Chapter 23 – Wasp: 1 – April: 0. (Money for Everything and My Chicks for Free.)

I had no idea I’d almost died on Memorial Day. I planned on a good workout, some pool time and a movie. None of that happened, because while I was watering the plants on my porch, a Yellow Jacket stung my right calf.

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11140262_693344740799001_4541704822474790698_nI had no idea I’d almost died on Memorial Day. I planned on a good workout, some pool time and a movie. None of that happened, because while I was watering the plants on my porch, a Yellow Jacket stung my right calf.

My left calf was stung two weeks ago. While it took forever to heal and itched like a ma’fucker, I didn’t have any real issues, having been stung many times before with no problems.

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Just an asshole.

This day was different.  My throat tightened, the right side of my body went numb, my eye swelled almost shut, and I lost vision.  My entire body broke into burning hives (even the palms of my hands and feet, mouth, tongue and throat). Being an ‘idiot wrestler’, I usually tough everything out.

Me to Chris, as I’m frantically scrubbing my leg with alcohol: “Um, I should probably mention that I don’t feel very well. I feel kind of weird.”

Him: “Do you have Benadryl? I’ll go get you some.”

Me, bending over like I’d been running: “I don’t think I can breathe. You might want to hurry.” He ran out to the corner store, but before he got back, I knew I was way past allergy medication. He attempted to speed me to the emergency clinic (with him swearing at the slow driver in front of us. At least Florida is consistent!) and I honestly had no idea how bad it was.

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Art by Gary Yap.

I am largely in denial about my own mortality. I believe my own gimmick; that I’m Super Woman.  Big Red. The Prize, April Hunter. A Viking warrior, ass-kicking my way through life. Moments like these, flashes of reality, crush me.

When I arrived to the emergency clinic, they took me immediately. Or mostly did, as I was in the process of passing out during check-in.  I received a series of injections:  epinephrine, steroids, more Benadryl . Wash, rinse, repeat. After several doses of everything, my body broke out into more hives, my tongue swelled and my blood pressure dropped. We were informed that they were calling an ambulance to have me rushed to the ER because it was getting worse. (As ‘rushed’ as one can be in this beautiful healthcare system we have, complete with staggering wait-times and gigantic bills, even with insurance.) I’d just gotten on Blue Cross at Christmas, but had never used it. I vaguely remember looking at the doctor and then Chris and being worried. “I don’t know if I can do that…is an ambulance covered?”

“The ambulance is covered.”

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Rushed Defined in the USA:

-The ambulance took 32 minutes to go 8 minutes down the road. Fortunately, I was stabilized right before they’d arrived.

-Upon arrival, you must check in with name, social security and insurance card before anyone does anything for you. I’m fairly certain they hand you two Tylenol and dump you off the gurney sideways if you’re missing any of that information.  After all, you can’t be “denied treatment”.

-You are informed there will be a $250 to $5000 deductible to pay, depending on your insurance coverage. You’ll still be surprised with fat bills, which you’ll have to submit again and again to your insurance company and spend hours of your life trying to argue off.

-A US hospital has been known to charge up to $800 for an IV that is 6 liters of salt water. An ambulance ride is approximately $750 for 5 miles. By the way, that Tylenol pill will cost you $15. Each.  

-Only once you are checked in are you treated. By a nurse, who doesn’t give a shit. The one who does give a shit comes in later. She is an absolute sweetheart, and you kind of want to stuff her in your purse and keep her. The doctor arrives about an hour after that.

I was given a bunch of injections and, of course, the aforementioned $800 saline IV. To be fair, it was a lovely IV. A designer brand…from Italy, I think.  Haute couture.

If you’re a walk-in, bring a book. Or three. While I was at Quick Care Doctors Express, a woman checked in to have her wrist stitched up after sitting in a hospital emergency room for four hours.  She’d tapped out and decided that bleeding in her car was better than waiting another four hours.

I’ve been treated for emergency and non-emergency issues in Canada, Japan, Germany, Jamaica and England. I’ve never had to wait as long as I have here, with the exception of once in Alberta, Canada.

In England, Germany and Jamaica, the doctor came out to treat me; I didn’t have to go in. Let me just state for the record that house calls are awesome! While in Toronto, Canada, I was treated for a shattered nose (from an elbow to the face, and I still have issues breathing to this day), but they also x-rayed my ankle to confirm it was sprained instead of broken from the previous week of wrestling in Mexico. Furthermore, they did it gratis. The wait time was about fifteen minutes.  Being American, I did have to pay a bill, but it wasn’t much. The company I worked for in Canada covered it.

Some things should never be for profit; healthcare is one of them. There is no amount of money a mother or father won’t pay to save their child. That’s why it’s completely wrong, and the USA is the only country doing it this way. Clearly, we are a country of laws and capitalism, not ethics.

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Fucking cocksuckers.

The question is : why do we tolerate it? Is it because we think there’s no other way? Do we believe the lies we’re told about how other countries have “horrible” socialized care, where you’ll die while waiting? Currently, the socialized healthcare we do have, like the VA and Medicare, is mostly crap…so we think if we go that way across the board, it might all turn to shit? Is it because we think that we can’t afford it? That’s laughable. Every other country can afford it, but we can’t? Yet, we’re still #1 in cost per person for some of the worst care in the world. This makes absolutely zero sense. None.

Perhaps, it could be that we’re simply stupid and ignorant as a country? I feel we fail to “Question Authority” (a saying from when I grew up) and see what is really going on – that we are being taken advantage of. Each and every single one of us is being taken. We are being lied to by Pharma companies who run/own the media and congress. These companies are in bed with our FDA, which is why our food is so contaminated. Our foods are banned in other countries. Much of what we eat is considered toxic. This is why we’re sick. No other nation is as ill as the USA. Not even third world countries.

However, get this: Medical Profit is a huge part of the American GDP. Healthcare is one of our top grossing earners. Our slogan could be this: “Illness-The Only Thing Left That’s Made 100%  in America.”

So, let’s recap… Contaminate the food (check), people get sick (check), charge a fortune to keep them alive (check), and rake in fuckloads of money being a completely parasitic system (check). Get it?10580065_535100189956791_5333298893109803485_n

Avoid this by opting out. Go certified organic, locally grown, free range and grass fed. (To those of you who will now quote the show ‘Bullshit’ to me about how organic was found to not be any different than standard stuff; if you’re getting your dietary advice from a Penn & Teller show, you have issues.) Yes, you’re going to pay a little more on the front end for quality food and preventative care (such as a gym membership, massage, supplements, yoga, etc…), or you’re going to pay a fortune on the back end.  Remember, every bite of food you eat will either nourish you or kill you. It’s your choice.

Let’s continue…

US Healthcare Ranked Dead Last:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2014/06/16/u-s-healthcare-ranked-dead-last-compared-to-10-other-countries/

US Healthcare: Most Expensive, Least Effective:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2014/06/16/once-again-u-s-has-most-expensive-least-effective-health-care-system-in-survey/

If we total the money being taken  from our paychecks for insurance, payment deductibles and co-pays each year, we are probably paying more than some of the higher taxed countries are who have quality healthcare included for their tax dollars.

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There’s absolutely no reason to add this photo. Hopefully, you’re still reading.

I’ve been denied care in a Connecticut emergency room without health insurance (after being unceremoniously dropped by Blue Cross Anthem for being a wrestler) when I broke two vertebrae in my back. But legally, I wasn’t “denied care”, because a nurse gave me two painkillers before sending me home. She’d assured me nothing was wrong and I’d be fine. Turns out, she was wrong. Not only were the vertebrae broken, but my tailbone disc had ruptured. I ended up going to Canada for real treatment I could afford and zero wait time, since I elected to pay in cash.

My ex, who was Canadian, was appalled at our system. He just couldn’t believe that ballsy, outspoken Americans were willing to put up with something so crappy, subpar, and expensive. He could never understand why we would jump up and fight over guns and God, but roll over and take it up the ass with no lube when it came to our own healthcare. Quite frankly, he was right.
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Two different doctors told me that I almost died last Monday, and that they rarely see a reaction as bad as mine…that I was lucky. If I’d waited a few more minutes (fuck you, slow driving time thieves), or had gotten stung twice, not so much. Thank God I chose Quick Care and not the hospital. To those who might find themselves in the same situation one day, perhaps skip the ER if you want to live. I was also told that since my reaction was so bad, next time it’ll be worse, so I probably won’t make it to an emergency room on my own. Go big or go home, right? (Totally my catch-phrase on this one.)

Eventually, I was allowed to leave with a prescription for two epi pens and a variety of other medications. 

However, more fun ensued the following evening when I headed back into the emergency clinic with complications. That wasp was killing me! Literally. (And financially.) My lower leg and foot were hot to the touch, hurt and had doubled in size. I have a high pain tolerance and of course, waited too long once again.

I had a skin infection from the sting site called Cellulitis. “When can I work out?”

Doc: “Not for a while.”

Me: “Define a while.”

Him: “At least 4 days.”

Ugh. I’d skipped the gym all holiday weekend, too. I’ve missed too much gym time this year between pneumonia, bronchitis and now this. I was told to sit on my ass with my leg elevated, and take more medications. I won’t lie; this fucking sucks.GZ_punisher

You know what pisses me off? I didn’t even get to kill that wasp. Chris killed its entire family, Frank Castle Punisher style. I suppose that will have to suffice. I left the decimated wasp nest on my front porch as a warning to all others.

The fact that I was so close to dying still hasn’t sunk in. My blood pressure dropped and my heartbeat nearly stopped, too. 

I’ve managed to survive much in life:

A highly, abusive ex who tried to strangle me on his way out. (The police broke in to the apartment and tasered him multiple times before taking him to jail).

Bad ring accidents; including a broken back which brought on an asthma attack so bad that I didn’t think I’d make it 537017_256535387813274_1269586530_nthrough.

Multiple battles with pneumonia.

Traveling to foreign countries alone (especially during the Bush era, when everyone hated Americans. I got sent into a dangerous area of Paris “for fun” when I had asked for directions).

One near plane crash during takeoff.

An accidental med overdose as a kid.IMG_20150522_095818

Living with a bipolar father.

A wrist cutting. (Hey, I inherited the bp gene. Kind of comes with the territory.), 

Falling out of trees/off bikes with alarming regularity (sans helmet).

Gymnastics classes.

Working in retail at Christmas.

All of that, only to be done in by a stupid insect?!?

I knew moving to Florida would kill me. On the plus side, at least there’s no death tax here.

I shudder to think what the hospital bills are going to be.

This is where I should say how grateful I’ve realized I am, but to be honest, I was grateful before this. If I had died on that day, I’d have been fine with it. The people I love know I love them.  I’ve been places and done things. I’ve lived. I feel lucky on most days, with the clear exception of  that Monday. So, I’ll just say thank you for being fans and friends – and if I should have the ironic death of having been through so much shizz in life only to kick the bucket from a fucking bee sting, feel free to have a laugh for me. I know I sure would! 

In the meantime, I am sitting around until I finish the antibiotics catching up on Game of Thrones. Silver linings…

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Photography: Dustin McClease

Onto the positives…

Thank you to Doctors Express in Clearwater, FL. You’re all awesome.

Huge thanks (big time!) to those who have sent things off my Amazon Wishlist ( http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/258GQWZANXBQ3/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_ws_CUhAvb0YTKWPE ) . Unfortunately, we don’t get rich in wrestling or modeling unless you’re at the very top tier. We are more often than not in trade; content for time. Comic books for our image. Photos for our day of work. It matters more than you know when fans are sweet and supportive. I am very thankful to those who go the extra mile.

I realize I haven’t updated my blog in eons. I’ve been writing, but not FINISHING. Much has been going which that has consumed energy like a vampire; a 5-week ComicCon tour, house hunting and Chris’ bipolar meds being all kinds of fuckity, to name a few of the higher priorities.

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Chris holding Daisy.

But one of these things is that I got baby chicks! At a Shine Wrestling show in January, a friend found a rejected hatchling. She couldn’t keep it due to her extensive cat collection, so I took her home. I’d always wanted chickens one day…just not THAT day. I was a completely clueless chicken (pullet) owner. But things have a way of working out. Her name became Daisy (we hoped it was a ‘her’) and I believe she may be a (bantam) Easter Egger. They’re called that because their eggs are in shades of blue, green, red and yellow. For the first 24 hours of her life, she wasn’t kept warm (unless she was tucked into my boobs), so we didn’t think she’d survive.

5149914421_9ca1522f9dBut, she did. Chickens of that breed roam around Ybor City. On Google and through talking to others, I’ve learned about heat lamps, Chicken Math, medicated feed and what the term ‘broody’ means, among many other things. The first time I had to reach into a bag of (delicious and nutritious) meal worms, I’ll admit I was extremely grossed out. Now, it’s no biggie.

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Chicken Math.

We honestly had no idea if the little fuzzy yellow ball of cheeping sweetness was a Daisy or a Duke. This became a problem. Where I live, Roosters are illegal and I’d gotten insanely attached to the baby chick. She perked up when she saw me, responded to her name, answered back if talked to, came when called. She also couldn’t stop looking into the mirror I’d put into her brooder (box), which meant she was lonely. I learned she should not be alone, so we got two more chicks from a farm that were show quality silver and gold laced Wyandotte breeds that were slightly older, as that was all that was available in our area. Delilah and Daphne weren’t as warm and fuzzy as Daisy is. They’d been treated as livestock, not pets for the first several weeks of their lives and it showed. The new girls were skittish and hand-shy. It 11041701_673791269421015_7093770322807567878_ntook a lot of work to get them used to us, but they’ve adjusted to a degree. They’d fall asleep in our arms, while we rubbed their necks each night. Daisy turned out to be 100% female (thankfully!) and 100% pet. She loves being picked up and petted. As soon as she sees us, she starts chattering. If you’d told me that chickens make great pets, I would have laughed. But, they do.

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Daphne.

I can’t meditate. I’ve tried. I’ve even gone to classes to learn. Clearing a bipolar/ADHD mind is nearly impossible. But watching those chicks play, scratch, interact with each other and chirp away is just about the same thing as meditating. I am able to shut the world out, clear everything and just take them in. It’s strange how calming they are for me. The world quiets, my thoughts stop racing, and it’s just them.

With all this, I have come to a conclusion : chickens = happy.

And they haven’t even started to lay eggs yet. Can’t wait!

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Miss Daisy. Or, Margarita, in Spanish.

 

Big thanks to Micheal Patry, Danielle Dadamo and Jennifer Dunham for editing my questionable grammar! And thank you to Chris for being the first to read everything and the first to help with it…no matter how honest it is. 🙂

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Daisy, Delilah and Daphne, ranging freely.

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How could anyone not fall in love with this teeny, squeaky baby?

Chapter 15 : Bipolar 2 – The Dark Side.

“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

Like this? Please donate! Amazon Wishlist Link:  http://a.co/4AUJWBt

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.”

Year 2013

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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Like this? Please donate! Amazon Wishlist Link:  http://a.co/4AUJWBt

COPYRIGHT APRIL HUNTER. NO PART OF THIS BLOG MAY BE USED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.

On a final note, I want to say that I’m extremely grateful to many of my friends and fans, who have been helpful, 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 to Jordan for encouraging me to start this blog last year. Other than my Mom and Gram, he is the only person in my entire life who has never abandoned me no matter how many times he may have wanted to and he’s one of the best and kindest people I’ve ever met.

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The Next Bipolar Chapter:  https://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.