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Posts Tagged ‘family’

Uh-oh, you’ve been swept up in a riptide. Here’s what to do: swim parallel to the shore. If you try to swim against the riptide straight back to shore you’ll tire yourself out and drown before making any progress at all. Think of the riptide like a treadmill stuck on sprint settings. When you decide, instead, not to fight it head-on is when your efforts matter. Riptides don’t go on forever. If you swim parallel to the shore you’ll swim out of the riptide and be able to get to shore a bit further down the beach. 

 

Good to know, huh? I’m learning to swim parallel in life. My instinct is to fight this overwhelming force called bipolar disorder or despair or self-worth head-on. That’s not working. I’m just exhausted and further from the shore than I’d be if I just gave in. I’m not advocating drowning here, just smarter swimming.

There are likely going to be a lot more riptides for me. If I can learn to be smart about it things will be less traumatic.

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Here’s a photo of my cousin Jasmine and her hubby Tim with the quilt I organized for them. They were married in October 2010 and were awarded this completed project for their first anniversary. This photo was taken around Christmastime last year. 

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The specifics:

1) Jas asked me to be a bridesmaid, and said if there was anything specific I wanted to help out with, to speak up. I volunteered to spearhead a signature quilt for the couple. 

2) It took me about 18 months to make from start to finish, but that includes more than a few months where it was folded up in a drawer waiting for the next step.

3) The quilt is in their wedding colors: gold, mossy green, and persimmon. It is a log cabin pattern, which is especially fitting since they live and work at a sleep-away camp where they have – guess what? – a log cabin. It fits on a queen-sized bed. 

4) I made the blocks before the wedding. They were signed during the reception by the guests (and even the chef!) Then I brought them home to assemble the quilt top, sandwich it, and quilt it. 

5) It has very basic stitch-in-the-ditch quilting. I wanted the signatures to be the main feature, so the minimal quilting doesn’t call attention away from them. 

6) Jasmine was one of my first best friends as a child and we remain very close. I’ve known Tim a long time, too. He’s from Jas’ hometown and went to summer camp with my cousins, sister, and me. I haven’t seen them since the wedding but it’s a comforting thought they have a tangible reminder of our love for them… to snuggle up with on cold nights. 

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It’s interesting that they didn’t put it together. I felt very exposed, watching the musical “Next to Normal.” The play includes the themes of bipolar disorder, an absent mother, losing a child, and addiction. But I was told beforehand that I may cry because I’m proud of my cousin’s acting in it, but not particularly because of anything in the play. Hmmm… really? Do you guys not know what I have been going through? Have I not been acting sufficiently crazy around you?

My actress cousin approached me later and said she didn’t realize beforehand how close to home these subjects would hit. She was very sweet about it. And one of my aunts asked for more information about my experience of being bipolar.  My Dad had a strong emotional reaction to the play, too.

I’m glad that I saw the musical. It at once made me feel both validated (the writer understands!) and alone. One line was, “We don’t really know what it is, it’s just a collection of symptoms.” Just because my collection doesn’t include hallucinations doesn’t mean it’s any easier for me to cope. I’ve got the anxiety bit covered instead.

Yes, I was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder five or six years ago. I’ve been experimenting with treatments ever since. You know what works best for now? Being kind with myself, especially when I screw up. And continuing to be around people. I spiral into darkness through solitude. And hey, my friends seem to like having me around these days. 🙂 Woot. Meds help sometimes too.

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