Monday, October 31, 2005

Riding The Waves

It's funny how I seem to understand my moods and cycles so much better now that I've come to grips with my bipolar disorder. Before, I would wonder why I couldn't keep my interest going on something for any length of time. Now I know why. I know that when I'm hypomanic I can harvest it and ride it for all it's worth in a positive way. When I'm down, I know it's a natural thing, and I'll be back up shortly. A couple of weeks ago I was writing up a storm - maintaining 3 blogs, writing short stories, and really cranking out the material. I started this blog during that hypomanic period. But about a week ago it stopped - my writing motivation and ideas ground to a halt. And now it's programming. I have very little desire to write words, but I'm cranking out code like a mofo. I'm writing in both and java, although I see more of a practical and professional future for .Net, so that will be my main emphasis. When I finish the programs I'm working on, I will re-write some PHP code on a website for a webhosting business I run. I'm going about it in almost a fanatical pace because...

One of these day's I'll crash.

That crash may be major or minor, it may keep me down for days or weeks. If it's major I'll have to re-think my goal to stay off the psych meds. The last round of meds really fucked up my mind. It caused some actual memory fall-out, and being a bipolar product of the seventies I've already sacrificed more than my fair share of brain cells. I'm hoping my growing knowledge and consciousness will allow me to ride it out. But when a depression sets in, you just can't predict what the mind is going to do. I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. But my wife, God bless her, will be there to give me a push if I get too bad. I couldn't have come anywhere close to succeeding in life without my wife. And by succeeding, I don't mean professionally or financially, I mean day to day happiness and comfort. It's all due to my wife.

One last thing, I've lately avoided the meanness I've had all my life. Not in a physical way, but I'm the sharpest tongued, meanest sumbitch in the world at times. If and when that comes back, I'll have to consider meds again. I won't allow my family to live with me any more than necessary when I get like that.

Enough self-indulgent drivel for one night.

Online Radio

One of the greatest things about the web is internet radio. We are so brainwashed by corporate radio, and the crap they're feeding us, we lose track of an entire world of good music out there.

For those with iPods, iTunes has a radio section. I haven't explored enough to see what kind of selection they have.

But the king of internet radio is Shoutcast works with Winamp, the former best of all the media players. Winamp was an incredible free product before AOL ruined it. But version 2.91 is still available, drop me a line if you need a link to find it.

Here's some of the best of internet radio:

Radio Paradise. The most eclectic and engaging mix of music ever. From Billie Holiday to Billy Idol. From The Iguanas to The Eels. From Brubeck to Hendrix, Goldfrapp to Garbage, Johnny Cash to Pink Floyd to The Beatles to Beck. New, old, obscure, it's all here, and it's all good. Rate songs, and read the input and feedback from other listeners for great insight. Many different listen links.

The Current. I don't listen often, as it's not Shoutcast compatible, but it's still a great mix of music.

KCRW. A public radio station out of southern California, they play a great, urban-oriented mix of music. The only drawback is the lack of a playlist for reference.

KPIG. The original on-line radio station survives an alliance with Real. There is still a rogue Shoutcast stream out there - go to and search it up. If I try to describe it, it won't appeal to you. From the fringes of alt-country to blues to rock, The Pig is a shit-kicking mix of music. Not to be missed.

Bootliquor Radio. Thought you didn't like country music? Give it a listen, it may just change your mind. This is NOT today's "hot new country" this is WAY off the radar screens of corporate radio, and some excellent tunage. A little blues, rock, and classic stuff thrown into the mix. Roy over there does a great job of programming the stream., a celebration of American Roots Music. Very similar to Bootliquor Radio, but maybe a pinch more mainstream country.

WNYC is a public radio station in, of course, New York City. I listen to it often, not for it's music as much as for it's talk. Very liberal, very New York, but that's the appeal.

There's a lot more out there, but these are at the top of my list. Maybe readers will jump in with more.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Last Night

Last night I stayed up late working on a program. I worked some in Java, and worked more in VB.Net. VB.Net is SO much faster, as you don't have to program each individual control. Need a button? A list box? Drag 'em in. In Java that would be MANY lines of code.

But at 1:30 this morning, I was really into this work. It was going well, my mind was engaged, and I was doing some really good work. But I decided it was time for bed.

Yeah, right.

My mind wasn't going for that, it craved the gratification it was receiving. It took me 2 hours to finally drift off. Working all night long would have been a snap. In the past, I would have medicated my mind into submission, but I'm trying to avoid this. I'm making a real effort to use this bipolar disorder to my advantage. To recognize ups and downs, harness them, and take advantage of them.

No matter what the world says, in my opinion, bipolar disorder can be a gift.

Friday, October 28, 2005


Any java developers out there?

I'm in the process of downloading the java SDK, I'm going to give it another try. I've tried this language several times in the past, and have always given up. I really don't much like it, but there are some things I'd like to do that Java will do well. I'm most comfortable in VB6, but have worked with VB.Net and PHP. I've done several apps in PHP and like it very much. But Java and I have never really gotten along.

Well, I'm determined to work with it until I create something worth creating.

System.out.println("Hello World!");

I'm most interested in suggestions on a development environment. Do you all just use basic text editors? I'd really like something with a compiler shortcut built in, so I don't have to go to the command line every few minutes.

Any words of wisdom?

And by the way, looking for more input on my last post on the psych eval. I appreciate those messages I've gotten, and I'll take any input I can get.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Psych Eval

As I posted earlier, I have an appointment next month for a psych eval. I suspect I have bipolar disorder, my physician suspects I have bipolar disorder, and my son has bipolar disorder. Actually, I'm fairly certain I have it.

I was talking to my wife last night, once my employer becomes aware of this I may be limited career-wise. And my employer WILL know, as this is being paid for by insurance. No matter what anyone says, it comes out.

I'm concerned about this. Does anyone have any input on this? Things you may have done, or stories, positive or negative on this topic? If so, please leave a comment or drop me a line.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Last Night

I was more tired than I thought. As posted late last night I was listening to Steely Dan's Aja in the hopes of getting to sleep, and 2 songs into it I drifted off. I didn't even hear Steve Gadd's drum work finishing off the song "Aja". That's one of the greatest songs ever, and an album that belongs towards the top of the heap of all time classic albums.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Settling In To Relative Normalcy

I've left my recent hypomanic frame of mind, and am settling into a period of relative normalcy. This may last a day, a week, or maybe a month. While I do OK at work when I'm like this, I don't particularly enjoy it. It beats depression, but is not nearly as much fun as hypomania.

Maybe I spoke too soon about the normalcy. It's after midnight and I'm wired. Maybe I just caught a second wind. I had a busy day at the second job today, and was really dragging when I got home 3 hours ago. I just fell on the bed, and watched Desperate Housewives and Gray's Anatomy with the wife. Both are excellent shows, and DH was funnier than normal this week. Gray's Anatomy is already reaching for storylines, and might become unbearable in the next year or so. It happened MANY years ago to ER, and after about the first year of Crossing Jordan. Not that I have much time to watch TV working 2 jobs, but since I'm on a roll...

I really like West Wing, but haven't been able to catch Commander In Chief yet. I know I'd love that show, I like political shows, and I dig Geena Davis. I watched My Name Is Earl a couple of weeks ago when they had 3 episodes back to back on a Sunday night, and thought it was the funniest show in years. But, out of all of them I'd still take a Seinfeld rerun most nights...

Even though I'm wired, time to try and get some sleep. I'll put on the headphones and take the iPod to bed and see if I can get to sleep. Let's see, need something mellow to help me relax, let's scroll through some playlists. Abbey Road? Mark Knopfler? Morcheeba? Chick Corea? The Eels? The Flecktones? Willie Nelson? No, here it is... Steely Dan's Aja. That will be just the ticket tonight.

I'm actually looking forward to bed now...


Ever seen anyone get more liberal as they get older?

I have always been conservative. Member of the Young Republicans in the seventies, worked as a volunteer for Ford's re-election campaign in my home town, business major in college. My first career was in real estate finance, so that cemented it. My political views were about as conservative as they come.

Then I sold a failing business at a huge loss. I went back to school. We realized my son had more issues than we could handle alone, so we were forced to seek assistance for him. My family grew larger, and we utitlized the WIC program. My brother came out of the closet. Free school lunches for the kids. My family was teetering on the brink of financial collapse.

Through all this I remain true to Republican ideals.

But it's indisputable, I am growing increasingly liberal. I'm starting to see that Rush really can be questioned. That the views that always seemed so black and white to me were showing up in shades of gray.

Then came Bush.

I voted for Bush, actually was so excited to be rid of Clinton I would have been elated with almost anyone. Looking back now, I don't know why I hated Clinton so much, other than I was SUPPOSED to hate him as a conservative. When Bush invaded Afghanistan, I was behind him 100%. When he decided to go into Iraq, and the deceit started to surface, it was harder to support him. And when the death toll for our kids started to rise, I'd had enough. I re-registered as an independent.

I felt incredibly liberated.

Issues became decided on intellect. I was free to question both sides. For example, my over-riding criteria, that which takes precedence over all, is respect for life. Whether it's the death penalty, abortion, or war, respect for human life is at the top of the pyramid. Note I'm not saying these are black and white issues, they are still very much gray. But I'm not welcomed by either party due to my views on hotbutton issues such as these. I'm very much a strict constitutionalist, opposing almost any amendment, including recent gay marriage bans. And while I am a church-going Christian, I very much support the seperation of church and state.

I guess the point of this rambling, is the frustration of not having a real voice in the political process. The 2 party system, and the use of this system by the likes of Limbaugh and Franken has led to the polarization of society. There is no middle ground. I can't support a true "liberal", and can't support a true "conservative". And unfortunately there is very little room for a person who can't fit one of the molds.

At some point, if I could afford to do it, I'd very much like to serve in my state's legislature. But I would not be electible. I would not gain the support of either party, and that would be the kiss of death. Too bad, as I think I, and others like me, have a lot to bring to the table.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Psych Referral

Seems like the major part of my doc visits the last few years have been psych centered. Several years ago I told my long-time physician I thought I was bipolar. I have a bipolar son, he's exactly like me, and the doc knows my boy is bipolar. In fact he did the initial diagnosis. Doc asked me a few questions, something like did I spend all my money (yes, but not all at once), could I hold down a job (for the last 15 years, but questionable before that), and so forth. In about 2 minutes he declared me not bipolar.

A few years later, I went in for depression. The first time I've ever consulted anyone about depression. I told him I thought I was bipolar, and he asked me the exact same questions. 2 minutes later he told me I wasn't bipolar, and wrote me a prescription for Zoloft.

Several other visits, same scenario.

This last time, it was about discontinuing Cymbalta. I told him the same thing, he asked the same questions, and I stopped him. I went down a list of things, him clucking and writing. He checked out a few more things, consulted his Palm Pilot, and told me not to be concerned, but he was thinking I might have bipolar disorder.

Ya think?

He told me he wanted me to see a psychiatrist. Oh, wonderful, more time away from work, and more deductibles to pay. OK, I'd put this question to bed one way or the other.

I make the appointment, and in the mail get a questionaire from the psychiatrist. You may know the type, several pages about medical history, family history, substance abuse, then the questions:

Check all that apply in the last 6 months.

Change of appetite. I just finished a bout of stomach flu - does that count?
Worried about weight. Doc told me to lose 20 pounds, who wouldn't worry?
High energy. Let's see - several hypomanic episodes a month for 6 months...
Low energy. The time between hypomanic episodes...
Sexual issues. Due to medication, virtually no activity for 4 months, then 5 times in 3 days...
Difficuly Concentrating. Not during those few days a month when I'm not hypomanic and not depressed

Virtually every one of these questions applies, and not just once but sometimes daily or weekly. But I think this is probably the case with most of us.

Oh well, he'll earn his fee on this evaluation.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Spring Wind

I had an unusual opportunity this afternoon. Not that it should be unusual, but it really is. I write specialty programs, and today I actually have a few uninterrupted hours to actually code. Sounds funny, doesn't it? But anyone who does this for a living understands very well. You get wrapped up in projects, and maintenance, and customer service, and... Before long, you're doing very little coding.

But anyway, I brought some lighter music out of the iPod today to accompany this. I'm still not 100% physically, and the lighter music seemed just the ticket today. But I listened to a couple albums by modern day "folk" artists, Paul Thorn and Greg Brown. Both incredible song writers and singers in their own way.

Greg Brown really got me going today, though. His lyrics can sometimes hit me right between the eyes. Here are the lyrics for his song "Spring Wind". The studio version can be found on an album called Dream Cafe. Go to or Amazon and order it - you won't be disappointed.

Spring Wind
Greg Brown

I lived awhile without you, darn near half my life.
I no longer see our unborn children, born to you my unwed wife.
But yesterday I had a vision, beneath the tree where we once talked,
of an old couple burning their love letters so their children won't be shocked.

Love calls like the wild birds-- it's another day.
A Spring wind blew my list of things to do...away.

My friends are gettin older, so I guess I must be too.
Without their loving kindness, I don't know what I'd do.
Oh the wine bottle's half empty-- the money's all spent.
And we're a cross between our parents and hippies in a tent.

[repeat chorus]

In a mucked up lovely river, I cast my little fly.
I look at that river and smell it and it makes me wanna cry.
Oh to clean our dirty planet, now there's a noble wish,
and I'm puttin my shoulder to the wheel 'cause I wanna catch some fish.

[repeat chorus]

Children go to sleep now-- you know it's gettin' late.
I know you don't like to miss nothin' and school ain't that great.
Oh, I'll dance with you when you're happy, and hold you when you're sad,
and hope you know how glad I am, just to be your Dad.

[repeat chorus]

Darlin' it's been a hard go but I think we'll be okay.
I know I say that all the time like everything else I say.
Oh, I've been gone so often, but every time I miss you,
and I don't really know nothin', Except I like to kiss you.

[repeat chorus]

My Wife

OK, I just made a typical hypomanic post, where everything is roses. It's all about me, and I can take on the world.

Well, let me step down from this high and give credit where credit is due.

To my wife.

This lady has lived with me for over a quarter of a century. Through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. She's always been right there with me. She is the epitome of my better half. She's loved by all, and that humbles me. She's rock solid in her faith, and that motivates and sustains me. She's the world's greatest mother, and that's essential because I haven't always been there for the family. She's always there for me when I need her for anything. She's understanding of my condition, and what is difficult for me, and she spares me that when she can. She has a wisdom that I revere, and has given me so much guidance over the years.

And although she's had ample opportunity, she has never torn me down. She has done nothing but nurture me. She is my rock when things are difficult, my cheerleader when I need a lift, my spiritual advisor, my biggest fan - she is everything to me.

She said something to me a few years ago that stuck with me. She told me that while it hasn't always been easy, life has been a heck of a ride, and she doesn't regret the choices we made or our time together.

I found one of the few true angels alive on earth when I found her.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Feeling Human Again

Finally later tonight I'm starting to feel normal again. My appetite is back, and I'm not queasy any more. That's good, because I have a LOT of lost time to make up at work.

I've been thinking about this bipolar thing. Why is this anything but a gift? All my life I've thought I was different than most, and I always thought it was intelligence and confidence. I see now it's been my bipolar disorder that has enhanced my life. Yes, I've submarined careers due to other interests or obsessive behaviors. I've never had a dime to my name, even though I've made some decent money at times in the past. I've done some things I regret, and alienated some people I regret, but I think we've all done that. But on the whole, I think my life is enhanced due to this condition.

First, I know how to have fun. I know how to cut loose, and pull the people around me in also.

Second, it's allowed me free-range mind function. I'm just now figuring out how to use that in a productive way, and I'm excited about the prospects. In the past I medicated it and had fun with it that way.

Third, it's given me higher than average (or so it seems) "adult interest", and a lack of inhibitions, and my wife enjoys that.

Fourth, since learning about this and learning to recognize and even harness my hypomanic states, these phases are like being on speed non-stop without the downside.

Depressions come, but I know they won't last long and I just have to ride them out. I become aware of my cycles, and that helps me deal with it.

Finally, I get so much more done than others, because I need so much less sleep.

Now it's not all positive.

I can be a real jerk to my wife. I get so mean sometimes she can't stand it.

Rage comes much too easily, and hits so hard it's scary.

I'm easily distracted, and that tempers what could be very productive hypomanic states.

I get into phases, where I obsessively do something. It's been many things in the past, from golf, to exercise, to computer programming, to fishing (I could have earned a living as a professional fisherman if I had wanted to put the family through that) to other things. I have to be constantly aware of something taking too much of my time and focus.

The depressions can be very difficult, but once again I just have to remember I'll cycle through it.

So balancing it all out, I think I'm a pretty lucky guy.

But I'm also still in a hypomanic state of mind. We may revisit this in another 2 weeks...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Still Sick

It's Monday, and I'm home sick. I am still dizzy, queasy, and didn't feel I could work. This is classic stomach flu, but I have not run any fever. I haven't actually been physically sick since yesterday, but I feel as if I will be at any time.

I've been worried that this might be Seroquel withdrawal, which I stopped taking last Thursday. But the research I've done doesn't suggest that, so I'm assuming it's just the stomach flu. It will be good to get this out of the way early this year.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Seroquel Withdrawal

After 3 months on Cymbalta, I was prescribed Seroquel a month or so ago for depression and bipolar disorder. I've been taking 200 mg twice a day.

Seroquel did a decent job of handling my symptoms, but gave me some genuine memory loss. I would be sitting in a meeting and someone would bring up something we discussed 2 weeks ago - it wasn't there. It was like looking in an empty closet - I would struggle to bring it back, but it was not there. Before I realized what was happening I actually went so far as to say in a meeting that we had not discussed something. The meeting ended, I consulted my notes, and found I was absolutely wrong. That memory was just wiped clean. By consulting my notes I got it back, but the initial memory was still completely gone.

On top of that, it made me very sleepy, and I was falling asleep during the day, especially for a few hours after dosing.

So as much as I'd like to continue on this for my bipolar symptoms, I quit cold turkey 3 days ago, on Thursday. This stuff doesn't seem to build up like previous meds I've taken have, it seems to go dose to dose. When I've skipped a dose I've felt great, felt normal. Dose again, it kicks back in. So I thought I could just walk away.

The first couple days off the Seroquel was fantastic. I've been hypomanic since going off. I've been euphoric, high as a kite, and ready to take on the world. After 4 months I finally had a sex drive back, and it came back with a vengeance. My wife and I made up for a lot of lost time. I couldn't eat much without getting queasy, anything sweet was particularly bad. But I didn't let the food bother me.

Late yesterday I started feeling sick off and on. I was still hypomanic, and the nausea would come and go. Last night I vomited, and it continues today. Hot, then chills, then hot. I would guess the stomach flu, but I have no fever at all. I'm wondering if I'm suffering withdrawal from the Seroquel.

Damn, I have to lay down again, the nausea's back.

More later.

The Purple Dog

"Look at the purple dog" I say.
"Purple? That dog is brown" says my wife.
"Brown? Are you crazy? That dog is purple" I say.
"I think I know a brown dog when I see it" she says.
"I said the dog is purple, the dog is purple!" I say, my voice rising, rage taking over.
"Well, I see that it does look kind of violet when the sun hits it..." she says, making peace, trying hard to understand and accept the twisted thinking.

Conversations like these take place regularly in our house. Both myself and our 23 year old son suffer from Bipolar Disorder. And my wife, my lifetime love, companion, and the rock in my life, makes sense of it all. She calls my son a "unicorn in a home of thoroughbreds" and tells me I'm like living with a purple dog.

It all makes sense to me.