Monthly Archives: October 2012

A HALLOWEEN DREAM

(I don’t care much for Halloween. But in the spirit of going with the flow and learning to laugh at life, I decided to try to make the best of it this year. All of the pics in this blog were taken while out driving yesterday with Patti Petroline; dear friend, great adventurer, and carver of pumpkins).

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We’ll have a full moon the TV said 

but I stayed home cuz I was dead

I watched a movie called Pumpkin Head

and then I ate and went to bed.

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My B.L.T. caused crazy dreams

and transported me it seems

to scary skies with sugar beams

I’m just not sure what it all means.


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I saw a tree


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a goat


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a sign


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Was this all caused by how I dined?
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And then a barn


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my dog


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a friend of mine?


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Whew! It all ended just in time.
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Thankfully, I did awake . . . or did I make a bad mistake?

My body hurts and my head sure aches. Oh, my gosh . . . for goodness sakes!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, GOBLINS! Xoxo

Categories: Adventures, Humor, Photography, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

BEING BIPOLAR

I’m bipolar.

But, don’t worry. You can’t catch it.

Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric disorder (also called Manic Depressive Disorder), that causes my moods to swing between really high and really low, to a degree that interferes with my daily functioning and quality of life.

You might be thinking, “But everyone has their ups and downs.” For you, a high mood might entail a lot of laughter at a party, island hopping while on a vacation,  or even the rush of winning at the slot machines.

My high is manic. It is actually like being high and can feel quite wonderful. Euphoric even. It includes the aforementioned ups, but it goes way beyond that to obsessive-compulsive behaviors – like racing thoughts, the inability to stop thinking or to control the images in my mind, and irresponsibly impulsive spending, promiscuity, rapid rambling speech, little to no sleep, and illusions of grandeur.

Having bipolar disorder feels kind of like surfing. When I’m in a manic state it is fast, wild, and an adrenaline rush. But not something that can be sustained or controlled.


What you consider to be a down or depressed period might entail feeling disinterested, moody, quiet, annoyed, or sad and teary.

But my depression lasts from several weeks to several months and involves isolation, self-neglect, and suicidal thoughts. As low as I have ever been, I have gone lower. I’ve learned that suicidal people don’t want to die; we just want our pain to stop. We just run out of steam . . . and hope.

The crash of depression.

The most difficult thing about being bipolar?

The loneliness. My racing, tormented mind. Being dismissed. Not having someone in my life that is brave or patient enough to love me.

Bipolars require medication. Usually an anti-depressant coupled with a mood stabilizer. But other drugs work too. And the right one can change your life. I’ve had some bad reactions and side effects and have been unmedicated for quite some time. So my time between the surfing and the crashing consists of a constant struggle just to function and “stay even”. It means endless and exhausting paddling.

This disorder often manifests in destructive or violent behavior. The social stigma of bipolar violence stems primarily from the behaviors of those untreated and unmedicated. Just as with any disease, there are degrees of affliction and degrees of management.

Between my mania and depression lives an aggravated state that I call, “EXTREMELY ANNOYED”. I wrestle with it everyday. It can be brought on by many things; loud sounds, harsh smells, bright or flashing lights, pushy or bossy personalities, unexpected circumstances or disruptions, or even minor pain. Sometimes I just awaken annoyed with myself. Honestly.

When I’m triggered, it feels like an intense frustration that begins to build and build. If I do nothing, it will escalate, until it finally explodes into a loud exchange or outburst.

But I don’t do nothing.

I’ve learned that when my brain REACTS, I need to RECOGNIZE my prickly feelings, and RESPOND. I can’t control what people around me say or do. I can only control the way I respond to them. So I’ve learned a few tricks to navigating these bipolar waters; like breathing, visualization, distancing myself from someone, or if necessary, removing myself from an environment or situtation.

So, why haven’t I talked about my bipolar disorder before this?  

Because talking comes at a cost. I’ve been prejudged, discounted, and dismissed.

I’ve been embarrassed because of the social stigma and ridicule; like when I hear someone say, “She went bipolar on me.”

Admitting it, has cost me a date or two and a few friendships. People are scared by what they don’t understand.

And because people don’t understand what they can’t see and sometimes say stupid things; like I look so normal that I must be mistaken. I guess I don’t act crazy enough. Ha ha. And if they should get a glimpse? They run. Fast and far.

And why am I talking about it NOW?

Because in the U.S., six million people have it. And 1 out of every 5 bipolars will successfully commit suicide.

Because people who have it hide and suffer silently.

Because there is hope. Although there is no cure, the right medication and treatment can help us function better in our lives, and most importantly, prevent self-injury and suicide.

And because at this age, I just own who I am. It is what it is. But being bipolar isn’t who I am; it’s what I have. I am a fairly intelligent person who is not only funny, but also kind and compassionate. I’m a woman, writer, and a good friend, who happens to have bipolar disorder.

There are many celebrities and incredibly artistic people who have come out as bipolars.

“Creativity is closely associated with bipolar disorder. This condition is unique. Many famous historical figures and artists have had this. Yet they have led a full life and contributed so much to the society and world at large. See, you have a gift. People with bipolar disorder are very very sensitive. Much more than ordinary people. They are able to experience emotions in a very deep and intense way. It gives them a very different perspective of the world. It is not that they lose touch with reality. But the feelings of extreme intensity are manifested in creative things. They pour their emotions into either writing or whatever field they have chosen.” Preeti Shenoy, Life is What You Make It

 

This is the face of bipolar.

    ME SMILING

Me, Julia Kovach.

And here are a few of my famous friends who also suffer with bipolar disorder.*

*Information gathered from Google states that all of the above individuals were diagnosed, are self-confessing, or are believed to have suffered from bipolar disorder before it was medically recognized.  **All images from Google. Copyrights to their rightful owners.

Categories: Addiction, Bipolar/Depression, Inspiration/Motivation, Mental Health, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , , | 91 Comments

YOUR BOOBIES & THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT

I want to talk about BREAST CANCER.

I’m not going to blog a bunch of cancer statistics and information on research and treatment. Nope. You should know the important stuff and if you don’t, Google it.

What I will do is share my opinion.

And my opinion about breast cancer is this: LISTEN TO YOUR FLIGHT ATTENDANT!

Let me explain.

The key to surviving breast cancer is early detection and treatment. So we women have to do two things: Do breast self-examinations every month, and get a mammogram every year. Pretty simple, right?

                        

Last year, I casually blew-off my mammogram; I just didn’t worry about it. I’m sure I was busy doing something important.

This year is different. I am motivated by the incredibly strong women in my life who have lost so much:   her mom . . . her breasts . . . precious time.

Yesterday, I stopped being stupid and scheduled an appointment.

Today, I drive 15 minutes to the clinic and learn that I have not had a mammogram since 2006. Sheesh.

I lost two of my siblings that year, so I guess I’ve been in a time warp or something. Here I thought I missed one exam, when I have actually missed five. Things happened. I got busy. I got lost. I guess I got diverted.

My mammogram takes all of 15 minutes, involves a little discomfort, and 20 minutes later I am home again.

It is that easy.

So now, I want to know: Have you had your mammogram this year? Why not? It’s already October! What are you waiting for?

I know what you’re thinking, “I’ve been meaning to, I’m just so busy.”

And I get that. I know that you are crazy busy all the time. You have a job. You take care of the house. And the kids. And your partner. Even the dog counts on you. You take care of everything. Every single day. You think you’ll get around to taking care of you, but then . . . you don’t.

Now, think about the last time you were on an airplane. Do you remember when the flight attendant reviewed the emergency and safety procedures? What did she say about your oxygen mask?

She said, “In an emergency, you are to place your oxygen mask on yourself first, and then place one on your child.”

In short, you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. It’s that simple.

So just do it. Right now. Make your appointment. Don’t let another day turn into another month. It is too important. You are too important.

This life of ours is a wonderful journey. And we love you and want you here for the entire beautiful flight. So ladies, please, stop with your excuses and put on your damn mask.

Thank you.

Categories: Family, Friends, Inspiration/Motivation, Physical Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

OUT OF THE DARKNESS

On Sunday, October 7, 2012, I attend a community walk called, “Out of the Darkness”, at Lake Erie Metro Park in Brownstown, Michigan.

“Proceeds from this event benefit the AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION (AFSP), the leading national not-for-profit organization dedicated exclusively to the understanding and prevention of suicide through research, education, and advocacy, and to reaching out to those suffering with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.”


SUICIDE CLAIMS MORE THAN 38,000 LIVES A YEAR. Did you know that? Think about that number for a minute . . . 38,000 lives every year.

Every 14.2 minutes, a person successfully takes their own life. And every minute of the day, a person attempts to take their own life. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. And it is the 3rd leading cause of death among those 15-24 years old.

This event is personal to me because in 1996, my sister, Chris, took her own life. She was 38 years old. I still struggle with this loss, and the grief and torment that accompany it. And due to my struggles with bipolar disorder, I have come dangerously close to losing myself (1 of every 5 people suffering with bipolar disorder takes their own life).

From left: My sister, Chris, and me, as children.

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Intelligent and compassionate Gerri Asam Trager is the organizer of the “Out of the Darkness Community Walk” for the downriver area. She and her amazing band of beautiful volunteers are the primary reason for this event’s huge success.

Gerri Asam Trager, on right. (Photo taken from AFSP Downriver Out of the Darkness Walk, Facebook event page, by Bob Eccles).

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It is a cloudy, chilly day, but attendance is high, as are the spirits of the organizers, volunteers, and walkers.

  

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This beautiful woman, Jaqueline Worthey, a poetry reader, graces the stage by reading a special poem every year at this event.

 

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We are blessed with the kind and compassionate, former Detroit Lion’s football player, Eric Hipple, who speaks to us straight from the heart.

 

After losing his own 15-year-old son in 2000 to suicide, Hipple now travels the country and gives speeches to High Schools, Youth Groups, the U.S. Military, and Corporations, on suicide prevention and Mental Illness. His book, “Real Men Do Cry”, published in 2009, discusses his playing career with the Lions and his experiences with depression, grief, and suicide prevention.

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We are then introduced to the lovely and extremely talented, NEENUH. There are no words to describe her beautiful voice.

Connect with Neenuh on Facebook. She performs solo shows (vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica) around Downriver, MI. Search “Neenuh” on YouTube and you will find uploads of her videos.

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And we are delighted by the amazing talent of Fiddler, Mick Gavin, who plays onstage AND along our walking path. Wonderful!

Gavin was born in Co. Clare, Ireland. Since the 1970’s, he has performed concerts with many traditional Irish performers in the Chicago and Detroit areas. Mick now teaches Irish fiddle throughout the Detroit metropolitan area. Three of his students took 2nd at the All-Ireland in Listowel, Co. Kerry in 2002.

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The 3.5-mile walk begins on this gorgeous Autumn afternoon.

 

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Even the canines walk the walk!

  

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Afterwards, we are treated to hot food and refreshing beverages, and a safe place for good conversation. There is also a raffle which offers terrific prizes of food and services generously donated by some of our local restaurateurs and merchants.

We bond over our losses and experiences, but join together to celebrate life . . . and bring about change.

AND OUT OF THE DARKNESS . . .

. . . COMES HOPE.

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For information or to make a donation, (donations for walks can be made thru 12/31/12 for this year), contact:

GERRI ASAM TRAGER, AFSP Board Member, AFSP Community Outreach Volunteer, Metro Detroit/Ann Arbor Chapter. Phone: 810-229-4266. The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention: www.afsp.org . Also see: www.outofthedarkness.org and survivoroutreachMI@gmail.

If you have lost someone you love to suicide: www.afsp.org/survivingsuicideloss

*IF YOU ARE IN SUICIDAL CRISIS, PLEASE CALL 800-273-TALK 8255)*

Categories: Addiction, Bipolar/Depression, Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Grief/Healing, Inspiration/Motivation, Kindness & Compassion, Mental Health, Photography, Physical Health, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

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