Archive for the ‘OCD’ Tag

A Bipolar White House?   2 comments

Last night I was watching MSNBC with Lawrence O’Donnell and he was showing footage of a speech Mit Romney made yesterday more or less accepting the Presidential candidacy nomination for the Republican Party.  I say more or less because he won most of the states in the primary, so it was pretty much a given.  His self-congratulatory speech was like me buying a house and then making a bloated speech to my real estate agent accepting the property.

The thing that bothered me most is that for many of Romney’s statements, Lawrence O’Donnell juxtaposed footage of him blatantly contradicting himself.  At first I thought I was watching a skit from Saturday Night Live.  It would have been the first funny thing they did in ten years.  Worse yet, he began revising history of how President Obama was the one who created the deficit, that we are still in a downward recession and Obama wants to make the United States a secular nation.  If you think any of this is true, you need to get out of your trailer more and stop watching FOX News.

Most revolting, is Romney wants to double the tax rate on student loans.  Well, he claims he doesn’t, but video footage shows him saying on camera at a rally students shouldn’t be relying on loans and interest rate discounts.  They should pay their full ride with no assistance.  But now he’s for keeping the student loan interest rates from doubling.  If Mit Romney went to a psychiatrist, I guarantee you’d find some major issues.  A main psychopathic feature is the ability to lie with no remorse.

However, you can’t just blame Mit.  The entire GOP is constantly rewriting history in an overt effort to bring President Obama down.  I honestly believe it’s because they can’t stand having a young magnetic black man in the White House.  And if they have to go into liar’s-overdrive, then so be it.  Wasn’t there a movie in the early 1980’s with Clint Eastwood and a Chimpanzee side-kick called “Any Which Way You Can?”  Well right now Mit is the Republican Party’s Chimp doing it “Any Which Way He Can.”

Everybody tells lies to some extent.  When I was at my obsessive compulsive worst trading in my car every six months for a new one,  I told my critics I could sell each one for even money, so why shouldn’t I drive what I want when I want?  The truth be known, I was losing a fortune trading cars in so frequently, but I couldn’t stop my compulsion.  But I was embarrassed and trying to hide my bipolar disorder.  And the only person I was hurting was myself.

The thing is, in all my bipolar illness, I would never tell a lie that would effect someone else.   If I lied, it was to keep people from finding out about my OCD, depression, a suicide attempt, a hospitalization or the likes.  I never disparaged anyone or tried to harpoon their character for my benefit.  And although bipolar people are not less prone to lying, they are not more prone either.  And I don’t think the majority of people in the world are liars either.

Then we see these republicans telling lies the size of hot air ballons that do affect our country in a negative way.   There are also a lot of stupid people out there who believe this rhetoric and republicans seem to have no remorse feeding them this political fodder in the form of pert little sound bite suppositories.    Worst of all, they literally ignore the fact their lying can be documented.  This is psychopathic behavior.

I’m still waiting for a Republican to stand up in Washington and say “this is ridiculous!  The Republican Party has gone too far!  Republicans and Tea Partiers, line up for a psychiatric evaluation at the Lincoln Memorial!”  I think it would look just like a mostly white Million Man March.

I could never run for President.  After all, I’m Bipolar II.  I could get depressed, go to bed and sleep through the passage of an amendment to the constitution.  Or, I could get hypomanic and keep threatening to launch a missel at France if they don’t send me over a wheel of brie every Friday.  I might even have an OCD flair up and start trying to conquer nations that start with the letter “M.”  No, the United States could never have a bipolar man in the White House.

A psychopathic liar out to destroy the President because his vindictive political party can’t stand to have a successful democrat, little yet an African American in the White House?  Now that’s OK with a lot of Americans.  But not a bipolar.  That’s way too dangerous.

Religion: Adding Another Layer of Depression?   Leave a comment

This past weekend the world’s Christians celebrated Easter, or the resurrection of Christ from the dead.  Every September Jews fast for an entire day while they pray in synagogues from sun up to sundown so they can be inscribed in the book of life.  Last year some people were draining their bank accounts because after the impending rapture money and worldly possessions would be useless.  And all religions warn  if we do not accept god into our lives, we are going to experience some sort of awful discomfort upon death for all eternity.

I’m not here to comment on the validity of people’s beliefs.  I just want to comment on religion’s side effects.  And in my opinion, it causes depression and anxiety in many people with bipolar illness.  Depression if you are not living up to your religion’s expectations and anxiety if you are trying to but tangible things in your life are taking precedent; Like work, therapy, getting enough sleep, exercising, etc.  However if you’re lucky enough to be OCD, religion does provide a constant diet of repetition.

When someone is bipolar they need to keep a constant vigil making sure they balance the right medications in accordance with their sometimes unpredictable mood swings.  At the same time, they have to navigate interpersonal relationships, school, employment, family, friends, bills and all of the daily sagas life throws at them.  It’s delicate work.

Now tell this person in addition to everything else, they have to make it to confession, church, the synagogue or the carpet remnant facing east five times a day or they will be smote down where they stand and/or spend eternity in hell.  (To me eternity in hell is spending all day in Yum Kippur services with an empty stomach listening to my father hum the prayers to which he doesn’t know the words.)  If they believe it,  it’s another hundred pounds of weight dropped onto their already heavy bipolar bench press they have to find a way  to lift.  If they don’t believe it, they are treated to the guilt imposed on them by family and friends of faith labeling them “in need of saving.”  Just one more burden to bear for the already over-extended bipolar mind.

I don’t know if there is a solution.  As long as there is fear of the unknown, there will always be religion.  And some bipolar people will believe, and some won’t.  For those who believe, I urge you to not allow it to take precedent over your bipolar treatment.  Because, if you lose control of your illness, you will not be able to be of service to your religion.  And I don’t believe anyone’s god wants them to suffer physically or mentally.

If you are bipolar and a non-believer, remember that guilt is a feeling you create, not someone else.  People have a right to their beliefs and concerns for your soul.  But don’t take on the burden of someone else’s religion because you feel you should be religious.  Or, because it will keep the family peace.  Focus on yourself and your bipolar treatment regiment.  You are your own first priority.  Sitting in church with your family out of guilt isn’t going to replace missing the group therapy sessions you find so helpful. Or the workout routine that seems to really cut through your depression.  And you should be able to do these things without feeling like your are mortally wounding your family members.

Religious beliefs are a spiritual decision.   But how you deal with bipolar illness is a life and death decision.  You have the right to prioritize your life in order of urgency without penalty.   Then, whatever you religious beliefs, do good works on earth and random acts of kindness and you’re bound to end up in a good place.

How to Stop Thinking What You Can’t Stop Thinking About?   Leave a comment

No matter what I did, how careful I was, regardless of all the scenarios in my mind that I could possibly conjure and then safeguard against, it kept happening.   I’d pick a self park garage so no attendants could do a Ferris Beuler on me and take my car out the back door for a joy ride.  I’d straddle two spots so nobody could park next to me.  And, I’d always find an area void of other cars so there were ample places to park instead of right next to my vehicle.

But it made no difference.  Out of all the open spaces some idiot in a minivan would chose to wedge in right next to my car, dinging my driver door for good measure.  Or, someone would back out of a spot squarely into the rear of my car, leaving a series of sloppy looking scrapes exposing bare plastic bumper.  But my favorite is the non-sensical scrape on the hood I once found, as if for a moment someone attempted to park on top of my car and then realized it wouldn’t work.

And with  every scrape, nick and dent I would obsess about it for days.  I’d literally spend hours looking at it in all different lights hoping it might disappear on its own.  Rubbing on scrapes until some paint came off and it looked even worse.  Trying to find a similar paint colored marker and filling in scratches, which gave my car that Beverly Hillbillies look.  And when I couldn’t stand ruminating about the imperfection, I’d go in my house and obsess on how poorly my vehicle looks and how quickly I could get it repaired before anyone saw the damage.  God forbid my Toyota Solara was not in perfect condition!

Interestingly, the actual damage in many cases didn’t even warrant the cost of the repair.  But my mind was racing and all thoughts were of my now ruined automobile. This behavior had to come to an end.  I’m a fairly intelligent person and here I was out of my head about a tiny imperfection on my car.  It’s not like I was driving a brand new Ferrari.  And this had happened before and would happen again. However these intrusive thoughts could ruin my day in an instant making it impossible to concentrate on anything else.

So, I talked to my psychologist about it.  And, she taught me a new way of thinking. Let me be clear, its hard to change your thought process.  It just doesn’t happen because you want it to.  You have to practice.   And be forewarned, it can be painful.  You are training your mind to do something it is hard wired against.  Usually such obsessions show up in individuals with OCD, which makes it even harder to control your thought process.   Since OCD is an actual illness usually coupled with some type of bipolar disorder, it is even more difficult for these people to master. I can speak first hand on this.

To me at first it seemed utterly impossible. I was told to wait for the next imperfection to arise on my car.  Living in San Francisco, it didn’t take long.  My psychologist then asked me, “what would be the worst thing that can happen if you leave that scratch on your car and never do anything about it?”  To my amazement the answer was so simple…  Nothing.  My rational self said it wasn’t noticeable to anyone but me and didn’t effect the way the car drove or its functionality.  It probably wasn’t even worth the cost of repair.

It was suggested I just live with it for a while, so I did.  Eventually my irrational self stopped drawing my eye to the scratch like a magnet every time I saw my car.  After a few weeks I completely stopped noticing it.  It became unimportant.  I still wanted to take care of it, but I decided to wait until something noticeable happens and have it all repaired at the same time.

I started to use this type of thinking in other aspects of my life unrelated to automobiles.  I call it the “Worst Case Scenario” technique.  Just think of the worst case scenario of what is eating you alive.  If you realize it’s nothing tragic, make arrangements to rectify the situation or leave it alone.  Then move on to other things because you’ve done everything you can.  Ruminating on it accomplishes nothing.

Do not expect this to work overnight.  But practice eventually pays off.  So the next time you are going off the deep end obsessing about something minor which your mind is making very major, try the “Worst Case Scenario” technique. Then take the Mafia’s advice and “forget about it.”

Computer Dating with OCD: Desperately Seeking Seroquel   2 comments

The minute I officially ruined my marriage and drove my wife to ask for a divorce, I stood on the precipice of an imaginary barrier in my mind that kept me from seeing other women through 15 years of commitment, held my arms up over my head and exclaimed, “Divorce Court of California, tare that wall down!”   I was now free to roam the greener grass on the other side.  It was time to start dating and making up for lost time with the opposite sex.

As a bipolar II, I have always had issues with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  And this was going to follow me into my new life as a single man.  Suddenly I felt it imperative to make up for lost time while married.  In a matter of hours after moving into my new apartment, I joined two different dating sites and was frantically filling out profiles, uploading photos of myself I took with my i-Phone in the bathroom mirror and sending out “winks” and messages to as many women as possible in an attempt to fill up my calendar.

I was relentless.  Communicating with possible matches at work, in stalls at public restrooms, at home into the wee hours of the morning and any other time I could sneak a look at my laptop.  If I did not have plans for every night of the week, I was frantic.  I looked for women whose profiles I didn’t even like that much to see if I could fill empty slots.  And if I couldn’t, I go out to bars that evening hoping to pick someone up.  Redoing my profile, updating my pictures and trying to get to new site members before anyone else became my full time obsession.  At 43 I was sure I only had a few good years left of virility and a flat stomach, so I had to make up for lost time.

Throughout this period I lowered my standards, risked disease and basically put my life in danger in a couple of situations.  My online dating was completely out of control.  But I couldn’t stop.  I felt if I didn’t keep dating that “someone special” would slip by without me ever knowing it.  I could not let that happen.  Even if it killed me.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder does not just show up in the form of counting footsteps, always having to sit facing west,  checking that the stove is off 50 times before you leave the house or ritualistic hand-washing.  OCD is actually the minds way of trying to take control of a life that may feel is out of control.  For instance, a bipolar with compulsive hand-washing might feel that they can not control their bipolar issues, but by washing the skin off their hands they can at least control not getting a disease.

OCD dating is like compulsively wearing the skin off your fingertips by constantly working the keyboard on dating sites.  Like I did, people get a number in their head for how many responses they should be getting a week, how many turn into dates and how many progress beyond that.  When they don’t hit their number they feel unattractive and unwanted.  This can make them work the dating sites at an even more feverish rate.  Eventually it becomes full blown OCD.

As any bipolar suffered knows with the OCD cherry on top, you can’t just “stop it.”  That’s like telling someone who is clinically depressed to “just snap out of it.”  But here are a few tips for slowing down the online dating frenzy;

First, limit the amount of time you will spend a day working the sites.  Then fill the time with something constructive, like working out or starting a project you haven’t had time for until now.  This way you are not just slowing down, but you are doing something to build yourself up.

Second, get involved with some extracurricular activities or volunteer work.  Not only does it add another positive dimension to your life making you a more interesting person, but you will meet people instead of staring at embellished profiles on a computer screen.  You can interact with them one on one and actually form friendships.

Third, raise your standards online.  Only  message women or men that really interest you, not just for something to do.  This means the time you do spend on line is quality.  And the people you date are more likely to turn into healthy relationships.

Finally, try and get out of the mindset that everyone you meet is going to be “the one.”  Enter all communications with the attitude that you are making a new friend and if it goes any further, wonderful.  But if not, you were not expecting a torrid love affair.  You’ll be a lot more relaxed when going out and probably exude more confidence.

Of course some cases of OCD have to be quelled by drugs.  I take a drug called Clomipramine which takes the edge off of my OCD making it a little more bearable.   But I still have to constantly fight the urge to turn every day things into ODC rituals.  I still can’t walk away from my car without beeping the remote alarm to hear it chirp at least five times while the parking lights flash.

I’ve also often thought of going on a dating site and posting my profile with the caption: “Bipolar Man with OCD: Desperately Seeking Seroquel.”  My guess is I’d meet the girl of my dreams.