Monday, April 30, 2012

The most stupid things affect me!

I guess they are not stupid if they affect me though! When i am in the space I am in right now, the slightest change, comment or action can alter my thinking and that can wreck my day.

I was pleased for example that I had remembered that the Ed Sheeran tickets went on sale to day. I was online ready, had a strong signal, clicked buy tickets at dead on 9am, had seats, all I had to do was pay and, sure enough, the website took so long to load that the whole thing timed out! I was so excited and then so deflated that I am still struggling to control where my head goes! There were tears. I am disappointed for the kids as I know they would love to go. So, do I feel I have let them down? Is that why I am feeling crappy and tearful?

I DID manage to book tickets for a local production of Chess-a musical we all love. But even that took a while, and a change of internet browser-maybe I should have tried that with the Ed Sheeran tickets? So all is not black today.

I DID manage to go for a little run, just up the road and back but 15 minutes and so far no twinges. I am going to do 30 mins on the bike too but am pleased to be up on my feet again!

BUT then a friend emailed me. We do a weekly 'pub' quiz and have done pretty well in the past. I like quizzes and have the kind of brain that retains junk and then makes links to help me to access that junk. She had wanted me to join the quiz team for a while and indeed we have won a couple of times since I joined. However, I always feel the pressure is on me to do well so we can win. LAst week for example we were doing fairly badly-16th place until the final round on films, when I virtually single handed got 10/10 on our joker round which lifted us to 6th. My mate can act like a petulant child when we do badly, blaming everyone but not taking responsibility for her own contribution. Anyway, we had invited a friend of mine and hubby's to join us because he is good at quizzes and geography in particular which I am useless at. The last few weeks have been hard weeks both in terms of questions and in terms of where my head is at- I have been thinking in a fog! SO we haven't done well. Geography questions however and a couple of sports questions have been answered well!

Today's email basically said-your friend can't come anymore because he pisses me off. Do something about it!!!

Given where I am right now I am more than prepared to stop going to a quiz I love because someone is putting me under pressure, both to answer questions and to deal with something she doesn't want to address. I haven't responded yet, though I have forwarded the message to hubby for his opinion.

So here I sit, trying to do my term's planning, thinking through fog and tears. I have a few ideas, I jut need the patience to get them sorted out.

I think I will go and cycle for 30 minutes, then come back to the plan, then eat. That should help!

This I don't need!

Why oh why can't I be more resilient?

And I remembered...things I am grateful for

My amazing daughter who is excelling at school. I am so proud of her, her work ethic and her joy!

My dog, who is sitting patiently waiting for me as I have forgotten to take her lead off after we went for our little jog!

My static bike which is helping me to get fit (and therefore my husband who bought it for me :-) )

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Another 'meh' day

Forced myself to do stuff today- mostly housewifey things, shopping, making a couple of cakes, washing, ironing, picking up kids. Thankfully the Game of Thrones series one commentaries kept me company!!!

Feeling so low, dull and lacking any incentive to do just about anything interesting. I need to plan my lessons for next week ( and indeed the term) but just can't be bothered. This is not going to help the adrenalin hit I will doubtless take next week when I have to know what I am doing!

Didn't even exercise today. I claim I am too tired. Caitlin had a disturbed night stressing about teacher expectations and a physics test. She woke me at 1am and it probably took an hour to calm her down. ANd here was me thinking sleepless nights were a thing of the past (babies and toddlers maybe, not 14 year olds). Just hoping this isn't a precursor to anything more sinister!

Tonight I will finish a swap piece I am doing, honest I will. Hopefully I will stay awake during Project Runway too.

I need this mood to lift. I have tried to push through it today but I feel so lacking in energy that it feels as though it will never pass.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Touching base

Am back on the meds and thinking through a fog. The season has changed and so has my mood! Going back to bed and allowing myself to just be!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

At last some good news

I went through a very dark patch last week. Blackness abounded. The thoughts in my head were very dark and pessimistic but I confided in my husband and he was well enough to help me through it.

As a result I am back on my meds (lamotrigine and citalopram). It will take a while to settle I know but I feel I am over the worst of it.

I have been dealing with the down by not trying too hard. I have a quilt to make that mom treated me to when she visited. It is very simple, just squares and rectangles, but logically and laborious, just the thing for  a stupor like this one. It looks good and is growing slowly.

I am a little further on now but cant find the camera
But the good news...

About three months ago I was training for a marathon. One day I went for a half hour run and half way my achilles started to hurt. Stupidly I carried on. The next day I couldn't walk and the doctor said ' you must rest till it is completely healed'. He might as well have said we need to amputate! I rely on running for my sanity. It is that breath of fresh air in the fog of depression or the mountain to scale with the energy of a manic moment! I grieved for weeks! I didn't walk properly for weeks. The dog had to depend on other, less committed, people for her walks.

Well, today, I took Molly for a walk along a flat pavement near home. I was cheesed off with her so avoided the beach. Half way along I thought 'I wonder?'. 20 steps of jogging-no pain or pulling. I walked a little then tried again. No pain no pulling. Three times I tried this. I nearly burst into tears. These may be baby steps ( all of 100 yards)  but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe I will be able to run again. Maybe one day I will run another marathon. Either way my head is in a much better space than it has been.

I have been reading 'An Unquiet Mind' too, on the beach during my dog walking. It is so me, it is incredible. Maybe I should write my memories and experiences or is that one of those flights of fancy we bipols are famous for.

Last week I was going to study psychology and find a cure! Maybe not!

This tree is at the top of our street. I love it at this time of year, especially after a 'little' run

So today I am grateful for my meds, my understanding husband ( who is in hospital having tests on his heart) and for the place where I live, peaceful, green and with a flat bit of pavement!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Who's is the voice inside my head?

Hubby and I have infrequent date nights. Going out involves timing, organisation, inclination, effort and money. Therefore it happens rarely unless a friend says 'let's do this quiz', in which case it becomes a weekly event.
Now that the kids are legally allowed to stay home alone (and so far Caitlin isn't charging us for baby sitting her brother) we are hoping to make it a date night a more regular occurrence.

There is however another problem with going on a date with my husband. Whenever we sit across a table from each other, things get emotional. I generally cry, a lot! I think it has to do with having his undivided attention; no house, kid, work etc issues so we can talk honestly and openly about stuff. And I always cry!

A few nights ago we decided to be grown ups (or should that read old people). We went to see the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
When I grow up I want to be Judy Dench
It was sweet if lacking in any depth and we were the youngest people there! I was taken by the colours of India. How can such an impoverished country be so vibrant (sorry if that sounds like an ignorant westerner). Then we went for dinner, nothing special, a chain restaurant with no holiday surcharges (it was Easter Sunday).

Obviously I am not in a great place right now but we had an interesting debate about how brain chemistry works and the effect that it has on everything else. In my worst manic moments, when I was breaking down and feeling as though the ghouls from "Ghost' were coming to drag me to hell, a small part of my brain would tell me "This is just an act, you are making this up, it is just for attention". Thing is, I know it wasn't. But who was saying it? It was my brain function but not ME, so then who?

I don't pretend to understand the science behind the way a brain works, about neurons and synapses, apart from what I learn on House, but how can my brain be telling me something I know isn't true. Is this the same voice that tells me I am stupid or worthless or fat or lazy?

We used to say I had an evil twin. We thought she only came out at certain times of the month but now we realise she is actually controllable up to a point and hormones have nothing to do with her, but she is omnipresent. Always there niggling, poking, picking away at all my inadequacies. Right now she is doing a good job and I am having to fight back but with limited energy.

can you tell who is who?
"You are fat"... well, I have put on a little weight but largely that is because I can't run because of my ankle injury, so I am walking the dog more, starting to watch what I eat and I am thinking Weight Watchers after the holidays...

"Your house is a mess"... ah yes but four people live here so it is a team mess! And it's the holidays and who honestly notices anyway except me

'You are crap at sewing'... just because one friend obviously didn't like the picture you made her doesn't mean a thing. She has no taste.

'Your life has no purpose'...have you met the kids???? They are awesome and all the purpose I need (maybe I need to start believing that rather than just writing it)

SO the fight continues, though even now I am emotional just writing it down.

I wish I could just send her on holiday for a while, just while the seasons change maybe. I love autumn but it is a time of change from up to down, high to low, light to dark and Kay Redfield Jamieson has reported that these are dangerous times for us bipols.

On my walk today with the dog I decided maybe I need to look out my anti depressants again, just for a while, I need to write down the things I am grateful for  and I need to give myself a break from the evil twin. Trouble is I don't know where she lives.

Surely there isn't room in my head for both of us?

Three things to be grateful for...

Molly was much calmer yesterday. Good thing too as the animal warden had been round after neighbors complained about the barking!

I had a lovely morning painting a grudge pony ( Reuben needs company when he is painting his warhammer figures)

I have nearly finished a sewing project that has bugged me for weeks

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Adrenalin is a many splendid thing...potentially!

I have worked for Gifted Kids for about two years now. We are a national organisation but actually day to day I am autonomous in my classroom. Occasionally we get together, like at the conference at the weekend. Maybe 5 times a year there will be between 5 (Auckland area) and 15 (nationwide) of us in a room.

At the weekend a couple of people asked after my health because 'whenever we see you , you are suffering from something.' Generally it's a cold, a cough, fluey bug, occasionally a real illness. Got me thinking!

As some of you know this week has been hard. Major mood swings, total and utter lethargy, flu like symptoms, cough, streaming nose (bit like hayfever) and then Tuesday night a complete inability to sleep!!! So I must be ill, right?


a huge feeling of inadequacy, an expectation of failure, imposter syndrome, perfectionism and "I JUST CAN"T DO IT" running through my head.

You see, not only do I live with bipolar disorder but I am also a gifted kid! There is a whole book on that but the blog post will keep for another day!

Basically ever since I joined GK I have experienced a tremendous sense of inadequacy. All my colleagues are more qualified, experienced, better teachers etc than me. They nearly all presented at conference and I wasn't asked ( actually I am quite good at presenting but keep my light hidden), I may disagree with some of what they say but can never stand up and say so coz "I might be wrong" "They might have a go at me for being stupid" etc.

I am sure I am going to be found out for the failure I am. How can anyone trust me to teach their kids et etc etc. I could go on but honestly what's the point!

These things I know...
I am a good teacher, in fact my kids say I am awesome, and so do some of their parents.

I think well on my feet, I am a natural problem solver.

I GET gifted kids coz I am one, so I can empathise in a way that some of my colleagues can't.

I'm an introvert so chances are I will feel nervous at these gatherings but it has nothing to do with my ability!

History shows that actually I haven't failed yet, but even if I did, that would be ok coz I learn from mistakes. (Failed is a strong word. HIstorically when people have had a go at me, it is because of some perceived weakness in themselves)

I am a good person. I support other people, more than I support myself.

I am vaguely intelligent (um high IQ, good at quizzes, know my strengths and weakness and what kind of learner i am)

Most of my FLU symptoms went away yesterday because

1) Caitlin's parents meetings happened and were great- I had expected a run in with her form teacher about him being an idiot but that didn't happen!

2)I started talking about it. Hubby was feeling better and actually listened.

3) The end of term feedback forms to parents got done, just in time and actually pretty well! It's the first time we did them and so I had no experience, nothing to go on and my lead teacher told me they were easy and not to stress-cue stress!

I had to write two sentences on each child, then print them out so the kids could hand write their reflections ...but my comments weren't going to be good enough, what if parents or kids didn't agree with them... and so the anxiety built.

That morning, after no sleep, I was going to email my principal and say 'I can't do this job. It's killing me! I'm useless". She would probably have told me to go away and get some sleep!

But the day went well. I told them I was stressed and why (the forms). The kids called me evil! That's a good thing! The forms got done, on the computers, so that the kids could read my comments, check the spelling, chat to me about them, and we could alter them as necessary so when the parents read them the  kids would know why I had said what I'd said! So everyone was happy. And we got easter eggs and Indiana Egg went on an eggscellent eggspedition and scaled the cliffs of eggspectation to seek the sacred egg of the covenant (ok so it was a tech challenge, how to get a chocolate egg across a 'cavern' ( between a chair and a table three metres apart) without touching the ground. I'll leave that hanging...

It's all about the future. What WILL people think? What WILL they say? WHEN WILL I be found out? WHAT IF I'm no good?

The adrenalin has been crippling this week and yet here I am, on Thursday, able to write, I've just spent an hour playing Star Wars Kinect  and using up the adrenalin that it left. I am still tingling and shaking slightly but I am just tired, not exhausted. I have the Easter holidays to look forward to and the sun is shining.

Just don't mention the fact that I am hosting brunch on Easter Sunday for  some friends and their kids. The husband is a real foodie and I just about cook. He usually writes the treasure hunt and this is my first time doing it. And the house is a mess ( dust bunnies everywhere) and we have to buy and hide eggs and and and and and..

I hear meditation is good for this sort of thing :-) Or maybe I'll just go and kill a few more clones with my light sabre!!!


Sunday, April 01, 2012

At the weekend I attended the GiftEDNZ Conference (Professional Association for Gifted Education) in Wellington.

 Maybe it was being surrounded by so many 'like minds', or maybe it was my own brain observing so many passionate people pursuing their personal dreams or maybe it was the realisation that I need to do something (else/more/different/special/for me-delete as applicable) but I came away with a hunger. I say hunger, maybe it was more of a craving. Being a bipol, I sometimes find myself noticing, from a distance, what I am thinking. I envied certain of the speakers for their eloquence, I envied some for their commitment to their subject, for their creativity, for their confidence. I wondered why it was that I was not pursuing my academic goals, my creative dreams, my personal desires. Of course it helps to know what these are! Being overwhelmed by choice and then not doing anything about it has sort of been the story of my life, I guess. I could be anything, do anything, but what? The conference has got me thinking- as you'd expect from a conference on gifted education. But more on a personal level than a professional one.

Since I last blogged on this site (I think) I have joined an organisation called Gifted Kids and now work as a 'one day a week' facilitator (note not teacher) of a group of wonderful year 8 gifted kids. Thing is, whilst as a teacher I can teach just about anything,  this job is teaching me sooooo much about me.

I react quite emotionally to things at the best of times. At a PD (professional development) session a while ago a colleague was talking about the social and emotional needs of gifted kids. I read the slide on her powerpoint, about introverts, and nearly burst into tears ( which would have been a great look in front of 30 teachers!) because there I was, on the screen, in black and white (well pale blue and dark blue!)

This weekend, it was about perfectionism, resilience and again the social and emotional needs of the gifted; concepts I should be covering with my kids but which I am still trying to deal with myself. I was moved by discussions on excellence, trying to be the best you can be or just better than the rest (me or Caitlin?)or just giving up because you can't be the best (or just can't do it?).

The greatest effect however was a paper delivered by Dr Deborah Fraser of the University of Waikato, on Depression and Creativity: LIberation from the Noonday Demon. The paper itself was ok, informative though I would have liked  it to have been more child focussed. She dwelt on famous depressives-Dickinson, Plath etc but then mentioned Kay Redfield Jamison who is something of a hero of mine. She is the chair of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins ( inspite of being a psychologist) and a famous bipol. So of course my brain went into over drive, bipolar disorder being mentioned in a talk at a gifted ed conference????

Then came a list of Do's and Don'ts...not all of which I agree with

Quieten the Mind (meditation etc)
Develop self acceptance
Go into Nature
Seek Social Support (BUT I'm an introvert so I don't like to be social)
Reframing (going to have to look that one up)
Be Daring (does jumping out of an aeroplane count)
Express those strong feelings (in art or something creative)
Orient yourself to the future
Take drugs (I mean meds)
Find a purpose ( but which one?)

Read about it, it will only depress you ( but what about those feelings of...thank god some one else feels like me?)
Listen to the "You MUST" voice (ok I agree with that but that voice shouts real loud)
Have analysis (controversial?)
Talk about it (very controversial)
Time Management ( I find this very helpful)
Reliving the emotions
Doing Nothing (so all of the above things are better thn doing nothing at all?)

I tend to take a lot of things on face value so rarely disagree. But here I have to, because the benefit I gained from the session had nothing to do with the talk. You see, I suddenly became an expert. Some of my colleagues know I am bipolar (the whole of West Auckland does since my number plate says so!) and I was able to share with them afterwards my thoughts, feelings and knowledge. It was the first time I had felt energised in the company of these wonderful people. Instead of envying their knowledge I could share mine and not be judged, and as often happens, it freed them up to share their concerns and issues. So we talked ( not recommended), I relived some of the emotions (again not recommended) and I have been asked to share An Unquiet MInd with a number (um shouldn't be reading about it should we?)
I advertise too :-)

I have come home desperate to DO something. Should I take a paper or two in gifted ed? Should I look into psychology? Should I write a book (or blog) about my experiences? After all the emotions and memories are so clear in my head. Should I? Could I? 'Should' is banned in our house but I felt/feel that I haven't fulfilled my potential. There is more I could do. Perhaps I need to do more? Or just different? So here is a new start, a rebirth of this blog. Maybe if I free my brain from its own restrictions and let loose, something will happen? Who knows?

It has to be better than the homecoming was. Caitlin and I talked for hours about the conference and what I had learned about her and me. She's 14 going on 43, gifted, hard working and intense. She rocks! That part of the homecoming was awesome.

The following day however was back to drudge. I have a brain the size of a planet (thanks Marvin), a degree from Oxford and so much potential yet Sunday was full of drudge. How can I reach my potential if I am expected (or expect myself) to cook, clean, garden, support others and do tasks which overwhelm my emotional brain (like gardening which is neverending, imperfect, so tiring) which leaves me exhausted and with no time to do anything else? So seeing Time management on the list of Don'ts doesn't work for me. I will garden for an hour and then I will do something for me, maybe, if it's ok with you.

Even writing that makes me emotional. Like I don't deserve to have the time to do 'my thing', if at times I knew what that thing is. I am suffering today from the physical aftermath of a meltdown yesterday. I feel as though I have a cold but I know it is connected to the events of yesterday. I essentially had a meltdown over the fact that no one else bothers. I came home to a house messier and dirtier than I had left it and which I was expected to clean. No one mentioned all the effort I had gone to to make sure the weekend ran smoothly for everyone (making dinner before I left, tidying up, leaving lists, forms and money out for kids' activities). Why did I bother?

I sought out that support Fraser mentioned yesterday and was knocked back. The kids were great in the end but my husband the psychologist just sat there and essentially told me to pull myself together and just go away! I thnk on the Don'ts list there could be "Don't marry a psychologist! They just don't understand!". Thank god for my son who joined me in the garden just as I was melting down and stayed with me til the end of the tree decimation. Hopefully he won't become a psychologist because at the moment he knows exactly what to do!

So my time management list says I need to finish now, or my brain will allow me to carry on for hours and the drudgery won't get!

Maybe this is the beginning of something? Maybe it is just something different? Who knows? We shall see!