38 seconds

when I am sitting cross-legged on the floor
rocking so hard to keep the light and the
sound out, rocking so hard to keep the beat
of my heart at bay, rocking so hard that
I can’t get the bullet into the chamber,
my tears have wet my fingers, my sobs
wrack and shake my body over the rocking,
when I am 38 seconds from ending it all
I think…
there are people out there like me,
people that are suffering just like I am,
people that are hurting just like me,
people that are so close to giving up,
that I hope I can assist,
if I can help just one other person
get through, I have done something
good and right and humane

— GB

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alarms going off

hand through the wall
alarms going off
neighbor at the door
alarms going off

I need to see you now
alarms going off
can you make it tonight
alarms going off

turn the tv up louder
alarms going off
no screams can be heard
alarms going off

men with guns breach the perimeter
alarms going off
my pistol at the ready
alarms going off

awesome! sudden silence
no feeling in my limbs
a needle in my arm
no one recognizable around

no alarms

exhausted I sleep and sleep
this is a safe place
these people want to help me
promise to let me see you soon

— GB

The Point

I’m very sorry if some of this is a rehash of previous posts.  Everything just piled up on me this afternoon and this is what came pouring out.

What was the point?  What was the point of all that I have done for the past four years.  What was the point of seeing all those different doctors?  What was the point of seeing all those different therapists?  What was the point of seeing all those Physician’s Assistants and Nurses?  What was the point of having Intensive Cognitive Behavior Therapy?  What was the point in having ECT Treatments for two and a half years?  Why did I have to endure all the medication changes? Why did I have to move four times?  Am I any better off now than I was four years ago?

That last question is a very complicated one.  The answer is going to be equally complicated, if not more so.

The basic answer is I don’t know.

I’m a different person than I was four years ago.  I have a better understanding about what is going on in my life.  I have a better understanding about what is going on with my body and mind, including my mental health.  I am always learning something new.

With that in mind the answer is yes.

Four years ago I was an established, successful man.  I had a good career.  I was thought well of in my field.  I had just gotten a huge promotion.  I had many friends.  Now I have none of that.  I live with my parents, I live off of Social Security Disability.  I do have a few friends, but not as many as I used to.

Given that side of the coin the answer is no.

Changing doctors and therapists was necessary to find the right ones who would give me the care that I needed.  Intensive Cognitive Behavior Therapy worked a little but in the end was very helpful in that it was where I learned about ECT.  I believe that ECT is what enabled me to get to where I am now.  The moving around (which also required changing doctors) was due to the fact that my parents were taking care of me and they’re not rich, nor would I ask them to completely support me.  When my corporate disability ran out in San Diego, we moved to my aunt’s house is Elk Grove, CA.  We stayed with her until my Social Security Disability kicked in.  Then we moved to an apartment in Sacramento, CA, which is about 25 miles North of Elk Grove.  Most of the rest of my family lives in the Elk Grove-Sacramento area and it was good to spend time with all of them.  The move North from San Diego included a change in ECT Doctor and facility.  I was well taken care of.  When the ECT Treatments got to the point that they were far enough apart.  I moved to and my parents moved back to their home in North Carolina.  I have been here almost a year and a half.

The moves, the medication changes and the doctor and therapist changes all have good reasons.  And while there was some consternation and actual physical pain, I have had positive results so far.   ECT has made the biggest difference to my life.  While I hope I never have to have it again.  I would get the treatment in a instant if it would be beneficial.

So the answer as to whether I am better off now, than I was four years ago is absolutely YES.

Four to five years ago, while things looked like they were great for me, the monster that took me out was growing.  The success was a mirage that the monster was eating.  The bigger the success the bigger the monster was.  It was only a matter of time before it broke me.  When it did, it was like a toxic bomb had gone off.  No one wanted to be around me.  Thankfully, two co-workers called my psychiatrist (that’s a story for another day), called my parents and convinced me then took to me to the hospital.  One even retrieved my parents from the airport.  If it wasn’t for those two I don’t know where I might have ended up.  I would thank them if I could but I don’t know where they are.

My parents, on the other hand, dropped everything they were doing and rushed to San Diego.  If it wasn’t for them doing that and then making decisions about my care in the beginning I probably would have ended up in the San Diego mental health care system.  Their help and consult has helped me get back on my feet.  I’ve come a long way in the last four years and there is none of it that would have been possible without them.

Everything!

What do you cling to when there aren’t any more hand holds?

Everything!

You have to start making things up

The cold steel scraping your teeth
And the metallic taste of the barrel
On your tongue
Are no substitute
For wanting to wake up the next morning

You realize that everything you do
Is worth it

That whatever you need to do
To get yourself through it
Is what you have to do

Because the only one you owe anything to
Is yourself

It is not fair to deprive yourself of anything

— GB

One

“you mean we actually are all one” — Alanis

If we are one…

Why don’t
You fall
When I stumble

Why don’t
You bleed
When I cut

Why don’t
You cry
When I’m sad

Why do
You cringe
When I’m boisterous

Why don’t
You soar
When I’m high

Why don’t
You go to jail
When I get arrested

Why don’t
You spend time in that room
When they can’t find another way

Why don’t
Your hands get the tremors
At random times during the day

Why don’t
You always find me
No matter where I am

If we are one…

Why don’t
I enjoy the quiet
That helps you read

Why don’t
I listen to the love songs
That bring tears to your eyes

Why don’t
I make any new friends
When you’ve got one every week

Why don’t
I hold down a job
You get promoted all the time

Why don’t
I take my medication
When you don’t take any at all

If we are one…

Why aren’t we together more often?
Is it because I stress you out?
Is it all the talk about love and forever?
Does that stuff make it hard for you to be my best friend?

Why do you stop me from going on rooftops?
Do you think I don’t know I can’t fly?
Don’t you know it’s a trick to see how far I can go?
Why do you cover your eyes?

Why aren’t you down here with me?
Are you afraid of the dark?
Do you imagine something down here will hurt you?
Why would I let that happen?

If we are one…

You should be everything I am
And I should be everything you are
If we can’t be one together
What’s the point of this whole thing?

— GB

Some Definitions

With everything I have published to this blog I talk a lot about having Bipolar.  I use a lot of terms that, to those with Bipolar or close to us, have understood meanings.  I don’t know how many people out there are reading this blog who don’t understand the meanings of these terms.  I will do my best here to gather all these terms together and give them some meaning.  If you read through this list and find that I missed something, please let me know so I get to it as soon as possible.

Psychosis: a mental condition that affects a person’s sense of reality. Hallucinations and delusions are common symptoms.

Psychotic Break: A psychotic break occurs when a person experiences an episode of acute primary psychosis generally for the first time or it may also be after a significant symptom-free period.

Manic: People in manic episodes may spend money far beyond their means, have sex with people they wouldn’t otherwise, or pursue grandiose, unrealistic plans. In severe manic episodes, a person loses touch with reality. They may become delusional and behave bizarrely.

Hypomanic: People experiencing Hypomanic episodes are often quite pleasant to be around. They can often seem like the “life of the party” — making jokes, taking an intense interest in other people and activities, and infecting others with their positive mood. Hypomania can also morph into Mania leading to erratic and unhealthy behavior and as with Manic episodes, people   might spend money they don’t have, seek out sex with people they normally wouldn’t, and engage in other impulsive or risky behaviors.

Depression: Like any depression, Bipolar Depression symptoms include:
Depressed mood and low self-esteem
Low energy levels and apathy
Sadness, loneliness, helplessness, guilt
Slow speech, fatigue, and poor coordination
Insomnia or oversleeping
Suicidal thoughts and feelings
Poor concentration
Lack of interest or pleasure in usual activities

Bipolar Disorder:  The primary symptoms of Bipolar Disorder are periods of elevated or irritable mood accompanied by dramatic increases in energy, activity, and thinking.  The illness has two strongly contrasting phases:  1) Bipolar mania or Hypomania and 2) Depression.

Bipolar I:  Characterized by Manic Episodes and bouts of Depression

Bipolar II:  Characterized by Mostly Hypomanic Episodes and bouts of Depression

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure in which electric currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure. ECT seems to cause changes in brain chemistry that can quickly reverse symptoms of certain mental illnesses. It often works when other treatments are unsuccessful.
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————–
Many people with Bipolar Disorder experience long periods without symptoms in between episodes. A minority has rapid-cycling symptoms of mania and depression, in which they may have distinct periods of mania or depression four or more times within a year.  People can also have mixed episodes, in which manic and depressive symptoms occur simultaneously, or may alternate from one pole to the other within the same day.

Depressive episodes in Bipolar disorder are similar to “regular” clinical depression, with depressed mood, loss of pleasure, low energy and activity, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and thoughts of suicide. Depressive symptoms of Bipolar Disorder can last weeks or months, but rarely longer than one year.

I hope I have made some things clear, or at least haven’t muddied the waters.  Like I said earlier, please let me know of I can clear anything up or if I have missed anything.

My First Time

“The most important of life’s battles is the one we fight daily
in the silent chambers of the soul.”
– David O. McKay

I had my first visit with a mental health professional in the fall of 1997. I had been having a hard time, I was full of rage and depression. I had changed jobs and the new job wasn’t going well. It wasn’t what had been advertised, it wasn’t what I had expected. I had also started a consulting business with one of my old co-workers and a friend of his. Employment related stress was not helping my situation.

Then there was my best friend at the time, M. She and I had become close when we worked for the old company. Even though I had moved on, it was like I had never left. Sure we didn’t see each other every day but there was an almost constant stream of e-mail messages that seemed to keep us together throughout the day. We also saw each other on a regular basis for dinners, movies the occasional concert. She was my biggest supporter when things started to go downhill. After I wrote her a ranting/raging e-mail, she was the one who suggested and pushed me to seek professional help.

I remember this like it was yesterday: I called to make an appointment with a psychiatrist. He answered the phone. I didn’t know how to start. Finally I said, “I’ve been talking to a friend and she thinks that I need help and now I think that I do so now I’m talking to you.” There was a silence that lasted for about 3 months; he didn’t push me. Then he said “It’s hard, isn’t it?” I knew I had called the right place.

He didn’t prescribe any medication, I just went and talked to him every week for six months. When I was done with that, I thought I was cured. Looking back. That was the first instance of Bipolar raising it’s evil head.