50 Facts About Me That Have Nothing to Do With Mental Illness

Given that my blog is specifically focused on mental illness it probably seems as if I don’t have a life outside that topic.  So here it is:

50 Facts About Me That Have Nothing to Do With Mental Illness

  1. As a child I took exactly one baton lesson.  My mom got me to the second lesson late and I freaked out, but instead of comforting me she withdrew me from the class.
  2. I once performed in a play that was interrupted by a tornado.  After the all clear signal was given, we picked up right where we left off.
  3. A play I wrote was produced by my college theatre department.
  4. My middle school best friend’s mom was an artist and my family paid her to give me art lessons.  The only thing I remember from them is making brooches out of Friendly Plastic.
  5. I wasn’t satisfied with a 1420 on the SAT so I took it again and did worse.
  6. I was on the Spelling Team in middle and high school, and senior year I was awarded a dictionary for having the best overall score throughout high school.
  7. I started college as a double major in Vocal Music Performance and Christian Ministries.  I can’t sing, and am now an atheist.
  8. I sprained both ankles in college.  The right one doing step aerobics on the day before freshman spring break, and the left one falling off a ceiling rafter the day after junior spring break.
  9. The first book I wrote was a children’s book called The Great Karat Mystery.  It was about a rabbit looking for his giant orange diamond.
  10. I received third place in a college poetry contest and had my poem published in the campus literary magazine.
  11. My first job was as a work-study intern for a semi-professional theatre company.
  12. My favorite television shows in elementary school were Sesame Street and The Price is Right.
  13. My favorite television shows in middle school were Ghostwriter and Square One Television.
  14. Some other favorite shows include The X-Files24NCISPretty Little LiarsWonderfallsCrossing Jordan, and Elementary.
  15. Senior year of high school I earned the highest score in the state on the Level 4 National Spanish Exam.
  16. When I was 13 I got severe headaches for which no cause was ever found.  They seemed to be triggered by exposure to chlorine and went away after that summer.
  17. Some songs I wrote were recorded by a friend, but I loaned out my only copy and it was never returned.
  18. The first play I was in was Annie Get Your Gun.  I was one of the children who ran through the audience shouting, “Indians!  Indians!”
  19. I taught myself to knit and crochet strictly from reading books.
  20. I hate to have my back scratched.  People either do it so lightly it tickles or so hard it hurts; there is no in-between.
  21. I fall asleep every night listening to ocean sounds.
  22. I am completely addicted to the Wonka Randoms gummy candies.  My favorites are the ones with gel in the middle.
  23. I love to take photographs, but not ones of people.
  24. When I edit photographs I invariably make them as vibrantly colored as possible.
  25. I enjoy making mix CDs that tell a story, but the last project I started was a set of 4 interrelated CDs and it was so important to me that I was never satisfied enough to finish it.
  26. I found 50 Shades of Grey boring.  Not enough whips and chains.
  27. A friend once told me I urgently needed to come to the church nursery.  When I got there, the problem was that they didn’t know which child had a dirty diaper; I could tell by the smell.
  28. I don’t have the patience to sit through a 90-minute movie, but can binge-watch half a season of a TV show in one sitting.
  29. When reading comic strips I can’t skip over the ones I don’t like.  By the time I know which one it is I’ve already read it.
  30. Senior year of high school I was in the yearbook photos for clubs to which I never even belonged.
  31. My childhood home was designed by my grandpa and I helped build it.
  32. I read all the Harry Potter books on their release dates, but only because I loathe spoilers.
  33. Speaking of spoilers, I hate TV Guide because their front cover has ruined shows for me multiple times.
  34. I can’t eat Alfredo sauce or green olives because they make me nauseated.
  35. Every time I was sick as a child my grandma fed me applesauce mixed with crushed aspirin.  It made me throw up every time.
  36. An interviewer asked why I’d had such frequent job changes.  I didn’t realize 2 jobs in 5 years was frequent.
  37. When I feel really bad about myself I dye my hair red and instantly feel better.
  38. I always wished I had red hair, green eyes, an outie belly button, and was left-handed.
  39. I’m drawn to stories about orphans.
  40. The TV character I most relate to is Sara Sidle from CSI, yet we’re really nothing alike.
  41. In high school I was disappointed that there was not enough interest for them to offer a shorthand course.
  42. When I was 4 they asked for the bigger kids to come dance on stage with the Smurfs at an amusement park.  I ran up on stage anyway.
  43. I was terrified of the Headless Horseman until watching the show Sleepy Hollow.
  44. During my last attempt at college I planned on a minor in forensic science, and was completely inept at dusting for fingerprints.
  45. I used to participate in the local library’s summer reading program, but mostly re-read the same books every summer.
  46. I enjoy making chainmaille jewelry, but my hands shake when I grip the pliers.
  47. I once got in trouble for floating in a swimming pool because the owner thought I was dead.
  48. I put itching powder down a girl’s shirt in middle school and she had an allergic reaction.
  49. My favorite zoo animal is the zebra and I have tons of zebra items because I can’t stop people from buying them for me.
  50. I got rejected from Harvard because a professor flaked on sending in my recommendation letter.

Guest Post for lily pups life

I wrote this as a guest post for lily pups life, but she had some difficulty with formatting when she tried to post, so I’m posting it here for her to reblog.

7th grade was the most incredible year of my life.  I was making straight As, winning competitions, and involved in a variety of extracurricular activities.  I don’t remember a single negative thing about that year, which in hindsight was the first warning sign.  The two years that followed, 8th and 9th grades, were a disaster in comparison.  My life was going wrong, with family and friends getting serious illnesses and dying.  I was plagued by obsessions over wanting to meet my father, and guilt that I would want this when my mother was (to the best of my sheltered knowledge) dying of kidney disease.  Depression overtook me, and it lingered for years.

When my grandfather died toward the end of 9th grade, I felt like I’d lost my whole world.  My mom, having no clue what to do with me, sought a recommendation from the local Community Mental Health Center and they wanted her to send me for a 3-day inpatient evaluation.  She refused, without ever consulting me about it.  I overheard her discussing the recommendation with my grandmother, and desperately wanted to tell her that I needed that evaluation, but I felt like she could never know that I knew.  Instead she sent me to a private psychologist, which went terribly badly and I saw him only 2 or 3 times before mom decided that it was a waste of her money since I was not cooperating.

Over the next 20 years, I experienced a roller coaster of ups and downs.  I’d spend months on top of the world, certain my life was going to work out, then at least as long down in the dumps, certain nothing would ever go my way.  I dropped out of college once when I was feeling incredible despite failing my classes.  Then I tried college again and flunked out due to severe depression that kept me hiding in my dorm and avoiding the world.  Throughout this time, I occasionally attempted to seek help.  During that last (and worst) depression, I even took an antidepressant for a while.  It just made me unable to sleep or concentrate.

A few years after that latest failure, I pulled my life together and got my first real job.  It lasted for 3 years before I was laid off with no explanation, and I fell back into depression.  When the depression got bad enough that everything seemed hopeless, I had an epiphany.  I could be a TV star.  Now, I did major in theatre, so this was not a completely unrealistic dream coming from nowhere, but I should have been a little worried when I started driving places I was previously scared to drive in order to attend auditions where I would inevitably not be cast.

Over a few months, my elated mood grew, and I was convinced that I could see how the dominoes of my life had fallen to lead up to my present situation…and how current events would lead to certain future events which had not yet happened.  I still didn’t suspect anything was wrong.  Then in mid-January 2014 I found myself not sleeping or eating, racing around my new workplace, rambling incessantly to myself and others, and driving at speeds well exceeding the speed limit.  This was when I realized there was a problem.

After a month of this, I stopped feeling enlightened.  I felt a deep despair, that everything I thought would work out was actually going to go horribly wrong.  All the other symptoms (lack of sleep, racing thoughts, etc.) remained, but instead of being happy I was miserable.  A friend called the sheriff’s department to come check on me, and I ended up escorted to the ER for a psych evaluation.  All that resulted was an appointment for an intake interview at the same Community Mental Health Center my mom had consulted 20 years earlier.

I saw my new therapist for the intake interview and two subsequent appointments before my mental state reached a crisis point.  I walked into that third appointment and told her I was going to a gun show the next day and buying the gun I would use to kill myself.  She very adeptly convinced me to suggest to her that she should send me back to the ER.  I went, I was admitted to the inpatient unit, and I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder.

This diagnosis was not a surprise to me.  I had suspicions for years, and once I reached the point of flying down the interstate I was certain.  It was a relief to finally have someone else recognize the problem and help me do something about it.  A little over a year has passed since my diagnosis, and after a lot of struggle and three more inpatient admissions, I finally feel relatively stable.