When Ghosts Read Nutrition Labels

My beautiful pictureSo, I’m living in an empty nest, and I love it,  it’s a tiny apartment nestled in the hills; my vision for the living room is to create an art gallery. Very minimal.

My brain does not love it quite as much,  It recognizes the changes.  The new job.  The empty nest. The quiet.  I didn’t plan for how much my brain would splat instead of bounce.

As I was facing the stove, a young woman appeared clear as could be, at my pantry.  She was slender, her head was bent down and she was reading the nutrition label on a box of cereal.  She was wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Startled, I asked “how did you get in here?”  She seemed so real!  So that was my immediate reaction.  I sounded annoyed and angry.  I didn’t even see her walk in.  I don’t know why I didn’t say “Who are you!”  But now I know, if I’m confronted by a stranger in my home who was not requested to do maintenance, I will most likely skip formalities and jump into screaming.

My mind talked to my brain the rest of the evening, as it’s rare for me to have visual hallucinations, and nothing that strong.  I thought perhaps she was a ghost of someone who lived there previously.  I don’t really believe in ghosts, so I decided it was most likely the stress of the empty nest, and missing someone who looked so similar, but with more wave to her hair.  She is also nutritionally conscious.  Yesterday I opened my mailbox and found an envelope of photos addressed to the woman who lived here before me.  I promise to take them to the apartment office unopened, but wouldn’t you be tempted just to take a peek?

“Hiding Who You Are” Carbs

wildthingsareThere are ways to have adult temper tantrums, and I am going to have one tonight in the form of a carbohydrate laden meal.  Then I’ll brush myself off (ok, crash on the couch), and find some way to decide what to do when reality is vastly different from what’s in my brain, and the voices arrive to remind me.

I recently received a prestigious award at work, and my brain is processing it in a paranoid version of “Where the Wild Things Are,” in particular, “Oh, no, please don’t go, we’ll eat you up we love you so!”  They like what I do, and for the most part I do it well.  But my brain thought it was the last thank you before the kick out the door (even though, realistically, you can’t find enough folks to do my job).  I also found paranoia in the idea that I can’t say no, I do too much for others and I do it well, and this is their way of saying “thanks, keep sacrificing your sanity for our beach vacation.”  Metaphorically speaking of course, because none of what we do is a beach vacation.  And none of them knew I was feeling crazy, so how could they thank me in the most accurate way?

The thing is, they don’t know I’m sacrificing my sanity.  There are two co-workers who know I have bipolar, and neither know I have heard voices.  I found an ineffective  way to make several people frustrated but also protective on my behalf; neither result was ideal.

So back to the drawing board, next to the peach cobbler.  The people pleasing personality traits have got to go.  I just don’t know if peace of mind comes from telling co-workers about my bipolar; I have already admitted my personality traits to them that made last week a struggle for all of us.  You are faced with a new challenge when you say it out loud and someone agrees.  That’s what brought on the voices.  They told me I was unworthy, ineffective, and should just end it.  They are quiet now, they just want carbs.  If they could carry the weight of the carbs, that would be even better.

The Secret Life of Lance Letscher

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Short Note #3, Lance Letscher.   

The Secret Life of Lance Letscher, a documentary  showing at SXSW is a must see.  There is one more showing, don't miss it.

Wednesday, March 15, 9:30pm at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar.

Reasons to see this documentary:

  • It’s the best documentary at SXSW
  • You will laugh, cry, and be inspired
  • Because, it’s Lance Letscher

Please and thank you.


Yes, I drink with my favorite artworks. They get tired of hanging out with the wall.







Very Moody Voices


I have a new voice in my head.   This one arrived when I was putting clothes in a drawer during the day, rather frantically trying to clean up for the arrival of a guest.  He said in a menacing, gravely voice, “kill him.”

Yes, this was a shock to me.  I don’t hear voices during the day time. I responded, “Oh, you’re annoyed that you have to do this work for a visitor when you could just be relaxing.  Life is stressful enough.”  He told me yes, and went away.  I knew there was more to it, but he was satisfied and stayed fairly quiet throughout a busy weekend.

A few hours after the man spoke, a young girl’s voice came into my head, she said definitively, but quietly, “hurt you.”  I didn’t respond to her other than to say “NO.”  She has talked since, repeating the same thing, but I haven’t had a talk with her yet. She wants to make my voice small, to give up my happiness so he can have his. I’m already doing that, to quite a great extent, so I’m not sure what her deal is. But she is also telling me someone hurt me, someone in the past, so I know where this is coming from.  I just don’t want to go there now.

For now, it seems they are trying to find a balance; my brain is going to make me deal with things I just refuse to look at.  I am very good at avoidance, or I was until now.


Streets of Austin


SoCo, Austin, Texas. March, 2016

My thinking went like this:  If work is crazy, and I am crazy, it’s time to do something crazy to get close to normal.  Influences including Edge of Humanity , Greg Davis and hypomania collided, and I decided to rent a studio to paint and play with street photography.  If you’re coming to Austin for SXSW, enjoy your stay, and look for the ordinary as much as you do the extraordinary; you won’t be disappointed.

Last Call for Hallucinations

Wow, I’ve been away so long on an exciting vacation! Not really, I just got a job, saw some hippos swimming and listened to a woman in Victorian garb giving me one word answers.  One of those was a hallucination.

I fell asleep on the sofa and awoke to a woman in Victorian clothing, content to call my name and dispense advice in a three syllable word.  I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming, but I called out “what?” in a startled voice, and she just nodded her head and said “attrition.”

Well, of course I looked it up, and I absolutely chose the definition that works best for me:


the action or process of gradually reducing the strength or effectiveness of someone or something through sustained attack or pressure.

I tried to bargain with her in my head, because I knew she meant I needed to stop obsessing over some things, one thing in particular being a man, but I promised I would be ever vigilant about signs of a bipolar episode, never letting my guard down, always taking preventative measures.  She didn’t seem content until I acknowledged that it was the guy.

Did I listen to her, to myself, or whatever?  No.  I mean, I tried.  I really did.  But eventually I had to learn that I have some symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder as well, and that maybe it’s time to take it seriously.  That was in February, and I was a mess.   But hey, I’ve already had DBT therapy for bipolar, and it’s a suggested therapy for Borderline, so I’m thinking I got a bargain; two mental illnesses for the price of one therapy.

Those old time feelings of abandonment are creeping in with another relationship and I am handling it well.  I keep the image of the Victorian woman in my head as a reminder; I picture her smiling, showing off her newest dress sewn entirely in DBT diary cards.

voices in my head

I still don’t understand exactly what the voices in my head are. I only hear them a few times a year when I’m under extreme stress, and usually when I’m exhausted. I’m aware they are coming from inside of me, but they are never the sound of my own voice.

Recently, in search of answers I became captivated by Eleanor Longden, who gave me a new perspective in her Tedtalk.  While I may not have gained a full understanding, I have more compassion for myself and less fear of the voices.  The video is fascinating whether you have auditory hallucinations or not; her unique interpretations of the purpose of voices and her resulting conclusions about how we should treat all humans are inspirational.

Sometimes my brain creates images for the voices.  I am a visual thinker, and it helps me focus on the message and not the fear.

Several months ago, exhausted and on the verge of sleep, I was startled by a male voice warning me graciously, “You are going to die tonight.”

I propped my head up, trying to discern if it was a dream. I could “sense” him four feet to the right of the side of my bed; he was wearing a suit, and was quite dignified.

“Oh shit,” I thought, “I should probably clean my house.”

I was so exhausted, would it be okay if I just died with this pile of laundry at the foot of my bed? He delivered the message again.

“You are going to die tonight.”

My heart started to race. I thought about my daughter sleeping two rooms away. This can’t be true, I decided, it must be my brain sending a message to add something to my diet other than grilled cheese sandwiches. Or to lift weights heavier than the remote control.

A few moments passed, and he relented, “Okay, maybe tomorrow.”

I let my shoulders slump back down into the bed and my body relaxed. If I die in my sleep, I thought, there’s nothing much I can do about it anyway. If by chance I get another day for final gestures, I’ll take it. Even the voices tease me about my procrastination.  I fell into a deep sleep.

The next morning I didn’t forget to appreciate that I was here, breathing and laughing. I thought of my friends who aren’t so fortunate – whose voices are much more menacing and persistent – and I wished for them to have more peace.  I said a special thank you for those who loved me. I also jogged and ate fruit instead of cheese and carbs; the guy was wearing a suit after all, the least I could do was consume another food group while wearing jogging attire best reserved for my indoor treadmill.  It’s a start.

Strangers Like Me

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I climb the steps of a shuttle to take me to the airport. The doors close behind me and off we go. I’m not one to talk to strangers first unless I’m manic, and I was not. Not at all. When a man about my age in a business suit commented “interesting shoes,” I was beyond faking pleasantries; I managed a quiet “these are my Modigliani shoes, but she’s not smiling, so I think they are making me sad.”

“I don’t think that’s what’s making you sad.”

I looked at him and there wasn’t a trace of a patronizing smile across his face; in fact there wasn’t a smile at all.

“Going away or heading home?” I ask. He is just visiting for a few days.

This makes my confession a lot easier. I have something I want to tell someone that I will probably never say again. And he wants to listen instead of talk, so I’m taking advantage of it.

“I had a front row center ticket to Next to Normal. I could have been the main character. Almost. I must have been close to a microphone, because I heard myself crying at a moment when there was dead silence in the theater. And it was projecting. At least that’s what I thought. So I held in my crying when I could, and they turned to sobs, and there were three songs that I am sure I inverse sobbed my way through. Even the hopeful song at the end. When I woke up the next day, my ribcage and insides felt bruised from holding in sobs. I’ve never had that happen to me before. Have you?”

Awkward silence. Or so I thought.

“I will let you know.” I looked at his gray green eyes and they were welling up. “I’m on my way to my mother’s funeral.” He was able to keep the tears just at the rims of his eyes without spilling over. He stood up and cleared his throat as the shuttle doors open.

Reaching into his pocket, he pulls out his business card and extends his hand towards mine; I look at the logo and read the card as he disappears into the crowd. He is a truck driver, and he lives in the town I was born in. We could have made small talk about my hometown, but I’m glad we didn’t.