Baggage: My Dirty Little Secret

Having a mental illness has its challenges, but the one I’m faced with most often is “with whom do I share my dirty little secret?” Everyone has baggage. Sometimes it can be seen or heard or felt. And in my case, I can disguise it very easily. In times of mania, most people confuse it with pure happiness. And with depression, I can blame it on being sick or surfing the crimson wave as I am a woman (which makes it easily as tough to deal with my mental breakdowns or highs and lows).

However, when I become intimate with a certain pain, I have to make a decision in my mind on whether or not to tell them the truth about a huge part of me. The western world as someone recently put it to me, has a giant stigma of mental illnesses as a whole. People choose to ignore it or not see that it has real problems. They are, in fact, true diseases. Unfortunately for me that leaves me with seeing the true character of most when they discover my struggles.

Most will never truly understand how I feel and the hypersensitivity that dwells inside of my being. I sit here tonight pondering on if I should tell someone who I am getting to know very well. Will they judge me? Will they still see the same person they have built me in their mind to be? Or will they leave me shattered as many in the past have done who could not bear my pains or deal with the honesty my life preserves so well.

Pain can be a beautiful thing to my sick mind. It can be my comfort and my best friend. It can also be my enemy and ruin others’ lives around me. That in itself is tough enough to deal with and most of the time I do it alone. Running solo is a talent I have contrived simply because my own strength needs to override others’ opinions of Tara.

It’s almost a game I begin to play with those I surround myself with since I’m unsure if my gambles will allow me to win or lose their love. Not knowing how a person will react is something out of my control and something I fear. I know this fear so well that many times I push those away from me before they find out. In this regard, I protect my emotions. My heart. And most importantly, my disease. It can take the best from me, especially if I allow it to feed off of them.

The baggage of being a single mother can be seen by all. And many will understand because it’s become an accepted part of our American culture. Some will pity, while most will empathize–those with or without children. But my bipolar portion of who I am is something that cannot be seen. It is hidden until I have an episode and people begin to question and wonder.

This internal battle is an uphill struggle that will always remain. To be the free spirit that I am, I need to let go. But I just can’t.

At least not always.

Tip-toeing around the subject, walking on eggshells… Just like my bipolar emotions, I am torn.


Mood Swing: Depressed to Hypo

My son looked at me during my fifth hour of cleaning today and said, “Mama, you’re coo-coo for cocoa puffs!” Usually, my cleaning spouts run for about 30-45 minutes each day. However, in my earlier post today, I was feeling down and there are only a few healthier ways to get past it. One is to dive into my creative state (songwriting or music itself and even now cooking or chanting), but today I opted for cleaning. I needed to do some anyway – some super early spring cleaning let’s say..

I began after 3pm and went until about 30 minutes ago.. I cleaned for nine hours. I went through every album I own and my record player was tired around 8pm. Let me tell you, our apartment is spotless. I mopped, scrubbed, swept, washed, picked, dusted, re-organized, disposed of, moved around, hung up, unpacked, cleaned, folded, and dried everything in each room. I have one thing left to do–RE-fold a couple of drawers in my room.

Now I’m slightly hypomanic. But hey, it’s better than being in a dark place.

Good night, world.

Cleanliness is Next to Stability.

You ever have days where you’re not quite sure if you’ll be able to survive? I have those days–they are all too familiar. And I’m going through one right now.

My mind goes to a dark place where I come to the realization that I have buried myself so deep down into a hole that I won’t be able to come out. Maybe if I ignore the problems and the situations, they’ll go away. I know that doesn’t happen, but it’s a nice thought anyway.

Today was not the best day for it to come because I was ready to push myself to go into work. However, Kai was up at 3am with a dry cough. After the fourth snooze this morning at 7am I woke up only to find my son with a fever. His lethargic 5-year old body hasn’t eaten much and the most we did was go to CVS to buy some medicine and miscellaneous “necessities” for when he is sick.

To top it all off, we may be snowbound after tonight.

I called his father frantically while I was on the verge of having a panic attack after I made one of my notorious “lists” and he was of no help. Instead he offered his own dispute with “We all have our own problems! My car is on its last leg!” With that, I hung up and decided there is no use.

I set an alarm, took an hour nap, and sent out a few work e-mails. How unaccomplished I feel. FUCK!!!! Can I ever get a damn day off!? Even on this unexpected “day off” I still have a huge burden I am carrying around. Tending to my son during his sick day is going to inevitably make me sick with depression. So the only way I know how to get rid of it… not with music, not with milkshakes, not with talking to a friend, not with paying off some more debt… is to clean.

The feeling after I clean is as if everything is organized and neat. Maybe it’s the Virgo in me, maybe it’s the fact that my mother and every other person in my immediate family is a neat freak, or maybe it’s nesting. Whatever the hell it is, like Radiohead, I prefer everything in its right place. Sometimes I feel like one of those pin-up french maids and that always brings a wrinkle to my cheeks.

I’m on Day 21 of quitting smoking at the moment. The head is about to explode with fury. I have been even more irritable. But that’s ok because I just dumped out all of my drawers, took out my laundry card, fumbled over about eight garbage bags, and put on cleaning clothes. I’m ready to get my mood up. Hopefully Kai will sleep through at least an hour of it so I can get even more accomplished before his tornado-self whirls into the living room.

Let me go clean now… As for me, cleanliness is next to godliness stability.

On Dating: Throwing in the Towel

Naturally, I push men away.

People always inquire what the reason for having this immature behavior? Most simple answer–I’m protecting myself. From what, you might ask? From having my son being heart-broken. I sit here late on a Monday night, after performing in five straight shows at the casino today, exhausted. And all I can do is be hard on myself. Now, as I’ve learned, I will come to my blog to tell it exactly how it is..

I decided recently that I am finished. Finito. Terminada. Throwing in the towel like Apollo Creed should have done. When I was dating, I was basically setting myself up for failure and constant disappointments. Being the optimist that I am, I thought maybe I would actually meet a guy (a man) who could handle that I have a child. After countless failed attempts at dating, I am more of a cynical realist. I don’t believe in soulmates. Just great chemistry you can have with someone and if you share enough intimate moments before you just get to know each other well, you may fall in love because your timing is right. Someone who was ready for you and you for them.

Just the other night, it happened. I was out on a Saturday night when I bumped into a familiar face who I never met in person, rather on some online dating app. We exchanged a few smiles and I couldn’t stop. The entire night I kept reminding myself that this wasn’t real. He wasn’t interested in me. But his body language and his pearly whites kept revealing themselves onto me. Deep down inside where that hope used to lie, it started to bud again. We had a few exchanges where our lips spoke to each other’s lips. Nothing heated. As the evening grew to a close, we texted until we fell asleep, but my gut tells me I’ll never hear from him again. Nights such as these are few and far between, but in the end I never hear from them ever again.

I began racking my brain a few months ago about this. Is there something wrong with me? Why can’t I be more average? Maybe it’s my religion. Or my hair.. my mom was right–guys don’t like my short hair. Possibly it’s because my job isn’t as reputable as most in the DC area. There’s a chance they think my music sucks. Countless superficial surface reasons, until one day my guitarist said, “I could never date a woman with a child. I mean, that’s a really big deal.”

I went home that night and cried. He was right. How did I never see that as the reason? Most likely because my son is my life and the reason I am who I am. The main motivation in my life and my spirit. The solution to all of my life’s problems. He is my foundation. But the average Joe isn’t going to see that. He won’t know that. He has no clue what I’ve been through. He just sees a pretty girl for the night to hang with who has a child. No future there.

Struggling with this often, I have now given up on dating. The men I’m not interested in love me and ask me to marry them. The men I have great chemistry with aren’t quite mature enough to handle my having a son.

I am not necessarily assuming most of this as it may seem. When my ex-boyfriend left me he told me that I wasn’t part of his plan. Dating a woman with a child wasn’t what he was ready for. He said it was all too real. He wanted to be settled down by age 32. I wasn’t that person. No matter how much truth there is to that statement and the hell he was saving me in our non-existent future. It fucking hurt. Bad.

So I wrote this song.

Stability: The Ultimate Goal

Having a floor and a ceiling is the best I can do for my mood swings as bipolar is still not a curable disease. That’s what we all strive for–stability. Well, attainable stability, that is. However, controlling my moods or outbursts are not as easy for me as they are for most. I mean sometimes I want to scream at the top of my lungs, but all I can do is grab the nearest pillow and scream about 50% of my actual potential with my dynamic vocal chords, and dig my nails into its backside.

The problem with medication is finding the right cocktail. There’s a struggle to find that perfect balance of what works, especially when you’re throwing added stress, weather changes, traveling mania, and hormones into the mix. Always work to be done getting the dosages on point. Nothing is perfect in medication.

However, taking more vitamins, exercising only the right amount (because if you exercise too much that can throw you into a state of mania or hypomania–even more dangerous), not eating like shit, blah blah blah.. The list is endless. It totally fucking blows.

Most people don’t “understand” what bipolar is in the first place. They think if someone has drastic mood changes, then they’re “bipolar”. I hate how often people throw the words “bipolar” and “crazy” around. If people were more conscious about it like they are with a word like “retard”. Thank goodness I’m over being too sensitive about it. Because people constantly will say, “My boss is such a bitch. She’s totally bipolar. One minute she’s happy and the next, she’s totally insane. Ugh. She needs to go to the loony bin.”

Statements such as those can be tough to hear, not because my feelings are hurt, but because I instantly want to defend all those who suffer from a mental illness and advocate for not categorizing others who you just don’t like their daily attitudes with us! Our problem is real and a chemical imbalance. It’s not just something we can control. People take abnormalities like diabetes and heart disease seriously. What’s different about bipolar and schizophrenia?

Something I struggle with the entire stability goal is once I reach it and I’m at a good state of mind, there’s only one word to describe it. BORING. For many years I was accustomed to the ups and downs. I became dependent upon my own personal life drama. I accepted the madness. Once I began to learn the cues and signs of the arising episode, I started approaching them differently. And there birthed stability. But damn, did I become nostalgic for the brilliant insanity!

At different points in my illness I came to love the “crazy” so to speak. I knew I had a choice to make once I had my son. I chose to love him as best as I could. And with him, the motivation to create music really rang. But some days I have an itch for the old Tara. The one who could snap her fingers and had energy for days upon end when she needed it. What I don’t miss are the crashes. I do miss the attention I received for my lack of maturity whenever I would helplessly lean on self-mutilation as a solution. I don’t miss the scars.

I guess there are demons inside of me. Will I be able to fight them ever? Properly?

Xx, Trin

Here’s a song I wrote that most think is about indecisive love. But really, it’s about my life.. and how I couldn’t decide whether or not I wanted to stay alive. It’s one of the first songs I wrote and this is me and my band covering it. Click here to listen.

Mary Poppins Bag: What I Tote Around in my Tote Every. Single. Day.

Must Haves in my everyday bag

1. The Real Book (Sixth Edition) by Hal Leonard Corporation, so whenever there’s a piano/keyboard in sight, I can whip this out and practice.

2. Pioneer HDJ-1500-K Headphones – I bought these about 3 years ago at Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center and have been in love ever since. I use these especially at work or when I’m traveling. They’re comfortable. #ihatebeatsbydrdre

3. Backup Plus for Mac Portable Drive – 1TB – by Seagate – This has my life on it.

4. New Balance Unisex Phone Armband

5. Extra lightning usb wire – to charge all of my electronics (iPhone, iPad, iPod)

6. The Liturgy of Nichiren Buddhism – includes the chants I need for buddhist meetings

7. a. Vitamin D3 5,000mgs (my happy pills when I need more sun) b. Slippery Elm throat lozenges (these are the most helpful when you need to coat your voice)

8. Kai’s iPad mini – functions as both an easier notepad at work as well as a pacifier for kai’s meltdowns

9. Music necessities: a. waterproof iPhone horn stand amplifier (I bought down the Jersey Shore boardwalk for $10) b. Hearos ear plugs with case c. guitar picks (these were specially made for me by my friend who has a guitar pick puncher) d. 1/4″ Mono Phone Plug

10. Vain accessories: a. Selfie Stick b. Chanel Lipgloss Lèvres Scintillantes (Glossimer 41) c. Ray Ban sunglasses for driving needs d. Revlon tweezers (best ones ever!) e. Bronzer from Sephora (02 brunettes)

11. A small bag from JCrew that has on a myriad of choices for jewelry – typical “jersey” style hoops, more classic gold studded earrings, necklaces.. always changing, but very important in case I have an impromptu date, performance, or parent/teacher conference

12. Adult leisure: a. Cigar (for that special moment – I always have one on hand) b. Lobelia Inflata (homeopathic way to fight nicotine cravings) c. mints (these in particular are also a memento from south beach in miami from christmas)

13. Kai emergency kit: a. extra pair of pants b. snacks c. bright orange headphones d. a toy (in this case, a transformer that turns into a car)

14. My emergency needs: a. safety pins (especially good for hula shows or an unexpected wardrobe malfunction) b. a banana holder (I purchased in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, but can’t remember the shop to save my life!) to hold: c. A Benadryl allergy relief pen d. A Tide to go pen e. clear Forever 21 lip gloss

15. Sanitary needs: a. Suave deoderant (always Suave) b. lotion (always different) c. wipes

16. this cool little pouch holds change and other random dollar bills and the occassional ID (purchased it at the gift shop in the Building Museum)

17. My awesome MacBook Pro 15″ with so much memory. And it rocks an awesome pink cover with stickers of my band on it and a giant sticker of my Philadelphia Eagles

18. The tote I carry everything around in – sometimes it’s this janky one I purchased at Forever 21. If I’m not lugging around the laptop, it’s my Large Red Longchamp Le Pliage (which is the mother of all purses, messes, and spills… just doesn’t have many pockets)

19. Not-pictured because it’s charging is my iPhone 5S. I haven’t made the switch to the 6 yet.. But the iPhone has all of the best apps I need as a musician and as a mother; plus, I love the camera phone on it. Sometimes I even use my phone to replace my Nikon D90. However, there’s always a crack(s) on my phone!! #gdi

Thought this would be fun to share especially because everyone always says I have everything I need, but everything that is random. Sometimes I even carry around double-sided Scotch tape.

A Ticking Time Bomb: The BP Meltdown

There are moments when you force yourself to think, so in my case I demand my inner self to take some time and (in this case) blog. However, the reason why I started this in the first place and promised you (my readers)… is to share my feelings. At their best. And mostly–at their worst.

About fifteen minutes ago, I completely flipped my shit. This is pretty normal for most bipolars. From talking to other bipolar mothers online, it’s definitely normal. And in taking an educated guess, it’s probably not normal for bipolar single mothers not to have them. Never is there just one cause to the meltdowns. They happen. I like to think that there are tiny little men similar to lemmings (remember that computer game?) who are working very hard to get from one place to the next. Trying to get the endorphins where they belong. If you’re unsure of what mental illness is exactly, for those who have bipolar – we have a chemical imbalance in our mind. It’s a lot more complicated than what I am willing to explain at this moment.

But you should get the point.

Back to where I was… when I freaked out not too long before I re-opened my laptop… I had another boiling point. The easiest way to interpret one of these meltdowns is to have you imagine a tantrumming three-year old child who’s able to express with pretty solid vocabulary how much they want something. Of course, there isn’t justification to their wants because it is ordinarily a routine response… The “bipolar meltdown”.

I completely disregarded the fact that my son is only five years old and threw a fucking hissy fit because he wasn’t helping me around the house today. I threatened to take away his toys and when I saw tears streaming down his face I realized I was almost out of control. Call me a bad mother, but I’m not. Ninety-nine percent of the time I am calm and treat him like a prince. It’s the one percent that most people aren’t going to tell you about. At that moment when my son looked terrified of me, I decided that I needed the blog. I needed to write before I said or did anything I would regret.

In other words, writing just saved me.

Similar to an elephant mother, I called him over about five minutes after the freak out and hugged him so much. I apologized to him and tried to defend my actions. But I know that he is hurt. I don’t know what it’s going to be like for him to grow up with a mother who suffers from bipolar. Yes, there are many positive things that I give him – my energy, my talent, my creativity… and all of those I can attest to the beauty of having this disease. But it’s moments like this where I end up hating who I am and what I have because I can’t control a certain part of me.

People without the disease won’t ever understand this.

I have two friends who I know whose mothers suffer from bipolar. They are two of the most gentle gentlemen I have befriended. They are kind, understanding, charming, and have genuinely pure hearts. When I ask, they will share with me very personal moments shared with their mothers. One friend remembers spending a birthday in a mental institution. Another friend remembers the day his mother broke his sister’s arm and locked her in her room. It’s memories like these that frighten me.

I called my son’s father and asked him to please take Kai tonight into tomorrow so I can be away from him. I wish more than anything that I could be normal in times like these. That I could snap my fingers and become stable. But I cannot. I am who I am. And without a doubt, right now, I hate this part of me.