Archive for the ‘mind’ Tag



Only flush the toilet once a day to save water. Use a lighter to save matches if things get a little ripe. No shoes on the dingy dark stained electric blue carpet that used to be a birthing mat. No pets unless you plan on eating them. And, first month’s, last month’s rent and a hefty security deposit in case you fart into the only pillow case on the couch that still has stuffing. But the location is great so you sign the lease. And you re-sign others just like it because you have no choice if you don’t want to live under a bridge out of a shopping cart.


I think I bleed a little on my sheets my first night in my lease and security deposit free apartment. My new roommate collected the rent and on top of everything else, the price was right. The problem was, her head wasn’t. She’d pry into my life with the finesse of Ethel Merman and then spend the rest of her day screaming into the speaker on her i-Phone walking around the house, sitting on the bowl or death-marching her little seventeen-year old dog around the neighborhood talking shit about me to anyone who would listen. She even accused me of stealing from envelopes filled with cash left unattended on our San Francisco doorstep in exchange for the nasty pot she was peddling. This seed and stem salad actually made cancer patients sicker.


Little did I know, just leaving Mama Trauma, a name that accurately depicted my 70 plus year old roommate, would not be the end of my tenancy with her. Next, she would be moving in with me… Actually, into my head. Because the flurry of nasty accusatory texting that went back and forth for almost two days was irresistible. As a writer and knowing her weaknesses, I was monomaniacal and relentless exposing her faults and then dancing on them. But what I didn’t count on was that although her allegations were preposterous to anyone with a lick of common sense, they still infuriated me. And long after the emails stopped, I was unable to cease fuming. My former landlord had become my tenant now… A tenant of my bipolar mind. And Mama Trauma wasn’t paying me a dime.


It seems bizarre when you think about it, but when you despise, hate or are angered by someone, that resentment stays in your head rent free. Wouldn’t it be great if the Sheriff could just staple an eviction notice to your face and the eye of your ire would be out in thirty-days? I’m here to tell you that when you are bipolar, not only does this person have free rent in your cranium, but because of the illness they constantly torment you, reminding you of their presence. The impulse to over-analyze a compulsive thought to make everything alright in your world is overpowering, and you desperately seek a solution to stop the pain. It just isn’t fair for someone to be residing in your head without paying the fare.


I have thought about starting in again with my old roommate and “finishing her off” for good. Pick back up on blasting her via email. A call to the housing authority, building owner and the police would probably put her out on the street. And, Mama Trauma is out of my head… But it doesn’t work that way. Then the guilt for ruining her life would consume me. With Bipolar Illness, there are no quick fixes. Then guilt-ridden regret starts marching in.


It doesn’t matter if one day the entire world knows you were right and they were wrong. If you are Bipolar, your landlord is still your tenant living rent-free in your head. You have to evict them, not convict them, to get them out and stop the gnawing on your cerebral cortex like an appetizer. And the first step to freedom is realizing this truth.


If we Bipolars could control our minds, we probably wouldn’t be Bipolar. But we can manipulate aspects of it. I have decided unless Mama Trauma does something to cause me harm, she can no longer take up space in my mind. Dropping more bombs only means she isn’t gone yet. So I keep reminding myself it’s over and “Mama has left the brain.” It’s not quite that easy, but if every time I think of her I decide not to give her the satisfaction of living free in me, it almost feels good to let her go. Like I can use that space for something else more worthy. Like the lady who texted right into the back of my car at fifty miles per hour


So before you let someone take up space in your head, have them “sign a lease” and pay rent. A “lease” is your judgement that this person is worthy of occupying a place in your mind. And the “rent” is the joy they bring you by their presence. Because once you let someone take up residence in your head at no charge, it’s really hard to get them out.

Panic Attacks: Don’t Panic   2 comments

I was sitting at my desk at work staring at my computer.   Nothing on the screen was registering in my brain.  All around the room I heard busy little fingers manipulating their keyboards at what seemed sonic speeds.  I stole a quick glance to the right and then to the left.  My neck was stiff.  I saw my co-workers intimately involved with their work online.  They could have been on Facebook or emailing their friends, but in my mind they were diligently earning money for the company.

I realized I had perspiration beads on my forehead and more trickling down the back of my neck into my sweater, which was much too warm for the sunny spring day.  My breathing became labored, my chest tightened and I began to get indigestion, hiccuping every twenty seconds or so.  All this was altering my sense of reality and I began to feel disoriented and a little dizzy.  I felt trapped in the office space, frantically trying to figure out the fastest way out of the room.  I kept telling myself, “Don’t pass out at work.  It’s only a panic attack.  Keep cool and it will subside.”

It was getting worse.  Hyperventilation  loomed around the corner.  I grabbed my briefcase and hurriedly slipped out of the office without saying a word.  When I got outside onto the city street I went into an alley, popped  two 1mg Lorezapam tablets, sat down on the sidewalk with my back against a wall and took some deep breaths. A cool breeze washed over me as my breathing eventually slowed down and the sticky sweat began to dry on my body.  The panic attack subsided and I was saved the embarrassment of someone calling the EMT’s, who would only have me breathe into a paper bag infront of my entire work group.  This would earn me the illustrious title of “office head case.”

The problem with panic attacks are you never know when they are going to rear their ugly heads.  You might feel like you have a handle on your life, but something in your subconscious is trying to punch its way through the “good thoughts retaining wall” in your brain.  Or, you have some general anxiety, but you didn’t realize to what extent it is effecting you.  Alas, it might be situational anxiety, where you feel threatened in a particular place and your mind goes into overdrive.

When you are having a panic attack, the most important thing to remember is not to panic.  I know, easier said than done.  But keep in mind  they are not life threatening in most cases and you do not want to be rushed to the hospital for one.  When everyone else has gunshot wounds or are having heart attacks, sitting on your gurney in the emergency room benignly breathing into a paper bag can make you feel like even more of a mental patient.

Next, if you are driving or operating heavy machinery, cease and desist.  You’re going to accidentally run someone over or cut your arm off.  Get away from potential onlookers and find a quiet space where you can just sit down alone and not be bothered.  If you have medication like Valium or Lorezapam, take one.  Then concentrate on slowing your breathing down with some big deep breaths.  Be aware of the fact that you are only having a panic attack and it will go away.  Think of something you’d like to do that day if you don’t end up in the emergency room.  Tell yourself you can can calm yourself down.  Close your eyes and give yourself more than enough time to let it pass.  Be absolutely sure before you get up.

Panic attacks are scary.  They make you feel like you are having a heart attack and about to visit the grim reaper.  But in most cases they are all in your head.  Simply mind over matter.  However the mind is a very powerful thing.  And panic attacks usually strike at very inopportune moments.  By having enough presence of mind to realize it’s a panic attack, removing yourself from the situation and giving your body and mind time to recover, you can usually avoid an embarrassing ride to the hospital in the back of an ambulance.