Archive for the ‘meds’ Tag

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.

Making the First Move   2 comments

One of the many things I am not an authority on are relationships.  I probably should watch more Dr. Phil and spend less time blogging.  Then I will have an answer for everything.

Actually, I have had so many failed relationships in my life, it pains me to say, but most of these ruined souffles have been my own fault.   Not because I was insensitive, cheated or put on a beer stained undershirt and slapped anyone around, but because it was a mismatch and I still got involved.

Before my marriage at 29, I never had the courage to approach the girl I really  found interesting and attractive.  I didn’t think I stood a chance.  I always felt like the ugliest guy in the room.  And I felt if a girl I really liked did go out with me, sooner or later we’d sleep together and she’d see my Zip-Lock Baggie with all the pills in my shaving kit and the gig would be up.  I was sure girls did not want to get involved with bipolar guys.  So I saved myself the embarrassment and always went for the second tier girls.  After all, I was a second or third tier guy.

Once I was talking to a low hanging piece of fruit I was trying to date and she told me straight out she won’t go with guys who live at home or have any kind of mental illness.   I was shocked she even thought about this in advance.  Now I was in the category with some 25 year old guy named Maynard whose mother probably still buys his underwear.

So I got involved with a woman who had an under-bite like a 1954 Buick.  And a women so overly impressed with herself that I basically became her butler.  And, one with a voice so shrill I suggested we take up silent meditation.  All because I didn’t think I could do any better.  I was bipolar.  Damaged goods.  At best I was an “open box” sale.  I was lucky to have someone at all.

I think we as bipolar sufferers tend to do this with relationships because we are embarrassed we take so many pills, or that we have spent time in a mental hospital or ward, or that our hands shake sometimes and we can’t even drink a glass of wine without our meds making us a little too relaxed.  It will suddenly be obvious we are different and the eye of our affection won’t want to deal with the baggage.

But we are not different.  Bipolars can be as attractive as anyone else in the population.  So we can not let our insecurities about an illness nobody can see cheat us out of meeting the people we’d really like to get to know.   Thankfully we do not have to wear green fluorescent placards across our chests like crossing guards warning little children to stay away.

In my opinion we ofter underestimate the object of our fancy.  If we can get the courage to approach them, we might find they would like to spend time with us.  And the first thing you say doesn’t have to be a disclaimer that you are bipolar and once flipped out and kicked a hole in the wall.  This is conversation for a later date.  And, you might be surprised how well he or she handles it.  It isn’t the dark ages anymore where you were labeled manic depressive and given a lobotomy as regular course of treatment, then spent the rest of your life walking around fascinated with parking meters.

I was married for 13 years.  The wonderful woman I finally summoned up the courage to approach did not care about me being bipolar.  As a matter of fact, she took an active interest in helping me manage it.  It was completely unexpected and I’m extremely grateful.  Unfortunately we did get divorced, but it was not due to bipolar issues.  I had found other creative ways to ruin my marriage.

Don’t let the self-consciousness of being bipolar be what is holding you back from getting the person you really want.  Remember, bipolar sufferers usually have lived more complicated and sometimes tragic lives with dramatic ups and downs a lot of other people can’t even begin to imagine.  If we can get through that, we can definitely go for the person we really want rather than settle for second or third best.  We have thicker skins.

It only took me 46 years to figure this one out.  If I had only paid more attention to Dr. Phil!  Did I mention he has an answer for everything?