Archive for the ‘trigger’ Tag

The Bipolar Perspective: The Season of Reason   2 comments


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.

Is That a Scowl on Your Face or Are You English?   Leave a comment

Ever take a good look at an Englishman?  They always look like half their face is about to ask a question and the other half already knows it will be dissatisfied with the answer.  Usually one eyebrow is permanently cranked up higher than the other, with a slightly wrinkled brow and asymmetrical mouth full of crowded yellow tombstones which all seem to be trying to jump over the lower lip to their death.   But in reality they are great people who have simply never mastered “the relaxed look.”

Then there are the people who might actually have lovely faces, but their frustrations and social indignations cause them to look like they are permanently choking on a LifeSaver and giving you the evil eye all at the same time. These people can control their facial expressions, but their anger within forces them to emulate a look of disgust.  Much like when Paris Hilton has to use a public restroom in Neiman Marcus.

I recently met a girl online with the look of disgust permanently etched on her otherwise pretty face.  It was as if not only the Lifesaver was lodged in her throat, but she detested man’s treatment of women through history and carried the full Suffragette Movement squarely on her shoulders.  She sought out men just to put them down.

I once met Gloria Steinem in the 1980’s in a talk radio station at which I worked in Philadelphia  She spent the better part of her life championing women’s equality in all areas.  Yet she was pleasant, gracious, easy to talk to and was nothing but delightful to me.  I don’t think she had it in for every man.  Nor did she feel the need to set ground rules for the code of conduct and conversation in her presence.

Apparently this woman never met Gloria Steinem and was emulating how she thought a feminist should act.  And when I mentioned a woman I knew remarking she was over 200 pounds,  I got the immaturity lecture piggybacked on the defamation of women diatribe.  Just the mention of a woman’s weight for whatever reason was interpreted as slander of the entire gender.  Her voracity on this issue was so intense it bled through her face giving it a permanent scowl.   And this is the picture she chose to post on the internet to attract men.  But there was no decent English person inside struggling to get out.

At first I was angry, although I saw the warning signs when we began emailing one another and right away she started dictating the things she would not stand for.  Top of her list was how I need to speak about women.  She would not tolerate anything demeaning coming out of my mouth.  I was hugely disappointed because my opening line was calling Mother Theresa a whore and saying women should not be allowed to work outside the home.  Now I had no more smooth introductions.

At this point I should have seen her as a gargoyle, not a perspective date.  I under-estimated her toxicity.  I misjudged her scowl for being an artist tortured by the harsh realities of life.  She looked like the type who came alive through her music and poetry, not from a general disdain for men and a penchant for talking to them like a school teacher.

But I am proud of myself.  My Bipolar mind wanted to attack.  She was out of line and I wanted to shock and awe her, even though George Bush tried it in Iraq and couldn’t seem to make it work.  But I’m not from Texas and knew I could get it right..  I thought of all the things I would say to upset her in rambling emails I would pepper her inbox with on a daily basis.  I was definitely on the precipice of losing control.  She hit my trigger and I wanted to respond in a way much bigger.

Anyone who is aquatinted with me, or has read my book, articles and blogs, knows I have the utmost respect for all human beings.  Some of my greatest heros in life are actually women.  Mama Cass, Big Mama Thornton, Hillary Clinton, Janis Joplin, Rosa Parks and my adopted daughter’s birthmother, to name a few.  And, my 13 year old daughter is smart, strong and has remarkable perseverance in the most difficult situations.  I fully expect her to be a leader in whatever field she choses.  Moreover, I learned manners and chivalry I use every day  from my maternal grandmother, a figure standing out for reinforcing in me the utmost respect for the opposite sex.  I often refer to female as the smarter sex.

However I learned from experience, even when I am right, ratcheting up the tenor of a situation like this only makes me seem insane. Plus, I knew I would say something I would later regret.  So I took the ten minute Bipolar-pause and the knee jerk reaction to embarrass myself passed.  Instead I wrote this blog proclaiming my accomplishment.  Because as Bipolars we all have fired off that email, no matter how righteous we may have been, that we later regret.  And today by not doing something I actually have a feeling of accomplishment.

So I want to thank the scowling girl on the internet for helping me reach another Bipolar milestone.  Without her misconstrued interpretations, instructional demeanor and high horse she angrily rides around in mens locker rooms criticizing them for not having vaginas,  I would not have gotten to challenge my Bipolar mind on exercising self control.   Many thanks.

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.

A Bipolar Move   Leave a comment

There is one activity I detest more than all others… Moving.  That’s when you have to put your entire life in boxes, have some burly mover guys you don’t know toss them into the back of a truck and hopefully have your things show up at your new address intact and unharmed.  If you are Bipolar this is even more of a formidable task.

The last time I moved a mover shattered a glass coffee table by standing it upright on its side in the elevator.  The sheer weight made it collapse on itself.    My dog was even telling the guy to lay it on its side.  So remember, you are also trusting all your worldly possessions to some hot sweaty guys without shirts and baggy shorts to make moving decisions on your behalf.   You may not be there to tell them to take the frame off the bed before shoving it through a doorway.

By the time the movers actually get to your place you are already in a tizzy.  You spent the prior week making value judgements about what clothes you will never wear again, CD’s you don’t listen too anymore and personal papers you may never need and purge them from your possession to streamline your move.   But the “how do I know I won’t want to wear that jacket again” blues keep playing in your head.  Eventually you just have to get the stuff out of the house to Goodwill and the recycling bin.  The longer you leave yourself the choice of going back and rescuing that old lava lamp, you’ll be having second thoughts about not saving empty razor blade cartridges too.  “But I can store things in these!”

Then the movers show up, shirts still in tact as they have not yet started throwing your boxes around like oversized square shaped Frisbees in order to work up a sweat.  And the banging, dragging, covering, taping, lifting, shifting and emptying out of your apartment begins.  All you can do it take a Lorezapam and pray nothing gets broken.

When the movers are finally finished and shirtless, they meet you at your new residence.  But apparently first they want to stop for lunch.  So why you sally forth to your new abode, pacing the empty floors checking the windows every ten minutes for signs of the moving truck, you begin to get nervous.   Are they sitting on your furniture watching your flat screen TV in the back of the truck eating burritos and washing them down with a couple of cold ones?  It’s probably ridiculous but you can’t stop getting angry about the image of that scene playing out in your head.

Finally the truck shows up and slowly the unloading begins.  The movers are a little more subdued and quieter.  They just want to get this done.  In rapid fire succession they start shooting your boxes from a guy on the street to one in the house.  Then the big stuff comes in slapping and scratching all the woodwork as if to say “ABC Movers were here.”  And when it’s all said and done you are left with rooms full of furniture with boxes stacked on top of it ready for the pleasant task of unpacking.

But before you can unpack you have to sign off that nothing was broken by the moving company.  It seems kind of like a draconian practice, because you are giving them a pass but you have not opened the boxes or turned on the electronics to see if everything is actually in tact.  Shit, when you rent a car they go over it more carefully for scratches and dents.

So the crew chief comes in with his clip board, you end up paying more than you were quoted and realize there is nothing you can do but give him your credit card and cringe.  Every time you asked for a quote it was always an estimate.  Now you are nailed to the wall.  Plus, you still have to tip the moving men.  This is their bread and butter so you have to make it nice.  And, you have to make it cash.  All in all a 5-hour move in the same city can cost you around one thousand dollars including gratuity.

Moving is a raw deal.  I don’t know anyone who enjoys it, unless you own a moving company.  And then you just hire others to do the lifting.  But when you are Bipolar it’s even worse because it flirts with your insecurities.   The possibility of breakage or disorderliness of your possessions touches on OCD issues.  Depression swoops in when leaving a place of familiarity and comfort for an unknown.  Paranoia rears its ugly head when you suspect the moving company is grossly overcharging you. Plus, you suffer guilt for all the money moving costs, and the trade-offs you made for living in this new place.  Finally, mania comes when you realize all the things you need to make a home livable and frantically drive to Bed Bath and Beyond to get everything you need all at once.  This has to happen immediately and cannot be piecemeal.  Your new home will never be home without all the comforts of home.

So, my advice to my Bipolar compatriots is to prepare yourselves for a big move.  Identify all the possible triggers and do what you can to minimize them.  Be sure to leave yourself enough time to pack so you don’t have these last minute dilemas on what to keep and what to give away.   Make sure you get an accurate estimate from the moving company so you will be prepared for the fleecing.  And remember, you do not have to unpack all at once or purchase every single amenity during one trip to the store.  Unless you are planning on entertaining the President in your bedroom, you can go without a bedspread that matches your curtains indefinitely.

The Bipolar issue with moving boils down to all the unknowns; What will it end up costing?  What will break?  Will the movers steal from me?  Will I like my new home?  Will my cable be hooked up properly?  What did I forget to buy?  Any one of these things is a trigger for Bipolar depression or mania.  And no matter how well you prepare, the movers are always going to be the wildcard as will whether or not you actually made the right decision by moving.

As the moving truck full of my personal possessions barreled its way up and down the city streets of San Francisco, occasionally becoming airborne,  my level of anxiety was at a plateau so great that I was speaking in an octave higher than my usual voice.  That is when I said “enough.”  I told myself I did everything I could to arrange a stress free move and what will be is what will be.  And when it was all over what it was is how it is.  Getting worked up did nothing but make a vein in my head bulge and pulsate uncontrollably.

So my Bipolar friends out there, when facing a situation you feel is out of your control, do everything possible to prepare and then as they say in the Mafia, “forget about it.”  Because there is absolutely nothing more you can do.  It is what it is.  Go for a walk.  Have a cup of coffee.  Start smoking cigarettes.  Experiment with heroine.  Donate your body to science while you’re still alive.  Just don’t stress out about the move.

Bipolars and Burning Bridges   2 comments

I am the king of burning bridges.   Put me in a situation, have someone do me wrong, and I’ll launch a cruise missile at them that could turn the Bay Bridge into a seven mile piece of frayed rope connecting San Francisco to Oakland.  I’m not talking about someone stepping on my foot by accident.  I’m talking about the time a company came to fix my kitchen cabinetry and the owner grabbed and kissed my girlfriend in the parking garage when I wasn’t around, then denied it.   Or when an acquaintance was supposed to watch our dogs for the weekend never showed up. Upon return our apartment looked like a giant un-flushed toilet bowl, smelled like a men’s room in a Greyhound Bus Station and the dogs were gnawing on furniture for nourishment.  However, he did take the two-hundred and fifty dollars we paid him in advance.

And, the cruise missel is usually in the form of a venomous voice mail, a hot tempered email or a no-turning-back text message.  But even if they really are rotten people, when I take a step back I always feel I was too harsh, escalating the situation and wishing I had thought about it a little longer before I hit the “send” button.  Even after I have made the mistake of reacting too soon  hundreds of times in my life, like a compulsive Black Jack gambler, I keep asking the dealer to hit me when I’m holding two face cards hoping for an ace.

But what is that ace for which I am looking?  Is the recipient of my snide comments or email rants, no matter how justified, going to suddenly see the light and make nice too me?  Are we going to sit on the floor and play paddy-cake?  Face it, if I we ever cross paths, I’m the one who is going to feel like I just got stuck in an elevator with my ex-father in law.

If you are bipolar and have been going off half-cocked all your life, even when justified to later regret it, you are not alone.  I have spoken with many fellow bipolar illness sufferers who have the exact same issue.  My belief is that we feel things on a much deeper level than normal people as we have a higher consciousness of our emotions.   Our psyches are more delicate, and when something happens making us feel happy, excited, angry, unjustly wronged, sad, etc., we sense it more strongly and more immediately.  If it’s anger or  injustice, we as bipolars tend to act quickly because we want to resolve the negative emotion.  We want the sadness to go away and not become a trigger causing a major episode.

The solution doesn’t involve air guns and paint balls being shot from a moving vehicle.   Simply give yourself a cooling off period before you react.  Set an arbitrary period of a time, like a half hour.  Try and think about sending or leaving that message and how you would feel if you ran into this person the next day.  Also, is this person a bridge you want to burn?  If you tell your male-chauvinist supervisor he’s a freak and quit, you are decimating your chances for a good relationship with the company as a whole? Worse yet, what if you end up working with this person again at another place of employment?  That’s enough to justify an extra Xanax for first day jitters.  Chances are if you really think it over, you’ll use a more tempered approach.

A few weeks ago I was driving home in thick downtown rush hour traffic.  I couldn’t find a good song on the radio, my “low fuel” light went on and a fax machine kept redialing my cell phone and blasting me through my speakers.  All of a sudden a banged-up maroon mini-van battering-ram darted out of a parking space and cut in front of me, causing me to slam on my breaks.  I almost hit the guy.  Then he darted up the street and pulled into another space.  My heart was in my throat.  I took a deep breath.  “What a fucking idiot.”

I drove a little further and the same mini-van pulls out of its new spot and cuts in front of me, almost causing me to hit him again!  I was furious.  Now, I am not a confrontational person.  I was the kid who covered up every time my grade school friends threw fake punches at me.  However I lept out of my car, leaving it idling in traffic like a car thieve’s wet dream, went up to the mini-van and tried to pull the driver door open to verbally assault the terrified diver.  When he frantically locked the door I pounded on the window until it fell off the track and into the door.  When the middle aged bespectacled driver started yelling for help, I realized I was committing a crime, was hit by a lighting bolt of common sense and ran back to my car.  And the very worst part? Traffic patterns forced me behind this guy all the way back to my obscure neighborhood, on the complete other side of the city.  We practically lived next to one another!

It’s likely I will see the maroon mini-van again.  And, I am the one who blew up.   I am the one who will feel shame when he points me out to his children and says “Stay away from people like that.  He’s a bad man.”  I doubt the guy even knows he cut me off twice.  Worse yet, he could have had me arrested for attempted battery and property damage.  For the rest of the evening all I could do was marvel at my stupidity.   I had never done anything like that in my life.  And now the consequences made me feel like a criminal on the lam.   I kept waiting for the cops to kick down my door with the min-van driver in tow yelling and pointing at me sitting on the couch in my underwear, “That’s him!.  That’s him!”

At 46 I’m just learning the lesson of not burning bridges.  As bipolar individuals, I think we have it a little harder because our emotions get the best of us and weaken our impulse control.  So we have to be extra vigilant when it comes to letting things “marinate” before we serve them up.  Because once that bridge is on fire, it’s virtually impossible to put it out.  And the last thing you want are people saying, “Oh, he’s bipolar.  Just ignore whatever he says.  He’s not right.”   Then it doesn’t matter what you say, nobody listens at all.

The Bipolar Discus: Now Everyone Has It.   5 comments

Has anybody noticed there are a lot more bipolar people in the world today than there were ten years ago?   I don’t have an exact number, but when the body shop returns your car without a windshield because the technician was diagnosed bipolar, and decided you car is a trigger, you know something is not right.

I actually think it’s a combination of things.  First, bipolar is becoming a catch all disease umbrella for suspected mental illnesses doctors can’t figure how else to categorize.  People tell you you’re a miserable person because all you do is spread negativity and mope around like you just ran over your cat.  You tell your psychiatrist or sometimes just your family doctor, and right away you’re bipolar.  After all, you’re not schizophrenic or a cutter, so what else could it be?  It must be bipolar!  Then again, you could just have a rotten attitude.  But the doctor brands you bilpolar and  for the rest of your life you are treated as such.

Secondly, a lot of people actually want the bipolar brand.  I call them wannabe bipolars, as if anyone would purposely afflict themselves with the illness, as if it’s contagious.  And if the doctor doesn’t make the diagnosis, they’ll guide them toward it with exaggerated symptoms, or find a doctor who will.  I’ve even met people in a bipolar therapy groups who are self-diagnosed bipolar.  They’ve never seen a doctor about it but are sure they have the affliction and identify themselves as such.

Once the wannabe bipolars go public with their disease, which many are more than happy to do, it also becomes carte blanche for public temper tantrums, walking out on the job, rude behavior and any other form of acting out which they can then blame on the bipolar, avoiding any and all responsibility for their actions.  In many cases they are actually interpreting how a bipolar person might act when in crisis.

I find this especially disturbing because most of the bipolar individuals I know do not have public outbursts or horrid displays of emotion.  It’s a part of their lives they’d prefer to keep private.  And if they are having a related emotional issue, they’re more likely to leave the room rather than put on a broadway production.  The last thing most bipolar people want to do is walk around carrying a freak flag.

So now all of the sudden the earth is crawling with bipolar people like bees swarming a hive.  Doctors are throwing the term around like a discus.  Consequently, some individuals could be  getting the wrong treatment for other very real mental illnesses.  Other people are getting treatment and there is nothing clinically wrong with them.  And some seek out the diagnosis like it’s a Fast Pass to drive in the commuter lane on the freeway and zip through the toll booth without having to stop and pay.

Never in my life have I seen a disease so frequently and haphazardly diagnosed.  It bothers me because it dilutes the seriousness and severity of the bipolar affliction for those who truly suffer from it.   My fear is that if we keep misdiagnosing the disease, one day being bipolar will be on par with having a headache.  Can you imagine if the diagnosis of cancer was bandied about like bipolar illness?  Stopping by the pharmacy to pick up your chewable chemo-tablets would be commonplace.   Or, “He’s walking funny.  It must be leg cancer.  Let’s radiate.”

I don’t have a solution.  I don’t even know if it’s perceived as a problem.  Obviously it’s not by the psychiatric community or they’d stop diagnosing bipolar like a Los Vegas black jack dealer.  And I’m sure the drug companies are loving it, so they are not going to speak up.  If they had their way, we’d all be taking Lithium as a precautionary measure.  Kind of like taking those oversized anti-malaria pills before you go to Asia and get dysentery.  I’m just hoping somebody with knowledge and authority decides to speak up on the issue.

Remember, some people are not overweight because they eat too much.   It could be genetics or a condition which has nothing to do with food.  Others are overweight because they say “yes” when asked by the lady in the window if they “want that super sized?”  Would you staple both their stomachs?  Of course not.  Then why is the medical community suddenly labeling more and more people as bipolar?   Is everyone coming down with the same disease? Or, do we need to come up with a more accurate diagnosis?