Archive for the ‘bipolar II’ Tag

The Bipolar Perspective: “There is No Tomorrow, Man”   Leave a comment

DIRTY HARRY

Until Clint Eastwood spent twenty-minutes scolding an empty chair at the National Republican Convention in 2013, he was my hero. His role as Dirty Harry in the series of movies where he was a cop carrying a big gun and answering to no one in the name of justice made him my alter ego. However, since I’m afraid of guns and violence I had to settle for living vicariously through Dirty Harry, a man who needed no support system, except maybe in his briefs.

DIRTY PETE

As a kid I always wanted to be like Dirty Harry. But there was no way to kill the cafeteria cook before he poisoned any more kids, no car to lead the principal in a high speed chase or a situation where I could call the teacher an idiot and walk out of the classroom in disgust without getting expelled. And calling myself Dirty Pete sounded like I was a pervert.

BLOWN TO SMITHEREENS

When I hit my twenties I learned I was Bipolar II with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I stayed working in Philadelphia in the radio business and everyone felt good because I was near my father and brother which were a good support system in case my head exploded or something. I was living alone, supporting myself but in a good proximity to all kinds of assistance. Then in 1991 I blew it all to smithereens and drove cross country to live in San Francisco.

GOING CONTINENTAL

No, I did not go to San Francisco without wearing any underwear. I went continental because I loved the city, the people, the lifestyle and the fact that the Dirty Harry movies were made there. But I had no support. If I lapsed into depression, mania, lost my job, got kicked out on the street, got shot by Dirty Harry or anything of the sorts, I had to power through it on my own. And I did. I got married, adopted a wonderful daughter, owned houses, had great jobs, cars, clothes… The whole American Dream. I thought I had made it and this is how it would be forever.

“TOMORROW NEVER HAPPENS, MAN”

And my favorite thing to boast about was the fact that I did it all on my own. Nobody ever gave me a dime or a bit of help and I made it. Bipolar II and all. I was set. A self made man. This was me for a million tomorrows. But as Janis Joplin said at Woodstock, “tomorrow never happens man.”

LET THE BAD TIMES ROLL

Many years later I found myself divorced, jobless, bankrupt and unable to even afford my prescriptions. My car was repossessed, I was drowning in unpaid traffic tickets and had to live with a roommate for the first time since college. And Clint Eastwood was slowly becoming senile. I needed help.

SWALLOW PRIDE WITH WATER

Swallowing your pride is a little easier when you take it with water. I called my father. I was shaking when I dialed the phone. But he gave me the support I needed from 3000 miles away, monetarily and emotionally. And he didn’t do an “I told you so” or demand anything of me except that I get back on my meds with some of the money he sent. And because of him tomorrow did happen. Sorry Janis.

MY MAIN SQUEEZE

My other savior was my fiance, Lynn. I don’t think I really understood the word commitment until my bad fortune. However she gave of herself, what little money she had and all the love in her heart. She never once said having a Bipolar fiance is too hard. All she demands is that I work with her on getting my life back on track. Lynn has more confidence in me than I do myself. I never understood how someone would want to stay with one seriously flawed person for a million tomorrows. Now I understand. Again, sorry Janis.

LINE AT THE GAS PUMP

I write to you my friends not from a position of power or resolution. I’m still depressed, occasionally suicidal, flat broke, in need of work, screwed, chewed but not yet tattooed (Lynn hates those things). I wake up everyday not sure if this will be my last. But then I think of the people who have been working so hard to make sure it isn’t. (Did I mention my psychologist is seeing me free of charge? I call her Saint Anna). Is it the Bipolar jinx, bad luck or am I retarded and just don’t realize it? Confusion is king. Motivation is evasive. Sheer will power is my fuel and there’s a goddamn line at the gas pump.

THERE IS NO ROAD MAP FOR THE FUTURE

I don’t care what the well-heeled politicians say… There is no road map for the future. Just try punching “future” into your GPS system or going to AAA and asking for one. You’ll get directions to Disneyland’s “It’s a Wonderful World” exhibit. If you are traveling the same rocky road as I, all you can do is hang on and keep working toward a better tomorrow. Or, if you’re under the covers and can’t get out, just hang on to see what happens tomorrow. And if you are that bad off and really don’t care anymore, I am the last person to fault you. Only the unlucky few feel your pain.

PIPE DREAM

My hope is that if you have a father, family member or a “main squeeze,” that you appreciate them. They are your tomorrow. Asking for help is the hardest thing you can ever do. My dream is that someday I can make them glad they did it. Right now it’s just a pipe-dream, for I can not see a light at the end of the tunnel. But with my luck it’s probably a train. Nevertheless, I am going to try and hang on one tomorrow at a time before I reach for that proverbial pipe. And if you are feeling the same pain and despair, maybe we can lock hands in solidarity and stick around for another tomorrow.

The Bipolar Perspective: Can You Afford to be Bipolar?   1 comment

FINANCING YOUR MEDS

When I heard the final tally I got kind of light headed and grabbed a walker from an old man to steady myself. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

I had walked into Walgreen’s Pharmacy a month ago and ordered refills for the cocktail of medications I take for Bipolar II. Topamax and Seroquel alone ripped into me for one-thousand dollars EACH for a monthly supply. I suddenly realized I was priced out of the Bipolar Market and had to find a disease with more reasonably priced medications. Or, find a bank that will finance my pills at a decent interest rate.

NO DOGS OR PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS ALLOWED

I left my job on May first in search of greener pastures, or ones that at least weren’t littered with as much dog shit. With it I lost my health insurance. Then I accepted a job as a private contractor, which meant I’d have to get my own insurance. And with mention of a pre-existing illness, insurance companies squeal and run away like little girls to hide behind the golf-bags of their lobbyists in Washington.

As a matter of fact, if you do get coverage, you get treated to a deductible in the thousands, and they do not cover prescriptions or any doctor’s care for one year if related to your pre-existing condition. It’s like buying auto insurance that doesn’t cover body work on your car for the first year if it has a pre-existing dent. Yet you pay through the hairy nostrils for it.

GO ONLINE AND HAVE IT RINGING OFF THE HOOK

Really want to get taken to the cleaners for carelessly being born Bipolar? Request information about insurance coverage online. Your phone won’t stop ringing for forty-eight hours straight with pitch-men and women trying to sell you coverage from companies of which you’ve never heard.

Can you imagine presenting a “Three Stooges Insurance” card to your dermatologist? The doctor has the melanoma half hanging off your rear-end in a bloody fleshy mess, and the receptionist suddenly yells in “Doctor, he’s got “Stooge Coverage!” Suddenly you are handed the scalpel, a mirror and instructions for how to finish up the rest of the surgery on your own. “Moe, Larry and Curly’s” policy only covers the first slice.

ALL ABOARD!

I finally decided to go with a company who offered a good prescription discount card, although it was not part of or administered by “their” plan. They were very careful to make this crystal clear. Everything else was even more ambiguous. In fact, nothing appeared part of the coverage except major medical and dental. And there were so many different providers mixed up in this policy I didn’t know who I was actually being insured by. It actually felt like more of a gang rape.

And the only thing the prescription discount card was good for is picking food out of your teeth. It had a million codes and membership numbers on it. And when the pharmacist called to get my discounts, I was not even in the system. And they had no idea who to call to get me in. And my new “un-sure company” wanted nothing to do with this “outside” prescription plan.

Funny thing is my “agent,” who is probably not that smart if she is working for these-second-story-men, called to let me know my ID cards were in the mail. I told her I had ten days to rescind and I wanted to do so. She said she’d call me back and then vanished like “Casper the Un-Friendly Insurance Ghost.”

SWITCHING TO A MORE AFFORDABLE DISEASE

So in the mean-time, I have cut back on some medications and eliminated others. Now I feel depressed, which is making it hard to concentrate on my new job. And I can only afford to buy a few pills at a time, as I can’t pony up thousands of dollars at once each month.

I have finally come to terms with the fact that I can not afford to be Bipolar anymore and will have to stop. I’ll just have to cease taking my medications and deal with the self-destructive mania and severe depression like a man, if the intense withdraw symptoms don’t kill me first. I’ll simply tell myself to “snap out of it.” And maybe the hopelessness and obsessive compulsive disorder will go away, kind of like a bad cold.

Actually, I heard the medications for Shingles are pretty reasonably priced. Maybe I’ll switch diagnosis. A little physical pain might be nice for a change.

It’s hard to believe every single insurance company and pharmaceutical manufacturer can be so cold-blooded and gaping-mouth-profit-hungry that they are leaving people who truly need their medications to survive unable to afford them. And now the only thing to do is find a way to survive until Obamacare in January 2014 takes affect.

AFFORDABLE AND PORTABLE

I like Obamacare. The president is giving the big insurance and drug companies a major kick in the balls for being greedy and cold-hearted. And, he’ll make it possible for people to get insurance without being penalized for having a pre-existing illness. Did I stress this will be affordable insurance as well?

It’s also portable insurance, which means if you change jobs your insurance goes with you. You’re not out on your own trying to cobble something together with Scotch tape and bailing wire until you can find a new job with full coverage.

PRICED OUT OF YOUR OWN ILLNESS

You’re Bipolar. A treatment is out there. But you can’t have it because it costs too much. We are not talking about a heart transplant. We are talking about getting pills from the fucking drugstore.

Moreover, many of these uninsured people with pre-existing conditions like Bipolar Illness requiring expensive medications are not all poor or destitute by any means. Bipolar professionals, teachers, craftspeople, etc. making good money still can’t manage to lay out thousands of dollars a month for medications. Being priced out of your illness can happen to anyone.

BE VIGILANT

So I leave you with this.. If you are Bipolar trying to get health insurance and are caught up in the pre-existing condition quagmire of insurance company irresponsibility, call your doctor and tell them the situation. He or she might have samples. Also, some local municipalities have programs to help you afford your medications or get them at no-charge. Public hospitals may have similar accommodations. And, I’ve heard there are several pharmaceutical manufacturer web sites that help people in these situations, although I don’t know enough about them to make a recommendation.

DOGS FLYING PLANES

Health insurance providers know nothing about medicine, yet they take control of your treatment, or lack there-of. It’s like letting a dog fly an airplane full of passengers. The only thing they understand is getting fed, so you know you’re in trouble no matter where you’re seated. Consequently, if you are planning on being Bipolar, you might want to wait until after you are insured.

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.

The Bipolar Perspective: Liberalism is a Mental Illness   2 comments

I DO IT TO MYSELF

Nothing is more frustrating than to spend a couple of days in a ultra conservative chat room debating US politics.  Actually, you aren’t really debating anything.   You’re just reading the most twisted viewpoints you’ve every heard outside of an institution for the criminally insane.  No matter what you say, they can quote figures from obscure ultra right wing conservative web sites run by grown men who refer to liberals as “libby libs” or “demmy dems.”  It’s a third grade mentality from those who rode to school on the short bus.

But I put myself in that chat group.  At first it was just to hear other viewpoints.  I like to vigorously debate politics.  But then came the hostility for anybody who isn’t paranoid the liberal government is out to control their lives and that god will seek revenge on them, peppered with slurs against gays and inferences of prejudice against blacks.   And I have to admit, I gave it back to them and then some.   When you are talking to a bunch of rednecks in the swamps of Florida and the underbelly of Texas, there is tons of great fodder to hurl back.  It almost seemed unfair because all they could think to call me was a fag, homo and “Petey.”

OBAMA’S ULTIMATE SOLUTION

Eventually I stopped with the insult-fest and everyone else followed suit, to the best of their sophomoric abilities.   I have to admit, I made nice, threw around a few veiled compliments and semi-agreed on a several borderline lucid arguments.   I wanted to hear more of this gibberish.   It was so grotesquely absurd I couldn’t stay away from it.   It’s like a bad car wreck you can’t help looking at on the side of the road.

Basically, their distilled argument is that “President Obama wants to increase the amount of people on welfare so he’ll have a bigger voter base dependent on him via entitlements (conservative code word for “free stuff” from the government). Then, he will change campaign term limits and continue his reign of “king.”  That is the bitter syrup of the conservative venom toward Obama.

The details may differ a little, depending the conservative, like “Obama just hates America and wants to destroy it,”  or, “he is in a secret alliance with the Muslims and he wants to force the country to worship Islam.”  All of these late night radio talk show caller conservatives are never at a loss for these far fetched seizmic scenarios.

LIBERALISM IS A MENTAL ILLNESS

“I’m a dunce and piece of shit.”  At least so I’ve been told by the moderator of this chat group. He’s an Orthodox Christian in Wichita Kansas who threatened to “cut me down like a stalk of wheat” because I commented that he does not even read the plethora of right wing propaganda he so virally posts.  He just slaps it up there.   I think that’s the real definition of a dunce.

Moreover, he also held the contention liberalism is a mental illness.   Now on this I am an expert.  I’m Bipolar II. I know what it is to suffer from deep depression, exhaustive mania and the two mixed together.  Bipolar is mental illness.  Liberalism is political philosophy.

THE BIPOLAR CONNECTION

What set my head a reelin’ is that the moderater later posted a sort of apology t.  He explained he was recently diagnosed with Bipolar Illness and is trying to control it without medication.   Apparently he is having difficulty controlling is anger.  I salute him for his honesty.

Ironically, he has no idea I authored “Buzzkill,” One Man’s Disorderly Struggle with Bipolar Disorder in 2011.   I was sure Bipolar Illness would be ridiculed by conservatives as god’s punishment for liberals, in spite of the fact a disease is politically neutral.  I wanted to extend my support to him as a lifetime sufferer, but I find it hard to believe he’d accept help from a liberal.

Ironically, up until now, unless your employer offers insurance, someone with Bipolar Disorder can not get insured.   Obama care will allow people with pre-existing conditions, like Bipolar Disorder, to get affordable insurance for the first time ever.  I wonder how this newly diagnosed Bipolar conservative will turn this around to be a negative?

WELCOME COMRADE

Obamacare.  The big bad government option.  I get chills every time I think of a poor family being able to get affordable health insurance so they can save a little more from each pay check.  This could keep some get off government assistance.  However, it would also ruin the ultra conservative argument that we are becoming a communists nation through socialized medicine.

Well then welcome Comrade!  First Mitt Romney turned Massachusetts communist with Romneycare, and now the entire county is doing it with Obmamcare.   The chat group said the rest of the United States are going to fall like dominos under communist rule.  Personally I am already being sized for a fur hat before there is a run on them.

Romney really fucked up in Massachusetts.  He did something people liked.  And now Obama is bringing it to the entire nation.  Now it’s a bad thing.   No matter what the President does he can not win with the conservatives.

WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS

The last thing I learned being in this ultra conservative chat room is that when all else fails and you can’t make your point, just say “It’s gods will.”   One hollow headed woman in the group who usually just quotes scripture  and thinks “grits are yummy,” also said “Jesus is pissed.  He ain’t no baby anymore and he’s mad. He’s going to get the liberals and good.”

When did Jesus turn god’s son into a Hell’s Angel?  I must have missed that sermon.   With all this talk of Texas seceding from the United States I’ve been up all night celebrating with the rest of the country.  I’d actually like the President to put them on a time-table.  It would be like getting rid of a wicked case of hemorrhoids.

THE FINAL CONFUSION

As a Bipolar Disorder sufferer there is always the temptation to go manic on these misguided political and religious narrow minded misanthropes.   Either that or they can make you completely depressed to live in a world with human beings that are so completely irrational and warped.  You must keep your head and remain logical.  Better yet, just ignore them as the fearful, hateful narrow-minded walking contradictions that they are.  Do not let them be your trigger.   You can not win an argument with irrational fear-mongers.

If everyone in this world agreed it would be a very boring existence.   I thrive on diversity and spirited debate.   Some of the best ideas are born of compromise.   And if you don’t have the capacity to admit you are not always right,  you belong on the right.   They are never wrong.   Just ask one.

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.

Mental Illness Mother Goose   Leave a comment

It was around 1pm this past Saturday night.  All the bars were starting to close on Haight Street in San Francisco.  After drinking probably more beer than I should, I had to pee very badly.  Recently when the urge hits me, I have to go with the urgency of a Hungarian plow mule.  I was having a miserable time with the woman I was curating, partially because she was wearing a ridiculous disguise dressed as a man and also was combative about everything I said.  So when we got outside I told her I was going to have a problem if I didn’t pee, cut across the street to a dark vestibule and discretely took care of business.  When I turned back around she was gone.  I felt relieved in more ways than one. And, I inadvertently joined the ranks of millions who urinated in the doorways and alleys of the Haight Ashbury section of San Francisco since the mid 1960’s.

Who was this girl and why was I out with her?  She had a made up name and lived in a world with one toe in reality and the rest in a world of constant conflict.  I met her at a party my roommate threw in a rare instance without her disguise.   But I quickly learned about the man trying to break into her apartment wanting to murder her, the detective telling her to be vigilant and paranoid, the barricading of herself for weeks at a time inside her apartment,  not being able to maintain friendships, her confrontational nature and distrust of everyone.  On top of it all she was a self-proclaimed clairvoyant and you could not ask her questions about herself without provoking her wrath.  Not even what she does or doesn’t do for a living.

But she read my book Buzzkill and I know some of my Bipolar trials and tribulations touched her in a “better him than me” kind of way.   And she took joy in speaking with me about my hospitalizations and medications as it made her feel like she escaped getting caught in a bear trap and was free to slink around Nottingham Woods.  Maybe occasionally even pop up to the highway and nibble on some fresh road kill.

It is very clear she has a serious disorder that affects her perception of reality making her extremely combative and afraid.  And I was informed by others that she constantly spoke of my issues with Bipolar illness taken from my book ad-infinitum trying to rally support for her theory that I was a danger to society.   Up until then I didn’t realize my blogs were that bad.

So why in the world did I go out with her?  Because she asked me to.  And I had this ridiculous notion maybe I could convince her to trust me and get her some help.  Underneath the baseball hat, sunglasses at night and ill fitting mens clothing was hidden a very attractive smart woman.   I decided not to take her behavior personally and get her to at least entertain the idea I could be of assistance.  Maybe get her to a doctor for an evaluation.  Visit her in the hospital, because for sure she would be admitted. Probably by ambulance with flashing lights and a police escort while strapped to a gurney.

However the evening was a bust.  Everything I said caused nonsensical argumentative responses.  It became very evident she was experiencing a different reality than  I.  And, that I couldn’t just simply reason with her, nor could she comprehend reality, was bewildering.  The sad part is she was convinced of being the only sane person in the room. However I started to feel anger from the cumulative effect of all the abuse I had taken that evening.  I was reprimanded for complimenting her on her jewelry, her disguise, commenting on the bad service at a wine bar and on and on.

Bipolar people do not live in a separate reality from the rest of the world. Sometimes we have trouble dealing with the existing reality, but it’s the same as everyone else’s.  Our lives are spent constantly striving to negotiate it as best we can.  And because we have had our deep depressions, unbearable anxieties, visits to the psyche ward and times of great despair, we try and “mother goose” others we see in trouble.  But when the mind has an altered reality, a few kind words and some insight can’t make it right.   It’s like the sun.  You can protect yourself with sunscreen or sitting under an umbrella, but you can’t make it stop burning.

Sadly, as of last night, this woman was still texting me about the night before, amending it with details I’m sure she thinks are accurate.  And I had to realize I can not help and told her to go back into Nottingham Woods because if she continued to harass me I’d call the big bear with the straight jacket and 51/50 paperwork.

I can not fix this one.   Was it my mania making me think I could?  Is it even my responsibility?  If someone is shooting at you do you walk into the line of fire to tell them to stop, or do you take refuge somewhere safe until they run out of bullets?  This woman never even stops to reload.

In some morbid way it was interesting getting to know an individual crazier than myself.   It’s like being a rubbernecker passing a really bad car accident.  You know it’s wrong to look, but you just can’t help yourself.  And then when you see the bloody carnage, you beat yourself up because you can’t get the image out of your head.

The Price of Aggravation vs. The Cost: A Study in Bipolar Economics   Leave a comment

A few weeks ago I had to make another dreaded trip to San Francisco Superior Court for an ongoing saga because someone stole the registration sticker from my license plate almost a year ago.  I was constantly being stopped by the police and given tickets even though my car really was legally registered.  For an entire year I fought with the California Department of Motor Vehicles to get a replacement sticker,  but nobody could figure out if they should charge me again, and if so how much, because of all these tickets of which I was now curator.  It had become a maddening circle of bureaucracy that can only happen when you are dealing with city and state workers striving to punish California for their own shortcomings.  Finally I just decided to wait until it was time to re-register my car and start fresh.

Finally the big day had arrived.   However, those tickets from constantly being hauled over to the side of the road because I didn’t have the little sticker and the cost to clear them was astronomical.  I was told I could wipe them all out, but I had to prove I had that little sticker which was stolen a year ago that nobody would give me!   All in spite of the fact my car was legally registered the entire time!  So if I wanted to update my registration, I had to pay an ungodly sum.  I could not win.

But I wanted this not so funny Comedy of Errors over with.  I didn’t care how much it cost or what I could do to possibly reduce it.  It just had to end.  So I went back in a week when I had the correct amount of money, but the penalties went up even higher or a new ticket was added to this putrid witch’s brew, so I’d have to again wait until I had even more money.   At this juncture I needed to be squired around in a wheel chair with oxygen tanks attached to the back I was so distraught.

It became a never ending cycle of prescription strength frustration eating away at my Bipolar mind.  I started mumbling to myself each time I approached  the courthouse that this time might be the time I lose it, forcing a cop to haul me kicking and screaming to jail, which is only an elevator ride away from good ole room 145.  Just knowing I was about to come in contact with a lazy overpaid city clerk who rejoices in giving you bad news you can barely hear through the dirty plexiglass , which they refuse to repeat, made every muscle in my body stiffen.

Finally I heard that if you join AAA you can avoid the DMV all together and handle vehicle registration right at your local office, which was two blocks from mine.  So sure enough I went in and was taken right away.  By now the sum I owed was over twelve hundred dollars.  This was not including the six hundred I sent the DMV weeks ago with the standard re-registration paperwork they forward me every year.  However, not surprisingly, they never re-registered my car or issued my new stickers.  They just cashed my check.  For all I know some unkept nasty DMV worker with an “if they won’t pay me enough I’m gonna take it” attitude took a trip to Reno and lost it all on the slot machines, which have the absolute worst odds possible in the degenerate world of gambling.

I didn’t care.  I wanted it to be over.  I was going to pay whatever it took right then and there.  The AAA clerk told me it was a mistake, that I might be overpaying.  I didn’t care.  I wanted that fucking sticker.  Resolving this was worth any amount of money to me.  He looked bewildered.  Nobody could understand why I would blindly pay such a hefty price.  But to make this go away once and for all, I would have thrown in my best Swiss watch as part of the deal, if I hadn’t sold it the day before to pay for my re-registration.

And now finally I have my registration tags.  I do not bemoan the money.  I feel free to drive my car and not have to constantly look in my rear view mirror for a CHP pulling me over and informing me my car doesn’t have the proper little sticker then slap me with another ticket.  After a year of that it’s worth every single penny.   Many would say I had to be mentally ill to blindly pay that amount.  Of course they would be right, as I am Bipolar II.  But I’m not crazy.  Crazy is running into the Courthouse with a baseball bat, smashing in the plexiglass at window number two in room 145, and dragging the bloated bastard of a clerk out through the shards of glass.  Then, sit on him, grab him by the neck and say, “Now, I’d sure appreciate it if you can give me one of those little red stickers for my license plate.  Otherwise I’m going to take you out to my car, pull off the licence plate and pin you to the back of it.  Do you understand me?”

So what is crazier,  pay the money and fix the problem, not matter how unfair? Or, act like a wild animal and be taken off to a cage?  In the Bipolar world, sometimes we do things that may puzzle others.  But to us they make perfect sense and demonstrate excellent impulse control.

Years ago I remember being in a deli with my grandfather.  I ordered a sandwich but he wasn’t hungry.  The waitress bought him coffee and a sandwich anyway, in spite of the fact he didn’t order anything.  He just pushed it off to the side and we continued our conversation.  I asked him why he was not sending it back and refusing to pay for it?  He told me the amount of aggravation it would cause compared to the price of the food just wasn’t worth it.  As a Bipolar man, I have never forgotten that and it’s served me well.  Sometimes you just can’t put a price on overpaying.

Is It Your Bipolar Disease or Mine?   Leave a comment

This is going to be a personal blog.  That’s why I am putting it online.  So nobody can read it.  Actually, it’s a blog about something in my life I’ve had to come to terms with, but I think it has relevance to others who have a story to tell about their experiences with Bipolar Disease.

Earlier this year I published my first book entitled Buzzkill.  It’s the story of my very disorderly struggle with Bipolar Disorder.  I tried to write it a year or two earlier and it just wasn’t working.  There was no flow nor was it the least bit compelling.  Kind of like a Daniel Steele novel.  And then one day it hit me;  I wasn’t being true to myself or potential readers.  To really tell the tale, I had to rip open my entire life with a scalpel, gut it and lay the steaming innards out on a stainless steel coroner’s table in their full rancid glory for all to read.   And when I began writing and started feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable with my prose, I knew I had begun writing the book I intended. Then the words began to flow like hot molten lava from a big dormant volcano that waited 45 years to blow its load.

Buzzkill is about my lifelong struggle with depression, mania, hypomania, suicidal attempts, hospitalizations, medications and all of the situations that arose from my erratic behavior.  Among other things, I talk about the sexual side effects from anti-depressants leaving me with absolutely no sensation in my genitals, the humiliation of being in a locked mental ward, the shrinks who almost killed me and the times I tried to kill myself.  I described wild manic buying sprees and the financial disasters that ensued along with mismatched lovers and relationships gone terribly awry.  The bottom line is that no matter how humiliating, I made it real for my readers.  I wanted to reach inside them, grab hold of their most traumatic embarrassing Bipolar experiences and say, “It’s all right.  Me too friend.”

Here in lies the problem; Nobody lives in a vacuum.  Other people were part of my life experience.  Parents, friends, doctors… They all played a role in my life.  Some of them had their own issues and were antagonists.  Some were protagonists.  And, certain characters were neither good or bad, just too damn interesting to leave out.  However you could not understand my life without discussing their lives.  Many of these people will not appreciate my portrayal of them, regardless of its truthfulness.   They will develop tunnel vision and see Buzzkill as a book all about them.  They will gloss right over the parts where I’m sitting in an emergency room being forced to drink charcoal and throwing it up all over myself.  Or, getting physically thrown out of a classroom in third grade as I was unable to control my emotional outbursts.  All that matters is I wrote “they had a nagging voice like a goat.”

No matter how big of an earthquake ensues, I told my story as it happened to me.  I make no apologies.  If I censored myself Buzzkill wouldn’t be the book I intended and certainly not worth reading.  Nobody wants to read another 300 pages of watered down drivel about coping with Bipolar Illness written by some Phd. with a pipe stuck up his ass.

The lesson learned is that we all have to be true to ourselves as Bipolar individuals.  It’s our duty to tell our stories so we can help others like us feel more comfortable with their challenges.  We can not hold back because we are afraid of the truth starting an uncontrollable wildfire.  We do not start the fires, it’s the people with blinders on who don’t want to see the truth that slash and burn.  And if you are not up to telling your story, that’s ok too.  Not everyone is required to walk on the hot coals.  Because I don’t care what anyone says, no matter how righteous of a person you are, they still burn the shit out of your feet.

Would You Take the Risk?   2 comments

I saw something on television the other evening that made me really happy.   This man and woman gave me a warm fuzzy-wuzzy feeling about the good that exists inside all of us and the power of love.

It was about a six foot four inch tall man married to a three foot and change tall woman.  They were very much in love and made many special accommodations so they could live a quasi normal life together.  It was even kind of cute the way the man carried his wife around the house like a child.  And, the woman was very attractive, making for a nice looking couple if you overlooked their disparity in size.  It made me think, “why can’t more people overlook handicaps and be together?”  I also thought of my own Bipolar Illness and the times I have been “released back into the wild” by girlfriends for being too depressed, manic or a combination thereof (hypomania).

I remembered a girl in college who was very attractive, but walked with a crutch as one leg had some sort of deformity.  I always noticed her in class talking with her girlfriends, but she seemed shy around guys.  I really wanted to ask her out, but I was afraid of being rejected.  I could care less about her leg.  Often I wondered what would had happened if I did ask her out and she said “yes.”

As I kept watching my admiration for this couple slowly turned to disgust.  You see, they already had a young daughter who also suffered from dwarfism like her mother.  I felt bad for them but admired their courage…   Until it was revealed the couple knew prior to her birth it would be a 50/50 chance of her being a dwarf before the woman got pregnant.

Even worse, the couple said even if the baby were born of normal stature, by the time she became a toddler the mother would no longer be able to physically care for her.   The toddler would then be larger than the mother.  So this couple already knew if they were to have a child, either way there would be some serious consequences.  Apparently they were too self-absorbed to care.

Let me preface this before I rant onward.  I do not advocate aborting babies because a doctor determines a handicap in utero.  However, I am pro-abortion in cases of rape, incest and unwanted pregnancies within the allowable 12 week window.   At this juncture a handicap can not be detected.  I believe handicapped people are some of the best individuals in the world because they have learned to overcome physical and mental adversity.  They offer an insight to life few of us may never get a glimpse of, but from which all of us can benefit.   Handicapped people have an important place at the table of life.

But don’t get off the commode yet.  The story gets worse.  These two Einsteins wanted to have another child even when given the same 50/50 chance of it being born a dwarf was clearly explained to them.  And if it’s normal height, it will eventually be a toddler and the mother afflicted with dwarfism will not be able to care for this child either.  Either way another baby is a bad idea.

In my opinion they should both be sterilized.  If you get in your car and the mechanic says there is a 50/50 chance when you put your key in the ignition the engine will catch fire, most people would not put it in.  Yet they have no qualms about sticking the key in the ignition when they are told there is a 50% chance their offspring will suffer a life of hardship.  Especially when they already melted one engine the last time they tried it.

What gives me the authority to talk about other people’s right to propagate?  How dare I say this couple should be sterilized?  Who gave me the carte blanche to say who should and shouldn’t be born?  Nobody.  This is just my opinion which I happen to feel strongly about.  Probably because I have been in this situation myself, making it a valid opinion.

I have Bipolar II.  My mother has it.  Her mother had it.  When my wife at the time and I wanted to start a family, my psychiatrist told me the illness had a decent chance of being passed on.  Moreover, I have a eye condition causing me irreversible poor eye-sight and was told this was also genetic.  Again, there was a good possibility this could be passed on to my offspring.   Our decision was not to roll the dice with another human being’s life.  Bipolar Illness has made life a continuous struggle.  And my eyesight is bad enough that I almost could not get a driver’s license.   Purposely putting a child through this is abusive.  So we decided to adopt.  And, we are grateful for a wonderful daughter.

So I talk the talk because I have walked the walk.  I’ve made these decisions.  And although I will never tell anyone what to do, if they are going to put it on television, I have a right to comment.   If they don’t want to hear it, they should keep it to themselves.  And maybe it’s taboo to criticize a female dwarf, but why not?  She’s not retarded.  Her husband isn’t mentally deficient either.  They are just selfish people.  They should be grateful for the child they have, because some couples who would be wonderful parents never get to have a child to love.  And they’re off rolling the dice like they’re shooting craps in Vegas.

Lastly, I don’t think anyone Bipolar needs to follow my example.  Maybe my fear of passing the disease on is too extreme.  All I know is that I would not want to have been conceived if I knew what a struggle life had in store for me.  I spent my childhood and teens severely depressed, suicidal in my twenties and thirties and still trying to recover today in my mid-forties.  To me it’s simple; Why would I knowingly take the chance of passing this disease on to someone else?

I make this judgment on nobody else.  Every situation is different.  These were people featured on a cable television network reality show which gives you an up close view of the people you see at the mall your parent taught you not to stare at.  And in turn these people feel like celebrities and live life large for the cameras.   Shame on the network for not seeing the real depravity of this situation in the name of cheap entertainment.