Healthy living, healthy parenting, healthy gardening. One Family's approach to off grid living.

The Skeptical Mothers Guide to Insanity

There is not time for magical thinking; parenting with Bipolar 1 part 2

Until very recently I was scientifically illiterate despite 17 years of pretty decent education. I graduated high school with high honors taking awards in art and creativity- read basically voted most likely to go insane. I was bounced from “gifted” program to “advanced” program and then University hopped with marks all over the grade spectrum until the babies turned my brain to mush. Lucky me I am now barren and everybody is weaned and oh gosh, I have part of my brain back. The real problem was, I didn’t even realize how scientifically illiterate I was. And my journey to mental skillness has been longer because of it.

I loved science as a child but began to see the arts, poetry as the true places of the empathetic mind. That creativity and compassion were just not a part of science. Public school pretty much backed this up. My outside experiences with science were from my mother who just reinforced my notions that real scientists were basically just pyro-fetishists. I know not everybody was raised with explosions in the darkened hallway on Christmas Eve, but trust me, you wish you did.

Within the arts community I found people on the fringe, that I easily related to and that greatly appealed to me. I mostly knew how to act in public, thanks to the stable, loving, predictable life I grew up with. I was going mad with routine by high school though. My brain was on speed and there was no way to catch up. I burned through books and ideas like a wildfire. I adore my parents, even more as a parent myself for providing me with constant, unconditional love while I let my freak show fly. It’s as an adult; joking about my parents (mostly) fond reaction to outfits I wore from grades 7-12; everyday was halloween and the hair styles I chose- from bi-hawks to bright green chia pet spots to rainbow wigs- that I realize how awesome and supportive my parents are. I was just mind numbingly devastatingly bored. Mostly people who have known me while hypo manic would describe me as loud, fun, crazy. Even though I was stone cold sober, I seemed drunk, or high a lot of the time and this is pretty darn acceptable in the arts, a lot of the time. I felt at home.

However, I was not very self regulated and when the time came to learn new coping skills I naturally turned to the arts and alternative medicines. While I know creative expression lays at the heart of mental health for me there just were not the answers I needed on HOW to live. Lots of philosophy and grand advice about self forgiveness, and positive mental states. That just isn’t enough to get you well. I spent money I wish I hadn’t spent and time not engaged with reality that I can not get back wondering about mystical and magical things.

I was put in a Living with Bipolar 1 class that was 8 weeks long and I felt stigmatized and shaky walking through those doors. Opening new doors has opened a new life for me. I have been gorging myself on neuroscience reading and talks and dialectical behavioral therapy classes. I became interested in other forms of science as well, mostly thanks to a supremely pushy husband on the subject of scientific literacy. As I realized my tiny presence in our grand universe here on our pale blue dot I became increasingly grateful for my chance to make a positive impact on our tiny planet.

I’m now going to pursue becoming an Art Therapist, which seems like such a shockingly obvious fit. Who doesn’t want to do neuro science crafts that will pave down some positive new neuro highways?

It has been years of struggling to figure out how to live inside my own head in a settled and productive way. The struggle has been greatly eased by learning the skills of DBT. Emotional regulation, radical acceptance of reality, and mediation skills are tools we all need.

Current reading: http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/0739357980

Thinking: Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Pretty much essential reading for anyone wishing to make use of their human brain.

Quick briefing on DBT. It is CBT with meditation/awareness practices. I found found it so helpful in the “how” part of emotional regulation.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectical_behavior_therapy

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There is not time for magical thinking; parenting with mental illness part 1

For me, I had a light bulb moment in the garden with the children when I was manic 2 summers ago. I was basically neglecting my kids to obsessively dig for water. I was consumed by it. I was having spiritual revelations. My mind was blown by exposing new rocks to air for the very first time, to the point where it had magical purposes. Baby was safe on my back or in an exersaucer and the bigger kids played with sticks and dirt and puddles. Perfect, almost. Except for the fact that I lived in two realities and to be honest, the magical one was enchanting and felt like a state of mind always desired, and always slightly out of reach. After months of severe post partum depression it was clouds of heavenly angels exploding in my head. At first I marveled at how things were so beautiful they sparkled. Soon if I woke up and things were not sparkling with beauty I was smothered by an overwhelming ocean of pain and darkness. I was exuberant and had heaps of energy. Poorly directed obsessive energy, but hey, we could use me having a good round of productive hypomania couldn’t we? Hypomania feels like the ideal, creative, buzzing, likeable state. You feel like you can take on the world. And mania is even better.

But only for one person.

For everybody else it is hell because they are living with this reactive, excitable person who thinks they are in a state of sheer genius and are just at the edge of doing something radically essential or are armpit deep in doing something amazing.

So 2 years ago as I watched my beautiful children’s faces screwed up in tears because they didn’t want to stay in the garden anymore or have cheese strings and popcorn for dinner, again; I realized that I was not in their reality. And although I couldn’t tell which reality was the true reality, I could tell which reality the people I loved lived in, and that’s the one I wanted to live in too. It was a lucky moment. That was the day I admitted myself to the psych ward and started to actually get the help I needed.

I wish I had had the knowledge and strength to advocate for myself when I experienced post partum psychosis after my first miscarriage and then again after the birth of Coach Rapper. After the birth of the Evil Wizard I was hallucinating by day 2 PP. But I made jokes about it, and people thought it was funny. I had little moments of insight during those spells too, but didn’t act upon them because of fear and shame and thinking post partum psychosis was baking your baby in the oven. Or that people would think I wanted to if I talked about it.

For me the Bipolar label has been useful, even if I roll my eyes at it and feel like it is more of a symptom than a diagnoses. Largely because within the paradigm of bipolar I feel normal and have been able to find the support I needed by communicating with other people experiencing mood changes incongruent with external experiences.


My changing views of children’s television, bring on the mind numbing trite.

With Coach Rapper I was truly horrified by the content of programming for young children. Granted, he spoke like a tiny professor from his first birthday on, but really I would have been horrified even if he had been mute until age 3 like the Evil Wizard. With the Evil Wizard when I let him over indulge in television at a young age it was because I was sick, pregnant and single parenting. At first I opted for select educational videos. But lets face it, Dora just is way more zombifying and mind numbing. Even if you knew me then perhaps you did not know I succumbed to Dora. It’s just one of those dark and shameful secrets of pregnancy.
With #3 I have no excuse.
Well, I do, kinda. I am lazy, and I am okay with it. It’s 7:04am and I have been up for 2 hours and haven’t had to do any parenting at all, except slice fruit. I am sitting in a bed with sheets I don’t have to wash, going to have a bath with water I don’t have haul and boil. Although I cringe as I hear the mind numbing trite on Harry & Bucket o’ Dino’s, I relax again, knowing even the smallest viewers are staring and drooling. Having their tiny minds filled with generic moralizing and a calm, demeaning vocabulary. “In the Yukon the little boys used to watch Transformers.” I say to The King while stealing a sip of his coffee. “Imagine how much more violent ours would be if we let them watch that. It’s totally got to be rated R or something like that”. The King wiggles his eyebrows pleasantly in his most conversational morning response.

3 more nights in the lap of luxury and then back to the honest life. I must say I am looking forward to it. As much as I have enjoyed February in the hotel I am thoroughly itching to get back to Erie Kingdom and get my hands back in the dirt. Or snow. We still have heaps and heaps of snow.


Cunningham on Wakefeild. Essential reading on MMR vaccine, in comic form!

READ THIS NOW

If you have someone in your life you are responsible for vaccinating or not, this is critical knowledge.


Beyond Paleo- Paleo(esq) for the everyman, everyday

I`m looking for dietary solutions for migraines, endometriosis and bipolar. I`ve been bumbling though a gazillion websites and here is another great one, that takes a measured approach to the paleo-diet. My least favorite part of what I`ve been reading about Paleo influenced diets is the lack of focus on eating local and seasonally. This is really important to me, as a rural resident surrounded by farms. I just can feel the bristles going up when I read so many recipes focusing on exotic foods such as coconut milk. Don`t get me wrong, I triple heart coconut milk. I am just trying to wrap my mind around all the transport potentially involved in any diet not focused on what`s grown at home. I am finding plenty of gardens in paleosphere blogs, so I`m going to try to plow through lots of them before ordering seeds this year. Our goal is to be fairly self sufficient in the grand future, I`m curious what sorts of nut trees thrive in a 6B garden…

Without further ado, my link of the day.
CHRIS KRESSER
Beyond Paleo, Moving from a paleo diet to a paleo template


Looking at mental health and diet: Wheat, Bipolar and Schizophrenia

Wheat & Mental Illness

Wow. I’m really just wide eyed and dumbfounded by the internet. I’ve been out of the loop for ages and ages and just haven’t had a chance to dig through the web. I keep finding fascinating stuff that is stopping me in my tracks.

I have a new girl crush and her name is Emily Deans. She writes a blog called Evolutionary Psychiatry. If you or someone you love have mental skillness, do check it out.

Today we made cookies with spelt, oats and dark chocolate. I ate ONE cookie. I very quickly felt violently ill and 2 hours later still have a belly ache. I had chills and cold sweats. Wow. I actually didn’t really believe the stories of “carb poisoning” before this. By far the most grains/sugar I’ve had in ages. So not worth it.

Now, I really don’t know enough about any of this to have anything of my own to say about it, but it seems important to pass on!


I really enjoyed this skeptical review of WheatBelly from huntgatherlove.com

Skeptical review of Wheat Belly

I found this to be interesting. The lady is pretty hard core, as she basically says the Paleo Community need not read this book because there are other, better, more correct sources out there. It sounds to me like the book will have good audience among “North American Diet” folks, as sorta a ‘paleo lite’ answer. Seems that this is probably a needed genre of book because most people won’t flip their whole diet on it’s head at once. It’s a lot easier to picture cutting out a couple foods than a whole wack. Since we’ve already been grain reduced for a while, I’m going to be pursuing the paleosphere and trying to sift out science fiction from science fact. It’s confusing though- because nobody agrees on what is okay for paleo anyway (ie almond flour).