Saturday, March 23, 2013

Nine and Fifty

I am about to turn fifty-nine years of age. Tomorrow is my birthday, and I intend to keep on having them until I get one exactly right. If my birthdays keep on being as skewed, screwy and unsettled as the rest of my life, I may be around for a long time to come.

The last time I posted to this page was on January 10. Many of you know that I have depression and anxiety, and that on some days they have me. It might relieve you to learn that they are not the cause of my absence. In fact, I've just been too busy to write.

Depression makes me feel that I'm slow and incompetent, anxiety that I will never get back anything that I value. Lately, though, my life has been very good.

I completed my Peer Support Workers' training last year, and for six months I had a contract to work with an individual whose courage and commitment made me very proud. The team that I was working with were not able to renew my contract, but I keep applying and I keep interviewing with other teams. While I suppose that technically makes me a ronin, I don't think I'll be one for long.

When my contract was coming to a close, my supervisor took me out to lunch. She told me that a friend of hers was thinking of hiring a companion to spend a couple of afternoons a week visiting her father in the care home in which he lives. She asked me if I would be interested in the job. It has been just great. Her father and I go for walks, read the newspaper, National Geographic, Robert Service and Doctor Seuss. Over the past couple of months, we have been travelling the world by tracing our fingers over the Rand McNally world map on the big table in the main floor dining room at his residence. We stop every now and then to read about the countries that we visit in a fifty year-old World Book encyclopedia that we've found nearby. The information is current enough for our purpose, and I'm beginning to feel quite cosmopolitan.

Because these visits take place on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, I've had to give up my two daytime meetings at the Mood Disorders Association of BC. At one point, I would attend five MDA meetings in a busy week and would facilitate or co-facilitate four of them. I miss my afternoon groups, but I'm very proud to be one of two Scottish Agnostic founding members of MDA's new Jewish support group. I'm trying to work out a way to attend our South Asian Women's Group, but I haven't figured out the logistics yet.

MDA has formed a Speakers' Bureau whose members visit different venues to tell our stories to small groups of people. While we can stand in front of an audience and let them look into the darkest parts of our souls, some of us are petrified at the idea of reading aloud to them. I'm not, so often, I'm the one who gets to read our MDA information and introduce the other speakers. Originally, this was intended as a volunteer activity, but lately, funds have been allocated to pay us an honorarium. Sometimes, I feel like a pirate, but I'm not giving the booty back!

The past two weeks have been an absolute blur. Some of my good friends have bipolar disorder, and they have a term for what's going on with me. They tell me it's called "hypomania". They assure me that it'll be fun. They lie. Anyway, I can't be hypomanic; because I don't get highs. On occasion, my lows will ascend almost to the surface and permit me to look through my periscope, but that's as close as I can get. Sometimes I wonder if all of the other submarines dream of being airplanes.

I spent all of last week in a classroom. I was being trained to facilitate WRAP, or the Wellness Recovery Action Plan, and now I have been deemed to be qualified to assist people in designing a plan to keep their lives in a proper balance and to help them decide what they can do when things go wrong. In April, I will get to facilitate my first group with a friend who has done it several times before.

Monday was my day off. I went to visit my friends at MDA to show off my brand new certificate. Tuesday morning, I went to a Speakers' Bureau presentation to a group of students in the Community Mental Health and Addictions Workers' program at Stenberg College...we rocked! At one o'clock, I visited my travel companion at the senior's residence, and at three, I was at my Peer Support Workers' monthly meeting.

On Wednesday, the Speakers' Bureau got to address a class of Licensed Practical Nursing students at Vancouver Community College. I got to talk about me for a change - god, I love telling that story! They kept us half an hour late with great questions. I felt lucky to make it back home to our co-op, where Sheral and I were hosting the monthly meeting of the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association in our common room.

Thursday afternoon, it was back to the seniors' home for a visit, and then home to get ready for the monthly MDA Educational Evening at Sunrise Hall.

On Friday morning, I went to North Vancouver to interview with my friend Debbie for a Peer Support contract being offered by that team. I hope I rocked! I don't remember Friday afternoon.

So this is the state of things on the eve of my birthday. I might not ever get highs, but I am greatly pleased with myself tonight. I'm busy building a reputation, and it seems to be a good one. So, that explains my absence from this page of late. I promise that I'll be back before I have to do my "Three Score" post. Really, I promise...

The Tall Lady is bonny, the cats are well and I'm getting better and better.

I hope you are too. Be well, friends.


  1. I'm glad you are back. And I'm glad you are acknowledging and appreciating your birthday, because you should. :-)

    I wonder if you realize just how important a person you are in the lives of all those you meet, greet, support, teach and entertain? My guess is that you have no idea of just how huge your personal contribution to the people (and cats =^..^= ) of this weird, mostly blue and green planet really is. Thank you for being you. And thanks to who/whatever it is that gives you the ability to come close to the surface and write.

    My wish for you is the ability to fully surface, float, then take off and fly - just like those really, really noisy planes near Stanley Park that always look as though they are wearing their slippers. Though perhaps you'll be a little more considerate of the hearing of those close by when you do...please

  2. Happy Birthday, old man! May you have a wonderful day and year to come!