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THE BIPOLAR PERSPECTIVE: TENANTS OF OUR MIND   Leave a comment

PLEASE RE-LEASE ME

Only flush the toilet once a day to save water. Use a lighter to save matches if things get a little ripe. No shoes on the dingy dark stained electric blue carpet that used to be a birthing mat. No pets unless you plan on eating them. And, first month’s, last month’s rent and a hefty security deposit in case you fart into the only pillow case on the couch that still has stuffing. But the location is great so you sign the lease. And you re-sign others just like it because you have no choice if you don’t want to live under a bridge out of a shopping cart.

VIRGIN

I think I bleed a little on my sheets my first night in my lease and security deposit free apartment. My new roommate collected the rent and on top of everything else, the price was right. The problem was, her head wasn’t. She’d pry into my life with the finesse of Ethel Merman and then spend the rest of her day screaming into the speaker on her i-Phone walking around the house, sitting on the bowl or death-marching her little seventeen-year old dog around the neighborhood talking shit about me to anyone who would listen. She even accused me of stealing from envelopes filled with cash left unattended on our San Francisco doorstep in exchange for the nasty pot she was peddling. This seed and stem salad actually made cancer patients sicker.

TENANT OF MY MIND

Little did I know, just leaving Mama Trauma, a name that accurately depicted my 70 plus year old roommate, would not be the end of my tenancy with her. Next, she would be moving in with me… Actually, into my head. Because the flurry of nasty accusatory texting that went back and forth for almost two days was irresistible. As a writer and knowing her weaknesses, I was monomaniacal and relentless exposing her faults and then dancing on them. But what I didn’t count on was that although her allegations were preposterous to anyone with a lick of common sense, they still infuriated me. And long after the emails stopped, I was unable to cease fuming. My former landlord had become my tenant now… A tenant of my bipolar mind. And Mama Trauma wasn’t paying me a dime.

IT ISN’T FARE

It seems bizarre when you think about it, but when you despise, hate or are angered by someone, that resentment stays in your head rent free. Wouldn’t it be great if the Sheriff could just staple an eviction notice to your face and the eye of your ire would be out in thirty-days? I’m here to tell you that when you are bipolar, not only does this person have free rent in your cranium, but because of the illness they constantly torment you, reminding you of their presence. The impulse to over-analyze a compulsive thought to make everything alright in your world is overpowering, and you desperately seek a solution to stop the pain. It just isn’t fair for someone to be residing in your head without paying the fare.

THE FIGHT YOU CAN NEVER WIN

I have thought about starting in again with my old roommate and “finishing her off” for good. Pick back up on blasting her via email. A call to the housing authority, building owner and the police would probably put her out on the street. And, Mama Trauma is out of my head… But it doesn’t work that way. Then the guilt for ruining her life would consume me. With Bipolar Illness, there are no quick fixes. Then guilt-ridden regret starts marching in.

EVICTION, NOT CONVICTION

It doesn’t matter if one day the entire world knows you were right and they were wrong. If you are Bipolar, your landlord is still your tenant living rent-free in your head. You have to evict them, not convict them, to get them out and stop the gnawing on your cerebral cortex like an appetizer. And the first step to freedom is realizing this truth.

MIND CONTROL

If we Bipolars could control our minds, we probably wouldn’t be Bipolar. But we can manipulate aspects of it. I have decided unless Mama Trauma does something to cause me harm, she can no longer take up space in my mind. Dropping more bombs only means she isn’t gone yet. So I keep reminding myself it’s over and “Mama has left the brain.” It’s not quite that easy, but if every time I think of her I decide not to give her the satisfaction of living free in me, it almost feels good to let her go. Like I can use that space for something else more worthy. Like the lady who texted right into the back of my car at fifty miles per hour

LAST BUT NOT LEASE

So before you let someone take up space in your head, have them “sign a lease” and pay rent. A “lease” is your judgement that this person is worthy of occupying a place in your mind. And the “rent” is the joy they bring you by their presence. Because once you let someone take up residence in your head at no charge, it’s really hard to get them out.

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A Bipolar Perspective: Eat Your Froot Loops   Leave a comment

JOB INSECURITY

There is nothing like going back to the office after you’ve just had to take a week off due to a manic shopping spree followed by several days of suicidal depression.   Even if you managed to have your meltdown outside the workplace, you still have to let management know why you suddenly fell off the grid.

In your mind, no matter how understanding they seem, you are forever marked as a Bipolar firecracker that can go off anytime, dramatically jerking, flinching and angrily sputtering out vile insults to potential and existing clients.   And although you can not be fired for having Bipolar Disorder under The Federal Employees with Disabilities Act, management will start talking to you in calibrated calmer tones so you don’t have a sudden freak-out and assign all future stressful assignments to the receptionist.

ONE PILL SHORT OF A FULL PRESCRIPTION

Moreover, although management pledged to keep this to themselves, when walking into the office on your first day back from “sick in the head” leave, you smack right into The Great Wall of Rumors.   And unlike The Great Wall in China, there isn’t a Starbucks at the end for your co-workers to enjoy.  It seems everyone knows bits and pieces of your ordeal. Furthermore, embellished tales of you in a straight jacket and a padded room have rounded things out.  But nobody will acknowledge you were ever even gone, although you’re forever labeled as one pill short of a full prescription.

BOTTOM OF THE BARREL

This same scenario can play out in other areas of your life with Bipolar Disorder.   The quickest way to distance yourself from a long time friend is to tell them you are Bipolar and on medication.  If they are closed-minded,  the words “mental disorder” and “medication” will earn you the same respect as saying you are sexually interested in young boys.  To them, “You’re not right in the head.   You need medication to keep you from becoming a monster.  You are not the person they thought you were.”   In their brain that never breaks wind, your entire history together needs to be re-examined.

Basically just like in the workplace, you’ve suffered a loss of dignity.   There is nothing dignified about mental illness.   With cancer you are a hero every day you fight to stay alive.  A Quadriplegic in a wheel chair is courageous for carrying on with such a pronounced disability.   Even those with brain damage caused by an accident or stroke are looked upon with sympathy and hope.  But if you have Bipolar Disorder, you’re just an emotional mess taking a handful of psych-meds to keep a handle on your compulsions, since you lack the ability to control them on your own.   Bipolar Disease is among the bottom of the barrel in regard to human afflictions.  You can’t even make gravy out of it.

AGING WITH INDIGNITY

One of the nicest comments I ever received was from a girl working in a coffee shop in my neighborhood.   Somehow we got on the topic of age, and I mentioned I was 46.  She was surprised, as she thought I was in my late 30’s, and commented I was “aging gracefully.”  I was flattered.   For a moment I was Steve McQueen.

What she didn’t know is that I am Bipolar, and sometimes feel as if  I am actually “aging with indignity.”   Maybe you can’t see it on the outside, but inside my cranium my brain in being pushed around in a wheel chair wearing a food stained bib and hospital gown begging for its meds.

Those who know me have seen my life go from right on track to me having to hit the “start over” button.  Many have seen my rocky slide from owner to renter, and whether it’s true, partially-true or not at all, attribute it to my Bipolar Disorder.  It’s impossible to simply “screw up” with this disorder.   Accidentally slice your finger cooking dinner?  “He’s a cutter!  Hold him down!  I’ll get the spit mask!  Someone call 911!  Hello, Rampart? Yes, I’ll start two CC’s of Ringers Lactate.”

THE AMISH METHOD

I can’t change who I am or the fact that I basically dumped my life in a Cuisinart and hit “chop” during several bouts of mania and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Moreover, almost everyone I know has some inkling that something in my life has not gone quite right, if not being privy to the whole disturbing tale.

This is why the only thing I can think to do is adhere to the “Amish Method” of coping.   I figuratively tumble through life ignoring all the cars cutting me off in my horse and buggy and people jumping out trying to tip it over.   Because if I ruminate on how bad it sucks to be stuck in the 1800’s in the 21st Century,  I’ll never get out of bed in the morning.  So I live my life as if everything is status quo and I like getting some teat action at four in the morning.  I can’t stop to think about the time I was hauled off to the psychiatric ward in an ambulance in front of my entire neighborhood. The sheer humiliation will cause me to melt into a puddle of Prozac.  I was drunk, depressed and mentioned suicide.  Did the driver have to flash the lights and sound the siren?  I wasn’t dying.  At least not physically.

TURDS UNDER THE CARPET

If you are suffering from Bipolar Disorder, you are going to have turds under the carpet.   The less turds the luckier you are.   The more turds and you’ve probably dealt with a lot of shit in your life.   But we’ve all got a few hidden kernels.   It’s how you manage them that will make the difference in how you relate to the world.  And, how the world relates to you.

FROOT LOOPS

My solution is to start-off each morning with a big heaping bowl of Froot Loops.   I love the irony in it.  It helps put everything into perspective.   Also, it gives me the ability the laugh at my insecurities and get on with my day.   And for those who say you are what you eat, then I’m colorful, sweet and packed with 8 essential vitamins and minerals.   So if you still think I’m incapable of handling life’s challenges… Eat me.