Summer has gone by quickly

This year in particular summer has gone by quickly. My daughter started her Senior year in high school in-person (full days) yesterday after a summer jam-packed with schoolwork and college essay prep. In some respects it doesn’t seem like we got much of a summer in at all with the looming work of summer assignments and prep for college work. We also spent two weeks looking at 9 potential colleges.

In addition to be noted is that kids are back in the classroom full capacity not just at 50% so there’s bound to be more risk circulating about the school. We will be watching trends closely.

All in all though, I believe we’re off to a good start at Senior Year. My goal is to be more hands off on the whole college thing and work to let my daughter manage most of it. I am sure I may not meet this goal 100% of the time. But it is true next year I will not be able to intervene in the day-to-day business of a college Freshman! Kudos to me if I can learn this early this year!

Anybody else transitioning kids back to in person learning? Or getting ready to be an empty nester?

Are we having fun yet?

I have spent a good bit more than half of my life dealing with a bipolar disorder diagnosis. Thanks to modern science I have been on a drug called clozapine since 2008 which treats treatment-resistant bipolar illness. Since taking the medicine I have been hospitalization free for almost 13 years.

While that is an accomplishment for me, I would like to raise a subject that often alludes me – having fun. It feels like most of my energy is wrapped up in getting things done, handling things in my life and my family’s life and staying symptom-free or almost.

What is completely missing from my life however is the element of having fun. What is fun anyway? Is it laughing aloud with family or friends? Is it listening to music I knew before I was diagnosed at age 22 that feels like letting go? Is it cooking a meal with my daughter — not so much full of laughs but full of good times?

In general, I feel like my illness has made me a doer. As long as I am doing this or that and fulfilling obligations of wife and mother and daughter I give myself a grade of doing OK. But still, it feels like something is missing – that illusive idea of having fun.

Does anybody have a bucket list for laughter that they’d like to share? I will be working on a new list soon – a list that includes things that don’t just need to get done but also includes whether or not I am enjoying myself. I know it’s hard to fathom having fun when you are depressed or even when you are manic since that’s not the fun I am talking about. I am talking about fun that is centered in a centered self.

Does anybody want to help get the having fun list together? I think we all could benefit from reading it and/or trying to help create it?

Are We Getting It Right?

Basically in the States we are getting the message that if you are fully vaccinated you are protected against covid-19 and the various variants. The variants seem to be very contagious with worse impacts than the original. Obviously moreso for the unvaccinated. Are we getting it right that being fully vaccinated protects folks against the delta variants and others?

I hate to be a doomsdayer but it feels like we need more data and more reassurance about how protected we (the vaccinated) are from the variants. This comes at a time when most people are sick of hearing about vaccine issues and vaccine effectiveness and vaccine availability. They just want it to be over. “I got my shot(s) — I am fine.”

How will/do the experts at the CDC inform us as to whether to feel secure in the vaccine’s efficacy with the variants? How and when do they get that data? How and when do we know about the booster availability? Not to mention – what are the larger ethical concerns about vaccinating the world population at large?

I Wonder

This afternoon I have had a strange thought. What if I were to visualize all the times I have been anxious about something (like in a bar graph) and compare that with the number of occasions that something that I was anxious about really occurred.

I have not done this exercise before, but I would guess every day I have an anxiety bar graph of at least a 5 or 6 or 7 or an 8 on a scale of one to ten (ten being the worst). I would also bet that there is a one in fifty chance that something I was/am concerned about will present itself as a reality. And that reality if it presents would probably be a one or a two on that same scale from one to ten.

By choosing to create a numeric or visual graph of my anxiety, I am not trying to minimize the anxiety I experience at all, because it can be quite debilitating. What I am trying to do is give myself a visual of how severe the anxiety is as contrasted with whether that anxiety I experience is ever tied with an actual anxiety-premeditated outcome.

I guess you could say I am trying to rationalize my anxiety and put it into perspective in terms of how often the incident I am worried about actually occurs. I hope the result will be that I am able to talk down myself from a high anxiety event by recalling how many times my anxiety is NOT tied with an actual stress induced event. Ie. I would like to keep myself honest as to what percent of the time that I am worried actually results in a prior perceived stress event.

Just out of curiosity, what techniques do you use to talk yourself out of anxiety? Is that working for you? What else is important to consider in trying to mitigate your anxious feelings?

Experiencing Inappropriate Sexual Behavior

Please be aware this post could trigger child abuse / sexual abuse issues or memories. Let this be a trigger warning, please, before reading further.

I have one memory from childhood that qualifies as sexual misconduct. I am unable to discern if I was “asked” to witness this behavior several times when I was 6 or whether I was “asked” to engage in this behavior when I was 6 or both.

In any case, the behavior in question was/is pole dancing – a visual together with an audio track. I do not recall if I was exposed to such behavior on the television or a home movie screen or when visiting a neighbor. I do not recall whether I witnessed the behavior or was asked to provide the behavior. All I have as memories are a dark room with the figure of a woman or a girl pole dancing and making lewd sounds.

I honestly don’t know where to go from here. I don’t know if I have just “confronted” the abusive behavior and am now freed from its hold on me. I don’t know if I need to further explore the behavior in order to “make sense” of it. I don’t know if there is a slew of stigma now to overcome.

I have googled pole dancing and apparently now for some people it is a form of exercise. This sounds completely insane to me as my experience with pole dancing was extremely harmful and confusing and damaging. I am sorry to share details if these details disturb you. I am just trying to process something that happened over fifty years ago, to make whatever sense of it I can and move on.

I have shared this memory with my therapist several months back and her response was to acknowledge and move on but not to dwell.

Thank you for listening to my story. I hope it does not trigger your issues in any way.

Safety, Society, Stigma, Stability: Understanding the Child Within (repost)

Please be aware there is a reference to potential child abuse below.

As discussed in a prior post, my inner child is like two very different people simultaneously.  There is that child who feels hugely responsible for every negative event that occurs going back to my parents’ divorce.  This child is about ten years of age.  Then there is that child of say maybe six who is seemingly ahead of the curve of regular events in time who may see things more in terms of circular time.   I continue to seek to find this six-year-old child within and nurture her.  My goal in seeking to find this child within is that by understanding her and nurturing her and her relationship to the ten-year-old worrier, I will have much less anxiety when there are situations outside of my control.

Over the years, I have been in the process of discussing this six-year-old child within with my therapist.  I am not sure technically what it might mean if I have a six-year-old and a ten-year-old child within.

I have spent years focusing on the ten-year-old child within who is often consumed with worries for the future.  I have focused on the typical feelings that the child within may feel responsible for negative events like my parents’ divorce and that this may translate some 20 years of illness forward to feelings of responsibility for terrorist threats (real or imagined).

Only since my daughter turned ten have I begun to focus on that six-year-old child.  Until now, the six-year-old child within has remained relatively undisclosed.  I am currently mid-process in finding out about her and what she is concerned about.  So far, what I feel is true is that the six-year-old child within is not plagued by high anxiety and is very carefree.  She believes in “magical outcomes” much like any child of six years.  She loves to think about match-making for people who are alone or appear to be alone.  She loves to think about patterns and how numbers and colors organize themselves in and around patterns.  She is generally a happy child and does not feel abandoned by divorce since the divorce “has not yet occurred.” 

How this six-year-old child relates to the ten-year-old child within will be a designated focus for me in my on-going spiritual journey.  My goal will be to honor that younger child within so as to perhaps relinquish the feelings of blame and responsibility for all things negative held tight by the older child.  I am not yet sure if this approach is supported by current therapy directions but I will plan to review in the months ahead.  Perhaps the reconciliation of the six-year-old and the ten-year-old will be the focus of a next text I will write.

Ironically, the ten-year-old child within likely has the ability to “tell time” in the linear and logical sense of the phrase.  The six-year-old child appears not to be able to “tell time” but experiences time more in terms of circular time or dream time and appears to be largely unconstrained by the realities of linear time and linear events.   

More recently (in the past two years) I have come to believe that there is a reason for the child within at age 6 and at age 10.  I am convinced some fifty years after the fact that I was sexually or otherwise abused as a child of about 6 years old.  I believe I was targeted by one or another neighbors.  My memories of this experience are largely blank, yet I feel that I endured something terrible at that age.  I will continue to explore feelings of abuse as time progresses.  This may help to explain the split between the child of 6 and the child of 10.  The six-year-old exists prior to the time of abuse.  The ten-year-old somehow feels responsible for that abuse as well as other painful events including happenings such as my parents’ divorce. 

We are COVID 19 negative!

My daughter and I were having strong symptoms of the common cold beginning last weekend. I was worried that it might be COVID. We got the non-rapid release COVID test done since it was supposed to be more accurate. We both have now tested as negative for COVID-19. Praise God! It was a scary couple of days! Apparently, colds and other similar illnesses are on the rise since most people have been mostly indoors for the last year and a half and are just now beginning to expose themselves to germs that may create the common cold or other similar symptoms.

Please, stay well!

Just how delicate things are

I accidentally took my morning meds two or three hours later than usual yesterday. This sent me into an anxiety tailspin. I had no idea my reaction to my meds would be so time sensitive — that a two or three hour delay would have dire consequences. Well it did. I went into a full blown panic attack and in the process extended my anxiety to my lovely 17 year old daughter. This is so totally not fair to her. BIG lesson learned for me is that schedule DOES MATTER when taking psych meds. Also BIG lesson learned is that I need to forgive myself and ask for apologies from my daughter for extending anxiety toward her instead of the love and support she deserves.

Have you ever forgotten to take meds on time and suffered the consequences? Did you have to forgive your self in the process? And ask others to forgive you too?

Safety, Society, Stigma, Stability: the Sound Phenomenon (repost)

Back around 1998, when I wrote the letter to physicist David Bohm in the UK, as mentioned in a prior post, I did not know he was already deceased.  The topic of the letter was something I call “the sound phenomenon.” This refers to statements I hear that may be jumbled from reality.  This poor hearing may date back to loss of hearing and perhaps brain damage associated with strong prescription medication use in the 1980s.  Or it may be a form of ecological or illogical communication. 

In any case as an example, someone may utter a statement like “I am going to the restroom.”   What I may hear is “There is no restroom….”  So either due to damage in my hearing capabilities or due to some form of “hearing voices,” I hear the statement that has been uttered or better said perceived in a non-logical light.  I call this event “the sound phenomenon” and also attribute it to ecological versus logical thought. 

The letter to David Bohm in 1998 asked for the development of a double-blind study in which “the sound phenomenon” would be studied.  In the letter, I also described a dream I had involving Einstein in which he and I were arguing about a topic (potentially time) and that I felt very self-assured in my opinion and in challenging him.  I also talked in the letter to David Bohm about my thoughts about linear time versus circular time.  In my view at the time, linear time is the time of chronological events.  Circular time is the time of dreams and of the subconscious.  Somehow this differentiation is associated with matter and anti-matter.

Understanding “the sound phenomenon” is something that continues to occupy my thoughts some 20 years later after writing the letter to David Bohm.  I continue to try to listen to what is said but not give it too much credence in linear time if it does not “make sense.”  I tend to think of utterances in “the sound phenomenon” as similar to a Freudian slip where the world of circular time may be butting into the world of linear time.  Yet, I have no real explanation as of yet for whether this is an accurate assessment of “the sound phenomenon.” 

I don’t believe “the sound phenomenon” is the same as hearing voices though it might be. I have had that experience early on in my mental health history. In that case, what was or is heard is typically something that is not grounded in reality at all but is discernible to the ear. With “the sound phenomenon” I hear maybe half of the idea communicated directly with the other half miscommunicated or garbled into nonsense and rather not discernible to the ear.

I find that “the sound phenomenon” occurs in any number of places – out in public, in the home, at church, watching TV – which logically might indicate that these occurrences are due to hearing failures on my part due to inadvertently or potentially “over-using” anti-psychotic medications in my twenties.  I really do not know the answer and have accepted to date that I really don’t know the explanation for these events.  What I have added to my behavior is asking the person who said what I perceive of as an illogical statement to repeat him or herself.  Usually that involves clearing up the hearing “mistake” and a repeat of a more logical statement.  I find that asking the person talking to repeat him or herself makes me realize that this is either a hearing fault on my part or some sort of temporal miscommunication like a Freudian slip.

Has anybody done the research on this?

I remember being taught somewhere along my mental health career that thought precedes emotion, but it always struck me as being the other way around. I feel emotions first then from those emotions thoughts are formed. If the emotion is a delicate one, my thoughts might also be delicate. If the mood is a good one, the thoughts that follow are generally positive.

Honestly, I don’t believe the entire communication process is rational and therefore governed by thought. I believe that the emotions we experience lead us toward certain thoughts.

If it is true that thoughts precede emotions, all we have to do is change our thoughts. What resonates with me on the other hand is the need to improve how we feel in order to get the feel-good thoughts to occur and stick.

Anybody want to weigh in on this discussion? I honestly cannot remember what setting I was in where this idea was presented that thought generated everything including emotion. But still I feel it’s the other way around. What do you think?