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Archive for March, 2007

When I first came back to the Netherlands, I was very homesick for Northern California, specifically for Sonoma and the Sonoma Valley. I also missed the wine country and the beautiful wild coast and the redwood forests and the gentle hills below which the cows grazed. I really felt at home in Sonoma and I used to take my car and drive all over the place to enjoy the scenery. Sometimes I would go to Mendocino and spend some days there, just by myself or with Nicole. When I lived with David, I enjoyed living in his house, which was built on a hill between lots of oak and bay trees with a view of San Fransisco Bay. I would go rambling into the hills with my dog and be gone for hours. So when we were back in the Netherlands, it was a real culture shock for me. I remember walking around down town and hearing American people speak and me wanting to cling to them and wanting to plead with them to take me home with them. I was in bad shape then. I had even forgotten how to speak Dutch well and I kept making mistakes in the language and just couldn’t speak it fluently. It all ended up in a major depression.

Now that I have been here 13 years, things couldn’t be different. I am completely acclimatized. I speak the language very well and in my mind I am a Dutch woman again and only under certain circumstances would I want to live in America again. Mostly I just want to stay here, right where I am, because I am comfortable here. But it sure was a battle to get to this point. I used to hate having to be here and I thought that this was not my place to be. But that was at a time when I was angry at the world and I am glad to say that I have left that anger behind me. Even though I mostly read English language books, I am starting to forget some of my English and I now find it easier to speak Dutch. In the beginning I sometimes had to speak English to Eduard, but I very seldom do that anymore. I also think that I have achieved some form of happiness here and that has helped a lot, this is where I have learned to find some inner peace.

I have changed. I used to be a very romantic person and I am not anymore, but I am happy with that, because I think a lot of times I was unrealistic. I am much more pragmatic now. I have become patient in many ways. I think about things for a long time before I implement them (when I am not manic). My priorities have changed and I have become less middle class en less materialistic. My politics have shifted more to the left, but I am by no means an extreme. I still feel the need for some ritualistic faith, but I have been unable to find one that fits the bill.

_______________________

I have some sort of eczema on my head, under my hair. It itches and it is very flaky. I have tried Head and Shoulders, but it isn’t working much. Yesterday I called the doctor’s office and they told me to get sweet almond’s oil and to rub that on my scalp every night before I go to bed and to shampoo it the next day. So, last night Eduard rubbed the oil on my head with cotton balls and I put a towel on my pillow to protect it. I am going to wash my hair in a bit. You notice that in the Netherlands they use natural medicine more often in the form of lotions, cremes, or teas. There is a natural remedy laxative tea that I use sometimes that works very well. And a cough syrup made of pine tips and honey that works well too.

The computer man managed to extract some important things from the old computer and transferred them to the new one. There are pictures of Demian and Nicole for instance and family trees and many book lists. I also had a map called downloads, in which I also had important stuff like spamfighter and a cleaner and games, that is all there. Also the genealogy program that I had been using.

Eduard has to work today until 2 pm. This is the last weekend of the film festival. On Monday and Tuesday they have to disassemble all the films and get them ready for transport. It is always such a busy week with record breaking crowds. The bar does a tremendous amount of business too and they hardly have enough people to serve the crowd. I am used to Eduard working odd hours, but I do like the fact that he is usually home in the afternoon, even if it means he has to work again in the evening.

We had Windows XP with Service Pack 2 installed on the computer. We decided not to go for Vista. We aren’t to sure about that one yet. But it doesn’t include Microsoft Word. So, yesterday, my sister looked through all her Cd’s and found Microsoft Word which I will install today. That is so much better than just working with word pad. My sister took a course working with Microsoft Word and she still has all the material, so one of these day I am going to do it myself and maybe try and get a part time office job somewhere. I told Eduard that, if this present mood is permanent, I may even try to get my driver’s license. I am going to give it a year, because that will give me ample time to evaluate how I am doing. If there are going to be any ups and downs.

Okay, time to get the day moving again. Dishes first and then the vacuuming, which I didn’t do yesterday and, boy, can you tell! Ciao!

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On Wednesday, the computer went terminal again and, despite all my efforts, I couldn’t get it to work again. I tried everything at least twice, but it just wouldn’t recover itself. So I shut it off and kissed it goodbye. Yesterday we got a new computer and we are so happy with it. It is sooooo fast. Unbelievable! To think that we had been happy with that old thing all this time. This is ever so much better. A funny thing happened when we were installing it. We had put in the installation CD to make the Internet connection, but couldn’t get connected. We tried and tried and nothing worked. We both got very frustrated and wondered what in the world we were doing wrong. Finally, we called the help desk, which in the past has never been that helpful, so we only call it as a last resort, and found out that there was a technical problem in our area. Phew. So it wasn’t us or the computer at all. We just had to wait patiently. Finally, at 8:30 pm the connection came back and we could check our emails and download Mozilla Firefox as our Browser. We are both just thrilled to pieces with this new computer and we think it has been well worth the money we spent on it. This morning, when I woke up, I thought: Yeah, new computer! Lots of fun! Get up and make coffee! So, what a happy ending this story had.

In the meantime, I found out that it is possible to live without a computer, but that it isn’t nearly as much fun. There are some basic things I really need it for. Emails, reading the news, writing this blog, and looking things up and, oh yes, librarything.com…just some of the things I need this computer for. Eduard needs it for emails, all the different forums he visits that have to do with building model airplanes and playing games like Ants and Colonists. I also used to go to a lot of animation sites like Atom Films, but I stopped doing that some time ago, it was a fun thing to do, though. Born Magazine was fun too, poetry set to animation. Flash TV…

The cats have stopped attacking the rug in the bedroom, but they have something else that is interesting now and that is the box that the computer came in. Nouri, our white cat, likes it especially and she even goes to sleep in it. They take turns sitting in it while the other cats circle around it. Then they scare the wits out of each other by suddenly jumping out of the box. Jesker is very busy keeping all of them under control.

Speaking of Jesker. He has gotten a haircut and shampoo and he looks very suave and smooth now. He looks like a movie star. Eduard says that he doesn’t look like a cocker spaniel anymore and that is true, because everything is short except for his ears. But in a short amount of time all the hair will grow back again in all the right places, that is genetically determined, and he won’t be embarrassed going out on the street again. He smells very good also, even though he rarely smells like dog and even that is a pleasant smell I think.

I am still in my house cleaning mode and every day I get little chores done beside the regular stuff I need to do. It feels very good to be tired at night for all the right reasons and not because I am depressed. I have accidentally been going to bed one hour later at night. Eduard says that is because we are on summer time now, but really I stopped paying close attention to the clock and when it is 9 pm I realize there is stuff I haven’t done yet, so I can’t go to bed yet. So you could say that I am less neurotic about my schedule. I still wake up at the same time in the morning, but I still get 7 to 8 hours of sleep and that should do. Eduard is so happy with how animated and alive I am now. He says he keeps wanting to buy me presents because he is so happy. I never say no to a present, but I told him that my birthday is in September, but he thinks that that is too far away still. I’ll have to whisper good suggestions in his ear then.

For a change, Eduard didn’t have to go to work last night, which was good, because he has been very busy all week. He was so tired that he fell asleep in his chair after dinner and when I woke him up, you could tell that he really had been gone far away into dreamland. He was totally disoriented.

For those of you who don’t know, Eduard is Head Operator at a six screen Film Theatre that shows all the artistic movies from around the world. He not only shows the movies, but also maintains and repairs the equipment and does other odd jobs that need to be done. He has trained volunteers that help him and a paid colleague also. Beside the regular movie projection, he also has to know how to work with computerized projection and he is pretty smart and seems to know a lot. He tells me about these things, but I don’t know much about it myself. I like being married to someone who is smarter than I am. When I don’t know something, I just ask Eduard, he usually knows and some of his smartness rubs of on me. I also like to be married to someone who has opinions, and Eduard definitely has those and lets you know them also. Sometimes I have to temper him a bit, but mostly I let him carry on. They are always based on information that he has, so they don’t come out of the blue.

Remember my friend Lucien I told you about? The one who is Bipolar also? She went into the hospital last month and with the help of the doctors there, against the wishes of her own psychiatrist, she got herself off some of her medications. I don’t know what motivated her to do this, except that it may have been a form of over-optimism and maybe a slight form of mania. Anyway, relations between her and her psychiatrist weren’t very good as a result. I talked to her after she came out of the hospital and at that point she sounded very hyper and over confident, as if she could take on the world. I called her again 2 days ago and she said that she was laying in bed and that she couldn’t get up and that nothing made sense anymore anyway. So, that doesn’t sound very good at all. Sounds to me like she needs to get back on her medication in a hurry. She said she would call me back in a few days, but I wonder about that. She may have gotten herself into real trouble. Her psychiatrist is my psychiatrist also and I know from Lucien herself what medications she was on and I know the reasons for her being on those medications. There really are reasons for that and I don’t think you can just decide that you don’t need them anymore. If I don’t hear from her within a week, I am going to call her back, at the risk of looking like I am being nosy, but maybe I can help her as a fellow patient. I speak from experience. Every time I try to cut back or stop a medication, it gets me into trouble in the end, and it is just not worth it, because you go through a lot of pain getting things back to normal. Our psychiatrist is quite an expert on the pharmaceutical end of things and I really trust him when it comes to my medications. He knows things better than I do. I hope I will always remember to never mess with my medications on my own again.

Well, now I need to get some things done, but as a reward for that, I get to sit behind the computer again and add favorites under bookmarks. Yippie!

PS I have lost 20 kilos

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Yesterday our computer started dying. It had actually already started to a few months ago by starting up veeeeeeery slooooowly when we turned it on. It was as if it had to come from some far away dark and deep place and it barely made it every time. It moved like a slow steam engine. Yesterday morning, the mouse stopped working, so Eduard brought a new one home in the afternoon. While installing the new mouse, it kicked out the Internet connection. It was completely wiped from its memory and when I tried to reinstall it with the CDrom, the computer wouldn’t read it. I tried some other Cd’s, but to no avail, it wouldn’t read any. Well, said Eduard, that’s it, we are finally getting a new computer and fast. We’ll get a new one tomorrow and I’ll figure out a way to get the money. So, we shut the computer off and I thought: Well, that is going to be a bit tough tomorrow morning without the Internet. You know how much I like to read my emails and the news while I drink my coffee. That is my morning ritual and I can hardly do without. So this morning I got up at 6:30, ready to go through withdrawals, but none of that happened. I made coffee and sat on the sofa and communicated with the animals quietly, because Eduard was still asleep. Jesker thought it was great, because he got petted a lot. Other than that, I contemplated my navel and thought about the computer and what to do about it. Then I fed the cats and walked the dog and then Eduard got up. After he had gone to work, I turned on the computer and printed 40 pages of email addresses, just in case. I also wrote about 4 pages of bookmarks. I don’t know if these things can be transferred via a network connection, so I wanted to be on the safe side. Then I wanted to copy some things onto rewritable Cd’s, but the computer also wouldn’t let me do that. So a lot of things will have to be transferred or be lost forever.

After all of that, I thought: You know, I can’t stand this, there must be a way to get this thing to work again. Now, I am all self taught on the computer, but I am very stubborn and I like to figure things out. So, I went and figured things out. And within an hour I had found a way to get my Internet connection back and get the computer working again. I was so proud of myself! So, now the rush to get a new computer is off, although Eduard did find a way to get the money and he still wants to get a new one this week, because this one is on its last legs, it hardly has any memory left. I called him up and asked him if he was proud of me, and he said: Well, I knew that if you sat behind that thing long enough, you would figure it out. He knows that in the end I am very patient with these kinds of things. Stubborn is the word for it. So much for my computer capacities.

On a different topic…I had put a colorful area rug beside the bed and every time I walked into the bedroom, it was all crooked and scrunched up. I suspected the cats, but never caught one at it. So, I decided to be patient and listen carefully for suspicious noises. One time I walked in and Lotje, our fluffy cat, was laying on top of it, all piled up with the sweetest, innocent look on her face, so I didn”t know if she was the culprit. Later in the day, I heard some noise and walked into the bedroom and there was Pieke, our black cat, with all of her claws and her teeth into the rug with a real ferocious look in her eyes. I said: Aha, I caught you, but she just hung on. Since then I have caught other cats in a similar position and the rug has been sliding all over the bedroom, but I am not going to take it away. I figure it is a new hobby for the cats and they seem to be enjoying it so much. They attack it as if they want to kill it, and it is a sturdy little rug, so no harm done. They also like to attack Eduard’s slippers and boots and take the inner soles out. They are usually very inventive that way. We have three scratching posts for them, two little ones and a big one and we need stuff around the apartment that they can play with. They also like to climb in the closet and sleep on top of the clothes, so when you close the doors, you always have to check for cats. Sometimes, one climbs into a kitchen cabinet when it is open, and then you close it because you don’t know and then you wonder where that strange noise is coming from. Our cat Gandhi sometimes knows how to open the refrigerator door and we are alerted to this when we hear things falling on the floor.

I had a very productive weekend. I started off by cleaning out the closet. I took all the clothes out that are to big on me and filled a trash bag with them. Then I checked all the clothes that will fit me and neatly stacked them. I took a lot of our clothes out and washed them. So, I ended up ironing 24 T-shirts, 7 dress shirts, 7 dresses, 1 skirt and 2 pairs of pants, and there is more coming. And I have to tell you, I really had a good time doing it, even when the iron fell off the ironing board and the steam function stopped working. Eduard has already gotten me a new iron, so I can do some more this afternoon and I am looking forward to it. Yes, I know, I am a wild and crazy girl. Eduard says, before you were surviving, now you are living! We estimated that I hadn’t done any ironing in about three years. Yes, I know, I don’t know how we managed without being wrinkled, well, we were wrinkled a lot, really. Eduard and I are both now much more aware of what signs to look for that signal a depressed state as there is such a difference between me now and even as recent as a month ago. There are so many things and behaviors that we accepted as belonging to me that are gone now and that we would never accept again as being normal. Good old Topamax!

Starting Saturday, the weather has been ever so much better. Blue skies and sunshine. There is still a bit of wind from the east and we still need our jackets, but there is improvement. The sunshine is very nice and we are on summer time now, so it stays light late in the day. Our living room windows face south-west, so all afternoon we have the sun shining though them and that makes things very bright. It also shows up all the dust and the fact that the windows need to be washed, which you can’t do when the sun is shining on them, so that is a chore for early in the morning. But oh, I have so much energy now, I am sure I will get that done too.

Speaking of gastric bands: I have lost nineteen and a half kilos now so the first twenty five is coming into view. I am very excited and motivated and I have already ordered a pair of jeans that are 3 sizes smaller than what I wore when I was at my heaviest. Very optimistic, but I am going to hang them on the closet door, so I will see them every day and be extra motivated. I am so glad that I have enough summer clothes for now that will fit me shortly. I wore my summer jacket again today after I had washed it and it shrunk a bit, but it still fit me. Phew!

Well, I am off to do some ironing and await my husband’s return to the castle. This week is film festival, so he is very, very busy!

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Yesterday, I took another dive into my closet and took out a big bag of old clothes that I knew had been there all along, but that I had sort of forgotten about. I didn’t remember what was in it and to my great surprise, I found seven summer dresses and a skirt in various sizes. Wow, that was great. I am sure that some of these are going to fit me by this summer, so that is terrific. They all need to be washed and ironed, but that will be a fun chore for this weekend and I am not bothered about that at all. It is for a good cause, I think. I need to clean up my closet a bit anyway and really get rid of the clothes that are too big. I mean, really get rid of them for good, even when they are still nice and in good shape. I’ll give them to the recycle store. This morning I went on the scales and I had lost half a kilo, so that started the day off well.

I just reread some of my older posts and especially at the beginning of this weblog, you can see how much I am struggling with myself still. My mood is so fragile and I am not feeling nearly as good and secure as I am now. As you read them, you notice how very much better things are going for me all the time. I think the real turning point for me was last week Monday, from that point on things were in the lift. From then on there were no doubts about my mood anymore. I am very grateful for that.

Cats are funny animals and they always decide to do things in groups. All at the same time they decide that they don’t like one brand of cat food anymore. Just after you have bought ten cans of it. Suddenly they give you a disgusted look and they all walk away from their dishes. Then you go and buy another brand and they love that for a few weeks and then they have a secret meeting, during which they decide that they don’t like that one anymore either. So, the search for a better cat food continues. Sometimes they like the paté better than the chunks in gravy, and sometimes it is the other way around. Some cats like the dried food and others don’t. They all decide to have their crazy half hour together and run around the apartment knocking things over. Mild pandemonium and the dog goes to check out what is happening. Then they are all tired all at once and climb on the bed for a major sleep.

You know how I said that I would be happy if I knew that my daughter was happy? Well, the truth is that my own happiness isn’t completely dependent on my daughter’s happiness, of course. That would put too much pressure on my daughter and, as a matter of fact, happiness happens to you sometimes regardless of other influences. But the thing is, that I get the distinct impression that, right at this moment, my daughter is happy, so my happiness is even greater now. She is going to be graduating from law school in May and I think that is quite an achievement for a single mom. I won’t be able to be there, but I will be there in spirit and I hope that counts too.

Well, that is it for today. Just a short one for now. I need to get going. It is already past 10 am and I haven’t done a thing yet and before you know it, Eduard will be home again. Ciao…

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Jesker has two pillows to sleep on, one in the bedroom beside the bed and one in the living room behind Eduard’s chair. The one in the living room has just been replaced by a new, luxurious soft pillow. Jesker likes it very much. The problem is, that when he is off doing other dog things like eating, drinking, getting petted or playing with the cats, our cat Gandhi likes to go to sleep on that pillow as well. She is just a little cat, but she does take up half the pillow when she lies down on it, leaving just the other half for Jesker. Sometimes, he grudgingly acccepts this and rolls himself into a little ball onto that small space, but sometimes, when I am near, he looks at me with pleading eyes as if he wants to say: Please, do something about this situation. So I scoot the cat off the pillow and Jesker quickly lies down to take up all the space. Then the cat comes back and tries to lie down on it anyway and somehow finds a way to do it. Jesker lets her, but he isn’t very happy about it. Gandhi is the cat he tolerates the most and she knows it and she can get a way with a lot. Gandhi is the cat that used to belong to my sister in law who used to live in France. When she died, we brought Gandhi back to Holland with us and she fit in right away.

We also have a cat that likes to hang out in the bathroom. That cat is Toby. He like to sit in the bathroom sink, because the faucet has a slow drip and he patiently waits to catch the next drop. He also likes to lay on top of the laundry basket and he likes to drink from the toilet. Ugh! He is our only male cat and he is very cool. Sometimes he likes to remind the girl cats that he is king and master and he chases them around the apartment. But he is a good old kind cat and I really like him. He is 7 years old and when we got him from the kitten rescue foster people, we lied about how many cats we already had at home, for fear that they would not let us have him. Shortly after we got him, I became very depressed, so I missed a large period of him having been a kitten during that first year. He likes to lay on top of me when I watch TV or read a book, no matter what position I am in at the time.

With all these cats about, and me wearing mostly black clothes, you can imagine that very often I am covered by cat hair. Luckily, most of them come out in the laundry, but it is the white hair that shows up the most. I have a special brush that is supposed to take care of that, but nothing really works perfectly. It is just a fact of life, just like having to vacuum nearly every day, because of the dog hair.

Eduard arrived home safely from Amsterdam last night at about 8:30 pm. He had had a good day and had seen all sorts of new equipment, some of which he would have liked to order on the spot and taken with him. He had said he was going to eat a frozen pizza from the oven, but he changed his mind when he got home and went on to produce a perfect pasta dish for himself. I don’t know where he gets the energy after such a long day. I had cup of soup for dinner. I have only lost one ounce this past week, so that isn’t very much. I will have to try harder this coming week.

I said that yesterday, I was going to have such a productive day, but none of it happened. I absolutely piddled away all the time and didn’t do anything worthwhile. Still, the day went by quickly and I accidentally went to bed half an hour late. I said to Eduard: Oh no, I am late, it is already 9:30 pm! He said: Oh no, how awful, I will turn back the clocks half an hour!

It’s officially spring time now, but you can’t tell by the weather. It is cold and rainy and it is all coming from the east. From Russia and Poland and thereabouts. It is supposed to get better this weekend and I am truly looking forward to some sunshine. I am still using the Bright Light Energy Lamp, but I think that pretty soon I will be able to stop.

It is wonderful this business of being happy. It is such a difference with how I have felt all winter. Even when I thought I felt okay, I now know that I wasn’t, because it is nothing compared to how I feel now.

Speaking of friends. I have lately gotten in touch with someone I had lost track of for a few years. Her name is Lucien and she is 43 years old and she is also bipolar. We were friends for a couple of years and then lost track, because she moved and we both changed phone numbers, but I tracked her down through her father in law and we have spoken on the phone a few times since then. It is really funny to talk with her, because we have so many things in common. We keep saying: Oh, I see, you do that too? We’re basically on the same type of medication also. She also wants to rescue animals when she is hypo-manic and she drives her husband crazy. We are going to get together when her schedule permits it, in the meantime we will stay in touch by phone.

Well, now I really am going to get something done, I might even iron. Wooohooo….

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My psychiatrist reappeared from his two week absence and answered my emails comprehensively. It turns out that, when I say manic ideas and he says fixated ideas, we are actually talking about the same thing. So that is good to know. The story goes like this:

I live a relatively isolated existence, meaning I am on my own a lot. That doesn’t mean I am lonely, but I am not exposed to a lot of other people. Because of that, I am alone with my thoughts more often than other people are. And I keep a lot of what I am thinking to myself.

Because of my personal history, I have a tendency to shy away from any sort of extreme thoughts or feelings. I try very hard not to have them. Which makes them come even more and I often lack the capacity to be pragmatic about them. That is part of my personality. So I fixate on them, which is a bad thing, but it also gives me my perseverance, which is a good trait.

Bipolar people, especially when they become hypo-manic, think that all thoughts are of value and must all have special meaning. Artists can make use of that by creating art. I could let myself be inspired by my fixations by being creative or by doing a spring cleaning for example.

So what happens is that I am hypo-manic and become fixated on an idea, I don’t do a reality check on it and it grows out of proportions for however long it takes. All of this takes place in my own head and if it doesn’t, I have Eduard as a willing victim to go along with a scheme that I have cooked up, because it is so exciting and interesting and how can he possibly refuse me anything.

For example: It is summertime and Eduard comes home from work early in the afternoon. He sees all sorts of bits of paper hanging around the house that say something like: Welcome to the Cat Liberation Front. In the middle of that I stand impatiently, with big excited eyes, telling him we have to go to the pet shop in Belgium right now to liberate a kitten. Never mind that we already have 5 cats. We have to go right now this minute to do that, no time can be wasted. So, we take the bus to the train station, we take the train into Belgium, we take the tram from the train station in Liege to the pet shop and liberate a kitten and then make the reverse journey. This is all accomplished with me in a state of complete euphoria and Eduard with a bewildered look on his face, half smiling, half unbelieving. That is a manic, fixated idea.

I have many anecdotes like that, and I think that after the fact, they are all pretty funny, except for the ones where I spend too much money. Sometimes it’s a real thrill to live with me. I hope that, now that I am on the Topamax, this sort of hypo-mania will be a thing of the past. Lately I have been feeling very well, I have been feeling happy, but I am not feeling euphoric and I don’t think I need to worry. Although the thing is, that if I do become hypo-manic, I may feel so good, that I wont think anything is wrong anyway. That is an important reason for starting this weblog. Also, now that Eduard and I have discussed so much of this, I think he will be able to handle another episode much better the next time. The magic word now is ‘fixation’.

Well, I am spring cleaning, actually. I am getting lots of chores done. The vacuum cleaner and I have developed a real close relationship and the scrub sponge and I get along well too. I am actually caught up on the laundry, but don’t ask me about the ironing! Not yet…

Eduard is in Amsterdam today. It takes two and a half hours by train to get there, so I won’t see him until later tonight. He is going there for a training on a new piece of computerized equipment for film projection.

That leaves me to fill up the whole long day by myself. I am going to try and clean the oven and clean the bathroom really well. Ciao…

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After spending some days doing all sorts of household chores that I had neglected to do during my depression and mental instability, I decided to take a day off. It was a gloomy day and the sun didn’t really want to shine. I did some chores that absolutely need to get done (laundry, dishes) and then decided to take the rest of the day off. I do have the luxury to make decisions like that and I surely appreciate it, while Eduard goes off into the big wild world to bring home the bacon. So I read this Bipolar book about a Belgian girl who was a Rapid Cycler, meaning that she went from euphoria to utter despair in very short amounts of time. In a matter of days actually. The book was written by her mother, because the girl ended up committing suicide. I think it was very brave of the mother to write the book. I have been reading a lot of books about Bipolar these past weeks. It is sort of like doing my homework and I am getting a real education. Some of these books have been very helpful. Most of them help take away the stigmatization of mental illness, which is very important. I only read Bipolar books during the day, though. When I go to bed, I only read fiction and considering that I fall asleep so quickly, it is taking me some time to get through a book. There are other times, when my schedule is different, when I read up to eight books in a week, but not right now.

So, these Bipolar books are pretty interesting and it is a shame that I didn’t read them years ago when I was first diagnosed. With my first diagnosis of Bipolar II Disorder, I also got the diagnosis Borderline Personality Disorder, and that intimidated me so very much, that I didn’t pay much attention to the Bipolar diagnosis. I did take Lithium for a long time, until I took an overdose of it and I think that I was then put on another medication that made me gain a tremendous amount of weight. I switched psychiatrists then and he subsequently concentrated on the Borderline diagnosis and didn’t do much with the Bipolar one. Then in about 2000 I had to go to the hospital and I was diagnosed again with Bipolar II Disorder and they put me on medication for that again, which made my legs swell up something awful. This caused me to stop taking that medication, and my psychiatrist didn’t insist that I try anything else. He was still treating the Borderline. So you can see how the Bipolar has sort of been neglected, although I can look back and very clearly see a pattern of depressions and hypo-manic states. In my case the depressions cause me the most amount of trouble, because during the severest ones I also wanted to be dead. Luckily I haven’t wanted to be for quite some years now. I think about 5 years now. The Borderline diagnosis doesn’t play any kind of a role in my life anymore at all, and I think it was just a temporary affliction that had a starting point and an ending point and came about because of extreme circumstances. I don’t recognise myself in that diagnosis at all anymore. Good riddance I say. There are people who get stuck in it for the rest of their lives and, believe me, you don’t want to be best friends with the worst of them.

Well, so I layed on the sofa and read until it was time to take the dog for a walk. It was cold outside and as I walked around the field, I was just making up my mind as to whether or not I would go to the pond, when the wind picked up and some rain splattered on my head, so that decision was quickly made. Back home again! Then I had a screwdriver…just because…and after that, I had a cup of coffee and that is all there was to it. Got that out of my system quickly.

At 2 pm I went to my sister’s for some wonderful espresso with heated frothy milk on top and chocolate dipped cookies. She knows how to treat a girl. We had a very animated discussion about everything under the sun and then my niece came down from the study where she had been doing her home work and joined in the conversation, which made it twice as interesting. This is my niece who is going to be 14 next month. It is so much fun to talk to a person of that age, because they are really just like little grown ups. She gets an allowance out of which she has to buy her own clothes, birthday presents, snacks, etc., so she always has something new to show me. She has good taste and goes into town by herself or with friends by bike. We all laughed together and were silly and that felt so good. Afterwards, my sister and I went to walk the dogs around the field and it was cold and the wind was blowing from the west, and we were moaning and groaning, saying: It is so cold, it is so cold! Luckily, Jesker pooped quickly, so I could pick that up and head home. Just as I got home, it started to snow, but none of it stayed on the ground. I hope that this is the last wintry weather for this season. We’ve had some beautiful weather already, so lets hope for the best.

Eduard made couscous for dinner. It is a North-African dish that is made with semolina, vegetables and meat with different herbs and spices. It is soooo good, but I can only eat a little bit of it and not the meat. I put some on a salad plate and then I eat half of that and I am full. Eduard on the other hand, loads up his plate and then saves some for later in the evening and doesn’t gain an ounce. He’s just lucky that way. As it was, I had to go and hang over the toilet for a few seconds and unload a bit. When my gastric band gets filled next month, I am really going to be able to eat only tiny amounts of food. Two crackers with cheese instead of four. Half an apple instead of almost one whole small one. Barely!

A poem by Louise Bogan (1897-1970)

Men loved wholly beyond wisdom
Have the staff without the banner
Like a fire in a dry thicket
Rising within women’s eyes
Is the love men must return.
Heart, so subtle now, and trembling,
What a marvel to be wise,
To love never in this manner!
To be quiet in the fern
Like a thing gone dead and still,
Listening to the prisoned cricket
Shake its terrible, dissembling
Music in the granite hill.

Okay, now I have to get the show on the road again. Today has to be activity day again…ho hum.

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