Thursday, October 1, 2009

What's Going On and Bipolar Article (long post; good article)

 (This is one of those blog award virus images that was floating around. I kind of like it to represent my honest scrap today. Thank you to (I think) Utah Savage for sending it the way of The Pagan Sphinx.)

I'm currently experiencing a sort of blog frenzy. In a couple of weeks blogging will become a low-priority for me, as I will be starting two new classes that overlap by a few weeks. There will a lot of travel and much to do and then it's the holidays. My mother has let me know that she is seriously considering visiting for the holidays, from Portugal. She has two little great-grandchildren (my brother's grandchildren). The last time she saw her GGD was when Anna was three months old. I have mixed feelings about her coming in winter. She doesn't do well in the cold or cooped up in my brother's suburban mansion. My house is too old and dusty for her. I'm really very afraid she'll get sick here.

My brother, whom I'll call Dr. Phil, is being a selfish jerk as usual by putting the squeeze on our mother to come for the holidays and otherwise laying a guilt trip on her about how her great-grandchildren are growing up and she's missing it. Ugh. He could go visit her. Dr. Phil, my nephew with the little kids and his wife are very well off. They could collectively more than afford to rent a flippin' villa near my mother's house, if they wanted to. My brother just has made no progress in getting beyond is anger at my parents for having moved back to Portugal for their retirement.  I too was saddened that my children would grow up largely without their grandparents' regular guidance. But I have been over that for many years now. In fact, now that my father is gone, especially, I think my mother is much better off living out the rest of her life in Portugal. She has many family and friends within walking distance, so she doesn't need to drive. She takes the bus and train to medical appointments and if she is truly in need of private transportation, those same family and friends are available to drive her and are, in fact, happy to do so. My brother had been putting a lot of pressure on her and on me to support his "position", to move back to the U.S. And I know that is not what my mother wants. She's told me over the course of a lot of conversations over many years, that that is not what she wants. Why my brother can't accep that must be between him and his shrink. I certainly hope he has one, as he is truly in need. And I am dead serious, not a mean-spirited bone or wish in me. I hope only the best for Dr. Phil ( and that nickname does make me smile a bit wryly).  I just wish he would lay off.

If only you could see Dr. Phil in action. He's tempered himself a bit over the years but I've lost count of how many times he hung up the phone on me in conversations we had a couple of years ago, during a particularly troubling period in my life:  SG1, as I wrote about above, was in one of many psych wards and my husband and I were splitting up. He called to demand information about my daughter's "problem", as he put it. He accused me of "killing our parents" (my father was still living then) by telling them about SG's mental illness. I was fit to be tied and I told him the conversation was over and he ended it himself immediately by hanging up.

The other significant time Dr. Phil hung up on me had to do with his preemptive strike against me over how I should quit my summer school job one week into it (and I really needed the income then) to go care for my mother upon her release from the hospital after gastric cancer surgery. I hadn't even had time to digest (pardon) the news when he's on the phone telling me that I had to go and that doing so would become my "defining moment" (that's why I dubbed him Dr. Phil) He was really busy, you see planning his vacation. When I took issue with his confrontational attitude and not so much with what he was wanting me to do, which I naturally ended up doing because it was the right thing to do for my mother, not because he was brow-beating me into it. And I told him so.

My mother asked my opinion last weekend of whether she should make the trans-Atlantic flight to Boston a couple of weeks before Christmas. I told her that was up to her and how she feels physically and emotionally about the trip and insisted that it should be her decision and her decision only. In typical Maria-Style, she kept she kept urging me to elaborate but I stuck to my line. I am not getting in the middle of that one!

They are writing sudden flurry and frenzy of notes in my medical file these days. It is nothing serious but I'm having to jump through some hoops for the medical system so I can be properly treated for chronic UTIs. If don't know the acronym, I'm glad for you. If you know it all too well, I'd be happy to comiserate. ;-)  I have one more appointment with the handsome Spanish urologist (he wears clogs. I have this thing for men in clogs) heheh.) and then I should be set-up with the proper treatment. I have tried every bloody thing under the sun to take care of the UTIs with more holistic approaches. We'll see what my options are.

SG1 and The Beloved are doing very well!  SG1 and I talk most days.The Americorps stint was really difficult for the first month or so her position, but she made it through with flying colors and really enjoying it. I'm not sure she wants to follow in her mother's footsteps as a teacher of young children, though her placement is at an elementary school where she is a literacy tutor for kindergarten and first grade. She's expressed a mild interest in perhaps being certified to teach high school. I listen and try to be supportive. SG1 is worried that she will not be able to do what she wants to do for graduate school. She is a brilliant girl and always has to have goals. And right now she is where she is and needs to finish this Americorps endeavor. With the economy the way it is, she may even have to do a second year of the program. She has two years to think about what she wants to pursue in graduate school. She mentioned law school again recently, which she hasn't done in a while. It bothers her not to know what she will doing in two years. It's interesting, because it bothers me to know what I'll be doing in two years. ;-)

SG2 is happy to be in Boston. I don't doubt she will stick around those parts when she is done with her studies. She loves the city and also that it's close enough to home that it's not such a big hassle to make the trip. She's very social and has a huge circle of friends. Funny how this kid was so shy when she was a baby, only coming out of her shell in around middle childhood. She has a new boyfriend, whom I'll  name Crocket. I have not yet met him but they are quite inthralled with one another. I've hinted plainly that he visit.  :-)

WP and I are just plain happy together. I love my dearly crazy, socially-inept loving weirdo almost-husband. 

 And yes, the time for slacking will soon reach its end. 

Meanwhile, I have things to share with you. I just found a mailing from CABF - Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation. I don't trust large organizations like this entirely. One critism I've heard of CABF is that they receive generous contributions from Big Pharma and therefore may be more predisposed to advocating drug treatment for children. Which is still a controversial subject among shrinks, teachers, parents and physicians.

My experiences with CABF all involved using their website for informatin when SG1 had the ultimate teen meltdown six years ago and ended up in and out of psychiatric hospitals for the next two years. (Some of you who have read this blog for a while may recall a bit about that.) I found the website to be very helpful and informative and since the correct drug or drugs was the only way to go for my daughter, I read a lot about medications on the site also. I am, in fact, an advocate of people receiving what they need to get better, regardless of the type of condition. Taking the medication route is a personal/family decision.

I was encouraged today to read this article in the newsletter I receive from CABF, about adolescent bipolar disorder:
Young Adults May Outgrow Bipolar Disorder Source: University of Missouri-Columbia press release

This was a slice of my life. I was inspired by Spadoman Joe at  Round Circle.
Thanks, Joe and Peace


  1. I always like to hear about difficult siblings as I have one of my own. I could almost have written it myself though the details would be different. Since my sibling is also female she doesn't even have the excuse of thinking it is the females job to look after Mom.
    You're right the question is what is best for Mom and what does she want; is she happy. It sounds like Dr. Phil would find little time for her if she was in country.
    My sister drove daily within five miles of our home but for two years never droped by to see her mother. She did complain that we traveled to much and mother was alone too much (we had someone from church spend the night when we were away.)
    Hang in there, this too shall pass.

  2. Relatives. I hope it goes well. Enjoy your mom.

    My own family things are why my daughter is an only child with awesome cousins. All thrill, no pill.

  3. What is it with selfish brothers?
    Mine made me nuts over our parents and their business & etc after HE moved to Canada (from Hawaii!!).
    Meanwhile, my hubby and I are here for them.......grrrrr!

    Opportunity to forgive and grow, gal pal!
    Aloha, Friend!

    Comfort Spiral

  4. First of all, thanks so much for sharing a slice of your life. I know there are pressures with siblings and parents and it's hard to stay out of things. You can pick your nose, etc etc.
    I wear clogs. I have a pair of lined Crocs. I use them as slippers around the house in the cold weather. I use them when I go to Sweat Lodge. My feet have problems from diabetes and it is hard to walk around barefoot when it's below zero. I hope that bit turns you on, (you said you like those that wear clogs. Crocs are clogs. aren't they? Nevermind.
    I am going around and around with my sister over Mom's care right now as well. It can be so frustrating. Hang in there.
    I applaud your Mom and dad for going back to Portugal to retire in the first place. I wanted different things to do and places to live when I retired, but that wasn't to be. Read this article from my archives.

    Now, Peace to you.

  5. I'm sorry to learn that there is a "Dr.Phil" in your life. There is probably one in most families, and they can be so difficult to deal with. Self centered and controlling whenever possible.

    Sounds as if you share my feeling that everyone should handle things in their own lives in their own way without undue pressure from loved ones. It's sometimes hard for me to listen to my kids until they get around to expressing what it is they really want, when they come to me for advice. But I try to keep my opinions to myself and let them come to their own conclusions.

  6. Thanks, guys. I needed the support regarding Dr. Phil. He's pretty quiet right now. I'd like to keep it that way.

    Spadoman: clogs is clogs. ;-) I wear Dansko clogs, the only best shoe for my feet problems. The doctor wore heavy leather clogs with a steel toe and wooden heels. Hard-core!

    Hugs and love to all!

  7. i got really lucky with my sister- i don't know if she would say the same ;) i don't know what it is with people and their self centeredness- we only get one life to live and being a self absorbed snob doesn't appeal to me. anyhoo- i hope you get to the end of your health issues- although you could pretend so as to see your clog wearing heart throb i suppose :) i am gearing up for the non holidays this year- i am not going all out. it isn't worth it. we'll have nice meals and i'll send the obligatory packages to florida- and that's it.

    as for spadoman- he's good like that :)

  8. Betmo: all those private thoughts of mine are well worth a comment from you, my friend

  9. I can't stand my brother and he has been calling me after I told him NOT TO...the nerve....your dr phil, love the name, btw, sounds like a piece of work himself and also very selfish...your mother should not be traveling right now with all the bugs and viral illness about, do you think? oh well, you are smart to let it be her business and not yours...i always have too many opinions and get myself in trouble by voicing them...i love men in clogs too, hahaha...we both have daughters with bipolar disorder and mine is doing well finally on ..... suddenly it went right out of my head, dammit! it's very expensive i know that much...i will tell you when i remember, which i will in a minute after leaving here...her meltdown was at 19 after leaving home for college...yikes, terrible years as you know...thankful everyday we have come to a peaceful place and she is happy most of the time...we still have our moments however and i suppose we always will....

    every family has it's issues i suppose but i am thrilled you and your mate are so blissfully content! that just warms my heart :) you deserve that and it's my guess that he does too.
    xoxo oh oh ABILIFY!

  10. Linda: I don't know how she did it, but SG1 managed to graduate at the top of her high school and college classes and is now doing beautifully. Maybe there is something to the article. I also believe that love and support go a long way toward helping anyone with mental illness achieve greater stability.

    SG1 took Abilify in conjunction with lithium (I hate to even use the L word) the latter of which was so destructive to her body, that she could no longer continue to live like that. In fact, she didn't want to live. She also had a really bad child shrink, the only one in our area. She finally got off of everything else and trialed the drug Lamictal, which changed her life. She's been stable,happy and productive for four years now.

    Leaving home for college is a trigger for lots of young BP people. SG1's I think was always there, underlying, but it sprang to life, I think, due to a trauma as well as confronting the fact that she's gay, adolescence and though she denies it vehemently, my divorce from her father. In any event, it didn't help.

    Yikes, Linda. You know what I've been through! So glad that your girl is well. Is that the lovely daughter that comments on your blog occasionally?

    Thank you for coming here. It makes me feel better about being so honest that you did. :-)

    Hugs and lots of love,

  11. family, they can make you old.


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