Happiness

happiness

Happiness can seem like the most elusive emotion to get a solid grasp on. Wallowing in the desperate black hole of depression, it does not even manage a blip on the mood-radar. Yet society, and also the media, tell us that “happiness” is the ultimate goal that we’re all reaching for. They tell us if we drink sugary sodas and eat caramel filled chocolate, we’ll be happy. They say if we lose weight and wear designer jeans and buy over-priced accessories, we’ll be happy. Apparently, if we spend up big on expensive appliances we’ll be happy. The latest model car supposedly contributes to our happiness too.

Men are convinced they can only propose marriage if they first buy a diamond. Women frown and pout when the diamond that cost at least one month’s salary is too small. The fact that diamonds have no inherent value, and that De Beers invented this superficial “tradition” of engagement rings for their own profit has been lost in a fog of mis-history. Why can’t women be sufficiently happy without a diamond if the man they truly love wants to marry them? Why isn’t love in itself not enough? Why can’t teenagers be happy in their own skin, without being made to feel insecure and inadequate by media, society, over-anxious parents and their own equally insecure and self-loathing peers? Today there are more unhappy people on Earth than ever before in the history of the planet. Everyone seems to believe you need “stuff” to be happy. Or you need “perfection” to be content. Never has such blatant bullshit been so prolific to the extent where people of all ages in all nations have become brainwashed into believing this ridiculous hype is all true. And so many fall victim to the bleakness of depression when they feel they can’t possibly achieve all these materialistic goals set to achieve this mysterious “happiness” everyone keeps talking about. Of course they can’t. No one can. It’s impossible! Happiness is not a material possession.

After years of conforming to society’s idea of who I am supposed to be, and trying to live up to the social status expected of me, and living on a constant rollercoaster of dieting and failing and being miserable because I couldn’t afford Gucci shoes or Dolce & Gabbana jeans – which would never fit me in a million years anyway because designers of that caliber never account for ample booty – I decided to put a stop to the entire circus and embrace myself for who I am and what I am. What am I? I’m a woman. I’m gorgeous. I’m stunning. I’m perfectly flawed and beautifully wounded and I am a survivor of a very rough life. And I’m happy. What? How did that happen? It wasn’t easy. I worked hard for it. But I now can honestly say that I’m a happy woman, and my depression – while it still comes and goes in waves – is a lot more manageable as a result.

I started with Mirror Therapy – an exercise in improving self-esteem – which was the very first building block towards happiness. It nearly destroyed me, but I survived the experience with flying colors and kept moving forward, one small step at a time. I screamed. I wrote. I danced. I laughed. I lay on my back at the beach and watched the clouds form into interesting shapes. I watched sad movies and cried my heart out. I learned to love me. I learned to be kind to myself. I learned to acknowledge my flaws and accept them. I learned what I truly need to be happy – and that does not include a two-door fridge with an ice-maker, a red Lamborghini or anything else which carries a label or price tag. It was a wonderful, and at times traumatic, stressful and tearful, and extremely liberating process which lead me towards today’s blissful feelings of contentment and inner peace.

Gratitude, I found, was a key factor in my healing process. Gratitude for a day that did not include feeling blue. Gratitude for a friend’s kindness. Gratitude for the small things that we often take for granted: fresh water to drink, healthy food to eat, a warm place to sleep. Gratitude to Mother Nature for providing me with a sustainable life. I learned that I could decide to be happy if I wanted to feel happy. Or not. I could decide how I wanted to react – or not – to each life situation. And I could decide who to let into my life, into my inner and outer circles, and began to add people in my life who are positive and optimistic, letting go of those who did not enhance the quality of my life or share in my optimism and happiness. As a result, today I am happy. Yes, I have Bipolar Disorder, which is never going away, with a healthy slug of PTSD thrown in for good measure and a helping of OCD just to make life a little more interesting, but even with all these obstacles in my path just waiting to trip me up, I have chosen to be happy. And so can you.

Click the link to find out more about my book: I’m Bipolar And I Know It

Posted in Addiction, Bipolar Disorder, Books, Depression, Emotions, Healing, Mood Disorders, PTSD, Self-Help, Survival, Writing To Heal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breaking Up With The Supermarket

Hell in a Box

A whole lot of hell and damnation packed into one little box

Every trip to the supermarket is like a visit to the House of Horrors. The moment I step through that automatic door, lit up like a Broadway stage by dozens of bright fluorescent lights, the demon in my head screams “CHOCOLATE!” It makes no difference if I have gone there to buy laundry powder of one of those thingamijiggies that fits over the end of the doobilacky, that evil harridan is inside my mind having a super-size tantrum, beating her fists against the fragile walls of my broken mind and making demands that are harder to resist with each breathless step into the cavernous den of temptation.

“CHOCOLATE!” she shrieks, getting her friends to echo the call, howling in my skull. I head into the dog-food aisle to get away. It’s like taking an alcoholic to the liquor store: heart racing, short breaths, clenched teeth, balled fists, sweaty brow, limbs quivering. And then, transported by some mysterious magnetic force that I do not understand, I somehow find myself staring at an entire wall filled from floor to ceiling with caramel drops and cherry coconut bars, dark rum and raisin chocolate bars, and packets of gooey rocky road. I don’t remember how I arrived here. The dog-food aisle is at the other end of the supermarket.

Multi-colored bars and blocks of chocolate beckon me to try them; a whole planet of mouth-watering flavors seductively calls out my name. The rich aroma of chocolate engulfs me. My brain begins an automatic shut-down. All around me, chocolate calls and beckons, blowing kisses and wiggling like sexy pole-dancers with suggestive flicks of their shiny wrappers. I’m frozen to the spot, unable to fight or flee. I won’t say yes, but I can’t say no. It’s not the monsters under the bed I am most afraid of, it’s the monsters in my head.

“CHOCOLATE!” screeches the wild pack, a cacophony of shrill voices, all beating down my resolve. Drowning inside the murky pit of depression, my defenses are weak and I struggle to fight them off. Chocolate-coated peanuts dance a Can-Can in front of my eyes. I’m tempted to throw myself on the floor, face buried in my arms and cry, “No! No! No! No! No! No!” but the supermarket’s security would probably have me arrested. How would I explain that to the police?

“Well, officer, I was trying to escape the demons. They wanted me to buy chocolate.”

Right. Transported post-haste to the psych-ward in a straight-jacket by men in white coats. Then, an evaluation, where my dirty little secret will become public knowledge.

“She has a mental illness,” people will whisper conspiratorially as I pass.

Actually, I have three mental illnesses, and I’m not too concerned about who finds out, but that is neither here nor there. Right now, I’m in hell. I’m fighting for my life, trying to stop them from dragging me into the abyss with depression-inducing chocolate. Or am I? Is chocolate the real problem? When I can eat an entire 200g block in under half an hour, it could be. But how is this so? What is it about chocolate that causes it to be so devastatingly addictive? Sugar. That ugly albino beast rears its ugly head and roars:

“You NEED me!”

Still on the verge of panic, I back out of the aisle cautiously, as if backing away from a pack of wild howling dogs. The sugar-addicted demons in my head go berserk, pounding at my mind to go back and pick up a handful of shimmering packets. Soft truffle centers catch my eye. I spin on my heel and run. Out of breath, I find myself in the health-food aisle. I stop right in front of a paper bag stating that its contents include 100% organic cacao beans. No sugar. There is a picture on the front of a fresh yellow cacao pod, split in two to reveal the beans inside. I grab it and race to the check out.

Once in the car, I collapse into a heap, tears coursing down my face. I feel as if I’ve just had one of those terrible heart-wrenching passive-aggressive fights that occur frequently within an unhealthy relationship. I arrive home exhausted from the trip. As I unpack eco-friendly laundry liquid, rock salt and a pack of life-saving cacao beans, I resolve to end it. Munching on cacao beans, I feel stronger and more determined to succeed. I’m also getting the chocolate hit my body wanted, without the paralyzing guilt and self-loathing attached. Cool beans!

Just like that boyfriend who beat me up all those years ago, I swore I would never see the supermarket again. It’s too harrowing. All that shimmering and glimmering in your face, pretending to be your bestest friend and then dragging you down into a festering wound of bleak negativity and self-annihilation. And after all that, they tell you it’s your own stupid fault. It’s time to break up with the supermarket. It’s not that difficult actually, when I consider the number of times I’ve walked out of there feeling as if I’ve survived yet another emotional massacre. It’s much the same as when you know the relationship ended a while back, and now you finally have the fortitude to walk away.

The following day, there is a Farmer’s Market nearby. It’s love at first sight. The beginning of a new, healthy relationship. Let’s see how this goes… so far, it all feels pretty good!

Little bombs of bliss in every bean.

Little bombs of energizing bliss in every rich chocolaty bean.

Posted in Addiction, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Healing, Mood Disorders, PTSD, Self-Help, Survival | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Sweet Life

Sugar is the root of all evil.

Sugar: the root of all evil. Causes cancer, diabetes and depression, just to name a few. Photo: Turchuk.com

Sugar is my worst enemy. Its insidious presence in so many food products gives me cause to wonder if the Big Ten are actually mass marketing sugar with government permission to reduce the overall world population, rather than “feed the world”. Conspiracy theories aside, we all know it’s about the money. Presumably, they do it for the massive profits. You eat sugar. It gets you “high” and you want more sugar. And next time, you want even more more sugar. They take more and more of your hard-earned money (Did you know that Nestlé is the currently the world’s most profitable corporation?). When you crash, you feel like crap. It’s a never-ending circle that’s really hard to break. But “hard” is not impossible. And it can be done!

Unlike identifying my specific food allergies, the sugar-addiction thing actually took me a very long time to figure out. When I realized that sugar was the culprit, guilty of numerous crimes against my person, I decided to change my life style and eating habits. You know, I hit the “health wagon” which dictates that brown sugar is healthier…. and honey is even better. But that propaganda is not true either, so it took quite a while to rid my diet of processed sugars. Eventually, I turned it all upside down. Everything lurking in the back of the pantry that came in a packet, jar, can or bottle was tossed out. However, even though it contains fructose, I did not eliminate fresh organic fruit. Without regrets, I broke up with the supermarket and got engaged to the Farmer’s Market instead. Now I know exactly what I’m consuming, and there are no secret ingredients. Fruit is what saves me from sweet cravings at any time of the night or day. In fact, to be specific, low-fructose bananas totally save my butt. I have another blog called Going Bananas which – apart from sharing other fascinating foods made from bananas – also shows how you can replace sugars in cakes with ripe bananas, with some fabulous recipes. Believe me, learning about how to sweeten my life without sugar was a miracle!

I like to eat sweet things. I love chocolate. Very often, after dinner, my sweet-tooth kicks in and my body wants something sweet. Usually, I choose a piece of fresh fruit. Sometimes, I want something that feels more “naughty” than a holier-than-thou slice of pineapple – as delicious and fresh as it is. A brownie? Hell yeah! I make mine with bananas and olive oil instead of sugar and butter. As I type, I’m drinking a banana-chocolate shake made in the blender with two bananas and a spoonful of organic cacao beans. I get my sugar hit, my chocolate hit and my sweet-tooth is satisfied for the rest of the day. Woohoo! Occasionally, to satisfy my “need” for chocolate, I even snack on a few organic cacao beans while I’m working in the garden – this is an acquired taste, but well worth it. And guess what else…. I’m not going to be crashing into a depression because of sugar.

The best thing about eliminating processed sugars from my diet is feeling great. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a magical “cure” for my Bipolar Disorder. There is no cure. There is only finding a way to live beside what I now refer to as “a terrible neighbor”. Once a level of inner peace is achieved, it’s doable. Sometimes, bouts of depression still occur. Days when I can’t get out of bed and face the world still take place. But it’s not because of sugar. There’s none of that searching every corner of the house like a desperate drug-addict, looking for some snack I’ve hidden somewhere to satisfy my insatiable craving. Some of the edge has been taken off my disease. When it comes to what I put in my mouth, I have a lot more control now.  No more Michelle Pfeiffer (I am Sam) style marshmallow binges, puking it up later and crying on the bathroom floor. No more late night movie tantrums because there are no more toxic gummy bears. Freshly made Chili Popcorn has become my favorite movie snack. I’m preferring more salty home-made snacks nowadays, but low-fructose fruit has become the new path to sweetness in my life.

There are several great low fructose fruits that really help me out in the sweetness department: berries, kiwi, grapefruit, pineapples, and avocados to name a few. There are several sites online that go deeper into that, I won’t do that here. But there is also something else that has happened recently. Something so vital to my mental health that it deserves a mention. Whenever I choose fruit, I also congratulate myself on a wonderful choice. I look at directly at my face in the mirror and compliment myself on my smart decision. The smile that comes back at me is pretty hard to beat. This self-esteem boost is amazing. I am both physically and psychologically combating my Bipolar with powerful weapons it can’t easily break through. I’m beginning to believe that poor self-esteem has a lot more to do with depression than we understand. As for that bleak crazy depression skulking around somewhere in the darkest shadows of my messed up mind, well, these days it’s got a whole bunch of large complicated obstacles to get over before it can ruin my day! Happy sugar-free days!

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Vegemite Therapy

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I’m a Vegemite kid. I have always been a happy little Vegemite as happy as can be, until the rotten bastards took my Vegemite from me. When I was knee-high to a grasshopper, and still too young to dress myself, my mother had dressed me up in white frills and lace, then left me to my own devices while she went to dress herself. I played quietly. Apparently, too quietly. It’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for. By the time my mother returned, ready to take me out, I was covered from head to toe in black goo, and still delightedly licking thick brewers yeast extract off the spoon.

Breakfast Vegemite

Breakfast Vegemite

Millions of Australians have grown up with this strange edible enigma, best on hot buttered toast, but also known to season a soup, flavor spaghetti, or serve as a pizza base. Vegemite is so popular, rock songs have been written about it! Having lived a long way from the island for the best part of three decades, my one tenacious connection to the motherland has always been Vegemite. I always throw a jar in my bag on my way out of the country and an essential part of my roots go wherever I’m going. Vegemite is a vital part of my mental health routine, maintaining a single thread of continuity throughout my life’s journey. When the jar runs out – usually after about a year of being sparingly spread onto home-made gluten-free breads as a special treat, there is not another thing I crave more from home. Home-grown delicacies such as Cherry Ripes and Old Gold Dark Rum and Raisin Chocolate, Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce and Mum’s Mango Cheesecake take a back seat to my favorite treat from Australia. During the rough times, a thin spread of deliciously tangy black goo over fresh bread can take me back to a happier place where life is easier, even if only for a moment. Treasuring each mouthful, savoring the salty bite of Vegemite is part of my therapy.

Vegemite Toast

Lunch Vegemite

Living away for years at a time, in remote locales where most people have never even heard of Australia, much less Vegemite, where such a weird black sticky concoction is impossible to buy or reproduce in the kitchen at home, can sometimes be a burden too heavy to bear when the chips are down. It’s nice to have a jar of Vegemite at home in the cupboard. It represents so much; Vegemite is the nerve-calming breakfast toast the day of the big essay presentation at school, a Vegemite and cheese sandwich snack is the motivation to swim another twenty lengths of the Olympic pool at the daily training session, Vegemite on hot buttered toast is the girls coming home at 4am, still giddy and giggling from a night on the town, Vegemite on salty crackers is lunch on the beach with teenage friends. And when your Vegemite toast falls out of your hand, it always lands face down. Vegemite is not just salty black gunk. It’s a happy place. It’s somewhere I can go when life gets on top of me and there is no other escape. It helps keep me sane, and can be the first step out of a bleak low point; onwards and upwards, like a happy little Vegemite. Knowing all this, you may now empathize with my despair when the precious jar of Vegemite is removed from my bag and confiscated at the airport. My unopened, recently purchased, jar of Vegemite, packed to the brim with good mental health is suddenly gone.

Vegemite Spaghetti

Dinner Vegemite

“It’s brand new! Unopened!” I tell officials, who are clearly not deprived of any home comforts.

“It’s a spread. You can’t have it,” they chant, robotically.

“I need this. You don’t understand how important it is!”

“It’s illegal. You can’t have it.”

Vegemite is illegal?

Vegemite is illegal?

Vegemite is illegal? Since when? Are the authorities afraid I will kill a plane full of people with an overdose of vitamin B? If the airliner does crash, my jar of apparently illicit substances could actually mean the difference between life and death. This is the first time it’s been taken away. Again, the goal posts have been moved to suit whoever feels the need to micro-control the population in the name of safety. Australia has a paranoid obsession with safety. Taking my Vegemite does not make air travel safer. This confiscation is cruel and heartless, carried out by inhumane minions of the police state I once called home. It is the equivalent of taking away my medication for depression – in fact, if I’d been carrying those kinds of prescription drugs, they would have passed muster. However, I am devastated by the loss of my Vegemite. It is a massive blow to my fragile emotional state, which I already struggle to maintain in good condition without prescriptions. What kind of people rip a life-raft from the hands of the drowning? It is unnecessary. Suffering from a lack of home-comforts most of the time, that jar of Vegemite is all I have. There is no bean-curd vermicelli, no gluten-free spaghetti, no Cherry Ripes or Old Gold dark chocolate from which to take solace. Bereft, with nothing except a sour taste in my mouth at a ridiculous law that not only makes no sense but causes terrible suffering, I board the waiting plane.

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Vegemite Toast at 4am

I depart the homeland both disgusted and distraught. I grieve the loss not only of a simple jar of delicious toast spread but the only link that takes me home, transporting me to the other side of the Pacific Ocean with just a few bites, to soothe my anxieties, calm my fears, wash away my worries, and bring a smile to my face. As I take off, sans Vegemite, to leave the country where I have suffered the most over the past 47 years, once again it causes me indescribable pain. A lucky country it is not. Vegemiteless, I cross the Pacific to live in the boonies, to survive on hope and realize my dreams, this time minus my vital sensory connection to a happy place. I don’t know how I’ll cope when things get tough. I hope the Australian Customs Officer who took home my precious jar of life-saving Vegemite chokes on his toast.

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Happy Little Vegemite

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The Question of Lithium

Ever since I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (or manic depression as it was known way back in the dark ages of mental illness diagnoses) I’ve been running as fast as my fat little legs would carry me in the opposite direction of all kinds of prescribed chemical treatments, from Zoloft and Prozac to a massive range of other unpronounceable mood-altering concoctions that medical and psychiatric professionals were only too happy to prescribe faster than my lovely round bottom could settle into their comfy sofa chairs, the scariest of the lot being Lithium, which is an alkali metal said to increase the synthesis of serotonin and decrease the release of noradrenaline and is somehow designed to make my loopy messed up brain happier. One aspect of my bipolarity that has never been taken into consideration by anyone is that my attitude to these totally zombifying treatments is at the opposite pole of professional attitudes to treatment, making the entire treatment concept a bipolar one, and not just an unwelcome illness residing inside my own twisted mind. An addled brain filled with introduced heavy metals (not counting Iron Maiden and Metallica) was never one of my highest goals in life. However, recently I had an experience that caused me to pause and think about the idea of lithium as a viable solution for a moment longer. Maybe, just maybe, lithium isn’t so bad as a treatment for my Bipolar Disorder, after all.

People who know me well at this point will be asking, “Where is the real Roni, and what have you done with her body?” It’s true that I’m not the kind of person who would double back on my own convictions and give up a lifelong battle just like that. You don’t fight against something with full claws out for so long just to prance daintily up to the chopping block like a lamb to slaughter, ready to be converted into neat little chops shaped by the hands of others. But this has now become a perspective issue. Maybe, for all these depression-riddled moody rollercoaster-riding years, I’ve been looking at the whole Lithium Question from the wrong angle.

On a trip back home from home – which takes me half way around the globe and all the way across the Pacific Ocean (twice) – while staying with some friends in Los Angeles, I visited a local adult shop to replace my big-girl version of Buzz Lightyear. The old one had thrown in the towel many months previously and fun toys like that are not so readily available out in the boonies of South America. In fact, adult stores in Latin America are as rare as men who don’t urinate in the streets. Culturally speaking, women are supposed to hook up with aforementioned men (and be happy about it!). Ugh! Give me a latex lover over a Latin lover any day. While I was in the store, the friendly salesgirl pointed out a few different multi-speed models based on my specifications and then proudly announced with a big smile, “These ones run on lithium batteries. You’ll get a lot more happy miles out of them!” Really? A light bulb popped over my head. Lithium. To treat bipolar depression. OF COURSE!

If all those therapists had been prescribing this kind of lithium as medication, instead of trying to convince me to fill my body internally with toxic metals, I probably wouldn’t have fled quite so quickly. It couldn’t be simpler, could it? Buzzing myself to bliss, a couple of well-chosen lithium battery-powered appliances have the potential to make a world of difference to how I’m feeling. Buzz Lightyear Mark II was an instant hit. Oh yeah! He made me very happy! In fact, if he hadn’t been powered by lithium, he’d probably have melted from exhaustion with dead double As and burned out pinions (just like the last one).

Then of course, lithium has a multitude of other uses to whip my bipolarity back into its place. I mean, one does have to get out and about from time to time, breathe fresh air, feel the sun on one’s skin, listen to waves break on the beach. Armed with a lithium battery-powered camera, I can now go outside the house and feel good too. I love to take photos. Here’s the thing: over the years, I have found that doing things I enjoy helps me to feel good. Taking photos is great fun! Then, there’s the lithium-powered cordless drill option. My inner-carpenter can buzz her way to bliss with her clothes on and make home improvements at the same time. Apparently, there are even cars and motorbikes that run on lithium. I love to drive, it’s relaxing. What better way to beat Bipolar Disorder than to whack in some lithium and rev it up? The choices are unlimited! All kinds of gadgets and toys run on lithium these days. Things have changed a bit since the dark ages.

My attitude to lithium has changed too. When applied externally, I see great potential for lithium not only as a remedy for Bipolar Disorder, but for all kinds of ills that plague modern society. De-stress with lithium! Admittedly, I have not done any personal studies on the side effects of externally administered lithium treatments – and since I’m the only subject at this point in time, I doubt any recorded results would be considered objective or conclusive. However, from my experience, I can say that lithium has certainly made a difference to my mood swings and levels of happiness. It’s just probably not quite what all those therapists I’ve seen over the years were expecting me to do. So, I’m off… to Al’s Toy Barn… and beyond…

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The Thing About Semen

When I first read that semen was found effective in treating depression, I liked the idea instantly, but began to wonder how this works. It seems the studies generate more questions than answers. It’s well documented that semen contains a cocktail of chemicals including cortisol, which increases feelings of affection; estrone and oxytocin, which both elevate mood; thyrotropin-releasing hormone, a natural antidepressant; melatonin which induces sleep; and serotonin, one of the best-known antidepressant neurotransmitters. As a veteran bipolariod constantly seeking new information about organic and meds-free treatments, this information interests me a great deal. Although, it strikes me as quite amazing that this wonderfully natural concoction of mind-altering drugs is still legal and readily available to anyone who wants it. Apparently, no world governments have found a way to regulate or tax its use. Yet. However, what intrigues me the most is the actual application of semen as an antidepressant.

Being a single woman living in a tiny remote fishing village in the middle of whoop whoop South America, the availability of semen is, well … limited. I’m very happily single and not currently interested in changing the status quo even if it does mean having the cure for Bipolar Disorder within sweet-nothings whispering distance. So, I guess I could always ask a friend to lend me a hand – figuratively speaking. But then, what do I actually do with this little white splotch of happy hormones in terms of treatment for depression?

Perhaps a semen facial is the thing: a bit like a self-applied pearl necklace. A pearl mask. I could rub a good handful of it all over my face from my hairline to my chin and then lay back in the equatorial sun and let it absorb into my pores and do its magic on my mood for an hour or two. The skin is the body’s largest organ, so surely it would have some noticeable effect, wouldn’t it? How often would I have to do this? Actually, I picture this method being more of a wrinkle smoother than an antidepressant, drying quickly and shrinking my skin until I look at least ten years younger. I’m not so sure about the smell either. In my experience, semen does not have a great smell; it’s definitely a far whiff from the intoxicating scent of African violets or jasmine. Maybe I could add some essential oils before I smear it all over my face. But would that alter the chemistry, hence rendering the semen impotent as an antidepressant? I also suspect that my friend would probably get quite tired of this process long before I’m cured of Bipolar Disorder.

Even after everything I’ve read, I’m still left wondering about the extent and content of the tests that have been done during these studies. What kind of semen did they use? Okay, maybe I need to explain that question: did the semen come from men who were depressed, or from men who were not depressed? If it came from depressed men, were they on prescription meds, or not? Was it natural, organic semen? Or was it full of chemicals and toxins from a drug addict on a bad diet? Can you see where I’m going with this? What kind of semen is the best kind of antidepressant? (Or what kind of wanker do I need to be stalking?)

The published articles suggest that regular oral ingestion works well but still, a minefield of unanswered questions crowd my busy bipolaroid mind. You see, semen doesn’t taste that great. It’s salty and sometimes bitter, depending on the lifestyle, genetic makeup and diet of the semen donor. One man I knew in another lifetime ate so much fresh tropical fruit that his semen was actually sweet and tasted so good that oral ingestion was as much my pleasure as his. On recollection, those were quite happy times – maybe I just blissfully overdosed on his personal brand of mind-altering antidepressants. Since then, I haven’t had the pleasure of blowing a man who eats that many pineapples. Believe it or not, these factors do matter to me. It’s my tastebuds that will suffer – or not – before I swallow the medicine that will help lift my mood. I simply can’t imagine how swallowing the equivalent of a spoonful of seawater on a regular basis is going to make me happy.

Then, there’s the whole issue of unprotected sex. According the the studies, women who don’t use condoms display fewer depressive symptoms than those who do use condoms. So, I’d probably feel fabulous until I contracted an STD. HIV, anyone? At this stage of my natural antidepressant research, I have to admit that being a single bipolariod clearly has its downside. Of course, having a long-term partner solves this problem. Even so, there are still unanswered questions. Is it the absorption of semen through the vaginal and uterine walls that causes happiness? Or can you take it just like an injection in the um … backside? Is that particular method as effective, more effective or less effective as an antidepressant than other methods? Where are the studies that answer these questions? And what if the semen has more melatonin than oxytocin? In that case, I’d probably just be joyfully sleepy, and unaware of suffering any type of depression. Are there ways to measure the hormone levels, assuming that all men are created same-same but different? I envision in the future a bank of high-quality happy-hormone-packed antidepressant semen available for purchase specifically for the treatment of Bipolar Disorder. Is that too weird? I see rows of neat little foil packages ready for the turkey baster. Or maybe to go into the morning juice blender to mix with the oranges and bananas. Why not? Some people do that with noni juice which tastes like rotten cheese. Considering so much semen is wasted in the hands of mankind, I’m certain some kind of Save the Semen campaign in the name of global mental health is not entirely out of the question. Or … when it comes to quality semen do we actually need to be acquainted with the donor? If so, trash the whole semen bank idea. If not, we could actually be in the process of saving the world.

So then what about frozen semen? Does it have the same hormonal properties and mood lifting qualities as fresh semen? If so, can one then just turkey-baste one’s way out of depression? You see, the articles state that it’s the semen and not the sex that treats depression. And how would bipolar men benefit from this knowledge, assuming they’re just as interested as women to reduce their depression symptoms? Dried semen sold in capsule form, maybe. Then, the real trick would be to keep this idea well away from the big pharmas – where the whole new nightmare of synthetic semen begins!

My randomly insane thoughts also run to considering the personalities of the men supplying the semen that is supposed to make me feel good. Does comedian Russell Brand’s semen have some special quality that would make it better than, say, Jim Carrey’s or Spike Milligan’s semen as an antidepressant? Would bipolariod comedian Stephen Fry’s semen make another bipolaroid simultaneously laugh and cry? Would Jean-Claude Van Damme’s semen have manic-depressives leaping around like madly grinning Kung Fu Pandas? Would Dalai Lama semen make us feel calm and spiritual? I imagine Andy Behrman semen giving me electro-convulsions; I don’t know if this is good or bad. Do individual personalities have any bearing on the antidepressant qualities or hormone levels of the semen? I don’t know about you, but I’d like to know.

After much pondering and puzzling, I think my ideal semen donor would be a generally happy man who eats organic foods (and mountains of fresh pineapples), exercises regularly, is not depressed or on medications and has no criminal record. Unfortunately for me, there is no one fitting that description for thousands of miles in any direction from my house. However, I’m all for semen treatment; what a wonderful concept.

Click here to buy the book: I’m Bipolar And I Know It

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From Suicidal To Sensational

The first time anyone asked me if I was out of my mind, I was six years old. With an old towel tied around my neck, I had climbed up to the garage roof and jumped off. If Superman could do it, then so could I, right? At that tender age, I’d wanted to fly away from my life and never come back. Clearly, there was a bit more going on than a normal six year old girl should have to handle. At eleven, during an out-of-body astral-travel experience, I hovered just under the ceiling of my bedroom, deciding whether or not to re-enter my body and continue living the nightmare that encompassed my childhood. Suicidal, and completely out of my mind with rage and resentment, I came back. A few years later, I ended up out of my head in a hospital psych-ward after a thwarted suicide attempt. After that, an insane death-wish ruled my life for decades but, by some miracle, I managed to survive all the craziness. Now, I can admit that, yes, I am still out of my mind, and I don’t have any intention of going back in there any time soon.

Believe me, if you saw what was going on in there, you would give it a wide berth too. My mind is a labyrinthine combat zone filled with salivating demons and shrieking monsters armed with weapons of mass self-destruction. The scariest Ghost Train in the world is a walk in the park compared to this gallery of unspeakable abominations. Guys like Tim Burton would have a field day in there, creeping around to discover horrors even he has never imagined lurking around every corner. My damaged mind is an emotional minefield, dark and messy, hazardous and harrowing, a dangerous place to venture, even on a good day. It’s not just the bipolarity. Once you get your head around that monster, there are the goblins of childhood trauma, PTSD and OCD to contend with as well. All of them with sharpened fangs, leaping around armed with razor-tipped spears and howling so loudly that you can’t hear yourself scream. You’d be lucky to come out alive. In fact, that I am still here to tell the story is somewhat mystifying to me. I don’t really know how to explain that. Destiny?

I don’t ever remember a time between my failed Superman stunt and now when I didn’t have Bipolar Disorder: depression and mood swings, crazy thoughts and suicidal tendencies, as well as repetitive rewind-playback thoughts, absurd obsessions that never made sense, and that erratic feeling of being like a living emotional explosion just waiting for the right set of circumstances to set off my hair-trigger time bomb. My mental illness went undiagnosed for three decades as I roller-coastered along, believing the insanity was just part of the wild and uncontrollable woman I eventually became, even though I didn’t actually like her very much at all – even I thought she was nuts! Once I finally knew what I was facing, I could recognize the distinctive signs of bipolarity in every aspect of my tumultuous journey through childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Actually, it was the diagnosis itself that stopped a lot of the random craziness, like that “Oh!” moment, when you finally understand: “I’m not crazy. I have Bipolar Disorder. I have PTSD. And I’m obsessive-compulsive. Those are diseases, not personality types! I’m sick! There is treatment! Yay!”

Even so, people who don’t understand the tangled wirings of a messed up mind have a tendency to be cruel. The stigma attached to having a mental illness, however diagnosable and treatable, sticks like fresh doggy doodoo to a shoe, even though none of it is my own doing.

“She’s crazy!”

People that eager to stigmatize aren’t usually interested in learning about the inner-workings of a mental illness. They don’t seem to have great reserves of compassion or understanding stored in their rock-hard little hearts and small withered minds. However, they are not my problem. What they think, say and do is of no interest to me. Over the years, I have learned to ignore ignorants. Bipolar Disorder doesn’t define me. Mental illness is not who I am. Staying on top of it all is a bit like training alligators, snapping at their noses with a whip until they back down into the murky waters of my mind and leave me alone to pursue happiness and enjoy other pleasurable activities. The tricky part is knowing when to crack the whip, and being skillful with it, without accidentally slicing off your own toes.

And yet, despite seemingly insurmountable odds, I’m here, a living breathing bipolaroid that sometimes makes sense and sometimes doesn’t, that is sometimes friendly and sometimes anti-social, that is sometimes creative and sometimes feels dead. And sometimes feels absolutely sensational – as long as I’m out of my mind. Getting out of my mind has been a life-long project resulting in both histrionics and hilarity and a modicum of success; picture a Monty Pythonesque scene with hooting trolls wielding meat cleavers at a garden gnome wedding where it eventually ends well. I’m Bipolar And I Know It is part of the success; a non-fiction book documenting the winding path I have taken to find a way to live with my illness without resorting to prescribed medications, and the challenges I encountered along the way. Written neither in the bleak pit of depression nor on the dizzy peak of mania, but from the delicate balance of an emotional stability that comes from the kind of hard work and perseverance for which champions are lauded. Too bad one can’t become famous solely on the basis of battling mental illness with epic heroism and eternal optimism. Many people already renowned for their other achievements have in recent years made the previously über-private battle for sanity more publicly acceptable: Stephen Fry, Russell Brand, Carrie Fisher and Emilie Autumn just to namedrop a few who have shone spotlights on their own depression and come out from behind the stigma, and I applaud all of them for making the rocky path just a little easier for the rest of us non-celeb bipolar plebes.

Making the transformation from suicidal to sensational has taken a lifetime of training, practice, freak-outs and failures, all of which have gradually paved the way to success in living with emotional balance, inner peace and happiness. Getting out of my mind was one of the most important factors. Things haven’t changed that much in there over the years; it could still give a Ghost Train a decent run for its money. However, my attitude to what is in there has changed drastically. My actions and reactions to the environment both inside and outside of my own head make an enormous difference to my mental health. The way I perceive myself from within and without can make or break my day. Allowing myself to feel what I feel without judgment, criticism or fear of reprisals helps to achieve an emotional balance I once thought beyond the realm of reality. Not allowing anyone to judge me based on their own superficiality helps me to hold my head high and reject the “shame” of stigma. And what I feed my mind, body and soul is an integral part of the whole healing process. These are the true secrets to becoming bipolarly sensational.

Click here to find out more about I’m Bipolar And I Know It.

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