Posted in Cognitive problems, Depression, Emotions, Psych meds

Worry about everything……

I grew up in a suburb of Buffalo, NY. For 22 years, I lived in Lockport, a city on the Erie Barge Canal located about 30 miles east of Niagara Falls. From mid-November until Lake Erie freezes, the sky is dull gray. I wouldn’t see the sun for weeks at a time. In mid-January, there would be sunshine, but the high temperature was 10 degrees for days on end. I never had SAD. I never had cabin fever. Cold and gray were a part of life. Driving anywhere required extra time to shovel the driveway, chip the ice off the car, and navigating unplowed roads because nothing closed down. We went to work or to school no matter what the weather. Unless at least a foot of snow fell overnight, schools and places of employment stayed open. 

I moved to New Mexico, and my gloomy weather skills disappeared. If we have three cloudy days in a row – something that rarely happens in southern New Mexico – I get depressed and anxious. I haven’t been able to resuscitate gloomy weather skills, and I’m being held captive by a virus. New Mexico has been shut down since mid-March. My last day at school was March 13. A week later, the governor shut down the state. Gas is cheap, but there’s nowhere to go. Hotels are empty. Restaurants are empty. Some of the hiking trails on BLM lands are open, but the restrooms are locked. We have to wear masks when in public. I made masks with elastic to go around my ears. The mask was okay, but the elastic didn’t play nice with my hearing aids. The elastic kept flipping my over-the-ear hearing aids off my ears. I made hearing aid friendly masks with ties. I started wearing masks long before the governor ordered masks to be worn in public. My mask is hot, makes it harder to breathe, and my glasses get fogged up. I wear my mask anyway. 

I have severe depression, chronic insomnia, elevated anxiety, can’t concentrate, can’t think like I used to, and I’m overeating. I’m an artist. I should be making art. Instead, I’m making bias binding, reversible masks with ties, and playing computer solitaire.  I should do a deep clean in the sewing room. I did clean the bathroom last week, but I had to force myself to do so. I should work on the novel, but I don’t feel like it. I never had this problem when I lived in Lockport even when the high temperature was 10 degrees and we had a 50 mile an hour wind blowing in from over a frozen lake. 

I know Jim and I are significantly more fortunate than many others. We’ve had no loss of income, the bills are paid on time, and we have plenty of food, tissues and toilet paper.

I still have severe depression. Severe enough that I had to increase the dosage for my antidepressant. Yes, my doctor is aware of what I’m doing. I munch on a piece of medical marijuana infused white chocolate bar in an effort to relieve the anxiety and worry about becoming addicted to marijuana. My antianxiety med doesn’t work well enough to block the anxiety I feel and I worry about becoming addicted to my antianxiety med. 

If you listen carefully, you’ll hear Warren Zevon singing Worrier King. 

Posted in Beads, bipolar disorder, Cognitive problems, Depression, Fiber, Jewelry, Photography, Psych meds, Quilts

Art, Depression, Poppies & Starbucks

I have the parts all drawn out. I know what I want this quilt to look like. Now, I’m auditioning fabric. I’m not sure about the fall print. All the other fabrics I auditioned today don’t look right. I wanted one fabric to be muted and the other vibrant but the original muted fabric I thought I would use looked terrible against the teal background.. Maybe if I borrowed from the movies and had sex with my fabric I could find the right fabric.

This is for a quilt about suicide. A year ago, someone I knew committed suicide. Since then, I’ve written my feelings, I’ve quilted my feelings, I’ve lectured about suicide, and I’m still trying to find reasons why. What was happening in this person’s life that was so horrible that death was preferable? I want the universe to make sense. I know from all the biology classes I’ve taken and all the times I’ve stared into a microscope that there’s a phenomenal amount of order in the universe. I can’t find the order in suicide. I know it’s there; I just can’t find it. Maybe suicide is the entropy all things are rushing towards.

Every personality test I’ve ever taken has shown I’m equally introverted and extroverted. That goes along with bipolar disorder. When I’m manic, everything is magnified. I can talk to anyone about anything. I have no social anxiety. When I’m depressed, I isolate. Isolation seems to be my default. Maybe that’s because for a huge chunk of my life, I was depressed. The introverted part of me is having no problem with staying home, not dealing with people, and only venturing out occasionally to go to Starbucks. The artist part of me went to Baylor Canyon to photograph the Mexican poppies. These flowers only bloom if there’s sufficient precipitation in late winter. It’s a spectacular show of brilliant color and the show doesn’t last long. 


Covid-19 has made me exceptionally anxious and that much anxiety causes physical pain. Yes, I’ve had the pains checked out. Every doctor, with the exception of my dentist who suggested I may be clenching my jaw, has found nothing physically wrong. I’ve decided to increase the dose of my mood stabilizer. My doctor knows I do this. The extreme anxiety is gone. I’m not in pain. Instead, I have Zombie Brain. This will be helpful in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse. 

The increased dose of my mood stabilizer doesn’t seem to be helping with depression. I find I’m being hit with rolling depression. I’m not suicidal, but I am depressed enough that I want to curl up into a ball and cry. When this happens, I need to immediately start making art. Then, the depression goes away. 

I have an online store that I built with the help of Wix. Something is wrong with the site because I can’t upload photographs. Without photographs, I can’t upload jewelry that I want to put into my store. It took quite a bit of internet searching to find a way to contact Wix. I got an email back saying they couldn’t help me because they weren’t employees of Wix but here’s the secret phone number. I have to wait until Monday to call. 

I learned how to do focus merge in Affinity. I take several shots of a necklace and focus on a different spot for each shot. After downloading the photos, I merge all of the shots into one shot where everything is in focus. 

I’m linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com

My online store, Deb Thuman Art, is here http://www.DebThumanArt.com

My Spoonflower shop is here https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/deb_thuman

Posted in Beads, bipolar disorder, Jewelry, Photography, Psych meds

Good Stuff, Hard Stuff, Pretty Stuff

This wasn’t supposed to be complicated. I ordered proofs of 30 fabric designs I had made from Spoonflower. I got the proofs back this week. I attempted to list a design for sale, and couldn’t. I verified my address. I followed the steps to verify my email address. I tried to fill out the W-9 form. After much frustration and swearing, I accidently managed to get the vile form signed electronically. Hint: you can’t sign the thing using an iPad and iPencil. Thinking I had everything worked out, I tried to list a design for sale. I can’t because I’m in an infinite loop. As soon as I try to list a design, I’m told I have to follow the verification process. When I try to follow the verification process, I’m told my address and email have been verified. The problem is the W-9 form for which there’s no way to submit. Why can’t I just have a form to print out, fill out, sign, scan and upload? Why do I have to be stuck in an infinite loop? Yes, I have sent an email to Spoonflower. No, I haven’t gotten an answer yet.

I’m having a bad bipolar day. I’m snarling at Jim. I get impatient over nothing. And this episode is coupled with introversion. Every personality test I’ve ever taken shows I’m both introverted and extroverted. This makes sense. The extrovert comes out when I’m manic and the introvert comes out when I’m depressed. No, there is no specific reason for being depressed. If you know someone who is bipolar, if you love someone who is bipolar, if you live with someone who is bipolar, spend time learning about bipolar disorder. It’ not easy having a brain that has a mind of its own.

I have ordered beads from Lima Beads. Lima is the only online store with semi-precious gems I trust. What I see is what I get. With Firemountain, the semi-precious gems are C and D quality. In my opinion, they aren’t worth buying. I’ve been buying pearls from Lima and I’m amazed at the quality. First rate at extremely reasonable prices! I had run out of amethyst beads, was running low on sodalite beads, and wanted to have some goldstone beads. I also splurged on pearls of assorted colors and sizes. 

Larimer used to be affordable. Gem prices float just as gold and silver floats. At the moment, Larimer is expensive and I was surprised to find these so reasonably priced. So far, Larimer has only been found in the Dominican Republic.

Feldspath is something I bought a while back. I liked it more than I thought so I bought larger beads this time. 

Goldstone. I have magpie tendencies and I love things that sparkle. Maybe because they reflect the extroverted manic part of me.

When I was picking out beads, I concentrated on size, color and price. I didn’t think about the name when I ordered peace jade. Now, I think about having beads that are both pretty and a political statement.

When I was a kid, I had nightmares about the hydrogen bomb and skeletons burning. The nightmares are back. This time, the nightmares aren’t about gut terrors of an unthinkable event as when I was a kid. Then, we had a Cold War and the certain comforting knowledge that if both sides had nuclear weapons, no one would be silly enough to start a war. Now, there is no comforting knowledge. Now, I have nightmares about a narcissistic sociopath president who thinks starting a war with a dangerous, fanatical, and likely mentally ill leader is a great way to get re-elected. Long ago, I decided if ever there was a nuclear war, I would kill myself. I’d rather die fast than die from radiation poisoning. Even if there were an antidote, there would be no medical care available. Doctors and hospitals aren’t immune from nuclear attack. Don’t kid yourself; hospitals will be, as they are in all wars, a major target. Thoughts of suicide mixed with bipolar disorder is terrifying. Do I need an extra antidepressant? Do I need a permanent adjustment to my psych meds? Am I having an abstract conversation with myself? Or am I suicidal? I don’t have an answer. Instead, I’ve decided to be extremely careful what I read in the New York Times each morning. I can’t stop what’s happening. I can’t change what’s happening. I don’t have to make myself physically sick by reading about what’s happening. Instead, I’ll make beautiful jewelry with peace jade beads.

It took about three years, but I finally filled up my external storage disk. When I do photography, I shoot in RAW. A lot of my work is outdoors, and I want the most amount of digital information my camera will give me. I have more and better editing options if I shoot RAW. However, RAW files are HUGE and it takes almost no time to fill up the space on the laptop. I’ve been putting RAW files on the external storage disk, then changing the photos from RAW to JPEG, dumping the RAW version from Photos and replacing that with JPEG version. That way, I have a portfolio of photos without using much space. Once photos are edited, there’s no visual difference between a RAW edited photo and a JPEG edited photo. I also backup my laptop to external storage.

Yesterday, I bought a 5 TB storage disk for less than the 3 TB cost me when I bought it on sale. Storage is becoming remarkably cheap. Today, I’m busy creating folders on the new disk and transferring files and photos from the laptop to the storage disk. 

I’m linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com

Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art http://DebThumanArt.com

Posted in bipolar disorder, Depression, Photography, Psych meds

It wasn’t fun and it had to be done.

On Friday, I gave a talk on suicide – from the perspective of nearly killing myself, and my emotional response to the suicide of someone I knew. There were only five people in the audience and, rather than attempt power point, I used two quilts I had made. The first quilt was made when I was suicidal. The second is what I saw in my mind after someone I knew had killed himself. I’m used to working without a net and never write out what I intend to say. I speak from the gut. Sometimes, from the heart. The talk went well although I didn’t have time to say all I intended to say. I suspect for me to get everything in, I’d need an hour. I only had a half hour. I was asked what to say to a 20-something person who is suicidal. I stressed the necessity of taking the person to the hospital. If you take a person to the hospital and you are wrong, you get embarrassed. If you don’t take a person to the hospital and you’re wring, you’re going to a funeral. 

I got home and depression snuck up on me and grabbed me. Friday was rough. I found myself looking for Amazon Prime movies about suicide and mental institutions. Now, I find myself looking through Amazon to find books about mental institutions. I don’t know why this fascinates me. Maybe it’s because there but for having junk for parents, go I into a mad world run by mad men and mad women disguised as psychiatrists. Maybe I’m looking for validation for my refusal to be dumped into a locked ward.

Bipolar disorder sucks. For so long, I didn’t mind being bipolar. I finally had an accurate diagnosis that explained so many of the confusing bits of my life. I finally had proper meds. And then I nearly killed myself and bipolar disorder started to suck. 

I’ve discovered that once one admits to being suicidal, one needs to speak carefully. I’m having wild mood swings and something is clearly out of whack. Either my thyroid med needs adjusting, or – please, God no –  my mood stabilizer has stopped working. Coming off a psych med means going through withdrawal hell that lasts three months. This is followed by four to six months of med adjustment. Please let it be my thyroid. I saw my doctor last Wednesday and saw the bloodsucker on Thursday. Later this week, I’ll pick up the lab results. I described the mood swings and told my doctor I can’t live like this. I then had to tell her I’m not suicidal. I’m frustrated. I’m scared. I’m waiting for the next mood swing to arrive and blow through my head like a hurricane blowing through Florida. But, and this part is critical, I don’t want to die. Today, I don’t want to die. I’ve no idea what I will want tomorrow. That’s the terrifying part of bipolar disorder. I know my mood will swing wildly; I don’t know when or in what direction. Manic and more insomnia? Depressed and worried about becoming suicidal?

We went to Bosque del Apache on Saturday. I like the nature preserve, but I dislike being restricted to only a few roads. I’d like to do some serious exploring. The sandhill cranes have arrived and I had fun shooting them. I use a Canon rather than a gun. I worked on photographing birds in flight. It’s harder than it sounds. I use manual focus and it was tough to focus fast enough to get a clear shot.

I also worked on composing the scene when I’m doing landscape photography. I want to move away from snapshots and start taking photographic art. 

What passes for fall color in New Mexico

Looking for cool, art stuff? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art http://DebThumanArt.com

I’m linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com Stop by and see what other artists have been doing.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Cognitive problems, Depression, Fiber, Psych meds, Sciatica, Shibori

I’m dyeing. No need to send flowers although orange roses would be nice. Or maybe white carnations.

I needed new oversized tee shirts to sleep in. It’s cheaper for me to buy from Dharma Trading than to make a tee shirt. That leaves me to experiment with color and dyeing technique. I wanted to shoot these experiments outside, but we are having WIND. Spring in the desert features wind gusts of 50 mph. One day, the wind got faster than 100 mph. Indoor shooting has restrictions because I put the experiment on a piece of white board and shoot while standing up. These are hardly great art.

For my Shibori experiments, I tied one tee shirt in knots, used bulldog clips on another tee shirt, and clothespins on a knitted piece. Shibori is traditionally dyed indigo blue.  Not my Shibori. I’m a color junkie and need to be surrounded by lots and lots of different colors. Fortunately, color is legal and doesn’t affect my ability to drive. 

Clothes pins
Bulldog clips
Fabric tied in knots

For hand dyed yarn, I knit a blank from 100% cotton yarn, dye the piece, unravel the piece, then knit something. I’m curious to see what happens when I knit a piece from the Shibori experiment. 

I made the mistake of rinsing out the orange piece with the purple piece. It’s going to be interesting to see how this knits up because this isn’t the only purple spot on this piece. 

I have mixed feelings about the oversized tee shirts. Manipulations were only on the bottom of the red tee shirt. I like that idea and I’m thinking about how to expand on it. The purple tee shirt was a surprise. I didn’t realize the dye was going to separate and dye the tied parts a light red. I like the effect, but I’m not sure I want to have clothing that resembles tie dye. 

There are six more clothing blanks to dye – 1 tee shirt, 2 caftans, 2 blouses. I’ve been thinking about how I want to fold the fabric and what I want to use as a resist. Clothespins are nice, but once the clothespins are dyed, they shouldn’t be used to hang laundry. I’m afraid if I used dyed clothespins to hang wet clothes the dye would bleed into the clothing. 

Once I finish dyeing the rest of the blanks, I’ll work on dyeing yardage and I’m thinking of folding the fabric on the diagonal. A Shibori scrub top could be interesting. So could a pair of boxers for Jim made from the leftover fabric. The blanks and the yardage are from Dharma Trading. The quality is good, but the blanks and fabric aren’t pre-shrunk. This time, I’m going to be hanging the tee shirts on the line each time I wash them. Maybe that will keep the shrinkage to a minimum. 

I’m not in a chatty mood today and I’m not sure why. I may be just a bit below center – a bit depressed. Earlier, I was doing some online research for the novel and found some sad pieces. Thus, the depression. This isn’t a serious depression and I’ve no suicidal thoughts. 

After the last major depressive event wherein I found myself thinking that being dead wouldn’t be so bad, I talked to my doctor about tweaking my meds. She doubled the dosage for both Lamictal and Wellbutrin. That solved the depression problem, but left me stoned out of my mind. I’d be driving and wonder where I was. I went back down on both prescriptions and felt weird feelings in my head. It took a couple days to figure out I was going into withdrawal. I went back up to my previous dosages for both meds. That eliminated the withdrawal symptoms but left me snarling at Jim and the cats. I doubled the dose for Wellbutrin putting me back on the dosage my doctor recommended. I’m not snarling, but my brain isn’t working all that well. Words get lost in my head and I haven’t figured out where they hide. One time, I couldn’t remember “body wash.” I described the word I wanted by saying it’s a liquid and you use it to wash yourself. Today, Jim was driving us home, and I was bewildered. I couldn’t figure out where we were or how we got there. I may have to cut the Wellbutrin back to one and a half pills a day rather than two pills. 

I’ve been going to the gym a couple times a week and doing yoga on the non-gym days. It’s helping and I feel like soon I won’t have to worry about a relapse. Which is dangerous because this is the time when I push myself too far and cause a relapse. It’s hard to know what I shouldn’t be doing until I do it and start to hurt. 

I’ll be back up to center tomorrow. Or maybe after I start working on my new gym shorts later today. I’m using a cotton/lycra blend with 4-way stretch and I’ve got the fabric cut out. Just need to start sewing the pieces together. The gym shorts are necessary because the management of the gym I go to hired a man to clean the locker rooms. He’s the world’s slowest man and he’s always cleaning the locker room when I get to the gym. My solution was to wear gym clothes to the gym, work out, and go back home to shower. It’s a good solution, but I need pockets to hold my keys while I work out and to carry my iPod to and from the gym. I have two pairs of shorts that are both stretchy and have pockets. I’d like to not have to do laundry each time I go to the gym so I’m making gym shorts. 

I’m linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com

Looking for one of a kind art pieces? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art, http://debthumanart.com

Posted in Fiber, Pain, Psych meds

98% Of The World Is Not Accessible

If you have ever wondered just how accessible the world is, try getting into and out of a restroom without using your hands. Putting a blue sign outside a restroom does not make the restroom accessible. There is only ONE restroom I can use on the entire New Mexico State University campus. It’s on the first floor of Foster Hall. The handicap entrance to Foster Hall is on the second floor. I have to be careful how much water I drink and when I drink it. It can be a long walk to the only restroom that has a door opener. 

Sidewalks are death traps. Expansion joins that have moved will stop the walker’s wheels. Then I try not to go flying over the top of the walker. Elevators are death traps. There’s a gap between the elevator and the building. That gap also stops wheels. Area rugs are death traps. Try wheeling over the edge. The rug lifts up and refuses to lie flat. Throw rugs are death traps. They are worse than area rugs. Construction zones are death traps. A main road on campus is torn up. There’s an 8” drop to the exposed dirt that used to be under the pavement. I’m not supposed to try to use the walker on stairs. Getting across that road was a near death experience. 

For some reason, the handicapped entrances for buildings on campus are the farthest from the sidewalk. Go to the college book store? Nope. The parking lot is on one side of the building and the handicap entrance is on the other side. The curb cutout for the sidewalk that will take me around the building is on the far end. I’d have to wheel myself across the parking lot, walk along the entrance to the bookstore, walk down the side of the bookstore, turn the corner, and there’s the handy handicap entrance. 

I got a cup holder for my walker. That allows me to bring tea from the kitchen to the office. I have to put the tea in a travel mug, but at least I can have tea. I thought the cup holder would allow me to go to Starbucks by myself. I could order my drink, put it in my cup holder, and wheel myself to the table. That works if the Starbucks isn’t crowded. Not that Starbucks has a door opener. I’d have to wait for someone to come along and open the door for me. The never crowded Starbucks is on a road that has been ripped up for the last year. It’s quite the driving experience. That’s why that Starbucks is never crowded. I tried going to Starbucks without my walker. My leg feels better and I can walk short distances without the walker. I discovered that I can’t stand long enough to get my drink. I was in pain by the time I could hobble to the table. I had an hour in which I could drink my mocha and hope my leg recovered enough to get out of Starbucks. Fortunately, I could get back to my car. 

I wanted to go to Sprouts, a wonderful grocery store here. It’s got the best produce, a large organic produce section, and a large selection of fruit. Except I can’t push my walker and a cart at the same time. Yes, they have the little motorized things for people who have difficulty walking. I need the walker to get from the car to the store entrance. So what do I do with the walker if I use the motorized thing?

Taking the shuttle bus from the free parking lot to near where I have a class is…..interesting. The newer busses have a ramp that unfurls and makes it easy to roll onto the bus. The older busses have lifts. The bus this morning had a broken lift. My choices were: try to get up steep stairs (not in this lifetime) or wait for the next bus. I waited. Frequently, I have to tell the driver to unfurl the ramp. No, I can’t jump from the sidewalk to the bus while pushing a walker. 

I had a botany lab this morning. The lab isn’t designed for a walker. I managed to get around without the walker catching on a cord and knocking a microscope off the table. Getting prepared slides was easy. Prepared slides have the specimen and the cover slip permanently glued to the slide.  I got the slide, put it in my pocket, and wheeled my way back to my table. A slide I prepare by cutting a thin piece of fruit, putting it on a slide, adding a drop of water and putting a cover slip over the wet fruit required imagination to move from the counter to my table. Which is across the room. The ability to hold onto a slide and the walker simultaneously is a useful skill. I managed. I’m pretty proud of that accomplishment. 

This week, my leg is significantly less painful. I can take a shower standing up. I can get from the living room to the bathroom without using the walker. No, I can’t ditch the walker. I’ve tried. And regretted it each time when the pain returns. 

Three weeks down, three to go. I will be bitching a whole lot for the next three weeks. 

My psych meds have been tweaked so I can avoid serious depressive episodes. Last week, I had brain fog. This week, the fog is gone but I’m having a hard time remembering how to do things.

I finished another scarf. And I can’t stand long enough to block it and photograph it. And so it won’t go in my store for a while.

Having exhausted my supply of Shawl In A Cake yarns, I got out my hand dyed yarns. I did the hand dyeing. I knit a length of what looks like a scarf. Then I dye the length of what looks like a scarf. This requires measuring water, salt, dye and fixative and taking the bucket out to the back yard. Put the length of what looks like a scarf into the bucket and wait. Eventually, fetch the length of what looks like a scarf, rinse it, wash it, and let it dry. Then, I unravel the length of what looks like a scarf and wind it into a ball. 

I worked out a lace pattern and I’m now knitting a for real scarf with one of my hand dyed yarns. Yes, this scarf will be priced accordingly. 

I’m linking with Nina Marie here: http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com Stop by and see what other artists have been doing.

Looking for cool, one of a kind fiber art or jewelry? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art, http://www.debthumanart.com

Posted in Baking, bipolar disorder, Depression, Psych meds, Suicide

Here’s Why I Have No Ambition

I don’t feel like doing anything. I don’t feel like making art. I don’t feel like studying although I enjoy my two botany classes. I don’t feel like reading. I just looked at a recipe for banana cake with maple cream cheese frosting. Certainly a combination of flavors that will be wonderful. I don’t feel like making the cake although I could probably be convinced to make the frosting and eat it with a spoon. 

This was bothering me until I thought about the cause for the lack of ambition. In the last year, I’ve been through:

  • Deciding to commit suicide and coming back from the edge
  • Going on Cymbalta which I did reluctantly
  • Four infections in five months
  • Severe nerve pain
  • Having to report sexual harassment to the campus police
  • Having the joy sucked out of life and realizing the problem was Cymbalta
  • Coming off Cymbalta and going through horrendous withdrawal 
  • Having cognitive deficits from the withdrawal and not being able to find the street where I live
  • Having so many withdrawal problems that I was sure I was going to be hospitalized so I drafted an advance psychiatric directive and packed a bag before I went to my appointment with my doctor
  • Having breakthrough bleeding and doing the research to find the causes, treatments and incidence of uterine cancer
  • Having to wait a month for a biopsy and another week for the results
  • Having severe anxiety resulting in many cookies and scarves
  • The dishwasher broke just after Thanksgiving
  • Someone I knew committed suicide

No sane person would have any ambition after all that.

I look back, and wonder how I managed when I was working for the Public Defender Department. I think part of survival was to do what I really shouldn’t do – ignore what’s going on inside of me and keep myself busy so I don’t feel much. Now, I don’t have an extreme stress and adrenaline job. Now, I have time to take care of myself and no excuse not to take care of myself.

In Sylvia Plath’s book The Bell Jar, she compares depression to being under a bell jar. From time to time, the bell jar lifts, but she knows it will always come back down. I had a mental health crisis this week. I sort of saw it coming on Wednesday night when I found myself thinking about suicide. The suicide rate for people with bipolar disorder is 20 times the rate for people who aren’t bipolar.

I am 20 times as likely to commit suicide as you. That’s terrifying.

Thursday morning, the anxiety and depression increased. I cried a lot. I needed an extra ½ pill of Wellbutrin. I needed to take all three klonopin. I’ve been on the same dose for klonopin for the last 12 years. Sometimes I don’t need klonopin. Sometimes, I need one or two. Thursday, I needed three to stop the flutters in my chest.

Today, I feel the bell jar coming back down. On Monday, I’ll call my doctor and talk to her about increasing my meds. I don’t like living like this. Suicide terrifies me and I want to live.

Bipolar disorder: the ability to feel like crap 80% of the time.

I’m still knitting to keep the anxiety down. Here’s my latest scarf and it’s in my store: Deb Thuman Art http://debthumanart.com

I’ve Got The Browns

One of the tings I can do to make the bipolar crap go away is to immerse myself with art. Before, art was visual. This time, art is verbal. I’m working on the novel and just did a massive editing. I had Jim print out what I had written, and I went through the pages by hand. I’ll put all the changes into the computer when I finish editing. I’m playing around with an idea for something that I’ve never seen done before. Don’t know how well it’s going to work, but it’s an interesting exercise.

I’m also baking to keep the depression from getting any worse. I’m making croissants. Because of the time between turns and the amount of time the dough has to be in the refrigerator before I can turn it into croissants, I make the dough on Saturday and cut out, shape, and bake the croissants on Sunday morning. 

I’m linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com

Looking for a great gift? A treat for yourself? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art http://debthumanart.com

Posted in bipolar disorder, Cognitive problems, Fiber, Psych meds

Withdrawal Sucks

I had read about how getting off Cymbalta is hell. I thought people were overstating it. Turns out, they were right. Getting off Cymbalta is hell. I’ve now gone through 8 weeks of withdrawal, and I’m not done. I had a couple weeks where the cognitive deficits were bad enough that they mimicked dementia. Dementia feels terrifying. Although I walk from the parking lot to my class, three days I turned down the wrong street and had to scramble to figure out where I was. One night, I had a hard time finding the street on which I live. And I’ve lived on this street for 17 years. Last Sunday, my brain started to feel better. I had five good days before I had a withdrawal relapse. This time, I had vertigo followed by “flu-like symptoms.” Today, I feel good again although I have to slow down, sit and think, before I can remember something I did – like where did I put my water bottle.

I’ve been sewing.

IMG_9141

I used the Slouchy Tee Shirt Blouse patter from Hotpatterns. You can find the pattern here.

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The pattern calls for a rib knit cuff, but I don’t care for rib knit cuffs. The ribbing always wears out and looks nasty. The point of sewing your own clothes is so that you can have what you want. I folded the sleeve in half and added a button hole. Then I sewed on a button, and the opening at end of the sleeve is now comfortably small. You may have noticed the buttons are different. My blouse, my buttons. A friend sent me about 20 pounds of buttons, and I couldn’t find two of either of these so I decided to use the two I could find.

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I wanted to make holiday earrings but didn’t want to make earrings that screamed CHRISTMAS!!!! Angels can be worn all year long. These two pair, along with other cool stuff is in my store.

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

If you’re looking for angel earrings (or other cool stuff), please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in Psych meds

It’s Not Easy Being Crazy

We could learn so much about brain function if we looked at what psych meds do to the brain and listened to those of us who have to take psych meds.

I went on Cymbalta because I was having severe pain from the neuropathy. I had read about the miserable time people had getting off Cymbalta. I should have listened to what I read. While Cymbalta did help alleviate the pain in my feet, it sucked the joy out of life. I didn’t feel like going to class. I didn’t feel like reading. I didn’t feel like doing my homework. I didn’t feel like making art. And so I decided to go off Cymbalta. I tried just stopping the medication and went into a serious withdrawal. This was the sixth time I’ve gone through withdrawal when I’ve needed to get off a medication. Each time, withdrawal is different. This was the worst I’ve ever been through. At one point, I thought I was going to have to be hospitalized. I drafted a mental health proxy giving Jim the right to veto any meds, to demand to visit me, to refuse to allow electric shock treatments, refuse to allow a decidedly incompetent psychiatrist to treat me,  and to refuse to allow me to be restrained. I’ve visited friends who were in locked, mental health wards and I’ve listened to the horror stories my clients told. I learned that it’s not uncommon for families to be denied the ability to visit patients.  I learned that psychiatrists don’t listen to patients when patients complain about their meds. I learned that psychiatrists don’t allow patients to be discharged until they are med compliant.

Cymbalta comes in capsules.  I tried emptying out the capsules, diving the little balls inside the capsule in half, and then putting the little balls back into a capsule so I could take a half dose. The half dose sort of relieved the withdrawal. I tried taking a supplement that is supposed to increase the serotonin in the brain. Didn’t help.

I could feel electrical currents beneath the skin on my face. I had cognitive deficits. I would walk out of the bathroom and not remember if I used the toilet. I would read my animal physiology textbook, and have no idea what I read. I couldn’t understand the words. I couldn’t put bits of learning together into a comprehensive whole. I forgot that I’m an artist and that making art helps me heal. Although I’ve been walking from the parking lot to my class for months, I forgot which road I needed to turn down to reach the building that houses my classes.

I had Jim take me to see my primary care physician and to be in the examination room with me. I brought along a bag packed with what I needed if I had to be hospitalized. I packed my sketchbooks and sketch pencils and then feared they would be taken away from me at the hospital because the pencils were sharp. I didn’t pack a toothbrush. Or deodorant. Or a hairbrush.

Rather than send me to the hospital, my doctor put me on Prozac, lowest dose, to be taken every other day. I don’t like Prozac. It takes away my ability to feel emotions. Prozac has an extremely long half life and Cymbalta has an extremely short half life. My psychologist explained that it was the abrupt drop in serotonin in my brain that was causing all the problems. Cymbalta and Prozac are SSRIs – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The theory is the reuptake inhibitors allow for serotonin to be in between the axon and dendrite for a longer time.

My first day on Prozac left me stoned. Jim had to drive me to school and to see my psychologist. Then we went to the county government building to vote. New Mexico has early voting and we voted on the first day of early voting. Yes, I was stoned when I voted.

I wanted to be off Prozac as soon as possible. The point of taking it was to have enough serotonin floating about my brain and to have the Prozac half life give me time to complete withdrawal. After two weeks, I tried not taking Prozac. I lasted 4 days before the withdrawal came back. I took another Prozac which helped with the withdrawal. That was the last Prozac I took. I’m back on Wellbutrin.

Unfortunately, my brain isn’t back. I have severe deficits in my short-term memory. Yesterday, I studied for a test in my plant taxonomy class. I’ve no idea what I read when I studied. This morning while taking the test, I had difficulty spelling words. I had difficulty remembering how to write the letters of words. And today, I feel the best I’ve felt in months. I feel good good enough that I thought I was through with withdrawal. Until I embarrassed myself taking a test. I’m not working towards a degree, I won’t be going to grad school. The grade doesn’t matter. I’m fortunate to be able to take classes that interest me and not worry about the grade. Except I do worry about the grade. I’ve no doubt I will fail both my classes – animal physiology and plant taxonomy. I want to do well in these classes. I’ve missed more classes this semester than I missed in college and law school combined. I’ve missed classes because I wasn’t functioning. Or because the room wouldn’t stop spinning and I was pretty sure I shouldn’t drive.

I want my brain back. I want my memory back.

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

Looking for unique jewelry? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art, here.