Monday, July 23, 2012

Life in the Bipolar Lanes: Part 1

It is hard to talk about your mental health issues in a public forum. Want to know about my back issues? No problem, I can comfortably talk about that. Want to know how I am coping with Diabetes? I'd be glad to share with you. Want to talk about what it is like to live with a mental illness. No way, much too uncomfortable. But that is in fact what I feel called to do. I am going to step out on faith here and share my story. I will try to share as much detail as possible, beginning today with an overview. 

Though our society is far more accepting of mental illness than it was 50 years ago, it still carries a stigma. Everything from crazy to lazy gets thrown in there. I write this to be an advocate for others who struggle with mental illness. I want people to understand the profound struggle that it can be to appear "normal" when "normal" is the last thing you feel. Additionally my hope is that others will not wait as long as I did to seek help.

My first inklings of problems came as a child. By the time I was 10 years old I was seeing a child psychologist. At that young age I already had profound feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and self hate. I don't have any idea if my 5th grade classmates knew where I went when I was dismissed from class for my appointment every week. But in my mind I was sure they did. I did not know of anyone else, adult or child, who saw a psychologist. Instead of helping, I felt even more an outsider looking in at all the "normal" kids. 

By my early twenties I had changed my primary doctor and hid my mental illness with lies. Though by this time the Bipolar symptoms were full blown, I had learned to live a lie pretty well. Probably only family were aware of my issues, and much of it was put down to simply having a temper. What they saw as anger or being energetic or talkative was actually a manic state being played out. And when the depression hit? I was simply moping or being "sensitive." If any of them suspected mental illness they kept it to themselves.

By my thirties I realized I had to get some help. My illness was affecting my parenting in a big way, and my rages were scaring even myself. My doctor was more than happy to prescribe Zoloft for PMS symptoms. Once again the lie to save face...after all PMS was all the rage, and my issues were worse at that time of the month. For some reason I had this incredible need to look as if I had my act together. Though how many saw through the charade I don't know.

I was in my forties when it all came crashing down around me. I no longer had children or parents to care for. Nothing to stay strong for. Finally the bottom dropped out. The visit to the ER was not pleasant, but for the first time in my life I told someone everything. No lies, no excuses. I was broken.


Friday, July 20, 2012


Yes, my title is in caps on purpose. I felt shouting the question was a way to get my point across. We are an angry people. You need only watch today's news to see this. Invariably the people who commit such heinous acts are angry. They may not be overtly angry, but the anger is there, sometimes quietly simmering away. Anger in itself is not a bad thing, in fact in some cases it is entirely appropriate. However, more and more it seems that people are angry all the time. 

Case in point...angry Facebook posts. More and more I see posts by people wishing for "karma" to befall their enemies. I wonder about this. They obviously do not worry about their own "karma", yet by wishing ill upon someone else, perhaps they should. Then there are the thinly veiled threats posted in joking way. We wonder why our children bully or experience bullying? Because many adults are still acting out that same behavior, albeit in a less confrontational way. 

We call people names who don't believe as we do, who don't vote as we do, who don't live where we do. We call people intolerant without realizing that the moment that word comes out of our mouth, we become intolerant as well. We judge people instead of showing compassion and understanding. Leave the judging to God, and pray for mercy for those you believe condemned, so you may be spared as well. 

I come from a family with wide ranging beliefs and lifestyles. I have friends very different from myself. I do not agree with their opinions all the time. What I do try to do is love them regardless of our differences and show them respect.

If you have Facebook or other social media site that you post on, I have a challenge for you. Look at your posts for the last week. What percentage of your posts are positive or uplifting? What percentage are negative and meant to tear others down? I am doing this myself. Just a little something to think about.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thursday Travels: Grandeur of the Seas, Wrap Up

As I sign off on our Grandeur of the Seas cruise, there are two things I want to say. Firstly, cruising is something you should experience at least once in your life. You can find cruise deals for almost any budget, and a short cruise in particular can be very economical.

 Secondly, cruising with family and friends is really the most fun. My DH and I have cruised alone once, and our kids have all cruised alone as couples. The main thing we agree on is that it is just more fun with a group.

 The ships are massive and it is very easy to have alone time when it is desired. You can also split up for different excursions on port days.

 It is also nice to have more options for activities with others. For instance, my DH had no interest in swimming with the dolphins, but I was happy to have my DD and DSIL joining me in the experience. Shared experiences are always more enjoyable. So...get out there!

Bon Voyage ~Marla

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Everyone Struggles

Today I have been thinking about and praying for several friends who have health issues. It seems I am doing that a lot lately. I suppose part of it is my age. As fifty looms around the corner, my circle of friends age as well. Death and disease seem to be much more frequent visitors in my world. I have noticed that when these struggles enter our world, that many turn their focus more towards God. That is a good thing, but are we turning all of our struggles over to Him? Or just the really scary ones?

What about the people struggling to make it from paycheck to paycheck? Do we lift them up continually? Families for whom one serious setback would send them spiraling towards bankruptcy.

What about families struggling with discord with their spouse or children? Families full of anger and resentment towards one another. Families that are on the verge of being torn apart.

What about people struggling with upheaval in their world? A job loss or change. The stressors of selling their home and moving to a new city. An elderly parent moving into a care home. The loss of a driver’s license as their eyesight dims.

What about people struggling just to function from day to day in a world that doesn’t see their illness? Mental illness can be every bit as debilitating as a physical illness. Are we lifting them up?

My point is simply this; we all struggle. Our struggles may vary over time, even from day to day, but they are there. So the next time you take a moment to spare a thought or a prayer for a loved one, remember, even the little things can take their toll.

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28 (NIV)


Monday, July 16, 2012


Friendship used to be easily defined... before Facebook. Now friendship is a little more complicated. I have over 500 friends on Facebook. Am I really friends with all these people? Of course not. Most are simply acquaintances, some are relatives, a few are people I have never even met, and some are relatives I have never met!

So what defines a true friend? Well, I looked at several definitions and decided that indeed, there are different kinds of friends. I have three female friends who I consider my best friends. They are the ones who get to see my soul naked. I don't hide any of the ugliness from them, and they love me anyway. They know my deep dark secrets, and don't think less of me for it. I hope they know who they are before reading this, but I will share a little about them. 

The first is older than me, in fact she has a daughter almost my age. She is a year or two older than my brother, so no, she isn't a mother figure to me. She has been there for me during some rough times. We don't see each other as often as we should. But when we do it is as if no time has passed at all. I love her dearly, and I swear she is ageless. We have argued and been mad at each other...and none of that has ever mattered. We worked side by side in an office for 3 years and managed not to kill each other! That alone speaks of the depth of our friendship.

The second is about my age. She is a friend I see frequently. She keeps me on track, calls me out if I need it. And I will do the same for her. If I stumble, she is the one to tell me to get back up. We have laughed together and cried together. We have traveled together! We have known each other for over 20 years, but the closeness of our friendship is somewhat more recent. God's timing is ever perfect, and I think we became close friends by His design.

The third is young enough to be my daughter...and I have known her every second of her life. From the ages of 10 through 17, if you had told me she would one day be my very best friend, I would have laughed. This girl who shared my personality drove me crazy when she was a child. But then something amazing happened...she grew up, and became my rock. She knows me better than anyone has ever known me. More than that...she understands me...which I am sure my husband, even after 35 years as a couple, does not!  I loved my own mother dearly, but never did we have this particular kind of relationship. 

I found the following definition of a friend in the Urban Dictionary. I thought it fit exactly how I feel about these three, very special, women.

A friend is someone you love and who loves you, someone you respect and who respects you, someone whom you trust and who trusts you. A friend is honest and makes you want to be honest, too. A friend is loyal.

A friend is someone who is happy to spend time with you doing absolutely nothing at all; someone who doesn't mind driving you on stupid errands, who will get up at midnight just because you want to go on an adventure, and who doesn't have to talk to communicate with you.

A friend is someone who not only doesn't care if you're ugly or boring, but doesn't even think about it; someone who forgives you no matter what you do, and someone who tries to help you even when they don't know how. A friend is someone who tells you if you're being stupid, but who doesn't make you feel stupid.

A friend is someone who would sacrifice their life and happiness for you. A friend is someone who will come with you when you have to do boring things like watch bad recitals, go to stuffy parties, or wait in boring lobbies. You don't even think about who's talking or who's listening in a conversation with a friend.

A friend is someone for whom you're willing to change your opinions. A friend is someone you look forward to seeing and who looks forward to seeing you: someone you like so much, it doesn't matter if you share interests or traits. A friend is someone you like so much, you start to like the things they like.

A friend is a partner, not a leader or a follower.

God bless these wonderful women!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

In His Time

The house is on the market, and now the waiting begins. I know God is in control of this situation. I know He has the perfect buyer for our home. I know He has the perfect home for us in OKC. I know that His timing is far better than mine. So, my goal is to trust in His wisdom, to rely on His plans. If I do these things I can be content regardless of how long the process takes, or what the monetary outcome is as well. Today I am simply going to share my favorite verses and quotes. Words that help me remember...I am not in control, and I do not want to be! ~Marla

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Exploring Oklahoma

I grew up on a rather eclectic array of foods as a child. My mother, though born and raised in western Oklahoma, had a good deal of German influence in her cooking. Additionally my parents owned a small cafe in Seiling, Oklahoma during the mid to late 40's. The cafe, named The Gay Way Cafe (think in the context of the 1940's), served up traditional Oklahoma short order fare. I learned to make the most beautiful over easy eggs by watching my mom cook breakfast.

Thinking on these memories made me wonder...what do Oklahoman's consider their fare? I have come to the conclusion that it is indeed a hodgepodge of different influences. This makes sense when you consider how Oklahoma was founded.

 The great 1889 land rush, as well as subsequent smaller ones, was a singularly unique way of settling a region. As such, a varied group of people gathered to participate. Easterners longing for space, immigrants wanting a piece of American soil to call their own. Mid-westerners just looking for a change. Texans coming up from the south. As a result they all brought a bit of their style to Oklahoma, all at the same time.

The state meal of Oklahoma...yes, they have a state meal...shows a definite southern influence. The meal is as follows:

barbecue pork 
chicken fried steak
sausage and gravy
fried okra

black-eyed peas
 pecan pie

But, if you look around you will also find a fair number of ethnic restaurants in Oklahoma. Immigrants from Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Ireland had a lasting influence. Not to mention the Tex-Mex fare that crept up from Texas. The Oklahoma City area is full of restaurants that reflect this heritage. 

Still, going back to the state meal; I think when we have friends down from Kansas to visit, that is the type of meal we will share. How better to say, "Welcome to Oklahoma?"


Monday, July 9, 2012

Home is a Stage?

There are women out there who actually enjoy cleaning. I know this because I have met them. In fact, I have actually become friends with some of them, despite our philosophical differences. I do clean, but purely on an as needed basis. The toilet gets cleaned when it starts to look dirty. My bathroom counter gets cleaned when my hand starts to become inadvertently stuck to it due to hairspray build up. My floor is swept when the dog fur becomes an eyesore. The kitchen is the only area I attack on a daily basis, and even then you may see some clean dishes stacked awaiting placement in an upper cabinet.
This week all that changes. Putting your house on the market is like having guests over 24/7. Hiding toothbrushes and other personal items in drawers, wiping down every surface you can find, cleaning toilets and sinks daily, and following the dogs around the house with a vacuum in hand. Heaven forbid that your home looks like someone is actually living in it!
If you have not sold a home recently, and you are not a frequent viewer of HGTV, TLC, and other cable networks, then you may be unaware of the term “staging” in reference to a home. Having a clean home to show is no longer enough, now it must be “staged.” This means moving half of your furniture into storage, clearing all surfaces, and removing most wall hangings. It is basically a mini moving experience before you have even sold your home. One item per surface is ideal…so the alarm clock and the Kleenex box vie for position on my bedside table. The alarm clock wins…after all, we wouldn’t someone to think we actually blow our noses in our house!
Now I do understand where this is coming from, really I do. In my last post I made some jabs at dirty kitchens and walls that hold collections of crosses. Those types of things are distracting; they draw the eye away from the more important features of the home. They also are the main thing you remember about the home. When someone has looked at ten homes and they are trying to recall details of each, I would prefer they recall the vaulted ceiling in the family room instead of being remembered as the house with the weird statue in the hallway.

On the other hand, I have no problem looking at homes that have nice decorative touches throughout. These things speak of how the people that live there have made it more than just a house; they have made it a home. It makes me think I could make it feel like home as well. I hope I have achieved that balance. After all, as my husband keeps saying…we still have to live here; for now.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

House Hunting in the Digital Age

Things have changed in eleven years, a lot! The last time my husband and I looked for a new home it was a personal experience with our Realtor. We made an appointment and sat in an office as she printed off listings that met our criteria. There were no photos of the properties, just basic facts regarding square footage and number of bedrooms and baths. You basically had two choices; drive by and stare at the house to decide if you wanted to see the inside, or rely upon your Realtor to tell you whether you really wanted to see the inside. Seeing every house in your price range was not a viable possibility, unless you intended to devote a full month to daily viewings.

Enter the internet. At some point it became much easier to take a peek at the houses on the market. At first most sites were run by the Realty companies, and invariably they wanted your contact information. Slowly a few bowed to public pressure and began allowing you to view their site without signing away your first born to them. Finally the big guns began popping up:, Yahoo, Trulia, and Zillow, to name just a few. It was no longer enough for Realtor's to snap a couple of photos with their $10 camera. The buyers wanted pictures, and lots of them! Now twenty photos are the norm. And the best Realtor's make sure a panoramic video tour is posted as well...complete with cool bendy walls.

Now, I am a planner. You give me information regarding anything that will be impacting my life, and I begin to plan for it. When we found out we might be moving to Oklahoma, I began to look at houses on the internet. When we found out that we would definitely be moving to Oklahoma, I became a woman with a mission! I have looked (via internet) at every home within a thirty mile radius of my husband’s new work place. And I have made some interesting observations along the way. I will share these little tidbits of wisdom with you at no charge.
 (Disclaimer; my parents were Okies, my husband’s parents were Okies. We have Okie blood gleefully coursing through our veins! These comments are tongue in cheek…no hate mail please.)

1.    Houses in Oklahoma are notoriously devoid of basements.
Now, I find this a little disconcerting. Oklahoma, like Kansas (the state I have spent my entire life in), has these swirly things called tornadoes on occasion. While some may simply relocate your patio furniture to the neighbor’s yard, others will relocate your house…to the next county. I personally feel better hiding in a nice safe basement vs. getting in my car and driving away…which I have been told is an acceptable practice in Oklahoma.

2.   Homeowners in the OKC appear to be anti-tree.
My husband and I enjoy trees. Nice mature trees. Trees that provide shade in the hot Great Plains heat of the day. They also provide wonderful protection against the baseball size hail that occasionally assaults us…though running for cover after an ice storm with limbs snapping all around you, can be adventure. In my perusal of Oklahoma City area real estate, I find two in every ten home owners have planted a tree.

3.   Architects like to put dining rooms next to the front door.
Apparently eating so that the neighbors can inspect your table manners is now the in thing to do. My daughter dislikes this and would strike all homes with this particular feature from my list. Unfortunately that would leave me two homes in the entire OKC area to consider. I look on the bright side…it will make me clear and clean my table in a timely manner.

4.   Avoid houses with only one photo.
Now this one is a no brainer folks. If a house has been on the market for more than one week, and yet only one photo is available…taken of the outside, from the neighbor’s front porch, or possibly from atop a nearby water tower…then this is a sign from the Almighty. Do not waste your time! Move on down the road!

5.   Some people have no common sense.
OK, I know this is probably not news to most of you, but looking at photos of houses can really bring that home. I understand it is difficult to keep a home in pristine condition for showings…but not cleaning up for the photos? When I see a counter and sink full of dirty dishes, I have to wonder what kind of filth I am not seeing…or smelling, for that matter. Yuck! I’ll pass on that house every time.

6.   After a while all the houses look the same.
And that is because they are! Amazing how a metro area will have the same floor plan repeated over and over and over again. When we buy, I can likely walk into any neighbor’s home and make a beeline straight to the master bathroom toilet.

7.   People in Oklahoma are highly religious.
I am basing this purely on the number of crosses I have seen hanging on wall of homes. We are not talking one or two crosses here…we are talking thirty…on one wall. This raises a question for me. Is the house possessed of evil spirits? Are there vampires in the basement? Oh yeah, I forgot, no basements.

8.   Oklahomans prefer brick homes
Now this is something to rejoice about! As my poor husband finished painting the siding of our current home in 100 degree weather (he procrastinates a little), I kept telling him this would be the last time he had to do that. I swear 95% or more of the homes I have seen have been brick. It is a thing of beauty!

I hope my little observations have been helpful…or at least brought a smile to your face. Thanks for joining me on my journey!