Tag Archives: Jennifer VanDyke


Lilith (Photo credit: rami.sedhom)

Having earned my degree, I’m trying very hard not to dwell on depressing situations. Achieving my academic goals is something I’m very proud of in addition to being a miraculous feat considering the challenges I’ve had to overcome in order to attain them.  After surviving in this world for nearly 35 years, I suffered a bout of hypo-mania and was hospitalized for three days. Even though in hindsight the diagnosis makes complete sense, I had great difficulty in accepting that I have something which is incurable and I still struggle with it. College was awesome, it was great “therapy” for me; however, it’s over– so now what?


Twins (Photo credit: Amanda D. Olson)

My whole life I have tried to lead a “normal” existence; however, nothing about my life has been very normal. In fact, there have been several tragedies and traumatic events occur before I even reached the age of ten. Such events I’ve been told, are considered beyond the handling capabilities of a “normal” person. In other words, one would’ve had to be slightly cracked to have survived. My family and loved ones did their very best to safeguard me and my sister from hurtful things; but, they could only do so much to protect us. My sister is very outgoing and successful, she makes friends far more easily than myself as I’m quite withdrawn. Even with small variations here and there, we come from the same family so we have pretty much the same background.  If it weren’t for my sister, I wouldn’t know what having a friend might be like as she has always been so kind in sharing hers in addition to being my best friend. My sister has a wonderful spirit in which I admire and envy (in a good way, of course)! So, I wonder how it is that we’re so different? I have Bipolar Disorder and she is my giggly, wonderful, sweet, AWESOME sister! I’m grateful more and more each day that I have her because who knows where I would be without her? I truly wish I were more like her; but realistically, I don’t think there’s a medication out there which can help me achieve that.

Abraham Lincoln's apotheosis

Abraham Lincoln’s apotheosis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unlike her, I’m not a very well spoken person at all. Sometimes multiple ideas will ruminate so quickly in my mind that I  can’t hang on to a single train of thought, so I choke on my words and even stutter. I’ve tried several medications to help me to become normal; however, the side effects of the medications seem to amplify the fact that I’m different. What can possibly be normal about excessive weight gain (Depakote), walking around as though you’re a comatose zombie or sleeping all of the time (Seroquel), having freakish facial twitches (Geodon), or having everything you eat taste metallic (Lithium)? Who could conceivably entertain a single, useful idea while drowning in these side effects? Can one imagine a world without  the Law of Gravity by Sir Issac Newton, who was posthumously diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder? Can one imagine a world without Abraham Lincoln’s ability to rise into the collective consciousness and grab the idea to end slavery? Can one imagine a world without Jack and Sally, or any of the other Tim Burton characters? Would the medications offered today have had a positive impact on any of the people I’ve mentioned or not? 

Not everyone who has Bipolar Disorder is cut of the same cloth as those famed for their contributions to mankind and are able to put food on their tables. Everyone has different aspirations and talents. I could only aspire to be influential within my own micro-world and hope for more. Some things I do have in common with the above mentioned individuals are that I’m very sensitive, I have a creative edge, and I truly do have a different way of viewing the world. I hope to embrace it rather than have it drag me down. 


Road (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

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Most little girls wanted to be a princess or a ballerina when they grew up. Of course, I was different from most little girls. I liked to wear a dress at all times, even if it meant I had to wear pants underneath it so that I could climb into bushes and play in the dirt. I also didn’t want to be a princess or a ballerina, I wanted to be a cat! I came to this realization when I was a toddler. I imagine it’s partly because my family had a tabby who was the friendliest, sweetest cat you could ever know. To this day, I don’t know what happened to Tabby; but, I’m sure it was the positive impression she left which has ultimately resulted in my  lifelong fondness of cats.

"Fishing": "Print shows a cat w...

As a little girl, I’d regularly spend my Saturday mornings wearing a dress over my pajamas and watching cartoons while my young parents would sleep in after a long week’s worth of working. Among my favorites were Felix the Cat, Tom and Jerry, Casper the Friendly Ghost and Rocky and Bullwinkle. I had admired cats so greatly and thought nothing of them terrorizing fish in cartoons, except I concluded fish had to be delicious or cats wouldn’t work so hard to eat them! One day, as I was watching  cartoons, I was reminded of how much cats were depicted as always trying to eat a fish and it just so happened that my mother had purchased a pair of goldfish for my sister and me.

I walked into the kitchen and I grabbed a fork, then I walked over to the fish tank. I reached into the water with my fingers gripping the fork’s handle, missing the confused fish as they wildly swam about. Realizing the fish weren’t going to comply with my efforts to spear them, I climbed on the arm chair placed next to the tank so I could reach in with both of my arms.

Black cat watching fish at the bowl-aquarium

Black cat watching fish at the bowl-aquarium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I caught one fish, but he slipped under the tank console and I couldn’t retrieve him. There was one more goldfish fish left, and I was very determined to catch it!  It took a while; but, I was finally able to grasp the remaining goldfish with one hand, and jab the tines of the fork firmly into its slippery little body with the other. I pulled the fish out of the water and with its tail flapping frantically, I slowly shoved the fish in my mouth. After I had secured it behind my teeth, I pulled out  the tines of the fork. The fish began to thrash around and to my surprise, it tasted horrible! I spit the goldfish out onto the floor and it continued to thrash and jump. I caught the fish and noticed the four little holes in its side. I’m not sure why it hadn’t occurred to me that I had hurt the fish until then; however, I felt bad and after a few remorseful pets, I gently returned the poor thing back into the fish tank with the other fish, which were my mother’s Neons and Mollies. The goldfish swam pathetically sideways and when my mother awoke, she was surprised to discover one goldfish was completely missing, and the other goldfish murdered and floating among its iridescent, loose scales on the top of the water. Meanwhile, I worked very hard at scraping the nasty tasting scales off of my tongue, and picking the rest out of  my teeth that had stuck like popcorn hulls. I didn’t know better, but I probably deserved it.

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