Chapter 18: What’s A Nice Girl Like You Doing on a Site Like That?

10 Apr

In The Beginning…

There is a reason and a story for EVERYTHING. Where did that antique chair come from? How did you get your cat? Where did your grandparents meet? When did you realize you were bisexual? I love stories.

Well, this one is about an adult web site. I didn’t create it because I’m a typical lazy, pretty girl who doesn’t want to work. It wasn’t because I was in debt. I’m not the classic single mom. It wasn’t to put myself through school; although I did exercise THAT cliché on my second go-round with college, working doubles, and triples, all day and night at the strip club on Fridays and Saturdays, then doubling up on courses on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I had to drop my German class Tuesday morning. It just started way too early. Organic Chemistry, Abnormal Psych, Macroeconomics…yeah, as much as I’d have loved to see Das Boot without subtitles for once, German had to go. Auf Weidersehen.

I did not end up in the intended veterinarian school. However, I kick ass in Jeopardy.

With all that stated, I created an adult website to get off the road.

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I was traveling full time as a burlesque feature dancer and had been for seven years, while towing a camper to sleep in. Eventually, living full time in an RV tour bus. It was a fun time that was rarely boring, but I’d had enough. It wasn’t uncommon to drive 20 miles out of the way in the middle of nowhere, only to pull into an RV park at three a.m. that hadn’t been listed as closed for the season. Back-to-back weeks in Oregon, North Dakota, Nebraska, and then Christmas week in West Virginia, without seeing anything other than the venues and local gyms. I missed birthdays, holidays, weddings…even a funeral. My agent didn’t allow me to say no, and I was a pretty decent act, so the offers kept coming. It was why I had to literally live out of a bus.

Wanting to slow down, I declared my retirement while I was still hot but kept a few bookings from the better clubs, where I’d done well, and who had been good to me. (Unlike pro wrestling, it was for real.) I was performing in Staten Island and the club manager was a friend. The stage was set back from the patrons, so there was no possibility of any misbehaving. It was a packed venue and I usually made a lot of money. I always got a ton of press in that area. Photographers would come in from all over to shoot me, cover the week for local papers, or magazines, or I’d simply do Howard Stern ahead of time. However, I remember this most of all: asking for a double shot of vodka at the bar… And then another… That’s what it took to get on stage. When I should have felt accomplished, I felt anxious. Coming from a long line of alcoholics, I’d always avoided liquor. That was not me…and that was when I knew I had to get the fuck out.

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Featured burlesque paid very well, but the expenses were horrific. We were paid several hundred dollars per show and were booked for 12 to 24 shows a week. In addition, tips and sales after each show usually matched or exceeded our pay rate. A travel allotment was also provided. You can do the math: to be willing to give up that kind of a paycheck, it had to be a difficult life. I made significantly less on my site, but I also wasn’t fueling an RV, tipping everyone out in the club, spending $1200-1600 on Swarovski crystal themed costumes and having props made for the shows, like a huge see-through champagne glass shaped bathtub for Little Mermaid show, buying posters in bulk to give away, and paying $20 a day to go to a gym on the road. Eating out just added to the costs.

If you’ve read my tour diaries on my website, then you already know some of the crazy things that used to happen on the road. I traveled with two dogs; an adopted pitbull mix and an American Bulldog. They were mostly for companionship but safety was an added bonus. On three different occasions, they attacked someone trying to push their way into my hotel room or the RV. One was a drunken lady in shitty Flint, MI who just couldn’t figure out that my room wasn’t hers even though there was NO other room in that area.

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The economy had bottomed out in Flint long before everywhere else and the girls at that club were hooking for $5, so I’m guessing that’s what my room had been used for when I wasn’t in it. Another was a drunken soldier on a Georgia military base who’d followed me. Unfortunately, the club and my hotel shared a parking lot and I had to walk back and forth. He tried to break my door down after a show. I was actually on the road alone for that particular incident and it was the deciding factor to get a camper and permanently bring the dogs along with me. A third was a weird middle-aged stalker in northern Indiana. He had parked outside my room and keep walking back and forth, not realizing I had dogs inside. Both animals could tell how freaked out I was and were pacing. I was contractually booked for another show within the hour and had to leave. When he got to the door, I tried to pull both back (which was about 170 lbs of dog total) but my larger male lunged and nipped him in the thigh. There was no blood, but his pants ripped. It became a fiasco and he had my dog taken from me by animal control. Thank God the owner of the nightclub was in tight with the local politicians. I got Chance back late that night between shows, but not before crying a lot of tears and one hysterical panic attack. They’d talked about putting him down. There I was, having to smile, get on stage and do shows like nothing was wrong. When you’re on the road, you don’t always have a lot of friends. For me, my dogs meant everything.

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(Photographer Paul B. Goode caught this photo backstage right before my show and then the second shot during my show. The first picture is very telling.)

This “smile, get on stage and perform like nothing is wrong” is something that happened a lot: Through fights with my mom, a divorce, my husband emptying out our bank account (which was pretty much all mine), car accidents, missing my brother’s wedding and my nephew being born, being deathly sick with bronchitis, and my father dying in a plane crash. (Yes, I did go to his memorial. Both of them. He lived in California but was from Philadelphia.) When you sign a contract and have accepted the deposit, the show must go on. This path is like a football career; you can only do it for so long, so you must work hard, be in demand, put as much away as you can, try not to get injured or addicted, and then, get out. It’s difficult to build solid relationships when it appears that your main priority is always work.

I never felt safe. I never felt like I could sleep. It was rare that I didn’t feel like a target. This, of course, made me feel easily shattered. There are many, many other crazy road stories I could share but I’d run out of room here. It was time to hang up the sequined g-string and do something a little less crazy. I’ve often been asked why I never did porn. Simply put, it was not for me. There is a massive difference between being a nude fantasy and exchanging bodily fluids via insertion with another human being. Some are not able to grasp this, but I do. Through my website, people get to see enough. I share what’s under my clothes and now, what’s in my head. Only my chosen partner should know what sex is like with me. I have absolutely nothing against those who are in porn industry, which is a legitimate business with many nice people. Agents and fans have always attempted to push me into this direction; that answer has, and always will be, no.

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I had a very smart and business savy porn star friend, Lisa Lipps, whose heart was actually bigger than her massive breasts. She opened up her home and office to me in Las Vegas and that’s where I crashed for a little while to get on my feet, while she taught me how to run a site. My website was never intended as your classic adult site. It’s always been a fan club. Of course I have all my photos and videos on there. However, from Day 1, it’s been an extreme variety of entertainment: it’s had all the behind the scenes on wrestling tours, photo shoots, daily life and conventions, my wrestling matches, fitness and diet tips, all my writing, dirty jokes. I’ve tried to keep it different and fun. It’s been a source of stability, and I truly appreciate when fans become members. Aside from fetish and larger name magazines, for most of our photo shoots, centerfold modeling doesn’t pay much (if at all!). Generally it’s a trade, time for promo. Meaning, I’ll give you my time (and name as a reference) and you’ll give me the promo photos you’ve shot to use as I please. The only way to earn is to have a site or do some kind of sales with what we get from the shoots. It’s also been a source of creativity as well. Whatever it says about me, I enjoy dressing up and writing my tour travails down; sprucing them up with all the snapshots backstage and video clips. I like CREATING something out of nothing. It’s gratifying. I also know that as much as I’ve enjoyed this, it’s got a shelf life and this is a source of great angst for me. Working for myself, having had the freedom to fly home to visit and take care of my sick mom every other week…

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Speaking of freedom, that means a lot to me. Freedom is exactly why I started AprilHunter.com. Freedom is why I still have it. Freedom has always meant more to me than anything. Some of you know I have bipolar disorder. Many people with this are disabled and can’t work at all. I believe being self employed has helped me greatly in this department, even though we get no benefits, sick days or retirement. Having my site has allowed me the freedom to work around how good or bad I feel. Some days I will work until 4 a.m. while other days, not at all. Retouching photos, writing Behind-the-Scenes diaries, updates, editing videos, sending out newsletters, emails, social networking, promoting it all…I do all of this. I’m not complaining, but it does take up a tremendous amount of time and energy. There’s not a lot left over to deal with for bookings, travel, shoots, writing and thinking of what’s next in life. Oh, right…I have to get to the gym most days, too.

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While this career path can be easy at times, it’s a very difficult lifestyle – and we who are in it, PAY for it every day. TRUST ME. I dress really comfortably in my downtime. I mean, really comfortably. Because the last thing I want to wear is an underwire bra, itchy lace, fishnets or any type of lingerie. I wear that stuff for shoots and wrestling…at home or for my partner, no dice. It’s cotton, all the way. Now stop and think about how messed up that is. I’ll dress sexy to earn a paycheck. But if he wants to see sexy, it feels like work to me. What am I supposed to say? Go to my site?

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I’ve had female friends not feel comfortable with me around their husbands…and lost very good long time male friends when they wife-up with someone new who perceived me to be the way my photos depict me. Honestly, this kills me. I’m a tomboy and love my guy friends. Losing them has sucked. Truth be told, I can halfway understand this. I’m a very good actress in my photos. I have playing a fantasy down to an art. In real life, as just plain April with no makeup and my hair wrapped up with a clip and my boxer shorts on…that’s me. But on film…I’m the convincing sex goddess who would have you believe I’m the ultimate woman into everything…hence, it brings the insecurities out in women. We ladies aren’t always the most secure creatures anyway and I give my solid female friends who have looked past this to the real me huge props. I love you.

However, it’s been a double edged sword. I’ve hit a point in my life where relationships have become a priority to me and having this site has been an issue. Unless someone is open-minded or a business oriented thinker, they can’t really get past judgments upon it. There’s a lot more to me than just big tits. If you’re on this blog, you already know that. I’m sure that limiting myself to nothing more than a topless or nude model has done a lot of harm in the way of career possibilities. Nothing irritates me like the question, “What do you do?” I don’t really know how to answer it. But I know this: What you do isn’t always who you are.

IMG_8399smallI’ll post photos with friends from the beach and, inevitably, some random fan will make a comment like this: “You have sexy feet.” I have nothing against foot fans, but time and place. It just gets creep-tastic at certain times and places and it’s gotten old. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to shield my mom or family from fan comments. Yes, they all know what I do. I’m honest. You can’t hide with the Internet anyway. I just prefer not to rub it in their faces.

“I’d love to date you.” Really? No. You think you’d be dating April Hunter. Truth is, you wouldn’t. If you want to date April Hunter, go join my site. That’s where she exists…and that’s the ONLY place she exists. I love some of my fans dearly and I’m super grateful to those who are there for me. While I’ve always tried to give the fans everything I could, including access to me through email and social networking (in addition to seeing me naked every which way), I could never figure out why some fans’ demands were so high that if they didn’t get their way, they went from loving to destroying me. Having my YouTube videos pulled down, my Facebook reported as fake, my PayPal suspended, and so on. I’ve had spiteful people send or show nude photos to my trainer, my brother, and even my grandfather.

It’s also heartbreaking that fans steal from model’s sites so much. This is a never-ending battle for me and it kills memberships. I don’t understand why a so-called fan would deliberately put their favorite models out of business and take food off their tables, but that’s exactly what they are doing by stealing, trading passwords and reposting content. It ruins us. I’ve shot a lot of content and it’s enough to keep updating AprilHunter.com for quite a while. I also keep adding a lot of In The Dressing Room stuff and Behind-The-Scenes Diaries that are current.

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Truth is, I haven’t shot anything nude in ages. I quit years ago. However, people think I still do it because they see updates that still have nudes included. I just hit a point where it was “been there, done that” and felt time to move on…so I’ve been working towards life after the site, all while maintaining it. I’m deeply grateful for it and my fans…it’s really turned into a multifaceted website that’s way more than just simple centerfold photos and videos. I’ve outgrown being one dimensional. It’s worked for a long time and I’m grateful. Now I wonder if I wouldn’t be much further ahead in life had I not chosen this path. However, I don’t want to live in the past, analyzing past decisions, and I’m committed to moving forward. It is what it is, and it was what it was.

My website and my life experiences have made me who I am today.

…It won’t be around forever boys, so enjoy it while you can. And don’t steal. ;)

Chapter 17: The Restless Muse

7 Mar

DSC_1846 PD-X3xThere is a gnawing, unsatisfied feeling within.

It comes back to visit her often, and its voice can be heard whispering, “Is this all there is to life?”

Restlessness.

Very little makes her feel complete. Even then, it’s only temporary.

It’s said that the meaning of life is to discover your gift…

Then, in turn, give it away to others.

Frustrated, because she has yet to discover her yearning. 0M6A5623x

Fulfillment escapes her as she travels in circles over and over, and over again.

She is tired and uninspired.

Each time, her battery, running lower and lower, as she expends more and more energy without a way of recharging; doing what she no longer cares to do, but must in order to survive and nourish herself.

Grateful for opportunities, she fears many of them she has outgrown.

Even the little things have become tedious.

No longer challenging.

Conquered.

Bored.

Routine.

A paycheck.

Nothing more.

Putting the clothes on, taking the gloves off?

It’s time.

Doing what you do not like robs ten times more the energy.

Yet, she keeps on. It’s what she knows. It’s food on the table.

It leaves nothing left over to figure out the next move in the journey of life.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Maybe the definition of insanity should simply be doing the same thing over and over.

Phone rings. Repeat offer. She says yes.

Why?

She does things in life she doesn’t want to do because they’re familiar. Because they’re easy.  Because they provide. Because she is afraid to do more.

The hatred comes for time lost doing things she doesn’t want to do. Hating herself for doing them.

Time off to think, and starve? Work, and die inside?

The restlessness grows as she stands still, stunted.

Four way stop, nothing is moving, trapped in gridlock.

MOVE, GODDAMMIT.

The minutes tick by, turning into days…weeks…months…

Time melting, like a Salvatore Dali clock.
Every day, slipping away.
She stays the same.

Gothic_Butterfly_largeEver frustrating, She is  a muse for others. 

A goddamn muse.

She inspires creativity all around her.

Music. Art. Writing. Self improvement. Business.

Because of her, they go after their dreams and goals.

Bragging?

Proud. She loves helping others and lifting them up.

It makes her happy when they succeed, lose weight, write, inspire others, create something beautiful, feel accomplished and grow.

She inspires ideas and success in others. And yet, she cannot do this for herself.

She is jealous…of her.

A butterfly cannot see her own wings. It has no idea what they look like.390306_2572984176097_1599082203_2455950_1204020659_n

A butterfly makes people pause in wonder.

To admire her beauty. To wish for freedom and flight. To ponder the possibilities.

We realize what is a grounded fuzzy caterpillar today could be colorfully flitting around in the air tomorrow. You cannot chase a butterfly. You can only stand still and hope that it chooses you. 

Where is HER butterfly?

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She sits there, knowing what she should do. Knowing what has to be done. Doing none of it. She turns away from the truth and hides. But she has never been very good at lying to herself.

She doesn’t want this anymore.

It’s not fun anymore.

She wants more.

There has to be more.

Ready to move forward, afraid to let go…desperate for the energy and drive to navigate her life up over the sidewalk, across the empty playground, and down that side street to get away from the frozen solid traffic jam.

Which do you use to make decisions? Love…or fear?

Her . She is the only one who can change HER.0M6A5770x

It’s not whether or not you have problems. It’s whether or not you have the same problems as last year.

She has the same problems as last year.

She must grow.

She longs for the creativity that she KNOWS is ready to spill out and flow, if just unlocked.

She can feel it as surely as the sunshine upon her face while she stands still and scans the world for those colorful wings flitting about.

Mariposa. Schmetterling. Vlinder. Papillion. I know you must be out there… somewhere.

I really fucking need you now.

-April Hunter

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“Success does to the living what sunshine does to stained glass.”

Chapter 16: Bipolar For Life. Alone.

30 Jan

 

aafsnet“Don’t explain. Your friends do not need it, and your enemies will not believe you.”

I am alone.

It’s liberating really. For the first time in a long time, I can do what I want, when I want. I don’t have to wait around for anyone. I can say what I think without risk of hurting anyone’s feelings. For the first time…it really IS all about me.

IMG_20140129_083118_resizedHowever, every time I’m in line at the grocery store, I feel like it’s screamingly obvious, with my frozen gluten-free pizza and two bananas that I am living solo and going home to watch an entire season of Sherlock in one shot. When my new car insurance binder came, it hit me in plain black and white English: “Female, Single”. I thought maybe it should just say “Separated, Confused”.

My last bipolar blog left off with a bit of  a question mark, since I was in an open ended experiment: Marital separation, working on fixing a place up to live and dealing with issues related to medications.

Newly solo and avoiding pretty much all aspects of the opposite sex in anything other than friendship has been an adjustment for me but it’s a conscious choice. I didn’t want to repeat the same patterns in my life. You know…taking up with another relationship before the first was over. I wanted to have time to just be me and not have anyone else thrown into that mix.  

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I’ve been living alone now for 4 months and am finding many things about this new status lovely. I bought a little villa and made it my own this autumn. You may recall me lamenting about the disastrous state the former owner left the yard in and how much it cost to fix overgrown bougainvillea full of thorns (yanked and replaced with palms), sand with fleas (sodded), a rotting blue-grey deck with no shade and a sagging fence. It’s now beautiful and there’s an outdoor room I call My Sanctuary. All the plants, rocks, solar lights and water-and-dog proofing of furniture were well worth it. Plus the garden saves me money and tastes better than anything I could buy. I am so grateful to the fans who sent things off my Amazon wish list or Lowes gift cards. It was well spent on a special mix of peace and sanity (whatever that might be) and I thank you deeply.

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Other activities have helped; I started fiction writing classes in December and love it. I’ve discovered that I have a rather twisted mind and penchant for bloody deaths. I don’t exactly feel creative like I did before being on medications, but when pushed by others or inspired, I can still pull it out of my ass. My writings run the gamut from futuristic science fiction, politics, poetry, children’s stories, memoirs, to fitness & nutrition. tumblr_me0mb9M9YK1rj11who1_500_largeSpanish lessons are now on my agenda again. Esto me hasto feliz. I even tried a new recipe, coconut chicken. It turned out fabulous. Normally, I survive on coffee, protein shakes, bacon and eggs, liquid pasteurized egg whites, rice chips, unsweetened applesauce and whatever is around that can be eaten raw, like bananas, almonds and dates. These are kind of big things for me as compared to the past year.

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I’m also in quite a few comic books coming out soon.  THAT is truly living the dream. 

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However, most of all, in my quest for feeling normal (notice that I don’t say BEING normal), I may have finally hit on a mix of chemicals that makes my own mix of chemicals stabilize correctly. I was diagnosed bipolar (which USED to be called Manic-Depressive, but they changed the name because people were confusing it with “Depression”) over two and a half years ago and it’s taken me THIS LONG to get sorted out.

Here’s a glimpse into the ordeal. A small glimpse… The good Doctor W: “Lithium. This will fix you. No change? You’re still a lunatic, huh? A sleepy lunatic? Ok. I’ll add in the mood stabilizer Lamictal. Feeling better? Yes? Good. Oh, after a while that sometimes happens…you get used to it and a depression hits. Let’s go back to some Welbutrin for your anti-depressant in there too. I know you don’t want to gain weight…Welbutrin is the only one that doesn’t cause weight gain or loss of sex drive, so relax. Migraines that make you puke as a side effect? Let’s do Topamax. I think you’re not sleeping. Let’s try a bunch of shit that makes you a zombie all day long and then settle on Xanax which you won’t really use because you hate drugs and you’re just going to find that GABA, magnesium & 20 mg of melatonin work better  anyway. OK, let’s stop the Lithium. Crap, it messed up your thyroid. I didn’t say “ruined”, I said “sluggish”. Well, technically, yes…that means it’s ruined. I’m putting you on Cytomel. Still sluggish? Let’s lower the Lamictal and raise the Welbutrin. No? All right…you might need Abilify ($$$) or Nuvigil ($$$$$$$$$$$$) but let me try something first. I have a feeling this will work and it’ll be a whole lot less expensive if it does. Let’s double your thyroid meds and see how you feel.” Bingo. It was the Cytomel thyroid medication that did the trick, of all things. After playing around with all the psyche drugs, simply doubling my thyroid med that is what woke me up. I lost 15 pounds, which is probably a few too many since people keep asking me if I’m getting ready to do a fitness competition, but it’s a side effect. Another side effect: nothing fits. After buying a house and Lamictal, I can’t afford clothes!

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The chemical journey is not over; my doctor said medications will be an ongoing experiment for life. The human body gets used to something and then it’s time to mix it up again, especially when it’s a neurological something. To make matters so much worse, bipolar drugs are far from an exact science or even close to accurate. It’s not like diabetes where you monitor, use the correct medicine, live life. It’s as fucking crazy as we are. Perhaps, one day, they’ll get it down to more of a science like they have with diabetics? (Comparatively speaking, of course. I am not in any way saying that living with diabetes is easy at all.  I’m saying that if most of us could control our disorder by diet and exercise, life would be good….and much cheaper. Even daily blood testing and shots would be an upgrade. A lot of cardio issues come along with bp that most don’t know about in the forms of heart and lung issues. We tend to die young.) I can only hope…

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I’m a rapid cycling manic. I have been my entire life, which means I am on the crazy, daredevil, ass kicking, outspoken, stay up all night, workaholic, “yes-I-can-fly-to-a-foreign-country-that-speaks-no-English-alone-tomorrow” end of bipolar disorder. Trust me…it’s the better end. Being through a year and a half on the other side of that spectrum was terrible. I’ve never dragged so much in my life. Fog Brain: you feel like you’re in a tunnel full of thick, endless fog and you can’t see anything in front of, or around you. There is no future. It’s exhausting to merely survive without actually living. No creativity. No memory. My Bipolar Gift, gone. I’ve never just NOT given a crap…apathy isn’t me. This shit is unreal, and anyone who tells someone with depression to “just get over it” should be kicked in the junk, hard, and repeatedly.  Trust me, if they could, they WOULD. Sadness is not the same as depression. This is completely chemical. I’ll take manic any day of the week over depressed. At least you can get things done.

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During this time, I realized that I could pull myself together for a few hours or even an entire weekend if I had to do a show, shoot or work a Comic Con and no one knew. It was the ever-present work ethic…no matter how bad it gets, I simply will not cancel. Sometimes I’d lie in bed until it was time to go and cry, then I’d pull my shoes on, swipe on lip gloss, caffeinate until smiling, and get on with it. I’d usually feel better once I was out anyway. The energy from fans and artists picked me up. There was plenty of time to fall apart when I got home on Monday.

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This part of the journey has been an eye opener too. I’ve never been one to be depressed much, let alone a year and a half, so that was really hard. Most of my closer friends don’t bother with me any longer. I was always up front about having this, but when my disorder became a reality or I got emotional, they were there for me less and less and that’s when I needed them the most. It was a truly heartbreaking learning experience. I’d like to say if I were in their shoes, I’d have done the same thing…but I wouldn’t have. Loyalty means a lot to me.

Never-make-someone-a-priority-who-only-makes-you-an-option.

“Our true friends are those who are with us when the good things happen. They cheer us on and are pleased by our triumphs. False friends only appear at difficult times, with their sad, supportive faces, when, in fact, our suffering is serving to console them for their miserable lives.” -Paulo Coelho

Other than having Bella and Fat Kitty as my main companions (they’re not too good at Jeopardy), random things going wrong in the house and wandering aimlessly through life at the moment, I suppose I’m OK. Through my blog, people have come out like crazy to me about either being or living with the disorder and I have made a handful of new bp friends. Most are completely opposite of me, falling on the more depressed side. I’ll be honest; I was afraid to be around bipolar people. I didn’t want someone bringing out the worst in me. I’ve seen some drama in the locker rooms with the undiagnosed.  I can see it now, like an ex addict knows a coke head. Most recently I was on a wrestling show where a girl had a misunderstanding with a special needs fan who wanted to buy an autographed photo that escalated so loudly and so quickly that it grew violent. Tables were dumped. The fan ended up crying for a long time afterward. The promoter and she were nose to nose, promoter was a hair away from hitting her just to shut her down, and I was ready to back the boss up if needed, as she is a close friend. I did NOT want to be in that position and I did not like how I felt about it; how it changed the energy in the entire room. But this new group has not been like that at all. We check in on each other and talk about things you just can’t talk about with others…a little Crazy Crew. Those who aren’t afflicted can be empathetic and well meaning, but it’s hard to get it unless you ARE it. I find comfort in that.

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To those who have quietly emailed or approached me with your own bipolar admissions, thank you. I want you to know that you’ve helped me as much as I’ve helped you. I feel there’s something normalizing about knowing that you’re not in this alone and that what you do and feel, others do too. There are nearly 6 million with bipolar disorder in the USA. Sounds like a lot, but in the grand scheme of the population, it’s really not since in comparison, 26 million have diabetes.

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I will always be in transition. I absolutely love doing the comics and cons; being around all that creative energy is amazing. Artists, writers, fans and meeting interesting people in entertainment is a wicked cool fringe benefit. On the other hand, I’d love to move away from everything else soon. I’d like to start the next chapter of my life career-wise, but I’m not quite sure what that is yet. I’m feeling restless and would like to start transitioning sooner. Writing…nutritional healing…motivational speaking…any of these could suit me plus a host of other things. Add in lawyer, veterinarian, mediator, PR and acupuncturist.

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“A man can endure anything except for a succession of ordinary days.” -Faust

This is part of being bipolar. We have a lot of interests that suit various needs. My biggest fear: having to choose just one and choosing wrong. I’ve done it before and it’s why I have four careers now that include pro wrestler, model, writer, webmaster, sprinkled with some acting, nutritional healing and fitness competitions. I get bored. What I love doing today, I may abhor tomorrow.  My fickle mind is only like this with careers, thankfully. Maybe because being self employed, I’m immersed in what I do twenty-four hours a day at times, so burnout is easy.

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As for a personal life, there is a difference between alone and lonely. I’ve always loved my own company especially with the pets here. However, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss things sometimes, too: Companionship. Conversation. Someone to eat with. Romance.  Romance is kind of a big one.

The mantra that plays over and over in my head is “Today is as young as you’ll ever be.” Admittedly, this is not the greatest mantra when you’re a female in a looks-based business.

I’ve been getting hit on a fair bit out of nowhere lately (mostly by men who are far too young) when I’m not scaring the opposite sex. Apparently I intimidate people, which is why I’ve sat home so many weekends in my life. While I’ve generally brushed off the attention, it’s made me ponder what the future might be for me.

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If I’m truly honest, other than an open mind, no kids and a worldly education, I feel like I don’t have much to offer someone else; I still feel a bit shattered. I went through a period after being diagnosed of utter relief  - to finally know I wasn’t just a hot tempered, redheaded Italian-Scottish Philly girl – to utter despair when I realized it was a mutherfucking DISEASE with no cure, a lot more to it than just wild mood swings…and I’d be on bank-breaking meds for life.

For LIFE.

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I became obsessed with getting educated on bipolar disorder which sometimes made me even more miserable in addition to an expert on the subject. I literally became Bipolar April. My husband seemed to blame everything on that. It seemed that I wasn’t his wife any longer. He saw me as a person with a disorder and all that went wrong with us was my fault… due to me. I also became an obligation. I felt he was there because he was a good person and wouldn’t abandon me..but didn’t want to be.  It all really messed with my psyche. I must have heard the bp word thrown around the house ten times a day. Was I THAT toxic? I thought about killing myself…many times, in truth. Not because I wanted to die, but because I didn’t want to live like this. If you’re not able to sustain the most basic of relationships without being a poison, what chance do you have? Why bother? Why be alive if all you’re going to do is ruin people around you? My psychologist, who had been seeing both of us (and now just me) assured that the pendulum swung both ways. I’m not sure I totally believed her. If the bp person is causing the most damage, isn’t it ultimately their responsibility to keep the relationship healthy? As hard as I tried to push him away, he wouldn’t leave, so… 

So.

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Having been trained to never take praise or criticism personally, the entire situation threw me. That’s easy to do when it comes to your profession or people who don’t know you. They don’t matter and are often either trying to kiss your ass or bury it. When it’s someone close whom you care about, it hits harder. During this educational period, I stumbled upon two things that changed my entire outlook. The documentary “Of Two Minds”, which focuses a lot on “the bipolar gift” and a graphic novel called Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me. I saw EVERYTHING differently after these two things, which portrayed the disorder in the rare positive light while remaining realistic. The cloud lifted and I realized that there are real benefits to being bipolar at times, like being a card carrying member of Club Van Gogh.

But when it comes to dealing with others, it still makes me feel like damaged goods. I’ve told a few people what’s up and they truly scare me when they say, “Oh, its ok.” No. No it’s not. Between losing ‘tolerant’ friends who say (to others of course, I have to find out second hand) “She’s a great person with a good heart, but sometimes really hard to be around” to partners who say, “You’re not who I thought you were….you’re a completely different person than who I met,” it makes me gun shy to be around anyone. I put up walls. I want to love you, but if I care about you, I will push you away. It’s for your own sake. Trust me. Because I’ll hurt you and I won’t mean to…and you’ll hate me for it, turn from sweet to bitter and abandon me. Rinse. Repeat.

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Someone recently asked me if I change when I live with someone. It made me think. No? Yes? I don’t think I do, but I suppose that’s not true. However, when you’re manic-depressive, there are always changes and they don’t always show themselves until a certain level of comfort is achieved. It’s weird being a generally positive person with a negative disorder. I wonder if that made the swings even more significant when they happened. 

If the fact that half the people I’ve dated still talk to me and think I’m a lovely person and the other half wouldn’t piss on me if I were on fire, that’s probably a safe indication that yes, I have changed inside relationships just a tad. I’ve never had a relationship while on meds. I don’t know how I would be now, stabilized. Probably…stable.

Speaking of the manic-depressive thing, I wonder if I’ve picked the wrong men my entire life because I was choosing people that suited my needs on one end or the other of a wide spectrum cycle. Then when I swung the other way, I realized…it wasn’t what I thought it was? It certainly makes sense. Now that I’m balanced, I wonder how different relationships would be.

I ponder these questions and find myself more and more isolated at home. Which isn’t good, I know. But I don’t know how to get out of it. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know much.

batman62I do know that I don’t want life to pass me by. I love romance, love kissing, love love. I miss all of it. While I’m in no rush, I don’t want to get old and go without it. I don’t want to be in a relationship where neither person has anything to say to the other at a restaurant. I have been there. It wasn’t fun.

I got a staggering response to my bipolar blog…and a big chunk of it was from those who have lived with bipolar people. We ain’t easy.

Let me clarify that: We are hellish and amazing. When things are on, they’re ON. We are the life of the party, more fun than you thought possible, smart, witty and charming, the best sex you’ve ever had. When they’re bad, it’s horrific. It’s a fucking impossible nightmare that can cost you sleep, your job, your credit and sanity to live with. Being bipolar isn’t a choice. It’s genetic and incurable. Despite that, we want what others have; to love and be loved. We want what everyone else wants. Should we be denied relationships?

Not only does bipolar disorder have a wide spectrum, like Autism, it varies wildly between people who are medicated, unmedicated and holistically medicated (which I don’t believe actually works for 99.9%, but can help). A person could have bp, be balanced on meds and generally fine and productive. Someone else could be a reckless gambler, serial cheater, abusive or a drug addict. (Or really special and all of the above.)

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It takes a special kind of person to stay on that emotional roller coaster that it is to be with someone who has bipolar disorder.  A saint, to be exact.

So this brings me to three questions:

-Should you break up with someone who has it?

-If you have it, when should you tell someone?

-What about children? With a solid chance of passing it on genetically, that’s a rather meditative conversation to have. I suppose there’s a possibility in the future that the chemical choices could be more exact, or even a cure. OK…probably not a cure. Not with all the cash they’re making in this country on meds that are $200-$500 a month EACH and you need 3-5 of them.

It really, really hurts to be alone when it’s not your choice. It really hurts to be abandoned. It really hurts when you’re going through something and there is no one there for you. This is when the dark thoughts usually come.

That said, I cannot judge what a person must do to save themselves or their children from a bipolar partner. All too often, pain and abuse becomes “normal” and it’s hard to walk away.  Relationships have plenty of ups and downs on their own without adding in a mental disorder. You have to do what’s best for you and yours. Bipolar doesn’t go away. It never leaves. It will be that way FOREVER. Too many of us refuse their diagnosis or medications, which puts others through living hell and is completely irresponsible and selfish. I was harsh before when I said leaving someone with bp was the wrong thing to do. Perhaps it’s not. But giving them an ultimatum to get sorted out or else might not be a bad suggestion. That’s how I ended up sorted…and now, I’m grateful.

When do you tell someone? Blurt it out right away over the quesadillas and give them a fair chance to run before the main course arrives? Wait until they get to know you and casually mention it after sex? Never? Swallowing pills surreptiously when no one is looking or claim a heart condition?

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What if you do and they’re just like the hoards of ignorant out there who think bipolar means something along the lines of radical weather changes or being moody? Do you go through all the trouble explaining cardio afflictions, early death, serotonin/melatonin chemical imbalances, sleep disorders, medications, costs and side effects…or just let them be ignorant?

What if you tell them…and they are bipolar too? Do YOU leave?

These are questions I have no answer too. Maybe you do.

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As I write this, am I doing great? Some days no. Some days I certainly am. Do I feel better? Yes. Are my meds and therapy breaking me financially? Yes. Are they worth it? Fuck yes.

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…….…..Do I have abs? Yup.

Silver linings, my friends. Silver linings.

I am bipolar, and I always will be.

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Thank you for reading. Let me know your thoughts on my questions.

Get caught up on Part 1 & 2 of this story on the links below.

Read Bipolar Blues & Manic Depressive Madness (The Intro): http://aprilhunterblog.com/2013/08/28/chapter-14-bipolar-blues-and-manic-depressive-madness-the-intro/

Bipolar 2-The Dark Side:http://aprilhunterblog.com/2013/11/05/chapter-15-bipolar-2-the-dark-side/

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Ps.  To J Shrode: If you’re reading this, please email me. Comments@aprilhunter.com. Your email keeps bouncing and I want to say thank you!

Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me. A Graphic Memoir. http://www.amazon.com/Marbles-Depression-Michelangelo-Graphic-Memoir/dp/1592407323

“Of Two Minds”. (Amazon & iTunes). http://www.amazon.com/Two-Minds-Terri-Cheney/dp/B00CMUXO54/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1388886195&sr=1-1&keywords=of+two+minds

Death Date. A Short Story by April Hunter

15 Jan

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“Dear Mom and Dad…”

     I faltered, unsure what to write. What words could possibly convey what I was about to do? I didn’t want my parents to go to prison and whatever I wrote would be analyzed over and over again as part of the trial. It had to be meticulous.

     From birth, everyone has a number on their leg, the date they will die. Try as they might; no one is able to prevent their inevitable deaths.

My death date was in three days, on my twenty-second birthday.

     My mother had been inconsolable all week. My parents decided to have children because both of them had long death dates and they felt that genetically, it would be passed down.

     We had just lost my brother Lucas three years ago in a tub drowning. He had been one of the ones who tried his best to avoid it, changing all his patterns and staying home from school all week. He was only seventeen and completely terrified. On his death date, he didn’t leave the house. By dinner, the tension had eased up a little. Perhaps he’d managed to elude the impending. There have been more than a few urban legends about people who have avoided death through various means and tricks. Maybe his careful plotting has worked. By the end of dinner, we were actually joking around and enjoying our food.

Lucas had excused himself to the bathroom and that would be the last time we saw him alive. When he hadn’t emerged forty minutes later, my father banged on the door. With no response, he kicked it open. The details will never be forgotten.   A Rorschach of scarlet splattered all over the side of the tub and across the white tiled floor. My mother wailed sorrowful screams behind me, as she shoved my frozen body aside. Lucas’s eyes wide open in shock in dark red water, and his neck at an oddly twisted angle. 

     He’d slipped and hit his head, drowning. No one escapes. Death is unpredictable and often gruesome.

     So, how was I coping? I stared at my leg, scratching at the skin colored digits. There was a tiny scar across the eight from the chicken pox in second grade. Nothing had changed. The numbers were as clear as they’d ever been. I literally had hours left.

     A strange calm came over me as I set the lavish, crystal gown on my chaise to admire. Tomorrow was going to be my party, a birthday bash and Bon Voyage life party rolled into one. Alexei’s Last Ride, I’d named it. I didn’t see the point in finishing school, but I happily ended up with a lot of friends because my parents forced me to continue. I’d planned on leaving everyone with one hell of a memory, peppered with strippers and a disgustingly large stretch limo that would make them smile forever. Or, until their own death dates.

      I had considered fighting my date at first. My friend paid a tattoo artist to change her death date numbers into the infinity sign. It was a great concept. The tattoo artist laughed at her. We laughed with her. She died. Everything works in theory.

 

“Dear Mom and Dad,

I’m sorry…”

It seemed the right thing to say. But was I? 

     Ever since I was old enough to grasp what a death date meant, every birthday card with a one-fifty amero bill and any extra allowance I could put away for as long as I can remember…it has all been used to collect government rationed painkillers over the years to prepare for this time. Sometimes people will sell their painkillers for a steep price on the black market, usually family of the very elderly.

     Our government only allows us to grieve for a certain amount of time; five weeks and three days for a child, less for a spouse, but they also don’t force us to physically suffer. Drugs are strictly forbidden and controlled worldwide, but we are allotted a certain amount when our dates, and those for which we are registered, get close. After the grieving period has passed, the medication privileges are revoked and drug testing resumes. You are allowed one strike within a certain period of time of Mourns End, but after that, you face imprisonment. Everyone knew someone who had been in prison or still was.

     Prisons had become privatized in America several decades ago, back in the second Bush era when my parents were both just children. We’d learned in school that previously, the imprisoned population was nothing out of the ordinary. Privatizing it became immensely profitable and corporations from all over the world lined up to invest in US prisons. In short time, half of the world’s prison population was held in America, despite the fact that the US was made up of less than 5% of the world population. People were imprisoned for the most minor of infractions, things what would not get a sentence in other countries. Even the strictest of countries, like Russian and China, didn’t come close.

     The profits grew wildly and private corporations started to require contractual “lockup quotas”, demanding 90-100% prison occupancy. The US government owned and controlled by the drug companies and corporations, began to criminalize everything in order to keep the money flowing quickly.  All drugs were declared illegal, as was alcohol. Even vitamins and supplements were no longer available without a prescription. To be caught with raw milk or vitamin C and not have a prescription for it? Prison. Midwife for baby delivery without a permit? Prison. Even an aloe plant was grounds for imprisonment. Fear was the main emotion coursing through America’s veins.  A rumor circulated was that one of the corporations created the death dates to thin the over population, except something went wrong and it spread much more aggressively than anticipated.  Soon, every child was born with a raised, flesh colored date on their lower leg. No one knew what it meant at first. It was thought to be a birth mark until hospitals became inundated with babies bearing numbers; and then some began to die on dates which numbers coincided with those on their legs. These dates just suddenly appeared in 2041, like AIDS in the early eighties and Autism in the late nineties. 

     My family didn’t know my plan and I highly doubted they’d approve. My mother was ardently pro life and one of the head honchos that lead the push ending the era of Roe versus Wade. Once the death dates began appearing, the argument for outlawing abortion completely grew stronger with so many children dying. As luck would have it, several members of Congress had lost infants suddenly that year due to short death dates and had been forced to return to work after Mourns End. My mother struck while the iron was hot. It was overturned swiftly and silently without a single abortion clinic bombing, or a grisly showing of fetus photos with torn limbs.

     As a whole, the world was mostly pro-life and disarmed whether they liked it or not. The federal government had decided that instead of going after America’s guns and risking more “Constitutional Rights” stripping backlash, they would simply stop producing and importing munitions. The UN backed this decision and other countries followed suit. Some were peaceful, like Canada and Germany. Russia, Morocco, Bosnia and much of South America were not. Bullets became worth more than gold for about a decade…then they were gone. Killing still occurred, but it took a lot more planning. Suicide was illegal. Failed attempts were imprisoned for life and if family members helped or had prior knowledge, they were too. Suicides have become unheard of since most people have a much keener awareness of how short life is.

     I knelt down to the bottom row of my bookcase and pulled out the worn bible. It was a thick book that included both the Old and New Testaments and was translated in three languages; English, Italian and Swedish, with an extra section in the Old Testament in Hebrew. Its edges were frayed and the title had faded. It was my great-great grandmother Elizabeth’s. She’d had it during The Depression early in the nineteen hundreds and had passed it on down, from female to female until it reached my hands. I don’t think my great-great grandmother had anticipated death dates or girls dying so young that they wouldn’t have had any children. Then again, it was The Great Depression. Maybe she did. I opened it to reveal the hollowed out center compartment which had been conceived by young Liz. It hid her copper pennies, bread crusts, stamps and a gold wedding ring. Being in a different sort of depression now, it held the means to an end; my beautiful collection of freedom. Xanax, Vicodin, Percocet’s, Demerol and the rare Oxycontin which had been pulled from the market for a nearly decade and a half.

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     My mind raced, but I refused to let the fear engross me.  I wouldn’t live that way and I won’t die that way. My numbers don’t say when. I do. The best way to beat the odds is to not be one of the odds. I didn’t feel sorry. I felt in control.

     I sat back down at my desk and picked up my pen again. Chewing the tip of it, I suddenly realized that only when you’re dying do you truly start to live. Your senses become more alert: colors more vibrant, smells crisper, details more fascinating. You realize that nothing is to be taken for granted, because it may be the last time you can enjoy your mother’s incredible sausage balls or the last time you’ll see your dog bound over to you when you walk through the door.

“Dear Mom and Dad,

We don’t get many choices in this world.

I’d like this one to be mine.

I love you, forever.

Alexei.

     I tucked the note away into the bible with my pill stash for later. Right now, there was a party to finish planning. 

——-

Thank you for reading. I’m new to writing fiction. 

–April Hunter

Alternate Universe

8 Jan

Image“It’s a shame humans get so sad over death. When loved ones die, they mourn for so long and miss out on so much life.

If they only knew.

I wish I could tell them.

But I’m sworn. We all are. If they knew, they would alter their behavior.

It is their actions and reactions that determine if they pass or fail, moving on to the next phase. To know would severely modify that. Not necessarily in a bad way, but it would not show the True Self. We need the True Self to be fully educated in order to pass through.

What am I talking about?

Well…I’ll tell YOU. But only you.

What if I told you that we understand mourning? However, it is purely selfish. Humans are sad that their loved ones are no longer with them because they wish to have them in their lives. But this is because they do not understand.

Earth is only a stepping stone. It is basically a school. Humans are there briefly to learn empathy, compassion, how to care for others, to love, give, respect and protect. When you die, you move on to the next universe…it means you have graduated.

You humans have a saying. “Only the good die young.” There is far more truth to that than is realized. We take the better ones early; it’s similar to skipping a grade. They’ve learned all they need to on Earth and are ready for the next step. 

There is a catch, however. Not everyone graduates. Many never make it off Earth.

Because all mammal souls are created equal.

All of them.

Does not a mother rat protect her babies? Feed them? Fight for them?  Yet, humans look down upon the rat because the rat eats the mess and trash…trash and mess the humans created.

If a dog that was abused or left out in the freezing cold the the human responsible will not be coming up. We call that a Lost Fail. What happens then is that he – well, his soul – is left on earth, but recreated as something that other humans abhor as punishment, usually a cockroach or a mosquito. He will be treated the exact way he treated the soul before him for his eternity; shunned, swatted at and stepped on. Some humans just don’t learn until it happens to them. You can tell them the stove is hot many times. They must touch and burn before they realize the stove is indeed hot. Others never learn that the stove is hot. They repeat, repeat, repeat.

Unfortunately, a human wrote a book of ‘rules’ in order to control others. Solely because of its dated age, people mistake this book as verbatim, despite that fact that it makes little sense in many aspects and is not truthful. It holds story tales instead of fact and cannot be proven. Who could believe, in good faith and with an ounce of common sense, that human females are inferior and animals do not have souls?  But those in charge of religions have twisted words to make people do what they want…and many are lost souls because of it.

To be a good and righteous human is to treat others the way you want to be treated. That is all. If you do that always, you will never make a mistake in life. Humans are much smarter and stronger than they recognize. They do not need a book of conflicting stories that can be translated to justify any thing one can imagine – even bigotry! They need only that one simple guideline.

These are not my rules. This is just how it is.”

He paused and stubbed out his cigar, which had none of the pungent stinking odor I’d always associated with cigars. It smelled fresh and clean, like towels from the dryer.

“Thankfully, most do make it off Earth and on to the next phase.  As a whole, the human soul is a good True Self. It has a very long life on many universes constantly evolving and learning. I cannot tell you more than this. But I will tell you that being kind is never wasted. You learn something new every day – or you do not. That is up to you. Karma does exist. The Earth world is an echo in a way…you will get out of it what you put in. Please trust in me when I tell you this; perhaps when someone good dies, celebrating their life would be far more appropriate than mourning it.”

He touched my shoulder and looked down at me with that slight grin.

“This too, I will divulge, since you are a willing student; in the next phase there is no Wal-Mart. We have no vegans and there is no traffic. If you think that sounds heavenly, it only gets better and better as you keep passing on.”

-by April Hunter

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Will You Help Me Fix Cosmo the Corgi?

5 Jan GreenPicture151banner

Will you help me fix Cosmo the Corgi’s knees? Or please spread the word? 

IndieGoGo: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/634406/wdgi/3773727

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The day after Christmas, I took the dogs to the dog park. They’d been cooped up on the holiday and I know they wanted to get out and run. No sooner had I gotten inside the gate and was still removing Bella’s leash when I saw Cosmo -who had bolted straight down the fence with a pack of Greyhounds on the other side – sit down suddenly, look stunned and he couldn’t get back up. 

Cosmo’s always been prone to issues. He was a puppy mill rescue and with that came a lot of vet bills. A LOT. Within 48 hours of having him he had developed pneumonia and giardia and had to be hospitalized in an oxygen tent.  He almost died, twice. After a little over a week, he was finally allowed to come home (with the $3000 bill), but it was a while to get him recovered and he’s always been susceptible to anything that comes along, especially kennel cough. 

Here’s the thing, though:  my pets are my family. I know that sounds weird to some and it’s not how my family raised me – dogs generally stayed outside and never saw the vet, and cats could be given away like they were only a plate of cookies – but it’s how I am now. I have a genetic disorder that will require medication for the rest of my life and have chosen not to have children as not to pass it on, so my dogs (and cat) are my children. They are also service dogs.  I understand being “defective”, so giving up on Cosmo was never an option.  

He is a living teddy bear and very happy to be hugging and kissing you for the better part of the day. 

………..And night.

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So, when this suddenly happened, I had a bad feeling. I thought maybe he’d walk it off, but no. I packed the dogs up, dropped Bella at home and went right to the emergency vet hospital.  Not my vet, but the one that’s is open 24 hours. With certain things, I go there instead because I know when it comes to accidents with him, I might be back in sooner than later.  He was in a lot of pain and couldn’t move. They thought it was his back after x-raying him. $376, a pain injection and some meds later, I took him home, worried as hell he would be paralyzed. That evening he didn’t pee. That night, nothing. He couldn’t move and he couldn’t hold himself up to go, so he wouldn’t. He’s not the type to mess in the house. I slept with a light on and just got up every hour to check on him. A few times in the middle of the night, I took him out. Nada. 

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By 4:30 am, I called them and said that he hadn’t wee’d in nearly a full day, but was drinking a lot of water. “Bring him back in. It sounds like he’s regressed.” Shit.

(That’s why I chose the 24 hour emergency vet hospital. Experience. Unfortunately.)

I packed him back up and drove over. They did more x-rays and told me the surgeon was due in at 8 am, why don’t I just leave him to be looked at.  I asked if they could do something to relieve his bladder.  He was catheterized and apparently he REALLY had to wee.

I went back in around 11 am and the surgeon told me it was his ACL in BOTH knees.. This was good, since it meant his paralysis would not be permanent. Then he said it would be about $1500 per knee to fix. Not so good. “Doc, I could get my OWN knees fixed for less than that.”  Plus a stifle brace, meds and rehab…and a 4-6 month recovery time.

That bill was another $301. And Cosmo still didn’t pee until 24 hours later. I thought I was going to have to take him in again!

My aunt, who is a vet from the University of Pennsylvania, backed the surgeon up.  We’d been thinking about a holistic approach, and she likes that option for many dogs, but not this case. Because he is only 7 years old and has a long life to life…because of the Corgi breed being a chest heavy one with short legs, and because he is not a 15 lb dog, she advised against skipping the surgery.  She warned that if we did, it might set him up for a tough life later as he ages with a lot of pain, arthritis and loss of use of the leg, anyway. 

Surgery, it is. Friday January 10th.

The surgery uses nylon, and the reason it’s such a long recovery is that unlike with a human’s torn ACL, where they use a cadaver ligament to repair it, they don’t repair dogs. They drill right under and allow another ligament to take over–which takes time. 

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A few others who have had this issue and some indy film people suggested I do something on IndieGoGo and see if I can raise a few dollars that way to offset some costs.  

Personally, I didn’t like the idea. I’ve been broke as hell before and never went on any government assistance or asked for any loans. I’ve always found a way or been exceedingly lucky. But in this particular case with Cosmo in so much pain and the costs so high…I think crowdfunding is the option here. 

This is the link if you’d like to see more of the story: IndieGoGo-

 http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/634406/wdgi/3773727

If you can help, I am extremely grateful. I know that sometimes what the heart wants the wallet simply cannot do, so if you can please share my story or link, that’s appreciated too. 

Thank you.  Xo

-April…and Cosmo

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Gone.

1 Jan

Gone…

I had a bad dream. You died…everything I knew vanished. I looked down, and the copper colored weights in my hand suddenly disappeared. The ones I brought up from the basement to work out with at Grandmom’s house. Chuck got rid of everything. Just like the letters under her bed she had kept…everything disappeared. Gone.

Except that it’s not really a dream. It’s happening. You’re dying and this will soon enough be my reality…the one I halfway pretend won’t be happening.

I can’t call you when I feel like crying. Because I don’t want to upset you. You’re already scared. And the cancer in your lung is growing larger every week. Causing more pain. Now you’re going from percoset to morphine. But I am crying.

When I walk into your room to wake you, it scares me. You’ve lost so much weight, your skin is stretched loosely over your skeleton. With your mouth gaping open in slumber, you already look dead when you’re asleep.  I’m so scared you won’t wake up. I dread that day.

I don’t want to be alone. You’re all I have left. For all your faults. Your Aspergers. For all your issues…you have ALWAYS taken care of me. Done the best you can. This, I know. I have seen it. You STILL take care of me, even when it’s you who needs taking care of.

I will be an orphan. They say ‘you can always go home’…but you can’t. Not if it doesn’t exist any longer. Not if someone else is living in it. And you’re in the only stable home I’ve ever known…which will be sold by the other family members the minute you pass away. The blue carpets. The overstuffed furniture. My bedroom I’ve taken refuge in since I can remember. The damp basement full of treasures and books. The huge glass window with it’s peaceful view of the green woods.

This will all be gone. My birthday will come around and no one will care. There will be no funny card with a cute animal on it in coming in the mail.

I hate the chemotherapy for stealing all that is you. You aren’t YOU anymore because of it. I am grateful to the chemotherapy for giving me a little more time with you to repair our complicated relationship.

I feel sorry for me. I feel sorry for you. I just feel so damn sorry.

I love you.  I need you. You’re my mom, and all I have.

I told you not to smoke. Goddamn it. Why didn’t you fucking  listen?

 

(*This was written May 2012. She died Sept 2012. Everything that I wrote happened exactly as I’d thought it would, sadly.)

Breathing Isn’t LIVING.

24 Dec

I wanted to take this blog to say a very heartfelt THANK YOU. I feel very fortunate to have such amazing fans and friends. My gratitude is more than you’ll realize. So many of you have gone above and beyond what a fan or friend typically is, it has floored me at times.

Just…thank you.

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In winter, an abundance of potential lies beneath the ground. You can’t see it, but you know it’s there. If you were to unearth the seeds and bulbs that have been planted, you would sabotage the emergence of grass, flowers and food in spring. So, you wait and allow them to be nourished by an unseen source.

This is not any different than YOU, as a person. At this time of year, we do too much. We wear ourselves down and forget to stop, breathe and enjoy.

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We also reflect back on the year before…often with dissatisfaction.

Don’t. Guilt is a wasted emotion.

You’re like the ground, always. You have within you untapped potential.  With commitment and work, amazing things can emerge whenever you want them to.

Regardless of age, you can always grow, understand and live life more fully.  The day you stop learning something new every day is the day you die. Just because you are breathing does not mean you are alive. Every single minute means a fresh start can be right NOW.

No matter how shit your day is going, never forget that there are several dozen people somewhere in the world who would trade everything to have your life.

Live in the moment. Be happy in what is around you.  “There are flowers everywhere if one chooses to see them. – Henri Matisse”

Merry Christmas, Lovely Kwanzaa & Happy Solstice!

Paul Walker vs. Anger : The Flip Side

3 Dec

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“I’m so fed up with hearing about the death of an actor no one knew! There are children and soldiers who die every day and no one says anything about it!”

I saw this post on Facebook and it made me think.

I’d agree.

On the flip side, I think it’s a ‘connection’ situation that some aren’t able to fathom. Actors come into people’s living rooms. We occasionally connect with their characters and relate. In this country, we don’t have a Prince or a Queen. Hollywood is our royalty.

Psychologically, this is why people are upset. They feel they know Paul Walker (naturally, we get more upset when prettier people die) and he is on display for us; to a degree, we have access to him and his life.  The USA won’t even so much as release names or faces of the many dead soldiers who have come home each day. Stories on children’s hospitals are few, far between, heartbreaking and gloomy.

Walker represented glamour and an American dream…not death and depression. As a country, we are in an emotional melancholia. Anti-depressant use is up 400% from last year. When this happens, fantasy TV shows like True Blood, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones do very well in ratings because people want escapism.

So, when someone dies whom fans have admired for doing things they’ve always wanted, but never had the balls to (because most people don’t follow their dreams) it affects them on a personal level.

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Is it messed up that people are mourning an actor they don’t know more than a soldier who is being held hostage? Yes. But it’s completely understandable if you think about it.

We don’t comprehend how others see things or feel at times – even if it’s not right. We don’t try to put ourselves in their shoes. We lash out instead of being intelligent and using the “WHY” question we were originally taught as children, but forgot somewhere along the way when many of us became sheeple herded along by TV and corporate owned mass media. “I wonder WHY she feels that way or WHY he did that?”

Shit could be so much more positive and calm if we could just learn to understand all sides. That’s what tolerance really is. Not being nice to people who are different because you have to. It’s empathy. I doubt my little blog is going to cause world peace or anything, but perhaps it can help one or two of you grasp things a little better. That’s my hope, as I sit here late at night, typing away. (However, I’m a hopeless idealist.)

Ask WHY. Question everything.

…And have a kick ass week.  Life is short.

Chapter 15 : Bipolar 2 – The Dark Side.

5 Nov

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.” — Robin Williams

Please note: This blog in itself will be bipolar. Meaning you’ll see both sides of truth. A pendulum swinging back and forth between two extremes. The writing is as much a conflict as the subject is. Don’t try to dissect it…there’s no point. It is what it is. Please don’t feel sorry for me or comment sympathetically. I honestly hate that. This is a blog about something a lot of people aren’t aware of, with stories as examples. Nothing more.

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“Some things are better left unsaid. That’s the stuff I usually like to blurt out right away.”

The response I had to my first bipolar blog was interesting, to say the least. A lot of you are bipolar too. Sweet. Let’s be crazy together.

I feel that I’m in a unique, self employed position to tell my story and that I have a responsibility to do so for a reason. Bipolar Disorder is portrayed pretty badly to the public, usually as mental patients in hospitals who can’t function in society.

As difficult as some periods are for me, I’ve never missed a booking and I’ve been one of the most reliable entertainers in my professions even before I was on stabilizers. (Actually, I missed my first booking last month in September for Shine Wrestling because it was my moving weekend – and if you keep reading, you’ll see why.) As hard as relationships have been, I have plenty of people I call friends.

(Interestingly, I lost two “friends” over the first part of this blog. Better now than when I need them.)

Read Part 1 here:  Chapter 14: Bipolar Blues and Manic-Depressive Madness. The Intro. http://wp.me/p2O0oj-8V )

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I’ve never been in a mental hospital. (Yet!)  I work hard, I get things done and I’m extremely smart, resourceful and reliable. I’m the polar (ahem…polar, get it?) opposite of the stereotypical “lazy centerfold model” which is why I’m still around after all these years. It’s purely a business to me, one that I’m grateful to be a part of and enjoy most days. I hide my ups and downs well. I put on my makeup, stand up straight, affix a radiant smile and no one notices anything. At best, on a rough day, they just think I’m a hot tempered redhead who won’t put up with not being paid or fucked over. People think I’m strong. And I guess I am, but it gets to the point where everyone starts leaning on me – and I’m not infallible. It can be exhausting.

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There are lots more people just like me out there, too. Well, there aren’t that many hard working models or wrestlers, admittedly, but there ARE people in the world just like me; ones you likely interact with every day.

I have a therapist, I’m on meds that have shitty side effects and I certainly have my moments. But I function.

And I am what bipolar looks like.

I promised you stories, didn’t I? More salt in the wounds? Well, I do try to keep my promises. In order for me to keep my word, this is a very lengthy blog. There was just no way to keep it short. If you read the entire story, HIGH FIVE.

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Wondering…

If you’re wondering what it feels like to have Bipolar Disorder, have you ever done Ecstasy? There you go. The mania is the high; the depletion and exhaustion from the low afterwards is the depression. Ironically enough, it’s caused by the half of the same exact chemical swing; serotonin. Bipolar Disorder is just a chemical imbalance of serotonin and melatonin, which pretty much affects everything we are.

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Bipolar Disorder is technically classed as a disease, as it’s a chronic illness and controlled by daily medicines in order to function. It also attacks your respiratory and circulatory system. Most people with BP tend to die young (before age 50), either naturally or unnaturally.

Despite this, with other disabilities, when you’re having a bad day, you’re just having a bad day. With Bipolar Disorder the first thing out of people’s mouths is the insultingly ridiculous comment, “Did you take your meds today?”

My advice: Never ask that question. Never. It’s equal to asking an angry female, “Are you on your period?” If you get something thrown at you, it won’t be mania. It will be YOU.

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The Bleeding…

I almost killed my dog Bella once, not that long ago. By accident. You might remember a few years ago when I talked about her emergency surgery, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t mention how it happened.

Let me prelude this story by saying that you should understand that my pets aren’t just animals. With not having children, they are furry family members. Bella follows me around, sleeps in bed with me and is my constant companion.

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In a fit of rage, I dumped Jordan’s desk. He’s a costume designer. I never realized that the puppy would think the pin-cushion was a toy. The next morning, Jordan found the cushion under my desk with chewed up pins all over. I opened her mouth and found some bruising around her tongue. I fed her bread and peanut butter to coat her stomach and immediately took her to the vet. An x-ray showed there was a pin lodged sideways in her stomach and could pierce through at any moment. A very costly emergency surgery ensued.

I remember the nurse asking, “Do you want pain meds for her? They’re extra, but…”

“Give her whatever she needs.” Her brown eyes looked up at me as if to ask what was going on.

I was devastated.  Still – I didn’t fix anything.

That’s not the only time I’ve hurt her. When I was trying to housetrain her, she would take forever to go and every little noise scared her. She preferred to pee on the carpet in the warm comfort of the apartment. One time – I think I was late to leave for something or just hungry – I  snapped. She had been taking ages and I started pulling her towards home. She flopped down on the concrete in protest and I dragged her body along by her leash. She’s forgiven me, but I haven’t forgiven myself.

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I have zero recollection of what the desk flipping episode was over. None. It could have been stubbing my toe.  These are semi-blackouts. I do remember flipping the desk. I remember being crushed over Bella. That’s it. Nothing else. This is normal, because I don’t remember any of episodes, or at least not in detail. I’ve actually sat and tried to search my brain to remember things and cannot. Jordan says he wishes he could video me & play it back. I’m grateful he doesn’t.

As a rapid cycling manic, I was up to several episodes a day at one point. It was bad.

The thing is, I’m not a terrible person. But I can do terrible things. It’s not only horrific and damaging, but afterwards the realization leads to the depression that comes after the mania.

There is nothing worse than realizing how badly you’ve hurt someone or something you love. It’ll gut you. Imagine this…over and over and over again.

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Crossfade “COLD” 

“What I really meant to say is that I’m sorry for the way I am.

I never really wanted you to see the screwed up side of me, locked inside of me so deep, it always seems to get to me. 

I never really been wanted you to go, so many things you should have known, I never meant to be so cold. 

What I really meant to say is that I’m sorry for the way I am.”

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The fights are horrific. I have a vague awareness that I’m getting out of control when it starts, but almost nothing can stop it. Jordan used to be able to. He would use humor. That would almost always disable the explosion. But after a while, he changed. The man I admired so much for his kindness and patience became me. He stooped to my level and everything about him I wanted so much to be, to learn from, admired…it was no more.

It’s like fighting with a 12 year-old version of your worst self. You can’t get through to him, nothing gets resolved, because that’s how you’ve trained him to fight. The fights escalate to another level. One time the police showed up when I was screaming at him in the parking lot. A neighbor called because they thought he was abusing me. Embarrassing. The damage and cruelty and violence you can’t come back from.  That’s just on the inside. Never mind the wreckage around you. Broken plates, holes in the wall.

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And, it never ends. In your moments of sanity, you realize that you’ve ruined another life. Just like that. If it’s someone whom you know is a good person, a decent person – but they’re now biting, angry, defensive, unable to say anything without sarcasm and eye rolling, mimicking – living with this fact, knowing you’ve turned him into that, it’s enough to make you die inside.

Medication didn’t completely solve us, because I’d come back to Florida from my Mom and Grandmoms after he had held everything down smoothly at home and completely take it out on him that I had to come back, when they clearly needed me in Philadelphia. They weren’t eating most of the time and my half-blind grandmother had started falling and hurting herself – and there I was in Florida every other week having to work and be at home trying to save my marriage when I should have been taking care of them. No matter where I was, I was in the wrong place, and wracked with guilt.

I’ve pushed Jordan so close to the edge, he actually turned to me and said, “You know what? Why don’t you just fuck off and leave when your mom dies?”  Hurtful, but not undeserved – I had shoved him from behind into the door frame. Everyone has their limits and Jordan has always been very good to me. If you can make a calm, cool and collected Canadian snap, you know you’ve pushed pretty damn far.

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I’m torn between wanting to love people and wanting to save them from me. That season finale of Dexter that everyone hated? I got it. I understood it. It’s my life. I push people away on purpose if I like or care about them and try to keep them at arm’s length.

Choose Life

Exactly how many times have I contemplated suicide? Oh, more than you and I can count together. More so as a way to end the suffering. End the fact that I’ll be on meds for the rest of my life. End the fact I destroy the ones I love, who love me. End the fact that I’m self destructive. The way I see it, someone’s life is her own to choose what to do with and when there really is no way out, when no matter where you go or what you do, it won’t change anything in the future.  Sometimes your options are limited. You either live or die. That’s purely your choice. Yet, I go on. I know that life is a gift. So, I try to live each day with gratitude for what I have. Because at the end of the day, I do know I’m fortunate and I am grateful.

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I have never really had much for patience. I move, think, read, drive and talk faster than most people, so I tend to get annoyed with the slowness. My Mom had Aspergers Syndrome (high functioning Autism) and it wasn’t a good combo. We had a very rocky relationship my entire life until I got on meds just less than two years ago, about eleven months before she died.

Our relationship changed for the better once meds were in the picture, thankfully. As before meds, I had little patience with her, took a lot the wrong way and in turn, treated her badly. I flipped out on her after she was diagnosed with stage-four cancer. I stopped talking to her for several months over believing (what I now know isn’t true) that she favored my brother. “Fine! I hope you die alone!”

Yes. I said that. If there is a hell, there is a special place waiting for me there because of those words. I’ve also called her “the worst fucking mother in history.” That hurt her until nearly the day she died.  I stayed up late one night, feeling awful, and wrote a long letter about how sorry I was for saying it and recalling all the excellent Mom Moments that she did for and with me. Only then did she get over it, and asked me to print out a copy. I’m extremely grateful that she was very forgiving and I learned a lot from her in that way. But the fact that I ever said any of it is terrible. Seriously, when I play these things over in my now stable mind and read them on my screen, it makes me cry. How the FUCK could I have done these?  I’m a horrible person. What the fuck is WRONG with me? Who does this shit? The worst part is that it can and probably will happen again one day. The guilt I feel makes me feel sick at the pit of my stomach and will never, ever go away.

When I think it over so I can try to learn from it, I don’t know what I was thinking…well, I wasn’t thinking. I was reacting to what I emotionally PERCEIVED a certain way. This is what it is to be Bipolar. We perceive things differently, react more emotionally. Even if what I was reacting to was correct (and it was – there was a valid issue I won’t go into), any normal person would wait and try to calmly talk it out or give space or whatever it is normal people do.  I wouldn’t know.

Not me. I blew up, called everyone everything, backed it up with abusive emails and told everyone to never talk to me ever again. And then I didn’t…for a long time. And meanwhile, my mother was dying from cancer.

Not that I’m blaming all this on BP, but you can see how having this BULLSHIT DISORDER can really mess with you and those around you to the point where it ruins lives?

I knew it was wrong, but couldn’t stop it from escalating. There’s a difference between losing control and being out of control.  When the mania takes over and is going 100 mph into psychosis, it doesn’t matter if it’s my mother, my husband, my dog…it’s like, “terminate on site”…and the worst part for me is just a few short hours later, it’s like it didn’t happened. I can’t remember all of it. But to them, it’s like they barely survived an assassination attempt.

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Interesting Fact: In the late 1800s, Jean-Pierre Falret, a French psychiatrist, identified “folie circulaire” or circular insanity – manic and melancholic episodes that were separated by symptom-free intervals.

The Misery…

I fucking hate the fact that this controls every aspect of my life. Work. Sleep. Breathing. My energy levels. How much money is left over after getting my prescriptions. How I’m treating those around me. If I’m inspired to work or if I have to drag ass and force myself. I’m very guarded, wary of letting people close to me. I’m afraid to make friends or have real relationships, I don’t want them to see that side of me, knowing they’ll end up shunning me. People always SAY they’re tolerant until they see something they don’t like, and then they forget all about that so-called tolerance. It’s ridiculous how many uneducated idiots claim ‘tolerance’. Not to mention insulting, considering how most think “bipolar” simply means moody.

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If you want to know what it’s really like to live with the physical aspects of BP, read Spoon Theory (“But you don’t look sick…”). It’s written about Lupus, but can be applied here as well: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/wpress/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

I’m afraid to get into relationships, knowing I’ll end up ruining it. Because…what’s the point? Or, if they do stick around, I’m afraid I’ll hurt them in some way. I feel completely broken inside. Defective might be a better word. It’s not a good feeling. How is there any kind of future when this is how life is? It’s genetic, so I dare not have children. I’m pretty much destined to be alone for the rest of my life, so facing that hasn’t been an easy pill to swallow. Or five per day. Sure, with meds you can control it. But only so much.

So, how I feel at this moment is that it’s mostly eradicated me as a person. I find I’m more and more isolated to protect myself and others from me. This, of course, is depressing. I have to force myself to go out and do things. Perhaps this will change in time, but it’s my current frame of mind. (However, I’m bipolar. Attitudes are mercurial around here.)

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The Fucked Up Accolades…

When I write manic rants or flip out on twitter and say what I really think about things, I get SO much positive feedback, and now I know why. Because I’m crazy and able to say and do the things that most people WANT to but cannot or won’t.

Like the time I went to the outdoor rock and wrestling fest to support Jordan’s show. It was 98Rockfest, a big deal in the Tampa area. Each high-end band was to do a 20-minute set, with a wrestling match in between over at the ring. Then back to the stage. The band going up after Jordan’s match did “mic check…check, check” all through his match and their post show promo, which was being taped for TV. It was irritating and disrespectful. At the end, Jordan actually asked him politely on his microphone if they could give them a few minutes just to finish up – and the band responded with “I don’t think so! Fuck you!” The crowd cheered for the band side.  I had been hot before, but at that point, I saw RED.

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Once that happens, I don’t have much control left and I have no fear. I walked over to the stage in my sundress and platform sandals, scaled up the back of it, walked right on stage right up to him and ripped the mic right out of the guys’ hand. (Note: this was the warm-up roadie for the act, not the band.) He got in my face and told me to get off stage. “Or what? You’ll hit me? Go on…do it. All the guy asked for is a few minutes to finish up – this is the wrestler’s time right now, not yours. A little professional courtesy would be nice.”

“Get the FUCK off the stage.”

We were nose to nose. Actually, I was a bit taller than he was. “Sure thing, fuckhead. And your mic is coming with me.” I jumped down and took the entire apparatus with me, stand and all. The wrestling side of the crowd started cheering, everyone had whipped out their cell phone cameras and then I realized I was probably in deep, deep trouble. I’d just lost my shit and jumped on the stage to confiscate the Marilyn Manson, Shinedown, Alice in Chains mic. Surely the police would be coming in a minute for me?

The venue wanted to shut the wrestling show down immediately. It was a very hot, long day and half the guys hadn’t had their chance to perform on what was the biggest show of the year with more press attending than ever. I was the most hated person in most of the locker room. The rest couldn’t stop thanking me enough. One of the guys said, “Fuck, you’re my fucking hero.” The others just stared at me then looked at the floor like I was missing my nose. Or…my mind. Including Jordan, who gave me an earful, then avoided me like I was a plague that he might catch by association. The remainder of the day was completely strained.

I didn’t get arrested and the show went on. Howard, the well-respected wrestling promoter, talked some sense into them, they watched the tape back and saw what was going on and made a deal with the venue for more time (and respect) next year. The band Adelitas Way, whose roadie it was, publicly apologized to all of the wrestlers while on stage and tweeted me: “We’re very sorry. That was someone who worked for us, not our singer. We apologize.” Howard actually invited me back this year, but I think I’ll sit this one out.

Maybe these things aren’t right, but they certainly don’t feel wrong or undeserved at the time.

I never bullied anyone. I never started a fight. I’d end the fights or be the one who stopped the bullying. I have absolutely no tolerance for bullshit.  My nephew was groped by an older boy in the woods on the way home from school. My family couldn’t do anything about it since the boy was underage and his father was a higher up on the army base. My dad asked me to handle it. I went to that kid’s class and said the principal wanted to see him. As soon as he stepped into the hall, I slammed his head against the wall. It took three times before he split open. I was suspended. My dad picked me up and got me ice cream. The kids name was Jody. Who names a boy Jody? My nephew was never touched again. My brother got the piss beat out of him and a concussion in Philly when two boys cracked him with a bat. I gave it some time and waited for them. I beat them both badly and broke one kids nose; they never came near us again. I saw them while out with my brother a few years ago at a movie theater and we had half a laugh about it. They knew they deserved it. Being military, we moved a lot. Kids would fuck with us. Always. You either learned to fight back or you got bullied and tortured. I never started trouble. But I found out fast that as soon as I cracked someone in the nose – in front of the entire school – the testing stopped.  Suspension was a small price to pay for being able to walk down the halls in peace for the rest of the year. Or, until we moved again. Whoever coined the cliché “violence doesn’t solve anything” clearly didn’t remember what high school was like.

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I took that theory a step further once I grew up. In several different cases of road rage where someone has messed with me, I’ve gone out of my way to make sure they think twice about ever doing it again. I’m that psycho that’s been fucked with on the road, follows that person and pulls them out of their car at a red light or in their own driveway. I’ve pepper sprayed a car ful of guys following me home on various occasions (once managing to pepper spray myself in the process  - horrible!), kicked out two different windshields, ripped a car door off its hinges. It doesn’t matter to me. When I’ve turned into the Incredible Hulk, it’s too late. Shit is getting smashed.

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The REASON I get the positive feedback was already stated. And the REASON people don’t say or do what I do is because people aren’t supposed to do or say these things outside of Hollywood movies. They value their relationships, jobs, marriages and don’t want the repercussions of “speaking freely”. Whereas I bear the brunt of that with every outburst.

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

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The Side Effects

People who are bipolar generally loathe admitting anything is wrong. Me…I couldn’t wait to get fixed. As a holistic practitioner and advocate for natural meds and diet choices, I wasn’t so eager to get on western prescription medications, however…until there was no longer a choice. Admittedly, they serve their purpose. I now make clear decisions, not emotional ones. My walls no longer have gaping fist holes covered by photos and no one gets shoved into a door frame unless I wish to shove them. In other words, I have choices now, which is a first. However, I knew there would be side effects and there are. Some big ones.

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First: Loss of memory, cognitive issues, lethargy, brain fog and speech problems. I just do dumb things like put the salt and pepper in the refrigerator, go into a room and forget why I’m there or dump my protein powder into my glutamine container instead of my protein shaker, even though I’m looking at both right in front of me. As for my speech, I can’t recall words. I know what I’m trying to say, the words are right there and I’m gesturing, but they’re not coming to the surface. It’s utterly frustrating. When you earn a living doing things like live promos in the ring or having to think on your feet, it can cause serious anxiety. Every live show, I go through a mini panic attack and pray I’ll be able to remember my spots. I feel like a once sharp knife whose blade has gone dull. In “Homeland”, Carrie stopped taking her meds because she felt she missed the attack due to her senses becoming sluggish. I can relate.

Second: Numbness, vertigo, back and joint pain, migraines so bad I vomit and now have to take ANOTHER medication just to prevent them.

Third: The meds are expensive. I mean, EXPENSIVE. And while they work, they don’t work quite right.

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Fourth: I’ve lost the passion for things I love. For me, this is the biggest issue. I could tolerate the others, but this one is killing me. I used to read a book a week. Now I can barely concentrate on one and I struggle through it for four or five weeks. I love music – and forget to play it. I’ve always enjoyed photo shoots to the point of scouring online portfolios for new photographers, finding ones with talent and being willing to shoot for trade to get them started just so I can try something creative. I haven’t done that in ages and almost cringe at the thought of shooting. It mostly feels like work.

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Yoga. Crossfit. Spanish classes. Going to the pool. Driving to the beach. These things all feel like work now. Documentaries and movies have always been my escape. I no longer have the attention span to finish them half the time because the drug mix has caused a form of ADD that is driving me insane. More insane than my normal insane, anyway. I’ve tried to offset it with natural supplements like magnesium and GABA. It’s lessened, but not by much. I’ve always been creative…and now I’m not. This is bothering me beyond words.

The only things I still enjoy is spending time with my pets, writing, TV series I can get absorbed into and learning. I’ve always enjoyed learning something new every day and still spend time researching anything that interests me. But I feel like a shell of my former self. And I don’t like it.

For someone whose motto is “You only live once – and life is meant to be LIVED”, this is really fucking hard to deal with. Watching my Gram and Mom die slowly and losing my dad in a plane crash has all changed me dramatically. If I’ve learned nothing else, I know that we can die at any moment and no one wishes they’d worked more in life when on their death bed.

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In that last year, my mother went from a boring caterpillar afraid to go anywhere to a butterfly who couldn’t spread her wings wide enough. She lived more with cancer than she did in her entire life while healthy. I pushed her into that, not giving her a choice. Tired or not, we got on boats, drove into the city and went to museums, took pictures, visited friends, got on roller coasters, took horse and carriage rides, went on a whale watch and stayed at a B&B in Cape May.

I’ve always lived like this and feeling like a caterpillar fifty percent the time just isn’t me.

I don’t have much of a choice either. Live out of control like a hurricane – or live in a fog as half the person I once was. Those are my options. It’s the reality of being bipolar.

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Not one to just accept things, I’m trying to find another way to both stay balanced but feel better. I’d like to back down the dosage of Lamictal a bit, but I’ve heard it’s very dangerous and causes all kinds of neurological issues if you don’t do it in tiny increments. Screwing it up can bring on full rage, seizures, sleep disruptions and constant vomiting. Who has time for this? I’m self employed and have to work. But again, what are my options? So, I guess I’ll do site updates ahead, find a couple of weeks between travel dates and lock myself in my house to do this chemical experiment and hope for the best.

If you’re bipolar enough, you can qualify for disability, because many can’t hold a job. For me, I can’t work for anyone else. I need to be self employed. That’s why I still do what I do. It allows me freedom. The issue now is NOT being able to. How can you write if you can’t remember? How do you work if you can’t concentrate? How do you create if you don’t feel creative?

So my quest is to find enthusiasm for life and function again while staying balanced, even if I have to endure seizures and puking to do it.

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The Reality…

Take a plate and throw it on the floor.  It shatters into little pieces.  So you tell the pieces you’re sorry.  You might feel better, but the plate is still broken. Even if you manage to glue it all back together, it cannot be unbroken; ever. This is what my relationships have always been. I cannot figure out how to stop breaking the goddamn plates.

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My psychologist has advised (or prescribed) living alone for a while. I guess I really AM fucking off after Mom died. So that’s another thing I’m going through as well. Eight years of marriage (and the part-time loss of one dog) will be on hold with a trial separation.

I have no family left and Jordan has none in this country. The stress and costs of getting two places and buying double of everything from furniture, car insurance and dog food has been absolutely brutal. He got the Christmas Story leg lamp. I kept the Achmed-The-Terrorist bobble-head.

Our moving weekend was the same as the Shine Wrestling, and this is why I missed the pay per view. We were just overwhelmed with cleaning, packing, IKEA trips, setting up two different places, hiring movers – and then trying to factor in traveling and shows? Something had to go. Luckily, my boss at Shine is a good friend and an understanding person who has been aware of everything for a while.

I decided to finally buy a house and found a very small place in a cute neighborhood with a fenced in yard for Bella. I’ve been keeping busy with planting things and fixing it up. It’s my first house. Admittedly, it’s comforting to know where I’ll be living next year. This is something I’ve never been sure of, having grown up military and been a nomad my entire life.

Much of the house was in need of updating and the outside was completely neglected. I’ve become obsessed with fixing up the yard since I hope that will be where I can spend some serious time. Huge, thorny bushes running rampant, dead grass, a half-collapsed fence, a deck that’s seen better days, overgrown trees. But it has potential, and I’ve always really wanted an “outdoor room” kind of space; a retreat. Overhauling a yard is very expensive, I’ve found out. Shockingly expensive. I’m spending my paychecks at Lowes. But it’s keeping me busy and the improvements are incredibly cheering.

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Moving. Med adjustments. Separation. Trying to hold down some kind of work. Finally realizing that both my Mom & Gram passed away last year (they died within 6 months of each other) because I have no one to talk to about any of this who understands the whole story; what it’s like to live with me…it’s been challenging. To say I’m shattered is an understatement. I feel alone and lonely. They are different. One I enjoy. The other, not so much.

And I’m tired. Very tired. I’m tired of everything being harder than it needs to be. It’s been years straight of taking care of Gram with dementia, Mom with cancer, fighting to get the rest of the family on the same page and failing when I wanted to help her holistically instead of just medically and the volatile home. It’s all been too much.

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I barely had the energy to pack and move. I think right now, I need to hole up and do nothing, unless it’s fun for a while, like comic cons or lunch with friends. Just sleep and be left alone to recuperate and find out what I love again. This is part of the reason I decided to do the blog. It’s cathartic. I really do have no one to talk to about these things, so now I’m talking to you. If you’re still reading, that is.

I hide things far too well. I’m a master at it.

Emotionally: I’m done. Mentally: I’m drained. Spiritually: I feel lost. Physically: I smile.

Crazy isn’t stupid, and I know I just need some time.

Despite feeling terribly isolated for stints, I’m just stupidly hopeful enough to look to those silver linings.

Que sera, sera.

“The world is perfect. It’s a mess. It has always been a mess. We are not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives.” - Joesph Campbell

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On a final note, I want to say that I’m extremely grateful to many of my friends and fans, who have been helpful at this time and wonderful with my housewarming registry. It’s appreciated more than you can imagine and I could not do all the repairs, updates AND downsizing décor without you. Thank you. Thank you to Jordan for encouraging me to start this blog last year. Other than Mom and Gram, you are the only person in my entire life who has never abandoned me…no matter how many times you may have absolutely wanted to. You are the best and kindest person I’ve ever met.

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The Next Bipolar Chapter:  http://aprilhunterblog.com/2014/01/30/chapter-16-bipolar-for-life-alone/

 

Some Really Cool Stuff –

WATCH THIS. This doctor does an online YouTube blog on how to control your “inner hulk”. His info is REALLY good. Bipolar Advantage Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOYYpJ2lAJwcBonFRin_PyQ

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Watch this amazing documentary preview: Of Two Minds - http://www.oftwomindsmovie.com/ 

If you want to see more, it’s available on both Amazon and itunes.

A book you might want to read is “An Unquiet Mind” by Dr Kay Redmond.  She is bipolar she knows firsthand what she’s talking about.

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Here is a BP newsletter you can subscribe to that’s also full of info about various things relating to dealing with the disorder. http://bipolar.about.com/?nl=1

Top 10 Misconceptions about Bipolar Disorder: http://akorra.com/2012/06/04/top-10-misconceptions-about-bipolar-disorder/

 Hopefully these things help. I know they have for me.

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Lastly, I’ve read about Nuvigil and Provigil working well as a BP drug. It’s not approved for this use, so getting insurance to pay for it would likely be a huge hassle, but if you’re up for the challenge, it’s supposed to eliminate the exhaustion and make people feel alert and clear. I can’t afford it and wish I could. I understand it’s around $510 a month. Even half of that would be too much with all the other prescriptions, but it’s supposed to work wonders. If you can, more power to you, I hope it works. Let me know if you try it.

I think the way America is the only country that runs a For-Profit healthcare system is very sad. Too many can’t afford the medicines and therapy they need to feel better and simply function. Over half our incarcerated have mental illnesses. Access to proper medical attention and affordable meds could prevent so many problems. Sadly, we are not likely to change anything soon. Since medication for life is an issue, retiring to another country is definitely a serious consideration in the future.

Contact info: comments@aprilhunter.com

www.AprilHunter.com

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She said

There’s a difference between

 

Starving

and

Staying hungry

 

Loving a memory

And

In loving memory

 

Living your dreams

And

Daydreaming

 

Struggles in life

And

Struggling to live

 

Screaming at me

And

Screaming my name

 

Doing time

And

Running out of time

 

Being damaged

And

Being broken beyond repair

 

Losing control

And

Being out of control

 

I said to her

There is a difference between

 

Loving that I know her

And

Knowing I love her

-By Kirk Olsen

You-would-worry-less-about-what-people-think-about-you-if-you-knew-how-seldom-they-do.

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