Monthly Archives: January 2007

Puzzle of the Day

People have been asking me if Puzzle has toys.

Pz toys

Yes, she has toys.  Here she is in her latest sweater:
Pz irresistable
Pz 1_27_07 #1

We went for a long walk around the neighborhood today.  Puzzle kept up all right.  When we came home she grumbled about being restricted to the kitchen.  I told her I was making no exceptions, not even after such a long walk, and upon hearing this, she plopped herself down by the refrigerator, and fell asleep.

A Miracle





I just read an amazing story on the “people diagnosed with” message board at  It is the ongoing story of a woman I’ll call Lisa.


I was away from the board for a time, because of a stupid technical glitch that nobody seems to know how to fix.  I can’t access the board using Verizon from home, so I have to wait until I have my sessions here at my beloved library.  As you know, I’ve been away from the library until yesterday, taking care of little Puzzle.


Lisa was miserable for years, in and out of hospitals, kicked out of her fiancé’s home, and estranged from her daughter, she went to live with a friend, and that didn’t work out.  Drugs were involved somehow, so Lisa moved in with her mother.  There was a long series of moves.  Lisa was certainly suicidal; I could tell by her posts.  But mostly, Lisa had a sense of hopelessness that was so fathomlessly deep I feared she would never recover.


If miracles happen in mental health, they happen because someone didn’t give up.  They happen because the tools are available and those tools fall into the right hands at the right time.  Lisa didn’t give up, and the tool in her case turned out to be the medication Geodon.  When I logged onto today I read Lisa’s words: “It’s amazing…” “I cannot believe how much better I feel…” “I feel clearer…” and even, “It’s like waking up in a different era.”


I guess what I’d like to say is that miracles do happen in mental health and they happen frequently.  We don’t always hear the stories but the stories are there if we inquire.


Most of the stories involve medication.  Be careful to distinguish scams from real medical care from a real medical doctor (M.D., preferably a psychiatrist or nurse psychiatric practitioner).  Be patient.  Studies show that most people have to try several medications before hitting upon the right one.  You may not experience the miracle that Lisa experienced, but it’s worth the wait and effort to get the meds right.






Something weird is happening that hasn’t happened for a while: I’ve been having mood swings.  You may recall the perfectly clean sink, the transformed apartment, the three jiffy-knit L.L. Greene sweaters, alternating with days in a row of sleepiness I didn’t tell you about.  Sometimes the amount we sleep is an indication of mood.  But it’s more than that. 


“Normals,” that is, people who don’t have mental illnesses (oh, “those people”), have mood swings, too.  The difference is that they don’t have mood swings that are as extreme as ours.  A few hard days at work might find them out of sorts, and hassles with the wife or kids might bring on stress, but these won’t derail a “normal.”  In fact, very little will derail a “normal.”  Remember Job?  People are very durable.


People who suffer mood disorders go to either, or both, or shall I say all, extremes of mood.  It’s more than a “good” mood and a “bad” mood, or “happy” and “sad.”  In fact, there is nothing “good” or “happy” about mania at all (so I found out) except that in a lesser form the heightened energy level can make one feel creative and productive.  Depression isn’t necessarily sad; sometimes “frustrated,” “stuck,” or “embarrassed” can describe depression.


While I was doing all that cleaning and sweater making, and at other times while I was sleeping half the day away, I had no idea I was experiencing mood swings.  It is only in hindsight that I realized that this was happening.


Perhaps the saying should go, “Hindsight was 20-20.”


What was the mania like?  Think: when you’re depressed because your car broke down, it’s different from being depressed for no reason.  If you’re depressed about something, it’s different from being in a depressed state.  What I’m saying is that the word “depressed” can be used to describe a mood or a clinical state.


Translating that, mania, for me, was like a horrible excitement.  You can be excited about something and you can be clinically excited, and the latter is not pleasant.  I kept telling myself to relax, that I was only excited about Puzzle, that everything would be okay, that my senses were heightened because of Puzzle, that colors seemed bright because of Puzzle, that I could hear my heartbeat because of Puzzle, that everything swirled around me because of Puzzle, that I was sweating and was having visions because of Puzzle, the sky was opening up because of Puzzle, and I was rising, rising–


I paced around in my living room for hours because of a tiny puppy I didn’t even own yet.  I stumbled into a chair and tried to catch my breath, but the swirling lasted much longer.

Staying warm

Here is Puzzle, modeling her L.L. Greene sweater.  This sweater was way too big for her on Tuesday, the day I made it for her.  Note that it now fits very well!

Modeling LL Greene sweater

It is 22 degrees out with winds gusting to 22 mph.  However, 8-week-old Puzzle stayed warm in her hand-crocheted sweater!

She is indeed cute, isn’t she?

Better than L.L. Bean

I was so involved in crocheting this sweater for Puzzle that I decided to stay up until Puzzle’s first nighttime wake-up, which is generally at around 10:30.  Well, get this: Puzzle slept through the night.  I stayed up all night waiting for her wake-up.  I couldn’t be more delighted that she slept all night, and I’m also thrilled that I got this sweater done, at around 6:30 this morning.


The outer blend is made of “mystery pink” with sparkly flecks mixed with gray wool and the turquiose lining is soft orlon.  The maroon decoration is orlon as well.   This custom design is sure to keep Puzzle warm when she grows into it in a few weeks.  I’m sure she will wear it with pride, or at least Mama will be proud!

Winter Fashions by Julie

Pz7wk fashion statementI was a designer in a previous life.  This is Puzzle’s new outfit.

Okay, okay, I didn’t create the pattern.  I just crocheted it.  Here’s where you can find the pattern:

Here is my original decorated dog carrier:

home decorating

I decorated it for the purpose of keeping Puzzle warm while we travel.

Any questions, contact Puzzle, my agent.

Tough Choices

Sometimes you can’t decide which to prop up, your head or your feet…ah, what a life!

<IMG src=”/images/27466-26086/Pz_7_wk_head_on_toy.JPG”>    <IMG src=”/images/27466-26086/Pz_7_wk_feet_on_toy.JPG”>

Tough Choices

Sometimes you can’t decide which to prop up, your head or your feet…ah, what a life!

<IMG src=”/images/27466-26086/Pz_7_wk_head_on_toy.JPG”>    <IMG src=”/images/27466-26086/Pz_7_wk_feet_on_toy.JPG”>

Puzzle close up

Pz2 1_12_07

Pz1 1_12_07

Pz3 1_12_07

Pz4 1_12_07

Pz5 1_12_07

Pz6 1_12_07

Pz7 1_12_07I’m participating in an open mic tonight.  I’ll be reading my post, “The Death of QB,” (November 13, I believe) and the recent post, “Dream.”  I wrote “Dream” specifically for the open mic, because I didn’t like the other piece I had planned.  It’s nice to be able to tell myself, “I don’t like this one, so I guess I’ll write another.”

Puzzling, isn’t it?


I am sorry to bring grim news on such a festive occasion, but I feel it’s necessary to remind everyone that patient care is not necessarily rosy:

That story shocked me.

But this site brought me to tears, remembering QB, who accurately reminded me to take my PRN medication and nighttime meds:

It was uncanny the way QB “knew” not only the times that I was symptomatic, but when I was about to become symtomatic. His accuracy was 100% or nearly so.  My psychiatrist had faith in him and so did I.

Aren’t dogs wonderful?

(Never mind how many hours of sleep I didn’t get last night.)

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