I waited too long to photograph fabric outside. We’re having WIND. I was stuck with either not photographing my latest fun stuff, or taking crappy photos. Herewith are some crappy photos.
As many of you know, I have a Spoonflower shop. If you click on a fabric design, then click on “All Products,” you can see how the fabric looks as table linens, bedding, curtains and wallpaper. I am having so much fun playing around, manipulating photos and creating fabric designs. Before I can sell my designs, I have to order proofs of the designs. These are the proofs I’ve gotten back.
I’m taking a yoga class this semester and I needed yoga pants. I altered a yoga pants pattern, got out the binders, dye and bucket, and made yoga pants. I put patch pockets on the pants, but I’m not thrilled about where I put them. Next time, I want to try welt pockets.
In case you’ve ever wondered, it’s not a good idea to try to do photography and bake simultaneously. The timer kept going off.
Sourdough cherry coffeecake with crumb topping.
I don’t run from my triggers because I don’t want painful memories to own me. I have been binging on ER. The other night, I watched a couple episodes that dealt with the suicide of one of the doctors. Having been suicidal and knowing someone who committed suicide, I respond to such stories on an emotional level. I had to spend quality time writing after watching the episodes. My first emotional art was ceramic. I didn’t understand what I was feeling until my feelings came out of my hands and into clay. I’m now having the same understanding by letting my feelings come out through my fingers and into my laptop. I was a writer long before my art meandered into clay, fiber and beads. Oddly, it has only been the last year that I’ve created emotional writing.
For the last couple years, I’ve been trying off and on to find a service dog trained to work with someone who has bipolar disorder. I’ve found a place out of state that will charge $16,000 for the dog and I’d have to move there for four months to be trained with the dog. Nope.
I’ve found places where service dogs are trained to work with people who have PTSD. Nice, but PTSD isn’t bipolar disorder. That would be like suggesting you have open heart surgery when what you need is to have your gallbladder removed.
Finally, I found a trainer who not only trains dogs to work with people who have bipolar disorder, but comes to the house to train both the dog and the human simultaneously. There was some sort of dog convention in the convention center this weekend, and we got to meet the trainer. When I read all the things a psychiatric service dog can be trained to do, I nearly cried. Dogs can smell mood swings at the start of the swing. You’d think I could do better than this, but I don’t realize I’m manic until I’m bouncing off the ceiling or that I’m depressed until I’m suicidal. I’ve had insomnia for the last couple weeks and I’ve never had insomnia. I only figured out the day before yesterday that I’m having a manic episode. Manic is annoying, but depressive is terrifying. The suicide rate for people who have bipolar disorder is 20 times that of the rest of the population. Depressive episodes are life threatening.
The dog can be trained to make sure I take my meds at the same time every day, get up at the same time and go to bed at the same time. Routine can be extremely helpful in managing bipolar disorder.
The dog, most likely a rescue dog, will cost me about $200 and will already be house broken, neutered/spayed, and have up to date vaccinations. Training will last 9-18 months at a cost of $200 a month. When the training ends, I’ll be in a position to train another dog when the first dog retires.
The trainer suggested getting a dog 2-3 years old. We have two cats and the cats aren’t going anywhere. The dog has to be okay living with cats. Also dogs that age are easiest to train. My dog, when I get one, will be trained to get on the shuttle bus at school, go to class with me, get on a train (can’t wait to take an overnight train trip) and fly. The flying training encompasses everything up to getting through airport security. Airlines have to let a person fly with a service dog and cannot charge additional for the dog. Yes, there are airlines that do that. As my first amendment teacher in law school said, don’t assume something is legal just because someone is doing it. However, flying with a service dog means being all but guaranteed a seat in the front row where there’s the most leg room. Jim is 6’3” and needs extra leg room.
If it’s a place where the public can go – airport, restaurant, post office, class room – the facility must allow service dogs. No exceptions. It’s federal law and most states have a parallel law.
I’m in the process of setting up an appointment for both the trainer and I to go to a dog rescue organization and see if they have an appropriate dog for me. Once I get the dog that’s right for me, training can begin immediately. I’m so psyched about this. For the first time in my life, I’m going to be able to live a normal life. I wonder what that’s going to feel like.
I’ve been working on art quilts. I’ve got the quilting done on the memorial quilt about the people murdered at the temple in Pittsburgh last October. The Hebrew word in the middle is Chai. It means life. There is a quilted star for each of the 11 people murdered. The red threads are temporarily holding the layers together. I need to trim the quilt, pick out a backing, finish the piece, and launder it.
I’ve got a good start on the quilt about someone I knew who committed suicide. The horizontal threads are temporarily holding the quilt together. There’s a trick to photographing shiny stuff. Obviously, I don’t know what that trick is. I find myself working out emotions while working on this quilt.
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
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 still woking my way to understanding and sanity. I’ve written more conversations that I’ll never say out loud and that no one will ever read. Maybe. Someday. Right now, the feelings are still too raw.
I’m closer to center, and I feel…solid. Like being centered is going to stay. Bipolar disorder is a lifetime full of mood surprises. I’ve no idea how long this solid feeling center will last. I do know that it won’t last. Sooner or late, I’ll have another mood surprise.
It’s from the Mayo Clinic and I trust this website to have decent information. There’s a whole lot of inaccurate junk on the internet. So much of what is described in the article is an accurate description of what I felt and continue to feel. I’m troubled by the knowledge that I was brought back from the edge of suicide by a thin thread. Depending on your theology, this was either pure luck or divine intervention. Jim and I went hiking and I suddenly felt good. When we got home, the good feeling left and I realized I was depressed. I went on antidepressants immediately. I had no idea I was depressed. Yeah, right, Deb. How the heck can you be suicidal and not know you’re depressed. It’s easy. And that terrifies me. At the time I was aware that I was having a manic episode. I wasn’t aware I was having a mixed episode where both intense mania and intense depression coexist. Why am I allowed to continue life and John wasn’t? I want the world to make sense, and the world doesn’t make sense. The world has never made sense and will never make sense. I read murder mysteries and watch TV police dramas even though I know the shows are inaccurate. The world makes sense in murder mysteries and on television. Innocent people don’t go to prison in novels. Innocent people go to prison in courtrooms every day.
My world doesn’t make sense and I can’t figure out how to make the world make sense. And so I knit. And bake. This week, I made puff pastry. Um…..I’m not wild about puff pastry. I suppose it has its uses, but I don’t care for it.
I’ve made another scarf and bought yarn for four more scarves. So far, I’ve made 11 scarves and sold 5 of them. This one is listed in my store Deb Thuman Artwww.debthumanart.com
My psych meds keep me alive. Literally. After a depression so severe that I decided killing myself was a rational decision, had worked out how when and where, and by divine intervention realized I had to go back on antidepressants, I decided I’d never again discontinue Wellbutrin. I had good reasons for going off Wellbutrin. I was having hallucinations. I had left a toxic work environment three years prior. Maybe I could get by with just my mood stabilizer.
And then someone I knew killed himself. I’m still reeling. I’m not crying as much, but I haven’t recovered. I still have questions about why I’m alive and he isn’t. I still have no appetite. Fortunately, I’m seriously overweight so not having an appetite isn’t a health issue and won’t be for several more months.
Earlier this week, I tried writing out my feelings. It’s a written piece that I can’t share now and doubt I’ll ever share. It’s too personal. Too raw. It almost helped. Or rather it helped for a few days.
The depressive episode arrived this past Monday. I saw my psychologist on Tuesday. It didn’t help. The depression lifted – I though – on Wednesday. It came roaring back yesterday. The usual depression cures didn’t work. Jim and I went to a kitchen store in El Paso. Kitchen stores, even if I don’t buy anything, reliably lift the depression. Not this time.
I’m working on more scarves. Knitting the scarves helped me through the intense anxiety while waiting for doctors appointments, biopsy appointment, results showing I don’t have cancer. It’s not working this time.
I tried baking my way out of this depression. I found a recipe for chocolate cutout cookies and tried piping royal icing. I need to listen to myself. I thought that icing was too stiff. I was right but by then, the icing was in the pastry bag and there was no going back. And I was out of powdered sugar so I couldn’t start over.
I love botany. That’s what I concentrated on in college. Botany and microbiology. The smaller things get, the more fascinating things are. I am taking two botany classes this semester: structure and function of plants and plant physiology. Same text book for both classes. One set of studying for two classes. What could be better? Except I’m depressed and don’t care about the classes.
I have the blood spatter on the background fabric for a quilt about the murders in the synagog in Pittsburgh last fall. I can’t bring myself to work on the quilt.
So I sit here. Depressed. Knowing I need to read the textbook for my classes next week. Knowing I need to at least read over my notes for a test on Monday. Not wanting to do anything. Knowing I have to wait out this depressive episode. Knowing there’s no shortcut. No cure. No relief. Just tears.
At least I did laundry and will have clean underwear next week.
A deputy I knew and worked with committed suicide. I don’t know why, but this has hit me incredibly hard. I spent much of Tuesday and Wednesday crying. I wasn’t sure I would attend the funeral because I didn’t think I could hold myself together. I’ve still got that memory in my head where my mother yells at me to stop crying. Didn’t take me long to learn I needed to keep my feelings to myself.
I ironed my funeral clothes and figured that was a sign I should go to the funeral. The visitation was before the funeral and I arrived at the start of the visitation. Fortunately, or probably as a practical matter, the casket was closed. A US flag covered the casket. I had planned on having a private chat with the late deputy. Most of the chat took place in the car while I was waiting for the viewing to start. I said things in my head that I couldn’t say aloud. Things from deep inside of me. So deep light rarely reaches them.
When I got up to the casket, I put my hand on the casket and gave a silent wish…. Shalom. It’s a Hebrew word that means peace. Not just the absence of war, but an all encompassing peace that reaches to the depths of your soul. I had tried a couple times the days before the funeral to say kaddish. I couldn’t get through the prayer.
A cruel cosmic joke would be that after suicide, we’re just as depressed and hurting as before we pulled the trigger.
I patted the casket and heard a clank. Metal casket and I must have brought my hand down too hard. Per the obit, he’s going to be cremated. I hope that casket was a rental because buying a casket for someone who is to be cremated is silly.
I wonder if the casket is empty. Just for show and the body is about to be cremated.
As we waited for the funeral to begin, we could watch a montage of photographs of his life. One photo was of a younger version of him with his very young daughter. The love he had for her was obvious.
You had the world by the ass. You obviously loved your daughter and granddaughter. You had friends. You had a life outside of work. You had work you loved. Why did you kill yourself?
So many smiles in the photos. Every time I saw him, he was smiling. He was always so nice to me.
Why didn’t you let one of us know you were hurting?
Actually, I know why he didn’t let anyone know.
Or did you leave me a clue when you asked me, “Don’t you just love our fucking society?” I’m so sorry; I never understood it was a clue. Please come back and let me make it up to you.
Suicide, when you’re that depressed, seems rational. Why ask for help with a rational decision?
I could have helped you. I’ve danced on the same road. It hurts so much knowing I could have helped you and I never had the chance.
I held myself together through the funeral. I fell apart during the last radio call.
Goddamn it! Why did you do this?
The piper, who played the bagpipes particularly well, played Amazing Grace and I composed myself. Kind of like composing a song only different. I was fine until deputies started hugging me and I started crying again.
If you’re reading this and thinking suicide is a rational option, please do a favor for the people who know and love you: TELL SOMEONE. Thinking death is a good idea means something is very wrong. Go to the hospital. If no one offers to take you, go by yourself. Proper medication gave me back my life. Proper medication will do the same for you.
“One day Richard Cory went home and put a bullet through his head.”
A deputy I knew, worked with and liked killed himself last Friday. Baruch dyan ha’emet. Blessed is the true judge.
When I read the article in the paper this morning, my first though was had I known, I could have helped him. Except that’s not how suicide works. Jim and a close friend didn’t know I was suicidal until I told them I had a detailed plan to kill myself.
The problem with suicide is it feels normal. It doesn’t feel like depression. It feels like a rational decision. Now, the decision to kill myself feels terrifying. Then, it felt normal.
I don’t know any of the private parts of this man’s life. I know he loved the work he was doing. Doing work one loves is rare and wonderful. I know he was full of a high-power, fast oscillating energy. It’s hard to explain, but I could feel this energy when I worked with him. It didn’t feel like a negative energy. It felt more like it was a part of him – something that made him who he was. I’ve never met anyone else with that kind of energy. Now, that energy is gone. He’s gone. I feel like he threw his life away. Except I know that’s not how suicide feels. Suicide feels right. Rational.
I want to hold on to the stupid generalities people have about suicide; except I can’t.
“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” No, suicide is larger than that.
“He had his whole life ahead of him.” Someone who is 95 has her whole life ahead of her.
“He threw his life away.” No, he made a rational, or what felt to him like a rational decision.
Oddly, I don’t feel plagued by why. Why did he kill himself? I know when I was suicidal, I thought killing myself was a good decision. I put several weeks of thought into killing myself. I suspect he did, too. Why? Because life was too painful to be lived. Because suicide felt like a good decision. Because he couldn’t find the door. That’s what I mourn. That I never had a chance to help him find the door.
Oseh shalom bim’romav hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu v’al kol Yis’ra’eil v’im’ru, Amein. He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace, upon us and upon all Israel. Now say: Amen.