The Bipolar Perspective: Closing the Parental Divide   Leave a comment

MIXED MOODS

Even before Bipolar was a diagnosis, little yet Bipolar with Mixed Moods, I was experiencing them.  Today Mixed Moods refer to being depressed and manic at the same time.  If you are not Bipolar or have never experienced Mixed Moods, this probably sounds as plausible as having a flat tire on a race car you are driving at 200 miles per hour around a track with no intention of stopping.  In other words, you are profoundly depressed, yet you can not slow your mind down from wanting to dig for gold in your living room, convinced you are going to strike your fortune.

Growing up with my father there was always a sense of mixed moods.  Not that he was Bipolar, but sometimes we’d have the greatest times together, and others his mind was somewhere else and everything I did was wrong.  I think his mixed moods actually came from the misery of being married to my improperly diagnosed and treated Bipolar mother with Psychotic effects.  It’s hard to relax when you are wound up like a high tension transmission wire.

DAYS IN THE SUN

My father and I had many days in the sun.  I lived with him during high school and we went running together, to the beach, barbecued all summer long and my friends thought he was the greatest.  I’d say my father had become one of my best friends and confidents.

And, when I went away to college he was always down visiting, taking an interest in my University, my friends and the sloppiness of my shared apartment.  Sometimes I’d even meet him with one of his dates for a drink.  We were extremely close.  Moreover, he was always up for a run.

THE GREAT DIVIDE

When I moved to San Francisco in 1991, we remained close for years.  My father would come out at least on an anual basis and I would go to see him usually in the summers.  By then I had been diagnosed Bipolar II, gotten married and adopted my daughter.  Everything was fine until I announced my divorce.  Suddenly everything I did was wrong.  And his disapproval was infuriating me.  I felt I had lived on my own since I was nineteen, he had never given me any substantial financial assistance and he had no right to criticize any of my life decisions.  Moreover, he was three-thousand miles away,  so who was he to play Judge Judy?

HERE COMES THE JUDGE

At the time of my divorce I had a lot of money from the sale of my marital home, dividing up some retirement funds and great commissions from my work.  And I began to think I was set for life.  I thought this is how it happens and now I’m completely secure.  So I started spending.  My apartment building had a doorman,  there was a pool on the roof, I changed cars more than some people change their underwear, I bought expensive swiss watches like I was trying to impress father-time and basically spent money with wanton abandon.  And my father, a bankruptcy lawyer for forty plus years, saw my whole Donald Trump lifestyle of being temporarily rich and famous and was worried.  It came out in the form of disapproval and weird facial expressions.  To me, it felt like I was being judged.  And I really didn’t get it until I met the real judge, in bankruptcy court.

BIPOLAR BUYER’S REMORSE

Most of the things I purchased were because I felt if I didn’t do it then I might never get the chance.  After all, when would I get to have a Shelby GT 500 Mustang that could go 180 miles per hour, especially in the city of San Francisco where the speed limit does not go above 35mph?   Or, when would I ever get to have a Doxa Special Edition Diver’s watch, in spite of the fact I have never, nor did I ever plan to go deep sea diving?  But my Obsessive Compulsive Bipolar Disorder Behavior told me I could always sell everything and get my money back… At thirty-cents on the dollar.

However as the money ran out and I wasn’t getting shekels  for my leather-bomber jacket on eBay, it was becoming evident I was in grave financial trouble.  Moreover, I started racking up parking and speeding tickets which I would ignore and eventually lose track of, leading to drivers license suspensions and my car being towed or booted several times.  It got to the point where I was in a big toilet bowl making my last swirl.

THE MANTRA

Every time I told my father how bad things were, he never offered financial help.  He just kept repeating the mantra “bankruptcy.”  I thought he didn’t want to help me because he did not want to part with a nickel.  And, that he wanted me to learn a lesson by going through the humiliation and financial nightmare of bankruptcy.  Now in hindsight I realize he saw my Bipolar Disorder was playing havoc with my self control over my finances, and felt if he gave me money I wouldn’t change my behavior.  I’d just buy something.

ABOUT FACE

Bankruptcy does change your behavior; it makes you poor.  Suddenly you have no choice but to live your life differently.  And I began to realize that I was out of control with my spending impulses and living the life of a middle eastern turban topped diplomat.  Medication can not fix everything, so I had to learn to abstain from needless spending on my own as well.  I had to do an entire about face with my  life.  And, I had to deal with the carnage I had left behind.

A LIFELINE

And when I began to see the light, my entire relationship with my father changed.   Suddenly he began helping me sort out my financial issues and generously donating to the cause.  It’s then  I realized he was seeing ernest change in my spending habits and had stepped up to the plate in a way I never could have fathomed.  Not just monetarily, but assisting  with my bankruptcy to make things easier.  He was helping me with my burden at the point of my greatest frustration by giving me his time.

It had  been a long time since I  felt this loved by him.  And now every time I see a Rolex I look in the other direction because I don’t want to disappoint him and have all his efforts be for naught.  Plus, I can’t lose sight about the fact I am helping myself.

ON THE VERGE

I was on the verge of having no relationship with my father, the man who I had  so many wonderful experiences with.  Like many of us with Bipolar Disorder, I felt he did not understand me and was purposely letting me get cannibalized by the bill collectors and Traffic Court.  I was about to become a “fuck my parents” Bipolar with a permanent “he’s too cheap to help his son” chip on my shoulder.  I was on the precipice of making the great three-thousand mile divide a permanent impasse.

THE WRITE-OFF

My tale is cautionary.  Before you write-off a parent, be really sure you have analyzed the situation properly.   Make sure you truly understand where they are coming from and that they understand from where you hail.  You might realize the love has always been there, they just want to be part of your recovery and not the illnes.  When I started  to get a handle on my finances, my father’s whole attitude changed toward me.  I realized he may not understand how Bipolar Disorder can ravage any or all aspects of a life,  but he’s doing everything in his power to help me in the areas in which he knows he can do me the most good in the long term.  And for that I’m glad I put my pen down and stopped writing.

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