It’s Been a Long While

You might how it goes. Some life-changing events make you revisit a place that is special to you.

This place is special for me. I started this blog as a way to reach out to other people with bipolar disorder and partially, as many bloggers due, to get attention (there, I said it). But it goes beyond looking for approval, I wanted this website to be a “safe space” for all of us who have to deal with the challenges with our mental health. But, as a blogger, it is difficult not to make this all about me. I try to write articles that people can relate to, especially those with mental health roadblocks.

My hope is to not talk about myself too much, and allow others to chime in. I welcome any input and/or experiences from our community. And we are a community: those who have to deal with any type of mental disorder. I have my bipolar disorder and my ADHD. And in a very funny way, I love them like a parent loves a child.

My base personality has a way to make me chatty, and to talk a lot about myself. I would like to think that I am not self-centered, but I am often concerned with that. I check myself with the people who I care about. Most times I learn that I am worrying too much. I believe that most of us who have to deal with our disorders might feel the same.

There have been many changes in my life since I last posted an article: I retired and moved to another country, I became a grandparent for the second time, and unfortunately, I had to end a 25 year-long friendship. And while change can be exciting, I think that for those of us who have bipolar disorder, change is an especially tough thing to handle. It brings new and exhilarating experiences, and then it also brings thing that are downright sucky.

I hope to get this blog back on track. Not just for me, but for all of us.

For today, I am going to leave it at that.

Peace,

Jase

Advertisement

The Quiet One (aka Luke’s Dog)

I’ll start with explaining irony, since the word is often and incorrectly applied.  It’s not ironic that the last post that I published focused on our dog Luke, and this post has to do with our other dog Casper.   George Carlin taught me about irony.   Mr. Carlin said that irony is “a state of affairs that is the reverse of what was to be expected; a result opposite to and in mockery of the appropriate result.”  So, writing a post about Casper after writing one about Luke would seem to be the most “un-ironic” thing for me to do.  So we will call this a coincidence.  And opposed to a happy coincidence, this one is not.

About 14 years ago, I picked out Luke from the local SPCA.  He was shy and timid in the kennel where I first encountered him.  In the chainlink box attached to the side of the building, he was perfectly docile and sweet.  I thought “he is perfect.”  Then I got him home…and realized that I had made one of the worst decisions of my life.  The dog was crazy!  But happy-crazy.  Crazy-exuberant. Crazy-peppy.  Crazy-uncontrollable.  And he tore up everything: shoes, books, bedsheets, you name it.  Maybe he was bored, maybe he was too smart, but maybe, just maybe, he was lonely.  Enter Casper.

One of my co-workers fostered dogs.  I mentioned to her that I was looking for another, and she told me that she had the perfect dog.  A white shepherd who was calm and low-maintenance.  We arranged to meet at a local dog park.  As soon as Luke saw Casper, he was all over him, licking Casper’s ears, knocking his body against Casper, barking excitedly.  Casper was a less than excited, fearful and overwhelmed by Luke’s big personality and energy.  But I told my co-worker that I would take Casper for a trial-run and see how the two got along.

For the first few day, Casper tried to keep a wide berth.  Regardless of how hard Casper tried, Luke was always in his face.  Casper, much more chilled-out than Luke, would lie down and try to relax, and Luke would walk over and lick Casper all over his head.  I said “Luke, leave him alone” so many times.  But I knew that Luke was only hearing “Luke, blah blah blah blah.”  Dogs don’t speak human.  After a few more days, Casper seemed to become resigned to Luke’s constant attention.  And then a few more days went by, and I discovered that Casper appeared to be keeping an eye on Luke, even following him around the house sometimes.  So I told my co-worker that I would keep Casper.  My floored friends and family questioned me on why I got another dog.  They were well-acquainted with Luke and all his craziness.  I just told them that Casper was Luke’s dog, not mine.  And that’s how it lasted for 14 years.

It was a wild ride.  Luke never got over his overwhelming need to give Casper a lot of attention.  Casper would just lie there, while Luke licked his ears, waiting for Luke to get distracted.  Ken and I called them the “boys.”  And the boys would escape from the backyard, more than once.  Although it was terrifying, we (or the neighbors) would always find them running around the area, but always Luke with Casper following closely behind.  The boys would hang out with me on the back porch in the evenings.  They would follow Ken and me throughout the house, choosing to lie down in the same room with one of us.  Luke would make the decision, but Casper followed suit.

Casper had his distinct personality though.  He would quietly walked over to Ken or me while we were seated to get in a quick pat on the head, before Luke jealously realized and pushed Casper out of the way.  Since he was such a beta-dog, we had to coax him to eat, telling him to, and then leave the room before he would do so.  He would stand at the edge of the hall, staring at Ken in the late evening.  Ken would finally say, “Okay, let’s go to bed.”  And Casper would lead the way to the bedroom.

Over the past couple of weeks, he slept more and more, and ate less and less.  Concerned, we took him to the veterinarian.  Through scans, the docs discovered masses in his liver, damage to his kidneys, and extra fluid in his body.  Feeling guilty, we asked if these problems could have been discovered earlier.  The doc said that we would have only had known if we had requested a preventative scan, which is not standard.  Blood tests would not have shown anything.

We brought Casper home for one more night.  He was more frail than ever, and had trouble walking to the water bowl without Ken keeping his hind legs stable.  We made the decision to put him to sleep, and called for the appointment the next morning.  I stayed with Casper until his last breath, as I have stayed with my other pets.  His light slowly was extinguished.  He went out as I had always know him.  Quietly.

I don’t know what is in a dog’s mind, but Luke is not acting like he is upset.  He has been staying on the porch with me longer, as if he knows that Casper is not in the house anymore.  He is not searching for Casper.  But he still sleeps on his own dog bed, instead of Casper’s.  Maybe, in his dog mind, he understands that he did everything that he could do to make his own dog’s life quite special.

Until next time,

Jase

While We All Get Older

15 years old.  I was just learning to drive.  Back in the 1970’s in Louisiana, the legal driving age was 15 (hell, the legal drinking age was 18 – Make America Great Again…just kidding).  I was so young and fresh at 15.  I had my first boyfriend; a sweet bubba who always had a gun or a fishing pole in his hands.  I was barely a high school student, playing tuba in the band, avoiding the jocks and snobs.

15 years is weighing heavy on my dog Luke though.  He has trouble lying down and getting up off the floor.  Often, he growls softly while he lies on the ceramic floor of the great room of our house.  Our veterinarian seems to think he has joint pain.  Pain seems likely.  I hope he is not growling out of pain, but who can know.  I have a feeling that he will be going soon.  And I will be ready for it.  Well, I think so.

I have said good-bye to two dogs and two cats as an adult.  So I have been here before.  I cried like a baby for one of the dogs.  She was a Brittany Spaniel.  Her name was “Stoli.”  I inherited her from my cousin, who is a Stolichnaya vodka drinker.  Stoli came my way because my cousin moved in with her girlfriend, and Stoli was chasing the girlfriend’s horses.

If you know Brittany Spaniels, I don’t have to explain their personalities or their energy level.  For those who don’t know, let’s call the breed a hybrid of Glinda the Good Witch and the Tasmanian Devil.  Sweet as the day is long, but so hard to exhaust.  She worked her way deep into my heart.  When she left the world, I had to take a few day off from work.  I stayed in bed, and away from everyone.

Luke will leave me in shambles too.  Up until now, he has been the craziest dog.  He has a reputation with our family and friends as a complete nut:  Garth from Wayne’s World and Robin Williams combined in canine form.  As recently as six months ago, petting him was almost impossible.  If you reached for the top of his head, your hand would be nipped gently and then immediately covered in dog saliva.  These days, he will walk over to me as I sit on the couch, and calmly place his head on my leg.  I can pet him gently, and he will look up at me.  Puppy-dog eyes from my old friend, Man’s best friend.

Luke has always been excited to see me.  So that is going to be what I always see when I walk in the door every evening from work.  Luke bouncing up and down.  Unable to contain himself.  And no need for him to do so.

1934486_1179509522178_4911028_n

…And Then Our House Flooded

The best laid plans…blah, blah, blah.

I work for an insurance/financial giant.  This year the company implemented a new health insurance structure:  higher premiums for tobacco users.  The company offered a quit-program.  After smoking more than 70% of my life, I decided to finally give up the cigarettes.  Even with trying repeatedly to some success (I did quit for more than 12 months a few years back), I always ended up with a butt in my mouth, like an infant with a pacifier.

This time, I set my quit-date, May 20th.  May 20th is the birthday of my first girlfriend and a lifelong friend.  Well, she would have been a lifelong friend had she survived an automobile accident where she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.  I chose the date in her honor.

I was steadfast.  Beginning that Wednesday, I chewed on cinnamon toothpicks and sucked on cinnamon hard candy.  Per my “quit-coach” (a telephone counselor provided by the quit-program), cinnamon is a good replacement for the taste of nicotine. Who knew?  I smoked high-priced British Dunhill cigarettes that cost 8 bucks a pop for a pack.  So every other day, beginning the 20th, I would reward myself with the purchase of a new CD.  I’m a music junkie.  I have 51.3 24-hour days of music in my iTunes, so I would get my fix with music, instead of sucking smoke into my respiratory system.

…And then our house flooded.

In the wee hours of Tuesday, following the Monday Memorial Day of May 25th, our home welcomed about a half-foot of water during what will go down as one of the worst floods in Houston history.  And all I could think, as my husband and I were throwing possessions up on the beds, the tables, the desks, the kitchen counters, etc., was how much I wanted a cigarette.  So I bought a pack.  And then I bought another.  And another.

Now I’m back to Square One.  Tomorrow is Monday, the first of June.  A new month.  A new chapter.

Tuesday evening I can buy a new CD.  I’m going to start shopping tonight.

About Last Night

I mentioned that I felt exhausted yesterday evening.  I kinda stuck my foot in my mouth.  I felt like a bad friend, which, for me, is the worst way in the world for me to think about myself.  But I know, in truth, I am a great friend.  24 hours to find myself again.

There is a group of us that get together each quarter to share dinner out.  Our birthdays are all in October, so we are the October Birthday Bunch.  Last night, during the course of the evening conversation in a noisy restaurant, one of my friends kept talking about her mother, but nothing of her father, who is very advanced in age.  The question came to mind, “Did he pass away?”

After dinner, we visited a bakery that was upstairs from the restaurant.  I pulled my friend aside, and said, “I need to ask you something, and I think that I’m going to really feel like a bad friend.  But did your father pass away?”

“Yes.”  She said sincerely. “I’m sorry, I thought you knew.”

I apologized, but she said also apologized, explaining that everything happened so quickly and that she should have told me.  And then she started crying.  I hugged her.

Life is precious.  Let’s enjoy every minute we have.

Good night,

Jase

Just a quick good-night

Headed to say my evening prayers, and hit the hay.  I had an exhausting evening.  Maybe I’ll elaborate tomorrow.  But maybe I’ll find the topic to be trivial.  I doubt it.

Have a good night.  Remember that someone loves you.  Even if you don’t know it, somebody does love you.

Until tomorrow,

Jason

Friday Evening

My Friday evening has consisting of charging my Mac (brainless), watching Big Bang Theory on DVD (brainless), surfing the web (brainless, but entertaining – since I regularly read “The Bloggess”), and deciding whether or not to watch The Hulk (the one with Edward Norton) on Amazon Prime (I have no attention span for movies, so I think this proposal is moot).

I should be studying for my upcoming teacher’s certification test, but I’m in no frame of mind to study.

Oh, and I wrote a bad poem tonight.  You can ignore that post.  I just needed to get something off my heart.  Feel free to share your own poetry.  I’ll be your audience.

Have a great night.

See you tomorrow,

Jason