The Adventures of Bipolar Girl

Comfort for the Neurotic in All of Us

Day 11: Editing NOT Included

Tonight my lack of sleep is catching up with me.
I’ve been dragging most of the day.
It’s not even 8pm and my bed is calling my name.
I experienced a mood swing today.
My mood dipped really low
and at one point I just wanted to cry.
At first I thought it might be the lithium
(was this one of the things
my doctor warned me about?)
until I remembered the REAL cause of my grief:
I made the mistake of reading a political Christian blog
and it upset me for the entire rest of the day.
I made the mistake of reading the comments
and I wondered how God’s people had fallen
so low and unto such hard times.

Life was so much kinder and gentler
when I kept my neck in the Bipolar Bubble
and my head down.

The one year I decide to vote
all hell appears to be breaking loose.
The writer of the blog said something
that scared me. This is not a direct quote
because I can’t remember exactly what he said
and I’m too tired to go look….
What was so terrifying? He said…
“Christianity will survive this election,
but America will not…”
in an attempt to scare people
into supporting
his choice.
We must save America
at all cost, right?

When did America warrant top billing over the faith?
Of COURSE  Christianity will prevail.
IF anything that we, as Christians, profess to believe is
Then the enduring nature of the living God better
be the one thing that cannot and will not fail.

In that respect, it doesn’t matter which of the two
gets elected, because God WILL prevail,
but the growing division is going to leave a scar.

The spiritual strong arming in that post
was distressing.
IF any Christian didn’t support a certain
candidate, then the destruction of the entire
country lay squarely at their feet.
Of course supporters of the OTHER candidate
bleat out similar catastrophic warnings.
That OTHER candidate even went so far as to say,
“The only thing standing between you and the Apocalypse
is me.”

Who are these people?

I can understand how they became
so self-deluded in their OWN minds…
but how did they manage to convince
so many sane people that THEY are the saviors
of America?

Last I looked… there was only One Savior
and he didn’t need THEIR help.

When did we become so divided?
When did quarrels over words become
more important than what is written in The Word?
A house divided cannot stand.
A kingdom divided will fall.
So what about a country?
What about a people?

Christian leaders on either side of the
gaping chasm that is dividing us
INSIST that they are right and the other
side is wrong…
all I see is division.
God IS love
but I’m seeing precious
little of that in either candidate
OR their disciples.

Makes me not want to vote.
It feels like a powder keg waiting to blow
and we’re standing over a short fuse.
The more I hear
the more I read
the more I believe
that supporting EITHER
candidate is going to lead
to destruction.

This is a lose-lose situation.
There is no way that America
can win.

How do you choose between
two egocentric people
who have set themselves
up as saviors of the world
and refuse to realize that the
world doesn’t need their
brand of salvation…??

What do you do on Nov. 8th?
Vote for the evil in red
or the devil in blue?
How do you look
yourself in the mirror
on Nov. 9th?

I wish we could hit “Reset”
and go back to a time before
the divide —
before we, as a nation,
stopped being a nation —
but since the last “reset”
involved a flood…
I best be careful what
I wish for.

Normally, the only thing
that has the power to move
me this greatly is the self-pity that comes
from wallowing in my own depression
about whatever drama is going on in my life
at the time.
So today is different…

Today I am grieving for my country
and our world,
so I guess I can
count that as progress.

Now I can see more of the world
outside of my bubble
and I am grieved by what I see.
I cannot wait until it is all over
(the election, not the world).
Something tells me that no matter
who wins –
we all lose.

Good thing that other blogger was right…
Christianity WILL survive this election
because God and his enduring nature
do not depend on it.

Today is Day 11 and I’m exhausted and distressed…
PRAISE GOD that tomorrow is coming.


Week 3. Day 10.

This morning I didn’t want to wake up and and go to church.
I was burnt out from yesterday and really just wanted to sleep.
But I’d had nearly seven consecutive hours of sleep —
WAY more than I normally get.
I didn’t have an excuse.
I was in pain and irritable
and I felt like church
would only set me off.

Another sign my doctor cautioned me
to look for is irritability…
but since that’s my normal MO,
what exactly was I looking for?

I figured it out in church.
My relationship with “The Church”
has been spotty over the years.
I used to feel really guilty
when I didn’t want to go to church…
like I was a really bad Christian.
But now I understand that church
may not be the best place for
me when I’m having mood swings;
am on the verge of having mood swings;
or just coming out of a season of mood swings.

Knowing this helps me accept that there are times
when I’m just not mentally, emotionally, or spiritually
capable of attending church.
I might be physically capable of getting there…
but once there my buttons get pushed and I could
be in a really bad mental, emotional, and spiritual
place when I leave.
There have been times where I’ve run out of church
in tears feeling stressed out and crazed.
So wisdom tells me that there are times that I shouldn’t go.

This morning was not one of them.
Part of The Plan includes church attendance.
I’m not in crisis. I’m doing rather well.
I have been happily attending church
since I moved in August.
And not just any church —
I’m attending that church
that used to mash every. button. I. have.

God and I used to wrestle long and hard
about why he saw fit to guide me to this church.
I didn’t want to go… but God kept calling me back.
It was the last place I would have chosen for me
but the only place I thought to go to when I moved.
I was SO thankful to God that he’d gotten me
out of a really unhealthy situation relatively unscathed.
I just wanted to praise him and I ended up there.
I’ve been going ever since
but I’ve been grateful,
not irritable.

When I’m irritable I can get rather judgey.
This morning I was really irritable and my judgey
was out in front leading the charge.

I get to church early. Service doesn’t start until 9:30
but I’m usually there by nine. I bring breakfast
and I listen to the worship team practice.
I enjoy the stillness. I enjoy the music.
I enjoy the fact that there are very few people.
Being there that early helps me settle —
to calm my mind and my soul.

When the people start to arrive
that peace just flies out the window.
Church has always done that to me
no matter what church I’m in
or what denomination it is.
People are people.
And people make noise.

Bipolar Girl is sensitive to noise
and people travel with it.
As the worship starts for real
I think that the noise should
stop (out of respect for God).
After all, it is God that we are
there to worship, right?
He should have our full attention.
As the speaker leads us in prayer
the congregation continues to loudly greet
each other with hugs and kisses.
People loudly exclaim how great it is to
see someone…
People rush to get coffee.
Children are running all over the place.

One Sunday, the women in front of me
were taking selfies during the worship.
I half expected them to jump
up out of their seats
to get one of those mid-air shots.
People continue to stream in (late)
talking loudly as if the worship team
wasn’t on stage trying to draw
people into God’s presence.
And this happens at every
I’ve ever attended

Personally, I find all the noise distressing.
It’s like we all got dressed up to go over to
God’s house where he graciously let us in…
but once in the doors people are too busy to
actually talk to him.

What would they do, really,
if God were actually sitting on the stage
listening to the worship team?
Would people be bowing down
in awe of him because he actually
Or would they keep talking
to their friends, taking selfies,
and rushing to get coffee?

That time between when the service
actually starts and when people actually
settle down and stop talking long enough
to “enter into God’s presence”
grieves me.
I have had that half an hour to settle
To calm my mind and my soul…
and I am ready for him,
but not for them.

This time also stumbles me.
I’ve openly admitted to a lifelong
struggle with porn.
Living on an island insures that
some people will come to church
wearing as little as possible.

I know I should just be glad
that people are showing up…
but when young women show up
in shorty shorts, halter tops,
or other clothes that flaunt
their bodies,
my mind goes to porn
and I’m female.
Imagine what some of the guys
are going through?
and I wonder who did they
get dressed for this morning?

There were so many times that
I would just run out of church
because between the noise and the
visual assault — I couldn’t take it.
My response to those triggers
was to become angry or rageful.
I felt like a failure as a Christian.

I wanted to be able to worship
God alone
without the noise
and distraction of people.

That’s one reason I like church
on podcasts. I can still hear a word from God
without worrying about how
I’m going react to his kids
when they don’t behave.

This morning?
I was already tired and irritable
before I got to church.
Wisdom should have told me to stay home.
Conditions were ripe for a meltdown.
But Wisdom was saying no such thing.
I needed to go to my Father’s house
and trust him with whatever happened there.

Would you believe that the message
was about “being in the presence of God.”
More specifically, about being a people of
God’s presence.

I can be in God’s presence no matter what
his other kids are doing.
All the normal stuff that normally
pisses me off

The loud personal greetings during the worship?(check)
People talking during the opening prayer? (check)
People taking pictures and talking during the worship? (check. check)
Running children? Screaming babies? (check)
Girls dressed more appropriately for the beach than the sanctuary? (check)

All of it.
ALL the stuff that mashes my buttons…
the stuff that used to push my buttons so that I was
too wired to even hear the message let alone sit still
through it…
All of it happened today
and I didn’t care.
I was no more irritable than normal.
In fact, I was less irritated because it only
grazed my buttons without
giving them a full-on mash.

People are people.
They are messy and loud.
Are all of those things disrespectful to God?
I think they are.
But are any of them unforgiveable?
Do I really need to answer that?
Would they do any of that if Jesus were
actually, physically, standing on the stage
and they could see him?
I doubt it.

But instead of wallow in irritation…
I closed my eyes and listened to the music.
Those people didn’t come to church for me
and my likes.
They came for God
and they came in whatever state
they happened to be in.
I do not know their stories…
but they all come in with one.

I wasn’t manic this morning.
I was irritated.
Giving me a blanket warning
to watch for irritability
is like telling me to watch
out to see if I’m breathing.
I was no more irritable than
I normally am.
The big difference
was that I was determined
to stay.
I wanted to be in the
presence of God.

I was blown away
that the pastor exhorted us
to be people of God’s presence.
She sited example after example
of people who experienced God’s
presence no matter where they were,
what they were doing, or what had been
done to them.

This morning before church I thought about
what life AFTER lithium would look like.
I’m following this great plan…
but then what?
It’s not like I’m going to stop having Bipolar.
I mean… it COULD happen… but I’ve always
believed that God told me that THIS was my
cross and that his grace would be sufficient.

How will I handle all of these irritants
when I no longer have the lithium
as a safety net?
I guess the answer is clear:
I am to be a woman of God’s presence.
I need to be in a relationship with
him that goes so deep and so wide
as to be the only net I will ever need.

Church is always going to be part worship
and part circus.
As long as you have people
there will be noise and distractions.
God has grace for that.
And if God can have grace for them,
I trust he’s going to show me how to as well.

Today was Day 10 and I was in the presence of God.

Day 9: You and What Army?

My doctor warned me about the dangers of not getting enough sleep as I work to taper off the lithium, so I was a bit concerned when midnight rolled around and I wasn’t even vaguely tired after a really long day. I don’t think I actually went to sleep until around 1am, but I was still determined to get up and walk the track at the Stadium. The plan for the day involved me walking the track then catching a quick shower before heading out to the mall where they were having a Job Fair. I’d signed up at work to man our table. I wasn’t sure why since that much public exposure was likely to push a bunch of my buttons. After I signed up, I found out I was scheduled to work the table the same time as some coworkers whom I find really stressful. Great. I make it a point to limit my contact with them. Now here I was ON A SATURDAY stuck with them for a few hours at a table in the middle of the mall!!!!!! I hate the mall. If I didn’t already know what drugs I was on, I’d ask. It was too late to back out too… so I figured I’d enjoy my walk and write the rest of my day off as a work obligation.

After last week’s freak rain storm, I determined that NOTHING, but NOTHING was going to stop me from walking. I checked the weather report last night. There was only a 20% chance of rain, but I still put my umbrella in my bag. All in all, I only had about 4-5 hours of sleep, but it was consecutive. No late night nature calls, so I roughly got the same number of hours of sleep that I normally get. I was tempted when I woke up to just bail. I could see evidence of rain on the window, but I resisted the temptation and put on my walking gear. My “Persevere” shirt was in the wash, so I would have to find my inner motivation on my own.

All the cars in the parking lot should have clued me in. There are NEVER that many cars at 6:45am on a Saturday. I feared there was some kind of sporting event happening. Grrr. I might be trying to kick start my new “healthier lifestyle,” but I still hate sports. I always have. And to think that yet another weekend walk would have to be sacrificed made me want to dig in my heels. I was going to walk and nobody (certainly not a sporting event) was going to stop me. Have ya’ ever heard a defiant person in a movie, when faced with a foe trying to stop them, utter the words, “Oh yeah? You and what army?” ? I thought something along those lines when I walked into the stadium… but then stopped dead in my tracks.

What army?

Would you believe the US Army? I kid you not. There were a whole bunch of soldiers in full uniform and what appeared to be horde of cadets at the far end of the track. Looks like they were prepping for a race. Another civilian walker was leaving just as I came in. I asked her what was up with THE ARMY? She said she thought they were finishing up and that they’d been there when she started her jog. She said it’d been awkward jogging past all of them, but she did her regular workout.

Seriously, Lord?

You and what army? Had I really thought that? Was this divine intervention telling me to pack it in and go home? Hell no. After rejecting all the other excuses to not walk this morning, I’d be hanged if I let anything (even the US Army) stop me. I put on my music and started walking. It’d take me a little while to make it to their end of the track, but when I did I could feel the awkwardness of it all start to rise. But then I walked right through them and… nothing. I’m not sure what I was expecting them to do, but they paid me no mind. I kept walking and pretty soon I wasn’t even thinking about them and in a little while they all filed out of the Stadium. Ha! Not even the US Army could stop me!! I am the Queen of the World! Or at least the Stadium.

I was wiped out after that and came home to take a nap. I almost bailed on the Job Fair. I felt like crap and really didn’t want to be bothered, but I try to let my “Yes” be “Yes” and my “No” be “No.” If I said that I’d be there, then I needed to be there.

Boy, was I surprised. I’ve spent so many years in the Bipolar Bubble, that I forgot that I’m actually pretty good at stuff like this. I’m a UC Berkeley Rhetoric major. I speak better than I write. I was in my element at the Job Fair. Since I love my job, it was easy to talk to potentials about all that we have to offer. I even struck up conversations with some of the other vendors who might be in positions to offer our students jobs. I got some names and some cards. I felt really professional and really normal. I got to see a glimpse of what I used to be like before the Bipolar manifested.

The only blight on my love feast? I was prepared to deal with the two coworkers that I know stress me out. I find that if I’m cordial, but not overly friendly, I can navigate conversations with them. I wasn’t counting on the third, new coworker being an emotional drain. She’s not even in my department, but she spent every minute she wasn’t talking to a member of the public bashing my boss. I don’t even know the woman. This was my first real encounter with her and she opted to make that her first impression? I think she thought that I might have an ax to grind about him. She clearly knew nothing about the “Most. FAVORITE. Boss. EVER card that I got him for Boss’ Day this week. I LOVE my boss and take exception to this newbie trying to tear him down. I took that as my cue to go scope out the other vendors.

If she hadn’t been such a downer I wouldn’t have done this. I am SO glad that I did. I made more contacts and got a ton of really cool info and applications for my students. It was one of those “God uses all thing for the good” situations. Being trapped at that table with the three of them could have been a bad situation, but it wasn’t. I set a mental boundary of how much I was willing to put up with from any of them and politely defended my borders with the diligence of a soldier in the US army. I’m actually glad I got to spend time around her because now I know how to pray for my boss. I also know that I need to limit my exposure to this woman. She was very unprofessional dumping all of that vitriol on me, a complete stranger, but it’s going to benefit my students that this happened.

One thing that was a pleasant surprise today? Tonight as I was talking to God I thanked him for my pain. The message in church last week was on suffering. As one who has suffered long, I’ve always maintained that hell would have to freeze over first before I’d actually thank God for any suffering that I’ve had to endure. Especially since scripture says to be thankful in our suffering… not because of them. I guess a case could be made for that too, but I’ve never wanted to be the one making that case. Until now….

As much as I hate the physical pain that I am in, I am thankful for it. Tonight I realized that were it not for the pain, I wouldn’t be making any of these changes in my life. I wouldn’t be trying to get off the lithium. I wouldn’t be embarking on a plan for fitness and better health. I’d be continuing on my merry little couch surfing ways getting closer and closer to diabetes every day. After having both my mom and my sisters lose legs and then their lives to diabetes, I know I’m at risk for it. My body type and my total lack of exercise and crappy diet only made things worse. Without the compelling reason of this bone pain, I wouldn’t be doing anything. So, for tonight, at least, I thanked God for the pain. And because the Job Fair turned out to be so cool, I’m going to thank God for putting me at the table with three such challenging people. I’m also going to thank him for the presence of the US Army at the track this morning. I am no longer worried about anything getting in the way of my walk. Last week I let a little rain (ok, a WHOLE LOT OF RAIN) stop me from walking. Today? Well, today is Day 9 and nothing could stop me, not even the US Army.

Day 8: Do You See What I See?

Today is Day 8.

I’m tired
but I earned it.
The day has been long,
but my mood is good.
Woke up at 5:00 am
(after a night going
back and forth to the

Finally got up at 5:30
got dressed, got packed,
and got out the door by 6:20.
Shopped for a potluck dish
for an exiting co-worker.

Got to school an hour early.
Prepped for class.
Greeted my students
as they came through the door.
Taught my classes well.
laughed with them, loudly.
laughed with them long.
Didn’t explode when a
student totally pissed me off.
Had several conferences
with students
even though I was sleepy.

Socialized at the potluck.
(I know. I never do this)

Played “Clue” with my Study Hall class.
Learned Consumer Economics
with diploma students in last block.
Finished my lesson plans.
Input data into the computer.
Prepared for next week.
Packed up. Closed my classroom.

Drove home singing.
Stopped by to see a friend.
Drove home in traffic.
Happy to be home!
Played with the dog.
Put in my indoor walking dvd.
Walked a mile.
Put on my online workout episode.
Worked  out for 18 minutes.
Pulled out the big blue rubber ball-
did exercises for the pain in my hip.
Rewarded myself with an Epsom salt/
Apple Cider Vinegar bath.
(I might smell like a pickle…
but I feel good).

Balanced my checkbook
and paid all my bills.
Started getting ready for bed.
Sat down at the computer to blog…

I try to look for evidence
of God in my life each day…
without stopping to consider
that every day that I wake up
— breathing and opening my eyes
proves evidence of his presence.
Some might say that nothing
spectacular happened today.
That God didn’t “show up.”
That it was all “business as usual.”
But as I lived and breathed and
did a hundred “normal” little things
I not only saw “the spectacular.”
I believed it.
I felt it.
I embraced it.

Today was Day 8.

Day 7: On the Seventh Day

I didn’t plan to take a day of rest on the seventh day of The Plan. Last Saturday I took my car in for an oil change and found out that there was a recall because of the doors! They told me when I was at the dealership and said that I should bring it in this week. I was a bit miffed that I’d never received any emails about it… and of course my mind starts wondering what’s wrong with the doors? In my mind I see the worst case scenario: I’m driving down the road and my doors fly open or off! I didn’t quibble about the lack of notice. I just made the appointment which just happened to be on the seventh day.

I arranged to meet with my mentor while my car was in the shop. Only today she wasn’t my mentor. She was just my old and dear friend. We put a pause on my endless monologue to focus on things in her life. Normally, we meet at her house for mentor stuff, but I suggested we take a walk around the track or go for breakfast. She thought I meant both… and rather than wuss out, I agreed. She picked me up at the dealership and we drove to the Stadium to walk around the track. Only thing? My friend is in a wheelchair. Keeping up with her was a bit of a challenge. I couldn’t have kept up that pace for an hour. When I walk, I start out slow with the pace of the music and then alter my pace to match the tempo as the songs change. I felt like I was panting like a St. Bernard. I wasn’t. But it sure felt like it. It also felt good to be out there walking with her… even if it was only for a half an hour. My friend is an athlete — a former Paralympic athlete. This woman went for an 8 mile push the other day. I’m not there yet, but I will be. Ok. Maybe not 8 miles… more like 4 miles.

At the end of our walk I looked at people taking the Stadium steps for exercise. For so long, going up stairs was the worst, most painful part of my day. Now I can generally do the stairs at work with no problem, but as I watch people run up and down those Stadium stairs I knew I wasn’t there yet either. For some reason, though, I decided to try them today. They’re steep, but each step is not very high. It felt weird going up them and even weirder going down. I could really feel it in my hip, but even more so I felt vaguely afraid. I fell down stairs as a child once and got my head stuck in the banister between the railings. Stop laughing. It was more embarrassing than painful, but they had to break the railing to get my head out. Ever since, I have never been able to go down stairs without holding on to something and watching my feet to make sure I land on a step. Going down those stairs today I felt like I was going to fall. My goal is to be able to run up and down those stairs. In order to serve on the Mercy Ships’ crew you need to be able to go up six flights of stairs without resting. I need to be able to do those stairs. It’s “the goal” and I will conquer my fear. I’m not there yet, but I will be.

From the Stadium we went for breakfast. Last night I worried about where we would eat. IHOP or Denny’s were out. I’d order grease and salt with a side of carbs. My adhesions would rebel. My blood pressure would cause my heart to dance (and not in a good way). I’d retain a bunch of water and my bones would never let me hear the end of it. I even googled restaurants in town last night, but couldn’t find anything that seemed viable. We ended up going to Whole Foods. I have come to love their salad bar but a few years ago I used to mock a friend of mine for eating there. I swore I’d NEVER set foot in the place. Fortunately, I have had to eat my words. Since moving I’ve become a regular at WF. I stop there a few times a week. When they ran out of the single-gal sized to-go cartons who wrote an email to the store begging for their return so she could continue to enjoy the tasty salads? I know. Shocked me too.

I couldn’t really see me eating a salad for breakfast, so if that’s all they had then IHOP would be the back up. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that not only had they restocked the single-gal sized to-go boxes… but they had a breakfast spread that I could smell! Remember: I smell = I taste. If I can smell it, I can taste it. I grabbed my to-go box and added a sampling of some of the yummy goodness. I was feeling really pleased with myself. There’s something about shopping at WF that just makes me feel healthy. I pranced over to the cash register to pay for my grub when the cashier goes, “Hey, weren’t you at the Stadium this morning?” I nearly coughed up a fur ball. Now who would be mocking whom? My friend would be pleasantly shocked to know that I was in WF buying a healthy breakfast after walking around the track… and SOMEBODY RECOGNIZED ME. We actually spent a few minutes talking about just how great it feels to get out there and walk. The conversation was surreal. A year ago I couldn’t have had this conversation. A: Because I couldn’t walk that far and B: I would not have been caught dead in Whole Foods.

They finished my car early so my friend dropped me off and I decided to drive to the other side to my beach. It’s the beach where I met Jesus in 1994. I love that beach because it’s an un-beach. It’s got a huge grassy expanse  before you can actually get to the sand. There’s trees and benches and you’ve got a great view of the ocean. I go there to re-calibrate. I bring my bible and my journal and I talk to God. I look back over where he has led me and ask for the next step in His Plan for me. It was a beautiful day. Blue sky and even bluer ocean. Wind. Fresh air. I missed this. It was just to physically uncomfortable for me to spend much time at the beach after my surgeries, so I just stopped going. It was good to spend time just talking to God there and looking in my journal marking off all the answered prayers. I write them down. My prayers I mean. That way, when God answers them I can use a highlighter and see a visual reminder of what he’s done for me.

I needed to take today off. I didn’t realize it, but now that it’s nearly over I’m glad I had to take my car in. Before I went home I made another trip to WF to buy a bunch of veggies (yams, rainbow carrots, and red potatoes). I roasted them with garlic and herb pork tenderloin. See what I mean about yummy goodness? I had a really good day and McDonald’s was not a part of it. I am on the right track with The Plan. I believe my overall health is going to improve because I took a step out in faith. I just need to keep walking it out. One final cool thing I did today? Monday was Bosses Day. My boss was in Utah, so I couldn’t give him my card. I bought him a small token of my appreciation today. I love my boss. He has done much to improve my working conditions and that has improved my overall quality of life. He fully supports me taking four day work weeks until I’m off the lithium. He is a blessing from God and I try to let him know he’s appreciated. What’s that verse in Ecclesiastes say?

There is nothing better for people to do than to eat, drink, and find satisfaction in their work. I saw that even this comes from the hand of God. Eccl. 2:24

Here. Here. God is going to show me how to find satisfaction in the foods that I eat so that I will be healthier and stronger. He already fixed my workplace which used to be very unhealthy and dysfunctional for me. If I act like The Plan was my idea. Don’t be fooled. Even this comes from the hand of God. I enjoyed my day of rest. Now it’s time to go back and enjoy my job. Today was a gift from God. Today was Day 7.

Day 6: McG’s

Week 2 is almost over. I take my lithium tomorrow and then stop for the weekend. Despite some challenges…Week two hasn’t been bad. My mind is clear and I’ve been happy. My students have been happy and THAT’S the litmus test. If I’m not happy. They are not happy. Not because we’re all emotionally in sync or anything… it’s just that when I’m not happy I tend to become a nagging shrew and NOBODY likes that. I was a bit short today, but I’ve just been so tired that it’s harder to have my normal self-control.

I KNOW it’s because of what I’ve been eating. I’ve been craving salt for one thing and that causes me to retain water. It’s also kicked my heart palpitations at night up a notch. I’ve also had a bit of bread and my adhesions don’t like bread OR white rice (which I ate a lot of this week). It creates all sorts of gnarly business in my innards that’s both uncomfortable and painful. So my swollen digits and the bone pain in my hands and feet are my own fault. I need to get this under control before I get too far into The Plan because I am, by nature, a whinny baby when it comes to pain. I might sound all stoic and accepting here… but God knows better. I grumble and complain. My road rage is harder to control. It’s not pretty when I’m ON medication. I shudder to think what it could look like once I’ve tapered down some more.

The stuff I’ve been eating has been messing with my GERD. At first I thought I was having chest pains until I realized it was the salsa and the chips coming back to haunt me. I’ve been doing without this stuff for MONTHS… so when I try to slip it back into my diet my body rebelled. Same thing with dairy. I’m lactose intolerant. A lot of black folks are. I avoid milk, but I like me some cheese. And you can’t have cheese without crackers and salami. Right?

My problem is that I don’t know the meaning of “moderation.” So I’ve been eating myself into illness which isn’t going to make The Plan any easier to follow. I have stayed away from obvious triggers like McDonald’s (whimper) and desserts (no biggey)… but the bread, the salt, and the cheese have been calling my name. I even drank two Cokes the other day. I haven’t had a Coke in years so I thought I was missing something. I couldn’t even drink the first can. Ew. I just did not like the cloyingly sweet taste, so I poured it out. So why did I reach for the other one the next day with dinner? Doesn’t matter actually. I ended up as sick as a dog. That will be the last Coke I ever drink. I think that was what kicked off the heart palpitations again. They’d gone away for a while. Now I cannot sleep on my left side because the telltale heart will keep me awake.

It’s good that I’m incorporating exercise into my life more. The Plan is pretty specific about what I can do and what I plan to do. There’s very little room for confusion or failure. One of the other points in The Plan IS food… but as I’ve limped through this week I realize I need to be more specific and intentional about my food goals in The Plan. It’s rather vague. And I tend to not be able to stop myself when tasty food is around.

Oddly enough, while I was eating dinner tonight my taste buds just died. They literally stopped working mid-chew. One minute I could taste the food. The next minute I could’t. Ok. I could taste the onion… but onion wasn’t a primary ingredient. My sense of taste is normally impaired because of my allergies. I’m used to not tasting my food… but tonight it tasted like I was eating white noise. When I tried to cleanse my palate with water, the WATER tasted somewhere between no-taste-at-all and horrible. Ew. My mouth still tastes funny. Not the GERD funny that I’m used to. I can’t describe it, but I cannot taste anything.

Who wants to eat if you cannot taste? Maybe God is telling met that Bipolar Girls “don’t live on bread alone, but by every word that falls from the mouth of the Lord.” I watched that mock-u-mentary “Fat. Sick. And Nearly Dead.” It was eye opening and inspiring. The guy went on a juice fast for 2 months. I’d be stupid to try that now, but I like the idea of rebooting my system. For the first week he was as sick as a dog with a lot of the symptoms that I’ve worked really hard to get rid of (dizziness, nausea, tremors, diarrhea)…  so trying to incorporate that into The Plan would be the height of stupidity. It would mess with my mood and trigger episodes. I’d like to think that somebody reading this would say something to stop me if I was talking about doing that now.

But I need to do something though. My poor eating habits is probably what created challenges for me this week. I’m 48 years old and don’t really know how to feed myself properly. The fact that I’m deficient in some vitamins and overdosing on others proves it. I do not eat enough fruits or vegetables because I can’t taste most of them.

It’s a vicious cycle. I eat foods that aren’t good for me because I can smell then and I can taste them…. so I end up feeling bloaty, sick, and lethargic. My bones hurt more. But then I’m too tired to cook healthy dinners which are really labor intensive… so I eat whatever’s quick and the cycle continues because “quick” might taste good, but it’s wreaks havoc on my body. This is one point where I don’t have an easy answer or a plan. I’ve tried diets before and failed. But this isn’t about weight loss. It’s about health. I know the internet if full of information. My doctor has even given me some materials, but having the information doesn’t mean that you know how to walk it out. SO I guess I could use some prayer on this one. My goal is NOT to became some granola cruncher who won’t eat “anything with a face.”  That would be a mood changer. I get cranky when I don’t get my meat.

Next year once I’m off the lithium I might revisit the notion of a juice fast — like a 10 day one. Take a vacation, plug in the juicer, and stay near a bathroom. I could do that. For now, I think I might just incorporate fresh juice into my diet to get more of the nutrients that I’m missing. For a girl who used to eat at McDonad’s at least 3 times a week… I’m doing pretty good. I pass no less than five fast food restaurants on my way home and I’ve not been tempted to stop at any of them, but there is more work to be done. When I think of the consequences of eating that burger or pounding down those fries, it no longer seems worth it. So today, I’m not sharing a point from The Plan. I’m recognizing that The Plan could use some more refining. Today is Day 6. I’m tired and I’m hungry. Yes, I’m fat and I’m sick, but I ain’t dead yet. God and I need to have some conversation about this…

Me: God, if I shouldn’t live on bread alone, what’s a girl to eat?

God: “Come, all you who are thirsty,  come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,  and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.

I need God to show me how to eat in a way that is healthy and sane for me. I also believe that on the sixth day God created animals because he knew they tasted good. Then he created man to enjoy all the tasty goodness. The early animal sacrifices? They were the first barbecues. But since God created plant life first… I need to at least try to eat more of it. Today is Day 6… and it was GOOD.


The Hip Bone’s Dis-Connected from…

What if I quit the lithium and the bone pain doesn’t go away?

Tonight the pain in my hip is pretty bad.

I tried ex-strength Tylenol.

No joy.

I read that Vick’s Vapor Rub could help.

I didn’t

Today was a good day,

but now I’m tired

and I hurt.

I’m not whining.

Just stating facts.

Lot’s of good things happened today too:

God has been very very good to me today.

So what if I’m not dealing with the pain so well tonight.
In two months I could end up pain free.
The Plan is supposed to be a turning point in my life…
So I guess I should ask myself a question:

I could say things like health, a spouse, to be lithium-free and pain-free… and all of this would be true. I jokingly tell my students that I want a million dollars and a husband named “Chuck” but that’s out of context. You had to be there.

Besides, it’s deeper than this…

want to follow
the Lord no matter
what life brings my way.
want to love other
people because I want to
not because I have to.
want the pain —
mental, physical, emotional…
to be gone
by faith
and to never
come back.
realized that I don’t want
anything from “Life”
but I want
from God.

Today is Day 5
and I’ve only just started to count.
Hope is believing in the unseen.
Good thing the Lord sees me.




Week 2. Day 4.

Day 4 got off to a bad start.
No “bipolar” bad.
Just bad.
I wake up around 4am
to go to the bathroom.
This is after I wake up around
2am to go to the bathroom…
right after my midnight trip
to –
you guessed it
go the bathroom.
And it’s not like
I don’t go to the bathroom
when I go to bed at 10:30…
because I do.
But evidently,
I’ve got a bladder
the size of a Dixie cup.
Except for mine’s holds
considerably less.
It’s been like that since the hysterectomy
so I can’t blame that on the lithium.

Normally, I get out of bed at 5:30 but after my
4amish bathroom break I can generally
just go back to sleep OR
I lay there and pray or just breathe
deeply to relax.
I check in with my body
to see what hurts
and what I cannot move.
This morning?
The bone pain was pretty
bad and I was exhausted.
I told myself I’d just close my eyes
for a moment.
I fell into a deep sleep.
Deep enough to have a nightmare.
I haven’t had one of those in a LONG time.
I don’t know what woke me up, but just
before I was about to die
I woke up in a panic.
Then I looked at my alarm clock
and experienced a different kind of panic —
it was almost 6am!!!!
I was late.
I need to explain what my “late” is.
School doesn’t start until 8am.
Staff doesn’t have to be there until 7:45.
I get to work anywhere between 6:45 and 7:00.
Even at my latest… I’m still going to be at work
at least a half hour earlier than everybody else.
So WHY was I running around the house like
a chicken with my head cut off??
I kept telling myself to slow down
and then told myself I’d slow down
once I was in the car.

Unfortunately,  my commute
had a hair raising moment
when a driver two cars a head of me
decides to make a sharp left turn
on a busy highway onto an unmarked turnaround.
Since we were all driving into the sun
the two drivers ahead of me didn’t see him
and had to slam on their breaks. I know this
because I had to slam on my breaks
to avoid rear ending the car ahead of me.
As the car behind me raced towards me
without slowing down I closed my eyes,
certain that I was about to be rear-ended
at top speed and crushed between two cars.

Guess who spent the rest of the ride
praising God?
After that, my day was busy
but good.
The bone pain didn’t stop me.
I was fine until the end of school.

Every year
we have an “Active Shooter” drill.
This year they showed a realistic
dramatization of an event and I started to feel
my chest tighten.
My face started to heat up.
I felt like I was going to start crying.
I don’t know about you…
but Bipolar Girl can
remember watching the news
about Columbine and falling apart.
It’s one of those
things I will never forget.
It messed with my head and sent
me spiraling.
So, over the years, I have not
watched any of the news stories
about shooters
that seem to be cropping up
with alarming regularity.

It’s one of the reasons I’m so paranoid now.

As I watched the video
I realized I was becoming upset.
Not good.
I knew it wasn’t a news story.
It knew it wasn’t real…
but tell that to my emotions.

I wanted to get up and leave.
What if I had a meltdown
right there in the rec hall
in front of the entire
assembled student body and staff?
Over a video?!

I wasn’t sitting where I could clearly see the video
which made it a little less stressful…
but I had to work really hard to hold off tears
and to pull myself together.

A young woman in the video got shot
and when a Good Samaritan asked her name…
she said MY name.
Did I just get shot in the video?
Of course, all the students looked over to me
and laughed which helped to diffuse my angst
but my chest continued to hurt.
I was able to sit through the rest of the training.
I told myself that I needed to be there.
My life might some day depend on what I learned
during the training… so Bipolar Girl  got interrupted.

By the time I got home I was exhausted.
My chest was still hurting enough so that it
seemed prudent to take a nitroglycerine tablet.
I told myself I wasn’t having a heart attack
and to be still.
As the familiar headache kicked in I sat still
and tried to breathe.

Fifteen minutes later I ate my dinner
and took my high blood pressure meds.
My chest still hurts and I’m still tired.
I have nothing overly insightful or inspiring
to share. I said I’d post every day…
so here I am.

Today reminded me of why I am doing this whole
Lithium Discontinuation plan in the first place:
My day got derailed because of the bone pain.
I read online (I can’t remember where)
that bone pain could increase as you discontinue lithium
but it’s too soon for that. I only skipped two days.
I’m in Week 2… but I’ve only missed two doses.
I resume taking it tonight and continue
to take it through Thursday.
Today was NOT a side effect.
It was unfortunate that I had so much pain and that I felt
off kilter… but on the positive side?
I was able to teach my classes and have fun with my students.
I didn’t emotionally limp my way through the day.
I’m kinda limping now
but in a few hours I will take my lithium
and go to bed.

In the last two posts
I’ve detailed two points in The Plan.
Might as well take a look at the logistics of it
because I know some people are wondering:

Discontinuation Schedule:

  • 10/09-11/03: Take 300mg tab Sun-Thurs (4 weeks)
  • 11/06-12/14:  Take 300mg tab Sun, Mon, Wed (6 weeks)
  • 12/18-12/28: Take 300mg tab Sun, Wed (2 weeks)

And for those visual learners:

This is all that I have left of my current Rx.

This is all that I have left of my current Rx.

The way I’ve planned it out, I am covered during the school week. I slowed it down from the original plan in an attempt to handle potential triggers. See Week 2? That’s where I am now, but it’s really only Day 4. I’ve got three more weeks at this dosage and then I decrease even more. It’s slow and it’s steady and I WILL stay the course.

Today started badly… but it’s only Day 4.

Day 3: Let’s Get Physical

The second point in The Plan is one of the hardest for me because it doesn’t come natural to me. I’ve always been rather bookish and when I wasn’t reading, I was writing. Growing up, if I wasn’t reading or writing, I was glued in front of the tv where I could sit for hours, staring fixedly without blinking. Nobody would bother me, so I just sat there, staring fixedly without blinking.

I grew up in a really large, really rowdy family. I hated all of the noise that they made… so I gravitated towards quieter, more solitary pursuits. I was not athletic like my siblings and I didn’t enjoy being outdoors. It was only later, as an adult, that I found out that I’m allergic to trees, grass, dust, pollen, flowers, plants… and pretty much most things that grow outdoors. Add that to my phobias (spiders, crawling things, flying things, anything in the bug kingdom) and I STILL have no reason to go outdoors. Is it any wonder that I’m vitamin D deficient?

I mentioned how my weight ballooned up when I went on the lithium: 138lbs to 215lbs was a nightmare. It wasn’t that I was eating tons of food, either. The meds piled on the weight and my lack of activity made sure I had trouble keeping it off. When I moved back to Maui in 2005 I was at a comfortable weight: 165lbs. I could still stand to lose a few, but weight loss and exercise were not the focus on my life. And then my world imploded.

Talking about my life from 2005-2009 is hard. It was the worst period of my entire life. Even now, I paused at the keyboard and just stared at the screen. What to write? My bipolar was out in front leading the charge and I fell into a hole so deep I didn’t think I could claw my way out. Ok. Damn. I’m crying. I can’t talk about that time right now. Not because I’m not over it. I am, but to recount what happened to me during that time would be the mental equivalent of pulling a scab off a wound and then rubbing salt in it. My depression was so heavy and so dark that it shrouded my faith in God, and for a season, I told God to hell with His plan for me. If he wasn’t going to make the bipolar go away and if he wasn’t going to fix my life… then I was going to follow my own plan.

This is one of those failures I mentioned in the other post. It is never a wise idea to tell the Living God to piss off. My life fell apart even more and things like accountability weren’t an option. I was surrounded by Christians and didn’t really want anybody to know just how badly I was falling apart. My weight was fluctuating during that time and the bigger I got — the more depressed I became. So depressed that I started neglecting my health. Now one thing my therapists had always told me was that it was important for me to have proper diet and exercise. They kept pointing out that exercise could take the edge off the depression… but how do you pull yourself out of an emotional black hole and motivate yourself to work out? There were some days that all I could do was pull myself out of bed and snap it together enough to go to work. I’d limp home and fall back into the hole. I wasn’t sleeping which caused me to be edgy and mentally fragile.

I was isolating myself, eating poorly, and getting no exercise at all. My depression was so constant that I thought the only way out was to look for guns online. I had tried suicide twice in college, but both attempts were half-hearted cries for help. I needed something quick and permanent. It is hard to think of exercising when you plan to kill yourself. Fortunately, God intervened and saved me from myself. He moved me out of that circumstance and surrounded me with different people. Only thing is, I’d let myself go so badly and ignored my health for so long that I didn’t do anything about the debilitating pain that I was feeling in my abdominal area. The pain affected my ability to walk and I just kept gaining weight which depressed me even more. It went on for over a year before I found out what it was. I had a non-cancerous fibroid in my uterus that was 10lbs and the size of a football. It needed to be removed. In 2010 I had a total hysterectomy.

Three surgeries later, I was still dealing with the after effects of neglecting my health. I’d developed adhesions which left me temporarily disabled for five years. Walking was a nightmare. Exercise was out of the question. I was largely sedentary and, again, my weight ballooned up. At my heaviest I was 198lbs. People would say that I wasn’t fat… but scales don’t lie.  It wasn’t until 2015 that I found someone who could help me walk properly again. It has only been in the last year that I have been able to start trying to exercise, but this time my goal is weight loss or even managing my mental health although they are byproducts. I wanted to regain my mobility. I realized just how much I’d taken the ability to walk and to move for granted. In the past year I have regained my ability to walk, to bend, to go up stairs and to sit up from a prone position with only minimal pain. A few months back, I started trying to walk around the field at a local park. Now? I can walk at a pretty fast clip and I’ve taken to walking around the track at the stadium.

Turns out the doctors were right: Exercise does help manage my depression. I feel amazing when I walk around that track. Everybody else walks around looking so serious. Not me. I’ve generally got this huge grin on my face because I am SO thankful to God that I can walk. I look at the people walking up and down the bleachers… and I know that in a few months that’s going to be me. A year and a half ago I didn’t think I’d ever walk properly. Now I’m walking on Saturdays for an hour and doing a 2 mile walking video in my home on other days. I have to. Weight bearing exercise helps alleviate the never-ending bone pain.

After running a ton of tests and x-rays my doctor thinks that the lithium is causing my bone pain. I’m 48 years old with the bone structure of a 25-30 year old (says my doctor)… but the bones in my entire body hurt. A lot. All day long. That’s why I’m going off the lithium. My doctors think the prolonged lithium use is causing the bone pain. So, the exercising is good for my bones… but it’s also going to help me keep my bipolar in check as I taper off the meds. So while the first point in The Plan dealt with accountability, the second point is harder because I don’t naturally gravitate towards exercise. For much of my life I avoided it either because I hated it or it caused me to relapse.

The second point of The Plan: Let’s Get Physical.

II. Physical: I need to maintain balance in my physical activity. Too much could cause a setback and not enough will effect both my mental and physical health.

A. Walking: Every Saturday morning walk for an hour around the stadium track; do my 2 mile walking video 1-2x week; do Launchpad (for people with mobility issues) online workout 1-2x week.

B. Epsom Salt: Take salt baths 2-3x week (I have a mild magnesium deficiency which affects bone health). The salt baths help relieve the pain, detox my body, and soothes my muscles.

C. Consider massage to cope with the pain:  When I mentioned this to my mentor, she whipped out a certificate for a free massage that she just happened to have in her bag!

D. Activity: Weight bearing exercise/workout ball

When I am depressed, exercise is the last thing I want to do, but it’s the first thing I should be doing. I spelled it out in The Plan so that people could hold me accountable. I don’t expect people to ask me if I’m doing B and C, but the people in my accountability network will be asking me about and actively praying that I am physically active during this time. There’s a scene in “Pretty Woman” (one of my favorite movies) where Richard Gear talks to Julia Roberts about opera. He says, “The music’s very powerful / People’s reactions to opera the first time they see it … They either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it. But it will never become part of their soul.”

I think physical exercise is the same way. Some people seem to be born athletic. I was not one of them. For years I hated it and avoided it like the plague. Now I appreciate it… but it has yet to become “part of my soul.” But I think I’m headed in the right direction. I got up to go walking around the track yesterday. I got there by 6:45am. I started walking. Grin on my face. Headphones in my ears. I was wearing my black t-shirt with “Persevere” emblazoned on the front. All was right with my world… until it started sprinkling. I hate rain with an intense passion. But I’m on a mission to change my ways. I figured I’d keep walking… that is… until the sky opened up on us. I’ve never gotten THAT wet THAT fast before. I also haven’t run that fast in YEARS.

As I darted to my car I was disappointed in myself. What about The Plan?? There were a few diehards who were still out there walking because exercise is in their souls. Me? I got in my car, turned on the heat, and drove home. But when I got there… instead of taking off my soaked clothing, I put my 2 mile walking dvd into my laptop and started walking. Me. Exercise might not be a part of my soul now... but as I use it to help me stay safe as I discontinue the lithium, who’s to say what my soul will look like in two months’ time? I weighed myself this morning. The weight is coming off. I’m 177 lbs and dropping. I could stand to lose another 12 lbs.  It’s going to happen. I don’t doubt it. I’m ready and I’m excited. Today is Day 3.

Day 2: The Best Laid Plans…

One of my favorite all time quotes is, “Nobody plans to fail. They just fail to plan.” So many of my past failures in life (and there have been many) can generally be traced back to a lack of  planning on my part. I step out on some grand venture and neglect to count the cost or chart the course and the end result is decidedly less that what I’d hoped for. Scripture says that “plans fail for the lack of counsel,” so even when I make plans… if I don’t run them past an objective third, fourth, or fifth party, I may still end up with a failure on my hands. SO I made it a point to get counsel before embarking on this plan to discontinue lithium. This is one area where failure is not an option. My doctor’s warning is still present in my mind, but not dominating it. Yes, I know that this COULD trigger a manic episode and I COULD end up in the hospital or worse… or I COULD be totally fine and happier than I’ve ever been because the bone pain (along with all the other lithium related problems) has finally gone away.

If I stick to The Plan, I should be completely lithium free the last week of December. I’ve chosen to chart this journey in my blog because if I do become manic, it’ll show up in my writing. One big concern is that the lack of sleep will trigger mania. If I’m up blogging at one o’clock in the morning on a consistent basis, that’s a red flag. If I start posting multiple times in a day and my moods seem all over the map — that’s another red flag. I may not know that I am manic.… so I’ve made blogging a part of the plan. Actually, the whole plan revolves around accountability. Before medication I didn’t involve a lot of people in my struggles because I was an emotional black hole — I would suck people in and they’d have no idea what happened. I’d drain people emotionally and they’d run from me which only depressed me more. Over the years I learned to be cautious about who I included in my adventure. When I used to blog anonymously I would pour out every mentally challenged detail and I had a following like a telanovella. People flocked to my blog like rubberneckers at the scene of a car crash. Each post was like a train wreck waiting to happen and inquiring minds wanted to know.

In the last several years I’ve become a lot more reclusive about my blogging. There are some months where I haven’t even blogged because I didn’t want people to have a glimpse into the private hell that was my life. Back in the day, I needed an outlet and blogging was the drug of choice. So I guess it’s no surprise that I should turn to blogging as I seek to discontinue the lithium. Am I trading one “drug” for another? Honestly? I don’t care. If sharing the continents of my mind during this stretch of the adventure will keep me safe… then I might as well start at the beginning: THE PLAN.

After getting prayer and counsel I devised a “5 Point Plan” to keep me safe. I’m a teacher and I’m anal… so it’s really detailed and it’s really organized. I ran the first draft past some trusted friends and my therapist. I hadn’t planned on sharing it here… but why the heck not? It’s too long to put it in one posts, so I’ll dissect the first part of it here. *Disclaimer: I am not advocating that other people with Bipolar should go off their meds or that my plan is prescriptive. This is what I have chosen to do and I’m sharing it as my experience, not as a a “DIY” drug detox.


Lithium Discontinuation Plan

This five point plan is designed to insure maximum safety and accountability as I discontinue using the drug Lithium. The purpose of this plan is to make sure that I have enough embedded safeguards so that the transition off the meds goes with minimal incident. I have edited the plan leaving out names and identifying information, but you will get the general idea of what this journey looks like.

I. Accountability: I need to maintain a network of support with people who will hold me accountable should my behavior change or I become manic. Those people are as follows:

A. My boss: He sees me daily and can ask students if they see changes in my behavior. He said that he believes that I am very self-aware and proactive. He shared the cautionary tale of a friend’s dad who went of lithium and committed suicide. He urged me to be cautious.

B. My mentor: I will check in with her once a week via phone for 15 minutes from now through December. She is my emergency contact and has had prior authority to make medical decisions for me.

C. “Susan:” Prayer supporter. I see her every Sunday at church and I can email her. She follows my blog.

D. Prayer Support: Five of my oldest and dearest friends.

E. Blog:  Once I actually start decreasing the meds I will blog every day. If I start to get weird, it will show up in my writing.

F. “Helen:” She is a student in my Bible Study and she is in my class. She will pray for me and tell me if she sees changes in my behavior. (My students are all young adults. No children will be impacted by this plan)

G. Dr. G: My therapist. Bi-weekly email

H. Dr. S: Document any physical problems and changes.

I. Head Nurse on Campus: Keep her in the loop in case I have any episodes at work.

This whole things is very “It takes a village,” which is SO not my style, but suffering in silence has never really gotten me anywhere. Neither has isolation… so it’s time to try something different. I have spoken with or contacted all of the relevant parties listed above and they are all on board to support me in this. Is it overkill? Maybe, but after seeking prayer and counsel… and after praying myself, this is what I felt led to do. I already feel safe and supported. Knowing that all of these people are standing by me and walking through this with me has taken a lot of the anxiety out of the equation. I was afraid when the first doctor told me I needed to go off the lithium. When the next few doctors concurred I was nervous… anxious even. Now? I’m not. I believe God is going to do something major in my life. I’m ready. I’m excited.  Today is Day 2.

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