The totally shame-free, actual-life, real-time blog where I tell all, show all--without nagging or whining (all right--maybe a little whining...)--in my attempt to stop being a fat middle-aged woman who avoids mirrors and clothing stores and start being a woman at home in her body...brought to you by a real woman, the Independent Weltha Herself. I won't give any advice, and I'm not asking for any--just companionship on my journey.

Every day...a new post. Every other real weight. Every pictures.

For every woman who has ever tried to just lose the extra weight and feel good...overall and about herself...and who lived to tell the story.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Day the 183rd and Days 17-19 of Advent

Well, Reader, it is all a whole lot better.

As in a big ol', big ol', big ol' bunch better.

This weekend, I didn't eat all that terrible - mostly because I didn't have much cooking time and The Check didn't come until Saturday. So very helpful THAT was...I did eat some yummies at the party on Saturday night and had a glass of eggnog that was much more 'nog' than 'egg' if you get my drift. Yesterday, had a naughty Toaster sandwich at Sonic (which didn't look that naughty...) and Coca-Cola (this must stop; joints hurt today...) and then some guacamole dip last night. Very good and fresh.

Let's talk about what all I did: Friday night was the Choir Excursion to Trans-Siberian Orchestra with Dan the Hairstylist, and it was...entertaining. A little too glitzy rock 'n' roll for me and besides, call me goofy, but at Christmas, I like to hear about Jesus. Yeah, I know. How strange of me...there was something about a girl coming home and an angel in the first part and I just didn't get it. The special effects were...pretty doggone special but you know me...for my money, going to Tulsa Oratorio Chorus to hear Wachet auf and The Magnificat - well, that was special the other week. Nonetheless, Dan and I had a good time and laughed a lot, and Mischa sat on my other side so it was highly pleasant.

Saturday night was Landlords Pete and Rick's Party, and it was great. I met some lovely folks who are going to follow up with invites and hangin' out. I'm all over that. Food was great, company was great, took Poodle, and it was all too much fun. Really enjoyed ourselves and actually knew some of the other guests. Neighbor Paula went, too and brought a totally fun friend. I really had fun. Really did. Now I understand why people can enjoy parties...

Yesterday was: Choir practice, Church (I was Lector again...), a little more Choir practice (yes, we're climbing the Mt. Everest known as The Hallelujah Chorus) and a movie with Mischa and out to eat. We went to J Edgar, directed by the incomparable Clint Eastwood and starring the very gifted Leonardo diCaprio. It is so worth seeing. THEN, to El Chico where I had guacamole - neither of us were horribly hungry - then off to WalMart to grocery shop. Going to the store with a friend is WAY fun. WAY WAY FUN. We had a super time. I am so thankful to have Mischa in my life. He is such a dear - and we laughed like children.

This morning, I have had oatmeal with strawberries in it (no, it's not all that good...honestly, I need a pat of butter and some molasses...In fact, I threw it away) but at least it's not some big fatty deal with loads of junk in it. Lunch today is Extraordinary Work Salad Bar because I was too busy to cook this weekend. AND...I went to Work Salad Bar and it's sort of closed this week. So...I got some not-too-awful junk from the machine AND THEN some nuts and raisins (and a brownie-with-raspberries - too cakey and sweet and not enough raspberries...) from the Cafeteria and all in all, I just feel sleepy. OH well.
Friday - as you may remember was Not Weltha's Finest Hour, but the day improved. And now, I will tell you a sort of secret and make a true confession.

This is not a secret: I have bipolar disorder. Bipolar II most likely - not the high highs and low lows, but still...And I have not been on all my meds. There are a number of hoops for me to jump through in order to get meds without having insurance and still be able to, oh, I don't know, indulge in luxuries like gas in the car and food on the table. Or become a charity case. Nothing wrong with that, but it's not how I see myself and my response is always "that's for the people who REALLY need it!"

I knew I had some meds but could not find them (have you ever put things away only to lose them? Yeah, me too. All the time...) Finally, on Friday afternoon, I found them. I took a dose. And one Saturday. And one yesterday. And one this morning. And already, I am "doing much better." As in, MUCH better. People notice a difference.
I struggle with huge amounts of shame due to this. It's sometimes compounded by people not understanding how it all works and making jokes about my illness and my medication (generally, the people are not malicious, but boy, is it a knife to my heart...I have to realize they really don't understand.)

So...instead of 3 days of Advent Meditation, we are going to have a little message from Weltha on Mental Illness.

People sometimes have mental and emotional disorders. These are not character flaws; they are generally chemical or organic and pretty much distress the life out of folks. I have Bipolar Disorder and it can take me from an intelligent and interesting and kind woman to a sobbing angry witch. I do not like this. Not at all. It has damaged friendships and pretty much anything else you can think of in my life. I have to be on medication or I don't function well. Recently, I have been off my 'big meds' and have been holding on for dear life with the edges of my fingernails. It has taken all my energy to even remotely 'act normal' and trust me, it's wearing. I expend huge amounts of effort to hold it together, and as a result, I am weary and haggard and not in good shape.
However, after only 4 doses of meds, I am now acting like myself again. Yes, I am thankful. I'm probably not at a therapeutic level, but I'm getting there. I can live and enjoy life without the constant vigilance of monitoring myself and hoping I don't get worse....
You might be wondering if you or someone you know has a disorder. Go to the doctor (or encourage the other person.) Get diagnosed. And then work with a physician or a psychiatrist to discover what medication works best. Don't give up if the first attempt isn't so great.
What if you know someone who has a disorder?
Here are two things I can tell you that will make all the difference: don't treat everything about them as 'their disorder' or 'their meds.' This doesn't mean you put up with abusive behavior, but it does mean you recognize that the person is a human, with good days and bad days. A bad day doesn't mean they are 'doing badly.' And for Pete's sake, don't dog them about their meds. This is a fine line - if you are really close to them, go ahead and risk the 'are you on your meds?' question, but be prepared: being treated as if every upset is a 'meds' issue is damaging to people who have these struggles. We are more than our meds.
And please, don't make 'meds' jokes or 'mental illness' jokes. We don't find it all that funny. I think Goethe was right: Men show their characters by nothing more clearly than what they find laughable. Commenting that someone 'probably is off her meds' is pretty much a flogging offense in my book.
I am thankful for medication. It makes all the difference for me. ALL the difference. I become a person again and there is an ease and a buoyancy to me that I love. My meds are not 'happy pills'; rather, they restore needed chemical connections that allow me to be my real self, not the self that presents my disorder.
Taking meds is not some character flaw. Please don't imply that it is - that taking medication for an emotional disorder is a sign of weakness or of being terribly flawed and a mess. Diabetics take insulin. All sorts of people take all sorts of medications. It's just the stigma of mental illness that makes our meds a joke, a cross, an embarrassment.
As we enter the last week of Advent, I would like to ask you to think of people you know who struggle with emotional disorders - clinical depression, bipolar, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or perhaps even the really big ones such as schizophrenia. Ask yourself how you can treat them with acceptance and dignity.
Give that as a Christmas gift this year. All of us thank you - and no one more than I.
Friday was a bipolar near-meltdown. The friend involved understood and just said, "You had a bad day. It happens. It's all right."
Funny thing - it was and it is all right. I'm fine today.
And here's to a great finish to Advent.

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