Archive for the ‘suicide’ Tag

THE BIPOLAR PERSPECTIVE: BEARING THE BAGGIE OF BURDENS   Leave a comment

PISSED

The other day I finally went to the urologist.  I wanted to find out why at fifty years of age I started wetting the bed three nights a week.  As I walked into my sparse HMO Plan’s Doctor’s Office, I was prepared for news of a cancerous growth in my manhood, a renegade testicle or an untreated progressive tropical sexual disease I picked up eating Cuban Food in San Francisco’s Mission District.  But I got even worse news… There was nothing physically wrong with me.  The emotionless managed care physician even managed to look at my prostate, which apparently gave him the “OK” sign as well.  I wonder if it was a “thumbs up” or it just “winked”at him like a Cheshire cat?

RESTRICTED FLOW

 If my member is not sick, that means my night-time urinary incontinence must be in my head.  Or at least that was my first conclusion.  After all these years in therapy trying to keep my Bipolar mind afloat, now I had sprung a leak down below.  And, the treatment was as vague as the apparent cause.  So the vanilla urologist gave the tasteless advice not to drink fluids three hours before bedtime and see what happens.  He also emphasized no alcohol.  I knew this was implausible. My Bipolar medications make my mouth extremely dry.  I have to keep drinking liquids or suffer from such bad cotton mouth my lips stick together when I speak, causing annoying suction sounds.  Plus, the thought of restricting the flow of alcohol prematurely during an evening on the town is out of the question.  I prefer to drink with wanton abandon.  Why should I once again have to add another limitation to my already restricted existence?

HI-HO!

And then it hit me… This was just one more annoying annotation to my treatment schedule I will have to endure due to my Bipolar Disorder.  Just like the cadre of pills I have to take twice a day, now I must regulate my liquid intake.  Another hurdle to clear, inconvenience to negotiate and regiment to be saddled with in order to remain ready for prime time.  I feel like I am in an 1800’s horse-drawn wagon, piled high with pills and their side-effects, barely inching across the baron plains of the old west.  Hi-Ho Effexor, Lamictal and Topamax! Git!

MANAGED MEDICAL INCONTINENCE

However the thing the Managed Healthcare Professional said that bothered me most is he felt the assortment of Bipolar medications I take are probably the cause of my night-time incontinence.  I’m well aware they cause dry mouth, nausea, severe constipation and weight gain, among other things.   But because my nightly dose of the anti-depressant Seroquel makes me sleep quite deeply, I may not be waking up when I have the urge to urinate.  Consequently, I go in my sleep.  And, the doctor made it clear he did not think I should discontinue any of my medications.  So in essence, he was saying it was best to continue wetting my bed.  That way “at least I have my sanity.”  I call this Managed Medical Incontinence.

BEARING THE BAGGIE OF BURDEN

One time a friend who I met in a Bipolar Chat Room came to visit me in San Francisco. When I helped her get settled in her hotel room, she pulled out an identical Zip Lock Baggie to mine filled with pill bottles containing her personal mixture of Bipolar elixirs and poultices.  I suddenly felt a strong commonality with her. I realized all Bipolar sufferers carry their own “baggie” full of unique prescriptions and medication induced limitations like mine, everywhere they go in life. I take a handful of assorted pills twice a day. Some people take theirs three times daily. Some have to take meds with food. Mine make me too nauseous to eat right away.  A number of people can drink alcohol with them, but others get violently sick or depressed and can not combine the two.  Each baggie contains a mixed bag of burdens specially formulated for that individual.  But we all bear the same baggie of burden.

MY BAGGIE IS BIGGER THAN YOUR BAGGIE

Wetting the bed is a pretty heavy burden for a baggie to bear.  You can learn to keep your shaky hands in your pockets, and take your midday dose of medication out of sight from your co-workers.  But if you are ever going to have an intimate relationship, you can’t hide the fact that you are irrigating the bed.  Or, you can wear a diaper to sleep at night and call it an “undergarment,” so it sounds more like Mormon underwear. However I’ve come to the realization that everyone’s baggie seems equally big in their own eyes.  Different people with Bipolar Illness have different medication regiments.  It’s not as simple as just popping a Prozac.  And consequently, we all have our own set of annoying side-effects. Moreover, if they are your annoying side-effects, they are bigger than anyone else’s.  When I first started taking a once daily dose of the anti-depressant Elavil in the mid-1980’s to treat my Bipolar, I didn’t even need a baggie. Conversely,  I thought taking that single pill at night would be a massive intrusion on the rest of my life.  Now I carry a heavy duty Zip Lock Baggie, and yearn for the days of simplicity that came with only needing one pill bottle.  These were the days when my side-effects could be counted on one hand, not amplified to a roar and punctuated by constantly having to change my bed sheets.

THE CAT IS OUT OF THE BAGGIE

Now that the cat is out of the baggie, do I accept my predicament or search for a solution? If you suffer from Bipolar Disorder, you are forever trying to do one thing to compensate for another.   Am I willing to discontinue the Seroquel, become sleepless, depressed and dehydrated, so I can awaken dry just in time for another miserable day of suicidal ideations? Personally I am not ready to accept the Meaningless Managed Medical Memorandum on my nocturnal incontinence. So I will go forth seeking solutions that may or may not materialize.  Will I end up adding to my baggie or shrinking it?  I don’t know. But I do know I am not alone. Because Bipolar babies all have baggies.  No matter how big or small, they are enormous to the bearer.  And all of us in the Bipolar Community anticipate with bated breath a cure for their individual intolerable side-effects just around the corner.  Side-effects are the price we pay for being alive and sane.  However they can also drive you insane.

HALF IN THE BAGGIE

I thought the only way I could write about this was if I were “half in the baggie.”  It’s an embarrassing thing to do sober.  And nobody except the person “sleeping on my bottom bunk” really has to know.  But so rarely can you showcase a Bipolar medication related side-effect that makes the non-afflicted truly realize how gruesome this business can be.  There is no free ride.  Moreover, in most cases Bipolar medication only works to a point.  It does not completely wipe out deep depression, anxiety or mania.  Just enough to get by.  But the side-effects are full strength and show no mercy.

 

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THE BIPOLAR PERSPECTIVE: YOU CAN LEAD A DEPRESSED PERSON TO WATER…   7 comments

Cracking the Window

Everybody has a different way of asking for help.  I have Bipolar II, with an extra serving of depression.  So when I am down so low I cannot take life anymore, I try to give it back with an overdose of my medications and as much Vodka as my body can absorb before I lose consciousness.  But no matter how many pills and how much Vodka I’ve ingested, I have still not been able to permanently put myself out of my misery.  There is no doubt at that moment in time I sincerely want to kill myself.  However, by not swallowing the entire contents of my medicine cabinet straight off, which for sure would bring about my demise, I leave the window open a crack with a parting call to my psychologist triggering an onslaught of help.  Could it be that I’d rather wake up feeling sick to my stomach six hours later than remaining unconscious feeling nothing six feet under?

Calling All Cars

The other day I was on Facebook and noticed a message from an old acquaintance.  He actually sent it out as a general notice to all his friends.  He explained he was feeling intense anxiety, depression and having trouble functioning.  He had an appointment with a doctor, but was extremely afraid of having to take medication.  I thought it was somewhat strange he was “calling all cars” about his mental condition. Most people are very private about it.  I was so intensely secretive I wrote a book about my experiences (BUZZKILL) using my real name.  My friend was obviously a mental illness novice.  He had not yet learned how to make the dramatic cry for help by at least threatening to jump from something.

Don’t Buy Generics

The last time I checked my friend had forty-one responses from some very well-meaning people.  But when you boiled it down they all had the same advice; “Hang in there.  Things will get better over time.  I’ll pray for you.”  Irrespective of the stupid simplicity of their remarks, it was amazing they all basically offered the same generic response.  And, not one person mentioned psychiatric help and medication, which my friend stated he was especially nervous about.  It reminded me of someone telling a little kid they are going to the circus, when they are really going to get a rabies shot.  And the “I’ll pray for you?”  Why not just say, “I’ll waste some time talking to myself about you instead of talking to you.”  Here was a true cry for help and in return came the off the shelf generic “You’ll be O.K.”  What these people don’t realize is that depression is life threatening, not to be thwarted with a pep talk like before the big homecoming football game.

Go With a Name Brand

Being depressed and despondent is about as real as it gets.  So I decided to “keep it real” and reach out with some useful “Name Brand Advice” via email.  After all, I suffered from depression and anxiety most of my life. Who better to advise him than an individual who will actually address his concerns.  So, I told my friend I have Bipolar Illness, which he may or may not have.  But I know well the anxiety and severe depression that goes with it.  I urged him to find a doctor who listens to him and what he could expect from medication, if in fact recommended.  Also, I suggested he read my book because it specifically addresses his concerns. Moreover, I asked him to purchase five copies and bill it through his insurance.  Lastly, I offered to meet with him anytime he needed to talk.   He thanked me.  Why not?  I’m a name brand lunatic.

Diarrhea of the Email

Then I let loose a torrent of emails also to help my friend.  I talked about medication side effects, finding the right doctor and coming with me to my support group for those who suffer from depression, anxiety and or Bipolar Illness.  Each time he thanked me, but never took me up on an offer.  Was I getting too involved?  Did he not know me well enough to open up?  Was I scaring him?  Was he afraid of turning out like me?  Did he want me to shut the fuck up with my “diarrhea of the email” advice?  My mother used to beat a subject to death so badly that if it was health related, it would cure itself by the intermission.  Was I becoming my mother?  I checked my head for electrodes.

Walk Away Renee

I finally decided enough was enough with the emails and to leave my friend alone.  Walk away Renee.  He knows what I have to offer and if he needs me I’m sure he’ll get in contact.  Sometimes when we are Bipolar and find someone who is in similar pain, although undiagnosed, we will do anything to bring assistance.  We identify with their struggle.  But at a certain point that individual has to reciprocate by reaching out.  You cannot force help down a person’s throat.  All you can do is throw them a life-preserver and see if they take it.  If not, let them find their own way.  I hear a good chiropractor can cure just about anything. Maybe my friend isn’t ready to come to terms with the possibility of needing psychiatric help?  I know when I took my first handful of psychotropic medication (in the prescribed amount), I felt the stigma of being a mental patient as if I was punched in the gut.  I was actually disappointed in myself for being so feeble!

Billboards and Bus-Backs

I was beginning to feel like a social marketer for the American Psychiatric Association.   Or, a Bipolar Recruiting Agent scouting out depressed people for a Bipolar diagnosis. Nonetheless, I have to be satisfied with having done my very best to help, and leave it at that.  Offering too much help can be just as bad as doing none at all.  Maybe I should cancel the billboards and bus-backs with my friend’s name on them, urging him to go to the emergency room if his depression gets worse.

You Can Lead a Depressed Person to Water…

Just like I have always subconsciously cracked the window during a suicide attempt, I realized my friend is doing the same with his mass email.  He made his cry for help.  Although not suicidal, he left an opening for someone to rescue him.  However, I can’t fit through it.  Maybe I represent too much reality?  Whatever the issue, I hope someone can breach the barrier.  And I have to be satisfied that I tried to offer assistance.  It’s really up to him to accept it.  As they say, you can lead a depressed person water, but you can’t make them see a shrink.

The Bipolar Perspective: Making Shooting Yourself Less of a Hassle   Leave a comment

A SECURITY GATE THAT SWINGS BOTH WAYS

When I got to the front door of the location, in a very nondescript industrial type area on a main drag in a San Francisco suburb, there was a gate. I hit the button and was buzzed in. It reminded me of the outer gate through which you have to pass entering San Quentin State Prison, where I volunteered for two years.

The customers and employees working in the tiny gun shop looked like they were flown in from Texas. The men were fat with short hair wearing sleeveless t-shirts sporting some kind of anti-Obama slogan and baggy pants or cargo shorts. The one woman behind the counter could have been attractive if it wasn’t for the tattoos on her arms and stealth semi-rimless rectangular glasses that almost looked like shooting goggles. I guess you never know when you have to set up that Bushmaster Automatic on a tripod and gun down an entire city block. You don’t want to be messing around looking for your eye protection.

When I left through the gate I wondered who’s protection it was for; from stick-up men getting in or keeping the rednecks from getting out?

SATURDAY NIGHT REVOLVER

I told the Tea-Partier behind the counter I needed a gun as I’m a salesman and carry expensive samples in my car. I wanted it as a deterrent. In California you can not actually shoot someone unless they are attacking you or someone else.

They put a handgun down on the glass counter that was so big and heavy it was literally overkill. I told them I just wanted something inexpensive and small. I almost mentioned that I was only going to be using it once.

When they put the black Saturday Night Special down in front of me I didn’t touch it. I just said “I’ll take it.” I hate guns. They are only made for one thing; killing.

GRADUATION DAY

I have never shot a handgun before. And all I had to do was take a thirty question multiple choice test and I’d be licensed to own a gun in California. Of course I passed. Almost anyone could pass. So I flipped my tassel to the other side of my hat, put down a deposit and went home for the standard ten day waiting period. If I cleared the government check, I would be the proud owner of a bouncing baby revolver. I proudly walked down the aisle and out of the gate.

BLOWN TO PIECES

Then my suicide plan was blown to pieces. Or, so I thought. You see, I was not able to take my medication because I did not have insurance and could not afford all of my prescriptions. I was suicidal and had never had much luck with overdosing.

But because deep down inside I wanted to feel better as opposed to spattering my brains all over the inside of my car, I told my fiancee. She in turn told my psychiatrist and psychologist. She was instructed to call the gun shop and tell them not to sell me the gun because I was going to use it to kill myself.

Then she called the Justice Department and told them NOT to approve me to own a gun as I was suicidal and had been 51/50’d in the past, which is being involuntarily admitted to the Psych Ward. My entire plan was blown to pieces.

VALEDICTORIAN

When I got back on my medication and started feeling better, I decided to go to the gun store and get my $360 deposit back. My psychologist didn’t want me to go alone as she thought it might be a trigger, but I felt I could handle it.

I must have been class valedictorian. First I aced the test. Then, in spite of my fiancee calling the justice department, I PASSED the background check. And, even though she alerted the gun shop was told not to sell me a gun because I was suicidal, the guy behind the counter was ready to deliver my firearm.

But I just wanted my money back. And of course after a restocking fee and a not being a republican fee, I was only recouping $217. But I didn’t care. I did not want to die anymore. And to my utter amazement I was told my license was valid and I could buy a gun instantly anywhere in California for up to a year based on the current background check. Amazing.

BEEF JERKY

This whole thing is unconscionable. Red flags were sent up in my case to the gun store and the Justice Department, and I was still able to and can purchase a gun in California whenever I like. I guess if I ever get suicidal again it will be as convenient as walking into a Seven-Eleven and buying one of those ancient dried out beef jerky sticks at the counter. They can kill you too.

OVERKILL

There are a lot of avid gun owners who are ready to take up arms against the government if more gun laws go on the books. According to them it’s PEOPLE who do wrong with guns. Guns do not act on their own. “We have enough gun laws goddammit! If everyone were armed people would think twice before shooting up a school or movie theater.”

Then my question is “why are they not working?” When a severely depressed individual can purchase a firearm to kill themselves and the natural checks and balances to not work, human intervention at the government level is ineffective and alerting the gun shop is not-getting anywhere, we need laws that are effective. Because in this case, the individual (me) buying the gun was going to turn it on himself.

So what if everyone is armed? When I pull out my revolver in my car sitting in traffic and put it to my head, if everyone is armed are they going to jump out of their cars and shoot me first? Are more people carrying guns going to protect the mentally ill from using one to commit suicide?

SUICIDE WATCH

This is not commentary on whether or not I believe it’s moral for someone to take their own life. Until one has suffered the seemingly bottomless depths of depression born from Bipolar and other mental illnesses, I think it’s hard for others to really understand. However I do think many depressed suicidal individuals are not at their rational best.

Right now the way I see it is that if you have a Bipolar or severely depressed person in your life, you have to be on suicide watch. Learn the signs. Even come right out and ask them. And if you think they may act, get them help. Don’t let them walk into a gun store and assume the laws and morality of the individuals working there are your safety net. It’s more like a sieve and the only thing it weeds out are the people who walk in and actually put the gun in their mouth to make sure it fits.

I do not know suicide rates by firearm. But even one is too many. And yes my friends in the Lone Star State of Succession, people do pull the trigger. Guns do not think for themselves. And that is why we need better gun laws. Because people who want to commit suicide do think for themselves, just not very clearly. And the gun stores are just thinking for themselves about making a profit. Moreover, the NRA is in the pocket of the gun manufacturers making sure they make a profit. And, the only profit a victim of suicide by gun makes is that they only need to buy one bullet.

The Bipolar Perspective: And Then It Hits You   Leave a comment

GRAY BALLS OF FIRE

Ever see the poorly conceived television commercial for Capella University, where an old lady in a wheel chair is teetering at the top of a flight of steps about to take an unscheduled ride to the bottom?  All the while the voiceover is talking about your ailing professional career?  Then the camera zooms in on the constipated looking octogenarian about to take a concrete header and the announcer says, “And then it hits you.  Capella University,”  as if their degree will keep granny from tumbling down the steps in a great ball of gray hair, sagging skin, misapplied lipstick, metal, rubber and wheel chair spokes.

MY CAPELLA MOMENT

A few weeks ago I had my “Capella moment.”  I was sitting in my 2011 Mustang 5.0 outside San Jose California, inert in a freeway traffic jam enjoying my coffee and listening to The Dandy Warhols sing “Minnesoter.”  Then it hit me.  Instantaneously a woman texting while driving her SUV slammed into me at 40 something miles per hour hurling my car into the one in front of me and then rebounded me backward to hit her again like a super-ball.  Literally when the smoke cleared, my Pony was DOA with flaccid airbags, glass everywhere, no visibility in the front or back due to the twisted metal and all I could do was wonder where my coffee and sunglasses were.

MY FORD FORTUNE COOKIE

After five minutes and nobody coming to my aid, smoke started coming out of my air conditioning vents so I bailed out on to the busy four lane freeway.   Still unaided, cars were just driving around this “inconvenience.”  I walked back to the SUV who ran into me.  The middle-aged Asia lady was on the telephone but glad I was OK.  I thanked her for her concern.  The car I was pushed into was barely damaged and the male Asian college student driving was preoccupied with missing a crucial college exam.  He did ask if I was OK.   The only person who seemed to care was the California Highway Patrolman who couldn’t believe I walked away unscathed.  I was injured though, he just couldn’t see it.

The driver of the flatbed hauling my dead Pony to its final resting place gave me a lift to the San Jose Airport so I could rent a car and get back home to San Francisco.  I thanked him, climbed out and watched him drive away with my prized possession contorted  and bleeding until it disappeared into the traffic on the freeway.  And then it hit me;  My car is gone.  I’m all alone at the San Jose International Airport.  I have little cash and no credit cards.  And, I was about to spend time with the three people I despise the most:  An attorney, an insurance agent and a car salesman.   Fuck Capella University.

WITH A GUN

The depression didn’t take long to set in.  When I finally made it back to San Francisco, I got into bed and hid under my blankets for days.  All I could think of was if I got out I’d kill myself.  I wanted to use a gun so I couldn’t screw up not taking enough pills, as I had in the past.  With a gun all you need is the gumption to quickly pull the trigger and it’s over.   A week earlier I had been assaulted over a parking space, had my car unfairly towed costing me $850, paid hundreds of dollars in bogus parking tickets, filed for bankruptcy and finally was able to get a neighborhood parking permit worth it’s weight in gold.  Now I just fell down the proverbial steps in the wheel chair to my demise.

Actually, I was pushed.  Nobody can have luck this bad.   I was convinced of it.  Someone or something was doing this to me.  I didn’t know why but if I stayed in bed I was safe, unless the house caught on fire.  The Bipolar jinx was alive, well and inescapable    All the negative forces in my life converged and took one big shit on me.  I wanted to die before the next act.

WHERE SUICIDE RESIDES

Well obviously I’m out of bed and I’m not dead.   Everybody keeps checking to see if I am still suicidal and I keep explaining that being Bipolar means suicide never leaves your mind.  It just becomes a manageable thought you can push to the side when things aren’t directly blowing your life to pieces.   When things get bad it shoves its way to the forefront and takes over your mind, offering up helpful suggestions on how to rub yourself out.

My psychiatrist ended up raising my Effexor dose to 400mg and has me taking an extra 1mg of Lorazepam each day.   I don’t know if it’s making a difference.  I am still convinced nobody can have as bad luck as I.   Even dropping off the rental car turned into a fiasco.  They couldn’t find the car for three days after it was returned and accused me of still having it, even though they had they keys and rental papers.  Am I a magician now?

A BERLIN SPECIAL

A couple of days ago I went back to work newly medicated and slightly calmer.   I had bought a used car.  Financing it with a bankruptcy was like walking over hot coals while banks chucked poisonous spears at my neck and torso.   But as I drove my new used car through downtown San Francisco enjoying my coffee and listening to NPR, then it hit me.  A German tourist opened her car door into traffic and conveniently clipped off my diver side mirror, giving it a Berlin special.  She caused $1,900 in damage to my 2002 used Mercedes-Benz.

I firmly believe life is a bitch and then you die.  And if you’re Bipolar everything is magnified ten times bigger than life.  You can become unglued about every little thing that happens, or you can roll with it and save the hysterics for the really big stuff.   Sometimes you have to fight to maintain your composure.   But if you are going to stick around you have to take it one day at a time.

INCH BY INCH.  PIECE BY PIECE.

I always thought “take it one day at a time” was a stupid English colloquialism I’d wanted to shove up the ass of anyone who dare say it to me.  However now I think it was written specifically for Bipolar people like me.   If you look at everything that’s wrong and unfair in your life all at once it’s going to consume you.   But if you just do the best you can each day and worry about tomorrow when it comes, life is suddenly a little more manageable.

So if you’re Bipolar and the world is taking you apart piece by piece, deal with it as it comes… In pieces.  Capella University will not come to your rescue with a degree to make it all go away.   It’s a rebuilding process.  And it takes patience.

And then it fucking hit me again.  I am the old woman in the wheel chair at the top of the steps.  Fragile and teetering on the precipice of losing control.  I can either wait for a strong gust of wind to push me over or slowly wheel myself away from the steps.   But I do have the control.

THE TRUE MEANING OF CAPELLA

Whenever I see it I marvel how Capella University’s advertising campaign makes no sense whatsoever.  They never explain how a degree from their school relates to an old woman in a wheel chair sitting precariously at the top of a flight of steps.   And then it hits you.   They teach the lost art of armor suit-making.  If the woman were wearing one, it would protect her from the fall.  If only they could teach me to make one for my mind.

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

HATE MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND

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

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

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

PROPERTY VS. PROPRIETY

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

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

IT”S A JUNGLE IN THERE

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

THE STRUGGLE

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

DOUBLE DOWN

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

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

THE BITTER TASTE OF REVENGE

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

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

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

THE BIPOLAR MANDATE

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

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

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

The Bipolar Perspective: The Season of Reason   2 comments

FIGHT NIGHT

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

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

GROUND HOGS DON’T TAKE HOLIDAYS

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

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

SEASON OF THE WITCH

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

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

THE BITTER-SWEET TASTE OF REVENGE

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

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

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

HOLIDAY BLACK AND BLUES

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

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

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

THE SEASON OF REASON

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

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

DEPARTMENT OF PARKING AND EXTORTION

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

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

DEATH WISH 

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

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

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

The Bully Pulpit   Leave a comment

The anxiety started the moment I got off the school bus in the afternoon, haunted me all evening, gave me nightmares while I slept and caused me to physically shake and fight back tears as I waited for the bus to pick me up for school again in the morning.

I wore thick glasses, had severe nystagmus, causing my eyes to uncontrollably shift back and forth, had poor vision, horrible coordination when attempting to play sports, undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder making my behavior over-exaggerated at times and was a terrible student because I was embarrassed to say I couldn’t see the blackboard, even from the front of the classroom.

My entire school day was spent ducking the kids who tormented me for my physical inadequacies and snuck in a quick trip, punch, smack or pencil stabbing whenever a teacher wasn’t looking.  In the 1970’s if you told a teacher kids were kicking you in the back as you stood in front of the urinal, all it would do is increase the veracity of the retribution.  As scared as I was to be in school, I was terrified of getting jumped off school grounds.

Never in my entire life would I ever think a group like StudentsFirst would actually pass Anti-Bullying Legislation.  Laws to stop kids from picking on their classmates for deviating from the norm or just simply being weaker.  Where was this legislation when I was getting repeatedly stuck in the ass by thorns as I was boarding the school bus everyday?

Here is my conundrum;  Can teachers not see what goes on in lunchrooms, hallways and playgrounds?  Or, do they feel discipline is not part of their job description?  Do we need the courts to come into the classrooms because school administrators can no longer control their students?  I detest bullies, but should they be faced with jail time because they are turning out to be the imbeciles reflective of the parents rearing them?

The new argument for bringing courts into the classroom is that victims of bullish behavior are feeling so much anguish they are committing suicide.  And, before they go, in extreme cases they are killing their peers and or complete strangers in incidents like Columbine as acts of final revenge.    These are horrible outbursts of violence, but I question whether the media and other watchdog groups are inadvertently convincing people bullies are provoking revenge killings and we need the courts to control them.

Revenge killings are very extreme cases fueled by the availability of guns and the plethora of “how to be a little terrorist” materials on the internet.  Most of the kids who trip other kids carrying their lunch trays aren’t going to be doing this in their forties.   I doubt the kids who relentlessly picked on me for my shifting eyes are still laughing about it and seeking out others with nystagmus to castigate.   Nor are they teaching their children how to take over the reigns.  They didn’t deserve to be disciplined by our legal system.

It is very true that the internet has given bullies a new tool to ply their trade.  And a powerful one at that.  It can permeate the classroom environment into a child’s private life.  Personally I think it’s taken the place of physical in favor of psychological abuse.  And instead of writing insulting things about each other on bathroom walls, kids are now doing it in chat rooms and on Facebook.  But the internet is here to stay and I don’t think anyone is going to eradicate new ways kids have devised to use it to be mean to the downtrodden.

I have a thirteen year old daughter living in a very nice suburb of San Francisco with her mother.  She goes to a very good public school.  First hand I have seen the feverish pitch of paranoia school administrators have reached to prove they are on the super mutated anti-bully bandwagon. Moreover, they are beside themselves with fear of an unstable student targeted by bullying, getting his or her hands on a machine gun (thanks to the NRA for making them so accessible), and mowing down the student body.  For sure in this day and age they would be held legally responsible by someone.

So if a kid in my daughter’s school hurls a profanity at a classmate online, a girl slaps a boy for being sexually harassing or a kid is caught selling something as benign as candy on school grounds, the full weight of the administration comes down on them.  I have personally heard of kids detained, suspended and expelled for such horrid “miscreant” behavior.   (I actually learned the kid who sold the candy tried to argue it was for personal use, but the principal wouldn’t buy it).

To add to the fervor, a celebrity revered by younger people like Lady Gaga came out against bullying.  I find her incredibly intelligent, compassionate, courageous and my daughter insists talented.  I think having an international celebrity stand up against bullying is more than for which bullied kids could even fathom when I was growing up.   But such an influential figure to kids on the bully pulpit, although I believe is meant with all sincerity, is adding to the disproportionate reaction.

Like most things in America, I think we have gone to an extreme on the school bullying issue.  I agree it’s a problem.  I have battle scars to prove it.  If I saw a kid bullying another I’d confront him or her immediately.  If my child were doing they bullying, I’d not only reprimand her, but I’d make sure she doesn’t do it again.  When my child has been bullied, I provided her with love, comfort and helped her understand why kids act this way and how to remain strong.  If it’s relentless, I’ll talk to the school or the “opposing side’s” parents.  Most importantly, I’ll stay on top of the issue.

What I don’t want is court intervention with legal consequences for childhood misbehavior.  Bullies belong in detention or suspension, not incarceration.   And if we start relating incidents like Columbine as bullying cause and effect to our children, bullied children are going to think this is what could happen to them when they reach their breaking point.   They may even imitate such behavior.  Moreover, they’ll begin to rely on the legal system or Lady Gaga to mitigate their circumstances, instead of turning to their parents or teachers.

There is no solution to bullying.  There never will be.  This is what kids do.  It’s cruel and it sucks.  And it’s great that there are adults standing against it.  But it doesn’t belong in the courts.   When it goes in the courts school administrator ass holes tighten and they punish a kid if they just look at someone the wrong way, terrified of being blamed for another school shooting.  Of course this makes the parents go off the deep end policing their kids for any signs of being bullied.  And when the kids see how crazed adults have become, they become more dramatic to fit the tenor of the situation. This is when the shooting starts.

Take this advice from a shifty eyed, visually impaired, bipolar with poor coordination who used to get stuck in the ass by thorns;  If you build it, they will come.  If we legislate instead of parent, laws will be broken.  Schools will become detention centers.  And kids will not learn appropriate responses and resolutions.  Instead they’ll depend on laws to set their personal boundaries.