Bipolar and Stress

I’m still mourning Cinnamon, my cat of 16 years. And my divorce is final in a little under 2 weeks, and I’m mourning what I wanted that 16-year relationship to be and wasn’t. And I’ve had to be the calm presence in the apartment as the new cat and old cat learn to cohabitant. (They are now, in record time.)

I started attending a writer’s critique group and got excellent feedback on the section of the book version of Suddenly Bipolar that I brought. But talking about that first year again stirred up emotions I haven’t been able to deal with this summer.

And it’s summer, and I don’t do well in the heat. My bedroom doesn’t have a/c and so I have only a fan that blows on me to help a little bit. Going outside makes me feel sick. I just don’t do well in summer.

Each of these cause stress and the bulk of them together are bringing me to the brink of breakdown. I kicked in the coping skills over the last week: reducing what I commit to and do each day. I skipped workouts for almost a week. I called in sick to my volunteer job yesterday. I contacted friends and saw several.

I am trying not to think of backing out of workouts and volunteering as failure, but to think of it as self-care. Family and friends have encouraged me to look at them as self-care. I can only do so much. Being honest about what I can actually do is the best way to make it through the stress.

One Day at a Time. I have to keep telling myself that about getting through summer. I have to keep telling myself that about getting through this stressful time. Bipolar requires attention and easy days to avoid a mood switch or episode of some kind. I hope my skills keep me stable. I don’t feel stable, yet that is the stress and bipolar talking. I have made it this far with the skills.

In Cinnamon’s Honor

I loved my cat Cinnamon, as you can tell from my previous post. I had no intention of adopting another cat for some time. But Samantha-cat’s need for a companion and my running into a cat with the right personality on the right weekend when adoptions were half off, resulted in the addition of Ellie, a 2-year-old (below). So far they get along ok with some hissing and growling but less each day. Food and being surprised are the main culprits. They can be close to each other, but prefer several feet distance. I hope it is the beginning of a beautiful friendship for Samantha’s senior years (she is 15 but acts much younger).

I wasn’t sure I was ready to adopt again so soon. I reminded myself that people who do adopt again, especially soon, do it in honor of their beloved pet. I loved her so much, I’d do it again. Fall in love, spend a life, have to say goodbye. I still cry about Cinnamon. And my heart is big enough to begin to love a new little one.

Welcome, Ellie!

Welcome, Ellie!

Mourning for Cinnamon

One of my cats, Cinnamon, has come to the end of her life. We have been so closely bonded for 16 years. I can no longer care for her needs, and her body is shutting down even though her blood tests say only diabetes. On Monday I’m doing the compassionate, humane thing rather than watch her continued suffering. I’m grieving deeply and crying constantly. The bipolar makes the reaction more intense.

Here are some of the things I’d like to remember:

  • The first time I saw you peeking out the tiny cage at Marin Humane Society. Bright eyes, fluffy, fluffy 10-week-old fun.
  • Head cocked to the side in a flurry of kitten energy.
  • Running up and down the first cat tree and then the huge cat tree that looked like a tree. Fighting over who got to stay on top.
  • Her first Christmas running up the tree and knocking it almost over. Tried the next year, but adult body stopped her from going high enough.
  • Lying on my chest as I tried to read a book while in grad school.
  • Vegas-showgirl-looking tail when walking with it straight up. Getting a few tail hairs singed when walking by a candle – water on the tail right away!
  • Laser lights down the hallway and conference badges and strings. Getting aggressive on catnip, playful if it’s in a cigar-shaped toy.
  • Meeting me at the door with mews when young and meows when adult. Following me around from room to room.
  • Cat TV in Phoenix when we fed the birds in the morning.
  • Eating Tuna! Dancing around to get the plate on the floor fast enough.
  • Grooming Samantha cat on her head and neck, but not letting Sam do the same, until the last year of her life.
  • Sleeping between my spouse and I the first weeks, then between my legs for years. Sleeping on the end of any bed with a great blanket on it, often with Samantha. Sleeping in stylish beds that supported her larger, Maine-Coone-lineage stature. In her final home with just me and Samantha cat, sleeping altogether on the bed, the two of them in little cat beds.
  • “Prissy Paws” because she likes a clean litter box.
  • The morning ritual of sitting on my lap while I drink my coffee.
  • Cautiously exploring the backyards but only close to where I was. Learning to be on a harness and lead by following the laser light and realizing you can walk in those things!
  • 5 moves – 4 states and she still adapted, even as a senior.
  • Walking across my computer keyboard, my laptop keyboard, bumping the iPhone in my hand – pay attention to me!
  • Fear of the vacuum cleaner, running from room to room to get away.
  • Always aware of my feelings and moods, following me when needed, asking for lap time when I’m down.
  • Her sorrow when the red bag came out that meant I was going to the hospital. Her questioning looks when I returned to know if I was staying. Same when luggage came out for a trip. Deep sorrow to be left alone, even for a few days.
  • Communicating without words, the love and respect and bond we have with each other.


104 Days

It’s been 104 days out of the hospital, four days longer than I made it in all of last year between hospitalizations.

Progress! Due in large part to my support system – you – who offer support to make it through the good days and bad days.

I’ve been having rocky weeks with my mood, all due to stress in several areas of my life (taxes, divorce and knee injury all come to mind). I’m missing  the exercise I need to even out my mood and help with stress reduction (knee problem preventing good, long workouts). And so help from my care team and my friends has been crucial to keeping me confident, and I thank you. I even contacted my therapist from residential to get back on track, which has helped a bit.

I still have suicidal thoughts every day, multiple times an hour sometimes. It’s a curse. No one seems to know a cure or a blessing to make them stop. I suffer. And I’m ashamed that I suffer. I want to tell you that all is better now.

Yet I remain true to my commitments to this new life without suicide, despite my desire to bring it into play again. Even when I am drowning in stress, I’m not turning in my thoughts and emotions in the same ways as before. I am confused by dangerous thoughts and tempted less. Truly, a new chapter has opened up since residential.

All things considered, I still suffer and am stressed, yet I’m relying on my care team and medication, support system, and coping skills in stronger ways. The bad outweighs the good I feel, but that’s distorted, I think. Progress that I know that?




If you see your way clear to help me pay for the miraculous experience of ending suicidal obsessions I had at La Paloma, check out my “Saved My Life” Go Fund Me page at

Better Today

I had a much better day today. Back to confident and strong in constitution, though still having suicidal visions. They are less plentiful and I can bat them to the side. Thank goodness! I hope this lasts and all my progress returns.


Suicidal visions are back again. I’ve always got thoughts, and I’ve been able to swat them away with my mantra and promise: Not an option, never gonna happen. Suicide was taken off the table while I was at residential treatment in February.

 If I’m completely honest with myself, it’s back on the table as an option. I didn’t want it to be. I wanted to keep my promise. My therapist and people in my support system keep telling me to stop playing with the idea, that suicide is already off the table.

But you don’t have to keep seeing yourself maim and kill yourself on a regular basis (every few minutes, interrupting what I’m doing). You don’t have pain that prevents you from cardio exercise that would regulate my mood. I’ve been depressed, but safe, for over 3 months since I got back. 

Now I’m waiting for the visions to get obsessional as they have in the past, and I’m waiting for the desire to die to grow, as it’s doing. 

And then I’m safe for a while. And then I’m not. And then I’m keeping my promise to myself. And then I’m putting suicide back on the table. 

I’m tortured.

Empathy Cards for Serious Illnesses

Update: Emily appeared on Good Morning America on May 21. Yay Emily!

You’ll never guess what I found! The perfect cards that all our family and friends can send us when they find out we have a mental illness, or are having a flare-up of a mental illness. Empathy Cards by Emily McDowell.
No more icky promises that it will all work out. No more friends and family disappearing because they don’t know what to do or say. Just send us a funny card that says you know this sucks and you’re here and not leaving. And you won’t tell us about some new internet potion that will make it magically go away.

Let’s make Emily’s cards go viral! All sorts of long-term, invisible, serious and/or horrible diseases are out there that need EMPATHY not saccharine.


didn't know what to say


Happens for a reason