I spent much of my time in Idaho playing with two little red headed boys. The three-year-old wanted to play baseball with me.
“I’ll pitch, you bat,” he hands over the plastic bat and picks up a rubber inflated ball that looked like it might be a dog toy.
I assume the batting position. “No,” he says, “Hold the bat out like this.” And he demonstrates that I should hold the bat exactly where it would hit the ball, straight in front of me. When he throws the ball and it doesn’t hit the bat, he says, “Bad pitch,” and gives me another try.
The seven-year-old was a bit snarkier. As his mom was getting ready for us to leave the house, she asked him to put his shoes on. Several minutes later, he was still standing there.
“Nate, shouldn’t you be putting your shoes on?” I said, and stared him down until he sighed and sat on the floor.
He pulled his shoes on, one after the other, relacing and knotting them. After a minute he looked up at me and said,”Did I ever tell you that you’re not my mom?”
I tried not to laugh as his mom scolded him for being rude.”
The boys squirmed around as I said goodbye, trying to evade my hugs.
On the road again
Seen while driving from Idaho to Utah
“GET THE U.S.A. OUT OF THE U.N.”
My favorite signs were
“HIGH WINDS EXCEEDING 35MPH”
“FREQUENT BLINDING DUST STORMS”
For a long stretch of freeway there would periodically be signs that read “INTERSTATE CLOSED. TURN BACK WHEN LIGHTS ARE FLASHING.” Fortunately, the lights were never flashing. If they were, I’d have to drive all the way back to Salt Lake City for an alternative route.
As it was, the route was smooth straight sailing.
So much of this made sense to me intuitively, but wasn’t something I’ve been practicing intentionally. I get triggered easily these days, and this is a great system for managing those overreactions. (Although I’m not sure how I feel about the word “overreaction.” It has a negative connotation, implying that because a reaction is higher than how the average person would react, it is therefore less valid. )
When it comes to bipolar disorder, it can be hard to discern which type of mood episode is more harmful in any given situation; the moods that pop up sporadically without warning or the big overreactions that can happen in response to a stressful situation.
I think for most people, understanding that bipolar disorder includes un-triggered mood episodes outside of our control is simple enough to attribute to the disorder itself.
But what about overreactions? These big mood flare ups have often been a bigger source of trouble for me when it has come to my relationships with other people, because it can become easy for others to write these actions off to “a dramatic personality”. It can be difficult for people to separate a mood disorder from what our culture has been putting on a pedestal (via reality television); the drama queen.
For this reason, it has become important…
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forgive me for my memory lapses, for my strangeness, for my quirks.
forgive me for my unreliability, for my moodiness, for my erratic energy.
forgive my shaking leg,
my bitten nails,
the clench marks in my palms.
forgive me for the times I’ve knowingly sent myself deeper into depression, for the times I haven’t fought, for the times I’ve dropped the ball.
because every time you forgive me, I get a little bit closer to forgiving myself.