(This is a cheery poem from 2015. It might be a little too depressing for my public poetry blog.)

Snowflakes falling,
each one a thing of beauty,
but together they smother the earth.

Clumps of soil,
each one giving nutrition and life,
but together they bury the dead.

Droplets of water,
each one flowing and trickling,
but together they drown the weary.

Sheets of paper,
each one a part of my work,
but together they break my back.

Seconds in the day,
each one a brief moment,
but together they measure the length of sorrow.

Thoughts of ending it all,
each one a fleeting fantasy,
but together they extinguish the will to live.

… and the snowflakes keep falling.


bipolar and cognitive impairment

I’ve been reading a little about the effect of bipolar on mental functioning, especially the effect of bipolar depression on cognition and the potential for dementia in bipolar patients as we age. The news doesn’t look promising at this time.

Cognitive impairment, in simple terms, means your brain is less able to function normally in terms of memory, attention span, and input processing. A study showed that bipolar patients do worse on standardized tests* than people without bipolar, and those cognitive deficits are worse when the subject has bipolar depression.

I used to be a borderline genius, but now I don’t feel as smart, especially related to listening skills and verbal thought processes. I have difficulty listening to people for more that a few moments, and I comprehend less of the conversation. I also find myself less able to respond quickly; I have to think a little bit before I speak, then sometimes my words come out jumbled. In addition, my short-term memory is getting worse, although many long-term memories are still very clear. A few times at work, I have completely blanked out when someone wants to discuss a project only a couple months old, and I can’t recall ever working on it. I may be overthinking this, but it seems like I can feel an increase in these problems in the past few years.

I’m concerned about the potential for these effects to become worse over time. I wondered if some of the people who have dementia became that way due to the effects of bipolar. A couple of articles seem to agree with that theory. Natasha Tracy writes that 19 percent of older bipolar patients had dementia, and it seems to occur earlier in life that people without bipolar.

Apparently there are few options to prevent the slide into early dementia. In another article, she quotes a PubMed paper that says “no pharmacotherapies substantially improve cognition in bipolar disorder, although preliminary findings suggest some potential value for adjunct stimulants such as modafinil [Provigil] and novel experimental agents.” However, another article says that lithium has “neuroprotective properties that may help preserve cognitive function in patients with bipolar disorder.”

I worry about the possibility of losing brain function as I get older. I’m not pretty, not rich, not physically active, not artistic, and not successful in social situations. My brain power is the only positive thing I have going for me. It is my source of income in an intellectual job, and it is the source of my writing and reading hobbies. It allows me to enjoy the music I love so much. It lets me tinker with computers and blog and research my next vacation.

My intellectual function is my reason for living. I don’t want to be a mental vegetable. I don’t want to sit and stare at the wall for hours, then in a moment of clarity think about everything I have lost. The thought of all the memories, all the thought, all the pleasures of an intellectual existence being lost in a fog … it makes me fear for my future. I hope I am overreacting.

More articles:
Dementia Risk for Bipolar Patients
Depression and bipolar disorder linked to an increased risk of developing dementia
Can Bipolar Disorder Cause Dementia?

* These tests include assessments of attention, motor speed, working memory, verbal memory, reasoning and problem solving, verbal fluency, affective interference, and emotion inhibition.

**Updated from my original post in 2015.


It used to be easy to fake your death, run away, and never look back. It’s more difficult now in the information age. The surveillance state we live in ensures that you will be photographed somewhere, whether the airport, train station, or in public places. It’s illegal to do so many things which don’t hurt anyone – faking your death, getting fake identification, sneaking into a tropical country with lots of money – and you can’t live cheaply anywhere anymore. It takes a lot more knowledge and resources to run away now.

There have been many times when I just wanted to run away from my life and pretend I didn’t exist. Most people want to run away and hide in some sun-drenched paradise like Fiji or Mallorca or the Virgin Islands. I probably would have ended up somewhere totally gray and depressing, like southeast Alaska or Labrador, where the only people are those who want to get away and those who are hiding from something.

I wanted to fake my death and run away, but I knew my family would be devastated. I also knew I didn’t have the resources or the advance planning needed to disappear without a trace. Instead I hung my head, forced myself to get up the next day, and continued living life.

Thankfully I’m no longer in that dire circumstance where I spent my time always thinking about death or hiding or leaving my family. My bipolar was really out of control at that time, and it was not easy or fun to be in that mental space.

10 Things Bipolar People DON’T Want You To Know

I don’t often reblog, but I felt compelled to share this. This post by Michelle really captures the feelings of bipolar people who don’t want to scare away everyone else. We never tell our loved ones the whole truth because of the fear it might be too much for them to handle. Michelle writes some of the things we want to keep secret from everyone.

To Be an Equal

I can’t count the number of articles I’ve come across with the title # Things Bipolar People Want/Wish You Knew or the List Of Things People With Mental Illnesses Wish People Understood. And for the most part, they’re pretty spot on. But I want to come at it from a different angle. I’ve done my best to keep it pretty similar in format, but if you feel I got something wrong, or missed a key point, drop me a comment! (Images thanks to Google-I own nothing.)

  1. We’re scared of our symptoms too.

bp2There’s nothing quite like the dive between (hypo)mania and depression when you feel like you can see the world crumbling around you. Or the emptiness that makes you feel like a dead (wo)man walking-no cares, no love, nothing. Or the darkest parts of depression when it hurts to cry because you’re trying not to wake anyone, so you…

View original post 1,682 more words


My bipolar makes me self-centered, and not in a healthy way. Sometimes I obsess over my depression and anxiety and insecurities, and the inner dialog becomes all about me-me-me. In those times I really don’t care about other people and their problems.

It’s difficult when I spend so much energy managing my own health, and there is so little energy left for anything outside myself. Sometimes I feel like I have to protect my fragile psyche when events become too overwhelming, and my thoughts focus inward. It is good to take care of myself, but I’m not very empathetic unless something affects me personally.

emotional eating

I seem to be stuck in an endless cycle of eating, satisfaction, and depression. I think I am addicted to the feeling of being full and satisfied. I can’t get satisfaction any other way, so I eat the sadness away. I feel full and content for a while, but then the feeling goes away, so I have to eat more to bring the feeling back again. In the meantime I feel embarrassed and disgusted about being fat, which leads to depression. A few hours later I need to eat again, and the cycle continues. I wish my depression made me lose my appetite. Instead it makes me crave comfort, and comfort food, and so I eat.

I learned this behavior when I was young. My adopted mom was also an emotional eater. Furthermore, we used food as an escape from the toxic and abusive environment we lived in. When she and I would go out to eat, we could avoid talking about our problems, and for a short time escape reality by enjoying the food and the feeling of being full. After the meal was done, we would go back to reality, and the momentary happiness dissolved.

I don’t know how to disassociate food from happiness. I enjoy good food, but I will also eat mediocre food to get the emotional high. In the meantime I don’t really do anything to take care of my body, like exercising or making better food choices. Vegetables don’t make me feel full and content.

Because of the embarrassment and anxiety of being seen eating, I would rather eat alone. I prefer take-out food to eating in, and I love drive-up windows. I try not to go to the same place more than once a week so they don’t remember me, because that would also be embarrassing.

By the way, it’s time for a snack.

beast of burden

I’ll never be your beast of burden
My back is broad but it’s a hurting

I’ve walked for miles my feet are hurting
— Rolling Stones

Our house, in the middle of our street

Our house it has a crowd
There’s always something happening
And it’s usually quite loud
— Madness

We moved on to the next chapter in life. Our house is sold; we left it with little sentimentality (except for Nicole, who cried a couple of times). I don’t really worry about stuff like houses and cars and household junk, although photos and music are important to me. Besides, home is where the cats are, and they adjusted very quickly, even the blind cat.

The move went fine, even though it was tiring and painful. We schlepped everything into the moving van, then schlepped everything upstairs at the rental house. The goat family helped us for most of the day. Anne’s dad helped us also; at 74 he is strongest of all of us. Among the crew we had bad knees, bad backs, gall stones, ADHD, and bipolar. Maybe that should be the tagline for a moving company: Two Bipolar Men And A Truck, We move your emotional baggage.

The process of selling was very stressful for me, and I expected an emotional letdown afterward. That doesn’t seem to have happened, just a big sigh and a feeling of relief that it is all over and the money is in the bank account. Life has pretty much become a new normal, with new scenery. I still have my problems with anxiety and bipolar depression, but otherwise things are okay.

Now I need a car upgrade.

the mother of all visits

The mother of all visits went pretty much as I expected. The first couple of days were fine, the next 2 days she got on my nerves, and on the last day I think we were both glad she got on the plane.

The simple truth is that I just don’t like her. She is a little too pushy, too loud, too racist, too whatever, and it just rubs me the wrong way. She thinks she knows everything and is an expert on everything, and isn’t afraid to let you know. She thinks she has my problems figured out, and she thinks she can figure out Nicole’s problems. Just like 10 years ago, I don’t really know how to tell her that she has no right to do that.

We are such vastly different people. She hides her vulnerabilities behind brash outspokenness, while I try to disappear into the wallpaper. She loves to speak her mind constantly – so many words – where I am more parsimonious with my thoughts. She is very emotional, while I am dead inside. She has no respect for my personal space, while my space bubble is the limit of my vision.

She pushes too much sometimes. She touches me when I don’t want her to. I guess it is a combination of her personality and her desire to be parental. She is constantly finding new and horrifying ways to express her love, which I have not returned. She is trying too hard to be “Mom”, and I don’t really want that. I don’t know how to express that without upsetting her deeply. Like I wrote in the old blog many years ago, I don’t want or need another Mom; I had one, and the experience wasn’t the best, and I don’t need B-mom thinking she is finally ready to assume that role.

This is no way to build a relationship, yet that is exactly what she has wanted for the past 10 years. I don’t know how to like someone when I don’t, so I guess I fake it, just like I fake everything else.

It has been almost two weeks since she left, and we haven’t talked. If I could get a word in, I might tell her how much her meddling irritates me. I could tell her I don’t have room to “love” any more people. I could tell her I don’t really want her to visit again, and definitely not longer next time. Then again, I won’t get a chance to say any of those things because she will be talking the entire time.

bad knees

Fishrobber Classic – December 2012:

If a guy had bad knees but ran marathons, then collapsed in tears at the end of each race, and had to go lay down and do nothing so he could rest before the next race … people would talk about his courageousness, toughness, dedication, strength.

If he was forced to run the race to earn his family’s only source of income, and had no time or energy for other hobbies or friends, they would talk about his selflessness to provide for his family while sacrificing his own body and happiness.

If people found out the runner took drugs to help his body recover, he would be ridiculed as a fraud, a cheater, a less honorable person for having resorted to chemistry to perform better. People might question whether he should run at all.

How is this different from the functioning bipolar person? My mind is my knees, the marathon is daily life. My strength is a show for everyone while I feel weak inside; I sacrifice the happiness I don’t feel I deserve. I have no time or energy for hobbies or friends because I collapse at the end of each day, but my selflessness is really a sham concealing a dark desire to run away from this life and be free from its responsibility. People would treat me differently if they found out I was constantly medicated.

I wonder what happens when I can no longer run the race every day.


There has been a lot going on at the homestead recently. We talked to a realtor to prepare for listing our house for sale; we started a massive clean-up program in preparation for showing the house; I had a psychiatrist appointment; we had a yard sale that failed miserably; and my mother is coming to visit this weekend.

Short recap for those who don’t know: I was given for adoption at birth and raised by a single woman, a part-time-functional alcoholic with mental health problems; she died when I was 21, leaving me without a family; after searching off and on for several years I made contact with my birth-mom in 2007; due to my issues our relationship did not start well; and in recent years we have become closer to what an adult mother-son relationship might look like, if I knew how to do that. She wants to be “Mom”, and I’m a little distant, even 10 years later. I don’t feel good about that, I’m just wired that way.

Anyway, b-mom is coming to visit us in Ohio for the first time since the 2007 visit. I have been to Georgia twice, and she stayed with us last year in NC for a few days. I have stuff planned to do together, and we going to the farm to visit the goat family in-laws (who are working hard at their farming). B-mom was/is an alcoholic (maybe 27 years sober?), so I will take her to visit the locations where AA got started. We might visit Amish country, we might do a ball game, we might do other stuff, but hopefully she has a good time. I’m good at being a travel agent, even if I’m not that good at relationships. Let’s fill the time with activity to avoid relating on a personal level.