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Posts Tagged ‘Mood swings’

There was a time when I had no awareness of when I was getting manic – I just knew that I felt good, so bring it on!  Over time, I have become sensitized to more and more subtle cues that I am “getting high” – and I know that it has lots of risks.  Mania has some genuine gifts – as does depression – but the more ungrounded you get, the more risk of errors in judgement (spending too much money, starting unrealistic projects, etc.), interpersonal damage and the inevitable crash.  So grounding is key: how to keep your feet on the ground when the adrenaline starts to surge.

When you've been really low, all you want to do is to come up. Keeping your feet on the ground is both a skillset and a discipline.

When you’ve been really low, all you want to do is to come up. Keeping your feet on the ground is both a skill set and a discipline.

There are many strategies for grounding, from sitting and walking meditation to gardening.  I’ve tried lots of them, with more or less success.  Some, like walking/swimming/dancing, psychotherapy and talking with my friends are just part of how I regularly operate.

But I’ve got a new one: getting sick!  A couple of weeks ago, I came out of about two weeks of being down and started to come up.  Day 1 of being not depressed looked pretty balanced – call it a 6 (Peaceful State) on my Mania-Depression Scale.  But knowing the way my energy state tends to swing, I was watchful.  Then on Day 2, two things happened: I started to tip into mania (call it a 5, “slightly expanded”) and I came down with a cold.  And getting sick grounded me!  It turned out to be a nasty cold, which went on for ten days, getting worse for the first seven or so.  My up cycle lasted about eight of those ten days.

During those eight days, I frequently said to friends things like: “I physically feel like crap, but I’m not manic.  I’m not depressed and I clearly have tipped into the up end of the continuum.  My spirits are good, but I’m not speedy.  All in all, getting sick has not been a bad trade-off. ”

It felt great to not be emotionally down, but being physically down kept me from getting high - which itself felt pretty good.

It felt great to not be emotionally down, but being physically down kept me from getting high – which itself felt pretty good.

What’s the takeaway from this?  “Don’t try this at home?”  My current lesson from it is: Life is always working on me.  It’s trying to get me balanced.  It will use whatever strategies it can to teach me how to stay grounded when I am high and how to pull myself up to the surface when I am low.  I don’t want to use getting sick as a regular strategy for dealing with mania, but with a little luck I have integrated some subtle balancing capacity – or moved the needle a degree or two.  I’ll keep getting opportunities to practice grounding myself and hopefully I’ll have some muscle memory of what it was like here to be not depressed, but not high.

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I’m running speedy today.  I’m hesitating to call myself manic, because there has been so much exciting stimulation in my life over the last couple of days that someone without bipolar disorder would probably be overstimulated and ungrounded.  But I’m calling myself a 4 – significantly expanded – on my Mania-Depression Scale, and there is the genuine risk of me getting manic.  The scales have tipped from the depressive end of the things and I need to let go of the tools I use to manage depression (seeking out extra stimulation, etc.) and bring in all my strategies for grounding (including somewhat reducing my stimulation, making sure to get enough sleep, etc).  A little bit ago, I laid out on the grass in the sun, one of the most powerful techniques I know for getting grounded.  Now, feel my butt in the chair, my feet on the floor, and breathe.  Let me take a moment to do these things.

After a couple of weeks of being mostly down, I'm ramping up again - time to shift from my energizing tools to my grounding tools.

After a couple of weeks of being mostly down, I’m ramping up again – time to shift from my energizing tools to my grounding tools.

(A minute later)  OK, I’m back.  It wouldn’t have hurt to do that longer, but this post is just wanting to write itself and I feel a need to capture it while it’s hot.  Getting it out will also be grounding.

My life has had several sources of exciting stimulation over the last 48 hours.  Wednesday afternoon, I previewed my 17-minute speech on bipolar disorder (my story – parallel to, but not quite the same as the”My bipolar journey” page at the top of this blog) for my performer/writing coach friend Nina Hart.  It was my first time since writing this piece two months ago to perform it for another person and was very exciting.  I had been manic when I wrote it and – even though it seemed to hold up while I was down – I never totally trust a creative piece I have produced when I’m up.

But Nina adored it – and had some excellent suggestions for how to improve it.  (Her most significant suggestion was, “You are so grippingly honest through the whole piece, then right at the end – when you bring the story into the present, how you are now – your integrity slips a little.  You paint your current situation more rosy than I think it is.  Your story will be less  powerful if you don’t stay equally honest right through to the end.”  Great feedback.  I knew she was right – and will make the changes tomorrow.

Honesty can be hard, but sometimes it's very freeing.

Honesty can be hard, but sometimes it’s very freeing.

I had a job interview yesterday about a job I’m enthused about.  This writing – and the public speaking, teaching and consulting about bipolar disorder that I see coming out of this – is my real work, but I also right now need an artist’s day job.  I think this job may be it, and I’m excited about it.

But more exciting than either of these was a gig I played last night.  Another piece of writing I produced when I was manic was a 6-minute piece of stand-up comedy I wrote four months ago.  When I crashed a couple of weeks later, I didn’t think it was any good.  Oh, I wrote this all up on a post that went up here on September 15 – so I’ll save the rest of that story.  You can go back and read it if you like.

Anyway, I performed this piece at church on September 15.  The title of the sermon was “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”  My piece, which i originally intended to be a sweet poem about the innocence of childhood – inspired by new grandbaby – under the influence of mania came out as this kind of wild comedic ride that I titled, “It’s never too late to have a screwed-up childhood.”  I thought it was strictly all for laughs, but I came to realize after I performed it that getting people laughing about the whole happy childhood/unhappy childhood dichotomy can be a therapeutic act.  Those of us who actually did have a screwed-up childhood may especially profit from the chance to laugh about all that.

So I was asked to reprise this piece at a benefit in a music club last night. I hired a video guy to capture it on videotape: I have a vision of it going up on a website that will help me promote my public speaking/teaching/consulting around bipolar disorder.  This would show my lighter side.

So I had a lot riding on this last night.  And it was a little intimidating playing a club, when most of my other performances have been in the cozy confines of my church.  Big crowds in my church – 200-300 people per service – but they know me and love my poetry.  These would be mostly strangers.

I'm playing a club!  Wow!

I’m playing a club! Wow!

When I first got up there, I was shocked by the stage lights: I couldn’t see the audience!  I had forgotten that this would be the case.  I usually rely on a lot of eye contact – I work the room.  And at first it wasn’t clear how well the crowd would respond.  They were there for music and here we were inserting spoken word near the end of the evening, right before the headliner band.  When I look at the video, I look a little physically frozen – my right arm mostly never moves.  But the crowd did warm up, I did find my rhythm and I finally had a lot of fun.

And the video came out really good.  You can view it on You Tube at

Enjoy.

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My weekend held a series of errors in judgment, which comprised poor self-care around my bipolar disorder – and were set in motion by a slip around my food addiction.

I have known for some time that peanut butter is a problem food for me, a food that I am prone to eating compulsively – and sometimes outright bingeing on.  I have written about this twice in this blog.  But I recently gave up gluten, when about the fourth person suggested this might help with depression.  I actually took her advice to also get off dairy, a commitment on which I have since reneged.  Bread and cheese have been such staples in my diet that I rationalized that I needed to add peanut butter – a quick and easy source of protein – back into my diet.  What was I thinking?  How much evidence do I need that it is a problem food for me?  How great is my capacity for denial?

So I took a jar of peanut butter with me on a weekend trip to see my son, daughter-in-law, and new grandbaby.  I love my son madly – and I know that he loves me deeply, but our relationship can sometimes get tricky – so it’s extra important that I take good care of myself when I go there, do everything I can to stay centered and grounded.  If you’re already smelling trouble here, you’re right

After taking the peanut butter on the trip, my second error in judgment happened at Starbucks Saturday morning.  I had some time to kill before the kids wanted me to come over (on the weekend, when the baby goes down for her first nap they nap also), so I took my laptop to the wireless internet at Starbucks.  Probably even going there was an error in judgment.  I don’t drink coffee – I know that, as someone who is trying to manage his moods, caffeine is a really bad substance for me.  And i don’t even do decaf – it has always seemed like a lame substitute for the real stuff.  I also (aside from periodic slips or extended lapses) don’t do sugar, which is also problematic for someone trying to mange their mood.  I tell myself that other sweeteners with a lower glycemic index (how fast they metabolize in the body) are not a problem.  But it’s hard to make a case that the 7 packs of honey it took to get my bitter grande decaf sweet enough for me was completely harmless.  But i did it – actually it not once crossed my conscious mind that this was an awful lot of sweet stuff.  More denial.

Honey probably is relatively harmless compared with sugar - and I'm not ready to take it out of my diet - but 7 packs of honey is a lot of sweetener.

Honey probably is relatively harmless compared with sugar – and I’m not ready to take it out of my diet – but 7 packs of honey is a lot of sweetener.

We had a great day.  That night, the chicken took a long time to cook and we ate pretty late.  I ate kind of a lot (it was very good) – right up to the edge of overeating, or maybe a little over.  I was very full.  Then, since it was already pretty late, I went back to my hotel room.  The beginnings of my trouble back there was my Zing bar.  I know that those energy bars are very sweet, but I somehow had managed to convince myself that it made sense to buy one – after previously swearing off them – at the gym, after a swim earlier in the week.  The blueberries I had had for dessert at my son’s house were really very good, and I was already quite full – but there was this candy bar calling to me, so I ate it.

My Zing  bar was sweetened with agave and did have protein, but it was awful sweet - for me it was a candy bar.

My Zing bar was sweetened with agave and did have protein, but it was awful sweet – for me it was a candy bar.

I guess that just opened the flood gates, because for some reason I then got into the peanut butter – really into it.  I was still eating it as I walked it down the hotel hall to find a garbage can to dump it in.  That night my stomach tossed around all night and I didn’t sleep well – and woke up early.

The next morning it was back to the Starbucks for internet – and another grande decaf, with another 7 packages of honey.  My son and daughter-in-law know a lot about my struggles with mood and I had over the weekend recruited their judgment about whether I was cycling high, which I had been concerned about on Thursday.  We all kept agreeing that I seemed pretty level.  But that morning  (or almost noon, the appointed time to arrive at their house) I observed to my son, “Wow, I’m pretty chatty today.  It does seem like I’m cycling kind of high.  I think it’s the lack of sleep.”  (The honey still didn’t cross my mind.)

A little while later, I had a tense encounter with my son.  Perhaps the most telltale sign that I was revving high was that I made very little of it, and –  when my time to leave came before the tension had been fully dispersed – I gave it no thought the rest of the day.  This even though the next day it seemed pretty significant, enough so that I want to make a point of apologizing to him.  Carrying some unconscious tension from this certainly did not help my growing mania.

When I left for the 7-hour drive home at 2 p.m, the genuine caffeinated coffee that I had at Starbucks was not an impulse move.  I had told them of my plan.  When they offered to make me some coffee, I said, “No, if I’m going to break down and have real coffee, I want it to be Starbucks.”  And still, as I was announcing this decision, I at no point thought this was maybe a bad idea.  Let me state it again: I don’t do caffeine.  It had been many months – maybe a year – since I had had any.  I was already describing myself as cycling high.  What was I thinking?

Here’s where I think my food addict – with all the denial that goes with that – intersects with poor management of my moods.  I had, during the last week, been outlining a blog post on strategies for staying grounded – lots of very positive ideas, which I was actively practicing and which are very valuable, and which I am still going to write up.  But I may need to add some don’ts: If you want to get good sleep to keep from cycling high, don’t overeat before going to bed.  Don’t consume 7 packs of honey.  Don’t have caffeine.

So I went to Starbucks and – thinking I was being very disciplined – had only half caffeine in my 16 oz grande.  The French Roast bold blend in my half-caf part (my request) made the coffee even more bitter than the decaf had been earlier that morning, so 7 packs of honey didn’t get it sweet enough.  Rather than go back and ask for two more packs of honey, I grabbed two packs of “Raw” sugar.  Let me say it again – I don’t do sugar.  It had been several weeks since I had had any.  And still it did not cross my mind that I was making a mistake – let alone being flat-out out of control.  What was I thinking?

For someone who hasn't had caffeine for a year, 8 oz. of French Roast is a lot of caffeine.  Then there's the honey and the sugar - and I'm trying to stay grounded?  Sometimes mania has a mind of its own.

For someone who hasn’t had caffeine for a year, 8 oz. of French Roast is a lot of caffeine. Then there’s the honey and the sugar – and I’m trying to stay grounded? Sometimes mania has a mind of its own.

The trip home was uneventful.  I never identified myself as revving high, though looking back some  signs were there.  That night I actually slept well and long (7 hours).  The next morning, I did identify myself as revving a little high..  By mid-day I had a bad case of stomach cramps.  All afternoon I went back and forth as to whether I was manic or sliding towards depression.  (Being bipolar, it’s so easy to obsess over the signs – which way is my mood heading?)  By late evening, I had chills and fever, stomach cramps – and I was depressed.  Was I getting sick?  Maybe, but I think it was the over-eating, the lack of sleep, the honey and coffee and sugar – and mania.  Crashing from all of that can explain a lot – and gets me out of denial.

I had stomach cramps all night and didn’t sleep well.  Today I have stomach cramps, feel lousy – like the flu – and am depressed.  Maybe it’s the flu, but there’s no real learning in all of that.  The real learning for me is to keep working my Overeaters Anonymous program and to remember some absolute basics for self-care around my moods: no overeating before bed, no sugar, no big doses of “innocent” sweeteners, no caffeine.  All my positive, pro-active strategies for staying grounded are wonderful, but if I don’t mind the basics they don’t have a chance.

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I’m going to give it a manic-depression rating of 6 (in balance) for now, but I’m watching it.  Since Monday, I have been saying that I’m inhabiting a very fruitful mixed state – in some ways still clearly down, but also encouraged about my writing, which leads me to be encouraged about my life in general.  Today is the first day that I am clearly not down.  This was especially apparent walking the dog in the woods, rocking to Ani DiFranco on Spotify on my phone.  When I’m down, I don’t respond to music – it mostly irritates me.  All through my recent down stretch (9 days clearly down, then those 3 mixed), music didn’t work for me – though honestly I didn’t try it during the last 3 days.  But today I was really rocking.

Am I in balance? Or on my way from too down to too up?  Breathe and watch - and trust.

Am I in balance? Or on my way from too down to too up? Breathe and watch – and trust.

I don’t want to be an alarmist – I want to be able to enjoy just feeling good.  I am definitely revving kind of high, but that could be just the pressure I am feeling to get a lot of things done today before I leave early tomorrow for a weekend trip to see my son and new grandbaby in Louisville, KY (about which I am excited – and want to be excited).  I have had way too much mania over the last few months.  The Lithium I started two weeks ago is supposed to help me keep my feet on the ground – but I may not have been taking it long enough or may not be on the right dose.  (I took a blood test a few days ago that’s supposed to tell them if it’s the right dose for me, but I haven’t heard anything back from my psychiatrist.)

So meanwhile, just to be on the safe side, I’m practicing all the tools I’ve learned over the years for grounding myself.  I don’t have time to write all that up right now, but expect a post on it next week.  But one thing I know that i absolutely need to do is to slow down, every which way I can – and get a good night’s sleep tonight.  I’ll be away from the computer for a few days, but will give you an update next week.

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A little over two months ago, I sat down with my friend Lisa for our occasional two-person writer’s group.  I had a clear mission.  Once a quarter I perform poetry (almost always poetry) at Jubilee, this non-denominational church I attend.  I had looked at the themes for the next quarter and saw that on September 15 (today) the theme for the service would be “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood”.  I thought, “I have a new grandbaby – I’ll write some sweet poem about the innocence of childhood or something like that.”

The Jubilee Celebration Room

The Jubilee Celebration Room

When I sat down with my writer friend, however, I was manic – and what poured out over the next 55 minutes was a wild piece of comedy titled, “It’s never too late to have a screwed-up childhood.”  In it, I teased Jubilee, Howard the minister, Don his brother-in-law and church administrator, Don’s wife Genevieve – and skewered our eccentric town of Asheville, Catholics, Baptists, Mormons and especially the Tea Party.

Howard our minister

Howard our minister

I loved it.  I laughed out loud as I was writing it.  My friend Lisa did not respond as enthusiastically, but then she hadn’t been feeling well, so I (in that moment) made nothing of it.  I was in a pretty unstoppable mode.   I put a post on Facebook, telling people the date and saying how much fun it was going to be.  As I rehearsed it over the next few days, my enthusiasm over the piece only grew.  They love my stuff at Jubilee – they love the serious stuff, but they especially love my funny stuff.  They consistently find it funnier than I do, rehearsing it out loud while walking my dog in the woods.  And this piece I myself thought was hysterical.

When I was high.  Then, after a few days, I crashed.  And suddenly this piece of comedy didn’t seem so funny.  I remembered Lisa’s muted response and thought, “She’s right – it sucks.”  And it was too long.  The window for pieces at Jubilee is five minutes, and this one was clocking in at eight.  When I was still high, that didn’t seem like a problem: “They love me at Jubilee – nobody is going to be watching the clock.  This is great stuff, it’s worth a couple extra minutes.”  Back down on the ground, eight minutes looked egregious (and really is way too long).  And some of the humor was a little mean-spirited – actually a lot of it seemed that way.  So it’s not funny, it’s mean-spirited,  it’s way too long, but if I take out all the inappropriate stuff there will not be much left.

I tried to pull the plug on it.  I wrote Howard that there were a whole lot of problems with the piece and I wanted to pull it.  “Fortunately you still have a lot of time to find a replacement.”  Howard is one of my very biggest fans – and loves what my poetry and comedy does for the Jubilee community.  He didn’t want to hear it.  “Can’t you edit it? Or is there some other piece of yours that you can pull out?”

Well, apparently I wanted my arm twisted.  I told him I would try.  A couple of days later, my mood had lifted (too much, actually) and I found that when I edited out the edgier humor, leaving only the affectionate teasing, there was still a lot of funny stuff left – and it now clocked in just a little bit less than five minutes.  So I was back to enjoying it – got freshly enthused about it during my dog walks in the woods.

Then nine days ago I crashed again.  Now there were two problems with the piece.  I again became sure that it was poorly written and not funny – and I was equally sure that I would not be able to perform it effectively.  “Comedy is all about timing – and when I’m this down my timing is all off.  I have no flow, everything I do falls flat.”  This assessment is probably overly self-critical, but actually has some truth to it.

“So the writing sucks and my performance is going to be pitiful.  This is going to be an embarrassment,  In nine years of performing at Jubilee once a quarter, I’ve never bombed, but this is probably going to be it.”  All along I had intended to put a reminder up on Facebook a few days before the performance, but I did not.  I wished there were some way that I could get out of it altogether.

This morning, I was not only depressed, I was angry.  I didn’t know where the anger had come from or what it was about.  In addition to my frequent nihilistic mantra “This is bullshit” (muttered under my breath), this morning I added “Fuck you”.  This was not an auspicious mode for delivering comedy – it actually scared the shit out of me, but I couldn’t shake it.

Finally, as I was getting ready to leave – kind of out of desperation – I tried to use the 3rd Step of Alcoholics Anonymous (and Overeaters Anonymous, my addiction).  It’s a new behavior for me to “turn it over” to my Higher Power.  New because I usually try to muscle through things on my own – and because I basically have no idea what my Higher Power is.  I do believe that Life is intelligent and in some very mysterious way benevolent, has our best interests at heart – somehow loves us.  I believe it, and sometimes (especially when I’m up) genuinely, in my guts, experience it as true.  But mostly (especially when I’m down) I live from a place of isolation – it’s tiny little me against an overwhelming, uncaring universe.

But, neophyte that I am at this turning it over business, I tried.  “Life, I can’t handle this by myself.  I don’t know how to shake this anger.  I can’t seem to get out from under this depression.  I don’t know how to find the kind of rhythm I’ll need to deliver comedy.  It’s up to you – I’m turning it over to you.”

And it worked!  As I was walking up towards Jubilee, I saw one of my friends going in ahead of me and thought, “There are so many people in this community whom I love – and who genuinely love me.  I have the chance to give them something today.  I want to give them a gift, a gift of laughter.”  My mood started to lighten.

As i walked into the celebration room, a friend said,

“I see you in the program today – I’m looking forward to what you have to say about childhood.”

“Don’t expect anything today except hopefully a bunch of laughs.”

“Ah, but I know that with your humor there is always some deeper meaning underneath.”

“You’re going to have to really dig to find any deeper meaning here.”

“Well my childhood had nothing funny about it – if you can make me laugh about childhood, that will be worth it to me.”

This post is pretty long already.  Let me just say that I hit my stride, had a great time at both services, the people of Jubilee adored the piece – found it even funnier than I had ever (even when I was up) expected.  I came away with my writer’s voice feeling very affirmed, at a time when I have been discouraged about writing anything of any use to anybody.  I realized that this piece was not only funny – but that getting people to laugh about the whole happy childood/screwed-up childhood dichotomy actually did have deeper significance, was in a way genuinely healing.  The piece was actually wiser than I realized.  And the process of co-creating a few minutes of magic – me and the audience, creating it together – really punched a hole in my isolation.  It all was healing for me, too.

An earlier funny piece at Jubilee

An earlier funny piece at Jubilee

Sometimes I sink into the truth that I'm loved at Jubilee, but it's so easy to forget.  Step 3 - "Made a decision to turn over my life and my will to God's care, as I understand God." Life loves me.

Sometimes I sink into the truth that I’m loved at Jubilee, but it’s so easy to forget. Step 3 – “Made a decision to turn over my life and my will to God’s care, as I understand God.” Life loves me.

I’m posting the piece, also.  Some of the Jubilee humor may be lost on you, and most of my stuff (maybe especially comedy) has less impact on the page than performed, but you’ll get a sense of it.  My friend with the not-funny childhood said afterwards that he smiled non-stop through the whole thing.  i hope you get a couple of smiles out of it.

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I’ve been depressed for the last six days – and again not writing.  Around 6 p.m. this evening, I was staring at a threateningly empty evening.  I asked myself what I could do this evening that would be most encouraging on this very discouraged day.  My roommate Will is a sculptor and painter.  He’s anxious about a relationship – and this afternoon and evening is channeling that anxiety into painting.  “Why not me?” I thought.  “I’ll create – I’ll write.  I’ll write a blog post.  I don’t know what it’s going to be. i don’t want it to be discouraging. I’ll find something.”

So the fact that I’m writing is encouraging.  And there’s more.  I have for the last few weeks been involved in Overeaters Anonymous for my sugar addiction and compulsive eating.  Shortly after making my resolution to write, I got a call from one of my OA friends. She and I have been trying to connect by phone, so I was glad to interrupt my momentum towards the computer with this call from her.  And that call gave me the material to write about.

When I was high a week ago, I was enthused about lots of things – including  my progress around my food.  In the last few days, my eating has fallen apart – and has reinforced my nihilistic mantra of “Nothing helps and nothing matters”.  But my friend helped me name several things I’m doing right, several areas of progress, and I’m going to name them here.

  1. The first one starts with a setback, but also has a positive dimension. I had, almost as soon as starting OA, named peanut butter as a problem food.  It’s a food that I am most likely to eat compulsively, most likely to overeat – a food that I genuinely binge on.  So I just completely cut it out – huge progress.  But I left two jars in the cupboard.  This morning, in my “Nothing matters” mode, I pulled out one of those jars of peanut butter and – having already eaten a little breakfast – ate four spoonfuls – and then a couple more.
    I get it - I really get it.  Peanut butter is not an innocent food for me - it's a problem.

    I get it – I really get it. Peanut butter is not an innocent food for me – it’s a problem.

    Then, a couple hours later, I went back for more.  But here’s a sign of progress: I struggled with it.  The 12 Steps encourages you not to trust your willpower, but rather to turn it over to a Higher Power.  I tried to figure out how to do this, but couldn’t get there.  I considered making an outreach call to an OA friend, but didn’t manage to do it.  But, as someone said later, “If you can insert a pause, you can insert a call.  You’re this much closer to making the call next time.”  I’m picturing doing that – and knowing that it will feel enormously gratifying when I do it.

    After giving in and eating more peanut butter, I poured some hot sauce in the rest and threw it out.  I’ve learned the hard way that just throwing it out won’t necessarily prevent me from fishing it out of the garbage.  Later on, I dropped the other jar – and a jar of almond butter – off at the food pantry.  It was out of my way, but felt like a big symbolic step.

    So where do I focus my attention? I can focus on the slip, focus on the regression to an old behavior.  I choose to focus on the new behaviors – the struggle where in the past there was only abject surrender, the taking of the food to the food pantry.  And the fact that this offending food, which up until just a few weeks ago was a staple part of my diet, now is an intruding stranger.  What a huge change that is!

  2. I went to an OA meeting.  I judged myself harshly for “going to meetings instead of eating right”, but the meeting was actually encouraging and good connection.  And what a totally new behavior for me!  These meetings are a completely new presence in my life.  And I told people there how much I am needing to make calls, to break up my isolation.  And made a specific plan to call one woman, whom I like very much, tonight.  I’m going to do that when I’m walking the dog, right after finishing this post.
  3. This wasn’t from today, but yesterday and tomorrow.  After many months (a couple of years, actually) of trying to find the right focus of attention while I’m swimming laps, I’ve got one that’s really working: creating and repeating mantras from the first three of the Twelve Steps.  I described this at length on August 30 and 31, but three of my favorites are “Came to believe” (that a Power higher than my own could restore me to sanity) and “turn over my life and my will” “to God’s care, as I understand God.”
    "Whatever this Higher Power is, in some mysterious way it cares about me" shortens down to "Life cares about me."

    “Whatever this Higher Power is, in some mysterious way it cares about me” shortens down to “Life cares about me.”


     I don’t understand God or Higher Power, but I think there is some kind of power or energy that underlies the separation of the material world – and it feels like a very positive step that I am spending all this time opening myself up to it.  In fact, this is huge.  This could actually turn out to be the biggest development of this phase of my life.

So who says I’m stuck?

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I don’t know what manic-depression score to give myself tonight.  I have been strung out all day from having only one hour of sleep last night.  I’ve been in a pretty good mood, though definitely concerned that maybe my mania is cycling out of control.  I attempt to reassure myself that there are very good situational reasons for running high – I’m extremely excited about three things at once:

  1. this blog, which is on fire
  2. the entrepreneurship training i just signed up for and my new vision about an entrepreneurial future for myself, and finally
  3. this speech I wrote last night (which,  on reviewing a couple of times today, I like a lot) – and which i see as one key to building the public speaking business that is part of my entrepreneurial vision.

So who wouldn’t be overstimulated?  Still, though, I know the risks of going without sleep.  Lack of sleep makes you a sitting duck for mania – and what goes up must come down.

All day long, I have been planning to go tonight to a “Salon” – a gathering of lovely friends to play together and to share creative performances with each other.  I went to the first in the series a month ago and it was a gas.  I have two sweet, fun summer poems to share with the group, which I know they will enjoy.  But I know the risks: I am already overstimulated and strung out.  If I was depressed, it would be really wonderful to get out with such sweet people and have such a stimulating evening – but when I’m already high it may be a bad idea.  Bipolar disorder is really two simultaneous diseases – what’s good for you when you are down is often not good for you when you when you are up.  And, even leaving by 10 (early), by the time I walk and feed the dogs, etc., it will be midnight before I go to bed.  Nonetheless, all day I have been unwilling to let go of it.

But having gotten some dinner in me around 5:30 (supposed to be there around 7), my system has gotten heavy and I am starting to seriously crash.  And i trust it – actually I welcome it.  “My manic energy is running out of gas – this is good news.”  So often, when I feel myself start to come down from a high, I run harder – afraid that I will keep going down and plunge into a depression.  But for some reason tonight i have no urge to fight it – I trust that i will be alright. I don’t know where it will lead: will I really sleep?  Will I wake up super early again?  But it feels super-sweet to just let go.

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