The Catch-22’s of Bipolar


Catch-22 number one: The side effect of my medication is that I forget to take my medication.

I think about where I am today in this moment, feeling relatively stable in terms of my bipolar, and excited to be starting an online art course tomorrow. But I’m also aware of how my brain has slowed, how I’m sometimes foggy, and lose my short term memory. My doctor told me it’s a side effect of my medication; it depletes folic acid, and that contributes to the brain fog. She gave me a sample of folic acid at her office, and of course, I forgot where I put it for about three days. And now I know where it is but I just forget to take it. So I put the pills smack in the middle of the kitchen counter with a post-it note that says:
“It’s ten o’ clock. Do you know where your brain is?”

Catch-22 number two: In order to be happy long term, I have to be sad.

During all of my manias I have spent too much money, ruined relationships, exhibited very poor judgement and also had a hell of a good time. The aftermath has such destructive consequences, however, that my psychiatrist decided it is probably safer to keep me a little depressed from time to time than to risk the chance of getting full blown mania. I revisit this decision every time I am depressed, because I feel there must be a better solution. If you are bipolar and have a medicine that works for your lows in conjunction with a mood stabilizer, I’d be interested in hearing what you are taking.

Catch-22 number three: In order to allow creative chaos, I have to be stable.

There are moments in creating a work of art or writing, when the work takes on a will of it’s own. I begin the work, my hands move the paintbrush or pencil, but my mind starts telling me which direction to go. This is when my judgements quiet, I experiment, and trust that no matter where this chaotic process leads me, it will have taught me something. It hovers in moments of uncertainty and it either destroys the work or makes it better.

I have learned over the years that if I don’t take care of the chaos in my life, that crucial moment of chaos in my art will lose it’s strength and purpose. I will sometimes try to control it because I feel so out of control. The result is lackluster work that never went far enough into risky territory to inspire people to relate to it.

What are the Catch-22’s of your mental illness, creativity, or life?

He Gave Me a Pizza and I Gave Him a Pen

ImageI returned the napkin that I stole from County Line Barbeque without incident.  No arrest.  The napkins were still the same, so I just slipped it on the table.  I even ordered an all vegetarian meal as penance.  

Today the pizza guy delivered a pizza; I signed for it and stole his pen.  He asked for it back, eventually.  Pointing to the antique desk on my porch with a puzzled look, he tried to figure out why the seat was in front.  I gave him a moment to process, and he got it.  I pulled the seat up and down.  “It’s old, it’s from Sicily.”   He smiled.  “Cool, that’s cool. Can I have my pen back, unless you need it?  It’s my only pen.”  Now I wonder if he even cared about my antique desk at all or just wanted his pen.  Men who deliver, they are always trying to find a way to let you down easy.

I have stolen more pens than napkins, and certainly have stolen fewer hearts than the two of those combined.  I feel I’ve returned them all; sleep will come easily tonight.


Why you can’t take me anywhere

I am famous for tearing my paper napkin all around the edges after I have finished dining at one of the finer establishments in my city. If only they would all use cloth napkins.

To be honest, I am not a suitable patron of restaurants that have cloth napkins, either. I cannot tear at cloth, so I forget I have one in my lap; when I stand up to leave, it falls to the floor, or in the case of County Line Barbecue, I somehow manage to steal it. I have had that napkin for twelve years and have not returned it. But this week, that’s my goal. Rest assured, I have washed it but never used it again, as my guilt has only deepened over the years. Plus, it doesn’t match my other napkins. It’s crimson, and mine are…well, mine are all paper, with pictures of delectable cupcakes on them.

I think I’ll eat at County Line and just sneak that crimson albatross out of my purse and onto the table. I wonder if they even have the same colored napkins, with the same thread count?

I don’t know if this is something I can be arrested for, so I’m not entirely certain it’s something to be blogging about. Incarceration may be the only way I can redeem myself in the eyes of all five of my blog followers who are furiously googling the recidivism rate of napkin snatchers. I will keep you up to date on my saga, curious readers. I’ll have one phone call, so one of the five of you give me your digits, and we’ll start a phone tree from there.