day long. I love them and I don't mind changing litter boxes and dealing with little territorial spats.

I think my dreams are why I can survive the doldrums. I spend countless hours thinking about the schematics of my potential kennel. I think about business plans and market share and all that jazz. It passes the time.

I just wish I didn't have to pass time. But I suppose that good things come to those who wait.

If only I wasn't so impatient!