Being Bipolar isn't EASY

and the Art of Slowing it Down

Tag Archives: Support Groups

Time to talk

It’s still “Time to Talk” somewhere…

And so I further share many people are most comfortable talking to me personally and I find that extremely worthy/valuable. But isn’t it really most curious about societies comfort level. I find it FASCINATING in fact???

That shared, although most fortunate & grateful for my connections, I am often saddened that people – the majority, in fact – feel that they need to hide their trials & tribulations and I struggle with how “private”, a.k.a. kept on the DL (down-low) undercover, our intimate conversations are.

It motivates me frankly to be all the more open (which mind you is both alienating & I reiterate sadly alienates) to show that there is no shame in very vunerable. IMO it is often most meaningful!

In large part even though this (new & improved) feed of mine is still in the beginning stages, it has been ruminated over for years, I make an important mention today. You may read/ deliberate/ remember on your own and not respond w/ a comment or a like AND that is o-kay BUT I ask you to pls consider this: mental health to quote my cousin about a recent teenage suicide in her community “is clearly a multi-layered issue with no clear path to help….except communication”.

So I encourage you to help me, help us bust the Stigma. Reduce the isolation & shame and challenge you to communicate even if you feel uncomfortable.

*Note to reader: This was originally posted on Instagram with the (UK) hashtag #timetotalk. You can find me @jessicakaushik for smaller FUN stuff.

Everything is NOT enough

So, get this? 

After ten (10) plus years I was hospitalized, again!? And all because Mr. Remarkable was in China. By no fault of our own, we’ve been involuntarily separated since mid July?! So as you can see, my husband wasn’t around to see me slip, in person. I don’t intend to offend anyone, but make light like a feather, as in the looney bin for 5 (five) days!?!?!?!?!?!? <insert a BIG frown> 

And so, here – with this photo (he was so v nice to comply), I take/took back my power! I did not “unite”/bond really with any of the other mentally ill patients. Was afraid to talk to them, really. Gather I shouldn’t say that! But most were hearing voices & secluded themselves to their, shared, rooms. It was really REALLY sad.

You can trust however that I did try to reach many. But they were fairly unreachable!?!? Did I mention that it was sad? Entirely depressing…

I did however meet a REALLY stand up guy! David. (Note to reader: I think it okay to use his real name here – in case he ever reads this, although it’s against my blogwide policy.) Trust, I’ll never see him again!! Which is really hard b/c like I said: he was a really stand up guy. Caught in a similar, but not, situation at the same time in Seven Hills (Las Vegas) to detox. It was serendipitous. 

Mental Health institutions (is a Psychiatric Hospital an institution?) are tricky and although I’d like to help him along his recovery, I cannot. It would have been selfish of me to leave a call back number when I called to say “it was nice meeting you”. Even though I do need friends, that I can touch, while here on an extended holiday in Las Vegas. 

God help me make friends in Las Vegas!? It’d be good to get out of the house more often…

But, I digress. David, if your listening, I respect & admire you! Your (bipolar) mom should be proud. I pray that giving up the sauce will unite you more intimately with others. Alcoholism is an albeit common but more importantly lonely disease. Hence the problem, I gather. I pray that your estranged twenty (20) something year old daughter let’s you in. Try to get in? I imagine that part of your rehabilitation is for your relationship w/ her?? Operative word, your! You gotta do this for yourself! 

Finally, I’ll close by saying: (Chopra is often right.)  I trust if you look for God in other, healthier/wealthier, places you’ll find him or her. Good luck! Xx

Perseverance

I don’t know that this is the right forum to discuss this but I want to talk about recognition. So here’s my spin on recognition with relationship to this blog, my blog.

Since September, when I came out, my blog has received approximately 137 views a month. That’s huge in comparison to the 216 views that I averaged per year since I started writing in January of 2011. And those are just the ones that get recorded! I cannot explain the increase in visitors but assume that http://www.beingbipolarisnteasy.com is showing up more often in searches now that I have gotten some traffic with the help of my friends.

Obviously, Mental Health is a popular topic in American, so I have plenty of fellow American viewers but what amazes me is that peeps from Brazil, Italy, the UK, France, Portugal, Canada and South Africa regularly visit my blog. Hell I have even had viewers from Egypt & Montenegro?!

The thing about being able to view the stats is that the public acknowledgment, acceptance, admission… approval, validation feels good. It makes my efforts official. Note to reader: The key word is “public”. Most of my viewers keep their visits “private”. Nonetheless, I find it empowering even if you readers don’t acknowledge my writing by commenting or liking my post. I know that I am being watched… I know because I watch you. It’s a little narcissistic. No?

I may only have 60 WordPress.com followers & 242 Facebook followers and that’s …something. I should say “and that’s enough”… but if truth be told, I cannot because I salivate so much that I have to wipe my drool with my shirt sleeve when I see the hundreds of likes and commentary on other popular bipolar blogs. It’s not the attention but the conversations that are being had elsewhere that I envy!

You see I aim to be an open book, honest about my experiences in hopes of helping bust the stigma of what it’s like to be creative & mentally handicapped but as far as I can judge the thing of it is, is that my stories are not average and I cannot acculturate.

I do not suffer nor cope apparently the way the typical bipolar does, I blame a large part of it on my spiritual practice – yoga, & therefore I can only assume that people, that do not practice yoga, cannot identify with ME. And that’s where the recognition or lack there of rubs. It would be easier if people accepted ME into the social process of blogging but because I do not fit into the socially accepted bipolar identity I am reduced to an outcast.

And yet I try to stay positive. So if you are reading this, accept my appreciation to all of you that read my blog. Writing isn’t easy and so I will persevere. I am just trying to take action, face the stigma & increase public awareness – possibly change THE WORLD (views). ;)

And so as I often do; I leave you with this: http://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/May-2015/7-Things-To-Remember-about-Mental-Health?utm_source=social&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=blog

Sacred Ground

59_large

So Caroline Myss pictured here, an American author, posted on FB the other day: “If I may, I would like to ask a question of all of you and share the reason I am asking.

I had a conversation with someone quite special to me about the power of prayer and its capacity to actually influence anything at all, much less change in the world or a person’s health or the quality of someone’s life. Admittedly there is no way to produce evidence in such an argument. We’ve all heard that adage, “All we can do now is pray,” or “I’ll pray for you.”

The other night, a dear friend shared something I deeply understood. She is presently going through a difficult passage and she sent out word to her close group of friends for prayer support, knowing they would indeed pray for her. They would not just promise prayers; they would offer them for her and she would receive a down pouring of grace. She trusted them and she had faith in that grace. It did not occur to her that any of her friends made that promise to her casually. They would keep their word.

In my conversation about prayer with the friend I mentioned earlier, I said that there is no hard core proof and perhaps that is why commitment to prayer is often well-meaning but an oh-well type of thing. And it is in our nature to want to see proof – always that irritant of physical proof. But proof tends to translate in seeing the evidence that we are getting what we want.

Prayer is a funny sort of thing. It is like talking to air and musing with the stars at night. And yet, a presence is there, hiding behind the walls of the imagination. So I ask you, is prayer something real for you?

I am especially interested, as I am teaching an upcoming class on Spiritual Direction. I have waited a while to teach this class but I feel that so many people are really seeking the type of direction that comes from the tools of that knowledge bank.

Prayer is certainly one of them but so is deep listening to your inner nature. I’ll speak about that in my next post. For now, I would really appreciate it if you would share your thoughts about prayer.

I love the way the old guard used to speak and so I leave you with this blessing: Blessed be the journey that has taken you so far along in your life. Blessed be the willingness and fortitude you have to face each day. And blessed be the goodness in you to want to rest on sacred ground.”

AND

My response was: “I don’t pray traditionally much these days – instead I offer things up… I was raised Roman Catholic but found Yoga in College (‘98) which naturally redirected my spiritual path towards Hinduism & Buddhism…

To give you an example: when I was married, to an Indian, by a Hindu priest (‘09), I was told to whisper what I wanted most in the world into the ear of an animal, forgot which now… as I have not revisited the temple since.

Then on my wedding night I kicked over a metal vase filled with rice and coins in it to symbolize attracting children into our home… it may be important to note that i had had two (2) surgeries for chocolate cysts and endometriosis – my fertility at the time was questionable but we gratefully naturally conceived a little miracle!

… I have a non denominational altar and i pay homage to it most mornings while reciting my gratitude for my/our blessings & the deities support but I don’t think that that’’s “prayer”.

Instead I think I am drawing inward and outward… opening myself up to life’s beauties and mysteries.

Even as recently as last month I went to some holy waters in Bali. there, we didn’t pray either, a Balinese man told me that it was customary to just focus on what I wanted to attract into my life as we bathed under the mini waterfalls…

I had a plan, I knew what I wanted, so I asked the Creator of All that is and ever will be IF he/she wills it that my son should have a sibling… the jury is still out but I’ll let you know if it works! ;0″

What do you guys think? How do you make ‘prayer’ a part of your life, your rituals?? Do you think that it helps the Bipolar, believing in something greater?

I hope you’ll share but I want to reiterate: “Blessed be the journey that has taken you so far along in your life. Blessed be the willingness and fortitude you have to face each day. And blessed be the goodness in you to want to rest on sacred ground.”

#4Cici

Here’s a real life dilemma… I am trying to help a friend that dreams about “being gone”. I have spoken to her a length and she is in denial about her depression and possible disabling bipolar disposition. She naively believes that it can get better without professional support. I don’t blame her, I understand her, deeply… as I too struggled with the stigma ten (10) years, before I came out to my ‘extended friends & family’. My heart goes out to her and I was compelled to write this letter to her husband because she is not listening to ME… and I want to share it with you now.

Kindly note: Whether you have been reading my blog for sometime or not, please be made aware that I never use anyones real names. Their privacy is as important to me as my own. i.e. That’s why my pen name is Princess Marksalot and not…

“Forgive the intrusion. I just want to help! I know that this may seem pushy, I know that I am meddling, but I am also taking the risk that you will appreciate why: sweet Cici has reached out to me too. So it is only natural that I feel a responsibility; especially after she has opened up to me more this past week. I know from personal experience that having my husband’s unconditional support has been so very valuable. Often my treatment is an entire family effort; mom, sisters etc..

As you are aware, Cici has confided in me that she struggles with depression. I know that she reached out to you last night in a BIG way! That’s a HUGE step.

She needs YOU to help her respond to the call for help. I believe that she is somewhat paralyzed by the unknown and needs time to prepare herself for a professional diagnosis. You gave her great advice: “not to take to long”; but I urge you to set a time frame with her now. In my minds eye, she needs your help to be strong!

To that end, I want to offer our support; to both of you. I understand that you have read a bit about what I have been overloading Cici with. I am self conscious that it’s been too much but more grateful that I could share it. I have told her that I will lay off but I desperately want to reach her & help her realize that there is an easier way. She is suffering so.

I want her to know that she is not alone! That ‘this’ is nobodies fault, especially not hers; i’s the chemicals in her brain. That said, I mostly want to write YOU now because I fear for her; if she does not seek medical treatment asap. Being gone or even toying with it is no way to live.

At this point you may be interested to now that suicide is the 10th highest leading cause of death in the USA… many of the cases were mentally unstable. I know, from personal experience and from talking to Cici this past week, that she is mentally unstable & in denial. She reminds me of myself years ago…

At this point you may want to know how… I was diagnosed Bipolar ten (10) years ago. Bipolar is not know to run in my family, although I have a cousin that suffers from severe depression… Under a great deal of stress, in my early thirties (30s), I had my first psychotic break & ended up running from an ambulance & being handcuffed in front of a Starbucks. I entered the hospital kicking & screaming “protect me” “protect my family”… and to this day believe that I was followed by under cover agents/physicians/policemen to see what kind of trouble I was in. It wrecked havoc on my ability to recuperate. I lost much valuable time.

In short, I do not want Cici to suffer the same. Not if I can help it. After the first break I was a rapid cycler, meaning I was either very high or very low over a short period of time. A day, a week, a month… sadly it went on for years before I sought the help I needed. For a long time like Cici I tried to manage on my own & with the few unprofessionals that I had. It didn’t work. I needed medication. Trust me when I tell you this; it helped and continues to help more than you can imagine. Cici does not need to have a psychotic break to seek treatment. They are de-habilitating.

Kindly note: I wouldn’t be married today nor have a child of my own if it weren’t for the medication. Cici assures me that she has support at home; she says that you are a gentle man with a great deal of compassion. I sense that from the few times that we have met. But want to urge you today, together, to face this confusion/fear! Cici has good intuition but self diagnosis can be dangerous. In my humble opinion, she needs to see treatment with a professional! I highly recommend my doctors:

HK Psychiatrist: Dr. Desmond Fung +852 2868 9393
Macau Psychologist: Dr. Kay Chang +852 8108 4788

Whatever is troubling Cici is haunting but it is not as bad as it seems. I lived in secret for 10 years. Hardly anyone but my family & a few close friends knew my condition until recently. Don’t let any stigma keep you away. Three really great more authoritative resources to look at follow:

http://www.nami.org
http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=home
http://www.mayoclinic.org

They are also both on FB, I urge you to connect with them however you are most comfortable. Finally, I think that this blog post may come in handy at this time.

http://nectarmadness.com/2014/08/13/the-breaking-point-of-a-legend/

Sending my love to you & Cici. Both my husband & I are here for you 24/7. I mean it when I say: please do not hesitate to let us know if you want to continue this conversation. #4Cici”

If you have better advice that might help Cici, kindly let me know. It’s been a long while since I was really considered suicide. My contact details are in my About ME section.

*Note to reader: I realize now that I should have consulted the Mayo Clinic on the subject of denial BEFORE I sent Cici’s husband my email… but don’t listen to ME go on about it listen to the experts; what the Mayo Clinic has to say about denial is here: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/in-depth/denial/art-20047926?pg=2

In praise of feather’s

coming out

Being an expat can be lonely. A stay-at-home mom and housewife lonelier still. But being mentally ill is the loneliest of all, in my humble experience… until you learn how to accept it and come out of the closet!

Seriously, if you are reading this & you suffer from mental illness, you should consider, at the very least, talking to someone about it! It’s liberating!! People crawl out of the woodwork when you are raw and honest and they reach back to you. They share their stories; get intimate for a moment or two. It’s great, if your lucky like me, you get more support than you ever dreamed of! It couldn’t be more rewarding.

Pay close attention; it comes in all shapes and sizes. One friend recently went so far as to tell me that I was being “open/real”. Another just volunteered to help me with one of my many Mommy projects. Another thankfully shared some funny jokes about my psychotic disposition. They were compliments really. Another, my favorite one, took up her gauntlet and matched my risk by confiding in me her albeit different but deep dark secret?! That was incredibly humbling and gratifying.

Note to Reader: It’s only been a few short weeks but it’s been fabulous! I find that I am quickly becoming a natural advocate. I am grateful to the Source of all things to be in a place that finally enabled ME to accept the responsibility!

Before I go on, I’d like to take the time to thank the Mentally Ill, Bisexuals, Homosexuals, Gamblers, Alcoholics and Drug Addicts etc. for coming out before me. They blazed the path; I merely jumped on the bandwagon!

In my experience “coming out” is an inexplicable sense of pride, freedom & hope all beautifully packaged into one. I wish I had known sooner! You don’t see that package in Keith Haring’s graphic above… instead to show his support I believe he depicts a cautious (yellow) thrilling rite of passage. I can appreciate where he was coming from. It’s an unnerving experience but knowing what I know now, I would encourage anyone to just go for it!

That said however, I think that it’s really important to recognize that living in secret can be debilitating. Hiding in a cave doesn’t help anyone at all. Namely yourself. Wiki can explain the pitfalls of loneliness on one’s mental health better than me. Listen. Scroll down & try to listen? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loneliness

To add, what I’ve learned by coming out to my ‘closet’ friends and extended family is that I have suddenly picked up the sword, joined the fight, to help them understand ME. And surprisingly I’m less lonely now. For years I’ve operated under the false expectation that it was their job to understand ME. In conversation after conversation I found myself internally pleading “PLEASE UNDERSTAND ME!!!”. You can imagine, I didn’t get very far… Duh, no one could hear ME!

But now that I have opened up I feel like I am starting to peel deeper into the onion. I have dropped my armor and am embracing my vulnerability. Yes my vulnerability. Brene Brown is right. “Vulnerability is not about fear and grief and disappointment; it is the birthplace of everything we’re hungry for.”

In part my previous narrow-minded perspective is a reflection on my my self centered point of view, POV… I realize now that I wasn’t even giving my ‘closet’ friends and extended family the benefit of the doubt. How stupid is that? I wasted so much time; so many opportunities to connect! In hindsight I fell into thinking that sometimes my particular psychological and emotional disposition made ME so special/different that the mass majority could never really truly understand ME. So, like many sober rational people walking this planet, I didn’t bother to try to be understood. But what I was doing, by hiding, was not making myself available to be understood.

Hiding away in my closet, only made matters worse. For me, of course, but perhaps more importantly for those that I love the most! How depressing is that? What I realize now is that we should really be talking more about what makes us unique, what makes us different. The world needs to know. The world deserves to know. I whole heartedly believe a mindset to the effect of “we’re all in this together” would be mutually benefical.

In “Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types” Dr. Keirsey challenges the reader to “Abandon the Pygmalion Project”, that endless and fruitless attempt to change the Other into a carbon copy of Oneself. I have great respect and appreciation for his work and I hope that stem cell cloning never progresses to that stage. I’d be so very bored of a bunch of mini ME’s running around… Maybe we can learn from the late great Joan Rivers. She said: “I have no methods; all I do is accept people as they are.” Let’s follow her advice and wake up today and eagerly celebrate our differences.

One of the things that I like best about family, friendship and marriage is that we get to hold up the mirror to one another and try to help each other see ourselves as we really are. Obviously, we have our differences but at the end of the day we are simply all shades of one and the same. We just need to put on our feathers, to remind us to tread lightly, and open up and dare to confront with each other just which aspect we really are!

nautICA

If I had had any money at the time, I would have invested in Nautica. In retrospect, I should have taken photographs of all the “not ICA” garb in my neighborhood. It drove me mad but convinced me that, given DC, that both Presidential Candidates (2004) amongst others were aware of my case. The powers that be knew that a) I had a good law suit on my hands and b) that I could pin some several people that were breaking laws… if I could just prove it?!

My privacy was being invaded. I was being followed. ‘They’ wanted my allegiance & my stories! The hospitals misrepresented their staff… the state of my mental health wasn’t kept CONFIDENTIAL nor were my “private sessions” with the Psychiatrists/Psychologists! IF only someone had gotten a hold of my diaries, they would have seen that I was just Nuts… I thought I was involved with the wrong crowd; I thought my client embezzled money, I thought my OBGYN preformed an illegal abortion on ME, I thought my apartment was formerly a terrorist cell… but not me. nautICA… I wasn’t a Spy! And here’s where I’ll tell you why: I couldn’t prove anything and I just wanted to be left alone! Why wouldn’t ‘they’ leave me alone?

I sought God, I went to the Foundry. I wrote in my diary, keeping it with me at all times to record outlandish events. I walked the labyrinth on 18th, did yoga/prayed religiously. But it wasn’t until my family suggested that I leave DC that I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. (I think it was my older sister’s idea. She’s a clever one… My parents were relatively hands off growing up. They rarely interfered and even then, during this most critical moment in my life, my mother couldn’t/wouldn’t do the talking?! We four were there; my mom, my older & younger sister and me – sitting outside at a French bistro after I was released from the hospital; but it was my older sister that had to do the convincing, I didn’t want to move back in with my Parents in Las Vegas at 30 some odd years of age?! Perhaps it’s just their styles… my older sister likes the challenge, my mother is a wall flower and my little sister had little of a voice back then, I thought she was young & clueless. She too was under watch, if only because we looked alike & lived together. I hold no grudges. It’s just an interesting observation. I am glad that the most important women in my life were there supporting me at a defining moment!)

I moved to Las Vegas to avoid all the confusion but in a small way it only followed me there… it wasn’t as easy to keep track of ME there, I was no longer a pedestrian. I had new Doctors, few ‘Friends’ and was under close watch of my parents.

It wasn’t until my life stabilized when I found great security in the arms of my now husband that I let go of the paranoia. It took a good THREE years to get “them” to leave me alone. I finally moved on and was going to forget what had wronged me in the first place. Now I suffer from acute mania even less. It’s definitely a hormonal thing for me… but when I suffer I no longer think of the conspiracies I once did but just get manic & when I’m manIC my husband panICs.

It’s not something that we can fix, I definitely have the ‘bug’ when I get my mind wrapped around a to-do, just any ordinary to-do like “making an album” or “buying a cabinet”, I obsess about it… my poor husband. Always on the watch, is always concerned that it’s the beginning of something to worry about!

A Hard Earned Lesson

I have always felt that (Bi-Polar) support groups were infiltrated by people who are seeking information. Both in and out of the hospital I have never been able to reveal how I was really feeling and or thinking in those groups! I have always been on guard in those settings; I have always felt spied upon.

Several times, while hospitalized, other patients wanted to get close to ME! One time it was a mother of three that was in the middle of a divorce, another time it was a short gay Latino man who ran marathons and yet another time it was a retired police officer…  this is terrible to say BUT who wants to get close to anybody in a Psych Ward?

Related, while hospitalized, I haven’t even been able to trust my doctor’s. I can/could never tell them the full story… but, now if you are like me you know, I have learned that they are not concerned with our stories. They are only concerned with our symptoms…

That said however, I have made friends with a few Bi-Polar men. The mother of one’s child called me one evening and accused me of trying to ruin their relationship?!?! The other confessed that he had a crush on me, and I had to cut him off. I wasn’t interested in that… but the one that I had the longest standing open/honest relationship with, turned on me when I needed him most. In my mind’s eye, I think that he suspected that I was hypo-manic and he was entertained by it. He didn’t provide support nor did he warn me that I was acting strange; instead he asked leading questions and further confused my state!

In all fairness, he could have been suffering too (he couldn’t afford medication) but a part of me, even now, believes that he was toying with ME.

GOD BLESS AMERICA & THE CITY THAT DOESN’T SLEEP

11:37am  01.23.2011

I wrote an email w/ that title in July of 2005 and sent it to my family. Can’t find it anymore but am curious to what it said… I vividly remember that day that I had to get out of DC; the day that I made two plane reservations: one to some remote European city that I had never heard of (its name escapes me now… I didn’t even know what country I was booking a ticket to; let alone how to pack for the weather) and the other to my parents in Vegas. At the time I didn’t care, as I was convinced that the automated teller from United Airlines knew who I was, by nature of my mobile number, and prompted me to make the first reservation.

You have to understand, I believed that the call was intercepted by the Agent and/or Agency that was following me and figured I would just wander the former city like I wandered DC and the meaning of my trip would be revealed to ME. (Gather I have watched too much TV growing up to consider that this was really happening to ME!)

http://s0.ilike.com/play#Kelly+Clarkson:Breakaway:51961:s1227670.8120469.3852342.0.2.274%2Cstd_057cd904b9c6460caeb8bffdbee8de3a

At the moment I made the plane reservation(s) my only concern was to get out of dodge. I was scared that if I stayed in DC any longer that I would drive myself mad trying to reveal what conspiracy I was caught up in*. I was convinced, however frightened I was, that if I followed through with the trip to Europe that whoever was following me would reveal themselves. It was a mess! (Naturally, when I got to my parents house and told them what I had done, they made me cancel the reservation. At thirty-two I still listened to them…)

In retrospect I can describe the experience as figuring out that I was on my way to becoming a Spy; not very dissimilar to how Chuck did on NBC. I certainly was becoming someone who could decipher coded languages and uncover under cover agents.

Have you ever considered that some of the bum’s that you see on the streets are actually under cover agents working for the CIA or FBI trying to keep our cities clean? Of particular concern are the ones you see in the nation’s capitol hanging around fast food restaurants. Someone once told me that DC has more under cover agents than any other city in the world. I don’t know if it is true but it sure felt like it to me. I saw them on street corners, in book stores and regularly at Starbucks.

You have to understand, when I lived and worked in DuPont Circle, just stone’s throw from the United States Capitol. My neighbors were high flatulent politicians; some of whom were being protected and/ or under investigation. Regularly I saw several svelte black suits, in their respective black Tahoe’s, wearing ear pieces. And on occasion there was the van perched at the end of our block.

My agents were less conspicuous than those described above – I believe that they were regular folk, neighbors per say, with Container Store “Contain yourself” paper bags or like these that I try to illustrate below…

When I got to my gate at the airport – the airplane had been delayed; bad weather from up north, as I recall. But the ever so strange thing was that a young man appeared at my gate looking like particular male figure from my past wearing a white on white t-shirt that read: “Move Fast Die Young” in jeans with a white hat and white tennis shoes. He did not acknowledge me in any way – he merely stood in front of my gaze; he wanted to be noticed. More specifically I thought he intended for ME to notice him! At that time I couldn’t take any more messages and was desperate to seek the safety and comfort of my parents in LV – so I pulled a jacket over my head and tried to sleep. I was desperate for sleep.

(At this point, in my writing, I had to pull out my diaries to remember what was going on at that time. I recall dating someone new – someone whom I thought was a good civilian, he called himself a United States bureaucrat, and my boss had a black eye. The second of two bosses that acquired black eyes while I was Manic. But I can’t remember if by that time I had been approached by, what I reasoned to be, a private investigator outside my apartment or not…)

My diary passages confirmed all of that. On 06.25.2005 I wrote: “ I see things all over DC That perhaps I am not supposed to see but I guess I am trying just to be a good neighbor.” And on 07.02.2005 When I wrote my biggest fears to the new doctor – I wrote: “that somebody was going to get hurt, that I have done something wrong & that I’ll never be as good as I know that I am on the inside.”

Sadly I knew then, during only my second episode, that I was never going to be recognized, tangibly, for the racing thoughts that made me leave town so abruptly… on the plane the woman that I suspected that was assigned to watch me was traveling with her family. Good disguise, or so I thought. She too never gave me any particular sign/ acknowledgement. She just sat next to me reading a book on Parenting, protecting me. I had the window seat.

The reputable psychiatrist that my parent’s found for me in LV was a character. He wore red lipstick and allowed my parents and I to eavesdrop on another patient that was convinced that he was Jesus Christ reincarnated… He prescribed me Seroquel. It slowed me down but it didn’t erase the psychotic thoughts or paranoia that I had. I still thought that my family and I were being watched; even when we left the country.

I thought the doctor deliberately prescribed the drugs for me: to help me calm down and to help me sleep; but I thought it was perfectly normal to have the persisting thoughts that I/ We were being followed. I was convinced (he was in part of “the plan”) we were.

I remember using the camera and posting on FaceBook to focus on objects or taking picture’s to help whoever was following me/us to understand my mood, my perspective on the day’s events…

I vividly recall a train ride in Italy. An Italian Army Agent (only have a mental picture left of that guy) sat directly across from me while I held my sleeping three year old niece. It was a symbolic moment for me as I was protecting the future of America, he was protecting us. How I got us into that mess I didn’t know for certain but am convinced that it had to do with a particular Art Project I made on or near Labor Day of 2004.

The art project was a stained glass window ornament that read “’United We Stand” around a flag that I painted red, silver and gold for the song “Make new friends (but keep the old)”.  There was no blue, I wasn’t sad… The background was a myriad of colors reflecting the hodge-podge of people that live in the USA. Wish I could insert an image of it here, but like many things… I probably gave it away.

The volunteer (?) on duty, don’t remember him in scrubs and certainly do not remember him wearing a white jacket, that kept me company as I painted it, wore a pendant that I had never seen before. He told me that it was a symbol for an anonymous organization that he belonged to. He would not reveal it’s meaning… but I believe it was that exchange in the Art Room and my thank you note to the psych ward that ultimately led me to being followed. Wish I could remember what that pendant looked like… really hope to see it again someday!

*Note to Reader: I lived in a previously occupied one bedroom apartment in DuPont Circle. I was told the former tenants looked and acted like al-Qaeda operatives. I was told that there were many of them, like 8, all living in one 600 sf apartment in the heart of the Nation’s capitol. The alarming part was that they all disappeared the day after 9/11; and were never seen again. The best I could surmise at the time and even now was that our quaint, freshly painted, one bedroom apartment in DuPont Circle had been a terrorist cell.