Autistic? Did not see that one coming, but now that you mention it..

photo of quote at top of page: “I don’t really want to become normal, average, standard. I want merely to gain in strength, in the courage to live out my life more fully, enjoy more, experience more. I want to develop even more original and more unconventional traits.” Anais Nin

Much of this has to do with the events in my life that took place over the last 10 years. I am not going to dwell on the fact that I am gay, always have been, couldn’t put words to my feelings and didn’t know I was “different”. There is a pivotal moment that I remember specifically that created the butterfly effect as to why I didn’t recognize my own gayness as being queer. I once commented on how beautiful a woman was in a magazine. I mean she was so pretty; I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I wanted to know more about her, I wanted to see more photos of her (she was/is a supermodel) and I mentioned this attraction to a family member. Their response, though their truth, put my understanding about myself in a category classified as “hetero sexual”. They said, “of course you are attracted to women. Women are beautiful creatures. They were made by [God] to be attractive to everyone. They are [God’s] artwork” In my mind if everyone is attracted to women and most everyone is hetero, I therefore am “normal” just like everyone else. My attraction to women is the same as everyone else’s.

So, every time I obsessed about a female, I went under the idea that everyone felt the same way. I had this belief in my mind until about 10 or so years ago, when I started to question what “attraction” meant to me and what it meant to the person that said it to me as a teen. I started recognizing differences in myself in the specific area of attraction.

Like I said, this post is not about my coming out as a lesbian. But in finding my own queerness and figuring out exactly what my definition is for the way I feel and my attraction to women is what caused me to really start analyzing my other behaviors and ways of thinking. I asked questions out of curiosity and kept asking.

This self-discovery got very intense once I started working from home during COVID onset. The fact that I worked at home is only correlated to the time frame, not the cause or catalyst of my discovery. I started taking time to think about conversations I have had with different people that had given me feedback about myself both positive and criticism. About 10 years ago, I began to get over my social anxiety and embrace my awkwardness- and I wondered why? What happened that made me ok with being around people and not being so nervous I wanted to vomit before I went anywhere? How did I get brave? Was I really “over it” or was I coping in some other way?

I did come out to certain family and friends about 5 or 6 years ago as gay and in doing that I started being exposed to others like me. Obviously, I mean other queer people, but beside that I was around other people that would point things out to me and saw me differently than people that had known me most of my life. One of the first things that happened that made me start to really pay attention was when someone casually said something about my stimming and sensory issues. It wasn’t a critique, and they weren’t poking fun. It was more of an awareness, and they said it in a way that they assumed I knew what they were talking about. Sensory issues?? Stimming?? Hmm??

Around this time, my therapist retired and I found a new one who is also part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Upon our first meeting we did the sort of small but obligatory invasive conversation about who are you? And why are you here? Have you ever seen a therapist? What for? I told her about my diagnosis of Bipolar as an early adult. (I’ll get to that more later).

I saw her weekly and a few weeks I went 2 times a week. Mostly it was just to check in. I had some major traumatizing life events going on and the main reason I found a new therapist at the time was, so I had an established relationship with someone if I had a mental break. (More on that later too).

I sent my youngest kid a Tik Tok video of an 8D sound recording. The caption was a question about how you hear this sound vs how others hear it. When I listened to it, I felt like I was the music. It flowed into me and from me. I couldn’t separate what I was hearing from all my other senses, though I cognitively knew that only my ears were involved in the sound stimulation. If you know you know, am I right?! It was mesmerizing, I listened to it on repeat at least 20 minutes. I couldn’t imagine how others heard it, it seemed so impressive and obviously moving that I never imagined that my kid would text back, “yeah it’s cool Mom, but I am not neuro divergent like you, so it doesn’t sound the same.” WHAT? I didn’t even know what those words meant. Was that a good thing? Was he giving me a back handed slam- typical teenager? I had no idea.

So, I went back onto Tik Tok and searched for videos about #NeuroDivergent. Now, if you know anything about Tik Tok there was a reason that video landed on my FYP but I didn’t know that at the time. I listened to video after video of women talking about their journey with being Autistic particularly interesting were women my age that had been recently diagnosed. I could have starred in nearly every video I watched. Some felt so familiar I watched with my jaw dropped.

I talked to my therapist at our next visit. She was brutally honest with me (which is my preferred method of communication.) She told me over the time we had been meeting she has not seen or heard me talk about any thought, feeling, actions or anything else that would point to me being bi-polar. She encouraged me to see a psychologist for some further evaluation.

After several long testing appointments with a doctor, thorough questions from her to me, my therapist, family members, my wife, reviewing my report cards from grade school, multiple self-assessments, and many that were filled out by other people in my life as well as many conversations by email and in person I was given my psychological test results. I have severe ADHD combined type. I am also Autistic. The doctor concurred with my therapist that I do not show classic bi-polar symptoms. The signs I do have for bi-polar are also typically seen in Autism and for me they fall under that classification rather than bi-polar when looking at the whole story.

The diagnosis in my early 20s could have been a misdiagnosis, from what I have found out many women my age were given the label of bi-polar in their early 20s and have since gone back and realized it wasn’t correct (or at least was not the full picture). There is also some chance that the diagnosis at that time was correct and brought on by the influx of pregnancy and postpartum hormones during that time, I had 5 kids in 7 years and breastfed. But is no longer present. Who knows….

But now I have an updated more precise map to use for my continued journey of self. So much more to write on this topic.

Sexism and Why I Can’t Be Salty (1)


I work in a warehouse for a company that manufactures and distributes hardware and home improvement materials- door knobs, shower heads, lock sets etc. I procure, negotiate, and purchase goods and services that support the business. My jobs includes buying everything from pallets, to boxes, to security services and plumbing repairs. I like the job I do, I like the people I work with. I do not like the company and it’s antiquated corporate America policies, however. Recently, the company made the Forbes Worst Companies to Work for in the United States. It’s nothing to brag about but for now it’s where I am and I always throw myself into whatever I do 100% so I take my job seriously despite the fact that the company is failing in nearly every category.

In doing my job I work with an all male maintenance crew, aside from one other woman on the crew that only works Friday-Sunday so I work with her one day a week on Fridays. Her job is to empty trash, recycling, and other materials and debris off the warehouse floor and into the right container, be it a dumpster or trailer to be taken to the recycle center. All this to say, that my colleagues are men for the most part.

I consider myself a modern feminist through and through. I am very rarely offended and I can dish it out as well as I can take it . To each their own, everyone has to decide what they are ok with but my line in the sand goes pretty far. I have a dirty mind and have a difficult time covering it up, I love to joke around and enjoy the banter back and forth between me and the “guys”. I can carry on any conversation about tools, machines, repairs, replacements, parts, motors and on and on…and I am not afraid to ask if I don’t know what the hell they are talking about. It’s my job to understand the project goal, function of the equipment, and use of the parts so that I can find the best product and best deal to purchase. I’m not a fragile flower bud and I can hold my own with them and any man I work with.

I am very well respected because of the work I produce. I am the person to come to if you need something done and need someone to initiate the process. I take the words “I’ll either find a way or make one” to heart every day.

Now that you know more about me at work, let me tell you what happened on Friday. We have some walk through metal detectors that needed calibrated and/or repaired and possibly needed to purchase new ones. I called a company that could do all of this and was referred to me by another company I called that did not do the repairs. When I called him he was not in the office and asked me to email him, which I immediately did. He did not respond but instead showed up at the warehouse. We are a one million square foot facility. We are a Foreign Trade Zone, effectively we are the authorized by the Customs and Border Patrol to handle both Foreign and Domestic product on our property. With that comes a lot of regulations and rules. One of which is that no one can come onto the premises that is not employed by us without a prior appointment. Remember he did not respond to my email. Though I am fairly understanding and know that some people don’t understand the rules we have to go by, I did not have time to see him the day he came out and it was at the end of my day. I had the guard turn him away. He immediately called me and told me he would have to bill me for a visit and I let him know what the problem was. I set him up an appointment with me the following day, Friday. This should have set precedence that I was not going to be phased by him trying to push me around.

We have a Facilities Manager that I have a lot of respect for. He is very professional, extremely knowledgeable and experienced, and we work extremely well together. He attends all the visits with suppliers to answer questions about the facility and our needs. I attend to answer any questions about the quote needed, what we are looking for from a finance stand point, and for me to get an idea of what they are “selling” so that I can get additional quotes and compare “apples to apples”.

When I walked out of the office to meet “Chuck” in the lobby, the first thing he said to me was “oh, your picture was not on the email you sent”. I responded “good”. This man was in his late 60s and I suspected that in the least he was socially awkward and at most possibly experiencing the phenomena that older people get when they start to lose their filter. I can hang. This is not a big deal just wasn’t sure where this was going to go.

Very quickly it became obvious that he liked to tell stories in an effort to inflate his expertise and brag about his experience. Of course, that is to be expected from a salesperson, he just wasn’t very smooth at it. Again, socially awkward maybe??

I picked up pretty fast that his technical talk was directed to Roger and his “fluffy” talk was directed to me. This happens frequently to me in all areas when I am buying something either in real life or work life. It’s annoying and definitely makes these sales visits grueling but not impossible. He hands me some literature about the devices and begins explaining the way it works and needs to be programmed. I listen, I ask relevant questions to which he mostly answers, but prefers to tell me anecdotes about other customers.

He refers to a page he has handed me about The Apollo spacecraft. He starts telling me a story about a female NASA employee that developed some software that was used in the mission. Though his tale is told in a way that is like he is talking to a first grader, I think it’s just his limited use of the English language. Until he looks at me and says “so I think it’s pretty cool that women have jobs that are important too. It’s really impressive”. Okay….I think it’s cool too…why are you telling me this. Still I chalk it up to old man syndrome.

Roger brought up a question about whether the upright machine will alarm at steel-toed shoes, which are required in our building. “Chuck” stammers and says that they will alarm. We ask that he shut off that section of the upright metal detector so it doesn’t alarm at every employee. He tells us to just ignore it. I ask again another way that he turn it off. He clicks some buttons. He then picks up the hand held wand and starts to explain that we can just use the wand on every person, over 200 people coming through the door in under 5 minutes. As he does this, he waves the wand up and then down my leg. He then points to the wand and says” oh, what’s that say? A perfect 10 hahahaha”. Guh-ross. Now, I have no doubt what has been happening here and I lose all patience that I was maintaining for this socially unacceptable dinosaur.

I regret not saying anything at that point. As usual, I think of a million things that could have put him in the defense. But my extreme professionalism keeps me from saying any of them. I completely ignore his comment, my facial expression does not even change.

He walks away for a minute to take a phone call and I turn to the pamphlet that he had given me to see if there is an 800 number on the book so that we can get this buffoon out of here and call the manufacturer directly. I turn to Roger and mouth “let’s get him out of here”. Roger nods. “Chuck” walks back over and I ask him if he was able to turn off the alarm for the shoes. He does not answer my question and again starts telling a story that has nothing to do with the conversation. Roger tells him he wants the alarm shut off. “Chuck” touches some buttons. I ask him again is he was able to shut off the alarm but before I get it out he interrupts telling me information I did not ask for. I’m pissed. It’s obvious that he will not take me seriously. I, in turn, interrupt him with “excuse me, answer my question, did you shut the alarm off?” He says no, that he has to have tech support do it. I ask if he needs to come back or if they are going to call now? Same thing…no answer just avoidance. Again, I say “excuse me, are you going to have to come back?” He says no, he is waiting on a call. I tell him that Roger and I have a meeting in 10 minutes. This is not true but I need a way out and instead of me telling him to leave I am trying to be professional. I ask Roger what he wants to do ignoring “Chuck” trying to explain to me how the machine works and why it ins’t necessary to turn off the alarm…again…for the tenth time…..Roger tells me he’ll stay with “Chuck”. I walk back to my office.

Later, Roger and I an another person present at the meeting discuss what happened. We laugh at the shear audacity of what “Chuck” did. I question Roger on whether he picked up what was going on and he did. More guys from the team start showing up where we are talking and we all have a good laugh. I say that I’m not mad, that I’m not sure what word I’d use. Someone suggests “disgusted”. That’s not really it either. Another female co-worker walks through and happens to hear the conversation and asks if I “lost it on him”. No, no I did not. I maintained my professionalism to the point I knew I couldn’t and then I left. I had to stay above it. I had to make accommodations for him lest I lose my job or be reprimanded. He got to say whatever inappropriate bullshit he wanted to say and I had to stand there and take it. I had to nod and smile through the gross display of overt sexism in front of 3 other men. I tell the co-worker that I have no doubt she’s been through something similar and probably numerous times, I’m not special. She laughs and says “oh yes”. I say “it’s just something we deal with. It just sucks. The utter disrespect that we are shown and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. It just really sucks.” My voice trails off and there is silence in the room as everyone, now only men, realize the heaviness.

So This Is The Fun Side of Bipolar Disorder


There it is…the switch is flipped. The all-too-familiar buzz is back. I recognize it now, but I used to not know what it was. It starts out as a low tone and sort of quiet, just an underlying sound in the background of my thoughts. It’s also a feeling. It feels fast and under pressure pushing me ahead in my thoughts. The buzzing increases in volume over several days. It’s like a 1960s television has been switched on and the tubes are warming up slowly over many hours inside my head.

I am propelled by the static as it grows increasingly faster and the tone raises higher. I know what’s coming now. I’ve caught on. I’m excited to see where it brings me. What crazy adventure I’ll go on while it’s here. Sometimes it’s been a literal adventure going places I’ve never been, meeting new people- everyone is a friend, dancing all night, drinking all day and oh the crazy sexcapades. It’s been a real trip.

It’s also a ride in my brain. Thoughts go wild and fast, I can barely keep up. Amazing ideas and creativity, wild colors take shape and I wish I could paint…I mean well. I have painted. Painted posters, canvasses, rooms, walls, sidewalks, furniture- anything I could get my hands on. I have painted for hours only stopping to eat (barely) and pee. I have dreamt up projects and imagined my images in the Smithsonian on display “A Peek Inside the Mind of a Maniac”.

I’ve come up with schemes and plans; I’ve written them down on paper with an intensity that breaks pencils. Numbers are my favorite. I calculate all kinds of things. How many leaves are on a tree, how long it would take for the tree to lose all of its leaves if it lost x amount of leaves per day. How many minutes I would need to work to make a million dollars; if I worked 40,000 hours how much money would I make. The formulas go on and on. It all seems so important at the time. Nothing can break my concentration, I am a woman obsessed. Some of my obsessions have been craft projects. When my kids were little I made- as in dreamed up, drew the pattern, found scrap fabric sometimes from other clothes, cut out the pieces, sewed the costumes together for all 5 of them the week of Halloween on practically no sleep and very little food. I’ve obsessed about cooking. I’ve made pot pies- turkey and chicken- until I had so many my family couldn’t eat them all. I made dozens and it was all I cooked for those 2 weeks. I gave them away just so they didn’t go to waste.  I have an ongoing project of trying to find “the best of…” Whatever the product of my obsession is at the time. It’s been cinnamon rolls, black licorice, ginger ale, lip gloss…just in the past 3 years or so that I can remember.

I had a job once where I was a recruiter and I was really good at it. It took my entire focus. I had to get the numbers. My whole life revolved around this job, meeting every challenge and rising above my team mates. I was encouraged to keep going, to do more, to bring more. I was driven and did everything that was put before me with intensity and purpose that went well above the typical person that does good work and meets goals. I ultimately lost that job as I unraveled. No one saw the mental anguish I felt or the fact that I was locked inside my own mind. I couldn’t see it from the inside and from those on the outside I was being rewarded for my efforts. It was a devastating loss because from everything I could see and was being told I was doing everything right. I never saw it coming. It’s what happens to people with an invisible disease or mental illness. The assumption is that we are exhibiting behaviors because it benefits us somehow. The reality is absolutely the exact opposite- there is no benefit, it is actually detrimental to us, and our families and friends. Losing the job was maybe one of the best things to happen to me in retro site, it got me away from those that were encouraging my behavior and allowed me to listen to those that truly loved me and wanted to help me.

I get irritable and really cranky if anyone tries to break me away from my obsession. I scream and rage throwing things and running away. I’ve thrown dishes, laundry, trash, raw chicken, shoes, makeup…anything I am holding at the time my rage peaks. The static is at an all-time high in these moments. It’s all I can hear. I can’t even hear my own voice which makes me scream just to hear myself think. I only know I’m yelling because I have begun to recognize the feel of my throat and vocal cords or because Bob tells me I am yelling, otherwise I have no idea. The pitch is deafening, and the pressure makes my heart race. I feel like I am on an adrenaline high. I am easily frustrated by the speed at which someone talks if I think they talk too slow or their mind lags behind mine in their comprehension of what I’m saying. It infuriates me.

So, this last time I started to hear the buzz I didn’t know it until I was several days in. It was loud already. Looking back with a clear mind and the ability to be rational I know when I was at the peak of my trip. I was lying in my bed and I could hear voices talking in a room in my house. I thought maybe they were in the office, at the front of my house, down a flight of stairs, and through two closed doors. But I could hear them whispering and mummering. They were making plans and if I laid there as still and as quiet as I could I might be able to make out what they were saying. I tried to decide if they were dangerous or had bad intentions. But they just kept whispering and I could almost make out their words. I laid for hours listening to them whispering from all the way across the house and on the first floor while I was in bed on the second floor at the back of the house with two closed doors between us. I wasn’t scared. I decided they were having a meeting and didn’t want to wake me up but that in the morning they would tell me what they talked about.

My senses are on full speed. I notice the smoothness of the sheets except for the piece of fuzz under my foot that feels like a lump and keeps me awake. It makes my back hurt as I lay twisted to keep it off of my foot. I wonder if it will wrap around on of my toes cutting off the circulation? As I drive shapes turn into animals up ahead and jump out from the sides of the road. I jump and scream as the lion runs out of the bushes in front of my car, I veer off the side as he disappears again. Colors have never been so vibrant, and they have personality and meaning, I can feel them. I feel larger than life. Like I’m trying to fit into a really small cramped space. My thoughts are big and bold and fabulous and can’t be contained by my ordinary compact life. I can smell objects that others don’t know exist. I remember one time getting into a friend’s car and I was repulsed by the strong smell of mustard- I like mustard, but this was strong. I asked her why her car smelled like mustard, but she had no idea what I was talking about. I demanded she pull over because I was sure she had a napkin or food wrapper with mustard on it. She pulled over and the only thing I could find was an unopened mustard packet under the back seat. I threw it out.

I wish I could say that all of this was fun. Don’t get me wrong sometimes it is over-the-top fun and exciting. But other times it is a burden. I wish my mind would just slow down and that I could think before I reacted. That I wasn’t so susceptible to following the noise, the buzz, the static in my brain. Sometimes I wish I could just get a break from it. It would be nice to have more control to turn it on when I wanted it and off when I didn’t. But it’s not like that. It has control not the other way around. There are times when all of this is going on and I’m sad and depressed, sometimes tormented. The noise feels like panic and I go into survival mode. I can go to bed one day and not be able to face the next day. Thoughts of dread and hopelessness run rampant in my mind. My focus becomes thoughts and feelings of horror. I get amped up but not in a good way. I feel incredibly guilty and worthless especially when I realize I have hurt someone (but can’t necessarily stop either even when I try). I have been known to cry uncontrollably about whatever I am obsessing on.  When the pie dough is too dry, I have crumbled onto the floor, oddly symbolic, in complete despair and anguish feeling as though I have let everyone in my family down because my pie dough is inedible. I go to bed for hours or days crying but unable to sleep or escape my own mind.

That’s what happened this last time. I felt sad but was hearing the buzzing and could tell I was gearing up for another trip. I began drinking more, getting buzzed or drunk several nights a week. My senses were heightened, colors were brighter, but I was crying and not wanting to get out of bed. We had made a change in my meds and I had forgotten it. Bob noticed the change in my mood and asked how I was doing. I fell apart knowing that someone else saw what I felt. It was validating, and I was relieved that I wasn’t losing my mind- or I was but he caught it. I called and left a message for my doctor. He called in a prescription and I started taking it. I circumvented what could have been a completely disastrous episode. Within a week I felt incredibly better and by two weeks was back to my “normal”.

I tell this story because many of you that read my blog know me. You know I may be strange or weird in my own way, but I am harmless and for the most part just like you. That’s mental illness. That is exactly what it looks like. Most of the time we blend in. But know that just because everything looks okay from the outside doesn’t mean we are keeping it together on the inside. We aren’t just those in mental hospitals, although I have spent my time there. We have families and friends, we drive cars, we shop for groceries right beside you,  we hold down jobs. We hold ourselves to standards and we are morally sound. Mental illness is not what you see in movies. It’s me.

Women’s March 2018

Yesterday I looked out in front and before me I could see

Thousands with hope just like me

Hope for what? why do we stand and scream and beg?

Is anyone listening?

I look beside me, and I see my friends

women just like me.

Their hearts are warm their brains are strong

but their voices are gone

On the other side is a woman twice my age

She reminds me of my grandmother

She’s standing alone in the sea of other women

I fear being alone.

Behind me are 3 women together

They are with Planned Parenthood

Their mission is clear

They can’t break through

This is not my March

This is not my home

This is not my solution

I am all alone

In the distance a voice yells

“black women Started ME TOO’

They are right, and they are silenced

And they are tired

It turn to my friend “wanna rush the stage?”

I just can’t listen anymore

We join arms my friends and me

We gather strength and begin to move to march

The mud squishes onto my shoes

The signs are held high; I think of how long this has gone on

I put one foot in front of the other

I notice our march is in unison

Where is the passion that was here last year?

We should be angrier

The laws are worse

The injustice has glaringly grown

This is not my March

This is not my home

This is not my solution

I am all alone

I see a sign and so does my friend

“Red hair soaked in the blood of my enemies”

My friend has red hair she pulls us ahead

We never lose each other as we run

We are together

She saw the sign first and wanted to take a picture

I saw the sign and wanted to yell “FUCK YEAH!”

That’s the spirit of my march

Why are we slowing

We have stopped

Much like this movement and much like my heart

Not with my friends, now sisters, not on our watch

Our linked arms grip tighter as we work up the crowd

We ask as we go by “will you go with us if we go first”

We are met with judgement

The oppressor is here I can feel him looking at me

This is not my March

This is not my home

This is not my solution

I am all alone

We get to the crossing the three of us yelling


Someone, a woman, grabs at my new friend to stop us

But our voices only escalate

They can hear them now, our voices

We march fast, we yell, we are pissed the fuck off

I think of all the times I have been dismissed by a man

I think of all the times my friends have been silenced by a man

Our anger grows as we run up the crowd

Yelling and laughing; we get stronger the further we go

Don’t try to stop us my sisters and me

We know our mission, we have a plan, we have organized

We are going to take a seat at the table

And if there is none we’ll bring our own chair

I am woke to what is happening and I’m done

Playing nice and I’m not backing down

This is MY march

This is MY people

This is MY answer

WE are not alone

We march all the way to her car and we drive

To the stoplight where my sister was halted

We park in the middle of the street

With our Fists held high as the music blares from the open windows

Keep marching I know you’re scared

And Keep moving though I know you’re tired

Stay energized I’ll help you through

Cause that is what sisters do

Horn’s sound is loud they turn their heads

We are putting the passion back into this crowd

Feeding them what they are craving

Reminding them of what they have forgotten

I am emboldened as I look to my sister, my friend

She is smiling and happy and I can tell she feels alive

I feel it too and realize I have not forgotten

What it feels like to motivate a crowd

This is MY march

This is MY people

This is MY answer

WE are not alone

I come home energized and refreshed

I no longer feel silenced or scared or alone

I am bold and fierce and empowered

I am alive there is still fight in me and I will be free

Inside My Suicide Brain

Burning brain in flames on a black background

I want to talk about something that makes a lot of people uncomfortable, but is part of my every day. Suicide.

I was diagnosed bipolar about 20 years ago. It was after a long battle with depression, suicidal thoughts, and psychosis. I’ve written about it here. Mental health disease carries with it a stigma. There are 3 groups of people in my mind when it comes to mental health. 1) Those that have it. 2) Those that try but don’t really understand it 3) Those that think it’s bunk. This is written to group #2. Group #3 can fuck off.  Group #1- solidarity to you my brothers and sisters.

I live with mental illness every day. It’s not something I choose to have. I am well aware that I can control my emotions and the way I “feel” is a choice, a decision. This is not that. It effects that way that I feel, and the way that I make decisions but it is not something I can stop from happening. I get up every day and because of my disease I fight my thoughts every day. I talk myself in and out of shit all day long.

Let me compare this to diabetes. Diabetics are diagnosed when their pancreas stops working correctly and the chemicals and hormones don’t respond as they should to certain body function. They check their blood several times a day, they take pills or injections when they need to balance the hormones out. A diabetic knows that there are extreme things that can happen as a result of the disease. They can lose a foot, they can lose eyesight, they go into a coma, and other less serious complications.

My brain doesn’t function properly. I check in with my doctor several times a year, maybe several times a month when things get bad. I take pills when the hormones need to be balanced. I know that there are extreme complications of having bipolar disease. I am unpredictable, my mood shifts back and forth, I think about suicide every day. That’s the reality.

I don’t believe that any sane, sober, rational, free-thinking person wants to die, that they want to kill themselves (aside from those that have a fatal diagnosis or a disease that will greatly impede their quality of life and for which there is no cure- that’s another side of suicide). It goes against how we are made as humans in every way. I, like so many others with a mental health disease, am afraid of dying. Not afraid of the act of dying or being dead, but afraid that at some point the noise in my head will take over and my brains will tell me to end it, and then it will happen. A diabetic that has uncontrolled disease loses a foot, a bipolar with uncontrolled disease slices their wrists.

It’s a complication of the disease. I have a million thoughts racing through my head at any given minute and I must constantly decide which ones to act on and how. I am sorting, sorting, filtering, filtering, analyzing millions of tiny thoughts in my head all day. It’s tiring. It’s exhausting. The medicine helps a lot. If it didn’t I’d be inpatient or dead. Sometimes the thoughts get so loud and so aggressive I start to believe them. I start to lose track of what is worth filtering and what isn’t.

Also, let’s call it what it is. It’s not “taking her own life” or “killing herself”. She didn’t kill herself, her mental illness killed her, bipolar killed her, her disease killed her. The term is suicide. And let’s stop saying that people that commit suicide are selfish! On bad days, I lay in bed with thoughts rambling on and I work every minute to talk these through in my head. It’s all I can muster on some days. I literally cannot do anything else except to keep the irrational thoughts from taking over. Those are days that I tell someone I know and trust that I am scared. I fear what my brain might tell me to do and that I won’t be able to recognize that my brain is lying to me.

On good days, there are still a million thoughts, but I may only have one or two that I have to talk myself through all day. When your aunt gets sick from her diabetes you go to her side, you ask what you can do to help, at the very least you might say a prayer or offer positive intentions but you don’t blame her. You don’t call her selfish. You don’t say “if she would have just asked for help”. People with mental illness don’t know their thoughts are irrational, that’s what makes them…IRRATIONAL! They can’t ask for help with something they don’t know is a problem and on bad days I may not know that my thoughts are putting me at risk. I may not be able to figure that out.

Don’t shy away from asking me how I am doing. If you are really concerned you can ask me if I feel suicidal, you can say the word. You saying it doesn’t plant the idea in my head. It’s already there, the question is whether I feel that I may act on it today.

Finally, let’s stop blaming ourselves. As much as your friend or family member may not have chosen to commit suicide, but it happened, they are not to blame and you are not to blame. The disease is a lying manipulative bitch that is hella strong and convincing. She will say anything and everything to get her way. While there are things that people can do, or say that might help in the moment, you can’t be expected to know when those are needed.

The biggest thing you can do is drop the fucking stigma about mental health disease. Support funding for these diseases. And TALK ABOUT IT. Talk about mental health and keep it in the light, that shit likes to stay in the shadows, lurking and nothing will ever get any better that way. It needs to become part of our conversation when we talk about health and disease. We talk freely and unashamedly about diabetes; we need to be that way with bipolar (and other mental health disease).

How Pearl Jam Saved Me From My Own Generation (X)


A couple of weeks ago I bought concert tickets to a show and it made some things in my life come full circle. I’ve seen a lot of live music shows. It’s something Bob and I enjoyed separately before we got married and have always done together since we started dating, in fact, our first date was to LIVE. Many, many have followed.

Every year we start very early in the season watching for shows to come to KC and within driving or riding distance. This year I heard that Pearl Jam was touring and that they would be hitting up Chicago. Not only is Chicago one of my very favorite cities, it’s a short, cheap plane ride and the concert will be at Wrigley field. No way would Bob not want to see this show. I was right. We sat together at Ground House Coffee in Gardner and over crepes and lattes we got online and luckily got tickets to the, what would be, sold out show.

I am generation X. Every generation before mine had some historically defining event. We had none. We are children born from the largest generation in American history, the Baby Boomers (born from the WWII era). They had war, protests, experimental drugs and sex, political unrest, and societal change. We had…frozen yogurt?

A lot of sub-cultural place markers of today got their start by generation Xers. Emo is one that started in the 90s, and made being depressed cool, which in turn brought awareness to those suffering in silence. The stigma, though still very much alive, is becoming less and less. People were starting to realize what was happening to this generation and some, including us, knew it wasn’t good. We had songs like “Jeremy” which gave the story behind that quiet but unpredictable kid in class. We knew how bullying and someone’s home life could cause them to blow the fuck up. The song was based on what, as you now, is the first, of many school shootings.  We felt the pressure cooker everyday. We knew the storm was on the horizon.

Portlandia was a way of life, not a TV show. The hipster trend grew it’s roots while I was in high school. Going against the “mainstream” was invented during my adolescence. We had an entire genre of music named after the movement- alternative rock. Whatever our parents did or were doing we rejected.  We were angry. We lashed out and didn’t give a fuck about what other people thought of us. We were scrambling to find what defined Us. Stuck in the middle between the Baby Boomers and what we now call ,The Millennials. We were being squeezed out of history and believe me, we knew it- could feel it.

We had a lot to live up to but we were labeled the generation of nothing, of X. We were looking for something worth fighting for.  Some of us felt we didn’t have anything to give, we served no purpose and that was reflected in the music of the time. We were sad, and lonely. We had nothing to cling to, nothing to bring us together. We were guilt stricken, sobbing with our heads on the floor. The music was our solace. It was where we connected.

This is how it was in the 90s in the sub-culture known as “Grunge” or sometimes just referred to as “alternative”. I have good memories, it wasn’t all terrible. I mean my Doc Martens held up and my flannel was warm, my hair did get washed (sometimes) and I do remember eating a meal or two. We’ve grown up and those that made it (our generation has a very high suicide rate) feel a sense of comaraderie knowing what we all went through together. We still hold inside of us these ideas of rebellion, unrest, and independence but we live our lives, go to our 9-5s and we are a bit more of a part of society than we ever thought we would be.

A flash of my youth came up and bit me that morning in the coffee shop as we ordered those tickets. Pearl Jam defined life for me in the 90s. Nobody could give words, voice, and sound to the way I felt better than Eddie Vedder. I would listen and feel as though my soul was understood. This band saved me from certain self destruction. When my friends and I listened to them play, WE felt heard. From all of that bullshit of nothingness that I grew up in and with, I have it good, not everyone was so lucky from the 90s.


A Letter to My 18-Year-Old-Self

letter to my 18 year old self

First of all, I want you to know that the impact you have on others will change the world, as you know it. You are powerful beyond your comprehension. You have the opportunity and ability to set yourself on a path to success; at any given time you’re doing better than you think you are.

It’s okay to let some people into your life and reject those that don’t benefit you. The cool thing is you know who’s who right now. Don’t worry about being alone; you’ll never be lonely. Seriously, only allow people into your life that are worthy of all you have to offer. The relationships you have that are healthy you’ll want to nurture them and keep them close, don’t let them slip away.

As you go through life you’ll meet people that don’t agree with how you’re living or what your future plans are. Just remember, only you know you and I’m telling you, as you, to stay the course. You’ll move through it and you’ll appreciate and respect yourself so much more knowing you stayed true to you. You have no reason to doubt yourself.

Though you have felt what it’s like to fall in love, to be loved, and to be hurt and rejected you’ve not yet met the person that will put all the pieces together for you. He’s coming soon and when it happens you’ll know right away. Trust yourself and trust him. He’ll come in on a white horse and swoop you up and you’ll fall for him hard and fast but it’s good, so go with it. He’ll hang the stars for you. You’ll resent the time you spend apart. Though it may seem crazy now you’ll still feel this way about him 22 years from now.

But for now, spend your time having fun and living life in a way that you’ll have no regrets later about not taking every opportunity that comes your way. Do it all now, whatever it is, go for it.

Try not to worry so much about things, go with the flow more. And as far as people go, most people aren’t’ paying attention to you anyway, they are too busy worrying about their own shit. You have the ability to read people, you have amazing intuition and that makes some people uncomfortable around you. You don’t know yet how to hone in on this skill and use it to your advantage but it will serve you well later on. Go with your gut, she’s never wrong.

Consider eating a bit healthier. Love your body and the amazing things it is capable of doing. Take care of it and nurture it. Continue to exercise. Have more sex- but on your terms. Take it from yourself- figure it out now, the sooner the better. Know that you are just as deserving of good sex and orgasm as the person you’re with. It’s not just about him, whoever him happens to be. Your satisfaction and happiness is up to you, you are in control and in charge of it.

It’s okay to speak up and speak out. You’ll figure out that people are looking for leadership and you have those skills. Work on the empathy piece to that leadership. Don’t be so afraid of rejection that you keep you ideas and opinions to yourself. Others can learn from your unique perspective. Being young does not invalidate your experience.

You’re going to go through a couple of rough years here real soon. Everything works out in the end. Stay true to you, stay smart and use your wisdom. Love yourself and everything will be all right.

Biggest Powerball in Lottery History

Wow! All this Powerball fuss is incredible! It’s, at this moment, a whopping 1.3 BILLION dollars, and the biggest in lottery history. Facebook is inundated with posts about how people will spend the money if they win. IF THEY WIN!! It has created a frenzy to say the least.

I think the overwhelming majority of people buying tickets cannot even fathom the amount of money the pay out would be. How could they? The average income in our country is $51,000 a year. In Kansas the annual pay out, after taxes, is $30 Million per year for 30 years! The sad truth is most people that win are out of money in a few short years. But it isn’t stopping anyone from trying. And as the saying goes “you don’t win if you don’t play”.

I was in the gas station today and there were about 6 people standing in line, all talking about the Powerball. “How many tickets are you getting?” “I heard someone bought $100 worth of tickets earlier.” “Somebody has to win right?” And the conversations continued as I walked out the door. It reminded me of something- my all time favorite movie, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

In the movie, Charlie’s family was poor and sickly and I desperately wanted him to find a GOLDEN TICKET. Do you remember those scenes of people screaming and fighting over those tickets? People were swiping them out of each other’s hands and claiming them for their own. These people were in an all out hysteria over the tickets and there were several, (unlike the chances of the Powerball) and the prize was a tour of a chocolate factory that had shut its doors to the public years before.

The press would interview each golden ticket finding family and most the recipients were a loathsome bunch. But Charlie was a sweet boy. He was a good boy. Did what his parents asked, was respectful and humble. He had nothing. He ate cabbage soup every day for dinner and sometimes it didn’t even have cabbage!! When I watched his birthday celebration and realized he was going to be able to buy a bar, one bar, in which he hoped to get a golden ticket my heart raced I was so excited for poor Charlie.

willie wonka

I wonder if all this fuss will bring someone his or her dreams? Charlie found a golden ticket and toured the factory. After a somewhat abrupt end and an unexpected outburst by the owner, Willie Wonka, Charlie humbled himself and walked away. I wonder if the winner could walk away? But it was in that act that he won the grand prize. His humility and honesty won him the greatest most elaborate perfectly timed extraordinary prize of his lifetime.

The movie was a reminder that good things happen to good people and that money can’t buy happiness. It gave me hope. It showed me that the world is inherently good. When I was a kid, and even still now (I can admit it) I loved that movie. I would watch it over and over. It represented hope and what can happen if you can simply imagine it will. It was a kid’s dream come true. I wanted to ride in that flying glass elevator, I wanted to push the red button and soar through the glass ceiling (I’d still like to shatter the glass ceiling but that’s a blog for another day). I wanted to feel like I was floating on air just like Charlie!


I hope someone wins. I want them to have everything they ever dreamed of. I hope it’s someone like Charlie who came from nothing. I’m a sucker for a good underdog story. I’ll believe they are good, honest and humble like Charlie. I will believe that winning this prize will send them down a road that will turn their lives around for generations to come in their family. I will imagine them blasting through that glass ceiling that held them back from everything they ever wanted.

“If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanna change the world?
There’s nothing to it
There is no life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there, you’ll be free
If you truly wish to be”
Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory


I Am Heidi and I Am Bipolar (this time I made it)


The other day I was out to dinner with some colleagues of mine. We were talking about nothing really. One of them asked me how I was doing. I knew exactly what she was asking. Her concern was very authentic but for a mili-second in my mind I paused. Could I tell her how I really was? Could I trust these women that I was munching casually on chips and salsa with the heaviness of my truth?

As with most things in my life I took a “I-won’t-know-until-I-do-it” attitude and decided to just put it out there. I’m pretty good at diverting attention and changing the subject if the conversation got too uncomfortable for any of us. So I told her I was doing much better, but that the summer had been a rough one.

Thinking this would suffice and we’d move on talking about better things than my mental health like making money, who said the dumbest thing on Facebook this week or even sex but no, she wanted to know more. She asked, “What happened?” Again, I know her concern was genuine. The past summer as far as anyone could see I had pulled back on work and relationships and pretty much went into hiding so I know that her asking me that question was valid. I had decided long ago that I would not be embarrassed or held back by my mental health diagnosis. My mission in this area to bring awareness so that other people, especially women, can feel comfortable being who they are and not resent this one part of themselves.

It’s been almost 19 years since I was first given the diagnosis of bipolar disorder II. I’ve had ups and downs over the years. I’ve been in and out of therapy, on and off meds and through numerous changes in the cocktails of medications over the years. I know the prognosis of my condition. I know that most people with bipolar disorder must be medicated their entire lives just to live a seemingly normal life (and sometimes that isn’t even possible). I also know that bipolar depression is a contributing factor in many suicides. I know these things; I live them daily.

For most of these past 19 years I’ve been stable with minor mood fluctuations. Most people would have no idea that I carried a mental illness diagnosis. I’ve held jobs, advanced in my career, raised children, sustained relationships and paid bills. Nothing on the outside would have hinted towards what I was fighting (and winning) everyday.

But this summer a shift happened. I remember feeling physical symptoms of the manic mood, but I didn’t put it together. When you’re living it, it just feels like it’s a part of who I am. It’s not like some kind of monster separate from myself. It’s not something that has “taken over” When I had headaches and my heart raced I never even thought about how those symptoms could be a manifestation of the bipolar.

I often joke that when you go crazy it’s not like a switch gets flipped. You don’t hear it. It’s not an alarm and there are no red flags being waved. No one is there at the threshold between normal and out of you fucking mind saying, “you have now crossed over.” It’s slow and progressive. I didn’t realize I was manic until much later and only once I leveled out.

Have I gone mad-

What I did feel was when the bottom fell out. I did know that I was spiraling down a deep dark abyss of which I’d never be able to get out of on my own. I didn’t hear the sudden swish of the rug being pulled out from under me as my feet flipped up over my head. I didn’t feel as I tried to grasp onto anything that would hold me up. I gasped for air; I begged to keep my head up. I fell and I never landed, I just kept falling.

I became frightened of where my thoughts would lead me and what they might make me do. I didn’t want to die. The thought of it made me shudder. I couldn’t imagine leaving my family alone to deal with the hurt that would cause. I however, didn’t trust that in an irrational haze my unpredictable chemically imbalanced mind wouldn’t take over and convince me to kill myself. You don’t know when your having crazy thoughts, that’s what makes them crazy.

During a more lucid time I told my husband and doctor what was happening and about my fears. She decided to put me on what she called “home hospitalization”. Someone was to be with me 24/7 in case the irrationality took over. I was not supposed to work or have any stress in my life. Then my grandma died.

I couldn’t talk to anyone except my husband. Literally, I didn’t answer the phone or make any calls. I stayed in bed and only felt safe when Bob was home. I didn’t eat and barely slept. I had completely lost who I was. Like when you’re in an airplane in the fog. You have no concept of where you are in space. That’s how I felt. With gray space all around me and no way to know if I was right side up or upside down. I had to trust Bob to tell me if I was okay or not.

Meanwhile my doctor changed my meds and slowly but surely they started working. The fog got thinner and thinner, I started to see my way out. Eventually, it thinned out to the point where it was a few clouds here and there. And that’s about where I am now.

So that’s what happened. It’s not the first or the worst and it won’t be the last. After I told my story one of the other women said, “You’re such a bad ass. You’re just so authentic and open about your bipolar. And you keep going, you don’t let it hold you back.” I appreciated her words but this is me. I’m not special. I fall down and get back up; it’s all I know. I take one day at a time, and on this day I choose to live. I am Heidi and I am bipolar.

Please Forgive Me

Forgive me


How do you move past a dark mark in your life? A time you were so hurt or betrayed or abandoned that you feel like the person you were is no longer there. The old you has changed as a result of what you went through. How do you get past it or do you?

I was talking with a friend a while back about forgiveness. What is it actually? What does it mean to forgive someone? And is it necessary? And if so, how the hell do you go about doing it? We didn’t come up with all of the answers but I did learn a few things. As I thought about our conversation I realized a few things.

1) Forgiveness has absolutely NOTHING to do with the person that hurt you, nothing. If it did the other person would have to know that you had forgiven them for it to be “real” but they don’t need to know. It’s a personal decision you make with yourself. It’s the last thing you can do and have complete control over to end the relationship once and for all. It’s closure. It’s sticking a fork in it. It’s done and over. And none of it is for them or about them; this decision is all about you.

2) Forgiving someone else is one of two simultaneous actions the other being- forgiving yourself. To be able to forgive someone else you have to forgive yourself for the part you played in the situation.

I had something terrible happen to me, it was an injustice that I worried I would never get past. I beat myself up over it; no, actually, I ripped myself apart. How did I not know better, how did I not see it coming, how did I let it happen, how could I be so stupid and naive? I started to believe and act the exact way I was accused of being and acting. Ugh!

I realized for me to go on, I had to stop talking like that to me. I wouldn’t allow anyone else to talk to me (or anyone I loved) that way, why was I letting myself do it? I started to recognize that I am human, and as a human I am imperfect. I will make mistakes and make bad decisions but ultimately I am a good person with good intentions and a huge heart. I don’t deserve to be exposed to such mistreatment especially from myself.

3) Forgiveness isn’t a one-time thing, it is a process. Yuck, sometimes I just want something over and done. I don’t always want to have to “go through a process”. The thing about it is that it sort of happens in layers, or levels sort of like Kubler-Ross’ stages of death and dying. But this is more like the stages of freedom and liberation!

First, I had to get to a place where I could wrap my mind around what had happened. This was probably the hardest part for me. I was so stunned and astonished that another human could treat someone in the way I had been treated it took some time to admit it had actually taken place.

I had to do damage control. Next, I sought out help from those I trusted and who had my best interest in mind. After that, I sat with the thoughts of how things had been before and what I wanted to go back and what had to change for good.

I sorted through and picked up the pieces as I began to forgive myself. I started to understand that to get to that place where I no longer thought about what happened I had to forgive the people that had done this. Otherwise, they were just taking up real estate in my head, and they did not deserve any of my time or energy.

4) Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. It also doesn’t mean you welcome the person or people back in to your life. You have to decide what is best for you, and know that just because you forgave them doesn’t mean they won’t do it again. Remember- forgiveness has nothing to do with them.

5) Practicing gratitude helps to forgive. Find the things that you are thankful for, and focus on them. Soon enough they will become larger and more important than the person or people you are trying to forgive. What you focus on expands. If you believe this, you understand that focusing on gratitude will make those things in your life bigger and better. And all the time you are spending on being grateful is time you are not spending thinking about the shitty thing that happened to you.

6) Forgiveness gets easier the more you do it. Become a person that easily forgives. You can practice it and practice makes perfect, right? Forgive the person that cut you off on the highway, forgive the mom for going backwards in the school pick up line, forgive your spouse for being snarky, forgive your kid for forgetting her backpack, forgive your neighbor for making ruts in your newly manicured lawn. Forgive! It feels good to not be harboring ill feelings towards anyone.

Along with this is being the person that is not easily offended. You can choose to see the good in people, and assume that their intentions are not malicious. Everyone is going through something, and everyone has shit that they carry with him or her every day. You may have come across them at a bad time, but that doesn’t mean that they are a bad person. Don’t allow your self to be offended, then you don’t’ have to work on forgiveness quite as much.

None of this is easy and I am far from perfect on any of it. I am real woman dealing with real issues and these are some of my observations and things that have helped me. I am working on forgiving others and myself every day. I try to practice what I preach but I don’t always do such a good job. I fall way short of where I’d like to be most of the time. Please forgive me.