Day 75: Cleaning and Logging, A Return

Today, I started a drug/mood/health log (on twitter because I like the mobile app– short updates with the time stamps) to help me keep track of what helps and what hurts. I had my first evaluation meeting with my new government sponsored psychiatrist where I was a bit more prepared with a list of symptoms I wanted to treat and we set goals and reduced some of the meds and increased some of the meds.

I went through some index cards. I called them “focus cards” when I was in my most producing days of what some call “mania.”

goalsI’m feeling really optimistic about the future. I had a nice couple of days. I started reading again. It’s slow. I’m currently reading 101 Things I Learned in Law School. I’m considering going back to school because I would like to be a learned individual with a higher salary. Wake up call: being an “artist” means always wondering about the future and money and wondering if you’re going to “make it.” I was pretty delusional (alusional? Where one has no illusions true or false) about my future and so I’m giving it some heavy consideration before I make my next move.

I keep thinking about time. About how this last year has really changed me. About how I’m growing and learning about myself, psychology, pharmaceuticals, friendship, compassion and the brutal pace that society keeps.

Yeah, I am perplexed that I “took a year off” and when I came back everyone was passing me by and it’s hard to find one’s footing after going to the brink of insanity and back.

Day 51: My first day of work in California

I haven’t worked an institutional job in almost a year (quit date last year in Mid-June, then on to a self-directed job in media creation and perhaps self-destruction).

Today, I had my first 4-hour shift at a chain coffeeshop in San Carlos (an affluent neighborhood).

After my shift (as if by Fate), I chatted with one of the customers who’s a bipolar manic painter (like me, but older by 30 years, more experienced, more accomplished more secure of herself and her surroundings, grew up around Silicon Valley, so not really like me except for a few aspects, but still, an amazing coincidence). She recommended her church (which I can’t really attend because I work Sunday morning).

Holding orders in my head wasn’t easy, but no one expected me to be great and so the stress was very handle-able. Repeating orders back to customers is very important. Pressing the right buttons on the register even though they are in an illogical order/formation/redundant/confusing/whatever is important.\

Here’s an Emily Dickinson poem that I found through my research of psychosis that I enjoyed and related to:

“I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading–treading–till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through–
And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum–
Kept beating–beating till I thought
My Mind was going numb–

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space–began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary here–

And then a Plank in Reason, broke–
And I dropped down, and down–
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing–then–“

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Here’s a quick sketch, trying to get back into expressing myself visually. It’s interesting to see what comes out. It’s just floating on the top of my head as a self-caricature of the day. Maybe I’ll do one tomorrow. It’s fun to think about starting a comic series of my life. Just getting the pencil in my hand, it’s like putting on the sneakers to the life that I want.

Day 50: feeling optimistic and reflective : Life is Going By (polar)

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Possible Overshare Warning, but, this is my life and I want you to know it if you want to. (Why I am writing this blog post: to help me document my experience with MediCal –the insurance that I currently qualify for in the State of California, my experience with drugs they put me on –could have been doing this sooner, but I was experiencing a break of intense hopelessness and a sense of: why am I making katarinacountiss.com about my life through a sordid lense, won’t people judge me?, but I realized that I need to grab motivation where it’s available and consider it all to be about my process, believing in myself again enough to the point where I can be the cheerful and effective person that I know lies within)

I’m adjusting to my new life in California. I’ve been going through the trials and tribulations of aging out of my step father’s family plan insurance. I recently became a MediCal patient (which is the state insurance if you don’t know). Which means for me: drugs and therapy covered by the state.

On Monday after changing up my meds (see the above picture– trying to get more organized), my (I guess, former) psychiatrist helped me get in contact with the Mental Health Access Team of Behavioral Health & Recovery Services | San Mateo Health System. I got a call back from a person to get my information (history of psychotic breaks, meds, etc.). Then he set an appointment for the morning slot of 9:30am-11:30am the next day.

I went to this building and in less than an hour, I was talking to a mental health worker who was asking me these same questions about myself, including asking about my family history with substance abuse and my rapport with my mom (personal stuff so that they could “get to know me.”). She called up the doctor and explained that I was running out of meds and needed to get some refills.

She told me to stay by the phone as she dismissed me and said that we’d try to get an appointment with the doctor today to assess the meds situation.

Went away, came back, saw a doctor. He inspired me to make a timeline of my mental health. Then, I thought let’s just make a timeline of the highlights. I am trying to remind myself that I quit a good job to go toward a beautiful light of making art full time and I just Icarused it and combined free time with substance abuse and so begins the onset of Bipolar and what it means to have a brain looking at itself in its small pieces and moving didn’t help and now I am in Redwood City, trying to make the best of it.

June 2013 -Graduated from Graphic Design School
July -Started ASMR channel
August -enjoying summer, started recreational cannibus use
September- New York Trip
October- attended InfoCamp
November 2013- Started working at a bookstore
December -Designed some sweet holiday cards
January 2014 -Worked on a Webcomic called Shelby
February -Updated my resume/projects to reflect bookstore’s graphic design work
March -went to Crater Lake for a cabin trip
April -updated my portfolio to show that I wanted to work in game UI,
I had my first speaking event at said bookstore, I wanted to start a Seattle Graphic Design Guild,
May -I had my first publication of my art in eJournal USA and worked with a scientist on developing a cover for Small (a science journal), I raised money through a Kickstarter for a binaural microphone to help me make some awesome ASMR videos

June -I quit my job at the bookstore to start volunteering at Makerhaus, a wonderful makerspace which seemed to be gleaming with promise. I started work on products for my business that I was inspired to start: Katarina Countiss Multimedia
July -My first binaural song
August -I moved out of my current living situation because I felt cramped, started recreational cannabis use more heavily
September -Makerhaus shuts down, surprising the volunteerrs and Staff, I get invested in my art, the kind that doesn’t really pay any money, I started a recording group called Prismatic Ventricles with two wonderful collaborators, I start Kaleidescopy Art which includes cards, ASMR videos, and two t-shirt designs
October -Inktober, I start working with Ink and continue to use more Cannabis, I move into a bigger house where I have a garage space I call the KAT Media Lab, started some work at SODO Makerspace
November 2014 -Continued to make ASMR videos, increased cannabis use
December -set up a Patreon account, hoping to make some money off of art, auditioned for an improv show
January 2015 -Started the Book of Hypotheses, wanting to keep track of all the good ideas that I had, feeling like I was running out of time, visited San Francisco, visitor from San Francisco, best weekend in a while, created quick exercises to help creativity flow, pressure is on me to pack up the house and the media lab because I’m moving to San Francisco! Created Yellow Words, manic break, hospitalized (Swedish Medical Center), Olanzapine (why didn’t I like this? Too much too soon?) and Ativan (fine, but it didn’t work as long as I wanted it to)
February -Trying to process everything, not taking meds, reflected on notebooks of words long past, He moves ahead to San Francisco and I am alone, I speak at Town Hall about my art
March -saw my first Psychiatrist, had a psychotic episode, hospitalized (Stanford Hospital), Abilify (extrapyramidal effects include: akathisia (motor restlessness), parkinsonism (characteristic symptoms such as rigidity, bradykinesia, and tremor), Started Day Hospitalization, Ambien, Ambien Extended Release, Seroquel
April- tried Medical Cannabis, made me paranoid, my mother visits
May- I age out of Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance, try MediCal, start working at local coffee chain, visit with Psychiatrist: Lamictal, Seroquel, Ambien XR

Day 30 Spinning

I think it’s a negative spiral, not a negative loop. I’m seeing the same options over and over again but doing them less.

Today, I went to my therapy appointment and we talked about insurance for most of the time. I think I overstayed my welcome a little bit. She kept saying it was over (the session) and I was having a hard time leaving.

I’m always feeling hungry and wondering if it’s the medication or if I didn’t eat enough food.

Living with Bipolar 1 sucks. Everything that comes into my head is warped pretty quickly. It’s hard to think for a moment that I am normal and that I am healthy.

I currently reading I Thought It Was Just Me. (lent to me by my therapist) “Courage is a voice. Compassion is an ear.” I am struggling learning how to listen to people and develop compassion, for the others and for me.

I’m angry and terrified that everyday is this, as if I had no power to change it. I keep cycling through my regrets. I can’t believe I quit the most beautiful place in the world. It wasn’t perfect, but it was the place to be. I miss Seattle. This place is so broken.

DAy 14 Valium makes me sick

I am too panicky on the drugs. It makes me physically ill. I think I have no comfortable place to rest. Everything reminds me of anti-home. I just want my own room. No interruptions. Just relaxing.

Help? I think they are making me slightly more effective. It’s that worrying literally hurts me head now.

I’m coming on and off of hating this drug. It’s making me feel like my brain is in a harness and I don’t want to be there.

DAy 13 At the Museum

I found a lot to be excited about at the asian art museum. Too much. Can’t focus still. My vision isn’t blurry, I think that I would like to read more than write today.

I learned some good habits from my mom this weekend, but also just plain mimicry, which I think she could tell. I need to find my own way. Not her way. It’s hard when mom comes to visit and she sees the patterns of her father and my father and simply confirms what is there. Bipolar and Depression.

Ugh. I don’t want to be a label and I want to be functioning, but my genetic lottery is downright awful. Must learn how to function. Keep it together. I need more friends. It’s hard when you have a mental illness because it’s the only way I connect these days. I live a life of solitude surrounded by people. They will never understand the battle that rages within. The coping skills I have to learn are there, surmountable, but nonetheless a hard road to go.

I’m a curious being, but I’ve turned it into navel gazing. Maybe it’s always been this way. I’ve always been obsessed with journalism, particularly blogging and now it’s a matter of working with people, getting them interested in what I’m interested in. I believe in a way out. Advocacy is a way to connect with people. Or I must simply read and be an eternal student in my way through life.

Board games have been a pasttime. Albeit it’s a hard road to go down. I’m repeating myself again. Let’s not get into that.

Day 10 The worries are so strong

I’m in the worse possible way the worst possible way. I can’t function. Can’t think. I’m broken as all can be. This writing is difficult but let’s try to get 300 words. Use it or lose it right?

I am apt to write only about my condition. It’s hard not getting enough sleep. Weird things start to happen to mind and body. I’m so scared for the future. I’m a broken record. Just saying and thinking the same things. Must find new hobby. Concentration is shot.

I don’t think I’ll be able to return to the workforce any time soon. I just want to move to a more burden free facility. My caretakers don’t deserve this. I’m restless, irratable and just scared that this is the rest of my life.

Day 9 I realized how grave my situation is

A page about my experience.

My time in the psych ward the second time was really gruesome. I was being a little liar and told myself, let’s get all the bracelets we can thinking that it was going to protect us from the cold dark world of the psych ward.

It was a troubling time over all. I’m trying to write this paper and I’m having a tough time. My focus has dulled over the past month and a half. Was I tramatized by my experience? Would that cause some form of mental retardation?

I’m trying really hard and it’s not coming out as eloquently as it used to. My brain is exhausted and rusty and I’m scared about how it’s going/not going. Please send help for my brain. I need answers, questions and all sorts of mental exercises to put me back to where I was intellectually. This is making me question my understanding of the world and my place in it if a few paragraphs is all I can muster. I will practice once every while hoping to get to the rest of this.

I’m completely distracted and slow and I need some help finding my way out of this maze. There’s literally a block from where I thought I would be and where I am. Let’s just keeep practicing stream of conciousness and see if it makes sense later.

Dmitriy denies the existance of yellow words. He doesn’t want to hear about the facets of the way I look at the world. This is tiring my brain. I have a hard time focusing on one task for very long. This is a problem for conversation, jokes, mental stabilty, breakfast. I think that it’s not a very good problem to have because I’ve spent years surrounding myself with intellectuals just to blow it.

Let’s be creative and doing things all the time. Let’s try to be more active. I can’t sleep but I can do everything else. How to focus? How to stay sharp? I was feeling so upbeat this morning. I finally got sleep and now I think I am struggling with basic concepts. Life is not progressing linearly and it sucks. It feels like someone has sprayed my brain with pesticides and now every fruit is poisoned.

Everything is metaphorical and it’s a crying shame.