Losing Ulla

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Ulla’s dog Solo

 

Ulla. Where do I begin?

When I told someone yesterday my friend died by suicide, adding that we never met face-to-face, I sensed that she didn’t understand the power of a virtual friendship.

Of course that’s not her fault – if you haven’t experienced being friends with an online “kindred spirit”, it’s hard to relate to the idea. But I was frustrated all the same because it was a genuine friendship.

How I hate writing that word “was”.

Ulla was a better friend to me than most of the friends I’ve ever had; hell, she was there for me during some of my toughest times far more than some of my relatives.

Oh Ulla.

She supported my writing, and — this was big– she helped me grieve my father’s death. She truly understood what it was like to lose a parent since she had been through it too.

She sent me e-books. She made me laugh through her original, feisty, always-brilliant blog posts. I looked forward to her provocative, witty, informative linkdumps – check out one example here

Even when she was way down, Ulla would check in with me out of the blue to see how I was doing.

We loved going off about crazy Scientology – Jeez, they gave us SO MUCH to make fun of – we couldn’t help it!!!!

Unknown

Thetan looks like a lady

 

Best of all, Ulla sent me pictures of Solo, her sweet hound.

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We tossed around the idea of her making a meme of my Lucy, and she gave me this fabulous image:

lucymd-1

I feel guilty that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) didn’t help her out of the evil treatment-resistant bipolar depression. When Ulla began asking me about my ECT experiences, I shared how the treatments helped me.

I was suicidal after my father died, and once again after I relapsed after  tapering off meds. (Word to the wise: just don’t do it!) Anyway, I had ECT each of those times, and it brought me out of those horrendous states.

While I didn’t feel happy after the rounds of ECT, I stopped thinking that I had to kill myself all the time.

She tried ECT. It didn’t work. Should I have encouraged her the way I did? Maybe I shouldn’t have been so gung-ho about it. If I go down that route, I feel worse. Ulla would probably tell me to shut the f*ck up and remind me that she wasn’t a puppet – ever the meticulous researcher, she made an informed choice.

When I found out the news about Ulla, even the lithium coursing through my bloodstream couldn’t prevent tears from falling down my face. (The salt usually does keep my tears at bay; it’s a very odd feeling. But that’s one shitty, unhealthy side effect this drama queen could do without. We need to be able to cry sometimes.)

Upon seeing their mom’s twisted-up face shiny with rare tears, my daughters wrapped their arms around me. A concerned Lucy circled around us and barked as if ten ambulances were speeding past our front door. 

Ulla.

Platitudes come to my mind:

“She’s in a better place.” “She’s at peace.” “She’s with her mom now.”

I’ll be honest with you – I want to believe those cliches are true. I want to believe Ulla’s okay, and that she’s no longer suffering. And here’s the final kicker:

I want to meet her…and thank her…. in person in “Some Fantastic Place” (a beautiful Squeeze song written about their friend who died) because I’ll never get the chance to do that here.

On Saturday, September 10th (World Suicide Prevention Day) Jill of My Spanglish Familia and Yvette of Yve’s Corner have organized an online vigil at this link at Ulla’s blog Blahpolar, the blog I’ve mentioned numerous times as being my #1 favorite.

Yve and Jill invite us to: Bring…your fondest memories, your favourite posts, some ‘food’, ‘flowers’, ‘candles’, and let’s honour her struggle and mourn her loss together.”

I’ll be there.

 

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October, 2017. 

Post Hill

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108 thoughts on “Losing Ulla

      1. Thanks for responding. I came back online today and am just focusing on not focusing on anything in particular. I called my support group after this happened to discuss it, and they were really supportive (hence: support group.) Anyway, not trying to make this about me, but I did want to touch base because you responded to my comment – just wanted to let you know I have been taking care of myself and take care to reach out to others when I need to. Again, thanks for your response. Peace.

  1. Dyane, thinking of you, hoping Thursday’s being kind to you. I just had to share this dream I had this morning: I went to your home, unannounced, and walked into your kitchen, sat down and you were pissed. You started picking up things and I told you I didn’t care about what your place looked like, that I was only there for a 5 minute visit.
    I don’t remember the rest. Hugs to you xx

    1. OMG, that made me laugh, although I’m so sorry I was a pissed bitch in front of yo, Jillu!!!! Please forigve me.

      My daughter Avi & I have a “thing” when people come over without calling or texting, LOL!!!! It freaks us out . One time I was naked in the kitchen (yep, TMI is my middle name) and her friend’s dad came by unannounced & saw me – I screamed like a banshee!!!! (We never get visitors except the Jehovah’s).

      So anyway, once again I beseech you to forgive me for being so rude in that dream – our place IS a mess, ha ha ha! But I promise you I wouldn’t do that to ya in real life!!!!! XOXOXOXOO

      p.s. what do you think it means?????

      1. Lol!! Oh no worries, I hate when people come over unannounced too. My place is usually messy, at least not up to most people’s standards.
        I dunno, I think I’m picking up on you being mad…at someone…and I hoped it wasn’t me, lol.
        Maybe you weren’t ready to “do something” and someone is forcing you out of your comfort zone. Am I hot, warm, or cold and not psychic at all?!? 😉
        XOXO

      2. Hey Jill, I’m finally gettin’ back to ya about the dream
        I’m always mad at someone, but it could never be you, LOL! :((( :00000

        I thought about your dream for a while, but I can’t figure it out – if I have any epiphanies, I’ll surely let you know.

        Take care, my dear – sorry to be awol on your blog as far as comments go. I’ll get back into my usual routine of reading/commenting soon. I hope you have a great Saturday!!! ❤️

    1. Thank you so much, Ruth-Anne – forgive me for taking eoons to reply. I really appreciated your taking the time to write me instead of only “liking” it!!!! Take care! warmest regards, Dyane

    1. I understand…thank you so much for sharing my thoughts and shock about Ulla, Robert. It means a lot to me and I’m honored.

      A week later, part of me still can’t believe it…

      take care, Dyane

  2. I’m so sorry, Dyane. I appreciate the power of “virtual” friendships. This brought the memory of my Facebook friend Natasha du Toit, a ballerina. She ended her life by suicide five years ago. I was on vacation when I learned about it and was devastated. I couldn’t imagine the unspeakable loneliness and despair she must have felt and I was outraged to wonder WHY NO ONE HAD BEEN WITH HER…. I share your sorrow and send sympathy, love, and hugs.

  3. Dyane, I know how much it hurts when you lose a friend (online or offline matters not) especially to a hidden underground disease. If we could only have done this or tried that, that never ever works to make us feel better. Remember your friend with love and never worry about things you didn’t try, Ulla would tell you (I never met her but know her illness) to forgive yourself you couldn’t have stopped her forever. Please remember that if the pressure gets too much we are all capable of following her. Love to those who mourn her passing, she’s no longer tied to her pain and that has to be a blessing. Remember and share your memories of blahpolar today and everyday going forward. May she find peace now, RIP Ulla.

  4. I have some afterlife stories to share. I truly believe that Ulla is still here with us in spirit – she will never leave us. I am waiting to hear from her, so I hope I recognise her “voice”.

    Sending you lots of love, Fry-Fry. I love you lots ❤

  5. This is so heartbreaking. I’ve read quite a few of her blog posts but I didn’t realize she had passed away. Virtual friendship is real and so is your grief. I’m so sorry for this loss: the loss of your personal friendship, the loss of this special person, and the loss to our writing community. I wish I had better words…

  6. Wonderful tribute you wrote for dear Ulla! I am still torn at the loss of such a brave kind friend we have lost. Hugs to all that are suffering our beloveds passing!

    1. Thank you for writing this comment avaswan; Ulla is on my mind constantly, and read your words helped me in spite of the sorrow….I’m sending you love, strength and hugs as we all grapple with this terrible loss.

  7. I have not had the pleasure to discover Ulla’s blog before today, when I saw your post on Vic’s blog. What a beautiful, heartfelt message to a true friend. I’m so sorry for your loss. I believe (especially after I’ve lost my Dad last February) that our loved ones will in a way always be around us. Ulla will be there, my dear. She will know that you grief and I bet she thinks that you did everything you could to make her life better too. You did help her. Here is a virtual hug to a blogger I don’t really know. I hope the get together with others on the 10th will help you all deal with this loss. xoxoxo

    1. Dear amommasview,

      Hello! I’m sorry I’m late in replying to your thoughtful and wonderful, supportive comment; I have a feeling you’ll forgive me!

      Thanks for your lovely words. I’m so sorry for the loss of your Dad so recently!

      I’m glad that you and I share the belief that our loved ones are around us somehow. I’ll be checking in today with the online vigil, and I think it will help me. In the meantime, I send you a virtual hug – I wish you could see what I just did – I hugged the air & looked at your pretty Gravatar! 😊 Take care – my extra-powerful hug to reach you any second now….it’s speeding in your direction across the miles! 💗

    1. Thanks so much for this comment, lamarrwenrich – I read it right it away, & your words helped me. I’m sorry it took me a while to write back to say “thanks” and I also want to send you a big hug. XoXo 💞 take care, Dyane

    1. Please forigve me for taking so long to write back, sweet bp7o9 – you’re a sensitive loving soul, the best kind of person there is, and I know it must still be tough for you about our friend Ulla. I’m sending you my love 💕, Dy

    1. Thanks from the bottom of my heart, Martha! Sorry to take so long to reply. You are so thoughtful – thank you so much for this comment. Please prepare yourself for a bear 🐻hug from me when we finally meet in person someday! 😉 💗

  8. A virtual handsqueeze, hug, and hair ruffle (I’m always ruffling hair…I think because mine’s always a mess and I don’t want it to be so obvious). This is one of those moments to sit out on the stoop with the sunset, Lucy holding her nose in the air to smell a distant grill at work, and a bottle of wine passing from you to me. Sometimes, words already crackle in the air without being spoken.
    To true friends. We don’t have to know the feel of their embrace to know the depth of their love. xxx

    1. Dearest hair ruffler, thank you from the bottom of my toes. (But please, for the love of God, don’t look at my big toes – I finally got calluses!)

      I love what you wrote:

      “Sometimes, words already crackle in the air without being spoken.” and

      “We don’t have to know the feel of their embrace to know the depth of their love.”

      Yes. And more yes. You understand what it’s like to be a true friend, and Ulla understood that too; both of you are beloved kindred spirits. 💞

  9. Huge loss to our community. Now I know her name. I, too, grieve her loss. Thank you for sharing the photos of her dog. She loved Solo. No reason to feel guilty. The fact is, not everyone gets relief from treatment of any kind. Her pain was unrelenting. She sought help. We have so far to go, so much to learn. My hope is that medical science advances so that those like her can be effectively treated and no live in deep bipolar depression without relief.

    She did wonderful research. Her linkdumps were brilliant. Her sense of humor, dark and sharp.

    1. I loved your comment, Kitt.(I always treasure them, even if they are three words. Your words always help me in one way or another as a reminder of the reality of our challenges, an affirmation, an illumination, and sometimes they are plain, ‘ol funny because you have a wonderful sense of humor despite all the stress/challenges you’ve been through lately, not to mention the past.

      When Ulla wanted to stop writing/compiling the linkdumps, I told her she couldn’t! 😉 (She gave us one or two more after my nagging, to my delight!)

      I’m glad you liked the pictures of Solo. Something about Ulla’s dog’s personality/vibe through the picture (full name: Solo Silverfoot Stretchikoff) moved me. Lucy didn’t know about my feelings; I kept mum about them so she wouldn’t feel jealous, so it was okay.

      In all seriousness, you’re right that not everyone survives this awful, awful condition. Even if I lived next door to Ulla, I couldn’t keep her from doing what she wanted to do.

      However, reading your words helped me regardless & I was reminded that I can’t fix/save others. And even though I ***know*** Ulla would tell me not to feel guilty (in rather colorful language, I’m sure) it means a great deal to read that coming from you.

      Much, much love to you, my friend.
      ❤️💙💚

      1. I LOVE that Ulla named her dog Solo Silverfoot Stretchikoff!

        Honestly, Ulla diligently sought and received treatment, including ECT, and still was despondent. I believe choosing death can be rational. She made a choice. She wanted her pain to end. Her bipolar depression lasted too long and would not lift. I believe that such a choice can be rational once other avenues of relief have been tried and failed. She did her due diligence.

    1. Thanks, Raeyn, for writing.
      It’s very good to “see” you here, and I totally understand the feeling of lacking words. No worries!
      Sending you a big hug,
      Dyane

    1. Thank you so much, Carol!
      It comforted me to read your comment, although I’m so sorry you’ve lost good friends as well…
      Sending you hugs back,
      💗
      Dyane

  10. So sorry for this loss and for your pain. Through a link from you, I began reading her blog several months ago. Her writing and insight will be missed. This is such a tragic blog day too. Another writer/fighter in another part of my blogiverse has also left this world via suicide.As someone with mental illness issues and chronic pain, I can see the appeal but fight every day for my family and friends. It can be a daunting task. Again, so sorry for your loss.

    1. I appreciate your comment so much, NextInLine!
      It makes me feel good that you started reading Ulla’s blog…

      I’m truly sorry for the loss of the writer you mentioned, and my heart goes out to you for fighting mental illness & chronic pain. I am inspired by you for fighting on a daily basis because I can only imagine how terrible and draining those two conditions must be together…one is bad enough.

      I’m sending you a (gentle) virtual hug.
      Thanks for taking time to write.
      💗 Dyane

    1. Thanks so much, Bradley. I’m grateful for your friendship – I think you know that by now! 😉

      Remember that my Mom would love to take you and Maurice out to (a healthy) lunch if you shlep to
      PAC PAL. She’s good company – go take a look at her comment down below when you have a sec
      💟
      Dy

  11. Dyane, this made me cry, again. I was nodding, crying, smiling, crying. She also helped me through difficult times and the connection was real. I get it Dyane. I understand how important she was to you. I also tell myself she’s with her mama. That thought really gives me comfort. *Hugs* See you on Saturday xx

    1. Hey there sweet Jill.
      I truly loved reading your comment because I know you”got it”. I’m so glad you did! Your comment comforted *me*.

      I just wrote a lengthy “post-style” reply below to Leslie’s comment that might turn some people off (I really hope it doesn’t do that to you!) but I admit that I believe in the afterlife, although I haven’t had anything dramatic convince me of that, and I get skeptical sometimes, and cynical, but for the most part, yes, I think it’s true. I do believe she’s with her mom. 💞

      See you on Saturday, and sending you a big hug right now!!! 💜💚❤️💛
      Dyane

      1. Hey Dyane, I’m so happy to hear that you were comforted a bit by my words. Means a lot. I’ll check out your comment.
        Hugs to you. See you tomorrow xx

  12. The only thing that I can say that makes this any better for me is that now she is happy. But it doesn’t really work. It’s just stuff we tell ourselves to try to stave off the pain of losing someone we love.

    I hate to see you question your decision to recommend ECT. As you said, she was quite the researcher and she made her own decision. She knew it might not work for her. But, she had to try, because that was who she was. She probably would have tried regardless of whether you said anything.

    Love you Dy.

    1. Leslie, my dear, as you can understand, I’m late replying to everyone here. I feel like the white rabbit in “Alice in Wonderland” who flips out about being late. Being late is the story of my life…

      I was going to write a little about the following subject at length in my post about my friendship with Ulla, but I deleted it because I didn’t want to offend or trigger anyone. Also, it didn’t fit with the rest of what I wanted to write. The topic needs its own post. I’ve been meaning to write about it for a while. I’ll probably treat myself the time to write about it when we get close to Halloween, which is my favorite holiday & rather fitting given what I want to discuss.

      What is “it”?

      The afterlife.

      As Prince sang in “Let’s Go Crazy”, 🎤

      “Electric word life
      It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
      But I’m here to tell you
      There’s something else
      The afterworld
      A world of never ending happiness…”

      Damn, Prince, I hope you’re right!!! 🎼

      Seriously, I’ve always been interested in studies about the afterlife (Ulla knew about my obsession, I mean interest). After my Dad died I started reading all kinds of books related to the afterlife, but not cheesy ones. I even got in touch with the controversial Dr. Raymond Moody, a psychiatrist who coined “NDE” (near death experience) and prolific author. One of his books “Life After Life” has sold millions of copies, either 5 or 10. Dr. Moody even came to my freaking town of all places to teach a class at my alma mater last year from Alabama! That was weird.

      Anyway. I watched all kinds of psychic reality shows on TV, I’ll admit “Long Island Medium” was one of them. As you can imagine that drove my family $%&^(& crazy since we have a tiny house and just one television. But I held my ground because I’m utterly fascinated by all of it and watching those shows comforted me. My Dad was into all of that stuff too. He even went to a psychic in Venice, California who told him he’d marry my mom and have two kids, apparently describing us all to a “t”.

      And I think it’s possible there’s “something else” like Prince wrote. Yeah, I sound like Fox Mulder. But in my heart of hearts I don’t subscribe to the “when you’re dead, you’re dead” belief. I do think we go somewhere else that doesn’t suck as much as often does here.

      AND, if it’s truly awesome over at “something else”, there’ s not a whiff of bipolar! 😉

      Re: ECT – it’s a last-resort for so many of us. It was for me. And you’re right , she had to try. What you wrote still helped my remaining guilt, and thank you!!!!!! Much love!!!!! 💙💜❤️

      1. Dyane, you and I are one and the same when it comes to this stuff, the psychic stuff and the afterlife and I’m sure you’ll be fascinated by my premonitions last week. I’m mentioning it tomorrow. I’ve already prepared a blurb to slap down – gently – on her blog at the vigil. I can tell you some freaky stories. I can’t wait to read your post about the afterlife. I’ve had so many ‘freaky’ experiences and it’s comforting to know that you can relate.
        Premonitions, or messages from the afterlife run in my family…when my childhood best friend’s father passed away my mom couldn’t find her glasses anywhere. When she undid the bed in the evening to go to sleep her glasses were neatly folded smack dab in the middle of her bed under the sheets! Ya, like THAT kind of freaky.
        Anyway, you’re right, this topic needs a post and space of its own. Be well Dyane, see you tomorrow xx

      2. Much love to you as well Dyane. I’m a straightforward Christian, I don’t talk about it much, but I believe in heaven. And I know that’s where Ulla is now. I know that some may label my naive, but whatever.

        I’d imagine her dragon toasted a couple of angels on his way to take her there though. 😍

    1. You totally read my mind, Leslie. I’ve been thinking about that, and I’ll connect with Ulla’s friend sometime in the next few days unlesss someone shares it during tomorrow’s online vigil. 💗🐕

  13. My darling daughter, I weep with you as you remember the friendship you had with Ulla. I empathize with you deeply as I lost a dear friend recently as you know.
    What helps me is that I truly feel she is with me and I feel her presence. Thinking back in the many experiences we shared over the years makes me happy. Even though you had a long distance relationship with her I know that you will always cherish her memory and her writings.😥😥🎈

    1. Mom, this comment reached me at the perfect time. Thank you. I know how much you loved Karin and how much you miss her. I know you wouldn’t write that you feel she’s still with you unless you truly meant it; I was surprised, actually, and best of all, glad that you feel her presence.

      She was there for you when the shit the fan in a big way, wasn’t she? And I loved her coming all the way to our wedding to read that beautiful Irish poem in her professional actress way – it was so cool, especially since she was Irish! She was a true friend to you, so rare.

      As you wrote, I’ll always value Ulla in my life, and I’m putting my favorite photo of her dog Solo next to my writing light right in front of me, so I can think of Ulla frequently. Lucy won’t mind. Well, she can’t see it. If she did see it, knowing her, she’d bark at it!!!!!

  14. I’m so sorry for your loss, Dy. I didn’t know her or her blog, but I truly understand the depth of friendships formed here, and how devastating this can be for all of us. Hugs to you. 💔

    1. Thanks sweet, sweet Van. 🚐

      I know you understand how precious these virtual friendships can be.
      know you understand how hard it is when we lose someone we connect with deeply, no matter what the distance is between us… ✈️

      Sending you my 💕always,
      Dy

  15. ❤ Ulla ❤ I miss Ulla so much. 😥 Mrs. M doesn't really get it either. And I don't know really how to explain it to her. It was a complicated and oddly flirtatious sweetness, I really loved Ulla and I'm not even sure she understood, and maybe I didn't either. I'm holding on to all my "virtual" friends here, because too often they're better than people I see face to face. Wish we could all get together for a gargantuan group hug and a drink or two. DM

    1. Finally getting around to reading most of the comments here. I had to wait, you know? I enjoyed reading your honest comment and connected with it, especially because of the following part you wrote:

      “I’m holding on to all my ‘virtual’ friends here, because too often they’re better than people I see face to face. Wish we could all get together for a gargantuan group hug and a drink or two.”

      Yes, that’s exactly how I feel.

      Some things you just can’t explain, and it’s okay.

      Sending you a gargantuan “Solo” hug (get it? SOLO?) – sorry, I couldn’t resist that one.
      I think Ulla would give me a hard time about it, which I’d love just about now.

      1. I do know. The poem I wrote to honor Ulla was a gut response between tears, and I didn’t think it should wait. And the drink and hug response too. When you said Solo hug I saw Han Solo hugging Chewbacca. I’m hairy, but not THAT hairy! But sign me up if you want a hug. 🙂 (((DYANE)))

  16. Reblogged this on Lazarus and Lithium and commented:
    Tears pushing through…

    I miss you, Ulla. I miss you. Even though I’ve never met you in person, I’ve never even heard your voice, you were there for me 2 years ago when I needed support. You helped guide me and shared my dark humour.

    You are loved.

  17. I have read several of her blogs and always went back for more. I never corresponded with her but I can see the impact she made on the community and on you. I’m so very sorry for this loss.

    1. Thank you so much, bipolar fanatic.

      I’ve been thinking about how much she affected us (positively!), although so many of us lived thousands of and thousands miles away from her. That’s pretty damn extraordinary.
      But I’m not surprised….

      once again, thanks from the bottom of my heart for writing what you did.

      Take care today, Dy

    1. Just reading this now, oh feisty one.. .(I love that word, & it fits you & Ulla like a glove) That’s very cool you remember the Lucy meme – (((hugs))) to you today! Your warmth shines through your comments along with that feistiness. Xo

  18. Oh my fair lady, when I saw this notification of you doing a blog on a Wednesday, I just knew in my heart something was amiss. Oh my where do I start? Once I get on my laptop I’ll check out the vigil link. I think I had visited her blog once or so, ans she’d done same. What a world… Oh no no no no reality sets in… Oh no no no it’s blahpolar in SA? On my no no no, come on lady, oh my, she edited part of my brother’s journey in so quick a time before she got down again. Oh my, I called her Jon, oh my oh my oh my

    1. I agree – it sucks beyond all suckle. With all the $ we hear about being poured into research for bp, you’d think some new major advances would be made by now.

      On a brighter note, I’ve been reading a fascinating book “Finding Lithium” that Ulla would like and I think you would like it too. It’s about how lithium was discovered by an Aussie doctor Dr. John Cade – it covers his life & what he did and it was truly amazing – I had no idea. The book is getting better as I read it, so it was worth the $20!!!

      https://www.amazon.com/Finding-Sanity-lithium-bipolar-disorder-ebook/dp/B01G2TS17Q/ref=sr_1_14?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1473274461&sr=1-14&keywords=Lithium

    1. Exactly – thanks so much for taking time to write. I hope Ulla’s blog stays up because it is truly a remarkable one and worth taking time to see the different types of posts (and original memes) she created. Take care, and thanks again for stopping by.

      1. For all I know, no one who could take it down knows about this blog. I also hope it will stay up because I am only just beginning to see how helpful it was and how it provided a safe space to share experiences for so many people.

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