Thanks, Dad. A Valuable Lesson On Letting Go From Beyond The Grave.

As an old guy looking back, I can tell you we all have the same vivid sense of elation and depression haunting every day that we live. Have we done enough — Why can’t we do more? Relax. There’s lots of time to work it all out. Take it as it comes. Don’t worry so much about where you’re going. Enjoy where you are. “Go with the flow and ride with the tide.”

-Grady Lyda

In the process of writing a long reflection on today being 5 years since my dad’s death, I decided to look up one of my old blog posts from 2013 entitled “Restless,” in which he wrote a comment I didn’t actually read until a year or so after he died. It wrecked me then, and it very appropriately wrecked me again today. For some context, this post was written when I had just started to pursue a career in animation but was feeling horrible because art already felt like a “job” to me, just from the minimal freelance I had done. I was feeling absolutely stuck, and I came to the stunning realization that I didn’t know how to balance my life and that something must be seriously wrong with me. HILARIOUS. I wish I could go back to 24 year old me and tell her “It’s ok, you’re just bipolar! Watch these videos! Read these things! Start working on it now!”

In that post, I mentioned this podcast about Andrew Forsthoefel, a 23 year old kid who walked across America, and how jealous I was that he had gone on a true adventure that changed him forever. I felt like I was missing out and wanted to see the world, meet new people and hear their stories. It’s not like I’ve walked across America, but I have gone on some serious life changing adventures since then. When writing that post, I never in a million years could’ve guessed that I’d get married in Hawaii, meet Mother Ayahuasca in Peru, or sail through Drake’s Passage and have a chance to cruise around Antarctica. I also really have met tons of interesting people all around the world with amazing stories who have shown me that living an alternative lifestyle is possible, and that there can be another way to live your life.

But even after all the life I’ve already lived… This wise message from the great beyond will always bring tears to my eyes. Because life IS overwhelming, and no matter how much cool shit I do, no matter how much inner peace I manage to attain at times, I feel like that pressure to do it all will never quite go away. That feeling of needing to rush things because I always feel behind. And it’s because we’re human. And we die. Everything we are inevitably turns to dust. His words are validating, inspiring, and enlightening all at once. Reading a message like this at exactly the right time is proof that my dad’s spirit will always be here to guide me, and a deep reminder of the importance of learning to let go and live in the moment. When you think about it, that’s really the best option we’ve got.

This is GREAT! I love your commentary and all the heartfelt responses you received. I heard the same “This American Life” episode, and I was also touched by his discoveries.

It reminded me of one night when I was sitting at a Winchell’s in Santa Ana in the early 80s, innocently drinking coffee and eating donuts. A guy in his mid-20s came in with a big grin wearing a cowboy hat, and he looked at me and said, “I just walked across the US, from the East Coast to California. Now, here I am!” I said, “Wow, your feet must be tired.”

He was a cool guy, and the crowd in the shop was happy to hear what he had to say. He represented all of us who listened to his stories. Everyone wished they could have done the same thing. Actually, many of us HAVE done similar things. Life is a fantastic adventure that never ceases to amaze us. We make plans, but more often LIFE leads us into directions we never expected. The best we can do is be ready for whatever happens. Always be prepared to “go with the flow and ride with the tide.”

You have a wonderful list of goals and I hope you can accomplish them all, plus many more you haven’t thought of yet. Remember, you are in this for the long-haul. You might feel desperate to prove yourself and experience the whole world immediately. I’ve felt the same way, and I’ve criss-crossed this country several times, and visited other countries as well. It’s a fantastic planet and you have plenty of time to explore it.

As an old guy looking back, I can tell you we all have the same vivid sense of elation and depression haunting every day that we live. Have we done enough — Why can’t we do more? Relax. There’s lots of time to work it all out. Take it as it comes.

On my blog about my life 40 years ago, my younger self is always fretting about how nothing happens fast enough. Of all the entries so far, maybe this would be of interest to you:

Don’t worry so much about where you’re going. Enjoy where you are.

My dad had a blog he called True Time Travel Tales where he archived this journal my aunt returned to him from a trip around the country that he went on when he was 18 years old. I always meant to read it but never got around to it because I always found myself “busy” with something else. Then, after he died, I felt so guilty that I hadn’t been able to talk to him about it when he was alive I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. But then at one point shortly after his death I noticed there were a ton of broken images and contacted the hosting site to make sure they got it back up. Now, years later, I still haven’t read the blog, and again there are tons of broken images. Upon clicking that link, I had a straight up panic attack. I started shaking and couldn’t breathe, and completely lost it when I found out that the hosting site he had used no longer existed. The first time I had got the site back up, I vowed to myself I would save all the photos before this happened… but again… never got around to it… and now they’re gone forever.

My mom has a serious hoarding problem that was awful to grow up with, even getting to the point where me and my dad wanted to see if we could get her on the Hoarders show. When I was a kid I didn’t really understand it… I just thought we lived in a messy house. But as I got older and started seeing the hoarding tendencies within myself, it became clear to me that hoarding physical items represents underlying emotional issues of not being able to let go and move forward. Fears of the temporary nature of life and the inevitability that you and everyone you love are someday going to die. I’m not as bad as my mom, but I do take thousands and thousands of photos because my memory is so terrible and I find myself desperately clinging to certain moments of my life and not wanting them to disappear. I often have nightmares about losing all these photos somehow — in a fire, in a flood, in a zombie apocalypse, accidentally spilling water on my hard drives… I know this actually does happen to some people, which Eddy would constantly remind me of and make me more upset. Until today.

Clicking on that link in my dad’s comment was beyond upsetting. I cried and cried and cried. In a way it felt like losing him all over again… losing these parts of him that I really truly wanted to discover, but again, being so caught up in myself that I never found the time. Familiar guilt and shame crept back in, and I felt myself grieving like I had in the beginning. I thought I had come so far and healed so much, yet the wound felt as raw as ever.

But then Eddy reminded me that this is basically like my worst nightmare… and now that it’s happened in this capacity, I should see that it’s ultimately fine. I’m still alive, I still have the memories of my dad, and life will go on. He also reminded me that my dad was never the type to cling to photos or physical objects. He was throwing things out all the time! In fact, the whole reason he made the site was because he had thrown out this journal years ago, and somehow a man found it and tracked down my aunt who had returned to him. Considering he was already sick and died 2 years after he made this blog, he was no doubt already feeling the need to reflect on his life somehow. He was never the type to hoard, and he was especially put off by my mom and would always try to throw out her garbage because he knew she never would.

When my dad died, I looked frantically for this journal because I wanted it so badly, but me and my mom discovered that he had already thrown out most of his things. It became clear that he had planned his death, and in the beginning I was super angry at him for not leaving behind any of this stuff for me, or even a note explaining himself. I suppose he thought I wouldn’t care… and it’s taken me a while to get over the idea that I should’ve just asked him… that I should’ve shown some interest while he was still around. All these familiar feelings of self hatred and regret came back today when I found out his hosting went down, until Eddy talked some sense into me and reminded me what kind of person my dad was. How he was never the type to hold onto things and wouldn’t expect me to either. He would want me to just keep moving forward and enjoying life…

So when I came back to my senses and actually read the post he had linked to me, I couldn’t help but laugh. Even though the image was broken, it was literally just a blank page. Just like life. Just like this moment. He said that he wanted to preserve the beauty of the page before adding his thoughts onto it. It’s just like him to make this sort of point… and I started to see that this is an incredibly important lesson for me to learn. Even though he’s no longer around, he will always be here guiding me, helping me break through these walls that are such a natural part of the human condition.


We as humans can’t help but be so deeply affected by mortality. I felt so terrible losing these photos that I know he had thrown out. There was a time years ago that I started to try and save all the photos on each of his entries, but it took so long I couldn’t see myself doing it for the whole year. I also see that a bunch of videos he had posted have already been taken down… which really hurt in the beginning, but thinking about it logically… that’s just the nature of the internet. All this important stuff is just located on the cloud, and once it’s gone… it’s gone. This was a way for him to reflect on his life when he knew he didn’t have much longer in this world, and I have to just be grateful that he at least created this website and I have his words to reflect back on. And stop thinking that losing all of this was my fault…

In the end, all we are is dust in the wind. Just because these images are gone doesn’t mean he didn’t live a rich life, and it doesn’t mean he’s no longer my dad. Life is just a series of moments and experiences, and the best we can do is live in the present and enjoy where we are. And if something is important to you… don’t WAIT like I did, or it may be too late. I am so sick of waiting, of avoiding, of thinking “I’ll do that thing tomorrow” and never getting around to it, the weight getting heavier and heavier… JUST DO IT ALREADY.

A fantastic reminder for a 5 year death anniversary. Thanks, dad. Maybe now I can truly listen to your advice. Everything does indeed happen for a reason… lesson learned. All of this will be over before we know it. Perspective is such a trip.

I close my eyes
Only for a moment, and the moment’s gone
All my dreams
Pass before my eyes, a curiosity

Dust in the wind
All they are is dust in the wind

Same old song
Just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do
Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see

Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind

Now, don’t hang on
Nothin’ lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away
And all your money won’t another minute buy

Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind

Everything is dust in the wind.

Day 12: How Can He Marry Me!?

“You have a lot of first world problems. You complain about wanting to travel more, or if people who already like you actually like you. Frankly I don’t think you should be complaining about all the small stuff” – Eddy Chow

Just had a hard talk with Eddy… and I feel so terrible. We’ve been together for almost 4 and a half years and for some reason a lot of stuff has been coming up lately. He mentioned how he feels like I’ve had a continuing resentment toward him… always envious or bitter about whatever he’s doing, when he’s never especially happy doing anything. But somehow I always think he is. Somehow this “grass is greener” mentality STILL hasn’t gone away. I feel like I’ve been doing SO MUCH to strengthen my mind, change myself for the better, etc… and SOMEHOW the person I love the most in the world has fallen by the wayside. I’m about to MARRY this person, and I can’t even take care of him. Instead I always wish he would take more care of ME, or think about MY feelings. Ugh it’s so disgusting to even just write that down. How am I still this selfish!?

Goddamn. What a thing to admit is actually true about yourself. Here I was thinking I was making all this progress, but suddenly the selfishness rears its ugly head. And apparently it’s been showing itself a while. How do I get rid of this monster? HOW AM I NOT AUTOMATICALLY THINKING ABOUT HIS FEELINGS?!

This week has been rough, because along with all the wedding stuff, Eddy went back to work and we’ve both had to change our schedules. I’ve had to walk Han more during the day, wake up earlier and leave work earlier. I feel spread SOOOO thin this week and barely been getting sleep, so I really blew up last night after a massage. I guess a lot of negative energy I’d been harboring manifested in a stiff neck that took forever to make feel better. My shoulder still hurts where Jackie massaged out a gigantic, stubborn knot.

Ugh I always feel like I’m really starting to see from other people’s perspectives and care about others, but Eddy just opened my eyes to the fact that… no I’m not. In theory I am because I appreciate watching shows and reading books about it, but am I really walking the walk? I may seem like I am to other people but… apparently I’m not.

I didn’t even think about Eddy’s feelings about the whole situation. He brought up that I wasn’t thinking about Han’s either. He said this has been the hardest week of Han’s life…the equivalent of humans just out of school getting their ass kicked by reality, and for some reason I was still getting angry and complaining about my own shit. Poor Han really has been through a lot this week… being left at home alone for the longest he’s ever been.

And poor Eddy has never even really been separated from him since he was 8 weeks old. Although he always liked Han, it still took him a while to get used to the fact that he’s a different dog than Einstein, and I know that made him really sad for a while. But since then he’s become really attached to Han… being like… his dog mama. Working from home he was with him all the time, and apparently not being with Han has been weighing on Eddy’s heart a lot this week, but I didn’t even know.

I asked Eddy why he doesn’t complain about stuff, and gosh it hurt MY heart to hear that he assumes I would just know by now. And how, if I’m still acting envious of him I really don’t understand him as much as he thought I did. AFTER ALL THIS TIME ELORA REALLY!?!?!? I DON’T EVEN DESERVE TO MARRY HIM WTTTFF!!!!

I really hate my personality types sometimes… really in times like this it brings me solace to know that I’m a type 7/ENFP because I’m reminded that my mind isn’t broken, it just needs a little help (Eddy said that too.. so nice T_T). I’m naturally just so all over the place and noncommittal that it might not be a natural part of my DNA to understand how to truly care about people. I DO of course but…man maybe it was also being an only child that made me so self centered. I think I have gotten at least a little better over time but geez… this damage is taking a hard time to reverse, and it’s so upsetting to me that Eddy is feeling all of it.

I need to get my shit together… no I should stop saying that. That doesn’t mean shit. I DO need to start feeling truly empathetic rather than think of it in the hypothetical sense. And I ESPECIALLY need to start taking care of Eddy more. It makes me so sad that he doesn’t even wanna “bother me” with his feelings/problems because I’m always so goddamn busy with other shit that’s way less important. He told me today that his stomach has been hurting for days and he thinks he has an ulcer! And I’m like WTF WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SOMETHING!? HE DIDN’T WANNA BOTHER ME!!! I ALSO need to stop caring so much about the surface stuff. Eddy says “you gotta stem the tide!” meaning… when I feel an emotion or get overwhelmed by these waves of thoughts, I need to learn to diffuse them by breaking it down into smaller thoughts that are a lot less overwhelming. HOW IS EDDY EVEN STILL WITH ME!??! Gosh I’m such a pain in the ass and lucky he’s so patient and has stuck around :\

God I can’t wait till this wedding is over. I’m really discovering a LOT that I need to work on ;___; Getting a puppy + wedding combo is really doing a number on me… but I DO feel like it’s forcing me to level up. I guess I’m just on the grind right now… but I believe it’ll get better. Just gotta stay positive and lear from my mistakes. Man this shit should be part of my vows.

HA! Just checked my email and this is super appropriate.


Day 6/7: Overflowing With Gratitude

Yesterday was a blur and I thought I’d have time to write at the end of the night but I got so wasted and passed out! So this is technically an entry for yesterday (day 6), even though I’m writing today (day 7) and I’ll write another one tonight because I feel like this is just one of those like…really important weekends.


I feel like I’m literally overflowing with gratitude right now for so many reasons, and I wish I could remember this when things get rough…hopefully I do. But I guess that’s why it’s good to write these, right? Everything that happens in our lives is such a unique moment in time that we share with everything around us. It’s all connected and even THAT is worth appreciating. But yeah.

Yesterday I had to leave early to visit my, I call her my pseudo mom, Karen. Even though I had to leave early, it was Eddy’s last day before going back to work on Monday so I wanted him to bring Han by the office to meet my showrunner’s dog Kiwi, and also to see where I work and have lunch with me during the day before he goes back. Just the fact that my showrunner is so cool that she would urge me to bring our dog into work to meet her dog (dogs aren’t allowed btw) made me so grateful to work where I work ;_;

Working in animation really offers a flexibility that you don’t really see in other more “normal” jobs, and I think when I get into a dark headspace I fail to remember that. On my good days though, I’m able to step back and be like “Holy shit I made it. I’m here, this is where I’ve always wanted to be. I’m SO LUCKY.” Yesterday was one of those days.

It’s also SO dependent on the crew you find yourself on. Talking about this, I can’t help but remember the jobs I had where my supervisors didn’t understand me. Like working at the garden nursery in Newport Beach and being told not to bring dolls to work and also to dress nicer, or the retail shop in Yorba Linda where my supervisors turned my desk around so they could monitor what I was looking at on my computer. Working in animation, I feel like they understand that artists’ minds work differently and the flexibility accommodates for that. But even still…the current crew I’m on like…as long as we finish our work then basically anything goes.

It was so nice to see Eddy during the day. The more time goes on, the more I feel like he’s my rock. He grounds me and even if I’m feeling uncomfortable, everything changes when he’s around. He really is like the other half of me that is able to calm me down and make me remember that life is worth living. I wish we had done more lunches during the day because now it’s too late… the 6 months he had unemployed and we never did it once until the very last day. It taught me a lesson to seizethe day more. Carpe diem is a saying for a reason, and I think I’m just now really starting to feel it. It was so nice to take a break during the day and visit with Lynn’s dog, then go eat ribs in a park with Eddy and Han. I imagine that’s what heaven feels like…it really is a place on earth 🙂

Here’s a video of Han and Kiwi together! Kiwi is still just 3 months old so she’ll never be this small again! I wanna remember this ;_; I really wish more people could’ve seen Han while he was small. You really don’t know how quickly puppies grow until you have one 😦

Shortly after Eddy and Han left I had to leave work to visit Karen in Huntington Beach which is like a 2 hour drive in rush hour, but always totally worth it. She completely surprised me with an AMAZING wedding gift, even going to far as to make her boyfriend record her presentation of it to me for good reason.

Karen never fails to amaze me. I hate even saying it because she doesn’t like to think of age, but she’s about as old as my mom but chooses to see life as a gift, and so much more positively than anyone else I know. To me, she transcends age and gives me hope that if I work at it, I can someday be like her. I guess you could say she’s a mentor to me, but she’s way more than that even…you know it’s like one of those things where words aren’t good enough to describe her. I love her energy and how she chooses to live her life. Both her and her boyfriend Jay are an inspiration to me, and I’m beyond grateful to have them in my own life.

She just came back from going to like a billion countries in Europe for school (she went back to college for a degree in her 50s.) Jay was explaining that the whole time she kept telling him that she wanted to get me a present, but that it needs to be meaningful. She always thinks “well Elora is an artist, she would appreciate this” sorta thing. I’m very much not a materialistic person who likes things because they’re expensive or a certain brand. I love things that are different as sentimental, and Karen is that way too. Boy did she deliver.

She presented me with something called “legendary lace” from a small Island in Italy called Burano. She went to tour this lace factory which I can’t even really describe so here’s a link. But she told me they were saying that 7 women made the lace handkerchief she gave me, and only together could they have made it. The lace is so gorgeous and fragile and special, I got so choked up because I dunno…I feel like with her giving me this lace it’s the beginning of a family heirloom that I want to pass down. I’ve always loved the idea of tradition and meaningful items that are embued with the power of those who came before, and I really do feel like this is exactly that. I was excited to tell Amy about it, and she describes it as a magical quest item which it totally is! Karen says that in olden times, due to the importance of this lace for trade, the women making it were required to stay on the island and leaving would be punishable by imprisonment or death (it doesn’t say this online, I’m assuming it’s from the tour she did.) Obviously they don’t do that anymore, but in my mind there’s something magical about these ladies coming together to create something so delicate and beautiful.

On the way to Karen’s I was thinking about art and how essentially what it is, is an expression of those fleeting moments in time. It’s the attempt to grasp a feeling that’ll be gone in an instant. And to me, this lace that Karen gave is a representation of just that. When she got it, she didn’t even know I had 7 bridesmaids, but it was 7 maidens who made the lace. Coincidence? I think not. More like a reminder to cherish the important people in my life because they make me who I am.

After the glorious and beautiful bachelorette party my girls planned for me last month, Amy (maid of honor) had mentioned that working with them as a group made it clear to her how each one of them was a reflection of me. Years ago I was terrified I wouldn’t even have bridesmaids if I were ever to get married, cuz I never really had good girl friends until now. It’s shocking to me that somehow I have 7, and really I need to be more grateful to all these girls on a regular basis. Amy is right… Really thinking about it, anyone who knows me well enough can break down why each of those girls is in my life, and why I chose them as my bridesmaids.

We can’t share our full selves with anyone. Everything in life is so reactionary, and who we think to share moments with, only THEY can share that moment, no one else. Our friends, everyone we interact with really, sees totally different and unique parts of us. And the friends we choose to keep around and continue to interact with, over time collect fragments of our souls and hold onto them like no one else can. The people important to us will always hold a part of our hearts that no one else can ever have… and I feel like that’s what this lace represents. 7 maidens make a whole. And even better, these lace makers are all women who would pass their knowledge down from mother to daughter. I can’t wait to use it on my wedding day cuz I’ll be bawling like crazy, but using it will basically be like I have my 7 bridesmaids and Karen there as a shoulder to cry on (in the form of lace handkerchief lol.)

Here’s the lace and Karen’s poem that she wrote to accompany it 😀

Last night was amazing. Karen and Jay took me out to a great dinner and dancing afterwards. Something amazing about Karen is she lives life with no regrets, and doesn’t give a shit what anyone thinks of her. We were dancing like fools (way more than anyone else in the bar) but just being with her gave me the energy and courage to also not give a shit, something I wish I could take back to my normal life. And I can! Who’s stopping me really?

I just need to make more of an effort when those irrational moments of fear or self consciousness set in — What Would Karen Do? 🙂




Day 1: Hi I’m Elora and I’m Off My Meds!

It’s ironic that I’m starting this blog on Father’s Day because I’m pretty sure I got my bipolar tendencies from my Dad. I wish I could talk to him about it, but he passed away in December 2015, and I just found out that I’m OFFICIALLY bipolar about a month ago, May 10. I should’ve started this then, but I guess at the time I wasn’t sure how much it would impact my life to get this diagnosis. Turns out quite a lot. Now this first post will be super crazy long so I can write all this down before I forget! Hopefully from now on I can be consistent, because more and more I’m realizing how quickly things can change. I’m also realizing the quicker things go, the more I want to hold on to the memories as they pass… but I digress.

My UNofficial diagnosis was on April 9 when I went into the doctor for a bad cough I’d had since March, hoping for some antibiotics to finally get rid of it. That day there was a random depression screening, which apparently is something going around because I had to fill out the SAME screening at the gynecologist last week. Maybe the mass shootings of our generation are pushing doctors to care more about checking their patient’s mental health. But anyway, it turns out from this initial depression screening that I was pretty damn depressed haha. Actually, looking back at this screening now, I feel like I’m in a MUCH better place at my current state. However, seeing my answers to these questions reminds me of where I was then… and I can feel it so clearly. It’s nice to know that at least some progress has been made.

Screen Shot 2018-06-17 at 2.27.13 PM

Dr. Ribaudo was pretty concerned about the findings of this thing and had a serious conversation with me. This resulted in me coming to understand that joking about suicide is bad, normal people are supposed to feel a lot more stable than I do, and that my condition was a LOT worse than I thought. She said she wanted to prescribe me medicine for my depression, I said I wasn’t comfortable with it. She asked if I had mental health issues in my family history, and I said I knew my dad had something because my mom always said he was crazy and he had to go to the mental hospital after he jumped on our car when my mom threatened to leave. But she never told me what was actually wrong with him. She looked at me with pity and made me take ANOTHER screening.


I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on her face when I brought this into her office. She looked at me like I had cancer or something and said “This is not good. I can’t prescribe you any medication because this is serious–you need to see a psychiatrist right away. There’s a good chance you’re bipolar. It’s also genetic.” I wasn’t sure how to respond, so I just stared and said “Ok…” She continued. “There will be a number for you to call on the referral. PLEASE call that number. They can hook you up with a psychiatrist. And I’m also prescribing you with some nasal spray and antibiotics for your cough.” “Oh good. Ok” I said.

Well, at least I got the antibiotics. 😐

Even though when I left, my doctor has said she couldn’t prescribe me medicine, it turned out she’d done it anyway! I went to pick up my nasal spray and antibiotics, and sure enough they also gave me Bupropion, a generic form of Wellbutrin. I told the guy at Walgreens I didn’t want that one, just the nasal spray and antibiotics. And he said “Well we made it so you should just take it.” I took this as a sign from the universe that maybe I should give meds a try, as much as they scared me. “Alright” I said, taking it anyway. “You’re cool,” he said, “You fed a giraffe.” My wallet has a sticker that says that, and that guy ALWAYS brings it up every time he sees me. He’s pretty cool. Sign taken, universe.

I decided to try taking the bupropion and hold off on the psychiatrist. To be honest, psychiatrists and pharmaceutical medicines freaked me out. From a young age, my mom had villainized my dad to me, saying he was “crazy”, or “he’s a little off today” or “I don’t know what’s wrong with your dad, the medicine isn’t good for him.” She would spit out the word “psychiatrist” with such hatred, really perpetuating the mental health stigma for my impressionable young ears. I feel sorry that my mom was such a harsh critic for my dad, even though I know she cared for him and actually WAS supportive, he probably didn’t feel that way when he was going through the dark times. I was terrified to see a psychiatrist, but I decided to call the number anyway. Dr. Ribaudo’s serious face was no joke, as much as I tried to convince myself that it was.

Calling this number was not what I expected. It was almost like… a suicide hotline. I guess maybe they deal with pretty bad cases where people are on their last leg of sanity because I got this really nice kid on the phone who kept telling me things would be okay. I went along with it, and told him about my mood swings, my depression, and how I could go nights without sleeping and afterward I’d always want to kill myself. And how it got so bad last year that I actually looked up ways to do it, and my fiance got REALLY mad at me. He told me that even though I haven’t had an official diagnosis yet, being bipolar isn’t so bad. He told me that instead of focusing on how bad it makes me feel, to focus on the good. He told me to read “An Unquiet Mind” and “Touched With Fire” by Kay Redfield Jamison, because she was a creative just like me, but she learned to make the most of her disorder.

Disorder. Do I have a disorder now? I remember thinking. Am I one of THOSE people? Those crazies? This guy on the phone doesn’t even know me but he sounds so concerned, and he’s also pretty helpful. How did I get here? Is this bad? Is this good? Is this what dad had? Am I really that bad? Mom always said I’m just like Dad…

So many questions flooded my mind during that conversation, and I decided that maybe this was a good thing to happen after all. What that really nice kid on the phone said about choosing to see the positives really stuck with me. I immersed myself in learning about bipolar disorder, watching tons of documentaries and bipolar people talking on youtube. I listened to reviews of whatever she had prescribed me, bupropion, and decided… yeah all of this sounds EXACTLY what I’ve experienced my whole life. I’m probably bipolar after all, and maybe this can help.


I brought this up to my Aunt Laramee, my dad’s sister. I figured she would tell me the truth, and sure enough I told her about my bipolar and she said my dad had a long history of it. We ended up meeting at the Getty for a really great day of checking out Greek/Egyptian fusion and talking about my dad. His bipolar apparently progressed to schizophrenia at a pretty young age, and it was pretty bad. My aunt said that at one point he was running around the neighborhood naked, screaming in the streets. And once when he got arrested he called and lied to her about seeing someone getting murdered right in front of him. My aunt thinks that an LSD trip he had at a young age did it. Considering I want to do ayahuasca and everyone tells me that it can make bipolar worse or trigger it, I’m assuming LSD could possibly have a similar effect to adolescent or unprepared minds. 

Or maybe it always WAS just his brain chemistry. Who knows, but something pretty cool and hippyish I also learned about my dad is that he lived in a VW van with an older woman who had a kid, taking drugs in the jungles of Mexico. My Aunt Laramee says that my dad always had to experience things, which is also totally how I feel. I’m pretty sure he was an INFP, type 5 enneagram… very feeling and intuitive. That’s where I get it. Although my mom’s superstitious filipino side may lend itself to the intuition as well. Going to the Getty, my aunt brought it up that I’m a fusion just like the exhibit we saw. As I get older, I can’t help but pay more attention to what traits I got from my mom and which ones I got from my dad. Children really are the combination of both… which can be dangerous but also balance out the bad. 


My aunt was so glad I told her about my diagnosis, and happy that I did the screenings and was honest about my depression. She convinced me to try the meds, and made me feel better about the whole thing in general. She told me that even my GRANDPA had it. Of course the artists in the family would. But yeah… I remember taking the bupropion for like 2 weeks. I felt like it made me happier like the first 2 days I took it, then I couldn’t really feel it doing anything after that so I eventually just stopped taking it and waited to see the psychiatrist. It wasn’t until May 10 that I was able to get an appointment, and sure enough I was diagnosed as bipolar.

I remember the psychiatrist not being bad at ALL. The office looked normal enough, nothing like the dark, dank brownness of my dad’s psychiatry office I visited as a kid. I’m sure that place was normal enough, but I think it’s been forever corrupted in my mind. The psychiatrist herself was cool… she was just a person who seemed like she wanted to help. I remember talking REALLY fast at the time. After my unofficial diagnosis I became much more aware of my moods, and by the time I saw my psychiatrist I recognized that I was in a full on manic state. She saw it too, and prescribed me an antipsychotic called “Latuda” to hopefully “stabilize” me before I crashed into the typical depression. I was having my bachelorette party that next weekend and was afraid of what the medicine would do to me and if I wouldn’t be myself at the party. She told me to take it anyway. I got the meds the Monday after (the 14th) and went for it.

The medicine BLEW MY MIND but in a different way than marijuana, acid or shrooms. It made me think “is this what my mind is SUPPOSED to be like?” I found my whole perception of time shifting, especially when I took it for the first time at work. Time seemed to move slower, so I didn’t feel as much stress or urgency when trying to finish my assignments. I didn’t feel like the day slipped away from me like I always did, and I felt like I could talk to people without worrying about what they were thinking of me. My anxiety was considerably lowered, I was able to focus, and my negative thoughts were kept at bay. Actually, whenever I HAD a negative thought, it wouldn’t stay around for long because a rational thought would pop up and kick it away. I didn’t even know it was POSSIBLE for my mind to do that! Oh man… those first days of taking Latuda were AMAZING. I remember checking in with Dr Ribaudo too during this first week and she told me I seemed so much more relaxed. “REALLY!?” I said. Maybe this medicine WAS for me!

Being on the Latuda, I was able to be aware of my emotions and separate myself from them enough to take a good look at myself. I started seeing myself as a friend, rather than the “me” that was a failure. For the first time, I felt like I could think good things about myself, as though I was someone I admired. Again… NEVER THOUGHT THIS WAS POSSIBLE FOR MY MIND TO DO. It was amazing! Was this what it felt like to be stable? Normal? My psychiatrist says yes, that most people live in a little box of emotions basically, with their highs and lows being relatively constrained. Whereas bipolar people have CRAZY highs and lows, WAY outside the box! Taking 40mg of the Latuda was perfect, keeping me I feel slightly out of the box, but not by much so I was more stable than I’d ever been! After trying to take 60mg, I experienced that “zombie” feeling of not caring enough about anything to make life just not worth living for me. Eddy said that most people live life more in that state, including him, but man… I just can’t do it. I NEED to care, NEED to FEEL!! Which is why 40mg seemed okay.

But that brings us to today. There are a lot of reasons I stopped taking my meds, but the main one being I just can’t see myself strapped into this rigid schedule of taking my meds with a late late dinner (350 calories at least) and knocking out right after. It just feels so unnatural to me, defies my regular eating patterns, and overall makes me feel trapped. What about those days when I’m out with a friend and need to drive home after dinner? It’s not like I want to wait to take my meds when I get home and eat ANOTHER meal… geez. The food thing really gave me anxiety, and there were some days where I had to cheat and say that I hoped my dinner still soaked up my meds even though it was like 3 hours ago. I just can’t be tied to taking a pill everyday…especially with a certain amount of food.

I also realized that the meds weren’t as mindblowing as when they first were, but if I tried taking a higher dose I would zombie out. I came to understand that even though there are good things about the meds, like getting me on a good sleep schedule for example, maybe it’d be better to try getting those same effects without. I’ve been so observant of my inner landscape this past month that I want to try a little experiment… try to achieve these same mental effects without taking the latuda.

I would much rather live a life where I’m able to control my mood myself rather than relying on drugs for it. As time went on, I also noticed that if I didn’t simultaneously get high during the day, even on 40mg I would basically zombie out and not care about anything. I found this out just 2 days ago when I brought my vape to work but it wasn’t working so I had to go without. WHAT A HORRIBLE DAY! I felt like I could focus, but ultimately that nothing even mattered because I was numb to the world and couldn’t FEEL anything. I thought… do I really need to take this medicine AND get high for THE REST OF MY LIFE to feel ok? NO! I DON’T WANT THAT! I don’t want to feel like the world is meaningless if I forget my vape or run out of my cartridge. Those effects of zombification even bled into yesterday, where I went to a friend’s party and just didn’t care about ANYTHING. I felt like “why am I even here?” and during conversations think “oh.. Well this will at least pass the time so it seems like i’ve been here a while.” I typically ENJOY conversations and hearing people’s stories, which is what makes the world colorful for me on a normal basis. It was so upsetting to just…drift through life.

Since I’ve found out I’m bipolar, I feel like it’s been such a long journey. It’s only been about 2 months and I feel like my growing awareness of how my mind operates has already increased so greatly. But even still, I’m at this point where I already feel like I can’t be on my meds. What about people who have known they were bipolar since they were children? I can’t imagine living my whole life taking these things. I need to see this as an opportunity to stop while I still can, and that’s what I’m doing. Being on Latuda has taught me so much about myself, but I can see there’s SO MUCH MORE to learn. I love the idea of exploring this landscape of my mind in a pure form, and now knowing what my weaknesses are, I can be on the lookout for patterns I’ve always succumbed to in the past.

Finding out that I’m bipolar has changed my life completely, but in the best way possible. In the past year, I’ve been introduced to the in depth analysis of personality tests like the Enneagram and Myers Briggs which have both taught me so much about myself (Type 7/ENFP). After extensive reading on those personality types, being told I’m bipolar doesn’t surprise me much. It also offers me a more refined personality profile. I’m now able to research this disorder to further understand myself in addition to the personality types. However, I know to not use it as a label. Something my psychiatrist says is that she addresses SYMPTOMS in her patients, not the disorder, because everyone is different. I feel fortunate to have been diagnosed at a later age, where I’ve had time to delve into my personality already and don’t need to cling to a label to create an identity based on mental illness. Where I’m at in life, I can only use this information for good 🙂

Ever since I was a kid I’ve been impulsive, enthusiastic, scatterbrained, moody, and very extreme. I’ve wasted tons of money on useless shit and spent years of my life feeling like a failure, so much so that those negative ideas crippled me for what felt like eternity. After essentially isolating myself from the world after my dad died, I’m grateful for those who have stuck by my side and seen my progression over the years. In fact, lately many of my friends have been expressing to me how much better I’ve gotten recently, not even truly knowing the changes I’ve undergone to get here. I always take it as a compliment, but sometimes I think “Wow, was I really that bad?” I especially appreciate my fiance Eddy, and how he literally translated my unintelligible thoughts for me as I was learning to communicate like a functioning human being, with my WORDS rather than grunts, whimpers and whines that represented my feelings.

Being told that I’m bipolar feels like the biggest relief of my LIFE. I feel like a missing puzzle piece has been put in place, and now my personal core struggle has been identified. We all have one, and sometimes if we aren’t sure what it is, we can be left feeling empty… like we need to be moving on some sort of path we can’t see. We as human beings long for balance, but without identifying what needs to be worked on, we’re basically blind. So many things that happen to us as children manifest in mental walls that only solidify with age, and the older you get the stronger you need to become to take down those walls. Since I’ve started dating Eddy, he’s made me really look at myself for what I am. That was over 4 years ago, and now the anger and hate have turned into the need for love and understanding.

I’ve always felt like there’s a beast within me, as many people probably do. I used to feel like darkness was spilling out of my ears, that this beast was setting me on fire, or possessing me to do or think bad things to make me kill myself. It was out of control for SURE, sometimes even making me throw physical tantrums resulting in getting pinned to the ground, throwing things across the room, or screaming at the top of my lungs so that Eddy would worry someone would call the cops. Since I’ve been on the path of self discovery, the beast has become increasingly more and more domesticated, and now I see that all it wants is love.

Something really important that I’ve discovered is that, just like our puppy Han Solo, my inner beast needs to be taken on walks. It needs to be treated with patience as it learns, and be spoken to kindly and lovingly rather than shouted at with disgust. All I was doing before was hating on it, punishing it, screaming at it… I even wanted to KILL it! However, it was all because I felt like it wanted to kill ME. I felt broken for the longest time, different from everyone else, making me lonely and ashamed of being such a failure… but now I know that other people experience this also, and that it’s because of my brain chemistry that I’m like this. I can’t BLAME myself for it. If anything, I finally have to learn how to LOVE myself… and strangely enough i actually feel like that’s happening.

I’m hoping that this blog will serve as an archive of walks with my bipolar beastie. Over time, I’m sure more patterns will emerge to teach me more and more about the lil troublemaker. For the first time in my life I’m learning to embrace it rather than attack or run away screaming. Here’s to embracing your lil beastie as well 😉

Happy Father’s Day, dad. I’m gonna befriend my beastie for the both of us.