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The Good Pastor Julian   Leave a comment

WHAT JEFFERSON REALLY MEANT

Did you know the First Amendment of the Constitution says nothing about the concept of separation of church and state?   And when drafting the amendment, Thomas Jefferson actually meant that government should not interfere with religion, but religion is intended to be part of government?  Moreover,  did you know that although every Supreme Court decision ever made on this issue has ruled in favor of separation of church and state and is completely wrong?

People actually believe this.  They call themselves Christians.  But don’t confuse them with the normal, intelligent, giving and honorable Christians of the world.  These are actually Christian right wing fanatics.  Their MO is to re-construct history to fit their religious beliefs.  And if facts get in the way, they simply discount them.  Worse yet, they teach this drivel to their children.   They are actually raising an entire generation who has no idea they are being socially handicapped by their own parents and churches.  Can you imagine if they ever left their comfort zone and spouted off some of this cartoon-like doctrine in public?  They’d be clearing brush off  San Francisco sidewalks wishing they were in Crawford.  Lucky for them Al Gore invented the internet.

ITS NOT WORTH THE EFFORT

I don’t want to get into the same old argument of whether or not god exists.  I learned a long time ago you can not argue with irrational people who conveniently invent or discount “facts” to support their belief system.   Moreover,  I do believe in freedom of religion.   People are entitled to their beliefs.  And as long as they aren’t imposing them on me or anyone else, I say let the prayers to god, the holy ghost, Jesus, Buddha, Islam or whatever deity you are digging on, ring from the mountaintops.  Just please use your library voices because other people may be trying to concentrate on reality.

I’M WITH STUPID

Unfortunately, the other day I found myself in a discussion on Facebook with a Right Wing Christian Superhero named Julian Johnson about why god will make sure Romney wins the election, even though he does not pray to the proper god, which is that of the Israelites.   But, as he explained, Mormonism is closer to Christianity than President Obama’s supposed secular beliefs, so Romney is his man for President by default.   I think we are supposed to forget that President Obama is also a Christian and attends church with his family every Sunday.   Facts being irrelevant, Julian explained Obama is actually closer to Islam.   I almost peed in my pants laughing.

When I saw I was heading for one of those nonsensical theological dissertations that have absolutely no bearing on reality, I told him I was going to sign off.  I also advised him to stop concerning himself with all this theological fodder and do something to truly contribute to society.   All he does is create noise.

Julian immediately spouted off a resume of his extensive Christian theologian training and his pastoring to thirty inner city youth.   Thus he presentled himself profoundly qualified to interpret the word of god and teach children to grow up to be stupid adults.  He sure showed me.

MY JEWISH-CHRISTIAN UPBRINGING

I was born into the Jewish religion.  But almost my entire life I attended a Christian faith-based private school in Pennsylvania.  I sat through more church services than those of my own religion.   We gathered twice a week.  Yet students were taught about evolution and “it was god’s will” was never an appropriate answer on a history exam.

Yes, they did have their resident theologian with his head stuck in the bible.  And, in my senior year of high school I did have to take some kind of old or new testament class, although I still don’t know the difference and doubt that it matters.   But that was about it.  Nobody ever sat on my head until I screamed “Jesus.”   These were reasonable Christians.  There is a difference.

WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT?

Last night Barack Obama was elected President of the United State for a second term.  According to Julian Johnson and all the other online self-appointed interpreters of god’s will, before the election god was supposed to make Mitt Romney win.  Now apparently god has changed his mind and switched into protection mode.  He is now supposed to keep believers safe from the destruction of the United States that will surely ensue in Obama’s second term.

I asked some of the “political experts” bemoaning Obama’s victory on Facebook if god’s word was dependable?  After all, I had on my fire retardent underwear ready for the rapture and that never came; Everyone had a different reason for why it didn’t happened, but god made up for that calamity by letting Obama be re-elected.  President Obama is the new rapture.

After all, God owes right wing Christians a rapture and by god they are going to predict it until there is a horrible natural disaster, terrorist attack or a compromise is struck on taxing the top 10%.  Then they’ll jump up and down like frogs on a lilypad screaming “See, I told you so!   Catastrophe!  God’s will!”

THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE IS SPEECHLESS

My position on American politics has always been consistent.  No matter who wins, we need to compromise with the opposite party.  A single party can not always get everything they want.  And both parties need to take this a lot more seriously.   Children in pre-school can learn to work together.  But Congress and the Senate can’t figure it out?   The orange Speaker of the House refuses to budge on anything in spite of Obama’s attempts to reach across the aisle.  His own constituants should demand his resignation.  He is not participating in government.   He’s trying to derail it with a bad sun tan.  This is not what government is all about.

JULIAN’S BROTHER

Although Pastor Julian Johnson, with his four hundred degrees from Theological Universities and his experience mentoring thirty inner city youth finds everything I say offensively wrong, he still called me “bro.”   Like we are friends just casually jousting.  However I told him I am not his “bro.”  I think people like him are dangerous.   I do  believe in freedom of speech, but not when he is spouting off unsubstantiated claims, baltant lies, revisionist views of American history and proclamations about politics from a god most of the world does not recognize and nobody can prove exists.    Yes, the majority of the world is Muslim.  Oy vey Julian!

And does Julian Johnson have a right to his opinion?  No.  Only those with real knowledge on the subject at hand may have a valid opinion.  Pastor Julian has made everything up.  Well, he says his knowledge comes from god, but since nobody can offer proof he/she exists, he knows nothing.   And none of his circular logic is going to change that.  So he has no right to an opinion.   He’d be eaten alive in a political debate if he could not reach for the god-card.

WHAT I BELIEVE

I believe in the facts.   You want to change my mind?   Make a good enough argument and I’m with you.   I believe in America, freedom of religion, supporting our president no matter who is in office, compromise, the first amendment, compassion, freedom of intelligent speech and all inclusiveness.

But during this election process I’ve seen massive voter disenfranchisement,  I’ve heard 47% of American’s being called lazy and on the government dole by the republican candidate for president,  women being informed if they are impregnated through rape they actually willed it,  gay and women’s rights being threatened with repeal, that the failed Reagan trickle down economic theory will once again be allowed cripple our economy and that Iran is our next Iraq.   However all this would happen according to god’s plan and somehow these asinine assertions will return the United States to the glory days of slavery, beheadings of non-believers, witches and demmy-dems who are also referred to as libby-libs by the more educated republican political pundits.

CAR WRECK ON THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY

Lastly, I believe if there is a god, he or she would be sick to their proverbial stomach the way his/her word is misinterpreted  and twisted for the convenience of a political party and its constituency of Buick owners.   So while I am elated President Obama has another term to finish the hard work he began, I’m fearful of his self-centered fear mongering opponents acting like uncaged baboons trying to bring him down instead of building up this great country of ours.  A place where people like the good Pastor Julian Johnson can go on the internet and actually find people who agree with his preposterous fantasies.   Because if the web is the information superhighway,  Julian Johnson is a wreck void of any real knowledge which needs to be moved to the side of the road.  It’s bad enough I had to run into him.

Cons, Scams and a Dead Man   Leave a comment

DATING SITE REBEL

I recently joined eHarmony for a month to meet my perfect match… So far all 72 and counting.  Even this self-proclaimed kinder and gentler web site which supposedly treats its members with much more dignity than the Match.com’s of the world, completely takes you to the cleaners if you don’t sign up for at least three months.  I decided for a “de-press only” with no starch and paid the excessive one month fee.   I opted out of the three month spin cycle so if I didn’t like the site, I wouldn’t be forced to keep receiving my six perfect matches four times a week.

You really have to sift through eHarmony to find the “one month option.”  And, they actually make you feel dirty when you select it, like you are not playing by the rules and destined to fail.  Well then call me a dating rebel.  However I keep expecting that mild mannered mid-fifties salt and pepper haired stylishly bespectacled dating expert from the eHarmony television commercials to call and berate me on my flawed approach to online dating.

CUPID IS STUPID

Actually, I chose eHarmony because I was on Cupid.com for just a few weeks and received tons of response… From 20 year old strippers pretending to be interested in order to lure me to their lair of pay sites and cash in on my innate desire to see them naked.  When I realized it was a scam, I quit Cupid quick.  I want a date I can undress in person.

THE WIDOW LESLIE PALMER

Recently a 50 year old woman started contacting me through the laborious and redundant eHarmony multiple choice questionnaire process.  It poses ridiculous queries similar to; “If you got pulled over by the Police and they found crack in your car, would you say it belonged to your date to avoid a third strike?” Or, “What would you do if your date remembered seeing you on an episode of Lock-up?”

I wasn’t really interested in this woman, but she seemed very nice so I played along.  I told her I wasn’t sure if we were a good fit (her teeth looked like corn on the cob with extra husk), so we decided to just email one another to see if we could develop a friendship.  But I knew I’d never want to meet her in person.  Moreover, she was a widow and went to England to settle her late husband’s will who passed away four years ago.  In the back of my mind I wondered why the will was still in probate after four years?

Also, when she told me his name was Brian Palmer, I knew I’d heard it before.  The answer was on the tip of my tongue.  For days I aimlessly wandered the streets of San Francisco perplexed as to where I had heard of this person before.

Suddenly while showering one morning it came to me. Months ago someone tried to relieve me of my money with a “dead husband will scam” where somehow I would become the beneficiary of millions.  Most important, the dead guy’s name was Brian Palmer, just like this stiff.   I jumped out of the shower.  “No fucking way!”  It was all coming together.

LAZY: THE WORST KIND OF CRIMINAL

Taking to heart what I’ve learned about sending nasty emails and then regretting them later, I decided to wait and see if “Leslie,” probably a 250 pound Nigerian man in a shiny suit two sizes too small, made a suspicious move.  Maybe the name thing was just a coincidence.  She certainly wasn’t good looking enough to be playing the “promise of sex” angle.  I’d rather join the Priesthood than see what’s under that skirt.   So, what if I called her out on this and was wrong?   Then I would have insulted her and her poor beloved dead husband.  I cringed thinking about how that would play out.

But when I got into work the next morning an email saying she ran out of money in England and needs me to help her out was waiting for me.  Then she asked for ten thousand dollars.  What kind of help did she need?  Was she planning on sailing back to the United States on a yacht?

The Nigerians strike again!  I knew it was the Nigerians because they run most of the internet scams.   They are incredibly lazy and keep using the same names, photos and catch phrases in all their cons.  Moreover, they get very impatient and ask for the money way too soon.  And, their grammar is atrocious.  It’s actually kind of pathetic.  I was sort of feeling sorry for these inept Nigerians trying to steal from me.  I almost wanted to tell them where they went wrong so they wouldn’t keep making the same mistakes.  I like to help people.

THE BEG-A-THON BARK

It seems like everywhere I go someone is trying to get my meager amount of monetary reserves.  At least six people beg from me to and from work everyday.  I get telemarketed to death daily for things like a free soup spoon if I sign up for ten magazine subscriptions I don’t want.  I can’t even get gas without somebody trying to “save me the trouble of pumping it myself” in return for a few dollars.   Then I am hit up for donations by legitimate charities when I venture out for lunch.  By then I am so embittered by embezzlers I literally bark at them when I see volunteers approaching with their clipboards.

And now the beggars are starting to ask for specific dollar amounts!  When you give them some loose change  you often hear “Oh come on, can I get at least a dollar?”  It makes you want to snatch the money back.  I gave someone a dollar once and he actually asked for at least a five!  He said you can’t do anything with a dollar.  “In that case, may I have it back?” I asked.  “I can find something to do with it.”   I was going to the laundromat that evening and could change it into quarters.

SCAMMERS WITH NO MANNERS

I have no sympathy for the scammer.   “I ran out of gas on the freeway,” says the out of breath man running toward me at the gas station.  “I need money for a can of gas so I can get my pregnant wife to the hospital.  For some reason my credit card isn’t working.  My wife is ready to pop!”

“Where’s the car?  I’ll give you a ride with the gas can to help you save time,” I offer, already knowing there is no car, wife or need for any gas.

“Oh, well it’s way up there on the freeway.”  He points to in the opposite direction.  “It’ll be faster if I take it myself.”  He was starting to sound annoyed with me.  Like I was fucking him up at work and questioning his ability to run sixty miles an hour.

I pulled out my cell phone, “Let me call an ambulance for your wife.  What kind of car do you have?”

All I got was a shot of his back as the man briskly jogged across the street to another gas station looking for a better shill.  No goodbye or anything.  He had no idea how many times I heard that scam before, on both coasts!  Yet I get it at least twice a year.  And it must work or these guys wouldn’t keep using it.

A STAIN ON SOCIETY

People running games on others has gotten to the point where you can’t even be on a dating site without wondering if the person on the other end of the questionnaire is for real.  It used to be you just worried if they looked like their picture.  Now you wonder if they have a mug shot.

When I run into scammers plying their craft, especially on the internet, like with the Brian Palmer ploy, I play along for as long as possible wasting as much of their time as I possibly can.  Then, just when they think I am the sending money, I blow the lid off the whole thing.   I have my “gotcha moment.” I envision their anger with me for frittering away their valuable scamming time.  It’s really all you can do.  But it still infuriates me they have figured out how to infiltrate yet one more venue.  They are like a mysterious stain that appears on your favorite shirt and no matter what you do you can’t get it to completely disappear    These parasites are a stain on society that is actually getting worse.

LAW AND ORDER

It’s a fantasy.  The computer con men are hiding behind so many aliases, fake IP addresses and international borders they will most likely never be caught.   And the police could care less about the panhandlers on the street.  They won’t even come out on a nuisance call involving them because the California jails are bursting at the seams.  All you can do is be vigilant, don’t give money to anyone, just offer help.  If they turn down non-monetary assistance, you know they are not for real.

And if you really are sick of the cons, scams and games constantly being hurled toward you, you can still go one place where there is some law and order. Just check your local TV listings.  Law and Order is on seven days a week in every market across the United States.   It’s the closest you’ll get to anyone trying to put a stop to this nonsense that plaques the weak, infuriates the strong and utterly fascinates me with its boorishness and greed.

Rubbernecking at the Discovery Health Network   Leave a comment

Rubbernecking at the Discovery Health Network

Dwarf families reveling in their shortness.  A two-headed sister duo touring Europe.  A twenty-two year old man the size of a three-year old riding around in a car seat.  A family of back-woods country bumpkins with a homely little girl who can barely speak English ruling the roost.  The man with a tumor in his testicles so big they drag on the ground when he walks.  It’s the modern-day version of an old-time circus freak show.  If you have a physical deformity or abnormality, the Discovery Health Channel wants you.

Watching this buffet of poorly equipped people panders to the lowest common denominator.  It makes them feel better about having a lawn full of broken down cars or being on disability for a mysterious back injury incurred at a desk job working for the city.  But I have to admit, I’ve taken a gander at the double-header and the guy with the cumbersome sack.  This Discovery Health Channel genre of Deformity Reality Programing is like a horrible car wreck on the side of the freeway.  You can’t help slowing down to take look.  Then you hate yourself for being so callous.

Who’s Exploiting Who?

But can you blame the Health Network?  It’s cheap fodder for the masses.  All they have to do is follow these disfigured misanthropes around with a camera and watch people’s reactions.  And if things get boring the producers provoke some sort of tense situation.  For instance, the two-headed girl gets in a fight with herself over a guy.  What puzzles me is how the Discovery Health Network justifies this gibberish as being on topic for their overall mission.  How is exploiting people with deformities health related?   I don’t see anybody trying to help the tiny twenty-two year old start growing again.  As a matter of fact, the minute he’s too big for his car seat people will lose interest.  I think the network would actually like to ramp things up by slapping a Pamper on him.  Humiliation is good for ratings.

What about these deformed debutants allowing themselves to be exploited by the Health Network?  Do they feel if they have the deformity, they might as well use it to seek fortune and fame?  Or does the Health Network give them the pseudo altruistic mission of opening up their lives to millions so people will be more accepting every time they see a two-headed girl driving a car, or a dwarf gynecologist super-mom delivering babies she can barely lift?

Funny for the Wrong Reasons

However this “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” show completely perplexes me.  It has nothing to do with health.  It’s just an illiterate family calling everything a “hot mess” with a homely little girl seemingly running the family.  The only handicaps I see are low IQs and the inability of anyone to coherently speak the English language.   It’s not even funny.  Actually, its pathetic to watch these food stained undershirt wearing sofa surfers loafing their way through an inane self-created drama in the litter-box they call their life.

With or without the cameras, this is literally how they would carry on.  More terrifying, there must be viewers eating up this family of miscreants imbecilic trials and tribulations or Honey Boo Boo would be Honey Bye-Bye.  Discovery Health Network would then be on the prowl for the next socially retarded family destined to be made a spectacle of and a cable television sensation.

Taking a Swipe at PBS

Several years ago when I worked for a San Francisco PBS affiliate, I went to the annual PBS convention  in Twenty-Six Palms California.  I don’t remember the keynote speaker’s name, but I do recall his message.  The gist was that all of these cable stations are trying to emulate PBS.  Net Geo, Animal Planet, Discovery Health,  A&E, The History Channel, etc. all have noble monikers, but none of them fulfill the promise.  They sound PBS’ish, but only offer a steady diet of reality programs showcasing prison wives,  female police officers in Memphis, a comic doing disgusting jobs, the animal police, weird re-enacted medical emergencies, home-makeovers, people-makeovers and deformed people prancing around town to satisfy everyone’s hidden curiosities.

Normally I’d be offended.  However, I have the option not to watch these channels.  So if I do watch and don’t like what I see, it’s my own fault.  And I have to admit, I like staring at the two-headed girl and wondering if both heads feel the urge to urinate, and who controls the bladder?   Or if the dwarf husband is attracted to normal sized women, or he is true-blue dwarf right down to the lifts in his shoes?

Reality Whores

When you get to the meat of the matter, who I’m really angry with are these pseudo PBS networks who have laid down and spread their legs to be seduced by the simplicity and lucrative nature of  reality programing.   Maybe they learned early on PBS is PBS because they are government and private foundation-funded.  They can show educational and other worthwhile art and science programing irrespective of the ratings, as they do not depend on commercial advertising.  PBS is an anomaly by design.  Perhaps somebody at a cable network realized this after trying to take a swipe at the network that brought us Masterpiece Theatre, Frontline and The American Experience and fell on their faces.  And, the best alternative they could come up with was Weird Sex.

The Reality of Reality Programing

The reality of reality programing is that as long as there are deformed human beings, cable networks will be building reality shows around them.  It’s cheap, you don’t need actors or a movie set and human nature dictates most people will at least take a peek.  Others will watch entire programs so they can show a public display of disgust as they fulfill their curiosity.  And the bulk of the audience makes no bones about the fact they enjoy seeing how these deformed people get through their every day lives.  The programming actually makes them feel better about the royal mess they have made of their own lives.  “Hey, I may be 45-years old, work at a gas station and live with my mother, but at least I ain’t no midget!”

My own take on it is this; If I ran one of a hundred competing cable networks and Deformity Reality Programing was the catch of the day, I’d cast my nets and start dredging the bottom of the ocean just like everyone else.  I’d like to say I’d at least take the high road and do it with some dignity, but there is none when you are basing a program around someone’s deformity.  The only way this lucrative trip to the cash-register is going to cease is if the reality “actors and actresses” decide to have some respect for themselves, and others with their condition, by having an attack of self-conscious and good taste.

Jerry Springer is Obsolete

The only good thing Deformity Reality Programing has done is exclude the need for a host.  It used to be that Jerry Springer would trot out the man with the massive tumor ridden scrotum.   Then he would ask the “provocative” and humiliating but obvious questions about his daily life.  Now Jerry is out of the mix.  The network just follows the guy around with a camera and we cringe at the poor bastard dragging his balls around town on our television screens unaided by Jerry’s off the wall commentary.   And when it gets boring they put the guy on Strange Sex and roll the cameras as he goes out on a blind date.  Finally, when the testicles aren’t giving enough bounce to the ratings, they put the guy on Medical Miracles and film their amputation.  I call this the  “Deformity Reality Programing Life Cycle.”

The Lock-Up:  An American Tradition

Personally, I think I’m going to shy away from Deformity Reality Programing for a while.  MSNBC, specializing in political news and commentary during the week, has become a plethora of Prison Reality Programing on weekends; Lock-Up.  Lock-Up Raw.  After Lock-Up.  Juveniles Locked-Up.  Women Locked-Up.  Mormons Locked-Up.  I’m sure the network touts it as educational and foreboding to those considering a career in crime.  For me it has always been the program to which you drink a few beers while getting your buzz on before heading out on a Saturday night.   Plus, MSNBC keeps it on all night so when you return home drunk and alone you can always watch someone else who has it worse off.  And don’t kid yourselves, the programming executives know this.  They were the ones getting their buzz on watching Lock-up 15-years earlier when they were in college.

So while I find exploiting people with deformities on reality television in poor taste,  its low hanging fruit just waiting to plucked by unimaginative cable network programmers that is almost always a sure-fire hit.  The Discovery Health Network is simply giving us a look at the Bearded Lady twenty-first century style.

Sex and Psychotropic Side Effects   Leave a comment

I’ll never forget my Dad and I taking a long walk when I was twelve years old.  It was longest walk of my life.  Not because of the distance, it was the subject matter discussed that made it seem like it would never end.  It was his big “sex talk,” where my father proceeded to tell me most of the things I already knew only in more clinical terminology.  And every time I tried to make a joke to lighten things up, he’d smack me in the head.  And when he told me things about my Mom I didn’t want to know, I wanted him to smack me in the head again to knock the disgusting image out of my mind.

Well now it’s time to have my sex talk with you.  However, it’s going to have a little twist; I’ll be talking about the side effects antidepressants and mood stabilizers have on many people’s sexual performance and enjoyment, or lack thereof.   It’s the one side effect from psychotropic medications used to treat Bipolar Disorder that everybody wants to talk about but nobody wants to talk about simultaneously.  So I’ll spare everyone the embarrassment and put myself out there, because whenever I mention it in a blog, I get the most responses and inquiries.  Obviously it’s a major concern.

Many antidepressants and mood stabilizers diminish sexual sensation, gratification, performance and sometimes the ability to even participate at all.   It’s a consequence for men and women, obviously manifesting itself differently between the sexes because men have penises and women have vaginas.  I’ll speak from my experiences and try to offer some solutions that don’t involve leaches or blood letting.

The sexual side effects of psychotropics on men can be devastating.  A lot of them depend on the drug(s) you are taking.  I have taken many.  Personally I have been through not being able to get an erection, no matter how much my partner or I feverishly worked, occasionally producing a soft orgasm at the very end,  just to mock me.  Through it all the lack of sensation in the penis is greatly muted.  Your mind is sexually charged but your penis doesn’t want to party.  It feels like it’s wrapped in a thick wool blanket killing all sensitivity.

If a man can achieve an erection, the sensation can be so muffled that it takes forever to have an ejaculation.  Finally when you do, you barely feel a modicum of pleasure.  Enough to wonder “why bother?”  It is literally as pleasurable as going pee.   Again, your mind wants to have sex, but you have the libido of a dead Mexican rumba dancer. Plus, you have to force penile stimulation, which is counterintuitive.  If you achieve an erection, it is like trying to walk into a hurricane.

Unbelievably, some drugs will let you fight the good fight until you can get and maintain an erection.  Then you “anti-climax” with a dry ejaculation.  Absolutely no semen emerges, nor does it feel very good.  This is the ultimate emasculating effect of Bipolar medication.   It’s only good for people with hand-washing obsessive compulsive behavior because there is nothing to clean up.

The best overall description of how psychotropics can effect sex drive, and maybe only guys can get this, is that physical charge you get starting in the pit of your stomach when you are really excited.  When you are super attracted to your partner and know you are going to have a big orgasm almost just by looking at them.  With antidepressants and mood stabilizers it’s very difficult to get that electrical current to radiate throughout your body.

When discussing what psychotropics do to women, I have to go with what Bipolar sexual partners and friends have told me.  Virtually all experience a diminished sex drive with desensitized genitalia.   But what I hear most is that it’s almost impossible for them to achieve an orgasm.  I have tried over and over to patiently orally stimulate a Bipolar girlfriend and she just couldn’t get “over the mountain.”  It’s even more difficult through traditional intercourse.  Women experiencing psychotropic sexual side effects need intense clitoral stimulation for a long period of time if they are interested in sex at all.  And, many can only reach orgasm with the help of sexual aids that vibrate alone or in conjunction with their partner.  Many times the man feels very inadequate when the woman is forced to introduce  appliances in boudoir.

So what’s a penis and vagina to do?  Can you imagine if a “normal” man or woman started facing these sexual dysfunction issues?  They’d be beside themselves calling their urologist or gynecologist on the golf course in an utter state of panic.  “Doctor, I think my penis is dying.  Is this what happens before it shrivels up and falls off?”  Or, “Doctor, my vagina has a severe loss of sensitivity.  Is this a sign I’m turning into a bitter old spinster with no interest in men?”

If you are experiencing these sexual side effects, “what can you do about them?” is your next question.  Right now there is not a lot medically you can accomplish.  But before you scream in anguish, there are things that do work, you just may not hear about them from your doctor.  As far as pills go, you can ask your doctor to switch your medication(s) to something that may have less or no sexual side effects.  And this does work for some people.  It helped me to a noticeable degree.  However I was also once prescribed Yohimbine, which is some kind of plant extract.  The only thing that gave me was false hope.

Another medical option is just for men; Viagra, Cialis or other erectile aids.  I have not heard from any Bipolar men that they are the solution to getting and maintaining an erection.  I was prescribed Viagra and it did very little.  I also tried taking three times the recommended dose with wanton abandon for having an erection lasting more than four hours and having to go to the hospital, as they warn in the commercial.  I actually would have loved having that problem.  I’d be proud to be wheeled in on a stretcher with the sheets at my midriff noticeably aloft. But nothing. However everyone is different.

Women, I have heard that taking anti-histamines can help produce heightened sensation and lead to orgasm.  This is an off-label use of these over the counter drugs and in no way am I recommending it.  But I’ve heard it works for some.  Since I don’t have female organs, I have no idea why.  I haven’t seen any Bipolar women trying to catch colds or delighted to have allergies either.

A non-medication related solution requires you to change your sexual habits.  For a man or woman with this problem, you need to set the mood.  Just don’t jump into bed.  Have a romantic dinner.  Wear provocative lingerie if you’re a woman.  If you’re a guy, take a goddamn bath.  Have a candle-light dinner.  Talk dirty.  Watch some porn.  Tease one another.  Engage in each others fetishes.  Just do things to raise the level of excitement before you move forward with actual sex.  There is something to be said for mind over matter.

Also, do not drink alcohol before sex.  Medical evidence shows that it decreases the man’s ability to get and maintain an erection and for a woman to fully lubricate and reach orgasm.  Most people know this by having learned the hard way.  If you haven’t, any college student can validate my advice.  Just coupling alcohol with psychotropics could produce negative results unrelated to sex.

The big controversial possible solution is smoking marijuana before sex.  For me it heightens my arousal, increases my sensitivity and enjoyment of  an orgasm.  Some women report increased sensitivity and stimulation as well.  However, pot isn’t like buying a prescription, even when getting it legally from a California Dispensary.  Every “grow” has a different potency no matter how accurate the growers try to be with their various strains.  Plus, different people have different tolerances.  So you have to do a lot of experimentation.  And you don’t want to get so stoned you forget you’re having sex and drift off to slumber.

Exercise is one thing I am positive helps on the sex front.  A vigorous workout gets the blood pumping through all your organs.  When I am done running I almost always have an increased libido.  Better yet, I have less trouble achieving an erection, which is actually a function of getting blood flow to my penis,  a direct result of aerobic exercise.  Furthermore, it makes my orgasm much more forceful and enjoyable.  I have heard of similar sexual benefits regarding exercise from women.  But it has to be activity that really increases and sustains your heart rate for at least a half hour.

Finally, be conscious of when you take your medication.  I found if I take mine too close to having sexual activity, I can not perform well.  But if I wait several hours I can do better.  I realize it can ruin spontaneity, but so can a soft penis or dry ejaculation.

The reason I wrote this blog is so people with bipolar Disorder experiencing these embarrassing sexual side effects from antidepressants and mood-stabilizers know they are not alone.  There are a lot of us out there who have spent years making excuses to sex partners why we can not be adequately stimulated, fully enjoy sex or even perform in the first place.  Do not give up on a solution.  This can be overcome.  It requires patience and willingness to experiment.  And the great thing about our bodies is that we can even experiment on ourselves!

If anyone ever tells you there is more to life than sex, they are right.  However sex is one of the few benefits about having a  human body.  Our bodies are constantly causing us sickness, inconveniences, ailments, embarrassing situations and in this case mental illness.  Everybody, especially people with Bipolar Disorder, deserves sexual pleasure.  It’s free, it feels great and it’s good for you.  Don’t deny yourself.  Apply yourself.

Elephant Mind Syndrome   Leave a comment

I’m recently single again after a broken engagement.  It would have been my second marriage, but it didn’t feel right.   This time I knew enough to dial it back before the Rabbi told me to break another glass.   I hadn’t really thought about what it meant to be single again, until I had my first weekend alone.  Unlike before, I was not ramping up with the dating sites and connecting them to my cell phone so I didn’t miss a possible connection.  I had practically hooked my phone to my belt last time, which is something I swore I would never do, along with wearing Dockers.

This time I am not motivated to go online.  I know if I do I’ll be crazed with generating activity and I just don’t feel like one more thing with which to be obsessed.  I decided to just meet girls the old-fashioned way; Screaming at them out of my car window waiving a six-pack of Bud and inviting them up to my place to get loaded.  I shouldn’t joke, maybe that does work.   It did in high school.

Actually, the old-fashioned way is just meeting girls through normal everyday interactions and where I socialize.  And I do see lots of women through the course of my work and in the neighborhood bars and coffee shops I frequent.  Usually I would balk at this method.  Just walking up to a woman and introducing myself was out of the question.  I had the self-confidence of a paraplegic dwarf with a twin growing out of the right side of my face, and all you can see are teeth and lips.

A good part of this was due to my Bipolar Disorder.  Having a mental disorder is always in the back of my mind.  It’s not so much that I think women can tell, it’s just that eventually if I met one sooner or later I’d have to drop the B-bomb.   Once I had a date who laid down the ground rules before I could even open the hatch under the plane.  She said she was fine with anything except guys who didn’t have jobs or had mental illnesses.   This is the kind of thing your therapist says will never happen in the real world.  Nobody would be so brazen to say such a thing.

I also recall all the things that embarrassed me throughout my Bipolar life and somehow thought every girl I spoke with automatically knows everything in my screwed up head.  I call this Elephant Mind Syndrome.  Like how as a kid I was made fun of constantly because I was horrible at sports.  Or, for years how my mom made me swim with a bathing cap so my ear plugs would not fall out.  I spent summers being relentlessly teased about being a topless girl.  Then there were my suicide attempts and stays in the psyche ward.

If I did meet someone and got past all that and was still trying to hang in there with a rap, I’d start ruminating on my medication’s side effects.  If my mouth was dry I wondered if I lisped like a deaf person.  I also worried if I had some crusted food or beverage in the corners of my mouth from the dryness.  Or, I wondered if she noticed my eyes shift slightly back and forth because of my nystagmus.  Coupled with the speech impediment and I thought the girl was ready to tell me “how wonderful it is that I am on my own and whether I lived in special needs housing or with my parents.?” Worst of all, I was afraid if I bought her a drink my shaky hands would dump it all over the bar.  I couldn’t tell if I was killing the relationship in my mind or these things were actually happening.   Eventually the pressure was too much and I’d go home to watch Lock-Up.  Cell extractions are so uplifting.

And what if by some miracle I found a girl who actually liked me?  Moreover, there was a possibility we might be getting intimate that evening?  First I’d  have to figure out what’s wrong with her.  I once brought a homeless woman to my apartment because she was wearing a business suit.  I had no idea that was all she owned.   So if I vetted her as normal,  I then had to worry about whether I’d be able to perform because of the meds I take.  Also, there’s the whole dilemma of how long can I put off taking my night-time medication which usually makes me very tired and useless as a bedfellow.

My point? When you are Bipolar, nothing is simple.  There is no such thing as going with the flow.  No matter what turn your life takes, there are a series of related anxieties.  And I recently realized if I let those Bipolar driven fears consume me, the only women I am going to meet are the nurses in the emergency room pumping my stomach.

I know a lot of Bipolar guys and girls reading this blog have had similar feelings attached to meeting the opposite sex.  Tired of losing the demolition derby before I even strap myself onto a bar stool, I will share my new approach to meeting the opposite sex;  If you see a man or woman you’d like to meet, force yourself to go up and introduce yourself.  The worst thing they can do is say “I’m not interested.”  “I’m not interested” can mean a million different things that have nothing to do with you.  Maybe they are waiting for someone, they are attached, not staying long or you could not be their type.  But I doubt they can see your lifetime of embarrassment playing like a video loop in your eyeballs or think you are mentally retarded because you have dry-mouth.  And if you really aren’t their type, so what?  There are a lot of pretty people out there that are not your type for one reason or another.

The important thing is that if you really want to meet someone, keep trying.  Practice makes perfect.  Keep challenging your fear.  I actually just started practicing with some “trainers.”  “Trainers” are women or men you are not particularly interested in but you try to strike up conversations just for practice.  That way if you embarrass yourself or say the wrong thing, it doesn’t really matter.   Consider it a pre-season game.  It doesn’t count.

Have you ever walked down the street and saw a really ugly guy with a very attractive woman and wondered how that mismatch got made ?  It’s because of self-confidence.  The guy was probably persistent and refused to accept his shortcomings as a reason not to be a desirable human being.  People with Bipolar Disorder are lucky in a way because our shortcomings are on the inside.   And, they really aren’t shortcoming at all.  For many of us our disease has made us stronger.  So if you are Bipolar and looking for your soul mate, the only way someone can see all your issues is if you tell them.  And if and when you tell them is for you to decide.

Take a Drink in My Blues   Leave a comment

The other night a friend commented to me that I drink and smoke pot every evening. She questioned, in a very nice way, if it may be in excess.  I think she was taking a mental inventory of how many wine bottles were in the trash and “roaches” in the ash tray at the end of the week.  She said so out of concern because I am Bipolar II and alcohol is not a recommended additive with anti-depressants and mood-stabilizers, of which I have both taken for years.

My friend is a mental health worker, so I gave her concern more weight than if the elderly Chinese lady who scours our trash for bottles and cans made the comment.  And as a writing-hack, I sat down to construct a blog justifying why it’s actually healthy for certain people with Bipolar Disorder to drink and smoke in moderation, visa vi there was no reason for my friend to be worried.

It took me days to write the blog.  I just could not get the wording right.  And then I finally realized it was because I was full of shit.  I was not being honest with myself and that’s why I was unable to summon the appropriate words.  So to coin a stupid phrase, “let’s get real.”

Alcohol is a depressant.  The reason people with Bipolar Disorder are told not to drink when taking anti-depressants is because it’s counterintuitive.  It will make the drug work harder or render it ineffective.

It’s the same thing with mood-stabilizers, prescribed to people on anti-depressants to make sure they don’t become overly happy.  They are meant to keep you somewhere in the middle where you are devoid of emotion, or at least that is my experience.  You won’t hit rock bottom, but you also can’t summon up a whole lot of excitement about anything either.  And of course adding alcohol into the mix can destabilize the entire situation.

Marijuana.  Who the hell knows what that does to people with Bipolar Disorder?  Some say it helps their mood, some say it makes them more depressed.  There really isn’t much information that I know of on how it interacts with anti-depressants and mood-stabilizers.   Plus with pot, even if you buy it from a legal California Dispensary, you really never know what strength and properties you are getting with every purchase.

With all this information, why would someone on anti-depressants and mood-stabilizers drink and smoke?  Well imagine a life built on a base-coat of depression with suicidal thoughts and side effects that range from constant nausea to sexual dysfunction.  Shaking hands to extreme dry mouth.  Short term memory loss to irritable bowel syndrome.  And this is all courtesy of the best medication cocktail I have ever been on.  Without it I am positive I would be dead.

In light of all this, I just can’t see anything wrong with coming home and having a couple of glasses of wine and smoking a joint over the course of the evening if it makes me feel good.  It’s nothing that many non-afflicted people do on a daily basis.

Am I addicted to drinking and smoking?  No, but I would be very unhappy if I had to stop.  And if it doesn’t affect my work or other aspects of my life, I don’t see the point.  Even if I were alcohol dependent (pot is non-addictive), at my level of consumption I would not really care.  I’m already addicted to anti-depressants and mood-stabilizers.  Take those away and it would be like withdrawing from heroine.  It’s much easier to stop drinking.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I am not recommending the consumption of alcohol and marijuana to people on psychotropic drugs.  Everybody has to make their own decisions.  I know some Bipolar people who drink, some who drink and smoke pot, some who just smoke pot and others who do nothing.  And if I were prescribed a drug that makes me feel wonderful, I would stop drinking and smoking in a heartbeat.  Why rock the boat?  Not many people with Bipolar Disorder get to sail those pristine waters.

I make no excuses for my alcohol and marijuana consumption.  Just like everyone else, blessed with Bipolar Disorder or not, I like the way it makes me feel.  I enjoy the taste of good wine and micro-brewed beer.  Pot takes away my nausea and has almost eliminated the sexual side-effects that have plagued me for years.  And for a little while I can relax and stop constantly worrying about whether I’m heading for a cycle of depression or not.

So I will say to my good friend, thank you so much for your concern.  I appreciate your vigilance.  And I hope you’ll keep looking out for me, as I will for you.

A Tisket. A Tasket. Let Me Decide When I Want to Get in My Casket.   Leave a comment

Suicide.  A dirty word.  Taboo.  Something so bad that it’s against state and federal law.  I find that kind of funny.  If you do commit suicide, how are they going to punish you?  Put your corpse in prison for twenty-five to life?   Make you do one-hundred hours of community service as a speed bump?  Statistically, it’s actually a good thing.  It has a 0% recidivism rate.

Of course we all know why suicide is illegal.  The illogic is mostly based in Christianity, as is much of the foundation of our country and it’s laws.  And don’t get me wrong, I agree it’s wrong to murder, steal, rape and all of those other horrible transgressions against others.  I’m not even fond of coveting another’s wife, although I’ve been tempted.  But suicide is illegal because Christianity is, as are other western religions, afraid of the unknown.  Religion makes people less afraid.  God will take care of them in death as in life.  God is good.  We even say how much we trust him on our national paper currency.  But if you take your own life, God is going to be really pissed.  So our largely faith-based society made suicide illegal.  Life and death are God’s decision.  Unless you are sentenced to death for a crime.  Then it’s back in the government’s hands.

What nobody ever accounts for is the individual.  A person does not ask to be born.  Personally, I don’t remember giving my permission to be ripped out of a vagina, smacked on the back until I started screaming and live with Bipolar II and a visual impairment for the rest of my life.  So why is it illegal for me to terminate my life when I see fit?  If someone is on life support it’s acceptable to pull the plug if their quality of life will never surpass a vegetative state.   However I can not pull the trigger if my life has been nothing but depression and misery and all I can do is lie in bed like a rotten turnip?

If you are Bipolar and in severe depression, the phrase “snap out of it” is probably the most ignorant thing a person can say.  And if you are suicidal, “things aren’t that bad” are the words that put them on the fast track for stepping in front of the five o’clock commuter train.  Notice this popular nomenclature doesn’t put the emphasis on how you actually feel.  Just once I’d like to hear someone tell a suicidal person the truth.  “I can see why you want to kill yourself.  I think if I were in your situation I might want to do the same.”  Has anyone ever considered being genuine?  Would you tell a double leg amputee dragging their torso around like a snail that it is more fun than walking?

A lot of Bipolar people I know tell me they think of suicide every day.  This doesn’t mean they are suicidal, but the thought is always in their mind.  Others are in a constant holding pattern waiting for clearance from the tower;  the incident to throw them over the edge… When the depression gets so bad that they can’t take one more second of consciousness with the possibility of waking up.

For me suicide is my safety valve.  Something I know is always there when I’ve had enough.  It doesn’t mean I walk around with a pocket full of sleeping pills.  I just know I can always stop my car on the Golden Gate Bridge and do a swan dive over the edge if it gets to that point.  And just knowing I have the option helps me cope with life.  I think the original astronauts carried cyanide into space in case they ran into some other worldly beings that were going to cause them great harm.  Why can’t those who suffer from a lifetime of deep depression be offered the same compassion?

I leave you with this, figuratively and not literally. As a forty-six year old Bipolar II man I know what it is to suffer deep depression my entire life, smattered with bouts of mania where I do things that only increase my despair.  Those who condemn suicide either don’t understand what it is to spend a lifetime of debilitating depression and the havoc which ensues, or, they are projecting their fear of death on others.  Either way they are focusing on themselves and not the individual.

Suicide is a crime that will forever be broken.  So for all those who are going to kill themselves today, may you get the relief from the suffering you so sorely desire.  I hope your last decision was the best you ever made.  And for those still suffering who decide to stay with us for however long you wish to go on,  all I can offer is to share my mantra:  A tisket.  A tasket.  Let me decide when I want to get in my casket.