Archive for the ‘bipolar disorder’ Tag

The Bipolar Perspective: Closing the Parental Divide   Leave a comment

MIXED MOODS

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

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

DAYS IN THE SUN

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

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

THE GREAT DIVIDE

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

HERE COMES THE JUDGE

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

BIPOLAR BUYER’S REMORSE

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

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

THE MANTRA

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

ABOUT FACE

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

A LIFELINE

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

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

ON THE VERGE

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

THE WRITE-OFF

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

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The Bipolar Perspective: Floating Down The Nile in Denial   2 comments

THE 530 GANG

There was a time in my life when I could walk into a car dealership to look at a car I didn’t even need and allow the salesman to run my credit.   The middle-aged pot-bellied red in face sales-manager would then come off his dealmaking perch and introduce himself to me in person.

“Mr. Goodman.  We rarely see credit this good.  You can buy any car on the lot.  Just let us know which one you want and I’ll personally give you a great deal.”  Then I’d get to shake his hand sweaty from greed.

Now if I were to walk into that same dealership the sales-manager wouldn’t even look up from his paperwork to acknowledge my presence.  This is because the salesman who greeted me flashed him “the 530 gang sign” after he ran my credit.   530 is my new subterranean credit score.  I still could have any car on the lot… I just had to pay cash.   I was now in “The 530 Gang,” whether I liked it or not.   We were real low-riders in every sense of the word.

How did I go from the “good credit poster child” to the example of “this is what can happen to you with bad financial planning” in the Charles Schwab Introduction to Investing pamphlet?  Denial.

TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE

Bipolar Disorder affects many facets of a person’s behavior.   Aside from the depression and the mania, it could also include Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Rapid Cycling, Dissociative Disorder and even Schizophrenia.   Often the afflicted suffer from two diagnoses simultaneously.  For instance, Mania and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.   Mania often occurs to satisfy some sort of compulsion.  I was monomaniacal about purchasing new cars because my OCD would not let me run up more than twenty-thousand miles on my current one.   I was convinced the car would become junk at that point and needed to rid myself of it before I get stuck with a pile of scrap metal.

THE NILE IN DENIAL

Denial is a manifestation of Bipolar Disorder.   However, not a separate diagnosis.   When money started getting tight I started prioritizing what and what not to pay.  And parking and speeding tickets took a backseat to car payments and insurance.   But eventually they started piling up.   When I didn’t hear anything for several months on a speeding ticket, I’d convince myself the highway patrolman who pulled me over thought I was a good guy and probably tore it up.  He just wanted to scare me into driving slower.   And all the parking tickets?   I changed cars every six to nine months.   The parking authority won’t even know what car to boot.    I had it all figured out.

Unfortunately, ignorance is bliss and I was haplessly floating down The River Nile in utter denial.   Whenever I tried to get a handle on things the task seemed overwhelming and I figured somehow it would work its way out.   Sooner or later a nice person from the Parking Authority or Traffic Court would call to help me straighten everything out.   In the back of my mind I knew this to be false.  There are no nice people at The Parking Authority or Traffic Court.

I’M THAT IDIOT

You can take all the anti-depressant and mood-stabilizing medication in the world for Bipolar Disorder, but it can’t force you to pay attention to your life.   And when I got pulled over for a burnt out tail light, I learned my driver’s license had been suspended for months due to numerous unpaid speeding and parking violations.   All at once I was without a driver’s license and stranded in the middle of nowhere unable to legally operate my vehicle.   The cop didn’t like me nor did he tear up that ticket after all.   And there are definitely no nice city workers ready to assist me in cleaning this mess up.   Nobody was to blame but myself.

And I had no idea where to start in order to untangle this spiderweb of speeding infractions and failures to appear.   I was the loser you see the judge reprimanding in traffic court for having so many unpaid tickets.   You wonder what kind of idiot could let his life get so out of control?   Well pleased to meet you.   I’m that idiot.

THE BIG DIG

I had two directions I could dig.   Up or down.  Digging down meant my I was going to let the State of California bury me.   No more license, no car and no dignity.  Or, dig up and out of this self-created seemingly constantly quadrupling quagmire of fines.  I chose to dig skyward.  Unfortunately, digging uphill is always harder.

I literally forced myself to get all my infractions together, sort out what I owed to which country, paid what I had to pay immediately and set up payment plans for the rest.   It took weeks of running back and forth between city offices, talking to half-asleep city workers more interested in their next break than giving you a break and waiting in monstrous lines that often extended outside the building.

THE AFTERMATH

When all is said and done, if you do the math, after I paid all my fines procrastinating cost me at least an extra five-thousand dollars in late fees.   And the time it took me to straighten things out cost me unfathomable hours of valuable work and personal time.   But I also learned something valuable about my Bipolar Disorder which applies to others like me.

People with Bipolar Disorder tend to become overwhelmed more easily because we are dealing with managing our disease, which is a full-time job in itself.   And if we have a secondary diagnosis, like OCD, it adds another layer of dysfunctionality to our lives.   It’s easy to let things go with so much happening in our heads.   You put bills, fines, banking information and ominous looking letters aside unopened to handle at a later date when you feel better equipped to deal.

IT’S RAINING MONKEYS

But we never feel more equipped.  And the bills and fines will not go away.   So we must train our Bipolar minds to deal with things immediately instead of procrastinating.    You will always feel like it’s raining monkeys.   But the objective is to get them off your back one at a time before they start piling up and dragging you down.  Bipolar Disorder distorts reality.  The secret is not to give it a helping hand.

The Bipolar Perspective: The Bipolar Mandate in a Society of Hate   Leave a comment

HATE MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND

Want to get somebody really amped up about a cause?   Don’t tell them how they can stop hunger in Africa.  Or, child abuse in America.  Or even heroin addiction among teens right in their own quiet suburb.   Just park too close to their Porsche in the garage at the mall this holiday season.   They will sit vigil for hours until you come out of the mall and harang you up close and personal for this awful capital offense with a string of obscenities that would make Redd Foxx flip over in his grave.

And if you ignore them and be on your way, they will follow you home with blinding high beams in your rear view mirror and finish their tirade.   Mind you, no damage was ever done to their magnificent German feat of engineering.  It’s just the idea of what could have happened.

However, try to get this same Carrera-minded individual to volunteer the same couple of hours they spent trying to “make you sorry you disrespected their 911” to attend a half-hour citizen’s watch meeting to curb neighborhood violence.  You won’t even get an RSVP.

PROPERTY VS. PROPRIETY

People’s belongings have become more important than their beings.   With the start of the economic downturn in 2008, a huge cultural fracture occurred.  People who were once the epitome of financial security went from drinking a fine cab every evening to driving a dirty one every night.   And those able to hang on to their treasures decided they did something right and slowly divorced themselves from the less fortunate.

It’s a reversal of fortune, giving the newly poor a taste of what it’s like to be Bipolar, although there is no way for them to make the direct connection.  But in a lot of ways, people with Bipolar Disorder feel on the outside too.  Like we did something wrong for having been afflicted and have never been able to play with the completely well-adjusted.  Now some of the formerly financially well-adjusted  aren’t really welcome to play with those who survived the economic downturn.  The wealthy’s property is more precious to them than their propriety as compassionate human beings.

IT”S A JUNGLE IN THERE

I don’t know if it’s the Bipolar Disorder or my mind is actually out-of-order, but when I lay my head down at night the only things that stand out are all the negativity which occurred in my day.  The imposing Cadillac Escalade who cut me off in traffic and almost caused me to hit another driver.   The weathered gray-bearded man begging on the street as a passer-by callously told them to “get a job.”  The puritanical suburbanite in the elevator who yelled I almost “ran grandma down” on my way in and demanded an apology.   The short and stout bespectacled German tourist who almost knocked me to the ground trying to get the last spot on the cable car on my way home from work.  Each night my mind is a jungle fraught with the nastiness of mankind.  It’s amazing I can sleep at all.

THE STRUGGLE

I constantly grapple with the idea of whether it is really that bad out there or if my Bipolar Disorder is magnifying the situation?   I think it’s a little of both.   I see how people are treating one another and it disgusts me.   And then my Bipolar Disorder magnifies the depression that ensues.  Trying to keep positive in a world of people intent on defecating on one another is a real challenge to someone who is already dopamine deficient.

DOUBLE DOWN

To top off the bad economy causing this great human divide, our political divisiveness is  making everything worse.   Now the conservative right is fighting to keep the elite in a class by themselves and the rest of the country at the kids table.  Plus, they are  doubling down blaming the left for everything from women allowing themselves to be raped to permitting poor people to breath the same air.

Well I’m doubling down too.  Each day I strive to be nicest most considerate individual I can be.  I am courteous to others,  helpful to my co-workers and considerate of the less fortunate.  I open doors for women, offer my seat on public transportation to the elderly and if I have an extra dollar for someone in need, it’s theirs.   Someone has to start a full-out assault on this national tone of hostility with a groundswell of kindness.

THE BITTER TASTE OF REVENGE

However when someone egregiously does you wrong, revenge is seen as a sweet way to even the score.   And I think being afflicted with Bipolar Disorder, which is also conveniently packaged with the Obsessive Disorder included, it’s easy to be consumed with retaliation.   Someone has your car towed?   Track them down and smear dog shit under their car door handles, wrap their house in cellophane so they can’t get out,  send pizza delivery guys to their house at all hours of the night and on and on.   You can become giddy with the possibilities.

But not only does this escalate the incident, it feeds this cycle of hatred.  And, revenge never really works out as gloriously as anticipated.  You get arrested for trespassing while gift-wrapping the house, get dog shit all over your hands rigging the car door handles and punish a lot of innocent pizza delivery guys who are just out trying to earn a living.

So no, the best revenge is doing nothing at all.  Not only does it show you are the better person, but it stops feeding into this cycle of human cruelty that has gone awry.   Revenge is born of bitterness, and it tastes just as bad as it ends up feeling.

THE BIPOLAR MANDATE

As Bipolar afflicted individuals, we have a special mandate in this massive freeway pile up of humanity in which everyone is out of their cars blaming one another for the fog.  We feel injustice, cruelty and disrespect more deeply than others.  So we have to consciously try harder to be ambassadors of kindness and understanding.

I know this sounds like pacifist bullshit.  But think about it.   We can be lazy and let our illness take us down the road of hopelessness and insurrection.  Or we can fight it by not succumbing to all the ass-holes of the world.

Bipolars can not act or be consumed by negativity, which in my case will lead to suicide.  Because I know if I not only don’t start letting things slide off my back and commence putting some kindness back into our society, eternal unconsciousness is a much more preferable state of mind.

The Bipolar Perspective: The Season of Reason   2 comments

FIGHT NIGHT

Friday night was fight night.  Or, at least it was for me.   While talking with an irrational foul-mouthed balding and bloated neighbor with bad breath over my car being towed, his deceivingly meek looking son came out of nowhere and slammed me to the ground, fracturing my wrist and cutting up my arm.   I make it a rule not to fight back unless in dire straights.   Hit someone the wrong way and you could be the one going to the big house.  Plus, fighting solves nothing.   I prefer to use words.  Aren’t we even taught as children to “use our words?”  He must have missed that lesson.

Was the confrontation avoidable?  Absolutely.   I could have dismissed it and let this vindictive Porsche laden aristocrat go on with his elitist life having cars towed off his block, as he feels not only does he own his house, but the entire street.  But I was out a $650 towing fee and wanted to know why.  So when I saw him getting out of his four door Porsche which resembles the Fred Flintstone mobile, I went up to ask him about it and a small riot broke out.

GROUND HOGS DON’T TAKE HOLIDAYS

I am Bipolar II.  I suffer from rapid cycling.  If I’m not careful I can turn from depressed to manic in a matter of seconds.  Consequently, I always have to keep myself in check.  And for years I have done a relatively good job.

But no matter how hard I try I always have a major incident during the holiday season. It could be a serious problem at work, a car accident, a deep depression, a drunken mishap… Something to make me wish I could have gone to sleep on the day before Thanksgiving and wake up January 2nd, skipping all the drama.  The holidays for me are an annual Ground Hog’s Day, the likes of the Bill Murray movie with the same name.  Problems ever year.  Same miserable results where I end up forlorn, depressed and suicidal.

SEASON OF THE WITCH

This year I made a conscious effort not to fuck up.  Starting last week I decided to make no major decisions, to drive very carefully and not get into any arguments.  At work I kept my head low and concentrated on my tasks.   I decided not to go overboard with the unavoidable holiday drinking so I wouldn’t do or say anything stupid.  Basically I was putting myself on parole.  If I started to screw up I decided to put a David Yurman Bracelet around my ankle and voluntarily submit to house arrest.

However as Donovan said in the 1960’s, “It’s The Season of the Witch.”  Some get the holiday blues and others get the witches’ brew.  I think one slipped me a mickey when I left my water bottle briefly unattended at the office last week.  I thought something tasted funny.

THE BITTER-SWEET TASTE OF REVENGE

As advised by the doctor who saw me in the emergency room when I went to have my wrist taken care of the next day, I filed assault and battery charges against the slap-happy looking son who blindsided me.  I felt kind of bad, because it was the vermin-ridden father who I wished I could have arrested.   I think he misread the situation and was protecting his dad.

Who knows what will become of the case?  With my luck it will somehow backfire on me and I’ll end up doing five to ten in San Quentin.   Most probably nothing will happen.  So then my manic brain will start thinking of all the ways of seeking revenge;  Painting “Ass Hole” on his garage door, camouflaging some spike strips at the end of his driveway or some other completely juvenile, but highly rewarding payback.

But revenge is bitter-sweet.   It’s sweet at first because you are getting back at the person who has escaped the consequences of their abusive temper-tantrum.   However it’s bitter because they will surmise it’s you and you will forever be looking over your shoulder in fear of retaliation.  Moreover, take the low road of vengeance and you’ll have another confrontation in the future.  This guy is obviously is a bottom feeder.  Take the high road and you’ll never run into miscreants like these again.

HOLIDAY BLACK AND BLUES

So as I sit here licking my wounds, my dog is sitting next to me licking his ass.   It reminds me of all my Bipolar friends and acquaintances who have told me “cheerful holiday revelers can take the whole season and shove it up their asses.”   It depresses them too.

Many researches believe people with Bipolar Disorder cycle at specific times of the year.  If it’s around the holidays, it could have to do with the colder weather and it getting dark earlier.  Or, something about the season can be a trigger.  Some people feel left out or lonely during the holidays, and it causes depression or manic behavior.

It all makes sense to me.  The issue I have is why, through all my behavioral vigilance, did I still end up black and blue this holiday season?  Was it wrong not to stand up for myself and approach the tow-happy father and son duo?  Maybe considering the time of year I should have refrained?  Should I just have accepted the $650 tow charge as just another Holiday blow and let it go at that?   Could I have guessed there could be trouble and leave it alone?  Hind site is twenty-twenty.  Maybe my dog is not so stupid for licking his ass.

THE SEASON OF REASON

For Lexus it’s “the December to remember.”  For me the holidays are “the season of reason.” Every year when I have my holiday trauma, I remind myself with extra vigilance of all the reasons not to kill myself.   If you are Bipolar, thoughts of suicide are frequent occurrences that would scare the Juicy Coutures right off “normal people.”   We see thoughts of suicide as part of the mind-scape we navigate on a daily basis.

I have them every day and night.  But around the holidays, I spend the month thinking of reasons not to go ahead and do it.  And every year it becomes harder.  Is this the season I’ll run out of reasons?

DEPARTMENT OF PARKING AND EXTORTION

Just when I thought it was all over came the encore.  I went to the San Francisco Department of Parking and Extortion to get a neighborhood parking permit so I can park without it raining tickets on me anymore.  But the city worker who resembled a potato with only half a brain would not give me the sticker unless I paid for the two tickets I received the day I was towed.  And not having my briefcase full of money with me, I couldn’t get the permit.  So as soon as my car is spotted on the street by the parking authority, it will get booted.   It’s a never-ending cycle specially created by the City of San Francisco to punish people for living and working in the city and contributing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue.

It was all I could do not to drag the bored looking potato-headed clerk out from behind the glass via the little pass-through slot where she takes your money head first.  But I heard there is a city surcharge if you do that.  And then you are responsible for stuffing her back in.

DEATH WISH 

The easiest thing to do is sit down and die.  I have a suicide plan.  Many Bipolars that suffer deep depression do.   But I have a hard time pulling the euphemistic trigger.   I’d rather someone else do it.

So I am walking through the worst neighborhoods alone and at night.  I am crossing streets against on coming traffic.  When I’m driving near canyons I speed up, hoping to lose control, crashing through the guard rail and over the side exploding in a fireball of magnificent Mustang.  I even wash my Bipolar medication down with a couple of glasses of wine at night.  And, at the end of the day I’m secretly glad I’m alive.

I don’t really want to die.  Or at least not quite yet.  I just want Holiday Ground Hogs Day to have its final showing.  To make it through next year’s holidays without incident.  To keep my Bipolar Disorder in check instead of thinking of ways to check-out.  Medication can not do all the work.  I have to do my part by avoiding the triggers and talking to my therapist.   There is no “easy button.” Maybe reaffirming this is my holiday gift to myself.   I’d like to give this gift of wisdom to you as well this holiday season.  I hope it will help.   Sorry it’s not wrapped.

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.

Apologizing for Being Right: A Bipolar Coping Technique   10 comments

One of my father’s friends insulted me.  She accused me of uncontrollably buying cars and jewelry at the expense of my family.  She inferred I was going through some kind of bipolar mania. The venom she spewed came directly from my father.  Where else would she hear that Mormon-like rhetoric spouting from the world’s most accomplished Jew of convenience?  A man who says “God willing he’ll remodel the bathroom” when he returns from his European Cruise. My dad goes to synagogue barely three times a year and thinks God is going to bless his bathroom redesign when he returns from vacation.  You have to go at least ten times a year for God to bless a bathroom redesign.

This woman, who looks like a Jack in the Box with the huge head and smaller body, also got her facts mixed up and had no business commenting on my finances or my current state of bipolarity.  “So, I told her she had a big mouth.”  Apparently she was mortally wounded and is still carrying the grudge six months later.  I said this in an email.  It would have been funnier to see the dumbstruck look on her face if I had said it in person.  She is the kind of person who tells other people to shut up.  You don’t tell her.

It’s a great feeling when you know you are right and put someone in their place.  Or, it’s supposed to be a good feeling.  The problem is when you are bipolar you often second guess yourself; “What if I’m wrong and she goes to her death bed having been unjustly criticized?” “What if I was too harsh and my words gave her a heart attack?  Could I be brought up on attempted murder charges?” “What if  I just kept my feelings to myself in the interest of keeping the peace?  People don’t always have to say everything that pops into their heads.”  “Maybe I could have corrected her in a nicer way.”  I could hear Ward Cleaver telling me,  “Hey mister, that kind of talk was uncalled for!”

I’m not sure where this second guessing comes from in people with Bipolar Disorder.  Maybe it’s the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder making you doubt whether you turned off the stove over and over again even though you are 100% positive you did.  In this case I am doubting my judgement even though this woman was completely out of line and insulting.  Was telling her she had a big mouth going overboard?  Do I have to keep going over it to make sure I was justified and did the right thing?  Is telling someone they have a big mouth ever the right thing to do?

On this one I entered what I call “The Bipolar House of Mirrors.”  In this hell-house no matter what you said, how right you were, how tactfully you phrased it, your mind forces you to go back and dissect the situation down to the last syllable.  Every room you go into looking for an answer distorts your comments in a different and more bizarre way.  Enough rumination and you get to the point where you aren’t exactly sure what you said, just that it was very bad.  So awful you’ll do almost anything to get out of that rusty shack.

I detest “The Bipolar House of Mirrors.”  So, I’ve developed a technique to head off having to go there whenever possible.  I simply apologize for everything, even when I’m right.  Six months ago a van backed into the front of my car while it was parked.  I apologized to the driver for him not seeing my car because it sits low to the ground and is hard to view from a van.  A waitress dumped a tray full of hot coffee on me at a breakfast seminar. I apologized for my seat being too close to the aisle and for wearing a light colored suit making the spill look overly dramatic.  Or, there was the time a cop was giving me a ticket for something I really did not do, but I apologized and thanked him anyway.  Anything but those mirrors.

Often I question why are people so concerned with what others think.  I don’t believe this is a trait restricted to only bipolar people, but I do think people with Bipolar Illness have the hardest time with it.  Normal people are able to accept reality and let things go with seemingly more ease.  But those afflicted with bipolar spend a lot of time fighting the demons in their heads.  Things get distorted and we are not sure we have an accurate picture of how we present in front of others.  We can’t help wondering what people think, because the last thing we want them to know is that we are mentally ill.  Bipolars have to constantly meter and evaluate their behavior so they can do things, like function normally in the work place. We have to catch ourselves before we start fondly reminiscing about a computer we once owned to the IT guy for an entire hour in front of the whole office.

The one thing you’re probably still asking yourself is why my father talks to his friends about my finances and spending patterns?  I think everyone has someone who takes great pleasure in life criticizing your choices, spending habits and lifestyle.  My father happens to be my nemesis.  But as my grandfather always used to say, “blood is not thicker than water.”   So I guess it’s par for the course.

I had a co-worker just like my dad who used to call it out to the whole building every time I bought something new.  “Hey, Pete just got a new Shelby Mustang in a down economy.  You should see it.  It’s crazy.”  Or in a meeting, “Pete, show everyone what’s under your shirt sleeve… Oh, a new Omega Planet Ocean.  What are they around, four thousand?  You’re kidding me, in this economy?”  And showing your indiscretions, or what they perceive as such, points out the careful management of their resources.  But deep down inside they are actually bitter because they wish they went for the ridiculously fast car and flashy watch.

So here’s what we’ve learned.  Never speak up, even if you are right.  If you do say something, you’ll spend the rest of your life feeling awful about it.  However, you can always apologize for being right and make the situation go away.  But, if the incident happens with someone at work, make sure not to talk to the IT guy .  And if someone still tries to bully you by pointing out all of your purchases and decisions as being ill-fated and comical, you can always seek refuge with your family.  Unless of course you have my father, who will perpetuate the whole thing by telling friends and family alike all your purchases and decisions are ill-fated and comical.  Then you should actually start making purchases and decisions that are ill-fated and comical.  Like I always say; if they cast you for the part, you might as well play it.