We Lost a Friend Today (Trigger Alert)

This is an especially tough day. Let me paint you a clear picture. I wake up an hour after my morning call still with fever and congestion. The flu is literally kicking me in the ass. I got some disturbing news about someone I was once interested in. And I just continue to fight through. In Buddhism, we are grateful for obstacles, because the more challenges you have in your life – you are not stagnant. I have for sure not plateaued by any means in regards to today. That’s for damn sure.

When I walked into the break room at work this morning at 10:30 exactly someone came up to me and gave terrible, terrible news. Her relative committed suicide. Meanwhile, I didn’t exactly know this girl. I never met her. But I knew And you all knew her, too. She was one of us. One of our family. She suffered from bipolar (and psychosis).

Over the last few months my dear friend at work had invested time and trust into our talks about her relative. She is someone who isn’t like us and just needed to vent for the most part. I was there for her and gave her my advice as someone who has been through and is currently going through the troublesome times. A few months ago she told me that Natalie was doing well. When she described her current situation I instantly felt in my gut that Natalie was far from doing well. She was manic. And what happens after mania? A downfall. I predicted it and knew in my heart that she wasn’t okay, but never do I imagine that someone will fall down so hard. I know it happens and I’ve seen it happen. But I always want to have the benefit of the doubt that the disease is not as controlling as it is. But it fucking is! It pains me to say that. At least it is when you’re not receiving the proper care and you don’t WANT TO receive it either.

Last Friday she was going through a time that I grew familiar to years ago—before the awareness, before the therapy, before all of the hard work put into my life, before the sobriety, before the correct support—she was depressed. The depression that can only be described to the sane as a deep, dark hole full of solid nothingness. Where no light shines, because it’s too far into the earth and where our own light can’t even shine because it’s too hidden buried under any sort of stableness we never knew. The darkness that keeps us awake at night and wakes us up in the morning. Mornings where life is the most scary monster we could ever imagine and a smile is only a mask we were so that the sane can stop asking us questions.

I knew her feelings all too well that when I heard the news today I cried not because I felt for her family or the fact that it is a true tragedy. I cried because I know what went through her mind when she jumped in front of the train. It brought up the feelings that I had almost nine years ago. The night when I swallowed 60 xanax and somehow was jolted to a reality of pain. When my boyfriend at the time called me a selfish bitch and hung up on me and never spoke to me again. The Christmas I ended up in the hospital eating coal (what an ironic twist in fate) singing Amy Winehouse’s Rehab to cheer myself up in front of the nurses because if not I was going to really go mental. It was the day when my sister saved me because she happened to answer the phone.

But she didn’t have that. Natalie was so dark into the hole and somehow the universe was able to swallow her whole. The pain I have when I think of how much we all could have been there to save her, posing as her safety net with open arms because we understood her sadness.

It’s a sad day in my world today because her light is brighter than ever in this world since she has passed.


Here comes the sun…

I can feel it. My concentration is back. I’m focusing more than ever on work. Work is going fantastic. Not worried about my love life anymore. My son is happy. And I am musically driven. Why? Vitamin D. That’s all it is.

It was a beautiful weekend and I went for a long hike in a beautiful state park, went sledding a few times, and got so many things done around the house. I’m almost finished quite a few projects and I couldn’t feel more content. It’s no coincidence that because the sun is out, I’m feeling great.

However, an underlying fear is that I will feel too great in only a few short weeks. I’m nervous about traveling for work in a less than two weeks because well, that irritates my mania, and because I will be extremely relaxed and hyper. There’s no other explanation for it. Meds haven’t changed, and I’m doing the same exact things.

These are reasons why being in a relationship for me right now is just not right. I can predict my moods when I feel the subtle changes, but I will never be able to entirely control them. The sun is a love-hate relationship for me. I am accepting when he is there, but I’m pissed when he makes me ecstatic.

This is when I become annoyed with the fact that I have this disease and I can’t do much about getting rid of it. The shit ain’t going anywhere!

I have to remember that I’ve come a long way and to just enjoy the moments I have that are truly wonderful.

Chaos is simple.

Constantly I hear the words ‘unconventional’ and ‘crazy’ fly out people’s mouths and being used in the same sentence with my name or some pronoun to replace it. But for me, chaos is simple. Difficult is easy. Complex makes sense. It’s structure, stability, and sanity that are a struggle. Why? Is it because I’m a lefty? And I think with my right side of the brain. Or maybe it’s because I’m allergic to chocolate and strawberries. Oh no, maybe it’s because I’m a hybrid. Nope, I’m pretty sure I know why.

I mean, let’s face it – bipolar people strive on drama and chaos. Not that I’m into drama per se, but I need some sort of drama in my life. And if that means waiting until the due date to pay a bill or scheduling three events in one night – that’s my fix. That’s what I need. It makes sense to me to feel overwhelmed than to actually live life like a normal human being.

My sister asked me today why I always wait until I have 3-4 loads of laundry to do instead of just doing it once a week. I told her because that’s what makes sense to me. Of course, it’s not logical to most people – but it makes fucking sense to my brain. I didn’t need to defend myself, but she always feels the need to make me feel incompetent even though she isn’t trying to.. She’s telling me what she believes is best. And maybe that’s why I become uber sensitive to others’ words. Because what they feel and think is best isn’t what I think. My perspective is skewed. Better yet, my perspective works for me. Someone like me.

Think about it, if my normal is a rollercoaster for most, then wouldn’t their normal be my rollercoaster? If we could just reverse things and look at everyone’s views in a more empathetic fashion, we would judge less and accept more. Living in a world where my norm is the irregular, I have always thought that my brilliance was something amazing. But really, it’s just our normal. I can’t explain why I feel the way I do, so I shouldn’t need to feel as though what I do feel is eccentric. It’s just different.

I wouldn’t go too far in saying that my brilliance is sheer genius, because it’s far from it. But for me, walking into a room and creating a catchy song on the spot out of a few ideas someone throws at me is simple. For others, they would need years. Looking at a piece of wood I can create a beautiful artistic piece in my mind and go about it and possibly finish it within a few hours. For others, they would need weeks. What I get done in a week, most would accomplish in months. So for me, chaos is simple. I always see a way, a solution, an intricate, yet doable path. For a straight line with structure, I see boring. Slit my wrist now.

Life is an empty canvas I want to fill with color. I don’t wish to take a beautiful painting and cover it with white paint.

Parenting: Breaking the Cycle on Religion.

As humans we tend to think that how we parent our children is the best and most correct way. True and untrue when you really put it into perspective. We know our children best, who could raise them better? But the reasoning on why we think we are truly doing it better than our parents is plain bullshit.

There are cycles we should definitely break as the generations continue and change (not necessarily improve always). Slapping and choosing your switch isn’t done anymore as that is known as child abuse. But our grandparents would swear by it. Other parents knock using the time out system, but in some cases with my parenting–it works.

I had a run in with my mother the other day about religion and it really got to me that she just could not see my point. Then I had a very pensive attitude about the entire conversation on repeat in my head on the way to New York a few days ago and came to one of those “ah-ha” moments.

Let me step back into the story a bit and go over this with you, so you can gain a clearer picture of the events that occurred just last weekend.

Mom: I think you’re straying away from Christianity. (meanwhile she has no idea I am a practicing Buddhist–I’ve tried to steer clear from this conversation because I am attempting to create more healthy boundaries with my mother)

Me: No, I found myself.

Mom: I don’t understand what I did wrong. You don’t love God anymore.

Me: I don’t understand what that means. How so?

Mom: You don’t attend church. It’s so important for you to raise your son with God. I was a teacher for 38 years. Children who were religious were such good students. Children who had no religion had no conscience and were terrible.

Me: Don’t you think that has everything to do with bad parenting, not with the fact of whether or not they were raised in church?

Mom: (silent)

Me: Just because I don’t attend church every Sunday doesn’t make me less of a good person. Take this for example, many Christians I know attend church every Sunday and have miserable lives where all they do is judge everyone who doesn’t share their same ideas. To me, that’s not “Christ-like” whatsoever. It’s small-mindedness. I don’t need to prove my love for God by stepping into a sanctuary and paying tithes every month. I’m quite content knowing that what I am doing in my heart and loving the way I should love makes me a good person.

Dad: So let me ask you this.. If your son died, where would you want him to go? Can you answer that? (becoming more defensive)

Me: Are you saying that I should say Heaven?

Dad: It’s just a question. If you don’t believe in our religion anymore, where is your son going to go if he dies?

Me: So basically what you’re saying is that you want me to raise my son in your religion so that YOU can feel better about yourself in the long run? So that believing that there is a heaven we all go to after we die will make you sleep better at night? Are you trying to manipulate me?

Mom: Raising your son in church is the best thing you can do. I don’t know where I went wrong. You used to preach when you were a little girl. You loved God.

Me: And I still do. But God is different to me. He is not some man in the sky anymore who I will fear. He doesn’t judge me. To me, my Higher Power is the universe. Everyone has God inside of them. God is in all of the energy we have. It’s humility. I know I’m not the biggest thing out there. But I also need logic. A man in the sky who waves a wand around and created everything is not faith. That’s just a replacement for our human answers unable to give us a solution. So in turn we rely on faith-based organized religion. And in the long run, it destroys our society in so many ways. It also creates biases. It creates judgements. It creates wars. It creates hate. It creates hypocrisy. It creates ignorance. We are using religion as a means to allow us to live blindly without investigation. That’s not what I want to do with my time. I hated walking into a church every Sunday being forced to listen to some man who was just as fallible as me telling me how to live my life according to a book created by people who wanted to use church to control society at that time.

Mom: Every verse in the Bible means something. It’s there for a reason. God wrote it.

Me: Men wrote it. Men just as imperfect as us.

Mom: God wrote it. How can you say that?

Me: Because it’s the truth. You can’t even argue with that. Yes, it was inspired by God. Jesus wasn’t Christian. Buddha wasn’t Buddhist. Religion is created by followers, not leaders, who need something to rely on. Instead of being religious, Mom. I’m spiritual. I go by my own journey, not the stories of others. Theirs are inspiring, but not mine.

Mom: So you think all of the stories are false?

Me: I think the meanings behind the stories are what makes the Bible good and those meanings get lost because people are so wrapped up in over-analyzing it. Take the story of Adam and Eve for example. There most likely wasn’t a piece of fruit, it was probably greed or sex.. it was symbolic. Evolution created men over time, not seven exact days.

Dad: What do you think the Bible is then?

Me: The message of Jesus was love. Love yourself. Love your neighbor. You will suffer. When Jesus was on earth the Pharisees condemned him, people disliked him, he was crucified. That is a sign of what humans constantly do. They praise, they destroy, they forget, and continue the cycle. I can’t do that. Jesus’ life is very important to me. Do I think he was the son of God? In a way, we all are. But he taught so much to us. He maintained relationships with people who were outcasts and asked many questions. He was inquisitive. He spoke his mind. His actions were his message. Everything he did was also culturally relevant to his time period. I will not follow his actions and words verbatim, but I understand the message he was trying to send. Similar to Buddha’s message. And I seek enlightenment. I seek a shift in my inner soul and inner being. I’m not worried about what everyone else is doing. For you, it works to attend church every Sunday. But for me, most of those people think that my sister/your daughter’s being homosexual will condemn her to eternal damnation. That’s ignorance! I refuse to associate myself with that sort of thinking. I wasn’t put on earth to judge. I’m just living my life. As freely as possible. I pray all of the time. I absolutely love my life so much more now with a clearer mind. I know I’m not alone. I will not raise my son in that environment, one on the surface that seems peaceful and loving but really is full of judgment and cruelty. I will break that cycle and I hope you can respect that.

Was I wrong? Most likely, the fact that I am open about my forward-thinking probably crushes my mother. And I understand that. But I have suffered enough in my life to belong to something where I don’t have to. I am old enough to choose which beliefs I would like to continue to have. I will not allow a religion to control who I am. It was freeing to say those things because once I said it, I knew I had forever made up my mind. And damn, it felt good.

Bipolar Relationships: Joint Custody

Joint Custody is a court order whereby custody of a child is awarded to both parties. In joint custody both parents are custodial parents and neither parent is a non-custodial parent, or, in other words, the child has two custodial parents.

That’s a nice way of putting it. Here is the real definition:

Joint Custody is a way for two parents to argue constantly over who is doing more and who the other believes is more happy. The pinnacle of these fights usually begin around tax season time when one parent believes they did more for the other. The time when these fights seem to dissolve is around the child’s birthday when the two must unite in some way to have their child at their happiest moments. Both parents whole-heartedly believe that what they are doing individually is best for the child. Both parents answer to single parent issues and know that even though their child may suffer from time to time, everyone is happiest apart.

For the past two and a half years I have been a single mother not only on paper, but also in real life. In some fantasy world my baby daddy believes this means parenthood is a constant competition. fatherTonight I put a stop (at least for some time) to this ridiculousness. Basically, he was complaining because our son had the same sweatshirt on two school days in a row. OK. I can see that if you lived in a white picket fence world this is fine. However, I don’t. We don’t. I live in the city with sky-rocket high rent, bills galore, and in some months paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. Other months, it’s wonderful. It just all depends on what consequence my new self must serve because of the madness I lived for over a decade. AKA bills I forgot about six years ago and now they found me. Yup. Happens all the time.

I had to take a deep breath, because Mercury Retrograde has really gotten to me today and I responded with, “Some days I can’t wake up. It literally takes every single part of me to move out of my bed, dress Kai for school, pack him lunch, dress myself, and drive him to school on time.” I think back to a few years ago where my structure was completely out of whack and I couldn’t even do that. Baby Daddy hasn’t resided with me in so long I guess he had forgotten. I needed to remind him. Now in a “normal” relationship’s custody battles and conversations, this would be possibly insane to hear. But for me, I have come a long way.

Only a few years back I didn’t do my laundry. Still I struggle with that. Easy = struggle. Difficult = all too familiar pain I can deal with. I’m unsure of why that is exactly with me. Instead of being hard on myself and constantly thinking I’m a fuck-up and a loser, I need to pat myself on the back and reward myself for the smaller things in life. Because all of these small responsibilities add up to a big deal.

pat myself

Setting healthy boundaries with those around me, people I love and people I don’t, is so important with my mental illness. With an illness like bipolar where you just shoot up and down like a jumping bean, I need to structure my life in schedule and in relationships.

When he responded back to me he was quite calm and said that he did forget and he doesn’t understand. He only understands reality. That pained me to hear because even after all of these years he still doesn’t get it. I don’t know why I honestly believe that people without the illness will ever fucking get it. Because they will never. Until you go through darkness and euphoria, you will never truly know what it feels like to have this curse blessing disease. He did promise, however, to be more understanding and more supportive of me emotionally. He said he will always be there for me. That made me tear up a little bit and almost miss him. Nope. Can’t go down that path again. I said, “Thank you,” and hung up the phone.

I will continue to try my hardest as a single, bipolar mother, but it’s never going to be easy. Ever. I’ve accepted that. I wish there was a manual of some sort.

manual*Sigh* Good night, guys. It’s been a tough week. I’m glad it’s almost over.

Tinder: Always a Twist

For many single adults out there today, there’s an app called Tinder. The “straight” version of Grinder, Tinder is an application where you simply swipe left or right on someone’s photo. It’s a simple little game you might say and it’s highly addictive. Only a few weeks ago did I write about throwing in the towel on dating. I guess that’s the beauty of bipolar. Your emotions escalate and drop and you make decisions based on your moods. And when your moods go up again, well they may, in fact, change.

Tinder dating app photo

I have met some great people through this app in the last year and a half of being single. The sweatshirt I am wearing at this moment actually was created by a buddy of mine who I met on a date over a year ago. The date went nowhere and we went on another date maybe six months later, but we have remained business colleagues and friends. His business makes money off of me now.

My first Tinder experience was interesting. We met, had great chemistry, a few dates later had sex, and I began to take an interest in him. Until I found out that a girlfriend I knew for a very long time had a date planned with him. He told me I was being childish and unflattering when I told him my thoughts. She still went on the date and slept with him. He left her like trash. Girls suck. Guys are dogs. I learned that quickly.

girls suck

Then there has only been one real dating experience through Tinder I should say that lasted for a few weeks and that was about one year ago. Let’s name him Bob. I swiped right on Bob and we matched. There was instant chemistry over the phone calls we had and he was from my area (Philadelphia/South Jersey). We had a mutual friend and she even vouched for him. Bob came to meet me after one of my shows and instantly grew a crush on me, or so he says. The first night we hung out, we slept together. Definitely not a good thing on either of our parts, but we are both adults. The casual dating began to turn into something more. It had only been about six months or so since I split with my ex-boyfriend Steve. My heart wasn’t quite ready, but my vagina definitely was. We met each others’ best friends, I hung with him on his birthday, and he even spent the night at my house (which usually doesn’t happen with guys I am not interested in). Things were going great until I made a dinner reservation for him at a restaurant he has always wanted to go to but had never been. He told me I was too nice and he wasn’t ready for a relationship. He became cold towards me. To this day, I’m pretty sure he met another girl on Tinder and was more into her, but that I will never know. Months go by and he dials me up about a month or so ago. I go to his place, we hook up, and something didn’t feel right. The next day I go onto his Instagram page and he has a serious girlfriend. And it looks as though they met right around the time I originally met him. Wow, my instincts were right. Thank you universe for protecting me. He would have been cheating on me if I was his girlfriend now. I’ll be happy if I never speak to Bob or see him ever again.

bad date

Two weeks ago I decided to dust off my Tinder app and do some swipes. I have been on dates here and there, but nothing that has truly sparked my interest. I have met a really great guy, but the monologuing type. I am not quite sure if he is into me or if he is into himself more. Another guy I refuse to meet up with because well, the first few messages we had between each other he sent me almost a full body nude. The third guy, well it has been just fantastic. But I refuse to count my chickens before they hatch. So I won’t say much about him. However, I will say a little about the evening I met him.

I’m working, having a busy day as usual and I meet up with an old friend. When I say old friend, he’s someone who knows my SHIT. We spent some time in the loony bin together back in late 2012 and I can appreciate his craziness. There are two people I have kept in contact with from mental institutions (and I’ve been in quite a few over the years). And he is one of them. We caught up since we hadn’t seen each other in a while. He said he lost my pilates mat somehow between his move and owed me some drinks. I ate a few appetizers since it’s Sober February. I felt bad leaving him to go on a date with someone he actually knew (the third Tinder date is a buddy of his), but it felt so good to be myself with someone. For a couple of hours we talked, laughed, and busted each others’ balls with sarcasm. He encouraged me to go on my dreaded date since he knew the guy was good peoples. So I did.

I get into my car, drive to my neighborhood and walk into my date. Right away, I think of what my friend just told me (he couldn’t see us together) and he was right. But I’m not trying to judge a book by its cover so I continue to walk over to the man smiling at me with a ridiculously hipster-looking mustache. Two hours into the conversation and neither of us have barely touched our drinks, I am smitten. This was the best conversation I have had with someone in years. He gets me. The fact that he did Peace Corps (I work for an adult education nonprofit catering to low-income immigrants), loves music and is knowledgeable about it (I’m a musician), hippie (i’m a fire spinner, nuff said), has been through some shit (no comment necessary), the list goes on and on.. We were so open and honest with each other, I even admitted my favorite movie to him–Howard the Duck. Oddly enough, he knew it and loved it the same. Our date was longer than six hours and ended with a wonderful kiss (even though I had no idea of what to do about his mustache) and some amazing hugs.

I’ll keep you up-to-date with how it all turns out. But to be honest, I’m not expecting anything from it. What I do know, is he is one of those people that if I do mention my disease to, wouldn’t be too bothered by it. And that feels nice.


I wish I had an easy button for life. I’m not really quite sure what it would fix or do in a situation such as mine, but the thought of clearing away all problems and having one solution enlightens me. If only I could cleanse the myriad of racing thoughts I had each day and do the tai chi way of moderation and self discipline so eloquently 24/7, maybe just maybe I’d have a chance of ultimate stability. God help me. God help us all.

It’s little things that will set me off. I will be in my zen zone and someone will blatantly piss me off. It’s like some evil being purposely placed them in my path to completely fuck with me. And that unnecessary evil sits back and laughs as I lose my mind. But it’s not always that I will be set off the wrong way. You see, as a person with bipolar, I can go off in any direction. That’s right. Manic (up), Depressed (down), Mixed (a mixture of both), Hypomanic (a little up, but not too up), and Slightly Depressed. Let me explain a trigger.

You walk into your home, place your keys on the counter, and flick on the light switch. Yup. That’s what happens in my body when a trigger happens. Some little bastard lemming turns on the switch. He’s always there. Just waiting. Hoping that he gets a sign from the crazy gods to turn me on. And he does a great job of it. But my mind is learning to put him away. Since he’s always there, he beats me to it most of the time. Unfortunately.

For the average Joe, getting up each day to brush their teeth, take a shower, cook, do laundry, pay bills, etc., etc., those are normal  “have-to-do’s-whether-you-like-them-or-not”. For someone who suffers from bipolar, schizophrenia, paranoia, clinical depression, SADD, or any other mental illness. These are tough. These are as difficult as a Harvard math problem given to a 2-year old is still teething. Then, if not done in moderation, for someone like myself, one of the mood swings is possible to occur.

Let’s take this for example. Here are two triggers for my mania. Traveling from east to west coast and exercise. Everyone knows that exercise is healthy. That exercise is wonderful. But is there a such thing as too much exercise? Well, of course. I learned that I cannot work out more than 3 times a week. And in those periods, I should not work out for mo than 1 hour. My personality is an addictive one, but I have to push myself to not do so. Rigorous exercise can allow someone to become fatigued or sweat or even just feel exhausted. But not me! Oh no, rigorous exercise causes me to have MORE energy. Same with traveling from the east coast to the west coast. The time difference sparks up a fire in my ass and I become as manic as I have ever been. Frivolous spending, barely sleeping three to four hours a night, and a sex drive that needs to be tamed.

Triggers for depression. A rainy day. Menstruation. Or even something as trivial as, “Tara, your hair isn’t looking too good today.” I never know exactly when these triggers will hit. But they do. And when they happen, they’re not the prettiest.

Immediately after the light switch is turned on I become either angry or fast talking. These are the mood swings that people probably think can happen in anyone and that those who have mood swings (anyone, with or without a mental illness) has bipolar. Not true. These mood swings last longer. Depression can last for a few weeks for me. And mania has lasted even up to one year for me. That’s a lot of out of control.

I have learned that I need to fight these urges to turn constantly. And this my friends is why bipolar can take a toll on relationships and destroy people’s lives. Many never learn how to take control of these mood swings. Sometimes it’s almost as if I’m being chauffeured around with no say. When you think about it, it’s really sad. Most bipolars are incredibly talented and creative, but when there is no real stability – many lives can end in death.

Just yesterday I was having a great day and then I met up with a very handsome guy. We were having a great time, sitting around, relaxing and he grabbed me to kiss me. It was a fantastic kiss and I held back. I said to myself, “Tara, don’t lose control. It’s okay. It’s good. He doesn’t need to know that you’re fighting every single hormone and feeling in your body. Your heart doesn’t need to start racing. Stop thinking. Just be okay. Don’t like it. Don’t like it. Oh, but his lips taste so good. Resist. Resist the urge. Oh, but his hair is so smooth. Nope, you don’t like it.” And then his teeth bit playfully into my bottom lip and his tongue caressed my ear and I was done. Next thing you know I was almost fully undressed and I realized…

NO! I HAVE TO STOP DAMNIT. I cannot keep going. I politely said to him, “I refuse to be a tease. I just have rules. And we already broke them. I don’t kiss the first time.” He wanted to continue going, but he also understood. The chemistry was so amazing that the bad angel on my shoulder kept pestering me to continue. What should I care? But I realized if I did go any further, I would have a high that was uncontrollable and then I would just regret and pity myself the next morning.

It’s hard enough to control yourself with everyday emotions as a stable human being. But doing so with bipolar emotions is fucking hard. On top of everything else in my life. I counted 6 side jobs that I do yesterday during the Super Bowl. That means I am a single mother with a full-time job, a music career I am pursuing, and six side jobs. My life is complicated enough that I don’t need to complicate it any further. Life is simple; my mind complicates it.

Screw these triggers. The weather is shitty enough today and my depression is beginning to lurk. I am going to take a deep breath and hope I’ll be okay.