Friday, December 29, 2017

New Frontiers

It's almost 2018 and I'm so grateful to be putting 2017 behind me. It's easily been the hardest year of my life, which I think is saying something. I know that just because it's a new year doesn't automaticlly just make everything start fresh and clean but I'm determined to pick myself up and dust myself off the best I can in 2018.

I haven't made Resolutions for New Years in a long time (refer to the post Evolutions) but this year I'm going to give myself some guidelines. I keep saying I need a real adult to help me adult my very scary world right now but that isn't how life works. I have huge decisions to make and I feel like it's going to be very important to take care of myself so that I can build a vision for my future and make some much needed changes for personal growth.

I've been reading a lot of different articles on how to stay motivated this year and I found one I really liked in The Mighty about 12 months of self care. I changed it a little to suit my purposes but this is what it looks like and I think anyone could do it.

January: Feed Your Soul
Eating right! This is something I'm already working on by carefully learning how to cook and staying on the Purium Plan but I think January is always a good time for a detox, so I've ordered my Purium Detox kit. I lost 50 pounds in 2017 and I'm hoping to lose the remaining 15 in 2018.

February: Routine
I know it sounds boring but for me it's so important to have a routine. A regular bedtime, eating schedule, exercise schedule. I didn't realize how much until this winter. It's helped my seasonal depression enormously. Even a grocery shopping schedule helps keep me on track with eating better. It's a good time to get back on track.

March: Physical Fitness
By March I should have been doing physical therapy for my back, coming back strong from swimming every day in Hawaii and I'm already up to walking 5 days a week (which is something I couldn't do a year ago) I'm hoping by this month I can try to start running again or maybe start doing yoga again. If I'm unable to go up in intensity at least really join a gym with a pool to keep swimming.

April:Treat YoSelf
It's my birthday month! I think I should get my rare pedicure, massage and whatever else seems good to me. I'm just going to do things that feel luxurious that I never treat myself to.

May: Meditation Challenge
I'm pretty good about doing this before bed but it's never a bad idea to work on meditation. It decreases stress and improves your move. I may be moving in the spring and it's always stressful. There are some really great apps you can use if you are a beginner.

June: Helping Others
I've taken a lot of time off from my volunteer work and I miss it a lot. I hope by June that my back situation is under control and that I'm settled in whatever new community I might be in and I'd love to get back to helping the community.

July: Journaling
I'm always on the fence about this. I'm pretty bad at keeping a journal but when I do I usually find out some pretty interesting things about myself. I worked on it briefly last winter in Hawaii and it was an interesting thought experiment. I'll have a lot of changes in 2018 so it might be a good habit to form.

August: The Hobbiest
Try something new! I don't know what that is or what it could be but it never hurts to cultivate new hobbies. This will be a tough one for me because I've run out of the hobby phase in life but it's important to keep learning.

September: Social Butterfly
I get stuck in these ruts of not leaving the house or hiding from people. I feel let down and I feel like I"m letting down but I still need to put myself out there because I cannot live on cat friendships alone! I'll be working on putting myself in all those awkward social situations.

November: NanoWriMo
Thankfully November challenges me with National Novel Writers Month every year. I did complete this year and I am having my completed novel being read by beta readers currently. Do I have another novel in me? Only time will tell.

December: Mindfulness
Be mindful of one thing everyday that is amazing. That shouldn't be too hard, should it?

I also downloaded a book called 365 Daily Do Its: Organizing Tips and Challenges to Help You Get Organized. My house is quite large and it's very daunting on where to get started on how to pack it and after I pack it up where do I go. I'm formulating a type of plan in my mind but I'm not sure if it's the right plan.

Obviously, I'm trying to start my travel plans for the year but I have a lot of unknowns between moving and extra Stanford visits but that's always part of my ongoing planning.

If you asked my what my Resolutions were I'd say to be happy and healthy, then in my mind I'd add to be loved deeply. Call me a romantic but I think I've finally found a peace in myself where I could allow myself to feel loved. I met a wonderful man recently who made me think it could be possible to find my own version of a fairy tale, sadly for me he wasn't my prince but I bet there must be one out there for me. I have so much love in me to give that it would feel so wonderful to share it with someone.

Until then I'll keep making myself a better human being and be satisfied with being happy and healthy. I got this!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Miles and Miles of Milestones

It's my migraine anniversary again. On December 14, 2014 I got a migraine that never went away. This blog has documented my struggle living with Chronic Migraines, Cluster Headaches and Bipolar Depression. Every year I can't help but remember how far my life veered off course but I try to look back and see what's changed, what's working and what I've learned.

Let's jump back a year, at the end of last year I was having a nervous break from too much stress and my migraines were out of control. My psychiatrist thought I either needed to be in the hospital or a long vacation. Since my husband was going to be away working most of the winter I opted to head to Hawaii. I meant to spend a month there but I ended up being there for about four. 

It was an amazingly peaceful time, despite the ongoing migraines and a brief stay in the psychiatric ward in Kona, refer to the post Going Dark. I did find this alleged thing called happiness that most people find so easily. I'm very grateful to my Hawaiian Ohana/Family for taking care of me.

I did also finish traveling though Utah and Colorado with my husband in the motorhome, getting to see my family and oldest friends. I took my 14 year old niece to Alaska in the summer for a nice change, where I saw all my best friends. My 22 year old sister and I had an amazing adventure in Napa that I think we should do yearly and an awesome trip to meet an internet friend  in Kansas City! I took some fun local trips to see friends as well, and I was able to drive by myself!

So what's changed? This year I started getting regular DHE infusions in the hospital over the period of 5 days and it's done amazing things. I still get migraines, but they aren't as strong and don't last more than a few days. I mostly live in a permanent crushing headache state but I'll take it! It's given me more freedom. I've even been able to start exercising again, it's not swimming in the ocean every day but it will keep me in shape until I go back in January. I've also put the cryoablations on hold for the time being. I feel like the botox with the DHE seem to be doing pretty good.

Sadly, my marriage fell apart this year as well as did many of my relationships. It's really too difficult to write about currently. 

Also this post is the final "chapter" in a book I wrote this month for NaNoWriMo. It's a compilation of my blog posts threaded together with my current outlook. Given that November was a really difficult month for me I expect I may have some editing to do after this.

So what did I learn this year?
1. No one has your back
2. When you wait you're making a decision
3. Progress is possible

A hard learning year to be sure. I don't know exactly what I want but I feel like maybe I'm getting closer now that I can think. I'm so beaten up from this year that I'm not sure if I'll sail through next year or just shut down entirely but most days now I get to wake up and make that choice. If that's not one thing to hold on to I don't know what is.

Friday, November 17, 2017


It's the holiday season and for more people than you might think this is not the happiest time of the year. The holidays can be stressful and cause anxiety for many but more so if you suffer from depression already and you sprinkle a little Seasonal Affective Disorder on top. Not everyone celebrates the same holidays, leaving people feeling isolated from the majority and not everyone has friends and family to share them with. Which is a little bit of how I'm feeling this year.

I read an article yesterday about how to prepare your mental health for the holidays. Much of the advice I thought was sound but some was a bit impractical and it made me think of the things I do to prepare. I always do and this year more than ever. The holidays are also anniversaries for me, the anniversary of when my husband and I started dating and the anniversary of when he proposed. He doesn't believe in anniversaries so I doubt he's thinking about them but I do. This would be our 22 year together and the same age of my youngest sister, literally a lifetime together. I can already feel my heart squeezing.

The number one thing I do is make plans! Get things on my calendar! Whether it's weekend trip or lunch with a friend. It doesn't matter if it gets rescheduled the important thing is to plan it. It will give you small things to look forward to. A couple things that I planned for myself was trying to get my book group back together. I chose a fun book and a December date. The other thing I planned was to go back to doing NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writers Month, which is writing 50,000 words in the month of November. So I had a book to read and a book to write. I did have other small things that I planned but these were some bigger things I had to work towards every day.

The second thing I do is to try something new! For example, I'm not big on cooking at all. My husband was the fan of cooking but he's not here and it looks like I'm going to have to feed myself from now on. I'm trying to eat healthy because I'm still working on shedding that weight from my med changes last year so I've been teaching myself how to cook. There's a lot involved in that! Meal planning for the week, grocery shopping for food that isn't frozen and in a box and then attempting to make said meals. I've discovered some things are very easy and adding them into my basket and other things I'll try again on a day of great boredom. Other things I've done is pick a book I've always wanted to read but be intimidated by (I'm a big reader) or travel (but I try to do that as much as possible anyway).  You get my drift, you might want to try journaling or joining a very lazy book club.

Connect with your people! If you don't have friends or family near you make phone dates to talk to them. I find that by making a call date with someone I'm far more likely to talk to them than if I just call them randomly. Lets face it, texting only gets you so far if your depressed. If you do have people nearby see the number one thing, make plans! Anything you can do to stay connected.

This is an easy one, do something that requires you to come back tomorrow, or a goal! This can be binge watching Suits, choosing books that will keep you reading every day, some type of challenge (for example, this year I'm doing the Plank Challenge to get my core muscles in shape so my back will stop fritzing out like I'm 80), starting a craft project like learning to knit (it's super easy). You can do these things on days it's hard to get out of bed.

Something my doctor always says and I've always ignored her until this year is staying active! Because I get exercise induced migraines I tend to be cautious about exercise but since I've been feeling a bit better and recently acquired a treadmill, I've added that into my new daily routine and it does help. It's easier to get moving and I feel like I've done something, even if that's all I did. I've even ventured outside to walk and am really enjoying the feeling. Who knew?!

Lastly, develop a daily routine if you can. If there's anytime of the year you should try to have a good routine it's during the holidays. It will keep your mind busy... most of the time. Just remember to be gentle with yourself and don't go overboard, which is what my OCD wants to do. If you need a mental health day in bed to watch all the Harry Potter movies then you should do it! You know you.

Make these things as basic or as ambitious as you want them to be. Remember this is about taking care of your mental health during the holiday season and that's definitely the gift you want to give yourself. 

Leading me to an important take away from the article I read that I hadn't thought of before is set boundaries! I don't really have to do this during the holidays but certainly people with children, full time work, full time health issues, family and mental health issues needs to set holiday boundaries. If you can't do everything it's ok. It will get done. I'm just a big advocate for boundaries all the time. I didn't have any choice after I became a full time walking migraine. 

If you must be The Grinch at the holidays try to be the Grinch after his heart grew three sizes too large. It's easy to say, I know, but from one sufferer to another I know we can get through this holiday season together!

Saturday, November 11, 2017


I feel like it's time to join this conversation. If you follow my blog then you've already read my history with sexual assault, refer to the post titled Terror. I don't think anyone could have predicted the events that would trickle down from Harvey Weinstein's fall, and like most women I applaud the accusers that came forward. It's not an easy thing to do. I never did. So why the post?

I'm starting to feel a little unsettled. Everyday there are new allegations, not that this surprises me in any way but I feel like the topic of sexual harassment and sexual assault are looming around me all the time. I'm having nightmares every night, I'm back to seeing men as predators instead of just people. I'm acutely aware of my surroundings everywhere I go because rape culture is already at an all time high. I don't feel safe and my PTSD has been triggered.

Let me rewind a little bit to give you some history, I grew up with a physically abusive father and a totally passive mother. My fourth grade teacher broke my arm, my fifth grade teacher sexually abused me. When I was 15 the first three times I had sex was date rape. I was sexually harassed through out high school because of this imagined reputation. I never even had sex with anyone until my college boyfriend and we had a mutually physically abusive relationship. After we broke up I had a series of men attempt to have sex with me when I was asleep. I learned some great fake snoring techniques. As an adult I was sexually harassed most days at work in an industry where I was working with powerful men and then finally the sexual assault in my home 8 years ago. After that I just shut down and locked myself in my house for 4 years. Even now I still get unsolicited pictures or advances from men of all ages. 

This is what I find scary, it's so common. Even among the rich and famous. No woman escapes this. I think the statistics on sexual abuse are dead wrong. In fact, some of this is so normal that it's not even considered a form of sexual abuse. Even my teenage nieces are subject to it, at 13! I'll add that I think it's also more common for men than is let on as well but I can only speak for women. 

I know that for some women it's important to come forward and name their accusers. I imagine in Hollywood that might be more important when trying to protect other women. I've never been able to do that. Was it because the female doctor at the emergency room doing my rape kit told me she didn't believe me? Was it because I didn't want to hurt family members of the person that hurt me? Was it because I was scared? It was all of those reasons and more. It's not like I can forget what happened to me but I want to move forward. I want to think about my male friends, or men I walk past, normally. My husband healed me of so much of that but he's not here anymore either. Back to the beginning to the part where I don't feel safe anymore.

I wonder if other women like me are feeling triggered and uneasy, that's why I wrote this. I can't be the only one. So what do we do ladies? Take yet another social media break? As if 2017 hasn't been the worst already. I'm tired of feeling like the fear always gets the upper hand (I almost typed men). I feel like a whole gender hates me and it doesn't feel good. 

Here are things I'm trying to keep in mind when I see these allegations in the news
1. It's not shocking news
2. Some of it may not be true
3. Other women feel like I do
4. I do know lots of good men
5. My dreams are not my reality

What are you doing to take care of yourself? Because I think all of this will get worse before it gets better, from accusations in Hollywood to push back in the culture of fear created by the current government. If there's anytime for "survivors" to stay strong is now and I don't want to let a younger generation grow up and live through what I've lived through. We all have voices, I may not be using mine to punish but I am trying to use mine to find out how to heal ourselves. Join me!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Going Dark

It's been nine months since I've been able to write anything on this blog. This is how time can pass for the bipolar during distress. There's not doubt that the last 9 months have been the most distressing continuously of my life.

In January I had another nervous breakdown and bought a one way ticket to Hawaii. I just left. I needed to be away from any kind of stress at all or i didn't know what would happen to me. While I was there I realized over time that I was the happiest I had been in my entire life. It was actually a very sad feeling.

My migraines didn't improve and my doctor's at Stanford wanted me to come and spend more time in the hospital. I saw my whole future ahead of me, living in an unhappy marriage, getting tortured at the hospital constantly that would cost so much that it would keep my marriage unhappy, having migraines for the next 40 years. I realized I couldn't do it. At this point I couldn't even manage the smallest amounts of stress, like doing the laundry, but my psychiatrist didn't think sending me to the hospital would help.

It was a beautiful day, I felt beautiful and had an adventure and I knew nothing would be better than that day. It was the perfect day to die, so I tried to kill myself. Next time I'll make sure my roomie isn't a paramedic/firefighter because the next thing I know I'm being stuffed in the car and taken to the hospital. Another failure.

Two weeks later a dear friend died by her own hand. It was a terrible loss but I understood and felt more at peace knowing no one had hurt her, but it didn't mean my grieving still hasn't ended and that I don't have complex feelings about it. Perhaps another post for that.

I stayed in Hawaii until May but eventually you have to come home, I suppose. In the last 4 months I haven't gotten out of bed unless I have an appointment or traveling. I ate potato flakes for two weeks at one point. You'd think I'd have lost some weight but I'm not that lucky. I've spent all my energy hiding all of this but I felt stronger than ever about my belief that I should get to decide when I die. I've spent the summer seeing as many people that I love as I could. 

I also applied for the Hemlock society, which turned me down. Apparently those assholes have never had a migraine for 25 days. I began to feel more open about telling my friends because it probably connects to so much of what's happening in my life now.

My husband and I have agreed that it's best for both of us to get divorced. I certainly have not turned out to be a good wife, friend or supporter and I stopped trying because I really just had to focus on me. I could handle my mental health but not that and health issues, and I don't think he could either. Another failure. 

Even though I was alone most of the time because of his job, I feel somehow lost in a vacuum. I don't think we could make it work but it doesn't mean I'm not grieving. I feel like I'm grieving everything. On the one hand I could do whatever I want but on the other hand I'm really married to Stanford and the 2 doctors here that keep saving my life.

Which leads me to today. I haven't been doing well. I can't stop crying. My poor psychiatrist is at a loss because I admitted to having suicidal thoughts, which means she's supposed to put me in the hospital. She's feeling a bit torn. I'm going to her office at 4pm. If you don't hear from me for a while it means they've admitted me but I'm ok and I'm safe.

I appreciate all of you and thank you for always listening

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Anniversaries and Updates

On December 14, 2013 I got a migraine that never went away. I have chronic migraines, cluster headaches and all the migraines in-between. 

It's been one crazy year, my friends. On this anniversary, after rereading my other posts, I'm happy to see this year gone and I don't find much comfort in my future. Hence, why I stopped writing here. At some point your run out of things on the hamster wheel and some things are too personal. However, lets start with the amazing year I had that everyone saw and am so grateful to have had!

So, the Cryoablation on my occipital nerves worked! Which doesn't mean I didn't get migraines half of this year, just not from that locations and they were more "mild". Time to get out of the house and get some epic traveling done. Big points of interest were Monument Valley, Utah, Lake Powell, AZ, Las Cruces, NM, White Sands National Park, NM, Carlsbad Caverns NM, Roswell, Mojave desert, Palm Springs, Chaco Canyon Santa Fe , Taos and Albuquerque NM, Ivins UT, Four Corners, Bryce and Zion National Parks and hitting 6 states in the motor home and saw loads of friends along the way. We also went to Kauai and took my niece to Maui! That was seriously fun! Loads of smaller trips too, Eugene, Or., Santa Cruz (twice), San Francisco, and the Oregon Coast with an older niece (I have them coming out of my ears) which I was able to do on my own! Lastly, we had some visitors this year from Alaska, Hawaii, Eugene and San Fransisco. And, I've lost nearly 30 pounds! That's some year!

Here's the rub....

I was also in the hospital 6 times over the summer, six times. Four of those times were in Stanford, where I either had to fly myself down, or the usual buddy drive. Some of those were trips for another type of treatment they've been trying on me called DHE, it's a drug they infuse into your body. My second trip I was in the hospital for 4 days but there's a national shortage, so that won't happen again anytime soon.

Prior to the Cryoablation in May my migraines were the worst they've been, which is why I had the procedure. We aren't sure the Botox is working anymore or maybe they will work better together. The Cryoablation lasted about 4 months and you have to wait at least 5-6 months and the second Botox in this rotation didn't work at all. Just because I'm not having occipital nerve migraines does not mean I'm not having migraines. I don't count my pain free days anymore but my migraine app can show you I'm still having roughly the same, or a bit less at one point, just not disabling. So disabling for me, is bleeding out of my eyeballs because I can't drive, it gets in my eyes. That's where pain and I stand now. 

Thankfully I feel like I was able to truly enjoy and be in the moment for all of the amazing things that happened this year, despite the pain. The truth is I'm worse, which to me has meant facing the loss of ALL my hopes and dreams for MY future. People forget I used to have a career, I'm not a wifey. I want to see the world, I doubt I'd live through a transatlantic flight or a cruise. I like to have a healthy social life, I may need to move to a bigger town for that anyway. I wanted to grow up to be the opposite of my parents, not become them, workaholic husband and dependent female I'm not saying I can't make new dreams, I'm just saying when you realize that it takes time to process and grieve and then be reborn. I'm still grieving. I don't want platitudes because no one else knows and if they do they feel the same way. 

These are some things I learned this year... big learning year for me
1. No matter what, your oldest friends are still your best friends
2. Say yes
3. let go or set boundaries (both are so hard)
4. I learned what absolute pain is and it broke my heart
5. No one will ever know what you're talking about, ever, until the end of time, when you talk about your migraines, no matter how many times to explain it. Don't talk about it.
6. Don't trust anyone over 16 1/2
7. Always smile, it makes people feel better and it might make you feel better too
8. Avoid stress, don't try to manage it
9. Do things for yourself, without asking permission
10. Radical Acceptance

As a holiday bonus, I'll tell you about my second Cryoablation that I had done about a week ago. I had a different doctor who was great! He pumped up the local anesthesia and the pain I felt was "normal". So we left after 30 minutes, because you're not allowed to leave immediately because of all the meds in your system, and we go to the hotel. I'm walking on the sidewalk and I hit a crack and face planted into the cement. Boom, didn't even put my hands up because I was still drugged. So precise was this fall that I didn't have a scratch! I just went down like a hammer. Of course I had a concussion.. and I hope some of you are laughing.. if you know me you definitely are, because only I could perform such a glorious feat. So Happy Holidays, for my next trick....

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Happy Days

I've been meaning to write about this for a while but I haven't quite known how to work it out from my head to my words. I've been working on it with my therapist and to me it still sounds a little silly but she assures me that other people with Mental Illnesses go through this as well people with Chronic Illnesses so I thought I should make a brief post and see if I got any thoughts from anyone.

For a few years now a truly happy day has been far and few between. I live on small happy moments but I've been working hard to expand those moments to try to have happy days, despite what I might be going though. I feel like I'm getting better at it. When I was going through my manic phase it was so much easier! It was great to feel so awesome. I think I mentioned that that's why people who have Bipolar don't really go to the doctor when they are experiencing a mania because it can feel so good for a while.

After some torturous medication tinkering and finally sleeping after a month I started coming down but continued to have happy days and it freaked me out. Was I still manic? Was it ok for me to feel happy? To someone without Mental Illness this sounds like a woman with too much time on her hands but put yourself in my position. I don't know if I'm really happy or if the disease I have that lies to me is playing more games with my head. I don't know if I'm really happy..... I just wanted to say that again because how terrible is it to not know what happiness can feel like. 

I know what all the bad stuff feels like, I know what calmness or peacefulness feels like but in my life between my experiences and my stupid brain chemistry I question what happiness is. I find that deeply disturbing and sad. Was I happy at my wedding? No I wasn't, there was many circumstances for this. This is supposed to be the happiest day of your life right? I can't even think of another example to use as a universal time I should be happy. I love to travel and I find it calming and of course theres moments of happiness. I just don't know what it is so how am I to determine when I'm having genuine happy days?

I have to ask my therapist
It's distressing

But I'm glad I did because I found out that I'm not alone in this and it's ok. This is how I can learn the differences between my real emotions and disease, or just learn what I never learned as I was growing up. I think. 

Where does my Chronic Illness fit in? I guess I didn't care if I was happy before I got Chronic Migraines and Cluster Headaches because you don't know what you have until it's gone. Maybe I didn't notice. I'm not sure, but now I want to have a full life. I'm not satisfied with my options at this point. I'm going to take any chance for being happy that I can, even if that means having that terrible cranium procedure every six months. Which I think worked, by the way, but that's another post. 

I've found a new opportunity for personal growth in a bed of ashes. Sometimes that can be the miracle of continuing this wheel of life.