Archive for the ‘anxiety’ Tag

THE BIPOLAR PERSPECTIVE: BEARING THE BAGGIE OF BURDENS   Leave a comment

PISSED

The other day I finally went to the urologist.  I wanted to find out why at fifty years of age I started wetting the bed three nights a week.  As I walked into my sparse HMO Plan’s Doctor’s Office, I was prepared for news of a cancerous growth in my manhood, a renegade testicle or an untreated progressive tropical sexual disease I picked up eating Cuban Food in San Francisco’s Mission District.  But I got even worse news… There was nothing physically wrong with me.  The emotionless managed care physician even managed to look at my prostate, which apparently gave him the “OK” sign as well.  I wonder if it was a “thumbs up” or it just “winked”at him like a Cheshire cat?

RESTRICTED FLOW

 If my member is not sick, that means my night-time urinary incontinence must be in my head.  Or at least that was my first conclusion.  After all these years in therapy trying to keep my Bipolar mind afloat, now I had sprung a leak down below.  And, the treatment was as vague as the apparent cause.  So the vanilla urologist gave the tasteless advice not to drink fluids three hours before bedtime and see what happens.  He also emphasized no alcohol.  I knew this was implausible. My Bipolar medications make my mouth extremely dry.  I have to keep drinking liquids or suffer from such bad cotton mouth my lips stick together when I speak, causing annoying suction sounds.  Plus, the thought of restricting the flow of alcohol prematurely during an evening on the town is out of the question.  I prefer to drink with wanton abandon.  Why should I once again have to add another limitation to my already restricted existence?

HI-HO!

And then it hit me… This was just one more annoying annotation to my treatment schedule I will have to endure due to my Bipolar Disorder.  Just like the cadre of pills I have to take twice a day, now I must regulate my liquid intake.  Another hurdle to clear, inconvenience to negotiate and regiment to be saddled with in order to remain ready for prime time.  I feel like I am in an 1800’s horse-drawn wagon, piled high with pills and their side-effects, barely inching across the baron plains of the old west.  Hi-Ho Effexor, Lamictal and Topamax! Git!

MANAGED MEDICAL INCONTINENCE

However the thing the Managed Healthcare Professional said that bothered me most is he felt the assortment of Bipolar medications I take are probably the cause of my night-time incontinence.  I’m well aware they cause dry mouth, nausea, severe constipation and weight gain, among other things.   But because my nightly dose of the anti-depressant Seroquel makes me sleep quite deeply, I may not be waking up when I have the urge to urinate.  Consequently, I go in my sleep.  And, the doctor made it clear he did not think I should discontinue any of my medications.  So in essence, he was saying it was best to continue wetting my bed.  That way “at least I have my sanity.”  I call this Managed Medical Incontinence.

BEARING THE BAGGIE OF BURDEN

One time a friend who I met in a Bipolar Chat Room came to visit me in San Francisco. When I helped her get settled in her hotel room, she pulled out an identical Zip Lock Baggie to mine filled with pill bottles containing her personal mixture of Bipolar elixirs and poultices.  I suddenly felt a strong commonality with her. I realized all Bipolar sufferers carry their own “baggie” full of unique prescriptions and medication induced limitations like mine, everywhere they go in life. I take a handful of assorted pills twice a day. Some people take theirs three times daily. Some have to take meds with food. Mine make me too nauseous to eat right away.  A number of people can drink alcohol with them, but others get violently sick or depressed and can not combine the two.  Each baggie contains a mixed bag of burdens specially formulated for that individual.  But we all bear the same baggie of burden.

MY BAGGIE IS BIGGER THAN YOUR BAGGIE

Wetting the bed is a pretty heavy burden for a baggie to bear.  You can learn to keep your shaky hands in your pockets, and take your midday dose of medication out of sight from your co-workers.  But if you are ever going to have an intimate relationship, you can’t hide the fact that you are irrigating the bed.  Or, you can wear a diaper to sleep at night and call it an “undergarment,” so it sounds more like Mormon underwear. However I’ve come to the realization that everyone’s baggie seems equally big in their own eyes.  Different people with Bipolar Illness have different medication regiments.  It’s not as simple as just popping a Prozac.  And consequently, we all have our own set of annoying side-effects. Moreover, if they are your annoying side-effects, they are bigger than anyone else’s.  When I first started taking a once daily dose of the anti-depressant Elavil in the mid-1980’s to treat my Bipolar, I didn’t even need a baggie. Conversely,  I thought taking that single pill at night would be a massive intrusion on the rest of my life.  Now I carry a heavy duty Zip Lock Baggie, and yearn for the days of simplicity that came with only needing one pill bottle.  These were the days when my side-effects could be counted on one hand, not amplified to a roar and punctuated by constantly having to change my bed sheets.

THE CAT IS OUT OF THE BAGGIE

Now that the cat is out of the baggie, do I accept my predicament or search for a solution? If you suffer from Bipolar Disorder, you are forever trying to do one thing to compensate for another.   Am I willing to discontinue the Seroquel, become sleepless, depressed and dehydrated, so I can awaken dry just in time for another miserable day of suicidal ideations? Personally I am not ready to accept the Meaningless Managed Medical Memorandum on my nocturnal incontinence. So I will go forth seeking solutions that may or may not materialize.  Will I end up adding to my baggie or shrinking it?  I don’t know. But I do know I am not alone. Because Bipolar babies all have baggies.  No matter how big or small, they are enormous to the bearer.  And all of us in the Bipolar Community anticipate with bated breath a cure for their individual intolerable side-effects just around the corner.  Side-effects are the price we pay for being alive and sane.  However they can also drive you insane.

HALF IN THE BAGGIE

I thought the only way I could write about this was if I were “half in the baggie.”  It’s an embarrassing thing to do sober.  And nobody except the person “sleeping on my bottom bunk” really has to know.  But so rarely can you showcase a Bipolar medication related side-effect that makes the non-afflicted truly realize how gruesome this business can be.  There is no free ride.  Moreover, in most cases Bipolar medication only works to a point.  It does not completely wipe out deep depression, anxiety or mania.  Just enough to get by.  But the side-effects are full strength and show no mercy.

 

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THE BIPOLAR PERSPECTIVE: YOU CAN LEAD A DEPRESSED PERSON TO WATER…   7 comments

Cracking the Window

Everybody has a different way of asking for help.  I have Bipolar II, with an extra serving of depression.  So when I am down so low I cannot take life anymore, I try to give it back with an overdose of my medications and as much Vodka as my body can absorb before I lose consciousness.  But no matter how many pills and how much Vodka I’ve ingested, I have still not been able to permanently put myself out of my misery.  There is no doubt at that moment in time I sincerely want to kill myself.  However, by not swallowing the entire contents of my medicine cabinet straight off, which for sure would bring about my demise, I leave the window open a crack with a parting call to my psychologist triggering an onslaught of help.  Could it be that I’d rather wake up feeling sick to my stomach six hours later than remaining unconscious feeling nothing six feet under?

Calling All Cars

The other day I was on Facebook and noticed a message from an old acquaintance.  He actually sent it out as a general notice to all his friends.  He explained he was feeling intense anxiety, depression and having trouble functioning.  He had an appointment with a doctor, but was extremely afraid of having to take medication.  I thought it was somewhat strange he was “calling all cars” about his mental condition. Most people are very private about it.  I was so intensely secretive I wrote a book about my experiences (BUZZKILL) using my real name.  My friend was obviously a mental illness novice.  He had not yet learned how to make the dramatic cry for help by at least threatening to jump from something.

Don’t Buy Generics

The last time I checked my friend had forty-one responses from some very well-meaning people.  But when you boiled it down they all had the same advice; “Hang in there.  Things will get better over time.  I’ll pray for you.”  Irrespective of the stupid simplicity of their remarks, it was amazing they all basically offered the same generic response.  And, not one person mentioned psychiatric help and medication, which my friend stated he was especially nervous about.  It reminded me of someone telling a little kid they are going to the circus, when they are really going to get a rabies shot.  And the “I’ll pray for you?”  Why not just say, “I’ll waste some time talking to myself about you instead of talking to you.”  Here was a true cry for help and in return came the off the shelf generic “You’ll be O.K.”  What these people don’t realize is that depression is life threatening, not to be thwarted with a pep talk like before the big homecoming football game.

Go With a Name Brand

Being depressed and despondent is about as real as it gets.  So I decided to “keep it real” and reach out with some useful “Name Brand Advice” via email.  After all, I suffered from depression and anxiety most of my life. Who better to advise him than an individual who will actually address his concerns.  So, I told my friend I have Bipolar Illness, which he may or may not have.  But I know well the anxiety and severe depression that goes with it.  I urged him to find a doctor who listens to him and what he could expect from medication, if in fact recommended.  Also, I suggested he read my book because it specifically addresses his concerns. Moreover, I asked him to purchase five copies and bill it through his insurance.  Lastly, I offered to meet with him anytime he needed to talk.   He thanked me.  Why not?  I’m a name brand lunatic.

Diarrhea of the Email

Then I let loose a torrent of emails also to help my friend.  I talked about medication side effects, finding the right doctor and coming with me to my support group for those who suffer from depression, anxiety and or Bipolar Illness.  Each time he thanked me, but never took me up on an offer.  Was I getting too involved?  Did he not know me well enough to open up?  Was I scaring him?  Was he afraid of turning out like me?  Did he want me to shut the fuck up with my “diarrhea of the email” advice?  My mother used to beat a subject to death so badly that if it was health related, it would cure itself by the intermission.  Was I becoming my mother?  I checked my head for electrodes.

Walk Away Renee

I finally decided enough was enough with the emails and to leave my friend alone.  Walk away Renee.  He knows what I have to offer and if he needs me I’m sure he’ll get in contact.  Sometimes when we are Bipolar and find someone who is in similar pain, although undiagnosed, we will do anything to bring assistance.  We identify with their struggle.  But at a certain point that individual has to reciprocate by reaching out.  You cannot force help down a person’s throat.  All you can do is throw them a life-preserver and see if they take it.  If not, let them find their own way.  I hear a good chiropractor can cure just about anything. Maybe my friend isn’t ready to come to terms with the possibility of needing psychiatric help?  I know when I took my first handful of psychotropic medication (in the prescribed amount), I felt the stigma of being a mental patient as if I was punched in the gut.  I was actually disappointed in myself for being so feeble!

Billboards and Bus-Backs

I was beginning to feel like a social marketer for the American Psychiatric Association.   Or, a Bipolar Recruiting Agent scouting out depressed people for a Bipolar diagnosis. Nonetheless, I have to be satisfied with having done my very best to help, and leave it at that.  Offering too much help can be just as bad as doing none at all.  Maybe I should cancel the billboards and bus-backs with my friend’s name on them, urging him to go to the emergency room if his depression gets worse.

You Can Lead a Depressed Person to Water…

Just like I have always subconsciously cracked the window during a suicide attempt, I realized my friend is doing the same with his mass email.  He made his cry for help.  Although not suicidal, he left an opening for someone to rescue him.  However, I can’t fit through it.  Maybe I represent too much reality?  Whatever the issue, I hope someone can breach the barrier.  And I have to be satisfied that I tried to offer assistance.  It’s really up to him to accept it.  As they say, you can lead a depressed person water, but you can’t make them see a shrink.

THE BIPOLAR PERSPECTIVE: SOCIAL DISTORTION MEDIA   3 comments

The Human Lost and Found

Ten years ago if you wanted to find an old friend, you could do a search on the internet, or sign up for one of those “free” web services that can locate people at nocharge.  But if you actually want to find out anything useful about them, besides their name and age, then you get “paid-membershipped” to death.  Or, you could have gone to a then fledgling Social Media site, like “My Life,” hoping the friend was active in this human lost and found.  However at that time most people were not putting their profiles online for privacy reasons.

Disgrace Book

Then Facebook matured and now almost everyone has a page and timeline complete with their current location, photos, employment, likes and dislikes plus whatever else about themselves they want people to know.  Now old high school friends can look you up without your permission to see what you have or have not been up to the last thirty years.  I was a loser in high school.  For me, Facebook has given me a whole new reason to feel like a failure in 2015.  All my insecurities have come rushing back.  Will people think my girlfriend isn’t good-looking enough?  Have I aged poorly?   Am I the only one in my class who can’t do open heart surgery, or argue a case before the Supreme Court?  Will someone from my past find out I’m Bipolar and think it makes perfect sense?  I call Facebook “Disgrace Book,” because anyone can look me up and have a hearty chortle about how poorly I’ve done in life.

More Torture Please

Facebook is like “enhanced interrogation,” a word Dick “I shot my friend in the face” Cheney uses to make torture sound more soft and cuddly.  But now if you don’t have a Facebook page, you are out of touch.  People need to be able to see you just lost your job, got a divorce or have a kid with an underbite like a 1957 Buick Roadmaster.  Sure, you can make your site only viewable by confirmed friends, but then you look like you really have something to hide.  And since Facebook is now frequently used as a search engine, you are almost required to have access in today’s information age.  So you maintain your page, and just like the droplets in water torture that eventually drive people mad, Facebook allows your friends and foes to slowly trickle into your life judging and eventually driving you mad as well.  And if you’re Bipolar, which commonly comes with increased anxiety, social issues and disdain for one’s past, you never know who will pop into your life digging up your most detested memories, embarrassing moments and perceived lack of achievement.

The Sniff Test

Once in a while some old work cronie posts on my timeline who I thought I was done having nightmares about in the 1990’s, Then I’ll check out their Facebook page just to make myself a little more miserable with their magnificent accomplishments.  Its like when you accidentally get a little shit on your hand picking up after the dog.  You completely wash it off, but you can’t stop sitting there discreetly sniffing your hand over and over all day long just to make sure it doesn’t smell.  Being Bipolar often makes it so you just can’t help sniffing out ancient classmates or work associates who contacted you on Facebook.  You want to make sure the reminder of their success has not stuck to your brian.

The Pull Out Method

I wish there was a big pre-lubricated condom I could put over my entire head so whenever someone from my past or present tries to friend me or comment on my Facebook Timeline, nothing they can say or think about me will reach my Bipolar brain with all its insecurities.  But since I do not see this social contraceptive on the horizon, mainly because the wearer may smother to death, I have thought about using the “Pull Out Method.”  Basically, I’d just shut down my Facebook page and go off the grid.  Solve the whole problem wham, bam, no thank you Facebook man.  Would I really be missing out on things?  I could always keep up with politics on FOX News.  But then I’d really have something to be humiliated about.

Social Media Intercourse

But if you are a business marketing to highly targeted masses, Social Media really is the new frontier.  And when a consumer is reached through Facebook, Twitter or the likes, if marketers can’t get you to click to their link immediately, some will tag you with an ad.  They are essentially invading your personal space on the internet.  I call this “Social Media Intercourse.”  Give a marketer a sliver of information and they’ll follow your future internet viewing sessions with the same banner ad for what seems an eternity.  In essence your personal space has been permeated.  Or in other words, you’ve been fucked by Facebook.  I think they even sell your information to marketers, also making Facebook a pimping service.

Taking Facebook at Face Value

Individuals dealing with Bipolar Illness need to view Facebook and other Social Distortion sites in a whole new manner.  Instead of thinking we are the only “under-achievers” in the room, which is only a perception and not a fact, realize that everyone is trying to make themselves look great on Facebook.  Who is going to put down “lost my last job due to alcohol addiction, suffer from schizophrenia, my wife is ugly and I just filed for bankruptcy?”  And you know the picture they post is going to be their very best shot with someone secretly standing behind them pulling back the loose skin on their face and neck.  So please, do not take Facebook pages at face value.  What you really want to know is lurking on the “back pages.”

Give Till It Hurts

The other thing someone with Bipolar Illness might want to consider when using Disgrace Book is to “give until it hurts.”  Only write or post about things with which you are comfortable.  Not everybody has to know every single aspect of your life.  It’s not lying, it’s called keeping certain subjects not for public knowledge.  Do you think your boss is going to post he has only one testicle?  Of course not.  It has no bearing on anything.  Neither does your Bipolar Illness.  Unless of course you want people to know.  So when updating your Facebook page, only give information until it hurts.  Then stop writing and move on to other things.  Like why you are 53 and still living with your mother.

The Bully Pulpit   Leave a comment

The anxiety started the moment I got off the school bus in the afternoon, haunted me all evening, gave me nightmares while I slept and caused me to physically shake and fight back tears as I waited for the bus to pick me up for school again in the morning.

I wore thick glasses, had severe nystagmus, causing my eyes to uncontrollably shift back and forth, had poor vision, horrible coordination when attempting to play sports, undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder making my behavior over-exaggerated at times and was a terrible student because I was embarrassed to say I couldn’t see the blackboard, even from the front of the classroom.

My entire school day was spent ducking the kids who tormented me for my physical inadequacies and snuck in a quick trip, punch, smack or pencil stabbing whenever a teacher wasn’t looking.  In the 1970’s if you told a teacher kids were kicking you in the back as you stood in front of the urinal, all it would do is increase the veracity of the retribution.  As scared as I was to be in school, I was terrified of getting jumped off school grounds.

Never in my entire life would I ever think a group like StudentsFirst would actually pass Anti-Bullying Legislation.  Laws to stop kids from picking on their classmates for deviating from the norm or just simply being weaker.  Where was this legislation when I was getting repeatedly stuck in the ass by thorns as I was boarding the school bus everyday?

Here is my conundrum;  Can teachers not see what goes on in lunchrooms, hallways and playgrounds?  Or, do they feel discipline is not part of their job description?  Do we need the courts to come into the classrooms because school administrators can no longer control their students?  I detest bullies, but should they be faced with jail time because they are turning out to be the imbeciles reflective of the parents rearing them?

The new argument for bringing courts into the classroom is that victims of bullish behavior are feeling so much anguish they are committing suicide.  And, before they go, in extreme cases they are killing their peers and or complete strangers in incidents like Columbine as acts of final revenge.    These are horrible outbursts of violence, but I question whether the media and other watchdog groups are inadvertently convincing people bullies are provoking revenge killings and we need the courts to control them.

Revenge killings are very extreme cases fueled by the availability of guns and the plethora of “how to be a little terrorist” materials on the internet.  Most of the kids who trip other kids carrying their lunch trays aren’t going to be doing this in their forties.   I doubt the kids who relentlessly picked on me for my shifting eyes are still laughing about it and seeking out others with nystagmus to castigate.   Nor are they teaching their children how to take over the reigns.  They didn’t deserve to be disciplined by our legal system.

It is very true that the internet has given bullies a new tool to ply their trade.  And a powerful one at that.  It can permeate the classroom environment into a child’s private life.  Personally I think it’s taken the place of physical in favor of psychological abuse.  And instead of writing insulting things about each other on bathroom walls, kids are now doing it in chat rooms and on Facebook.  But the internet is here to stay and I don’t think anyone is going to eradicate new ways kids have devised to use it to be mean to the downtrodden.

I have a thirteen year old daughter living in a very nice suburb of San Francisco with her mother.  She goes to a very good public school.  First hand I have seen the feverish pitch of paranoia school administrators have reached to prove they are on the super mutated anti-bully bandwagon. Moreover, they are beside themselves with fear of an unstable student targeted by bullying, getting his or her hands on a machine gun (thanks to the NRA for making them so accessible), and mowing down the student body.  For sure in this day and age they would be held legally responsible by someone.

So if a kid in my daughter’s school hurls a profanity at a classmate online, a girl slaps a boy for being sexually harassing or a kid is caught selling something as benign as candy on school grounds, the full weight of the administration comes down on them.  I have personally heard of kids detained, suspended and expelled for such horrid “miscreant” behavior.   (I actually learned the kid who sold the candy tried to argue it was for personal use, but the principal wouldn’t buy it).

To add to the fervor, a celebrity revered by younger people like Lady Gaga came out against bullying.  I find her incredibly intelligent, compassionate, courageous and my daughter insists talented.  I think having an international celebrity stand up against bullying is more than for which bullied kids could even fathom when I was growing up.   But such an influential figure to kids on the bully pulpit, although I believe is meant with all sincerity, is adding to the disproportionate reaction.

Like most things in America, I think we have gone to an extreme on the school bullying issue.  I agree it’s a problem.  I have battle scars to prove it.  If I saw a kid bullying another I’d confront him or her immediately.  If my child were doing they bullying, I’d not only reprimand her, but I’d make sure she doesn’t do it again.  When my child has been bullied, I provided her with love, comfort and helped her understand why kids act this way and how to remain strong.  If it’s relentless, I’ll talk to the school or the “opposing side’s” parents.  Most importantly, I’ll stay on top of the issue.

What I don’t want is court intervention with legal consequences for childhood misbehavior.  Bullies belong in detention or suspension, not incarceration.   And if we start relating incidents like Columbine as bullying cause and effect to our children, bullied children are going to think this is what could happen to them when they reach their breaking point.   They may even imitate such behavior.  Moreover, they’ll begin to rely on the legal system or Lady Gaga to mitigate their circumstances, instead of turning to their parents or teachers.

There is no solution to bullying.  There never will be.  This is what kids do.  It’s cruel and it sucks.  And it’s great that there are adults standing against it.  But it doesn’t belong in the courts.   When it goes in the courts school administrator ass holes tighten and they punish a kid if they just look at someone the wrong way, terrified of being blamed for another school shooting.  Of course this makes the parents go off the deep end policing their kids for any signs of being bullied.  And when the kids see how crazed adults have become, they become more dramatic to fit the tenor of the situation. This is when the shooting starts.

Take this advice from a shifty eyed, visually impaired, bipolar with poor coordination who used to get stuck in the ass by thorns;  If you build it, they will come.  If we legislate instead of parent, laws will be broken.  Schools will become detention centers.  And kids will not learn appropriate responses and resolutions.  Instead they’ll depend on laws to set their personal boundaries.

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.

Do Clothes Make the Bipolar or Does the Bipolar Make the Clothes?   Leave a comment

Did you ever have a “bad outfit day?”  It’s like a bad hair day except your outfit is making you feel like you’re dressed for no success.  If you’re a guy, maybe your shirt is giving you  man breasts, your pants are showing just a little bit too much sock or your sport coat is bunching up in the back like you’re a marionette and someone is tugging at it with strings.  If you’re a woman your jeans might make your ass look flat as a frying pan, you’re not sure if your cow-neck sweater is back in fashion or belongs on a cow or your jewelry is reminiscent of a carnival.  Whatever it is, it will drive your Bipolar mind crazy all day long until you can scurry home and put on something to relieve the emotional stress of being laughed at every where you went… Or so you thought.

I had a bad outfit day today.  It hit me when I was low on clean clothes and needed a black shirt to match what I was wearing.  I ended up wearing a faded v-neck sweater that had seen better days.  When I was standing on the cable car on my way to work and caught a glimpse of myself in a store window, the bad outfit blues hit me like a Louisville Slugger right in the back of the head.  And, I was meeting friends after work.  I couldn’t let them see me like this.

I don’t know how bad the shirt really looked.  I’m sure people wouldn’t have paid it any mind.  But in my Bipolar psyche, all eyes are always on me.  Everyone could see the ragged sleeves and neck.  And the fading would for sure let the world know I was trying to stretch my wardrobe out one more season.  No, this was serious and something had to be done.  I felt like I was wearing a garbage bag with arm holes cut out.  I waited until 10 AM when the stores opened and then ran out of work to a Banana Republic, purchased a new shirt, threw out the embarrassment-special and was back in the office ten minutes later and $75 lighter.   And then my mind was free to ruminate on whether my jeans fit properly and if my boots needed a better shine.

My question is if a Bipolar person with these exaggerated intrusive thoughts starts out the day making absolutely sure they are satisfied with their ensemble no matter what mirror and lighting they apply, will they feel more confident during the day?  Or, does it not matter whether a Bipolar is wearing a Hugo Boss Suit or Channel Gown, they will still be a wardrobe misanthrope and the only way they can stop the obsession is to divert their attention?

There is a certain point where you have to say you look as good as you can and now it’s time to stop over-analyzing and interact with the planet?  Because, other than what your mind is telling you, the only way people will be staring at your pants is if you pee in them.  But as a dry parcel of clothing is doubtful anyone really cares if they are a little short, make your ass look flat or are an “off brand.”  And unlike your head, you can always take them off at the end of the day.

Consequently, I think it’s the Bipolar who makes the clothes.  Appear confident in what you are wearing, even if you are not, because acting like a fashion faux pas is only going to  add to the circus you’ve created in your mind.  Be confident.  It can only make you look better in your bad outfit.  And being Bipolar, you have to ask yourself, “Is my outfit really that bad?”  You know, we are prone to skewed impressions of ourselves.

So, take a play right out of the fictional Bipolar Survival Guide… Find someone wearing an outfit you think is even more hideous, and just be thankful you aren’t wearing that train wreck.   Remember, y0u can always find comfort in someone less fortunate than you to boost your self confidence.