Silent Lately

Silence - background of clouds over Saddleback mountain range formation and trees in foreground

I haven’t written in a while, nor have I read or commented on others’ posts. I used to write brief reviews after reading a book. Recently, I’ve simply left stars on Amazon and Good Reads.

Why? Because I simply needed to recover. Recovering not from an episode of bipolar disorder – though I do live with that illness and must take care of myself – but from exhaustion, physical illness, and the demands of life.

Sometimes I need silence. Sometimes I must do less. I must NOT do.

Since my mother had her stroke November 2015, I’ve had added responsibilities overseeing my parents’ finances and care. My sister helps me make decisions and offers emotional support, but she lives in another state and has her own life to live.

I parent a high-needs adolescent who gets sick A LOT and has struggled throughout his life with migraines, ADHD, depression, and anxiety.

My husband, son, and I have all been sick.

All this weighs on me.

So, I’ve pulled back.

I’ve been silent.

I’ve binge-watched TV.

I’ve done lots of jigsaw puzzles on my iPad.

Hope - yellow hibiscus background

Starting Monday, I’m hiring my neighbor, who has been a caregiver to seniors, to help me with my chaotic physical environment. Together, we will organize and clean my house. It’s cluttered and dusty. The floors and refrigerator need cleaning. Hopefully, that will improve both our physical and emotional health.

Blooming Hope

Monoprints 1 and 2 by Kitt O'Malley
Monoprints 1 and 2 by Kitt O’Malley

The Blooming Hope Nursery is an art exhibit of The Expression Project for NAMIWalks Orange County.  The purpose of this exhibit is to grow seeds of HOPE.

To tell the stories of individuals who struggle with mental illness and their family members we are embarking on a journey of hope. The first leg of this journey is the sharing of stories and works of art by family members and individuals.

Here are my entries and story of hope:

Though I am a minivan-driving wife and mother, unlike most of my suburban neighbors, I live with bipolar disorder. On my blog kittomalley.com, I recount my struggle with mental illness, the two decades it took to get a proper diagnosis, and how my journey has ultimately given me a sense of purpose – and at times, a sense of religious calling. I find creating art and writing a good release for racing thoughts. Coloring, especially, helps to slow down my thoughts and quell anxiety.

When I go on walks, I like to take photos of nature, especially flowers and cloudscapes. The photos I’ve taken over the last two years. Walking outside in nature and taking the time to appreciate beauty helps me with my moods. At the same time, I must be sure to not overexpose myself to the sun, for it triggers hypomania.The monoprints I created almost two decades ago when I lived with a diagnosis of dysthymia, well before I was diagnosed bipolar type II. The doodles I’ve done recently, as I’ve found coloring and doodling helpful in grounding me, in slowing down racing thoughts and overcoming anxiety.

I am not creative in spite of or because of my mental illness. I simply am creative. Even when medicated properly and asymptomatic, I am creative. Medication does not turn my creativity off. Using creativity can help me to manage my symptoms, it can be a release, but it is not dependent on me having a diagnosable mental illness. What I want to get across is the importance of self-care, including medication, if needed, and psychotherapy. Art, photography and writing do not take the place of medication or psychotherapy, they are adjuncts to traditional treatment modalities.

Check out my fellow artists’ hope-inspiring work at The Blooming Hope Nursery.

Mosaic Tile Shelf

Mosaic Tile Counter

My son designed this mosaic tile shelf which I recently made. Having ordered a box of random broken Talavera tile, I ended up with a lot of yellow tile. Apparently yellow was not as popular as other colors. My son and I looked at the tile array and he suggested sun and sky. It mirrors our view of the Saddleback mountain range. The day dawning over the hills symbolizes hope for the future. Not able to find words to express that hope right now, not because I am depressed, but because I am struggling to string words together to form complete sentences or complex thoughts. This post is an exercise in writing in spite of the slow, lethargic state of my mind. Look forward to going back down to my maintenance dose of Depakote (valproic acid). This is very frustrating. Exhausting.