Monday, November 28, 2005

Kyle's Day

I couldn't give many details earlier today about Kyle's day, so I'll try to catch up.

First of all, he was able to sleep last night. Kyle really doesn't sleep much, if at all. I suspect it was the Seroquel, it did the same thing to me. But today he got so manic he had to leave. His heart was racing, he couldn't concentrate, he felt caged. He witnessed an epileptic seizure. He then saw a girl develop an allergic reaction to a medication that caused her throat to swell almost shut, it was life threatening for her but she ended up OK. He had another man make a pass at him. It was, in all, a horrible day for him. I understand why he walked out.

He was walking distance from his grandmother's house, so he walked there. She took him back to get his things, and the people there helped him get counselling and psych appointments lined up. So the end result wasn't all bad. I'm willing to let him come back home provided he doesn't miss a single appointment. Which will be difficult, the appointments are in a center that's in the worst part of our town. Kyle doesn't drive, and I'm not sure how we'll get him there. I don't want him taking the bus in that neighborhood, so we'll have to figure this out somehow.

Sometimes I get very judgemental, and it's hard not to with Kyle. I have to remember the Purple Dogs, and try hard to put myself in his shoes. He faces devils, demons, and challenges every day that we can't begin to understand. As parents, Karen and I try to do what we can to help him along. This was one of those things. It didn't work out like we hoped, but maybe it will be better in the long run. All we can do is go day by day - that's all Kyle's capable of doing anyway.

Kyle Walked Out

Our 21 year old bipolar son Kyle walked out of treatment today. They gave him Seroquel and Depakote, and one of them made him so manic he had to leave. He said his heart was racing, he couldn't sit still or concentrate, and he had to get out of there. So he walked out. I can't get him to go back.

This isn't good, because he now feels depressed, and like a failure.

I don't know where he'll end up, he knows the treatment was part of the criteria he had to meet to continue living in our house. So this is probably feeding his mania.

More later...

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Kyle Admitted For Treatment

Today I was outside trying to get Christmas lights up, and the trash collectors came. Someone else had taken the cans to the curb, and when they dumped them I heard the unmistakable sound of numerous bottles being dumped. I knew immediately that my 21 year old bipolar son, Kyle, was drinking again. I don't know how many beer bottles were in the trash, but I'd guess 20 or so. It made a lot of noise.

You may remember the post made about 2 weeks ago where we tell Kyle he needed to stop drinking and get treatment if he wanted to continue living with us. He left for a few days, then came back and promised us he would comply with our demands, but did NOT want inpatient treatment. He said he was job hunting, and didn't want to miss calls. Against my better judgement, we gave in. And until today, we had no evidence he was drinking again.

We sat him down this afternoon, and told him his options. He either went into inpatient alcohol treatment, or he left. Period. He flat refused. My wife is more insightful, and saw a fear of incarceration. He has been in jail in the past, and he appears to have a strong fear of incarceration since then. Kyle said he needed counseling, but not detox. My wife floated another option, inpatient psychiatric treatment. He didn't shoot it down, we were getting somewhere. By late afternoon we were at the center. At the center they said they were concerned about alcohol withdrawal, but were willing to talk to him. They generally only take someone in crisis, but when they started to talk to him all the emotion and anger from his attack a few months ago surfaced. A few months ago he was attacked by some kids he asked to leave his apartment, and was beaten to within an inch of his life. Here are some links about that attack: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4. When that anger and emotion surfaced, they realized he WAS in crisis. Neither my wife or I understood that until now. They admitted him, and he'll be out probably Monday.

Let's hope this is the event that turns things around for him.

Cross posted on Living Bipolar (Living With A Purple Dog) and Bipolar Support.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving List

Every blogger in the US will be blogging their list of things for which they give thanks. Who am I to buck this trend?

My top 10:

1. My wife, without whom little else I'm thankful for would be possible. Who's stuck by me through good and bad, and who continues to stick with me, and I have no doubt will be by my side for all my living days.

2. Our boys. The greatest kids a dad could ever dream of having. My companions through some of the greatest experiences of my life. We worked side by side, we played side by side, we experienced life to the fullest at that time. They are at various stages of early adulthood, and I love, respect, and envy all 3 of them.

3. Our girls. God's gift to us, for a reason I've yet to understand. A second chance at this parenting thing, an opportunity to correct mistakes made the first time around, and an excuse to slow down and enjoy life.

4. Our house. 3.5 years ago we were in a small house, 7 of us in a small 3 bedroom house. We had our downstairs seperated with office dividers to give them some measure of privacy. I got it in my head that we were going to move, even though we had just dumped a failing business a few years before, and our credit wasn't perfect because of that. But with the help of a couple of brothers, one of hers, one of mine, we made it happen. I found a big house a few doors away from the house where I spent most of my teenage years. Priced well under market, at the upper end of our price range. Several things happened that almost made it not happen, but it came together. 5 bedrooms, plenty of room, steel siding, new roof, big deck, beautiful yard, sprinkler system - it's got everything we could ever want in an incredible neighborhood. Walking distance to all schools, a short stroll to a beautiful park, some great neighbors. It's perfect.

5. My job. It's been very unpleasant lately, and it may get worse before it gets better (if it gets better) but it's still a good job for me. I'm making more money than I've ever made, and the benefits are pretty good. And I enjoy the work most days.

6. Those serving our nation in the armed forces and other volunteer services.

7. Our church. We went last night, and it's an incredible place. Music is such a large part of this church, and our daughters both sang last night. It was wonderful. The adult choir is very good, and I love listening to them. I sang with them for a few years, but ended up quitting when my schedule got too hectic. But I love listening to them. And the people at this church are so friendly and genuine. I truly like all of them. I spent some time talking to a physician and his wife who both have taken multiple trips to Afghanistan tending to their people. They had a relative from Norway with them, and he was interesting also. But this church helped us when we had financial difficulties a few years ago, also when our son was in jail, and nobody was never judgemental.

8. Technology. I truly love technology. I'm sitting here at the computer, blogging, listening to KPIG Radio in California playing Madeleine Peyroux - this is SO sweet! I love to write, it's my outlet, my therapy. Without Blogger, and another website devoted to my writing, I would have no outlet for this writing. I also love to program, it's an outlet for my bipolar charged mind. I have the opportunity to sit down in my bedroom and do ALL of this. Technology is SO cool!

9. My family, such as my parents and brothers. My wife gets upset with them, but that's the nature of an inlaw relationship. They're all, in their own way, part of my support chain and lifeline that keeps me going.

10. That I live in the USA. There may be faults, but it's the greatest country in the world. The fact I can sit here and complain about the faults and our leaders is evidence of this. I know that if desired, I, one person from The Heartland, can make a difference in this country and it's direction. That's the great thing about our country, with our form of government, one person can ABSOLUTELY make a difference. Our natural resources are incredible, our country and scenery incredible, beauty is everywhere. Happiness can be pursued in so many ways.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Better Day

It's a better day today, but I feel guilty. And embarassed. Guilty for the frame of mind and emotions that had me so wrapped up yesterday. Embarassed for allowing this frame of mind to get the best of me.

It's only been recently that I have learned what is happening to me, researched the symptoms and impact of bipolar disorder, and gained an understanding of my feelings and emotions. I'm not trying to shift blame here, I am ultimately responsible. But hopefully by understanding I can head off bad situations. Although I can't help but wonder if my research and understanding is feeding these symptoms.

Yesterday, my wife read my blog entry and had the house clean when I got home. In effect, read my mood and nipped a bad situation in the bud. I can't tell you the relief I felt walking in and seeing that clean house. I'm not comfortable with this at all, this blog should not be a method of communication between us. I DO NOT want this to become a manipulative tool. But it's embarassing to admit that my emotions have the best of me and I'm walking a thin line.

Last time I was in, I asked the doc if I just needed a kick in the ass. He told me all the kicking in the world won't change a chemical imbalance. I'm still not convinced that this can't be overcome by willpower and the right attitude. It has worked for most of my life. I'll continue to fight the good fight where this is concerned.

Monday, November 21, 2005

This Blows

I'm sitting at work, it's after 8:00, and I don't want to go home.


If I go home, I'll find the house a mess. Guaranteed. My wife is incapable of keeping a clean house, or even asking anyone to pick up after themselves. I'll go home, I'll get upset, and before long everyone will be mad or scared. I'll start ordering people around, may start yelling if things don't get done to my approval or speed, and if it goes really bad, may break something when I fly into a rage. My son's home from college, he'll think it's the same as it always was when he was growing up. It's not, I'm trying hard to be a different person, but when I get like this it's VERY difficult. It's days like this when I wish I had another place I could stay. I'm tempted to get a motel room, but I don't have the money. I don't have anyone else I can stay with, so I'll work as long as I can stand it.

I hate it when I get like this. I turn into the world's biggest prick, and the family pays for it. So, I'll try and wait it out. But that's backfired on me in the past, I've flown into a rage when I got home late and awoke the family to clean in the middle of the night.

I can't help my rages. No matter how hard I try. I can just not talk or say anything, but that's as hard on my family as when I blow up. When the rage comes I'm powerless to do anything about it. My head starts spinning, I semi-black out, and I'm in another zone. I don't get physical when this happens, although it has happened the few times I've been pushed to the limit.

It's times like these when I need medication. I realize and understand that. But the only thing that has ever helped this has been seroquel, and the memory loss that gave me made it impossible to do my job.

With a little luck something will happen to change my frame of mind before I have to leave for home. And with a little luck I can win the lottery too...

Tough Day

What a bitch the last 24 hours have been.

First some background. My oldest son is a 5th year senior in college, at a major Midwest state university. Non-resident from our state, of course. He got it in his mind he wanted to go to this school, even though we had zero clue how he was going to be able to afford it. Well, he set his mind to it, and between him and my wife they got him in, and got major financial aid for him. After the first 2 years, we weren't qualifying for as much financial aid, so he started on the student loans. Bottom line, he's sitting on about $50,000 of student loans. This is one hard working kid. He worked his tail off all through school. Was president of his fraternity. Worked in town. While his richer fraternity brothers were off partying on weekends, he's working. He is SO responsible, and has gotten SO much leadership experience between his fraternity experience and his work experience he will be a HUGE find for the employer lucky enough to hire him.

A month ago, he heard about an old Honda Civic being sold by the family of a fraternity brother. He scraped together his food money and bought the car for $250. He was excited, he finally had transportation so he could come home and see us (and his girlfriend) when he could squeeze out some time. The same night he brought it home he drove it to work, and somebody broke out the windows. It cost him more to fix that than he spent for the car. After he got that fixed, his radiator blew. Saved up again, bought a radiator, and friends installed it for him. The next day he starts for home and didn't get 10 miles out of town before the engine went out on him. My wife got a call from him. Our normally upbeat, always optimistic kid was crushed. He put ALL his money into this vehicle, almost $1000 now, and it's sitting dead on the side of the interstate. By now it's probably been towed by the State Patrol. We went and got him, and he's as low as we've ever seen him. I feel so sorry for him I'm sitting in tears right now. He's had it, and was planning on just letting the state impound the car. This is one of those things I just can't do anything about - I can't pay him for the money he put into that. I'm going to give him the hundred dollars I was going to spend on my wife's Christmas present. But as a parent, wanting to make it right and not being able to for financial reasons is a terrible feeling.

Yesterday I'm at the part time job, and my wife calls and tells me about the car breaking down, and says she's on her way to pick him up, 3 hours away. Then she calls back and says my youngest son needs to go to the emergency room because of an infection in his tooth that had the entire side of his face swelled up. So I had to leave work and take care of my youngest son. Nothing antibiotics and a follow up won't take care of, and he did go to the dentist today.

I won't even go into the mess at work today. It wasn't pretty.

If I didn't have a chance to let off steam last night, I'd be a basketcase right now. Actually, I pretty much am a basketcase right now anyway.

Crossed Another Off My List

I've blogged about my love of music in the past. The wife and I love seeing live shows. Unfortunately, with the craziness of life, we only end up seeing a handfull of shows a year. And when I say shows, I don't mean arena shows. I abhor arena shows. There's no way in the world I'm going to pay $75 + bucks to sit with 20,000 other fools, needing binoculars to see the stage. No, the best acts touring today are touring smaller venues. And with the miracle of the internet, you can find these acts, and stay in touch with their schedules.

Just crossed another off my list of musical acts I'd like to see. Added it also to my "must see" list.

Billy Bacon And The Forbidden Pigs. A great mix of tex-mex, rockabilly, country, and blues. These guys are the real deal. Billy Bacon playing either a stand-up bass, or a classic Danelectro electric bass. A great guitar player, Phillip Shoemaker, and a rock steady drummer (whose name I've forgotten). These guys were great. It was one of those shows that wasn't tightly scripted, they based it on the crowd. And even though they are not from this area, they're from California via Texas, they still knew several people in the crowd. "Silverbud - come on up here and play with us!" They were professionals, and knew how to perform. And they had chops! Billy could slap that big upright as well as anyone, but could stroke it also when called for. He was a good bass player. And the guitar player could cook. And in the venue we saw them, we sat 20 feet from the stage, and was able to talk to the band before and after the show.

Now that I've mentioned it, I'll post my "must-see" show list. This is not necessarily in any kind of order, other than the top 2. And I've seen MANY more shows than this, this is just the recent "must see" list. I may have left one or two off, I'll edit it if I remember others.

1. Robert Randolph And The Family Band. The greatest band touring today, bar none.

2. The Iguanas. My favorite party band, based in New Orleans.

3. Lyle Lovett. Saw him this summer, and really dug the show. Highly recommended.

4. Split Lip Rayfield. Punk bluegrass is the closest description. These guys are not to be missed. Ever.

5. Billy Bacon And The Forbidden Pigs. An American treasure.

6. Fred Eaglesmith. An incredible singer/songwriter.

7. Dirty Dozen Brass Band From New Orleans, keeping this musical tradition alive.

8. Blind Boys of Alabama. Don't know if they're still touring, but incredible.

Next, I'll have to list artists I want to see:

1. Delbert McClinton. One of my favorites. I'd especially love to do one of his "Sandy Beaches" blues cruises. Wouldn't that be a gas? A cruise in January with incredible music the entire time?

2. Willie Nelson. Am I the only person in America that has not seen Willie? It would have to be without the wife, she doesn't like him at all.

3. Dave Alvin. Quite a musical history with Dave, he's one of the greatest American musical legends you've never heard of.

4. Junior Brown. Country? Rockabilly? Who cares, I love this guy.

5. Jimmy Thackery. Jimmy Thackery is primarily a blues artist, but has quite a musical range. I love his recorded stuff.

6. Duke Robillard. One of my favorite blues artists, based on recorded music.

7. John Hiatt. Another American treasure.

8. California Guiter Trio. Truly amazing musicians.

9. Southern Culture On The Skids. Seeing SCOTS would be a trip.

10. Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Featuring the worlds greatest bass player, Victor Wooten.

11. Los Lobos. The original, the legends.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Against My Better judgment (A Political Post)

I should know better than this, I'll alienate people, but I have to blow off steam. I've recently run into Iraq war supporters that have my head spinning.

First of all, I'm a registered Independent. I lean left, but hold several right-wing views. I don't fit in either political box. Liberals call me a conservative, conservatives call me a liberal. Isn't it funny how, if you don't completely match someone's political philosophy, you automatically, unceremoniously, and with much derision, get dumped into the other box?

First, it absolutely blows me away that people are still spouting off, in regards to Iraq, "we remember 9-11." I remember 9-11, it sent me into a 6 month depression. It was also the responsibility of bin Laden, and had nothing to do with Iraq. No matter how deep you dig, no matter how hard you look, the links are not there. The administration has admitted so. Publicly. And when you explain this to people, they shut down. They'll go so far as to say "I don't care". It's like you are challenging their core beliefs, telling them they have to become liberals if they think otherwise. Why is this? How did the country become so totally and completely polarized that people are THIS AFRAID to change their views on an issue for fear they'll end up in the other box?

Next, for those who understand the above paragraph, you'll get the argument that we are there for human rights reasons. We are grand liberators of this country. The fact is there are numerous dictators that were every bit as deserving as Hussein of our military attention, and some more deserving. There are countries that are MUCH more volatile, and hold MUCH more of a risk to the US. Not to mention that this was NOT a stated reason for going to war. I think it was a huge political mistake for Bush to not use this excuse from the start, but he didn't. He's using it now, as an afterthought.

Finally, there's the stated reason of WMDs. Evidence is surfacing that the administration actually manipulated intelligence on this point to support the military action.

Does anyone doubt that the US is MUCH worse off now than we were when Hussein was in power? He was a terrible man, there's no question about that. But there are several terrible dictators around the world. And Hussein posed no credible threat to the US.

So, what's left? How could anyone who is capable of independent thought support this war? I would really like to hear a SINGLE valid reason for this war. In response to this question I actually had someone tell me that this was the plan - to create instability that would lure in terrorists so we could kill them. Riiiiiiight....

OK - rant over (for now, anyway). I'm a very politically conscious person, so I can't promise we won't be back here again, but I'll try to keep politics out of my posts.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

My Daughters

My daughters are 10 and 7, and the greatest thing that ever happened to me.

My wife and I had our first son at age 23. Followed by 2 more boys. We were done before we hit 30. Or so we thought. Sometimes no matter how careful you are, or how many precautions you take, kids happen. It's like God has a plan that no amount of mortal intervention is going to change. 7 years later, the wife is pregnant again, and we're horrified. We were not expecting this, were not prepared for this, didn't even have health insurance, let alone maternity coverage. Because of my wife's age (36) the doc insisted on an ultrasound. We're told it's another boy. We expected nothing less. We even had a boy's name picked out, named after my father and best friend (talk about killing 2 birds with one stone!) Then the time came, and guess what? A girl. It was the most incredibly emotional experience of my life. There wasn't a dry eye in that delivery room. The doc, the nurse, my wife, myself - we're all weeping like babies.

I didn't know what to expect, or what to do. I had 2 brothers and no sisters, then 3 boys. I wouldn't BEGIN to know how to act with a girl. But it worked. 3 years later we had our second girl. I went in shortly after that for my vasectomy. But that's a different story, remind me to tell it if I don't remember to do that in the next few days.

From the womb, these children were way different than boys. I didn't think that would be the case, I thought environment played a larger role. There was no mistaking the difference in the genders. I used to think there was NO comparison to watching little league football. It was the ultimate weekend activity for the father. But I was mistaken - it doesn't hold a candle to 6 year old girls soccer. Or basketball. Or volleyball. It does edge out dance recitals, but not by much.

Tonight, the girls talked me into watching a movie with them. We popped in Finding Nemo, and they fought to see who would snuggle in next to Dad. I put my arms around both of them, and we settled back to watch the movie. It was hard to see sometimes through the tears, just like it is now, but it was a fine movie, made special by the company I was with.

I love my sons, they are all incredible boys. We had experiences and memories that I'll cherish forever. But I'm a different person now than I was then, and it's a different experience this time around. It's like I was given a second opportunity at this parenting thing, and I'm going to enjoy this to the fullest.

Period Of Normalcy

It's been a period of relative normalcy lately. While it's not as much fun as hypomania, I'll take it over anger or depression any day. My life doesn't usually stay normal for long, something will push me one way or the other shortly, it always does.

My wife told me something at dinner tonight that hit home. She said the first 25 years of our marriage were mine. The next 25 years belong to her. She said it in a playful way, but she's absolutely right. The first 25 years were all about me. She tried so hard to please me, but it was always just expected by me. It was MY life, she and the family were just along for the ride. With my realization of my bipolar condition came an understanding of this. They have every right for happiness and good memories, but that wasn't important in my previous life. It has been lately.

This being said, I leave for a vacation in 2 weeks. Every year my father, brother, uncle, and a friend or two meet for a duck and goose hunting trip. My brother has a lodge on a major river in the heartland. It's actually a pretty historic place, or as historic as you're going to find in our part of the country. It was the servants quarters that once served a larger hunting lodge just up the river a short walk. That main lodge has housed MANY famous and historic figures over the years. It's such a cool place, a huge fireplace, rustic furniture, stove large enough to cook for an army. The original guest book has lived through the years, and paging through it reading the comments is fascinating. Bro's lodge isn't nearly as nice as the main lodge, but it's OURS, and it is a very comfortable and inviting place. When I say lodge, it's misleading. In house terms, "bungalow" more accurately describes it. But it's a wonderful place to relax. I often threaten to not even take a gun on these trips, I couldn't care less if I never shoot another bird. It's the conversation, the cameraderie, the stories, the entire package. To feed the stereotypes, the drinks do flow, but only after the guns are put away for the day. NOBODY gets sloppy, nobody drinks to excess. We eat well, sip bourbon or scotch in the lodge at night, smoke cigars, and talk. Great conversations - about anything under the sun. This includes memories. Memories of relatives or former companions that have passed on. Memories of past hunts and good times. People drop in, from other lodges up and down the river, our lodge is a gathering place of sorts. They share their harvest, as do we. These are people from around the country, from professions widely varied, laborer to physician to executive. Every one the highest quality person imaginable, but not based on title, or income, or any outward indicator. Solely on character. The experience would tolerate nothing but. That is why I feel so honored to be a part of this. Below is a pic of the lodge. Not much to look at, but once again, it's the character that counts:

Friday, November 18, 2005

Bipolar and Smoking

Anyone ever notice that a large percentage of bipolar sufferers are smokers? It's in our nature, our personality. I no longer smoke, but I did for many years. It was probably the most difficult thing I ever did to quit.

I read a book one time, a newer autobiography, I'm trying to remember the author, but he hit the nail on the head. He said he was kind of a messed up kid, nervous tics, no confidence, then he discovered cigarettes. Smoking completely took care of those issues. It was the same way for me. It was like my nervous energy needed an outlet, and smoking was it.

My bipolar son smokes, and I have to say it seems to help him. He used to be a marathon runner, now he smokes. That's pure bipolar - from one extreme to the other.

Some experts speculate that nicotine use may be a form of self-medication because of its specific effects on the brain. This absolutely makes sense to me. Another study says "Smoking was less prevalent in patients who were less symptomatic". Yet another study states the following: "These data coupled with the literature strongly suggest that juveniles with BPD (Bipolar Disorder, not Borderline Personality Disorder) need to be carefully monitored for the early initiation of cigarette smoking and substance abuse."

All I know is that when I was smoking it seemed to help me immensely. I quit in 1989, and 16 years later I STILL miss it. If I were to ever pick up a cigarette again I'd be hooked for life. I don't think I'd have the willpower to quit again. It's not a perceived link, this link is very real.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Random Notes

I'm still not enjoying this colder weather, but I'm getting a kick out of co-workers overseas trying to understand it. I lead a technical team based in India, and these are all kids 25 and under who have never left their country. They just don't grasp the concept of snow. It's so funny listening to them trying to understand our weather. 70 degrees one day, then later that same week we have snow on the ground. Try explaining a snow plow to someone from a warm country, it's a hoot!


My boys are the greatest. They have the greatest taste in movies, music, and so forth. They have talked the wife and I into some of the greatest movies we might never have watched otherwise. Gems like Office Space, Fight Club, The Big Lebowski, I (Heart) The Hendersons, and tonight, Anchorman. What an off the wall movie! Hilarious! I can't imagine what life would be like without our kids.


And speaking of movies...

An old man and his old wife were sitting on the couch watching a movie. A steamy scene came on, and the wife nudged her husband. Whispering in his ear she says "remember when that was us?" The husband nodded longingly. The wife said "It's been so long, let's run upstairs and make love!"

The husband sat there for a moment, then replied...

"Pick one or the other."

(I'm ashamed to say I'm starting to understand this...)


I signed up for a trial account with eMusic, an online music download service. Office Depot has a special, if you buy a 50 spindle of Verbatim CDs, you get a 100 song free trial membership. So far I'm liking it. If you're a top 40 music person, don't bother as there's very little music you'd like. But if you like offbeat labels, indie artists, and lesser known music, this service is for you. I'm having a great time browsing through the library. So far I've only downloaded 2 albums (they offer single click complete album downloads), I'm limiting myself to one album a night. I've grabbed a band called Cross Canadian Ragweed, kind of a punk bluegrass/country band from Texas. Good stuff if you like that kind of genre. Also, a band called The Black Keys, which I'd classify as grunge blues. Also very good stuff. Tonight, I'm looking for more "punk bluegrass". The Gourds? Hayseed Dixie? Split Lip Rayfield? Decisions, decisions...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Winter In The Heartland

It's snowing. The wind is blowing, and it's snowing sideways. I really don't like winter any more.

It wasn't that many years ago, I would have been rejoicing. I was an outdoors experience junkie. With those of us who are bipolar, we tend to obsess on activities, experiences, and thrill-seeking. For me it was outdoor recreation, mainly hunting and fishing. My hunting and fishing exploits and experiences would have made Ted Nugent jealous. Actually, I have hunted with Ted, but that's a different story. No condition was too extreme, or preparation too much work. Nothing exotic as I have never had an extra dime to my name, but if it was an outdoor experience possible in The Heartland, I've experienced it. I've had experiences millionaires couldn't BEGIN to buy. I've lugged many pounds of gear and decoys for miles in waders for the chance to shoot a duck. Carried treestands for miles for a chance to shoot a deer with my bow. Won MANY bass tournaments and many hundreds of dollars fishing, I could have made it as a professional if I'd dared to subject my family to that. Waded rivers for miles, swatting biting sand flies and burning to a crisp for a chance to catch a few catfish. Been ice fishing when it's been so cold you couldn't fish more than one hole as they'd freeze closed too quickly. Been in snow so heavy you could barely see the end of your gun barrel when it was at your shoulder. Been fishing at night when it was so dark you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. Been treed by wild dogs, stalked by mountain lions, followed by racoons and turkeys, fallen through ice, flooded waders and almost drowned, seen does nursing fawns from a few yards away, been outrun by a 3 legged coyote, been shot at, chased, and threatened. I've taken game and fish with bullets, shot, arrow, spear, and by hand. And virtually everything I've taken has been respectfully treated and consumed by my family. I tried very hard to beat the "Bubba" stereotype.

My outdoors experiences are mostly behind me now. I write about my experiences as the memories come back, but I have lost my desire to continue that lifestyle. Partly it is the failed business (the wife and I owned and ran an outdoors store for 10 years) that we sold for a huge loss 7 years ago. Make your hobby your business and it can cease to be a hobby. But mostly it was the realization of my bipolar condition. I know now how prone I am to obsessive behavior, and I'm scared to even dabble in those activities again. I lost jobs due to my obsessions, and my family suffered. Now I will say my older sons often joined me and have had experiences very few kids could dream about, but they don't seem to appreciate it. I think they'd have preferred to have me around, working in the yard, throwing a football to them. This is why, with our younger daughters, I feel I've been given a second chance. We had 3 boys, then seven years after our youngest boy we had a girl, then 3 years later, another girl. I work 2 jobs, but my free time belongs to my family today.

But the point of this post? Damn if I haven't forgotten by now. Oh yeah, the weather.

As soon as I post this I'm jumping out to our company's job postings and checking out the Jacksonville and Orlando positions. I'd move in a heartbeat these days. I really don't like snow and winter any more.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Good News

At least I hope it's good news.

Kyle (my 21 year old bipolar son) called my wife yesterday, and asked to come home. He said he stopped drinking, and would follow our rules. We of course, welcomed him home. He is job hunting, and asked not to do inpatient treatment. He said he'd do outpatient, or AA, or whatever else we asked, including psych treatment. We were excited to hear this.

But last night, I heard him yelling. I wasn't sure if it was inside or out, if he and his girlfriend were having a fight, if he was just manic, or what. But I'm worried he was drinking again. We'll have to look at that, if he was drinking he's out again.

I really hope he's found the motivation to turn it around.

But IMO, it's critical to get him in for psych treatment. He needs to find a med he can work with. I try to tell him if he finds the right med he won't feel like drinking all the time, and it won't affect him negatively like all the past meds have.

This has been cross posted to Bipolar Support and Living Bipolar (Living With A Purple Dog)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

New CD

If you've been reading my blogs a while you're familiar with my "eclectic" taste in music. I love music, it's my art consumption of choice. Some like visual arts, or dramatic arts, or other sensory stimulation. For me, it's music. And depending on my mood, it might be Miles Davis, or John Prine, or Hendrix, or Fatboy Slim, or Big and Rich, or....

While listening to Radio Paradise the other day, I heard a band I wasn't familiar with, "The Scissor Sisters". To hear a band I'm not familiar with on RP isn't unusual, but I loved the tune. A few weeks later I saw them on SNL. I decided to order their CD. I love it! Highly influenced by the gay club scene (as might be obvious by the band's name) the music is a mix of club, dance, and pop. Kind of like Franz Ferdinand meets Elton John.

Here's a sample:

Gonna take your mama out all night
Yeah we'll show her what it's all about
We'll get her jacked up on some cheap champagne
We'll let the good times all roll out
And if the music ain't good, well it's just too bad
We're gonna sing along no matter what
Because the dancers don't mind at the New Orleans
If you tip 'em and they make a cut

Good stuff, secures a place in my already-full 30 gig iPod (I don't know yet what will be removed to make room), and gets my thumbs-up of approval.

Here's a link to the listing on The Scissor Sisters

Friday, November 11, 2005

Tough Week

Sorry it's been a few days since I've posted, but it's been a bitch of a week.

First of all, things are sliding quickly with my 21 year old bipolar son. I don't want anyone to think badly of him, he's a wonderful kid, fun to be around, brilliant, witty, creative. But with ALL the baggage of a young person with serious bipolar disorder. He has always drank to excess. Well, he's taken it to a new level. He now drinks, virtually every night, until he passes out, and wakes up almost every day in his own vomit. What brought this to a head, we set an appointment for him to continue the paperwork so he can get support. Rent, food, education assistance, so forth. He didn't come home the night before the appointment. The next morning, my wife went looking for him, and found him, passed out, at his friend's apartment, with vomit everywhere. This apartment is leased primarily by a kid who's struggling to survive, and to keep visitation rights of his young daughter. And there's my son passed out with vomit all over the house. If the other kid's caseworker had shown up, it would be all over with respect to visitation of his child. My wife woke him up, and made him get into the car. My son was belligerant, swearing, and so forth, and finally my wife stopped and made the boy get out. She drove away.

That night, he showed up at our house at 3:00 AM. He was impaired, but functioning. I heard the microwave door open, so I woke up the wife and we had a talk with him. We told him our rules for remaining in the house:
1. Inpatient substance abuse treatment as soon as we could get him in.
2. Inpatient psychiatric treatment when he got out of detox.
3. Any meds prescribed taken without missing a day.
4. No alcohol or drugs in our home.
5. No minors around him when using alcohol. His girlfriend and ALL his friends are minors, and we worry that he is making money by hosting parties for minors. He is getting the money to drink somewhere.

If he refused, we would give him 24 hours to pack up what he wanted, and he was to leave. We would file a restraining order to keep him out of the house, because when we've kicked him out before, he's always snuck back when we were at work or asleep at night. He's even broken out windows to get in.

He consented, until we woke him up early the next day. We found an opening at a local, highly respected treatment center, but he refused to go. He stormed off, and we haven't seen him since Wednesday morning. Neither has his girlfriend, she's as fed up as we are.

So, other than that, life's just peachy.

Now, every time I've posted something like this about my son, I get many emails and comments about this being the best thing, you have to show him who's boss, you have to make him learn, and so forth. But remember, folks, this is mental illness we're dealing with. And one of my flesh and blood. He's not perfect, but neither are any of us. I love him dearly, and want nothing more than for him to live a long, happy life. I couldn't care less if he's "successful", or rich, or anything else. I want him to live a life where he's happy, healthy, and others don't get hurt. Outside of that, I have no wishes for him. So this HURTS. And it will likely hurt even more before it gets better.

And one more thing. This is my only outlet. This and my wife. There is no one else I can discuss this with. I'm only really close to family, and my wife goes ballistic if I tell anyone in my family about this. She says they judge him, and she gets SO angry about that. She even gets angry when I blog this stuff, saying that people will know, family will find out, and judge him unfairly. She's not embarassed, she just gets angry when they don't treat him as well as our other kids. Well, a person can only hold so much in, and this is getting the better of me.

If this post is deleted in a day or two, you'll know the wife got hold of this, and won the argument.

This is being double posted on Bipolar Support, and Living Bipolar (Living With A Purple Dog)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Family Acceptance

My wife was talking about this the other day, and I started thinking about it again. Why are some people, specifically family members, so unsupportive of our conditions?

I have told my parents about my son's condition. I have told them specifically about the challenges he faces every day. And after that, the next time they see him they proceed to heap praise on our oldest son, then immediately grill Kyle about not having a job. He hung his head, the confidence zapped from him in a moments time. They don't know how to treat him, to react to him, to interact with him. He's a very confident, good looking kid, and to meet and talk to him you'd never suspect his issues. And now it's coming out about my condition, and this is going to be interesting how it goes over. The funny thing is, I can point to several people in our extended family suffering from the same thing. They probably don't know they have it, and if they did would surely never admit it. It's hereditary, and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. But the stigma must be avoided.

People think that factors such as willpower, hard work, dedication, and so forth can overcome anything. I used to think so also. If someone gets off track, give 'em a swift kick in the butt to catch their attention and put them on-track again. But all the kicks in the butt don't do anything if the chemical make-up of the brain isn't what it should be.

At the NAMI meeting last night I was talking to a father who was having a hard time adjusting to his son's schizophrenia. He talked about setting rules, laying down the law, and putting the kid out on the street if the rules were broken. I've heard that a million times, and we've DONE that. It just doesn't work, and really accomplishes nothing. Once again, all the rules in the world don't mean a thing if the ability to think from point A to point B to point Z is not there.

My son can't do many things, and I can't do many things. My wife has been telling my son to return his call from an agency that can get assistance started for him. She left out a number every day this week for him to call. So this morning, she got him up early, sat him down, dialed the number, told the person her son wasn't comfortable on the phone. The lady understood fully, my wife then handed the phone to my son who took over with confidence and smooth talking. But he just was not capable of picking up that phone and dialing that number.

I have a hard time opening up mail, bills, and so forth. I just can't do it. I'll set them aside and never do it. Thank goodness for a wife who recognizes what I have difficulty doing, and takes over for me. I can't stand clutter and messes, something just snaps. So I'll avoid rooms in our house like the plague. I just can't bring myself to face it. It's not that I'm lazy, or don't want to keep a clean house, I just am not capable of doing certain things. Is this just an excuse? I suppose that's possible, but I really don't think so...

As parents of a bipolar child it was important to us to know how to live with and nurture that child. We (actually mostly my wife) read countless books and did extensive research on this condition. When it came out in me, we knew what to expect, having suspected it for years. But people interacting with those suffering from mental issues need to research enough to understand, and open their hearts enough to accept.

Finally, one last thing. It was difficult for me to let go of my hopes and dreams for my bipolar son. He may be a huge success, but his path will be NOTHING like a father dreams for his son. I now tell him, and truly mean it, that I want nothing more for him than happiness. He encounters so many frustrations in day to day life, that a life where he can achieve happiness would make me VERY happy.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Looking Better

First, I want to apologize for my profane post yesterday, but it goes to my frame of mind at the time. Today I feel OK. The slide that started yesterday seems to have stopped. That's good news, I did NOT like where that was heading.

I left work on time yesterday. I should have stayed late to catch up, but my frame of mind just didn't allow it. I went home, resisted yelling at the family for the house being a mess, and my girls, bless their 7 and 10 year old hearts, read me like a book. They said they would get things cleaned up, and they did. We left them with our 17 year old son, and the wife and I went to a NAMI meeting. That was the best thing I could have done.

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness is a great organization, and we have a local chapter with a support group that meets monthly. This was our second meeting. They have separate groups for "consumers" and for "supporters". The wife and I sat in the "supporters" group, as our main goal is to know how to deal with our son. I really didn't think I would get much out of it personally, but the stories from others, and the interaction with others, let me know I'm not alone. It was very comforting, both as a "consumer" and a "supporter".

One poor lady came, and sat quietly. I'd guess she was in her mid seventies. She sat through the support session, and when asked if she'd like to introduce herself, reluctantly did so. They make it clear that participation is completely voluntary, but they are friendly enough that everyone participates. This lady finally opened up a bit. We find out she has a forty something son that is so mean he drove her out of her house. He lives in her house, she lives in an apartment. She can't talk to him, as she says he's too mean. Her hands were shaking, and her voice was shaking, she was obviously at the end of her rope, and didn't know where and how to proceed. She got some good information from others there on getting him disability from social security so he can get his own place to live. I think she was so overwhelmed, however, that it didn't sink in. Poor lady is spending these years living in fear and misery. But that's the mystery of the mental health system - how many people are living in misery because they can't navigate the system?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

One Of Those Days

It's been a piece of shit day that's getting even worse.

First, a little background. I am training a team overseas, in one of those "technologically advanced" countries to do my team's job. Management keeps saying "don't worry, they're not taking your jobs". Bullshit. The last time we talked to the head honcho, he says something like "they're not taking our jobs - in the near future". So it's coming, it's just a matter of time. I won't be the first to go, but I will probably go at some point also. A year? Two? Who knows. I try to tell my team members to keep on their toes, and keep their resumes updated and their eyes and ears open. But they aren't. They're great people, do their jobs well, but can do nothing other than their jobs. I've been saying for years they need to expand, learn new languages and new technologies. But instead, they do their jobs on our proprietary system, and wait for the axe to fall.

But anyway, today, due to incompetence, I have to finish someone else's project. Along with a major release of a project I support. Along with a meeting on how our off-shore colleagues are adjusting. Well you know what? Fuck 'em.

Actually, I will suck it up, do the additional work, and screw up my personal life, all for the sake of a corporation that will spit me out in 2 years. I was hoping to go to a NAMI meeting with my wife tonight, but I won't make it now with the additional load I have.

Fucking piece of shit week. My head is pounding, my concentration is shit, I'm getting overwhelmed by stuff that should be simple.

The tide has turned - I'm in a slide. Gotta stop this before it lands me in a depression.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


This may or may not be a function of bipolar, but it's bothersome.

There is in me a marked inability to form close friendships. There's no lack of friends, I know thousands of people. But the number of close friends I've ever had can be counted on a couple of fingers.

It's not due to an inability to interact - that's not an issue. And certainly not due to being too quiet, or shy, or anything else. Recruiting, organizing - if it involves people I can get it done. And assembling a "posse" - if we share similar interests I can get people to follow me anywhere. But the people are kept at arms length.

The close friendships I've had have always been on MY terms. Do what I want to do, go where I want to go. It just doesn't work for me to do it any other way. The term "control freak" comes to mind.

It would be so cool to have a friend where ideas are shared, where it's an equal relationship, where it's not necessary to keep up an image. Where, for once in my life, I could relinquish control. Where I could open up my house, needing maintenance, older furniture, dirty kitchen and all to a friend without being mortified. My wife, God bless her, is the only one who catches glimpses inside. And she's just now beginning to understand, and to help me understand.

In fact, this blog is a living testament to my frame of mind. It's entirely "I" this, and "me" that. Damn. I accept myself, but it doesn't mean I'm always happy about it.

Substance Abuse

Those suffering from bipolar disorder are notorious substance abusers. It's part of our makeup, and one of the defining indicators.

My 21 year old son also suffers from bipolar disorder, and has several things he "abuses". First and foremost is alcohol. He is a very heavy drinker, and I'm quite worried about his health where this is concerned. He doesn't eat much anymore, and is very thin. He also abuses caffeine, drinking it by, and directly from, the pot. He seems to prefer it at room temperature so he can "slam" it. He also has in the past abused marijuana. I don't think he is using it much now, as he can't afford it.

In my case, I've left most of my substance abuse issues behind. But in younger days, pot was a daily thing. Also alcohol, from mid teens on. But my makeup causes me to get so sick from over-doing alcohol, I'll likely never develop a serious alcohol problem. I also really enjoyed speed, and cocaine. Coke I couldn't afford, so no problem there, but speed was used from time to time. These days my only abuse issues seem to be with food - I can't say no. I'm not terribly overweight, 5'11, 200 pounds, but I eat like a horse. This worries me, as I can't seem to find the willpower to eat properly.

Any abuse issues, past or current, our bipolar readers would like to share?

Another time I'll discuss cigarettes - an entirely different subject for those with bipolar disorder.