Archive for the ‘manic’ Tag

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.

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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.

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.

Ten Things You Can Do to Stop the Madness   3 comments

If you are bipolar and mania hits, your mind starts to react irrationally.  You begin to make feeble excuses for rash decisions that make sense only to you.  Your thinking becomes grandiose and your ability to complete major undertakings is greatly overestimated.  The chances of speaking your mind and telling others they are mistaken is greatly increased.  Shooting off that email for which you’ll later kick yourself is almost guaranteed.  And, you may not even be aware you are manic.  Many people in this condition think they are finally depression-free and in their true natural state.  It’s in this condition many stop even taking their medications.

I will shit you not; mania is awesome!  You practically need an intern to follow you around taking note of your brilliant ideas, homespun witticisms and words worthy of quotation.  You spend hours composing an admonishing email to a co-worker until it is a perfect piece of literary prose that would even impress The New York Times.  And when you aren’t enlightening the world and putting others in their place, you’re most likely buying an entirely black wardrobe to fit your new Johnny Cash “rebel” image.  Plus, the meds go out the window.

If you have been conscious of your bipolar symptoms for a long enough time, you usually know when you are manic.  You also probably don’t want it to end.  However, you also know the depression that ensues is that much worse.  So, here are some tips on curtailing your mania and avoiding a crash landing on the cold hard unforgiving floor of depression.

  1. Consciously identify you are going through a mind scrambling manic episode.  Then follow the next nine steps without variation.
  2. Stop talking and sit or lie down in a secluded comfortable place attempting to “slow down your mind.”
  3. Do not send any emails or leave any messages for anyone so you don’t say anything strange or offensive.
  4. Write out everything you want to do with your grandiose thinking and why it makes sense.  Then read it back to yourself.  See any flaws?
  5. Write out what you would like to say to the person you want to email, but don’t send it.  Read it back to yourself.  Still want to send it?
  6. Pretend you are now very depressed and had acted on your grandiose thinking and antagonizing email writing.  Will you be sorry?
  7. Do not browse the internet.  There are too many temptations that even those without Bipolar Illness get sucked into.
  8. Put your credit cards and cash in a safe place and institute a moratorium on expenditures until the mania has resolved itself.
  9. Take a vigorous walk or have a hard work out to “sweat the manic” out of you.  Make yourself too exhausted to run around making asinine proclamations of greatness and alienating yourself further from co-workers with non-sensical emails.
  10. Read a book, watch a movie, listen to your favorite music… Anything to take your mind off your mania and focus on something else.

I am not a doctor.  I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist.  I cannot change the oil in my car.  These are just some tips I use to curtail my behavior when I am in a manic cycle.  The steps are difficult to follow because you are in a superhero frame of mind and their focus is to slow things down until you can evaluate the situation with a clear head.

Also, if you are really worried about losing control, find a friend you can call when you are in the throes of mania who can babysit you, making sure you don’t do or say anything you’ll regret.  Being bipolar indicates an afflicted person’s mind suffers at two different poles; uncontrollable mania highs and deep depression lows.  If you allow your mania to ruin your life, your depression will be all the more worse.