Tag Archives: bisexuality

Medzzzzzzz…

I had like 3 fucking meltdowns over Christmas weekend which is sorta normal for me but this year was probably worse than previous years ‘n I don’t really wanna talk about it right now, not because I don’t wanna revisit that shit but because I’m sleepy as fuuuuuck…..

My doc and I decided to halve my Welbutrin dose ’cause I think neither of us is 100% sure that I still need it. I tried it a long time ago, pre-bipolar diagnosis as a treatment for depression and that didn’t really work out, obviously (see LBD: antidepressants). Then a couple years ago, while on mood stabilizers, my doc prescribed it again to help me quit smoking because I have like zero willpower and I get upset a lot and it’s super easy for me to rationalize breaking my tobacco fast if I’m really, really, really upset (so, like, often). Welbutrin makes smoking really uncomfortable (I frequently liken it to trying to inhale a large marshmallow I picked out of bag of wet garbage) and also disrupts your brain’s ability to enjoy nicotine so you may as well just be smoking the paper for all the good it’ll do in terms of calming you down.

The other reason we went with Welbutrin is that it’s kind of an upper – not in the same way that speed or even caffeine is, but among its peers, Welbutrin is the most likely to give you a little boost. All my other meds are sedating so the intention was to sort of counteract that problem with more meds (I’ve written about medicating my medication before, but probably not thoroughly enough, remind me to get back to it).

This time around, I don’t think I’ve been prescribed Welbutrin specifically to combat depression, but if it happened to do that, then yay? So last week, my prescription ran out and I was talking to my doctor about it and we thought maybe cutting to dose in half might be fun (ahem: a medically sound choice that is reversible if it happens not to work out). I didn’t start taking the smaller dose until after my Xmas meltdowns because I fucking hate the holidays and I didn’t wanna start experimenting until they were over. Which turned out to be, probably, a really good idea.

This is either day 2 or 3 of the halved dose and I’ve been a fairly drowsy. Which, I mean, is unsurprising considering the drug’s invigorating properties. I suspect I’d feel similarly if I switched from coffee to tea or something – which will never fucking happen, when I die, I wanna be ground up like coffee beans and served, hot or iced, to all my mourners (no I don’t, that’s gross, Laura). 

So, like, I spent the day fucking around with my roommate’s mandolin and working on some poems just for fun, and I think I paid off the balance on my Target card. Like, I got some shit done. I taught myself this song on mando:

Don’t get impressed or anything, it’s not a super complicated song, just a really good song and a fun one to sing and play. But now my fingers hurt ’cause mandolin strings are a little more ouchy than guitar or banjo strings ‘n I’m not really used to them yet. But I did like, at least one or two things today and I didn’t actually have to do anything today, so good for me. Fine.

But it’s me, so I worry a lot about these specters of things that are pretty unlikely, chiefly here: I’ll be sleepy forever. Before my various Christmas freakouts, I had been doing really well. Depakote seems not to have given me the stupids like I worried it would. My moods were pretty even, almost predictable (!!!) and I was feeling good about myself and having all these neat ideas for creative projects which, at this point, I haven’t been neglecting as severely as I usually do when I have good ideas. Good. Cool.

But I wanna take as little medicine as I can get away with and Welbutrin, among my other meds, is the easiest to play around with, so here we are. Slightly less medicated, but markedly more sleepy. This should go away. I mean, if I were taking Welbutrin and nothing else, I’d be about 100% sure the drowsiness would wane after the physical withdrawal was over, but that’s not the case ’cause, like I said, I’m on other meds, 3 others exactly, and they all sometimes make me very tired. More specifically, they shorten my battery life. It’s not that I’m evenly sedated throughout the day, it’s more like I only have energy for one or maybe two activities in a day and I don’t like to stay out late anymore.

So right now it’s a little after 4 p.m. It’s rain-snowing like the goddamned apocalypse outside and I’m legit afraid my power will go out. I’ve run out of shit to do except take a shower which is only necessary because it’s my habit to shower daily, I’m not actually dirty enough right now to warrant bathing. After that, it’s very likely that I’ll get high and watch cartoons or something. Maybe reread my poems a few hundred more times. They are part in Italian and I’m like real stoked on that point. But that’s about it. I don’t have energy for much else. I could:

Clean something, like my desk maybe (nah…)

Investigate the meaning behind the text I just got from my sister which simply reads: “Butt fun?”

Learn more mandolin chords and maybe develop some muscle memory and build tougher calluses

Mulch Arturo more thoroughly (Arturo is my pet blueberry bush. He lives on my patio and should be able to withstand a northern Midwest winter storm but he almost died this summer so I worry about him a lot)

Play some solitaire chess. Gotta stay sharp ‘n whatever.

But I totally won’t do any of these things (except maybe find out what the deal is with “Butt fun?” ’cause there is zero context for that text and it’s fucking funny). I’m probably just gonna return my roommate’s mando to his room, take my evening meds (including the ones I prescribed to myself), move from the office to the couch, watch some Jaclyn Glenn youtube videos, lazily entertain sexual thoughts about this woman who I only know through her Etsy shop but who seems like my kinda people even if I can’t quite see what she looks like or tell how old she is from her tiny picture, and maybe see which of the cats is more amenable to being used as a pillow today ’cause one of them will usually let me do that, but it’s not always the same one. All eminently slothful pursuits.

Anyhowl, getting back to things, I’m gonna give it maybe another 7-10 days of grogginess before I decide if the new Welbutrin dosage is right for me. Like, fingers crossed real hard, I guess, ’cause, like I said, the less medicine I can get by on, the better. In the meantime, jammies ‘n couches ‘n…”Butt fun?”

-LB

YES, I Hear You Knocking, Geez!

I usta do blow a lot. And pain pills. And obviously I drank a shit ton. I got drunk for the first time when I was 15 and my best friend and I did that thing where we each told our parents that we were sleeping over at the other’s house so we could stay out all night. We went to a party with these dudes. One of them offered to make me a drink and I said Ok but I didn’t know what kind of alcohol I was supposed to be drinking so I was like…um vodka? And he assessed that I hadn’t really had to make this kind of decision before so he suggested a rum and Coke instead (PSA: Never do this. Seriously. If I had a dollar for every friend who’d been drugged by a guy who made her a drink, I’d have 3 more dollars than I’d EVER WANT. Make your own drink and hang onto it).

So I had a couple rum and Cokes and I started to feel pretty euphoric. This older girl asked me if I wanted to make out and I was like, “Hell yeah I do!” I had a blast, crashed on some guy’s couch and woke up at the crack of dawn the next morning so my friend and I could go home and each make up a lie about how we felt sick so we wanted to go back to our own house and cut the slumber party short.

But I felt initiated or something. I had – along with many of my friends – been against drinking since the start of high school. I always boasted that I didn’t need booze to have fun…which was probably because I was already having a shitload of fun with sexual experimentation in various parents’ basements every weekend. I guess I changed my tune or something. But after that night, I wanted to recapture the jollies I got knocking back sugary rum drinks and acting lasciviously toward anyone within grabbing distance. I’m a charming drunk. Most of the time…

I really, really hate to espouse the “gateway drug” model of behavior I was warned about in Jr. High because I think it sends a confusing message. I also think it sets up a no-going-back kind of construct that damns adolescent stupidity as irreversibly damaging, and demarcates the do’s and the do not’s within your larger social sphere and kids are not nice about that shit. But more on that and my other anti-D.A.R.E.-type rants for another day. There are better ways.

AHEM: So I felt like I’d found something in alcohol. I’ve mentioned this before, but alcohol tends to affect bipolar people somewhat differently than non-bipolar people. It makes us slightly manic. That euphoria I felt after my first rum and Coke was probably fairly exaggerated compared to my friend’s. She teased me about how crazy I acted that night even though she’d been drinking too. Booze made her relaxed and more social. It made me impulsive and HIGH.

A few months ago, over dinner, my friend Conor and I had a brief conversation about how we don’t think we know any other people with bipolar who have zero substance abuse in their past (or, in some cases, present). The general conclusion was that, when you’re young, usually before diagnosis, you know there’s something different about you. Among your peers, you wonder why they seem more comfortable in their own skin than you do. They seem more relaxed. They seem like people and you feel alien (let’s just ignore the reality that most teenagers feel self-conscious at some point…or many points). So you turn to intoxicants to try to erase those parts of your brain that make you feel like a total fucking weirdo whose weirdness is visible from the goddamned moon. It’s not just about fitting in with your peers, it’s about fitting in with yourself – or at least the version of yourself that’s happy, comfortable and fun. When you’re drunk and when you’re high, you, somewhat paradoxically, feel more sane.

So after booze, I thought I’d try weed. I like(d) it. Then I gave ‘shrooms a shot. That was fun as hell. I got into my parents’ medicine cabinet and found Vicodin and codeine. My friends stopped there. I did not. After a really bad fight with one of my best friends – the teenage kind that brandishes the gravity of a thousand suns – my sister came home to find me in tears. She had some cocaine. I thought it would make me feel better, so we did some. I did feel better. We stayed up really late talking and I felt like my pilot light had been lit. I went to school the next day with the residual high you feel after having done something bad that you need to keep secret. I knew my friends would be really pissed at me if they knew I was doing blow. I knew they’d try to make me stop. I didn’t wanna stop. After about 3 months on this merry-go-round, I came home from a party one night after having killed well over a gram of coke, a bunch of beer and some weed. I hadn’t eaten in like a day and half and I crashed really hard. I was sweating bullets and shaking and crying and frantically tapping my feet and my fingers because sitting still at that moment SUCKED. One of my feet started to swell. My sister almost woke my parents to take me to the hospital, but after a few harrowing hours, I fell asleep. After that, I decided to back off on the blow. I did it a few more times over the subsequent years, but very sporadically and eventually not at all ’cause my sister and I promised each other we were done with that shit.

I tried out some other drugs over the years and I had kind of a rocky relationship with alcohol up until maybe a year ago. But I think I chased drugs the way I did ’cause I wanted to feel like my best self and I didn’t believe I was capable of feeling that way on my own. So I sorta wonder sometimes: are we destined for this shit? Is there a shred if inevitability in people with bipolar regarding substance abuse? It seems pretty plain to me that, on the whole, we’re a group given to self-medication, especially in the absence of prescribed medication and definitely pre-diagnosis. We don’t wanna feel like oddballs unless we’re the glorious oddballs of our own design.

I guess the obvious followup here is: how do we prevent this kind of shit from happening? I guess I don’t really know. I got pretty lucky and the damage I caused to myself and the people around me was fairly minimal, but I know a lot of people who can’t say that (because some of them are dead). So, I won’t lie, I did have a lot of fun when I was younger. I wouldn’t repeat any of those actions today, but I don’t regret them ’cause at least I learned something, right?

Oh, and I guess an appropriate note: don’t do cocaine. Cokeheads are the MOST BORING PEOPLE ON EARTH. You will think you’re fascinating and special. You’re not. You won’t shut up and HEAVEN HELP YOUR FRIENDS if you get your hands on the tunes at a party ’cause you’re gonna rock out like a total dumbass to this song, and this song is about 5 minutes longer than it needs to be:

I mean, yeah, the intro guitar lick is pretty cool and the drums are solid, but the rest of it is self-indulgent crap (which is basically shorthand for most of the Stones’ catalogue and I WILL argue with you about this, don’t start me up…see what I did there? Spar with me verbally if you dare!).

So that’s one from the trenches. Some of my ugliest memories hang out with some of my shiniest. I guess that’s life, but for us, life is often amplified. I just wanna feel good about myself. So does everyone, probably. And I do feel alright about myself, but getting here was tricky and I’ve still got more work to do. I mean, I’ll always have more work to do. Just maybe more psychotherapy and less coke for the future, y’know?. That’s probably pretty good advice for anyone, bipolar or no.

So, got some war stories you wanna share? Please do in the comments! (I’m allergic to judgment when it comes to this shit, tell me anything.)

-LB

You Tell ME

Ok, so I need you lovelies out there to share your opinion on this – if you have one:

I’m going to start seeing my therapist twice a week again. I have the hypothetical option of going 2 days in a row or spacing my appointments out a little so I don’t go as many days in a row without seeing my doctor. Few things to consider:

1. The benefit of going 2 days in a row is that I can keep the momentum going and pick up where we left off the day before when I’m dealing with something that can’t be dealt with entirely in 50 minutes. Doc says some of her patients find this route really beneficial – closer to having one really long appointment than 2 shorter ones…kinda.

2. On the other hand, sometimes something fucked up will happen the day of or the day after a session and I have to wait almost a whole week to talk about it, and in that time, I might forget important details or the incident altogether, so it might not get handled properly. So it might be better to, for example, meet on a Monday and a Thursday so therapy is, in a way, more frequent and my issues more up to date.

3. It’s about a 90 minute commute via public trans from my house to my doctor’s office, which probably sounds like a stupid choice on my part, but I started seeing this doctor 8 years ago, and 8 years ago, I lived in a neighborhood that was pretty close to her office, so it was fine. 90 minutes each way, two days in a row is a pain in the ass. It might be less exhausting if I had some spacing between doctor visits that take up like half of my goddamned day.

4. Regarding #3: I don’t mind long bus>train>another train commutes as much as most people probably do. I can read, I can listen to music, I can write, I can check out cute girls like a total pig. A lot of my fashion decisions are the result of things I’ve seen people wear on the train, and because my city’s so large, there’s a lot of variety.

5. Depending on what my doctor has available, this choice might be made for me, and, really, I’m not gonna suffer either way.

But I still wanna know what you think. Which option would you prefer? Why? Open to all opinions and experiences. Lemme know in the comments and thanks in advance! (Especially for factors I hadn’t considered here.)

-LB

I’m Not On Actual Drugs

I’m all hyped up and restless I don’t really know what to do with myself right now (except for this, obviously). I overslept so I should be really tired ’cause that’s usually what happens. We took one of our cats to the animal hospital today. She’s having surgery on her leg to alleviate the super painful bone-on-bone situation that’s the result of a badly healed broken femur. She’s gonna be there overnight so we had time to arrange what I’m calling her “apartment” because she needs to be kept in a large dog crate for a little while while she’s healing so she doesn’t move around too much. They’re actually cutting out a hunk of bone and letting the tendons and muscles grow into the space where the bone was. It sounds really grisly, but apparently this is a really common procedure. It’s like the wisdom teeth pulling of cat surgery but with a longer recovery time.

So my husband went out to the suburbs to play hockey with the dudes he plays hockey with. I immediately got busy setting up this gigantic dog crate and arranging it and filling it with all the comforts of home and I got it all done pretty quickly and without injuring myself which is kind of a miracle or something because the crate weighs a ton and I made plentiful use of the box cutter my friend accidentally left here last week. I wouldn’t call my pace frenetic, but it was certainly swifter than I typically operate. It looks great. I wish I was an opiate-loaded cat lounging in the super comfy space I made for Artie.

Then I started cleaning which is something I almost never do and that seemed to speed me up even more. My body feels like it’s vibrating. It’s not an unfamiliar feeling, it’s just that this is a sensation I tend to experience when I’m really, really angry or I’ve just had a panic attack. I took some Klonopin. Not more than I usually take. Maybe I should take more than I usually take. I mean, this is the exact feeling it’s supposed to alleviate. Well, this and some other things. I don’t feel particularly happy. I’ve been listening to that new Mountain Goats album on repeat. It’s not especially long or anything, so I’ve gotten through it like maybe 4 times. The last couple times I turned it off before the last track, “Hair Match” because it’s really vivid and disturbing and if you don’t know what a hair match is, look it up at your peril ’cause a rough watch.

NAP is coming over in a few minutes. That’s probably a good thing. I was invited to hang out with some friends tonight but I need to mellow out seriously because right now I don’t think I’m quite fit for conversation. Everything feels like a rockslide. (Everything feels like a rockslide?) I keep biting my lips like a tic or something. This is a habit I formed when I used to take speedy drugs a lot, specifically cocaine and Adderall. Adderall is like the most joyless drug ever invented. “Flat affect” is usually listed as a side-effect and it definitely happens to me. I think my wiring got a sorta tangled because when I’m feeling a little hypomanic (which is probably what’s going on with me right now) I do some of the things I habitually did when I was high, specifically the lip biting and tapping my foot. I think my brain thinks I’m on drugs. Or my brain makes its own drugs? I mean it does. Everyone’s does.

Ruh roh. I just saw a cop knock on my neighbors’ door. No one answered. He’s leaving. If it’s that same deal with the dude who used to live in my house that the police are still looking for, I’d rather not answer the door while I’m on brain drugs ’cause I suspect I look like I’m on actual drugs.

Boy, this post sure is meandering. Meandering feels like the wrong word. Too leisurely. I’m…centrifuging? Y’know what’s making this worse? This song:

I keep telling my husband that I’m gonna leave him for Thao one day. I say shit like that a lot. I’m starting to suspect that it’s not very nice of me to do that. He doesn’t usually say shit like that to me. I feel like this should be tit for tat, but it’s not. Very frequently I wonder what it’s like to be singlemindedly in love with just one person. I love the fuck out of my husband, but like, married, not buried ‘n shit, y’know? I’ve only ever cheated on one person in my entire life and it was when I was 15 and I got drunk for the first time and I made out with this older chick…like on a table or something. Then, later that night, after lying about where we were staying, my friend and I crashed at some guy’s house and I got felt up on a couch by this other dude. He’s a really nice dude, but when you’re 15, letting another guy get his hands on your tits is a pretty big deal. So I dumped my then-boyfriend out of guilt. I’m not super worried about cheating on my husband with a woman I’ve never met who lives on the other side of the country and might be straight anyway. OH MY GOD I AM OVERTHINKING THIS LIKE FOR REAL. Laura.

Wait a sec, I gotta pee.

I recognize that you likely did not wait a sec for me to pee and just kept reading, but if you did wait for me…thanks? It was a really satisfying pee. Like just in case you’re concerned about that shit. In which case, thanks again, I guess.

So NAP is here and and we’re gonna hang and, as the Fates would have it, sing along to Biz Markie because that’s what shuffle landed on, so I’m gonna stop typing things I will, in all likelihood regret having shared with you all sometime within the next 24 hours. Or not. I can’t always predict what I’ll regret and what I won’t. It’s what keeps things spicy.

-LB

Crazy Loves You Back

One of the shittiest things about having a mental illness is the difficulty in finding the right romantic partner. Maybe right now you’re not looking for a relationship. I don’t actually remember ever actively seeking out a boyfriend or girlfriend, most of my relationships formed when close friendships crossed that line from platonic to romantic. I like it that way. I’ve dated a lot, but I think there was only one instance where I got into a relationship with someone I didn’t know for very long before we started dating (3 week college freshman flings don’t really count here). That relationship was a disaster that lasted a little over a year (about 11 months longer than it should have). It wasn’t bad from start to finish. We got fucked up a lot. We both liked getting drunk and smoking a lot of weed. If I had to estimate, I’d say that roughly 40% of the relationship was spent sober. It was kind of a blast at first before things got really serious. But this dude was really insecure. He was jealous (which to me is possibly the least attractive trait a partner can have, I think jealousy is a wasted emotion, you either trust me or you don’t and if you don’t then we shouldn’t be together). He thought all my friends were trying to screw me and that’s bad enough on its own, but the implication that came with it was that I was willing to participate in these imagined dalliances even though I had no intention of cheating on my boyfriend. As a matter of principle, I don’t cheat. I have a really good (close to perfect) track record on this one.

This guy – let’s call him Stan – was obsessed with me. He claimed to be in love with me but there’s a difference between being in love with someone and being obsessed with her and I’ve experienced it firsthand more than once (and it was always the result of my partner’s insecurity). Stan used to say to me, “I wish nobody else in the world existed so it could just be you and me.” To which I would respond, “Um, I don’t. I have friends. I like my friends.” We fought a lot during the latter half of the relationship and it was almost always about one of two things:

1. The aforementioned jealousy. This shit came roaring at me as a hurricane of insinuations and bitterness when Stan was drunk and Stan was drunk like 6 nights a week. He got mad at me for talking to my male friends – one in particular who Stan hated very openly. I’m not very easily cowed by this kind of bullshit so I screamed back at this irrational asshole, sometimes in public, sometimes loud enough to piss off my downstairs neighbors. I was 22-23 during this relationship and I hadn’t yet learned that you can’t fight insanity with logic. I explained to him (at top volume) why his accusations were completely irrational but I believe Stan would not have been satisfied until he and I actually were the only two people left on Earth (then again, given his personality, he might’ve then started picking fights with attractive fauna if he caught me looking at a specimen the wrong way).

2. My medication. This part’s infuriating. He was angry because he believed that our relationship should be enough to make me happy and the fact that I had to take pills to control my moods – particularly my depression – was, to Stan, illustrative of the notion that I was willfully disallowing him to “be enough for me.” Every night, when I went to take my pills, he would bitch about it. The maddening hypocrisy here is that he needed booze to keep him comfortable. And at the time we were both smoking crazy amounts of weed, but for whatever reason, it didn’t occur to him that I was getting high so much because I was really fucking sad. He tried repeatedly to get me to stop taking my meds. I’m pretty stubborn in my belief that a medical illness (like bipolar) needs to be treated through medical channels. I told him I wasn’t gonna stop taking my meds and he was a dick for trying to coerce me. I’m not easily coerced. So we fought about it. A lot.

In the early months of our relationship, Stan revealed to me that he’d had some trouble with depression and suicidal ideation. He was a musician (most of my ex’s are) which I interpreted to mean that he was sensitive (not always true) so from the very beginning I thought he’d be a good fit for me because he could have feelings better than most people (like I said, I was 22, so, live and learn). So when Stan told me he’d been depressed and had thought about ending his life, I thought that made us an even better match. I’m depressed. I’ve thought about killing myself. This dude gets me! I mentioned a few posts ago that I tended to date depressed and suicidal people because I thought they’d be able to relate to what I was going through. Maybe they can, but relating to me doesn’t equate to supporting me. Like I said: two lousy swimmers can’t save each other from drowning.

My relationship with Stan ended in the most befittingly melodramatic way possible and after it was over I went to my sister’s in Colorado for like 10 days because I just needed to get out of town. It was that messy. I didn’t want to date again for a long time after that (but I did anyway because sometimes I’m a dummy). The few that came after Stan were also dysfunctional (and drunk) and when I look back on my pre-marital love life I get a little frustrated by all the bad choices I made, but bad choices are, ideally, an opportunity to learn something (sometimes it just takes way too long – like I said, dummy).

I became involved with my husband almost unintentionally. Neither one of us was looking for a significant other, but at some point we realized that we might be pretty happy together and it just kind of happened. Not an exciting story, but I have no complaints. My husband has his demons. He deals with the kind of depression that arrises from being simultaneously really smart and really stressed. He does not take medication or see a therapist and, even though there are times when I could make an argument that one or both of those things might lighten his load a little bit, he’s pretty high functioning and I don’t think he’s experiencing a diminished quality of life because he’s not availing himself of psychiatric treatment. My husband’s pretty easy to please. Give him a banjo or a hockey stick (not both at the same time) and it seems like his troubles just become background noise.

My husband I and were dating for only 3 months when I was hospitalized for planning a suicide attempt. This is the kind of shit that I think would send most people heading for the hills because they just realized they got tangled up with Crazy. This did not happen. He called me twice a day while I was in the hospital and he came to visit me. One of the things that got me through my hospital stay (which was not a vacation) was knowing that when I got out, he and I could spend time together. I usually fell asleep pretending he was there with me (saccharine maybe, but you have no idea how much it helped me). He told me off the bat (pre-hospital) that my bipolar didn’t scare him and that he’d support me if I was depressed, if I was manic or if I was neither (or both, but I don’t think he knew at the time that you can be both, see LBD: mixed state). I thought, If I had a nickel for every time I heard that I could buy like a whole pack of gum or something, nickels don’t go very far anymore, but a lot of nickels, Ok? Thing is, he’s been true to his word. My husband prides himself on being honest and meaning what he says. I don’t know very many people with that same kind of unshakable integrity (this also means he can be really stubborn, but so can I, so whatever).

Over the years we’ve been together, my husband has seen me through the aforementioned hospital stay, changes in medication, side effects, panic attacks, depression, hypomania, unemployment, my own hopelessness and the most stressful wedding planning situation that has ever happened to anyone in the history of ever. I really lucked out here. Shit’s not always easy. I’m not always easy. But my husband is a really steadfast dude. If I were partnered with me, I’d have dumped me years ago.

It’s definitely not my intention to warn anyone away from becoming involved with someone who has a mental illness. It’s also not my intention to claim that a relationship between two mentally ill people is doomed to fail every time. It’s different for everybody (god, I say that a lot). What I will say is this: If you have a chronic mental illness and you’re involved with someone who doesn’t support you, they will make it worse. They will make you worse. Some people need time to learn how to have an intimate relationship with people like us and that’s valid because mental illness can be so variable and confounding. There is a learning curve. But there’s also a breaking point. If you’re looking for commitment, it’s worth waiting for someone who won’t exacerbate your illness because of their own backward beliefs or ineptitude. It also may take a lot of trial and error, which can suck, but like I said above, live and learn. If you’re not looking for commitment, then party on, your mental health is not your one night stand’s business. Leave that shit where you dropped your clothes.

So as far as how to look for a partner who will support you through your illness, I don’t think there’s a roadmap for it. Like I said, I got really lucky. But you’ll hear, “Don’t worry, I’ll be there for you when you’re not doing well…blah…” a lot. Probably within the first month of the relationship. Probably from someone who’s never had their mettle tested. Take it at face value: at best a sincere effort to be understanding and, at worst, solely an attempt to make you stick around. Don’t believe it until you see it. I’ve said it before: being with me is not easy. A lot of people have learned this about me, only one has not let it sink our ship.

So I just bragged about my awesome husband a whole bunch. If you have a great partner, it’s your turn to brag and I encourage you to do so in the comments. Rather, if you’ve been involved with a shit like Stan, I encourage you to bash that person in the comments. It’s pretty cathartic.

-LB

P.S. I got through this whole post without using the words “rock” or “lean” and I’m super proud of myself.

Transgender Remembrance Day

My superhero trans friend mentioned to me that today is Transgender Remembrance Day. Approximately 41% of trans* people attempt suicide at some point. This rate is higher than any other demographic. Part of the reason for this is due to rejection and hostility coming from family, friends and society; however, even trans* people who are accepted by their loved ones attempt suicide at an estimated 30%. Still insanely high. This is because being trans* is not easy. It can be difficult physically, emotionally and psychologically. Depression and homelessness are two other issues that affect the transgender community disproportionately. Additionally, trans* people are at a greater risk of assault; sexual, verbal, physical or otherwise. I’m a ciswoman (biological female with a female gender identity) who identifies as queer (bisexual/pansexual). I know I have it easier having been born into the body that reflects who I am on the inside. I’ve known my trans friend since we were 15. I knew her when she was living as a male in high school. We went to the same college but didn’t really hang out because of any of the number of reasons paths diverge (sometimes you just go different ways). We’d exchange friendly chats on campus when we ran into each other and that was about it. She came out to me a couple of years ago at a Christmas party and is still transitioning. When I knew her as a male, she was quiet and reserved. After she came out, it was like her personality began to radiate from her. She’s incredibly smart, funny, quick witted, inclusive, independent and strong. This is not the same person I knew as an adolescent, this is a person who knows who she is. I’m glad and lucky to have her back in my life. I admire her a great deal for pushing forward and being who she is, even though she has to hide her identity from certain people in her life. Hell, I admire all trans* people who choose to live their lives the way they know they were meant to. I don’t think I’ve ever had to be that strong. So hug your trans* friends extra tight today, remember the ones who didn’t make it, and if you don’t have any trans* people in your life, do a little reading and find out what it’s all about. Nobody needs to die because of intolerance.

(Dedicated to the memory of all trans* people who should be here with us today and, sadly, are not. You are missed.)

-LB

Everything’s So Easy For Pauline

“Fate holds her firm in its cradle and then rolls her for a tender pause to savor…”

Neko Case

(I’m a music lover so groovy tunes are gonna come up now and then ’cause I think there’s a strong link between bipolar disorder and music, well really art in general but more on that later. The following post was inspired by the song “Margaret Vs. Pauline” by Neko Case.)

Everyone has a Pauline. She’s that supremely blessed person in your life who has little to no acquaintance with misery. She’s probably very beautiful but not in a tacky or overt way. She probably doesn’t wear makeup. She’s rarely uncomfortable or at a loss for the right thing to say. She floats through life with a kind of preternatural grace that you’ll never possess no matter how hard you strive for it. Men and women adore her. She makes her own rules and nobody ever objects. She’s a better artist than you. She has more friends than you do. She is to be cherished for her individuality. She’s also not an idiot. She is not now and never will be mentally ill.

I have a Pauline. We’ve been friends for over a decade. She’s a good person. She’s gentle and artistic and I’ve never met anyone who disliked her. She loves her parents and never fought with them as a teenager. She’s adaptable to pretty much any situation. I think the worst thing that’s ever happened to her was a sad breakup. Bad shit does not happen to this person. She’s a dear friend with a kind heart and sometimes I just want to tell her to eat shit. She’s exceptionally adroit at the art of being happy and it drives me a little nuts. She’s good at everything she tries. I even slept with her once and she’s great in bed.

Guh.

Ok. So I feel like an asshole for resenting someone I claim to like a great deal just because she drew a really good hand. And I feel even shittier about myself knowing that I occasionally let my self-esteem hinge on this person’s mere existence. I (as I’m sure you do to some degree) spend time that’d be better spent on literally anything else thinking about how unfair it is that I have bipolar disorder and that I have to take meds and that my moods can become dangerous and that some people will always think I’m crazy. My mind often feels jagged and scattershot while I imagine my friend’s thoughts flow with a smooth continuity through her restful and contented little head (obviously this is conjectural because I can’t read her thoughts, but what’s the point of envy if I can’t make infuriating assumptions?).

My Pauline dated a friend of mine several years ago before I became involved with my husband. Their relationship and subsequent melodramatic breakup was public fodder among my group of friends for some reason, so we all kind of watched with popcorn as these two shared both bliss and dysfunction. It would’ve been fun as hell just to watch except I had a thing for this guy. He’d made a comment before they started dating that lead me to believe he actually liked me and not her. I was pretty disappointed to find out the truth, especially because it was not the first (or even second) time Pauline and I had gone after the same guy. I lost every time. Who can compete with that? I readily admit that I’m not an easy person to be with and I commend my husband for putting up with me these last few years. But I was pretty sure I was a better fit for this dude than she was, so admitting defeat when it became clear that I had to stung pretty badly. I semi-recently had a conversation with this friend/former crush about how Pauline makes me feel inadequate in numerous ways but most demonstrably when it comes to dating. He remarked that while she’s obviously charming in the most guileless way imaginable, he thinks I’m more “real.” Real. Real is cold comfort. I think he meant to say less flighty and more down to Earth (both of which are probably true statements) but “real” can also be translated as: comes with a shitload of baggage. Which, in fairness, I really do.

Fine. Dating is complicated for everyone. The thing that really sticks in my craw is that my Pauline is (if such a thing is possible) the very opposite of mental illness. She radiates positivity. She’s hardy in the face of stress. She’s full of energy and patience and self-esteem. It would be impossible to imagine her ever becoming truly depressed or anxious. She just doesn’t function that way. She’s really goddamned fortunate.

Or is she? Maybe that “real” comment rang truer upon further contemplation. I’m sitting here resenting the hell out of my good friend just for being a uniquely happy person but do I want to trade places with her? I do not.

One of my bipolar brethren once posed a hypothetical: If you could press a magic button that would instantly make you no longer bipolar, would you press it? I said I wouldn’t. She asked a number of people this question and the consensus was a resounding NO. Yes, it completely fucking sucks sometimes. Yes, medication is a beast. Yes, being mentally ill can be expensive as hell. Lots of things about having bipolar disorder are persistently crappy. But I would not forfeit it and I speculate that neither would you. You know why. I know why. We just know.

I could, at this point, get into how our malady makes us special and unique snowflakes but that’s a facile statement and I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt that you’re self-aware enough to figure it out on your own. Everything may be easier for Pauline, but easier does not necessarily mean better. My intention here is not to grandstand, nor to cheer you up, nor to qualify anyone else’s state of mind as “better” or “worse”. I’m not a Pauline. I never will be. I’m a Margaret and I’ll take it. I kind of have to.

-LB

(To hear the full song that inspired this post – which I recommend you do so you can hear the lyrics and because it’s a lovely song – check out the video below)