Posted in bipolar disorder, Emotions, Fiber

There Are No Victims Here

I am not a victim.

I am not a survivor.

I am a fighter.

I think that’s my super power. It’s not a bad super power to have. It’s pretty good, actually. This thought train, complete with dining car, observation car, and caboose, left the mental station shortly after reading an email inviting me to a play reading at New Mexico State University that was written by students about reporting sexual assault on campus. I won’t be there. I’m pretty sure I’d want to throw something large and heavy if I were to attend. I’m disgusted enough about how NMSU handled my complaint about sexual harassment. The university’s position is that forcing students to read stories that glorify date rape, gang rape (that wasn’t really rape because the victim enjoyed it) and pedophilia isn’t sexual harassment, it’s protected speech under the First Amendment. Mind you, this decision was made by someone who is NOT an attorney. Getting legal advice from someone who is not an attorney is like having your mechanic do a root canal on one of your teeth.

I’ve been worried about how I didn’t realize how depressed I was until about a month after I had formulated a plan for killing myself, decided when and where to do it, and reminded myself to tell Jim not to accept the body so the state would get stuck with the cremation bill. What if next time, and I’ve no illusions about there not being a next time, I don’t stop myself in time? This is the fourth time in my life, and the third time in 10 years, that I’ve been suicidal. Each time is more serious. So I went back into therapy. Jim will be going to some sessions with me. He needs to understand what’s going on in my head when I get depressed – especially if I don’t realize I’m depressed. You’d think I’d know if I were depressed, but I don’t. The slide down into the black hole is so subtle and slow that I’m usually pretty far down before I realize I’m depressed.

I’ve had little bouts of depression. During one bout, I decided to do therapeutic shopping. I bought pre-cut strips of fabric to make a rag rug. Turns out I need a whole lot of strips of fabric – way more than I bought. Jim offered to cut strips out of any leftovers I happen to have hanging about. I’ll be looking for some solid color fabrics so I can have him cut strips. I’ll use what I’ve made so far as the middle of the rug.

IMG_0738

I looked out the back window the other day and discovered that the huge agave in the back yard is about to bloom. The plant will die after it blooms. Too bad because it’s huge and lovely.

I’m doing okay. Most of the time – probably 90% of the time – I’m not depressed. I’ve got end of the semester burnout, but that’s not uncommon after a difficult semester. My last neurobiology class, and last class of the semester is on Thursday. I am looking forward to not having deadlines for a couple months.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.

If you’re looking for a cool art, please visit my store, Deb Thuman Art here.

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Posted in bipolar disorder

Things I’d Like To Tell My Neurobiology Class

You can learn a whole lot more about how a brain functions if you pay attention to those of us who are mentally ill.

We’re not listened to.

I’ve had a psychiatrist tell me the drug that was causing me all sorts of problems was a “very good drug.” I was thrilled when he got his license pulled for overprescribing meds. I’ve had another psychiatrist who, after I told her the med I was on was working really well, increase the dose. I’ve had friends tell me I’m on the wrong medication when it was clear to me that my meds were working well.

I can’t always tell when I’m in crisis.

You’d think having a mixed episode – simultaneously manic and depressive – would cause me to think something was wrong. It didn’t. I don’t follow the stereotypical manic behavior of spending well more than I can afford during a manic event. I get manic, I cook. I brought to class King Cake cupcakes on Mardi Gras. I brought in sourdough crumb coffee cake cupcakes when I was having major anxiety. I showed the class my first nerve quilt and when I explained the real name was: Get back her motherfucker, sit your ass in that chair, shut the fuck up and listen to me, I could hear the manic in my voice. I’m pretty sure my classmates did as well. They saw the manic. They didn’t see the depressive part. The part where I had formulated a really good, effective plan to kill myself and had decided when and where to do it. I didn’t want to shoot myself in the house because I didn’t want my husband to have to clean up the mess. I even wanted to tell my husband to refuse to accept the body so he wouldn’t have to pay for a funeral.

The class didn’t see that it took me a couple weeks to realize this wasn’t an ordinary depression and that I needed to go back on an antidepressant. They didn’t see that I went through a complete personality transformation about 20 minutes after I took the first pill.

I had to do a short presentation for my neurobiology class. I explained, prior to starting my presentation, that I had my meds tweaked and today’s med adjustment deficits were: balance and coordination problems, memory, and emotional control so don’t be alarmed if I start crying in the middle of the presentation.

My brain works differently from yours.

My moods have little to do with what’s going on in my life. I can feel calm, but then open my mouth to say something, and cranky crap comes out. My brain has a mind of its own. It does stuff without asking first. Like when I have a brain dropout. I’ll be saying something, and the next word I want is no where to be found. My brain goes dark. Literally. I have to put the word together little bit by little bit. Each tiny concept that I grab makes finding the next tiny concept easier. When I was on Lexapro, words would hide in my brain about an inch behind my right eye. I’d have to physically move the word to the left side of my brain to be able to say the word. Psych meds cause brain fog. I’m pretty sure I lose 20 IQ points every time I go on a psych med. I miss my fog free brain. There’s weird stuff I can’t explain. Sometimes people appear taller or shorter than the last time I saw them. I once watched a person’s eyes change from light blue to deep blue and back again. It was fascinating.

Sometimes, my brain makes no sense.

I’ve never had a brain dropout in court. This amazes me. Court happens at the speed of sound, there’s no script, and the person sitting next to me is facing prison time. I’m able to think fast. I’m able to formulate responses fast. I never struggle for words. I’d love to know why this is.

I don’t like the idea of having a brain disease.

Long ago, I learned from my clients that I cannot ever have anything remotely like a normal life if I do not accept my diagnosis. I’m bipolar. Not accepting the diagnosis won’t make me not bipolar. It will make me out of control bipolar. Still, I don’t like the idea of a brain disease. That sounds so permanent. I know I’ll never be able to function without psych meds. I just don’t want to be reminded of that.

I wouldn’t want to not be bipolar.

Some people who are bipolar wouldn’t give up being bipolar because they like their manic episodes. I hate manic episodes. If I have to be not at center, I want to be depressed. Depressed feels natural to me. It feels comfortable. I withdraw inside myself and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist. The reason I wouldn’t want to be not bipolar is more complex. I was better able to help my clients because I truly do understand mental illness and psych meds. I’m able to do good work with my bipolar disorder – work like educating people so they aren’t afraid of mental illness. Work like being out of the closet and letting people know it’s not so scary here in the middle of the room. I’d lose all that ability if I weren’t bipolar.

Don’t feel sorry for me and above all, don’t tell me I’m courageous.

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t bipolar. I’ve no idea what it’s like not to be bipolar. Bipolar to me feels normal. I have the same two choices everyone else has: keep going forward or jump off a cliff. Suicide scares the snot out of me. By choosing to keep going forward, I’m choosing the less terrifying option. Courage has nothing to do with it.

Does anyone have any questions?

Nerve Quilt 1 3-19-18

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists are doing.

Looking for one of a kind jewelry? Please stop by my shop, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

Photos, Meds, And Secrets

More med adjustment. Wellbutrin is now replaced by Cymbalta. The point of Cymbalta is to relieve the neuropathy pain. It’s an antidepressant which, for some odd reason, helps with nerve pain. Sort of. It sort of helps me. I’m still having to take gabapentin and still having to sleep with a TENS unit attached to me. Cymbalta is acting like Prozac. I can only take it every other day and I have no appetite. The no appetite part is difficult because I have to take antibiotics for another week and I have to take them with food.

I make no secret about being bipolar, and I’m finding people who have mental illnesses are willing to ask me about medication. While I don’t mind the questions, I do mind that these people are firmly in the closet. I never have and never will out anyone. Still, the stigma of mental illness isn’t going to go away until we all come out of the closet. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 26% of the population in the US has a diagnosed mental illness. This doesn’t count the number of people who haven’t been diagnosed. The next time you are in a room with 4 or more people, do the math. I’m in a class with 20 other students. Per the math, at least 4 other students have a mental illness. We are everywhere. Even if you aren’t aware of our mental illnesses, we are everywhere.

Jim and I did some hiking during spring break and went to Bosque del Apache on the “spring holiday.” Spring holiday is the politically correct version of Good Friday. Oddly, the spring holiday falls on Good Friday every year. Funny how that happens.

I bought a new lens for the Canon. Tamron 18-400mm. I wanted an all-in-one lens because changing lenses in the field when one is in a desert is not a good thing to do. Sand, dirt, dust, and crud aren’t good things to have inside your camera. I also didn’t want to schlep lenses every time I go hiking. The more I use this lens, the more I like this lens. Jim kept borrowing my camera so I have no idea who took what shots. Here’s the best of the lot.

Jim and I did some hiking at Aguirre Springs and White Sands during spring break and went to Bosque del Apache on the “spring holiday.” Spring holiday is the politically correct version of Good Friday. Oddly, the spring holiday falls on Good Friday every year. Funny how that happens.

Aguirre Springs.

Aguire Springs 14

East side of the Organ Mountains. Aguirre Springs 7

Bunny Ears of the Organ Mountains.

White Sands National MonumentWhite Sands 1

Where the white gypsum sand meets the desert. The white part in the middle is a dry lake. White Sands 3

It’s amazing how much grows on the white sand which is really powdered gypsum.

White Sands 7

Once vegetation takes root, the dune becomes solid.

Bosque del Apache.

Bosque del Apache 1 3-31-18Bosque del Apache 3Bosque del Apache 4 3-31-18 Cropped

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.   Stop by and see what other artists are doing.

Looking for a one-of-a-kind gift? Please visit my online store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Fiber, Peripheral neuropathy, Quilts

Closer To Bipolar Normal

Settling back to the kind of normal that’s possible with bipolar disorder. Yesterday, I had a manic episode. It was a small one. I couldn’t calm down. Doing things to try to get rid of the nervous energy, like vacuuming the living room and sucking up the cobweb in the corner, only made me more anxious. I tried art. Didn’t work. I took my anti-anxiety med. Kind of worked.

In desperation, I decided that I would continue working on the next nerve quilt. This one is about regeneration. I decided I was done screwing around trying to find the PERFECT DESIGN, and decided the design I had worked out said what I needed it to say. I decided I was done trying to find the PERFECT COLOR COMBINATION and decided the fabrics I picked out worked well and said what I needed them to say. I cut and pinned. I wanted to start sewing down pieces, but my sewing room doesn’t have good light and I wasn’t sure I was seeing the thread colors correctly. Today, I’ll look at the threads I’ve picked out and make a decision. Then, I’ll start raw edge applique and start some embroidery with Razzle Dazzle.

Nerve regeneration 2 3-23-18

Nerves regenerate. If an axon is damaged or dies, the nerve cell can grow a new axon. Or grow new dendrites. It’s called plasticity. The last nerve conduction study showed that the nerve cells in my lower legs had grown new axons. I got all kinds of plasticity going on inside of me and my nerves are regenerating. The neurologists who smile at me and hand me prescriptions for more useless drugs are, as I suspected, full of shit.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists are doing.

Looking for a great, one of a kind gift? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Emotions, Grief, Pain

Maybe I’m Headed Back To Normal

I thought it was just situational depression. Fearing that a nerve conduction study would show that I’m going to have to spend the rest of my life in pain is depressing. There’s a logical reason for the depression. I knew I was suicidal, and I told people about wanting to kill myself. I told Jim and a friend how I planned on killing myself. Hold the pistol about an inch to the left of my breast bone, use hollow point ammunition, and squeeze the trigger. Fast and lethal. When I went for my nerve conduction study, I had to fill out pages and pages of information. I detailed, for an entire page, that I was suicidal, that I had a plan for killing myself, and that I had brought Jim with me in case I needed someone to talk me out of buying bullets on the way home. I formulated a plan for dealing with the police who I was sure would be called. I’d remain calm, I’d be sure not to do or say anything that could possible be construed as a threat to others thereby ensuring that if I didn’t want to go to a hospital, and I didn’t, the police would need a court order to take me to a hospital. Court orders take time. I was pretty sure I’d have about an hour in which to disappear if necessary.

I had a great plan.

No one talked to Jim about me. No one called the police. No one asked me about being suicidal. Probably because no one read the damn paperwork.

I have two bad days a year, April 1 and June 24. April 1 was my late sister’s birthday. June 24 is the anniversary of her death. April 1 is approaching and I’m depressed. My mother, a horrible narcissist, decreed that no one tell me my sister was sick or that she had died. I only knew because a friend saw the obit and called to ask how I was doing. Some years are better than others. I assumed this wasn’t one of the better years. There’s a logical reason for the depression. It would pass after April 1. I just had to wait a few days and the depression would be gone.

Since March 6, 2012, the day after finally being accurately diagnosed bipolar, I had been on both a mood stabilizer and an antidepressant. After the Lexapro and lithium stopped working, I came off them one at a time. I went through withdrawal, then saw my doctor. She prescribed Wellbutrin and Lamictal. I was on the best set of psych meds I’d ever been on.

I started having problems right after the inauguration last year. I was sure the problems were situational. We have a president who brags about being a sex offender. I went into the second worst manic episode I’ve ever had. I tried increasing the Wellbutrin, but that gave me hallucinations. Or maybe there really was a tiny bug pushing a huge dust bunny along the bathroom wall. Backed off on the Wellbutrin and increased the Lamictal. That worked. Once the crisis had passed, I went back to my regular dosage. Problem solved.

Except it wasn’t solved. I started having hallucinations last August and made the decision to come off Wellbutrin. Hallucinations are a good reason to suspect you’re either on the wrong medication or on the wrong dose. I went through 12 weeks of withdrawal which was not only miserable for me, it was miserable for anyone who had the misfortune to be around me.

I thought that because I am retired and no longer working in a hostile, hateful, stressful, and downright miserable environment, perhaps I could get by with just a mood stabilizer. My doctor agreed with my decision. She knows I’ll be back if I’m wrong.

Yesterday afternoon, I realized the depression wasn’t situational. It was permanent. It was a part of my mental illness. I cried because I was depressed. I cried because I felt like a failure for needing to go back on antidepressants. I grew up in a family where seeing a therapist was worse than walking naked into McDonalds at noon. A household run by drunks has one inviolate rule: Don’t tell. I was a failure. I would always be a failure.

In the midst of this, I realized I need to go back on antidepressants. I found my supply of Wellbutrin, cut a pill in half, and took it. Within two hours, I had a complete personality transformation.

I will continue to take a half pill a day and see how this works. I’ve been on a number of antidepressants, and needed to come off every one of them. I came off Effexor when I hung onto the living room wall to keep the universe from spinning out of control. I came off Paxil when I realized that I could not continue living as I was living. Take my Paxil dose, things are fine, then I was out of control and the dose had to be raised. Again and again. I came off Lexapro when my meds stopped working and I was bouncing off the ceiling. After coming off Lexapro, I looked in the mirror and wondered when I had gotten so grossly overweight. I looked around the house and wondered when it had gotten so cluttered. I looked and the clothes I had been wearing to work and wondered whatever possessed me to wear such outfits.

I didn’t gain weight on Wellbutrin. I lost weight although not enough to get down to a healthy weight. I wore normal clothes. I cleaned the bathroom although I’ve still got clutter I want to remove.

When I go back on medication, I go back down the rabbit hole. Again. I enter a cycle that can’t be broken or altered. I enter med adjustment which lasts about 6 months. Then I am in the eye of the hurricane and my life is under control. Then the meds stop working – all psych meds eventually stop working – and I enter med hell. I stay there until I am sure I cannot stay there any longer. Then I enter withdrawal which lasts a minimum of 6 weeks and up to 12 weeks. I long for the ease of heroine withdrawal where all that’s required is puking and pooping for three days. I am forced to repeat this cycle until I die.

To those who reached out to me after my last, depressing, suicidal blog post, thank you. You will never know and I cannot express how much you helped.

On an artistic note….I finished the nerve quilt. And I’m working on a design for the next nerve quilt. While this quilt is about frustration, the next quilt is about healing. I’m getting there. It’s just going to take longer than I want.

Nerve Quilt 1 3-19-18

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. checkout what other artists have been doing.

Want to see the art I have for sale? Check out my website: Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Cognitive problems

What goes on behind my eyes?

I understand laetrile. Remember laetrile? The peach pit pseudo drug that was supposed to cure breast cancer and instead killed women? I understand why women took laetrile. I have my own laetrile. Meditation. And I’m clutching it as tightly as I can. I want it to work.

I had to choose and read a research paper for my neurobiology class and I chose a paper on the effects meditation has on the brain. Briefly, just as you can exercise and grow muscle mass, you can meditate and grow brain mass. The researchers selected two groups; one comprised of regular meditators and one comprised of those who don’t meditate. Because there are many ways to meditate, the researchers chose to limit the meditation practice to Brain Wave Vibration meditation .

The researchers took MRI images of the participant’s brains and discovered specific areas of the brain where the meditators had more brain mass than the same areas in the brains of the non-meditators.

So what? Glad you asked. Several years back, I read a paper about physical changes in the brains of people suffering from PTSD. There were deficits in brain mass in specific areas of the brain. More recently, I read about deficits in brain mass in specific areas of the brain of those who have bipolar disorder. This explained – or seemed to explain – why I have trouble concentrating and why I have scattered thoughts.

Does each form of meditation grow brain mass? Does each form target specific areas of the brain? If so, can a specific form of meditation replace the brain matter my bipolar/PTSD brain is missing? If so, will that cure me? Did the bipolar disorder cause parts of my brain to atrophy? Or did the brain deficits cause the bipolar disorder?

I don’t know the answers to any of those questions, but I’m not waiting for more research. I have taken up meditation although I’ve taken a scattered approach to the form of meditation. I have an app on the iPad that gives me choices of a whole lot of different types of meditation and different topics of meditation. Calm anxiety. Visualize health in your body. Healing grief – a meditation that triggered a wave of PTSD flashbacks. I want my brain back. I want to be able to concentrate without thoughts flying around like billiard balls after a successful break. I want this NOW. Except meditation doesn’t work that way. The brain mass grows gradually and I won’t be able to chart the growth the way I can chart weight loss.

Psych meds treat symptoms of mental illness, but they don’t cure mental illness. Pysch meds are expensive in several ways. Without insurance, my generic mood stabilizer would be more than $128 a month. My mood stabilizer keeps me from screaming, but it gives me brain fog. My scattered thoughts scatter farther and my concentration decreases. At least I’m not screaming.

I want a cure so I hang on to my laetrile known as meditation for dear brain health.

Today is International Women’s Day. When I entered college the first time, I was 25 years old and women had to have higher SAT scores and higher grades than men needed to be admitted to college. When I graduated in 1981, I had earned two degrees, one in journalism and one in biology. At that time, there were two women professors in the biology department of Buffalo State College and one allowed students to address her as Mrs. Wilson rather than Dr. Wilson. One of my physics classes had a higher than usual number of women. There were five of us. One was planning on being an engineer. I was in the biology program. I don’t know about the other three.  There were no women professors in the chemistry department. One chemistry teacher told me I was incapable of learning. Another refused to answer questions asked by female students. Until the day I forced him to answer my question. He told me he had been teaching for 26 years and he never met anyone as insolent as me. I told him I’d been learning for 26 years and I’d never met a teacher who refused to answer women’s questions. I could feel the other students’ fear and shock.

I started law school on my 38th birthday in 1990. Mine was the first law school class that was 50% women.

I’m now in a neurobiology class that’s roughly half women and is taught by a woman. One day, I kept track and discovered that the male students asked or answered questions approximately twice as often as women. Real changes in the sciences, like growing brain mass, take an inordinate amount of time.

To every woman in a STEM program or working in a STEM field, I offer this advice: Never let the male motherfuckers stop you.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Pain, PTSD

Crud

I have the crud.

The Friday before Christmas, we tried to get together with a friend to celebrate her birthday. Jim had the crud, so he stayed home. The Friday before New Years, we tried to get together to celebrate Jim’s birthday and my friend got the crud and couldn’t make it. This week, we tried to get together for lunch, but I have the crud. We’ll try again next Friday.

Crud sucks. The federal regulations for pseudo-ephedrine are absurd, ineffective, and a flaming nuisance. Claritin-D used to come in 750 mg strength. It was great. Now with the current regulations, I can only get Claritin-D in 270 mg dose. These are 24 hour pills and there are 15 in the box. They cost $20 if I buy the Walgreens version (which I did). I have to take at least two of them to get any relief. I can only buy 3.6 grams per day and only 9 grams in a 30-day period. Jim bought a box shortly before Christmas. I bought a box today. If I need any more, I may have to have the cat go buy them. And what does all this do to stop the production and use of methamphetamine? Not a darned thing. Why? As a client explained, it’s too difficult to extract the pseudo-ephedrine from Claritin-D. As for the number of meth addicts? I don’t see any progress there. I’m basing that on drug cases I’ve handled.

I’ve been dealing with slamming into both depressed and manic states. After the last trip to the neurology clinic at the medical school in El Paso, I had blood drawn. Lots and lots of blood. The good news: the ANA test is negative and I don’t have an auto-immune disease. The expected news: My A1C is in the pre-diabetes range. The glucose monitor will arrive this week. I’ll be monitoring my glucose, keeping a food diary, and hoping to have a better A1C result in a few months. The unexpected news: I got a call asking if I wanted financial aid to pay for a blood text that got sent out of network. How much is the blood test? $4,000. Nope – no financial aid and don’t run the test. Next, I got a letter telling me the out-of-network lab can’t use the blood that was sent because it was drawn at a hospital rather than in my doctor’s office.

I recovered from that, and called my HMO to see if the prior authorization request that was submitted early December for my appointment at the neurology clinic at the medical school in Albuquerque had been authorized. No, because the paperwork from my doctor’s office was wrong. I called the doctor’s office and asked for a call back or I would camp out in the office until I got a satisfactory answer. Turned out I had to camp out in the office. The doctor’s office sent in corrected paperwork late December. My appointment is for January 18. I get to call later this week to see what progress has been made. If I have to cancel this appointment, I won’t get another appointment for about 4 months – if I’m lucky.

I’ve decided I don’t want to go back to the medical school in El Paso. I had been wondering most visits if I were the only one in the room who had ever taken cell biology. I had a nerve conduction series that left me furious. First, I had to deal with a resident who is clearly hearing impaired and clearly too arrogant to do anything about it. He’s going to kill someone eventually. The neurologist supervising the test, after I asked in frustration how she would feel if someone told her she would be in pain for the rest of her life, said, “You’re not managing your pain well enough.” THIS ISN’T MY FAULT YOU TWIT. I didn’t say that. I asked her who was doing research on peripheral neuropathy. “No one here.” When I got home, I did a google search and found 496 clinical tests. There’s a pretty nice one in France, but I doubt the cheapskates at the HMO will authorize trips to France. There is a clinical test in Salt Lake City and in Albuquerque. That they might be willing to authorize.

The next appointment, I was in severe pain. When the pain hit a 5, I took a double dose of gabapentin and sat hooked up to a TENS unit for an hour or so. That’s when the pain hit a 7. I took another double dose of gabapentin. That meant I had taken a full day’s dosage in a span of 2 hours.The pain dropped back to a 5. I was walking into walls, stoned out of my mind, in pain, and pissed off. The neurologist said he could raise the dose. “No you can’t, because I won’t take it.” The gabapentin works sometimes, but not always. There’s no pattern that I’ve been able to spot.

After being told the nerve conduction series showed damage to the axion, I started asking microbiology type questions. Turns out, I really was the only one in the room who had taken cell biology. It was clear that the neurologist had no idea what I was asking about. I told him that I thought I figured out the problem. He’s used to dealing with big things and I’m used to microbiology. He told me neurology wasn’t rocket science. I strongly suspect the $4,000 blood test was retaliation. The test if for a genetic abnormality. No one asked me if anyone else in the family has neuropathy. And if this were genetic, it would have shown up 40 years earlier.

All of this excitement caused an outbreak of hives. It took me a couple days to figure out the redness and swelling was hives. Usually, stress hives start on the insides of my arms. This time, it was on the outsides of both arms. One antihistamine cleared up the hives.

I’ve been working, now and again, on designing the perfect purse. I know what I want…zippered pockets on the outside, the top with a recessed zipper, and a flap with a zippered pocket. I also need a pocket on the end that will hold a water bottle. I need a purse large enough to hold my 12.9” iPad Pro. I was trying to work out a pattern yesterday when Tinker decided to help by insisting on sitting on the drawing paper. He wants to be by his humans and he likes the sunbeams in the sewing room.

One odd thing has been happening. I’ve been having flashbacks of crap that happened to me when I was growing up. My psychologist, when I asked him if flashbacks ever end said it was finite. Got news for you. PTSD is for life. It’s been more than 45 years since I lived in an insane asylum run by a violent drunk and a violent narcissist. I’m still having flashbacks. Years ago, I stumbled upon a way to deal with the flashbacks – look at the memory, acknowledge that what happened was horrible. Since then, the flashbacks haven’t been debilitating. They seem to have less power. They also seem to show no signs of ever stopping.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. See what some other artists have been doing.

Please stop by my web store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Clay, Judiasm, Photography

A Different Kind of Stress

Christmas looks a bit different when you’re Jewish. I don’t face Holiday Hell each December. Used to be, I’d drop into a deep depression starting the third week in November and lasting until New Year’s Day. Jim and I used to escape by planning to be a few states away from the family over Christmas. I knew there was a problem when I found myself eating a leftover sandwich in a hotel room, watching Christmas Story, and thinking it was a pretty good Christmas day.

That was before. Now, no family misery – fighting, screaming, crying and that was just what happened before desert. It got worse as the day ground on. There were Christmas cookies before, but I have no idea where they came from. They were home baked, but I’ve no idea when or how. I’ve never understood Christmas cookies. I asked a woman who thought cleaning the bathroom was exciting about Christmas cookies. She told me she started baking in October and froze cookies. Why would anyone do that?

Now, after finding out my family were Polish Jews cleverly disguised as German Lutherans and reverting to Judaism, (the rabbi called it conversion), I have no Holiday Hell in December. I do have a different type of stress. The Saturday after Thanksgiving, I had one of my best days at the local Farmers & Craft Market. I had made little ceramic trays and the customers nearly cleaned me out. So I worked like crazy to have a new batch of little ceramic trays for this past Saturday. I had my best sales day ever and the customers nearly cleaned me out. I don’t have time to make another batch of little trays.

Large tray 1102Large tray 1099Large tray 1100Large tray 1101

Big little trays.

Small tray 1122Small tray 1124Small tray 1125Small tray 1127

Little little trays.

Tray 1110Tray 1109Tray 1107Tray 1103Tray 1096Tray 1094Tray 1093Tray 1091

Medium little trays.

Needing to fill the table, and reading about rice pillows on the Mildly Offensive Fiber Artists Facebook page, I decided to make rice pillows. I have some black rice that I discovered I didn’t care for so I’ll use that for rice pillows. Jim said the rice pillows would make nice gifts – and he wants to send the gifts out early this week. I dug through my stash and found fabric that I could cut out 12.5” squares. I folded the squares in half, sewed around two raw edges using a 3/8” seam allowance, folded right side out, folded over the top, not yet sewn edge so I’d have a nice edge. I drew a line down the middle of the pillow so I’d have two channels running the length of the pillow. I used an empty spool from a cone of thread for a funnel and filled the first pillow 2/3 full in each channel. Then, I sewed the neatly folded under edge closed. And I was out of black rice. I’ve got about 15 more squares to sew into rice pillows and another two already sewn and need to be filled. I’ll have to stop at Sam’s Club tomorrow to buy some cheap rice. I’ll sew bags in the morning, go to the gym, pick up the mail at the post office, then stop at Sam’s Club. I’ll come home, fill the rice pillows, and try to remember to make something for dinner. These rice pillows had better sell well when we set up on this coming Saturday.

I’m having bipolar misery. I let myself get working way too fast today. When that happens, I wind up and can’t wind down. Worse, I try to do more than one thing at a time and don’t do anything very well. Yes, I know, you don’t multi task well, either. Take your experience, multiply it by a factor of at least 10, and you have how I feel when I’m wound up and well medicated. Multiply your experience by a factor of 25, and you will have how I felt wound up and unmedicated. Mental illness isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists have been doing.

Looking for a gift? Check out my website, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in bipolar disorder, tattoos

Endings & Beginnings

My last modeling assignment was on Thursday. I’ve been modeling for the same art class all semester and watched the students develop their styles. I got to sit in on the critiques and I learned how to improve my art by listening to what was said. I got to design temporary tattoos to wear while posing. This was a whole lot harder than I anticipated. I got my designs worked out, then realized that the students were working with charcoal and I needed to be careful about value. Then I remembered that the parts of my designs – some were eyes – that I wanted to be white, weren’t going to be white. The printer would “read” white space as vacant space. White fill in a temporary tattoo has to be done by a commercial temporary tattoo vendor. Then I realized the design was going on skin and I needed to consider how the colors would look against skin. It was an interesting experiment. Maybe someday I’ll have a a company print up my temporary tattoo designs.

Tattoos 1 12-2-17

Tattoos 2 12-2-17

This is the photo copy I did to make sure the colors were what I wanted. The dark lines are the edges of the pieces I cut out. I had drawn designs on several pieces of paper. When I found the designs I liked, I cut them out and taped them onto a piece of white paper.

I’m now setting up at the Farmers & Craft Market every Saturday. I did well this week although not as well as the week before. I’ve decided I really like taking credit and debit cards. Why? Because I don’t have to make change. People get their money from an ATM, and the ATM only hands out $20 bills. So every person who wants to buy something from me hands me a $20 bill. I anticipate setting up next Saturday and the Saturday after that. The following Saturday is two days before Christmas. By then, people have done all the Christmas shopping they are going to do so I’m skipping that week. Then, I’ll take time off until April or May. Few vendors set up during January through March. The fewer vendors, the fewer people come to the market to shop. It’s not going to be worth it to me to sit in the cold for 7 hours just so I don’t sell anything. The market lasts 5 hours and the other two hours are set up and tear down time.

I had a bit of a manic episode. Nothing serious, just me deciding I HAD to get my bellybutton pierced. I had it originally pierced 15 years ago. After 10 years of no problems, I started developing infections. My doctor convinced me to give up my bellybutton ring. By now, the hole had started to close over and I needed it re-pierced. It’s hard to explain, mostly because it’s hard to understand myself, why I have these episodes where I have an impossible to resist compulsion to do something. The last episode I had like this was more than a year ago and I woke up with a compulsion to crochet a bed spread. I’ve got probably half the squares I need made. The change in meds has made the compulsions less compulsive.

I’m considering making a video for youtube to promote my web store. I’ll take any advice anyone has to offer.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists have been doing.

I’ve got new work in my store – take a look and see if there’s something you like for yourself or for a gift.  www.DebThumanArt.com

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Posted in Baking, bipolar disorder, Clay, Photography, Pottery

Pretzels & Pinch Pots

Rolling out dough for a big, soft pretzel is a cross between rolling out a coil and pulling a handle. I’ve got a sourdough recipe for English muffins. I can’t fit more than 8 English muffins on a pan, so I’m making 8 English muffins and 8 big, soft pretzels. I had ordered some pretzel salt from King Arthur Flour Bakers Store and I’ve been wanting to give it a test bake. Rather than cook the English muffins on a griddle, I’m baking them in the oven. I have English muffin rings (King Arthur Flour Bakers Store). I put parchment paper on one cookie sheet, grease the rings, put a glob of dough in each ring, cover with parchment paper, and put another cookie sheet on top of the raw English muffins. As the muffins rise and later bake, the muffins are confined to their rings and end up the size and shape of commercial English muffins.  I put parchment paper on top of that cookie sheet, and made dough ropes to form into pretzels. There are pretzel makers who can flip the dough into a pretzel. I’m not one of them. English muffins and pretzels are rising at the moment.

I’ve been working on little pinch pots to be used as glaze experiments. I put the bottom glaze on the inside and part of the outside of the pinch pot. Then I put the top glaze only inside the pinch pot. No runaway glaze disasters if the two glazes are only on the inside. I was aiming at a Wednesday glaze firing, but that’s not going to happen. I have no energy today and I’ve got a half dozen mugs, a plate, a rattle, and two large planters to glaze before I can fire.

I’ve had an energy problem the last few days. In some ways, it feels like before I was diagnosed with hypothyroid. In other ways, it’s just weird. Normal manic events have a culinary nature. I have an incredible urge to cook and I’m buying things for making whole grain baked goods. Normal manic events come with too much energy. I have to be careful not to get too wound up or I won’t be able to wind down. This time, I hardly have enough energy to walk across the room. I think this is a mixed episode. Whoopee.

In an effort to become healthier, I’ve been pushing exercise on myself. Last night, I was about to get on the elliptical machine when I looked out the sliding glass door.

Sunset 1 11-4-17

So I took time to do some photography. I’ve been trying to get the sky and the ground to look in a digital image how it looks to my eyes. I’m still working on that.

Mountains 1 11-4-17

Yes, I did get on the elliptical machine after taking 54 photos.

Thursday, I stopped into JoAnn’s. I have my writing class on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I have no intention of paying for a parking pass for one class. I park in the strip mall parking lot nearby. JoAnn’s is in that strip mall. I was armed with sales fliers and coupons. My original intent was to fondle the JoAnn’s version of a fabric called Minky. I need a longer kimono (the one I have is knee length). I thought Minky would be a good choice. I never found the Minky. What I found was this.

Flamingo fabric 2 11-3-17

The bolt on the shelf didn’t have the 5 yards I needed. Fortunately, there were two full bolts up on a high shelf. I told the clerk to give me 6 yards. Then there was one yard left on the bolt and I got it for half price. The fabric, a cotton knit, was on sale and I had a 25% off coupon. It will be a kimono and a jacket when it grows up.

Then I found a fake fur that I think will be a nice purse. I bought a yard and it, too was on sale.

That’s about all I have energy for right now. Can’t wait for this episode to be over. I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists have been doing.

Looking for a gift? My online store, Deb Thuman Art, is here.

Posted in Beads, bipolar disorder, Clay, Cognitive problems, Fiber, Jewelry

Why is life so complicated?

I’m still having withdrawal from the antidepressant. While I know this is part of withdrawal, it doesn’t feel like any previous withdrawal I’ve endured. Physically, I’m pretty much okay. I get tired a lot, but I don’t feel as if I were jumping out of my skin any more. I am finding my brain is working better. But my brain feels….squishy??? Things aren’t quite right. I have moments of utter stupidity. I was bouncing off the ceiling the last court appearance. Ceiling bouncing doesn’t usually happen in court. I couldn’t concentrate in my writing class on Tuesday.

About a week ago, I had to read a story for my writing class. The story was about a sexual assault, but the story was written as if the breast grabbing was just boys’ behavior. I had a visceral reaction and said so in class. Subtly is not part of my skill set. I told the writer than what he described was a sex crime, a felony and requires registering as a sex offender. I then plopped my sexual assault quilt down in front of him, pointed to where it said “For the woman who said no and got fired,” and told him that was me. Oddly no one else in the class was disturbed by the story. That is disturbing. I haven’t decided how I feel about my teacher refusing to look at the quilt. It’s the quilt with the more or less life size and more or less anatomically correct 3-d vulva in the middle and the words: If you touch this without my permission, I will break your fucking arm. Sometimes, I wonder about this class.

Next, I had a court appearance where I was in the same courtroom with the jerk who has been stalking me. That had more of an impact on me than I expected. I had a deputy walk my client and I out to my car after the hearing. The jerk was waiting for us in the parking lot and didn’t leave until he was sure the deputy wasn’t going back into the courthouse. That’s both scary and infuriating. The next batch of stories contained a story written from the point of view of a pedophile. This was accompanied by #Me Too and an episode of Law & Order SVU about rape, hazing and bullying. Plus I watched an old episode of Roseanne and was deeply offended. The episode was about Dan’s mother having to go into a mental hospital and about mental illness. The writers made mental illness sound so horrible. I wouldn’t recommend being bipolar, but it’s hardly the end of the world. There’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s a disease to be treated just like any physical disease.   And I wonder why I’m exhausted.

I had to take one day this week when I worked on art just for me. Not art for sale. Not my novel. Not writing for a class. Not healing writing. Just art for me. I had reached an interim weight loss goal while I was on the Broken Tooth Diet, and my reward was to buy me Swarovski crystal.

Reward set 10-20-17Reward set 2 10-20-17Reward set 3 10-20-17

I’ve worn the earrings from each set, but I haven’t had a chance to wear the necklaces.

I fired the kiln. Twice because I misread the cones and didn’t get the kiln hot enough the first time.  I’ve been working on some chili ornaments. IMG_4134IMG_4130IMG_4126

I used a copper wash on these to make the texture stand out. The chili on the left is Amaco Jade Celadon over copper wash. The other two are clear glossy over copper wash. I’ve go to make more pieces with copper wash in the texture. I like the effect.

IMG_4123

I can’t remember where I read this, most likely on Facebook, but a fellow clay artist wrote about putting a piece of plastic wrap over a slab of clay before using a cookie cutter to cut out ornaments. I like how the edges are rounded over. I had a piece of eyelet fabric and I rolled it on a slab of clay to make texture.

Scrub Top 10-18-17Detail Scrub Top 10-18-17

While I was making art for me, I decided to use fabric I bought a couple months back. Yes, those are alligators and ducks in the fancy stitching. I couldn’t find my ribbing for the cuffs, so I grabbed some spandex that coordinated and used that. What a PITA to sew onto the bottom of the sleeve! But I got the scrub top finished. I wanted something funky and arty to wear when I set up at the local Farmers & Craft Market.

Ring 10-20-17

I bought some memory wire for making rings. And I bought the BIG bag of it. It’s hard to get the ends bent around. I ended up making a ring that is too wide for me to wear. My hands look funny when I try to wear large rings. I’ll take it with me to the Farmers Market and see if it gathers any attention.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by her blog and see what other artists have been making.

Looking for a gift? Stop by my web store, Deb Thuman Art, here.

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Posted in Beads, bipolar disorder, Clay, Cognitive problems, Photography

Pain Sucks

I saw the neurologist on Thursday and demanded to know what caused the neuropathy, the extent of the damage and how this can be reversed. I’m having a nerve conduction series next month. I was in pain from 3:00 AM on Saturday until Tuesday afternoon. Then I had a reprieve until about 2:00 AM today. The pain was bad enough that if I could have been sure I wouldn’t have gotten caught, I’d have bought something on the street. You might think that after 23 years as a criminal defense attorney I’d know where to buy street drugs. Nope. I haven’t a clue. Probably just as well….I couldn’t stand to hear the cop laugh when I got arrested. Plus a felony conviction gets me disbarred from all my law licenses. 

The problem with neuropathy is that there’s nothing causing the pain. The pain doesn’t even exist. What feels like horrible pain is damaged nerves sending a scrambled signal to the brain.

It takes an hour and a half for the gabapentin to take effect, so I went outside and did some night photography. We’re at about 4000′ elevation here and when we have a full moon like last night, it’s BRIGHT. Everything had sharp shadows. So I played around with ISO and exposure length.

Adjustment 2 10-7-17Stars 1 10-7-17Stars 3 10-7-17

I got maybe four hours sleep last night; I’m exhausted, and I can’t fall sleep.

Every time I think I’m done with withdrawal, I find out I’m wrong. I stopped taking Wellbutrin completely last week Friday. I was bouncing off the ceiling during my class on Thursday. It was embarrassing. I thought I was okay, provided I didn’t have to be around people, until yesterday. I experienced severe anxiety. I tried art. I spent a couple hours in the mud making another large planter. I listened to my relaxation music. That helped, but not enough. I finally broke down and took a klonopin. For some reason, I feel like a failure when I need to take meds. Silly, I know. I still feel like a failure. I’m making progress, the feelings of failure used to be a whole lot worse.

Meanwhile, I’m having difficulty spelling. I know how the words are spelled, I type 72 words per minute, but I can’t get the words typed correctly. I’ve no idea how to solve this problem. I think I’m just going to wait until the withdrawal is finished and my brain learns how to work without Wellbutrin.

I’ve been experimenting with earrings.

Yellow:green leaf earrings 10-7-17Rootbeer earrings 10-7-17Purple & crystal earringsMulti purple earrings 10-7-17Irridescent purple earrings 10-7-17Greens earrings 10-7-17Clear & crystal earrings 10-7-17Black earrings 10-7-17

This is the necklace I made to go with my amethyst earrings.

Amethyst necklace 10-7-17

These are necklaces I’ll be selling. I was going to set up at the Farmers Market this morning, but that’s not something I can do on four hours sleep. Next week, God willing! 

Green leaf necklace 10-7-17Green fan necklace 10-7-17Green circlie necklace 10-7-17

Monday, I get the prep work done for the crown to fix the tooth that broke in half lengthwise. I’ll be glad to be able to eat food that isn’t either liquid or really soft. I’m so looking forward to eating crunchy food again.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists have been doing.

Looking for a gift for someone special or for yourself (you’re pretty special, too)? My web store is here.

Posted in Beads, bipolar disorder, Jewelry, Photography

Mental Illness Is Not For The Feint of Heart

I was going to correct the spelling error in the headline, but I kind of like it. It matches how I feel. I am going through withdrawal. Wellbutrin stopped working and started causing me to have hallucinations. Because the hallucinations were not interesting and were annoying, I decided to go off Wellbutrin. I went down to ½ my usual dose. This worked great for a few days. On Monday, I felt as if I were trying to climb out of my skin. I downloaded anti-anxiety music which did help. By Tuesday, the climb out of my skin feeling was gone.

I had a couple good days, then on Friday, I was walking into walls. I thought it was positional vertigo, so I did my ear exercises. Eventually, I looked up the symptoms of withdrawal from Wellbutrin. Nausea – which had developed by then, and dizziness. Saturday, I was better.

Today, I did fine until I fell onto the counter that holds the bathroom sink. Landed on the corner of the counter. I’d have been fine if the room hadn’t moved. Now, the nausea is back.

This is what life on psych meds is like. First, I feel bad enough that I know I have to go back down the rabbit hole and have tea with the Mad Hatter. Then I have to go through med adjustment which lasts 2-3 months. During this time, I walk into walls and I get to feel my brain change a little each day. Then, for a period of time, the med works properly and life is great. Then the med stops working and starts causing enough problems that the problems are worse than withdrawal. Withdrawal lasts 4-12 weeks. I’m in Week 2. I get to repeat this process for the rest of my life. It’s not easy being mentally ill. I’ve had clients bitch they don’t want to go off methadone or stop using heroin because they’d go through withdrawal. If withdrawal from psych meds were like withdrawal from heroin – puke and poop for three days – I’d be thrilled.

Meanwhile, I popped a crown off on Tuesday while simultaneously breaking another tooth in half lengthwise. My dentist was on vacation last week, and the earliest appointment I could get was for this coming Thursday. I’m on a liquid diet and wishing I could eat something that required chewing. So far, I’ve lost 3 pounds – all of which will return when I can once again eat solid food. With a liquid diet, liquid in means liquid out. The last time I had to pee so often, I was on lithium. Lithium is processed through the kidneys and I had to drink lots and lots and lots of water each day.

I’ve been working on earrings, but I haven’t gotten them photographed. I finally managed to do a decent job with a brick stitch and made dangly earrings with long fringe. At the moment, I’m learning Russian Leaf earrings. I ordered beads from Lima Beads and my order arrived on Friday. I put together some earrings – which also aren’t photographed. I bought a number of pendants and now have to make necklaces. I can’t find my crimp bead covers. I’ll have to order some of those.

I have been doing some photography. Considering the dizziness, I’m amazed that I can hold the camera still.Moon smile 9-17-17

I’ve been wanting to take a smily moon photo for a while now. I finally got the chance a few mornings ago. I had the camera on the tripod when I took this shot.

Stars 2 9-24-17

The neuropathy acted up last night and it takes an hour and a half for the gabapentin to kick in. Nothing to do but grab the camera, pop it on the tripod, aim at the sky and play around.

Sunset 2 9-23-17

Sunset a couple nights ago facing east. The western view wasn’t that exciting.

Sunset 1 9-24-17

Tonight’s sunset facing west. I am really liking that graduated neutral density filter. The filter darkens the sky so I don’t have blown out sky when I’m taking landscape shots.

Nasturtium 2 9-24-17Nasturtium 1 9-24-17Nasturtium 3 9-24-17

When I was taking shots of the nasturtiums, I was intrigued by the bright white lines in the leaves. So I took a leaf shot. I’m not sure if that was an art moment or a withdrawal moment. I’ll be fine in a couple months.

Zinnia 1 9-24-17Zinnia 2 9-24-17

I like taking the shots other people ignore. So here are a couple darned near dead zinnia shots.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists are doing.

Looking for a gift? Check out my web store here at DebThumanArt.com.

Posted in Bigotry, bipolar disorder, Photography

Skinheads, Photographers & Bipolar Disorder

Jim and I went hiking on Friday. He was on vacation last week and he used his time off to paint the house. The leaks around the windows were caused by the paint failing and water seeping into the stucco. So, the house is getting painted. The white is now a soft green. The trim is going to be peach. The front door, which faces south, will be red-violet. The garage doors which face east will be blue-violet. Any paint with red in it will fade in direct sun. I’m hoping that the blue in the blue-violet will outweigh the red and the doors will stay purple longer. The garage doors get hit for a half a day all year. The front door is under a roof and never gets direct sun.

Back to hiking. We went up on the Organ Mountains. The last time I set up at the Farmers Market, a lady asked if I had any photos of the Organ Mountains. Um, no. I needed to remedy that. The traditional, and over done, view of the Organ Mountains is the view one sees from downtown Las Cruces. The mountains were named Organ because they look like organ pipes lined up. We were on a different side of the mountains and I got photos of a part of the mountain most people don’t see.

Dripping Springs 18 8-11-17 use this one

Dripping Springs 17 8-11-17 use this one

I tried getting a decent shot of a few hummingbirds, but I wasn’t successful. I have a collection of Where’s Waldo shots.

Dripping Springs 20 8-11-17

Dripping Springs 19 8-11-17

I had the 18-55mm lens on the Canon and I really needed the 75-300mm which was home. I can’t do decent close shots with the 75-300mm and I can’t shoot birds with the 10-55mm. I don’t take both lenses because I don’t want to change lenses when I’m outside. This is a desert even though everything looks green. Dust, sand, pollen, and any other crud that’s blowing around damages the sensor.

This morning, I got into a posting match with someone on Facebook. The thread was about people who just have to come up to you when you’re shooting and start talking to you. Personally, I dislike that. Actually, I detest it. Art is a way for me to return to center when I’m either depressed or manic, a way for me to heal emotionally, and a way for me to heal physically. When people come up to me and start asking questions, I want to ask them if they would appreciate it if I came up to them when they were working and demanded they stop what they are doing and talk to me. Whereupon a troll emerged. I’ll skip the truly nasty stuff although it was amusing when he told me to stop responding to him. I tried hard to point out that if I could control my moods, I wouldn’t be on psych meds. I kept telling myself to stop responding to this person because I’m never going to convince a troll of anything. Part of my brain wanted to keep posting because I had an opportunity to tell people who don’t know much about bipolar disorder what kind of struggle it is at times to get back to center.

Why not just tell people I don’t care to talk to them right then because I’m working? Because it’s not that simple. “Leave me alone. I feel like jumping off a cliff,” is not something I’m ever going to say although it is something I do feel on occasion. Such a comment would precipitate a call to 911 and the situation would deteriorate. If I think you’re trying to take me to a hospital, I’m going to try to kill you. That’s not an overstatement. Have you ever been in a locked ward? You lose all control. Someone else decides what meds you will take, and you will take those meds or you aren’t getting out of the hospital. Telling the glorious doctor the meds aren’t working doesn’t work. I’m the crazy person so what do I know about what I need? Under no circumstances will I let you take me to a hospital.

The manic version would be worse. “Look you fucking idiot, I’m working so leave me the fuck alone.” That’s particularly pithy if the person at whom I’m snarling is accompanied by a three-year-old.

I wouldn’t bother any photographer. The one time the situation came up, we were in the Everglades at the edge of a pond looking at water birds. I asked the photographer – who got there first – if I would be in his way if I stood where I was standing. He said no. That was the entire conversation. I don’t know why he was there and it’s none of my business. All I know is his equipment cost more than mine and that he knew the Latin name for the ducks we were looking at. I made a comment to Jim about the coloring of the ducks – it really was spectacular coloring. That’s when the photographer told me what kind of ducks they were.

So, if you see me and the Canon trekking about, wait until I’m done shooting to talk to me. We’ll both be a whole lot happier.

I’m deeply disturbed and frightened by the national news. Skinheads marching because a statue of Robert E. Lee was to be taken down. Counter demonstrators. Things got ugly, the police intervened and the governor called out the National Guard. Later, a bigot drove a car into a group of counter demonstrators killing at least one and injuring at least 19 others. There’s a photo in the New York Times of the car plowing through the crowd. The photographer was behind the vehicle and there’s a nice shot of the license plate. There’s also a shot, not so nice but very well done, of a black man flying off the back of the car after the car had run into him. A white man is upside down in mid air after he had been struck. The photo and article are here.

These are equal opportunity skinheads. They don’t just hate blacks, they hate Jews as well and probably a slew of other groups of people. That’s scary. That’s infuriating. That’s wrong.

Being upset, angry, and scared, I turned to art. I started making beaded Stars of David. Once I get the technique worked out, I’ll be putting Star of David jewelry in my store,  DebThumanArt.com.

Star of David 2 8-1-17Star of David 1 8-13-17

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists have been doing this week.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Clay, Garden, Jewelry, Photography

An Interesting Brain Is Not A Boring Brain

Life is never dull when you’re bipolar. Sometimes, my moods are a reflection of what’s going on in my life, only instead of moods, I have MOODS. Sometimes, my moods have nothing to do with my life. A couple days ago, I was the most depressed I’d been in a long time. Not suicidal, but severely depressed. Jim asked if I had a pill for depression. Who, me? I got all sorts of psych meds. I took one of my emergency psych meds. Twenty minutes later, I was back at center and I’ve stayed there. Sometimes, I feel like a hockey puck after a slap shot. Sometimes, I wish I weren’t bipolar. Most of the time, I try to make something good of it. Like telling people what a bipolar brain feels like. The more we talk about mental illness, the less mental illness will be stigmatized.

Jim and I got senior passes that allow us to get into National Parks, National Monuments, and Bureau of Land Management areas for free. The pass is available to any US citizen or legal permanent resident 62 or older. Now, it costs $10. On August 28, the price will rise to $80. The passes are good for life.

I took my camera and went to Dripping Springs – a BLM area in the Organ Mountains. Having a senior pass, I didn’t have to pay the $5 entry fee. I wanted to get to both the abandoned, falling down building and to the spring at the end of the trail. I didn’t make it. I got about 1/3 of the way there and turned around. I seem to be out of shape, and there’s only one solution – go hiking more often. Jim and I have plans to hike Baylor Canyon and Dripping Springs next week.

Dripping Springs 1 7-23-17

I haven’t been able to figure out why I like this photo. When I took it, I was concentrating on the line of trees leading to the top of the hill. It looked as if the trees were marching to the top.

Ever the suppressed botanist, I found something blooming that I could shoot. Dripping Springs 4 7-23-17

I’ve no idea what plant this is.

Dripping Springs 8 7-23-17

Photographing fog on the mountain isn’t easy. This is the best out of a number of fog/mist shots I took. I really should have used the telephoto lens for these shots, but I didn’t bring it with me. Switching lenses outdoors in the desert is a great way to destroy the camera’s sensor and I have only one camera body.

I’ve been working on experimental ceramic pieces. Here’s a bird bath that’s low to the ground. We have quail, ground squirrels and rabbits who can’t reach a traditional bird bath. I used a styrofoam wreath base as a slump mold and made a hollow base.

Bird bath 1 7-28-17Bird bath 2 7-28-17

The design needs a bit of work, but the critters aren’t critical. Or picky.

I’ve also been working on lanterns. I considered the size of the pillar candles sold by Pier 1 and added an inch. I haven’t tested the lanterns yet. For the first efforts, I used a hole cutter to poke holes into the lantern. Then I bough a set of tiny cookie cutters and cut animals out of the second lantern. Yes, that lantern is an ugly color. Jim took all the glazes that had only a little bit left and combined them. I cut out little animals and put them in the bottom of soap dishes. This dish will go in our bathroom. Look carefully and you’ll see a crack in the side.

Lantern 1 7-28-17Lantern 2 7-28-17

Soap Dish 1 7-28-17Soap dish 2 7-28-17

A friend sent me 20 pounds of buttons and I’m in the process of turning some of them into earrings. I haven’t finished them because my sewing room is a disaster. We have a stucco house, and when the stucco paint fails, it rains inside the house around the windows. We’ve got 4 windows where water was leaking in. Two of the windows are in the sewing room. Things got moved in a hurry so that sewing machines and the serger wouldn’t get damaged by the water. Storage boxes got moved. I want to make sure that the paint Jim put around the windows solves the problem before I move everything back.

Earrings 3 7-28-17Earrings 2 7-28-17Earrings 1 7-28-17

Sunrise, sunset.

Sunrise 2 7-22-17Sunset 7-25-16

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists are doing.

Photos and jewelry are for sale in Deb Thuman Art here.