Bad Brain Meets The Snooze Button

Every morning, I open my eyes. I visualize getting out of bed, but there is a bridge between waking up and actually getting dressed.

The troll living under that bridge tells me that it’s pointless to get up and get dressed, because I’ll still be useless, and I should just come back to bed and hide. It tells me my incompetence will surely reveal itself, and I’m on borrowed time until that happens. So why even try? Why risk being open to criticism when the bullshit that comes out of my mind most days is more critical (and harshly so)?

alarm clock snoozeI get the impression that people who use the snooze function on their alarm clock use it to delay getting out of bed. To lay peacefully and enjoy the silence, pet the dog and start to plan their day. That when it’s time to get up, they at least have a purpose. Getting showered and dressed, feeding starving pets and/or kids, making lunches for you or a crew, and making sure you have your phone charger, just in case.

This sounds like a fairy tale to me. Allow me to invite you into a bipolar mind dealing with Bad Brain at all hours.

Bad Brain is how I refer to those negative, interrupting thoughts that arrive in my mind in my own voice, so it’s doubly hard to assign fault to them. It’s my inner dialogue and it is compelled to perpetuate the negative in any situation. And, in case nothing dramatic is happening, Bad Brain is well-skilled at making drama out of nothing. But it never *feels* like nothing. It always comes down to weakness, my personal failures, the inevitability that my loved ones will grow sick of my bullshit and tell me to take a hike. How do you deal with your own inner voice telling you that you should end up alone because you’re too much effort?

You hit Snooze, you nuzzle your pillow and relax in your 9 extra minutes. I hit Snooze and have to fight the imaginary bridge troll that stands between me and accomplishing anything at all. Today, I almost didn’t make it. Today, the troll was particularly clever and was content to poke at my fear of inadequacy until I wasn’t even sure I could make it to work. I sat in bed and cried softly as I put my socks on, determined just to get out of the house and let whatever happens after that, happen. Some days, that’s the best I can do.

The torture continued in the bathroom as I tried to style my hair and apply my makeup. I couldn’t handle looking in the mirror, so I applied waterproof eyeliner by touch and styled my messy hair with a comb and a bobby pin and that was it. If I didn’t have such secluded office space, I’d say people might have picked up on it by now, but my desk at the office is quite private so there’s no one to compare one day’s look to the next. Bad brain kept up its commentary, telling me how stupid I look, how I try too hard with minimal results. But it helps me feel finished.

At this point, I am dressed and ready; I let the dogs out and fed them while packing my lunch. I was already going to be a tiny bit late – surely an extra five minutes wouldn’t hurt. I thought I would try something I’ve been meaning to try for a while: Review my Core Desired Feelings (h/t Danielle Laporte and her Desire Map program) and try to make my to-do list based on how I want to feel today.

But Bad Brain wouldn’t have it. For every feeling, there is a pesky way for Bad Brain to undermine it. I long to feel resilient, to believe I am resilient, to acknowledge that my fight is worth something. In my life according to Bad Brain, I am not resilient, I am a doormat. I was meant for people to walk all over. It’s all I deserve. And it plays out over and over as I sort through how I *want* to feel and try to determine how to make that so. Not only am I fighting this Bad Brain battle that exaggerates my fears, it sets me up to be a continual disappointment to me and everyone around me.

This may seem a bit unconventional, but I’ve found that my ECT sessions help quiet the ever-present interior monologue enough for me to quietly tell Bad Brain to go f*ck itself. Or, perhaps more entertainingly, have my Mummich tell it to go f*ck itself.

On days like today, I somehow find the strength to overcome the Bad Brain and work as the original, creative, resourceful, kind human bean I’m striving to turn into. I can believe in my CDFs (Resilient, Creative, Authentic, Kind, Joyful, Connected, Grounded) and can choose to do my work in a way that supports those feelings. But it was tense getting there today. I almost lost it and went back to bed to finish crying. I almost gave up. I have a love/hate relationship with the snooze button and a hate/hate relationship with the Bad Brain’s exploitation of my ambivalence by making things more pessimistic and telling me not to bother trying.

Trying anything.
Trying to live.
Trying to love.
Trying to silence this motherf*cker with my sheer awesomeness. (Ha! Can’t blame a girl for trying)

And oh, what a difference between me this morning, perched on the edge of the bed, one purple sock in hand, Kleenex in the other hand, dabbing away my tears, and me now, ready to write. I made it through the day. I did a damn fine job, actually. Too bad the Bad Brain will try its damnedest to make me feel inadequate and useless when I open my eyes tomorrow morning. Bad Brain is difficult to fight… but not impossible. Listening to my Core Desired Feelings, along with planning the simple tasks I can do to create those feelings, takes a huge amount of pressure off.

Ok, Bad Brain. Provided you’ve been vanquished for the evening, I shall read and write and do laundry like an average woman does. And then, when I’m hopefully rested and able to ride a magic dream carpet until dawn, I shall see you in the morning. Only this time, I’ll be ready to fight back.

Total Eclipse of the Mind

Once upon a time, I was falling in… ha! There’s your ear worm. Turn around, bright eyes. Every now and then we fall apart.

There is a rhythm to this illness, a strange syncopation of the synapses as conducted by one f*cked up composer. The melody one moment dominated by a slow swell of sweet cellos, next punctuated by an accelerated staccato piccolo that pecks at your eardrums with increasing speed.

One moment sings distant, forlorn and fragile, the next a strange tarantella racing through your mind. The rhythm fractures and mutates, leaving you dancing on tip-toes under the control of a maniacal metronome. Continue reading “Total Eclipse of the Mind”

13 Ways to Talk About 13 Reasons Why

13 Reasons Why is everywhere, and I am still seeing people argue with school boards, mental health associations and suicide awareness centres over whether or not the show is *good*. No one claims it is not a good television series. It is also, however, socially irresponsible.

So, let’s stop arguing and find a way to help kids/people think critically about bullying and suicide. I humbly offer my suggestions below, and hope they give you somewhere to start. Continue reading “13 Ways to Talk About 13 Reasons Why”

Memories of a Bullied Nerd

I went to five (five!) different elementary schools ’cause we moved a lot, so I was always the new girl, the nerd girl, the cross-eyed girl, the steals-my-solo girl, the outsider, the weirdo, the freak. Because I’d skipped a grade and was born in October, I was also the youngest.

But I thought if I could somehow be better, the other kids wouldn’t be so mean. I was so f*cking naive. Big brain, not a clue.

Recess was torture. The schools were small, and the herd mentality was well established. In dodgeball, I wasn’t a target. I was a piñata. Not only would I be chosen last for a team, but the team that wound up with me would simply sit down and go on strike. The other team would be furious and taunt me until I just tiptoed away, crying.

I was nine. Continue reading “Memories of a Bullied Nerd”

How 13 Reasons Why Let Us All Down

HEY YOU: If you are having thoughts of suicide or are making plans to end your life, please call 1 (800) 273-TALK – or visit this website to chat online with someone who really can make things better: (US and Canada). I know they can help because I’ve called them before.

Everyone I know who has watched the hugely popular Netflix series 13 Reasons Why has been absorbed (and obsessed) with its intense storyline about a high school student who commits suicide and leaves behind 13 cassette tapes detailing how her life slid so far downhill.

Each tape names one of her tormentors and explains what they did to screw up her life.

** Spoilers ahead, and discussion that will probably upset sensitive readers ** Continue reading “How 13 Reasons Why Let Us All Down”

My 7-Day, Mexican, All-Inclusive, 5-day Vacation

How much I love to fly

My entire family just returned from a fantastic trip to a 5* resort in Mexico, where our every whim was catered to, no request was too outrageous, and no buffet was shown a shred of mercy. Twenty of any family would be loud and boisterous. This twenty of my family knows a lot about decibels and how to raise them, uncontrollable belly laughs and how to solicit them, and what it feels like to be part of a clan.

Being around them in large doses has always triggered my anxiety. So does flying. I’ve spent the last month working with the doctor and therapist on coping skills, including carrying around a bottle of sedatives to be taken four times a day. Or sometimes, four times an hour. Whatever gets ya through, right? Continue reading “My 7-Day, Mexican, All-Inclusive, 5-day Vacation”

AJ Lee: Bullshit is your Superpower

AJ Lee means nothing to me. I’m not a fan of melodramatic violence as entertainment, so I’ve never encountered her image or name before. But she does have a book coming out (Crazy is my Superpower, coincidentally). It is the story of her life from her perspective: she is bipolar. Not has, is.

These are words from her blog post announcing the arrival of her sure fire bestseller:

By Flickr user Starship PaintOne day I made the choice to stop throwing myself a pity party. I chose to stand up and fight… Continue reading “AJ Lee: Bullshit is your Superpower”

Yes, Bipolar is my Superpower

One recent afternoon, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when a headline caught my eye. The summary indicated that the TV show Homeland should stop romanticizing the main character’s bipolar disorder, or treating it like some kind of superpower.

(There will more on Homeland, bipolar disorder and finding ignorance everywhere in my upcoming first podcast!)

I’d like to respectfully disagree with that opinion. I don’t watch the show, but I’ve read about its depiction of bipolar disorder. The fact is, I don’t know what defines the bipolar experience.

I know what defines MY bipolar experience.

And yes, #bipolarismysuperpower. It’s how I’m going to change the world. Continue reading “Yes, Bipolar is my Superpower”

Firecrackers and Accidental Overdoses

I used to believe that the phrase “accidental overdose” was used to protect families when someone commits suicide. Turns out, it’s really pretty easy. I’ve done it. Twice. It’s why I decided to approach my illness as a scientist, not a victim.


I could not sleep.

It had been days.

In the four years since my depression diagnosis, I’d been on dozens of medications. And still I was spiralling out of control. I had no idea that my affliction was actually bipolar disorder, and that most of the drugs I’d been taking were making things worse. Much, much worse.

I sat on the sofa in the front room, typing frantically to my online support group. The doctor had told me that the new medication would help me sleep. So, after three days without sleep, I took an extra dose. Two hours later, I took another dose. I became more and more wired. I took another dose, and waited to be knocked into oblivion.  Continue reading “Firecrackers and Accidental Overdoses”