CONTRADICTION IS CONFUSING

I have bipolar disorder, and if you are like me and suffer with a mental or physical condition that wreaks havoc on the inside without showing on the outside, then you know that its invisibility can cause issues; because people can’t see what we’re talking about.

As much as we try to explain, they will forget, misunderstand, and doubt. Sometimes, they will even judge.

What they seldom do . . . is ask.

So why do we want to talk about it all the time?

Imagine that we’re walking in the woods and you step on a stick that cuts through the bottom of your shoe and impales your foot.

“Omg! This stick just impaled my foot! This is so painful!” you scream.

“Oh, come on, you big baby, keep up.” I casually reply and keep walking.

“NO! STOP AND LOOK AT THIS!” you shriek.

And when I stop and see your mangled, blood-gushing foot with its protruding stick, I realize the gravity of your situation and the level of your pain. My expectations change. And so does my judgment.

Therein lays the problem. We can’t point to anything and show you our pain.

We have only our words.

So we talk.

We need you to know that we can function on some days, but not others, and we’re not hypochondriacs or whiney, and we’re not exaggerating, attention-seeking, or lazy and making excuses; no, we have a big sharp-ass stick in our foot that no one else can see.

The symptoms come and go, but the stick doesn’t. It is permanently lodged. We never know which days will hurt, so our entire lives we “play it by ear”.

“But you seem so normal”.

“What do you think, I’m going to meet you for coffee when I haven’t showered for a week and I can’t stop sobbing?”

Those of us suffering “invisibly” seem normal because you only sporadically and briefly see us at our best. At our worst, we stay home and isolate. You don’t know our endless struggles. And you can’t see when we lose hope.

How could you?

We’ve learned to hide it, fake it, and adjust to it in ways you’d never imagine.

When you see us looking confident and physically fit, it’s hard to reconcile what we say, with what you see.

With me, you’ll likely see the confident, positive, jokester with a passion for life, but rarely my depressed and troubled mind. When my symptoms are unmanageable, I stay home and ride it out for however long it takes.

It’s a double life.

We have the good life that people see; where we’re attending events and looking healthy and self-assured; and we have the other one, where we suffer secluded and controlled by symptoms that leave us helpless and homebound.

I never know which life I’m going to awaken to, so when it’s the good one, I will grab hold of it like a wet dishrag and wring it dry.

It’s no wonder folks get confused.

I say that I live a tormented and isolated life, but then you see me out in the world meeting people, blogging about shows, and posting photographs of parks and sunrises.

You don’t know that my attendance anywhere is rare and that I’m usually at home on my sofa; or that photography provides the only semblance of focus or peace, and is often my only saving grace from my own mind.

I say that I have issues with large groups of people, but then you see me at a class reunion, baby shower, or art show. You don’t know that being with a group of 12 causes more anxiety than the anonymity of being with 100; or that my ever-present camera acts as a protective shield against exposure to others and helps navigate my environment so that I’m challenged with fewer inquiries and intimate interactions.

This new realization came when a friend gently and bravely inquired about the contradiction . . . and inspired this blog. That’s when I realized that understanding invisibility isn’t always so easy and that conversation enlightens everyone.

Remember the last time you smacked your head and got a big nasty lump on it, and how you made your friends feel the lump even though they didn’t want to? You needed them to fully comprehend the measure of your pain; that lump was your proof of pain.

I have only my words.

I have bipolar disorder and this is how it feels.

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“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Antoine de Saint Exupéry, ‘The Little Prince’.

(Read, “About Me & My Journey”: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-tM, “Being Bipolar”: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-hF, and “Sensitive Steel”: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-vY).

 

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Categories: Bipolar/Depression | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

SENSITIVE STEEL

I have bipolar disorder.

I am constantly challenged by my own intense emotions.

I feel everything you feel . . . times a thousand.

The good, the bad, and the ugly . . . times a thousand.

The loneliness and depression can be devastating, and the endless and exhausting struggle to cope, pure torture.

The statistics confirm it. One out of every five people afflicted with bipolar disorder successfully takes their own life.

My life consists of agitated anxious thinking and tormented isolation, with brief intermittent bursts of joy.

Even the happiness is heartbreaking. So erratic. And fleeting.

When I feel a joyous moment, I try to grab hold of it and capture it like a lightning bug in a jar. I embrace it. I consume it and feed it to my hungry heart. I am a quiet little hoarder of happiness.

Because I don’t know when I’ll see another lightning bug again.

Maybe never.

When most of you meet new people, you get to know them and then you judge whether or not to trust them and let them into your heart.

I do the opposite.

I take people at face value, and after a quick scan of my instincts, I pretty much let everyone in. And then I judge, as they prove dramatic, unstable, or hurtful, which ones are unhealthy for me.

It’s an awful way to live, but I’ve tried being careful and guarded, and it’s just not my nature.

I love quickly and with a wide open heart.

I view everyone as being unique and magnificent, and I let them come in, and I celebrate them loudly. That’s how I am.

But I forget.

I forget that people don’t always say what they mean. And sometimes they’ll say what they mean all day long until you need them to, and then they won’t. People are funny like that.

I also forget that people misuse the word “love”, and when they hug me and say it, they mean it casually like, “It’s been nice to see you”. They don’t really love me.

And I forget that people don’t feel as intensely as I do.

And when I am reminded, it breaks my heart.

I am a constant victim . . . of my own brain.

So I strive to make better choices about people. Who I let in. Who I believe. And trust. And love.

And when I get hurt, as surely I will, because I will always love quickly and hugely, I will take the hit to my heart, lick my wounds, adjust, and then get right back out into the world.

But I will remember this pain.

For a little while anyway.

And then I’ll forget again.

Because that’s just my nature.

I love quickly. And I have a terrible memory. Sheesh.

The irony is, that as sensitive as I am . . .

I am as strong as you are . . .  times a thousand.

We bipolars are funny that way.

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(Read, “Being Bipolar” at: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-hF).

Categories: Bipolar/Depression, Friends, Inspiration/Motivation, Kindness & Compassion, Mental Health, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

WALK OUT OF THE DARKNESS

Please read this and consider sharing it on your blog or on Facebook or Twitter. Because everyone matters. Thank you.

WALK OUT OF THE DARKNESS.

Categories: Bipolar/Depression, Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Suicide | Leave a comment

ONE STEP BEYOND

Can you imagine how dull life’s travels would be if all the roads were straight? WINDING ROAD

I used to feel anxious and off balance by life’s many twists and turns, and navigating them was as much fun as trying to drive through quicksand.

But I know that beautiful and astonishing discoveries are not going to come and find me at home on my sofa where I am safely tucked away in my comfort zone.

I have to take a deep breath and put my uncertainty aside. I have to make the effort and physically leave the house.

I have to take one single step . . . beyond the familiar.

I have learned that with a new point of view, a few tools, and a little practice, that these twists and turns, these disruptions and deviations, can teach me fun new driving skills and lead to wonderful and exciting experiences.

Instead of anxiety, I call it excitement. And instead of fearing the unknown, I now seek it. And embrace it. I celebrate the newness and am giddy with anticipation.

Sometimes, the greatest joy is in the journey . . . and the destination is just a happy consequence!

Categories: Adventures, Inspiration/Motivation, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

MICHAEL’S BDAY & THE CHRISTMAS BOX ANGEL STATUE

MICHAEL’S BDAY & THE CHRISTMAS BOX ANGEL STATUE.

Categories: Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

MICHAEL’S BDAY & THE CHRISTMAS BOX ANGEL STATUE

This isn’t a sad day for me.

Grief comes unpredictably throughout life. It sprinkles itself on moments; heavy sometimes, lighter at others. I won’t focus on this day as one of heartache, and dwell on the sadness, or assign myself the duty of grieving. Instead, I will do better.

My life can’t be just about the dates anymore . . . a birth date, death date, anniversary . . . there are too many dates and life is just too damn short.

Life has to become about the joyous moments. Let’s cherish & embrace them.

It’s all so precious.

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Today I chatted w/someone who read the blog I wrote (and sang) in honor of my son, Michael, called, “If I Can Get to Heaven”: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-uC

A relative of hers had lost an infant long ago and is in need of healing. I told her about The Christmas Box Angel Statue* and how it helps me to visit my son’s memory brick there. What a special gift for today, July 8th, Michael’s birthday.

And once again the word is spread & the healing is shared.

It’s been a good day.

MICHAELS BRICK

My friend, Mary Kopke Wloch, sent me this note regarding this photograph:

“My interpretation: daisies = sweet innocence, the shadow on the brick = your unending love for your son, the hat = hope. With words and images you continue to touch my heart. Thank you for sharing.”

Your words are a gift, dear Mary. Thank you.

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*THE CHRISTMAS BOX ANGEL STATUE

The Christmas Box Angel Statue was introduced to the world in the book, “The Christmas Box”, a worldwide best seller and hit television movie by author, Richard Paul Evans.

In the book, at the site of an angel statue, a woman mourns the loss of her child. Though the story is mostly fiction, the angel monument once existed but is speculated to have been destroyed. Mr. Evans commissioned the new angel statue in response to reports that grieving parents were seeking out the angel as a place to grieve and heal.

Michigan Memorial Park has provided the setting for the first Christmas Box Angel Statue in the State of Michigan, here in the United States. ANGEL STATUE

**FOR ANGEL STATUES THROUGHOUT THE U.S., visit Richard Paul Evans: http://www.richardpaulevans.com/angel-statues/locations

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EVERY YEAR ON DECEMBER 6TH at 7:00 P.M., THERE IS A CANDLELIGHT HEALING CEREMONY/VIGIL at Christmas Box Angel Statues across the country, for those experiencing the loss of a child or loved one, to gather and honor them. The public is welcome to attend.

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A PAVING BRICK OR MEMORY BRICK for the angel site at Michigan Memorial Park (and other locations) may be purchased in memory or honor of a child or loved one. The brick will include up to three lines of engraving for $100 with as many as 12 characters or spaces per line.

To purchase a memory brick from Michigan Memorial Park, please click here for a printable application: http://www.michmempark.com/pdf/Christmas-Box-Application.pdf.

Or contact Nancy Adams: (248)887-0327 for addtional information.

Visit Michigan Memorial Park at: http://www.michmempark.com/christmas-box-angel.asp

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**FOR ANGEL STATUES THROUGHOUT THE U.S., visit Richard Paul Evans: http://www.richardpaulevans.com/angel-statues/locations

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Note: I am NOT professionally associated with Michigan Memorial Park or the Christmas Box Angel Statue, & am posting this blog for informational purposes only, to help spread the word and share in the healing. xoJulia

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Categories: Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

IF I CAN GET TO HEAVEN

I never bought a lunchbox MICHAELS WINGSwhiter

for your first day of school

or had a teacher conference

and saw artwork made by you.

.

You never graduated

or attended your first prom

you never got to marry

and you never called me mom.

.

We had just a whisper

and then you slipped away

I try my best to honor you

by living better every day.

.

If I can get to heaven

after paying my life dues

I will rush right into heaven

and find my way to you.

.

If I can get to heaven

I hope that God agrees

that I belong in heaven

with you right next to me.

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* Although I am a writer and not a singer, I have made a recording of myself singing, “IF I CAN GET TO HEAVEN”, in honor of my son, Michael Steven Kovach, on his birthday, July 8th: http://youtu.be/J9HdClGW97E

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The photograph in this video is by Fine Arts Photographer, Patricia Izzo, of Izzo Photography. Visit her on Facebook at:  https://www.facebook.com/gbatch1?composeropen=1#!/PatriciaIzzoPhotography?fref=ts, or visit her website at: WWW.IZZOPHOTOGRAPH.COM. Her work may be purchased at River’s Edge Gallery, in Wyandotte Michigan; visit owner, Patt Slack, and her crew at River’s Edge Gallery on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/gbatch1?composeropen=1#!/RiversEdgeGallery?fref=ts.

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Categories: Family, God/Spiritual, Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

MY WILD BDAY PARTY

Something is brewing around here and I suspect that it is related to my upcoming birthday.

When I enter the room I catch my homies, Allie and Baxter, whispering.

WHISPERG

“What are you two up to?” I ask.

They suddenly sit up, go silent, and put on their best striving-to-look-innocent faces.

ALLIE BAX SIDEBYSIDE CROPPED

“Who . . . us? They answer.

Remembering last year’s birthday celebration and the chaos that ensued, I push.

“You wouldn’t be hiding anything, would you, Miss Allie?” I ask.

She says nothing, but gets defensive and shoots me that impatient, intense look of hers.

ALLIE BAX INTENSEcropped

But I know my homies. And several hours later my suspicions are confirmed and I am surprised with a birthday party.

FIREWORKS BDAYBALLOONS IN TREEME SURPRISE FACE

There is food and  drink.

CHEESE N CRACKERS DRINK ALLIE

I receive cards, and flowers, and lots of kisses.

BAX DELIVERS MAIL blogPLANTKISSES

Then Allie sings. And boy, she really gets into it.

SINGING

Then Baxter sings along with an Ecard. He’s a star! Click on the link below and watch him sing on YouTube!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfBzaJMyAw8

We play lots of party games.

GAMES BAX DOMSGAMES ALLIE DOMINOESGAMES ALLIE SCRABBGAMES ALLIE BAG

But quickly things get out of hand.

OUT OF CONTROLOUT OF CONTROL BLUR

What happens in Vegas . . . ? ha ha ha.

OUT OF CONTROL ALLIE LAMPOUT OF CONTROL ME

The next morning we are quiet and lazy.

LATER ALLIELATER BAXNEXT DAY ME

And for the most part, unscathed.

Well, kind of.

You know what they say:

“It’s all fun and games until someone ends up in a cone!”

ME CONE GLASSES SHRUGtheone

Categories: Animals, Holidays/Birthdays, Humor, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

ABOUT ME & MY JOURNEY

In this blog I bear my soul. I’ve suffered some rather traumatic family losses in my lifetime and have overcome some rough stuff: the loss of my only child; an infant son, a 40-year dysfunctional, (but comfortable), relationship with grief, suicide and drug addiction in the family, and everything from quitting a 35 yr smoking habit, to overcoming prescription drug addiction, to my challenges with bipolar disorder. smiling glasses allieGOOD

Now, at the age of 54, I’m facing a whole new world through clear eyes! Everything is fresh and exciting, and challenging and scary . . . and I’m embracing it all!

In this blog, I share (purge) my past experiences, however painful, raw, or revealing. And I share new adventures . . . both emotionally and physically out in the world. I take you into the world of bipolar disorder . . . or maybe to the local cancer center to meet cancer patients who heal through their art, or to an art gallery exhibition, to the local park to snap pics, or maybe downtown to our wonderful City of Detroit!

I’m on the cusp . . . of change.

I believe in celebrating the people and places around me. I will seldom vent, rant, or approach something in a negative way. If I don’t enjoy an art show, or a new business, or a new artist, I simply won’t blog about it. Anything else is just too easy. I look for the good, the funny, the kind, the loving, and the inspirational things; and they are EVERYWHERE! I hope to make you laugh, or cry, or maybe even think about things a bit differently.

So, please, join me on this beautiful, incredible, painful, and amazing journey called life. And please, share your thoughts with me by leaving a comment on my blog! Also, to “Follow” me on my journey, just enter your email address in the “Follow” box and you will be notified by email each time I post a new blog entry.

Thanks for visiting! Be safe. Be careful. And please . . . remember to be kind. xoxoJulia

*Blog content & photographs © 2013 by Julia Kovach, unless otherwise noted.

Categories: Addiction, Bipolar/Depression, Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Humor, Inspiration/Motivation, Kindness & Compassion, Mental Health, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

About me & my Journey

About me & my Journey.

Categories: Downriver/Detroit, Michigan | Leave a comment

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