Friday, December 30, 2005

Lamictal, Week 5

I’m beginning my fifth week on Lamictal, and this is doing wonders for me. I’m not worried about stuff (although I should be…), I’m not getting angry, I’m not feeling any signs of depression. In fact it seems to have stabilized my moods and lifted the bottoms without affecting my highs. I still get somewhat hypomanic. And this is the best of the bipolar world – to control the bad stuff without taking away the fun of the highs. This is as good as it can get.

Side effects are zilch. Everything that was so terrible with Cymbalta and Seroquel is absent with Lamictal. I do get an occasional headache, but it’s nothing major. I have put on some weight, and can’t seem to steer clear of over-eating. I’m going to have to work on that one. The weight gain is probably a side effect, but the eating is not. That’s all me.

I’m having to work on my last 2 days of vacation this year, but I don’t much give a shit. I’m getting some stuff done, people know I’m not supposed to be here, and they mostly leave me alone. I have the headphones on, and the iPod playing the Beatles. “Ev'rybody had a hard year, Ev'rybody had a good time, Ev'rybody had a wet dream, Ev'rybody saw the sunshine. Oh yeah, Oh yeah.” No matter how much I hate living in the past musically, every once in a while you need to pull out some Beatles to appreciate how incredibly significant they were to popular music and rock. And it just feels good.

I work the second job this evening, but after that I’m taking the wife and the daughters out for pizza. Any boys hanging around the house can come along also, but hanging around with your parents and kid sisters on a Friday night is social suicide. So I imagine it will just be us 4, and that’s OK.

Have a good weekend, and if I don’t get another post made, a great start to 2006 for all.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Great Night

Had a great time last night!

First of all, let me preface this by saying that so much of last night was completely out of character for us.

First of all, yesterday Karen bought a new pair of hip-hugger jeans and a low cut sweater. She's very conservative (in many ways ;-) ), we rarely spend money on ourselves, and rarely buy clothes that are not on clearance. But she looked GREAT. From the front it was difficult to look her in the eyes, and from the back you'd follow her anywhere.

We went to a local night club where the festivities were taking place. We got there about 30 minutes before game time, and were one of maybe 10 people there. We grabbed a good table and ordered up our first round. The people trickled in through the evening, but a guy sits next to us early on with a couple of ladies. Crazy mofo. He introduced himself, and we had fun all night. This guy was a gas. Towards the end of the game, my boss showed up with her date. She's as crazy as any of them, and a lot of fun to party with. The Huskers came from behind and won, and the place was PACKED AND ROCKIN' by the end of the game. Big Red scored 4 touchdowns, which meant 4 free shots. Some combination of red vodka and schnapps. Very tasty. One of the members of The Iguanas is from our town, and his father was in the crowd. The father is also a musician, and was walking around during the game with a mariachi trumpet playing the "Charge!" song, and the Cornhusker fight song. The crowd was into it. But the game didn't get over until after 11:00 and our state's closing time is 1:00 AM. We only got The Iguanas for a little over an hour.

But the band was great. They found a couple of old friends in the crowd to join them, so they added an extra percussionist, a trumpet, and a clarinet. Yes, a clarinet. And these guys COOKED. Excellent players, they stepped right in and blew some great solos. The Iguanas, of course, are always good. From the first tune to "Para Donde Vas" (from the Phenomenon soundtrack) closing out the night, the dance floor was shoulder to shoulder, and people were having a great time. People were dancing in the aisles, and those not dancing were on their feet moving anyway. And like all Iguanas shows, the crowd varied from kids to people over 70. All dancing, moving, and having a GREAT time. Something about their music bridges ages, everyone seems to enjoy it.

It was one of the more enjoyable evenings I've spent in years.

We slept in this morning, and got up to a terrible headache (surprise, surprise). I counted my money, and found I spent a hundred dollars last night. This was on drinks and 2 $15 tickets. No wonder we had such a good time. I know many people drop a hundred bucks (or more) each time they go out, but for us this is HUGE. I have my bipolar spending tendencies reigned in tightly. But you know what? It was worth EVERY CENT. We don't do this often enough.

If The Iguanas ever come to your town, see them. Grab someone who is not afraid to dance, and have fun.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Iguanas!

No matter how bad things go at work, and it HAS been unbearable, no matter what goes wrong today, it's going to be a good day. Two things tonight will make it all worthwile.

First, my Cornhuskers play their bowl game tonight. The wife and I are going to a club not far from home to watch the game. Free food, free shots for each Nebraska touchdown - it will a great time.

Then immediately after the game, performing live...

The Iguanas!

Seeing this band live is as much fun as you can have with your clothes on. Hailing from New Orleans they have been voted New Orleans best party band many times. Their music is a mix of cajun, Tex-mex, Mexican, blues, rock, country... Don't try to put them in a box, they won't fit. Guitar player doubling on accordian, 2 saxes, bass, drums. They have a sound that's very unique. Los Lobos meets Morphine, infused with a beat that you can't help but dance to. Any band that can get this overweight, gray haired 46 year old on the dance floor is impressive, and I'll be dancing my ASS off.

Here's some samples from their web site:
Flame On
Oye Isabel

Eat your hearts out. :-)

Great Blog

I've blogged about this in the past, but I want to bring it up again.

Anxiety, Addiction and Depression Treatments is a blog with GREAT information. For those of us with bipolar or other disorders it's a great way to keep up with information important to us every day. Today is a post about antidepressants for children. Very good post.

Make it a daily read, and if you're a blogger, link to it. It's an excellent resource.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Depressionhurts Wrap-Up

A final note on my Depression Hurts posts - post 1 and - part 2:

My Google rankings have plummeted since making my last post. If I were a cynical man (oh wait! I am!) I'd say that Lilly did some arm twisting of Google based on advertising dollars.

Oh well, if I got the word out to a single person about that piece of shit drug Cymbalta, it was WELL worth it.

Monday, December 26, 2005 Part 2

I have been getting heavy traffic on this blog for this post concerning Eli Lilly's TV ad for their Depression Hurts web site. It is a page one result on a "depressionhurts" Google search. In fact it's number 3 as of this moment. I'm glad to see this, hopefully people will take notice at the tactics being used by pharmaceutical companies. This post will take a moment to hit the high points of this once again.

First of all, the depressionhurts web site is a thinly veiled front-end to Lilly's new anti-depressant Cymbalta. The ad seems to be running heavily in response to holiday depression, which can be so prevalent this time of year. The ad tries to look like a public service ad, but many of the links take you directly to the Cymbalta web site. It contains a checklist you can print out and take to your physician, presumably for your own prescription to Cymbalta.

The insidious thing about this, they are able to bypass the disclosures otherwise necessary in drug ads. And with Cymbalta, those disclosures would be significant.

As any regular reader of this blog knows, I suffer from bipolar disorder. I have been on a handful of medications over the years. Earlier this year my physician prescribed Cymbalta. It was a DISASTER. This drug turned my life inside out. From completely killing all sex drive, to killer headaches, to suicidal thoughts. Raging manic highs to debilitating lows. This was far and away the WORST experience of my life. And then my doc took me off cold turkey. The withdrawal was almost more than I could take. I was physically ill at times.

I am currently on Lamictal, and it has been an incredibly great drug for me.

For those landing on the blog as a result of a depressionhurts search, ask LOTS of questions. Don't let your physician prescribe this without a psych consult. Get a second opinion. Look at other more proven products first. But once again, get the psych consult first. Let a professional make that diagnosis, prescription, and follow up. Don't trust this to your physician. Your life is too important.


Remember that James Stewart movie, "Harvey"? About that mild mannered, well liked man who had an imaginary rabbit as his friend. At least we assume he was imaginary, because nobody else could see him. Somebody had a shot he could take that would make him "normal". Should he do it? Conform to society, and accept the responsibilities of an adult in that society? I was left with a deep sadness at the thought of this charming person forever changing.

Is there a divine reason for those of us with bipolar? A reason a certain percentage of the population is bipolar? Are we blessed with this, or are we mutants? If I put myself, with my obsessions and drive to succeed at my chosen obsession, into a less advanced society what would I be? I don't have a good attention span, unless it's my obsession, then I have intense, unwavering focus. I don't take orders well, and am somewhat of a loner. I need very little sleep (of course), and have an endless supply of energy for my obsession. Farmer? Hunter? Soldier?

Should we be looking at our "disorders" and tailoring our professions and lives around our "strengths" or "disorders"? Isn't this what they would have done in an older society? Rather than pound our square selves into round holes, why not work with us at things that would fit our personalities?

Perhaps in that older society we would have been the crazy guys that lived on the streets and screamed obscenities at those who passed by? Madness is a fine line...

Christmas Is Over

Christmas is over, and the relief is immense. I feel like a million bucks. The house is still a mess, but it's getting better. Post holiday blues? Not in a million years for my wife Karen and I.

It was a great Christmas.

First, we have made a rule for our kids about gifts. All gifts given by them to us or their siblings MUST be from the Goodwill or other thrift or secondhand stores. This does include estate or garage sales, which comes into play later. There is a 5 dollar price limit. Gifts can also be handmade.

Cut to last summer: My oldest is home from college, and is drinking from this enormous mug. We comment on it, and he says there's a competition going on between some of his buddies on who can find the biggest mug. He said his buddy had one bigger.

Fast forward: My 17 year old son is taking vocational automotive body classes as part of his high school curriculum. He has an idea, and starts to work on it. He gets a 5 gallon bucket and begins to grind off the handle, lips, and all external features. He finds a short handicapped bathroom handle, very heavy duty, and bolts it to the bucket. He then heaps on the Bondo (automotive body putty), and starts to contour and smooth the bucket. When he was done, it was perfectly smooth, and it looked like the handle was a molded part of the bucket. He painted it, clear coated it, and put on letters that said "Too Much Mug To Chug". He had created a 5 gallon mug for his older brother.

Christmas Eve: Older brother opens the mug gift, and laughs harder than I've seen him laugh before. A look of pure enjoyment on his face. As a parent it was the most satisfying feeling imaginable, to see our kids so happy and anxious to give and please.

Cut to last summer: We're at an estate sale. Find an autographed baseball in a display bubble with a base. There is other White Sox memorabilia there. Kyle is a HUGE White Sox fan. I'm not a big baseball fan, but look over the ball for familiar names. Frank Thomas is there, I know "The Big Hurt" is a White Sox player. Price is five bucks. I tell my daughters that would make a great Christmas gift for Kyle.

Fast forward to fall: The Sox win the World Series. Kyle is ecstatic.

Christmas eve: The ball is a HUGE hit. There is NO WAY we would have been able to purchase a White Sox souvenir like that after they win the series. We add a fitted Sox cap Karen had to look high and low for. Kyle had one before, but after his attack it was blood soaked, and the police kept it. He loves the combination.

Other memorable gifts: One of the boys gave his youngest sister a Shrek Donkey stuffed animal. The grin on it's face and the expression had us laughing all night.

Another gave her a stuffed warthog that looked EXACTLY like a mounted boar I have in the basement I shot with Ted Nugent. We all laughed about that.

Another boy found a picture for Kyle at the Goodwill that was part of a 2 picture set. Huge picture, framed, weighed about 40 pounds. About 5 feet tall by 3 feet wide. Done in a wood carving pressing fashion, but with lighted highlights and shadows. The picture was of Mark Twain. Stern looking, prominent features, big cigar in his mouth. You look at it and just burst out laughing. Kyle loves it.

One of the kids got me a fisherman bobblehead. Holding a cold drink in one hand and a carp, yes, an actual carp in the other. This describes me exactly these days. My serious fishing is over, and I'd rather relax watching a carp pole with a cold beverage in my hand. The kids say it even looks like me.

Karen got me a cribbage board, deck of cards, and a MASH movie video. We had agreed not to exchange gifts with each other in favor of getting more for the kids. But she cheated a little, as did I. The girls (through me) got her a nightgown and some panties from Victorias Secret (not thrift store stuff, in case you were saying ewww...). Karen has lost weight lately, and looks like a million bucks. Not that she didn't before, but she's trying hard and it shows. I'm proud of her, and she really does look sexy.

All in all, it was a great, memorable, christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve

It's Christmas, how's everyone doing? Attitudes good?

In our house Kyle has NOT been doing well. He is not working, so has no money for Christmas. He has no transportation to get anywhere, and I doubt his girlfriend will take him to sell plasma for gifts (it's rumored he's done this before). And he is SUCH a generous person it really hurts him when he can't give the way he'd like to give. No matter how many times we tell him it really does not matter to us, that we just want HIM there with us, it doesn't help. He still gets angry and manic. That's not pleasant when that happens.

2 evenings ago, he went over the edge. This doesn't happen often anymore, but when it does it's awful. He was banging things, slamming doors, yelling obscenities, screaming, and so forth. He finally went outside and started screaming the "F" word at the top of his lungs.

When Kyle gets this way, I'm better off just walking away. If I try to confront him, he turns on me and either verbally hammers me, or gets in my face. This has been the source of the few physical confrontations we've had in the past. But when he's outside screaming obscenities at the top of his lungs, there was nothing else I could do.

I went outside and told him to keep quiet. He went off on me.
"Oh, right. Good talk. Good weekly talk with me. Give me more wisdom. Good talk."
I said "Kyle, the neighborbors don't want to hear this."
He said "No YOU don't want the neighbors to hear this!"
I told him "Nobody wants to hear this."

Then showing significant restraint, I turned and walked back inside. Pre-medication I would not have been able to walk away from this. He did shut up after that, thank goodness.

This is not a unusual exchange, it happens every month or so. But this time was unusual in that Kyle came up to me and apologized a few hours later. He has NEVER done that of his own accord. I think my wife may have had something to do with this, but it doesn't matter. He never does this.

Even given this, he STILL refuses to stay on his meds. We're not going to be able to tolerate this forever.

But given all this, it will be a wonderful Christmas if Kyle is there and in a good mood. He adds SO much to our family. I'm looking forward to our Christmas Eve celebration.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Festivus Wishes

Ever hear about Festivus? "A Festivus for the rest of us!"

Festivus is celebrated each year on December 23, but many people celebrate it other times, often in early December. Its slogan is "A Festivus for the rest of us!" An aluminum pole is generally used in lieu of a Christmas tree or other holiday decoration. Those attending participate in the "Airing of Grievances" which is an opportunity for all to vent their hostilities toward each other, and after a Festivus dinner, The Feats of Strength are performed. Traditionally, Festivus is not over until the head of the household is wrestled to the floor and "pinned."

Order your own Festivus pole from

Can't say that Festivus will replace Christmas in our house, but it was hilarious the first time I saw this.

The source? Seinfeld, of course.

Politically Correct Season's Wishes


Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all...and a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2006, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only "America" in the Western hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, or sexual orientation of the wishee.

This wish is limited to the customary and usual good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first. "Holiday" is not intended to, nor shall it be considered, limited to the usual Judeo-Christian celebrations or observances, or to such activities of any organized or ad hoc religious community, group, individual or belief (or lack thereof).

Note: By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms:

* This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher at any time, for any reason or for no reason at all.
* This greeting is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting.
* This greeting implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for the wishee her/himself or others, or responsibility for the consequences which may arise from the implementation or non-implementation of same.
* This greeting is void where prohibited by law.

(Original Author Unknown)

The Best Things In Life Are Free (Or Nearly So)

Technology is amazing. There is SO much you can do, and do for free. Since I have a large family, the wife and I have very little money to spend on ourselves. So I have developed an obsession with free technology and computer tools.

Here are some of my favorites.

At the top of the list is G-mail. Google's free email service. Incredible. Throw away your ISP based email, I don't use mine any longer. I have moved completely to G-mail. Access mail from anywhere. The best spam filters. The best virus protection. The best interface. Over 2 gigs (that's right, GIGS) of storage. No ads on outgoing mail. Best of all? 100% free. If you are not a Gmail user, let me know and I'll send you an invitation. It's still not available to the general public, but I've been a beta user from the start and have hundreds of invitations I can distribute.

Firefox. If you are still using Internet Explorer, STOP! Really, just step away from the browser. Go here: and download the latest version of Firefox. It is SO much better than IE. You don't get the adware, spyware, and other trash so prevalent with Internet Explorer. I'm not just blowing smoke here, it's THAT good.

AVG Anti Virus. Are you still paying for Norton or McAfee subscriptions? While they are good products, there's a LOT of overhead, and also that damn money thing. AVG is free for non-commercial use. Download it here: AVG does not interface directly with Outlook Express, but it does with Outlook. And if you are using Gmail as described above, your virus problems are solved anyway. But this is a good product, and easy to use.

Ad-Aware and Spybot. Ad-ware can be downloaded at and Spybot can be downloaded at Both are indispensible at finding and ridding your system from adware and spyware. Both are completely free and easy to use. Of course, if you use Firefox, there is not much need for these...

Blogger. No further explanation is necessary.

Web hosting. Web hosting is so inexpensive these days it's almost free. (Begin shameless plug)I have a webhosting company, HomePage Webs. Your own web site can be had for just a few bucks a month (end shameless plug.) Your own domain name can be had for less than ten bucks a year, see for that. On this site, you can go to my blogger site,, or to my domain, The site is the same either way, although my domain is hanging up when loading today. And that's so simple to accomplish! Believe it or not, there's the single line of code to do that, but I haven't figured out how to escape code to post on blogger.
What this does is pull your blogger site into your home page. Your links take you back to the blogger site, but that doesn't matter. WAY cool. Let me know if you want the code to accomplish this.

I could go on forever about open source, freeware, and yes, even piracy and cracking. This stuff is what drives me today. I've become a geek. Sheesh! Who woulda thunk it?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Best Rudolph Character?

Everyone's seen it, the Bass and Rankin animated classic. One of the greatest animated specials ever made. Great childhood memories. Back when you had to wait all year to see a show, and if you missed it, you waited another year.

Who's your favorite character? Rudolph? The reindeer coach? Hermey? (yes, it really is Hermey and not Herbie), Yukon Cornelius? Personally, I like Yukon Cornelius. The Abominable Snow Monster used to give me nightmares when I was a kid. Of course, so did the witch in "The Wizard Of Oz", another once-a-year show.

Anyone remember the girlfriend's name? Come on now, think! How about "Clarice"?

How about your favorite scene? I like the Bumble putting the star on the tree.

I just purchased the DVD, we'll watch it on Christmas. See if my kids like it as much as I do. Doubtful.

Christmas Music, Part 2

More Christmas favorites:

Jingle Bell Rock. It's hideous. No matter how well it's covered, it sucks.

Jingle Bells. Have you ever stopped and listened to this song? It's awful!

Feliz Navidad. Jose Feliciano came up with a winner with this one, but after 2 million listens, it suffers from major suckage also.

Little Drummer Boy. No matter carefully how you cover this, "Pa rum pa pum pum" really bites.

I could go on forever, but I'm belaboring this point.

I just listened to Canned Heat doing "Christmas Blues", and it's great! Rocking blues. A good listen.

Listening now to Roy Milton doing "Christmas Time Blues" from 1950. This is fantastic. Killer tenor sax solo. They don't do blues like that today.

By the way, I got my Messiah album last night. The London Symphony and Chorus. Very good orchestra and chorus. I'm very happy with this one. I feel real guilty about it, spending twenty dollars at Christmas time. But I made an agreement with the wife, I'll burn it, load it on the iPod, and she'll then wrap it and give it to me for Christmas. Along with another purchase I made last week, that most classic of animated specials, "Rudolph The Rednosed Reindeer" on DVD. Don't be baggin' on The Bumble now...

Enough for now, I'm off work today and taking the girls to meet the wife for lunch today. Can't spend much during the Christmas season, but we have a Cicis Pizza in town, and it's opnly $3.99 for all you can eat. Heck, you can't hardly eat at home for that.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas Music Sucks

No, I'm not being a scrooge or a grinch. Christmas music really does suck. Now that being said, I'm a sentimental guy, and will be in tears Christmas eve listening to my daughters sing with the church choir, and when we all sing Joy To The World. But in general, how many covers of Jingle Bells can you tolerate?

John Lennon did Christmas songs, and I appreciate them. They're not as overplayed as others. But Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas Time" makes me gag.

Perhaps the most retched Christmas song was sung by George Strait, called "Christmas Cookies". It's worth owning as a substitute for Ipecac in the event of accidental poisoning.

Mannheim Steamroller does as good a job as any in covering Christmas songs, but even those are becoming old.

I stumbled on a disk called "Blue Yule" and popped it in this morning. Good stuff. Original blues tunes done by blues masters with a Christmas theme. Highly recommended.

But for true holiday music, nothing touches Handel's Messiah. I heard a broadcast of our local symphony orchestra and choir doing a performance of The Messiah the other night, and it left me with goose bumps. Spectacular. For a community the size of ours (half a million or so) we are really blessed with the quality of fine arts available.

When I was in high school we had a class required of all people in vocal music called "Oratorio Choir". It was a combination of all classes, all grades. We had a large school, so we had in excess of 500 kids in that group. We performed Handel's Messiah with the school orchestra, and it was a great musical education and experience. They couldn't get away with that today, and that's a shame. It was one of those few high school education experiences that has stayed with me my entire life.

I'm hoping to leave work early enough to stop and purchase a CD of "The Messiah". I know it's heresy to spend money on myself at Christmas, but I've wanted this for years. But I'm particular on what I'm looking for. I want an entire orchestra, not a harpsichord as accompaniment. And for orchestra, I'm not talking about the Sioux Falls symphony. And I want a full choir, not a small group, not the Voices of Dubuque, and not the Vienna Boys Choir. I want the best from New York, or Boston, or London. If anyone has a suggestion, leave me a comment.

That would really make my Christmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Embarassed the Kids - Again

The wife and I and 2 kids were at a grocery store yesterday. This is not a normal grocery store. It's small, sparsely staffed, and carries few items, but the items they carry are so cheap it's unbelievable. For what they carry you can save 50 to 65% over a normal grocery store. It can be crowded, especially the first of the month when the welfare comes out.

We were in a long single line that snaked well back into the store. There were 2 cashiers, and just when we start to get close, they opened another register. The guy calls out "Can I help the next in line?" A lady 2 places behind me quickly jumps in. Everyone else in line looks at each other and rolls their eyes. But I wasn't going to let it go. I speak up "Now was that fair?"

She ignored me, but everyone else is looking at us.

I say it again. "Was that fair?"

She looks at me and says "I don't know what you're talking about."

I said "There is a single line, he called for the next in line, and you jump right in. You are obviously in a bigger hurry then anyone else here."

She's obviously flustered. The guy in front of me gives me a big smile and a wink. The old lady in the next line says disgustedly "it happens all the time." The cashier, who hasn't smiled at ANYONE gives me a smile when we get up. My wife says, to me only, "once a princess, always a princess."

And the lady? She left at almost a dead run.

I haven't done that in years, although I used to be the king of confrontation when something wasn't right. I never went looking for trouble, but if someone tried to take advantage of me or anyone else, I called them on it in a heartbeat. NEVER did I get physical, that's not my style, but I have a tongue that can cut deep.

It felt pretty good. :-)

Bipolar View Of Their Spouse

Here's how a bipolar's spouse appears to them:

Saturday, December 17, 2005

I Don't Know...

I don't know whether to be embarassed or amused.

In addition to my career, I work a part time job as a front-end supervisor for a major national retailer. I was training a new kid the other day. He graduated last year from the same high school my kids attend(ed). When we had a break in the action, I chatted with him. I asked if he knew my youngest boy, a senior this year. He was a year older than my boy, and said he vaguely knew him. I then mentioned Kyle. He gets this big smile on his face. "Kyle Lastname? Yeah, I remember Kyle Lastname." He goes on to say that he was standing in the lunch line his sophomore year, and here comes Kyle streaking through the cafeteria. Hundreds of kids cheering, and Kyle's wearing nothing but running shoes. He allegedly hurdled the teacher that tried to tackle him and made it out the door.

What could I say? I just admitted "Kyle was somewhat of a challenge to raise".

As much as I want to be upset by this, I'm laughing on the inside. Only Kyle...

I just saw a TV ad about depression. It was an attention grabbing ad, well produced. At the end we see it was made by Lilly. When you go to the web site, it prominently shows a logo for Cymbalta, Lilly's hot new anti-depressant. It has you take a test, and has a link that prints out your results you can take to your Doctor. Of course, it heavily plugs Cymbalta, in fact links you to the web site for all questions and further information.

I feel cheated. I thought this was a caring, compassionate, ad. Instead we have a pharmaceutical company trying to convince as many people as possible to try their product. In fact, I'll go so far as accusing them of trying to MANUFACTURE depression to sell product. And what a piece of shit product it is. The time I spent on it was miserable. Side effects that were unbearable. Mania, depression, suicide thoughts, vivid disturbing dreams, and more. With this manner of marketing, they don't have to disclose ANY drug side effects in their ad, which of course, would take the entire ad time for Cymbalta.

Fucking bottom feeders.

Sat Down With Kyle

Had a chance to sit down with Kyle last night. He tried to justify missing his counseling appointment by saying the counselor is an idiot. We've heard this about every professional we've ever taken him to. He gave an example of saying he can't sleep. The counselor says, in an excruciatingly slow voice, "Many people with your condition suffer from this. You might try, um, say, reading a book?" To be fair to Kyle, I can understand how this would set him off. He is brilliant, and I'm sure he knows as much about his condition, and very possibly more, than the counselor. We convinced him to continue to go, but I can see the time coming where he gets bored and starts playing games with the counselor.

As far as meds, he gave us several reasons he wouldn't take meds. I ended up telling him of my youth, and how I lost jobs, and did things that sabotaged careers. That several former peers from one job stayed together while I got bored and had to make a change, and they are all retired now in their mid forties to fifties. I told him how, had I been diagnosed and properly medicated, my life could have been SO much easier. He wants to find a job, and the stress of that single task, the pressure of walking into Starbucks and asking them for a job drives him into a manic state. I tried to show him how he's going about this backwards. Get on the right med, and everything else in life becomes easier. I don't know if I got through to him, but I did see him take his first Risperdal(?). We'll see if it continues.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Kyle Issues Again

Well, it's been how long? Three weeks since we've had an issue with my 21 year old son Kyle? That's as much as we can expect.

Today he had a counselling appointment. His grandmother was coming over to pick him up at 2:30 PM. Late enough for him to be a typical bipolar and stay up all night, and still get some sleep. But this morning he's not here. Grandma comes over, he's not here. Throughout the day, my wife is getting calls.

His girlfriend calls my wife, says they had a big fight. Says Kyle is off his meds. Again. He's never been able to stay on medication for more than a few weeks. She says she's done with him. I don't know if this would be good or bad, she's violent, but he listens to her.

When he's gone all night, it's because he's drinking. He called my wife this afternoon, and sounded surprised about his appointment. He knew about it, but was either drunk or stoned when he called. He was at a friend's house that is a big drug user. I don't think he has a friend that is not a heavy drinker and/or a drug user.

I get home and there's a note on his bedroom door, his girlfriend obviously walked in and left it. She asks him to either call with an explanation or call to tell her to pick up her stuff.

So here's where we stand. Kyle has broken several rules of our rooming agreement. He is welcome to live in our house forever, provided he doesn't drink, keeps his Dr appointments, and stays on his meds. He knows where he stands, and I don't think we'll see him for several days. Then he'll come back, apologetic, and make another round of promises.

It's a circle that has no end.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Internet Addiction 2

I just made my post on my internet obsession, and I read a post from someone I link to. This is from the blog Anxiety, Addiction and Depression Treatments, and it speaks directly to some of my issues.

It's a great read, in fact the blog in general has very good information for anyone who has any psychiatric issues, or supports a loved one who does. It's a valuable daily read.

Internet Addiction?

A blogger that I read regularly, and link to, has declared herself addicted to the internet, and she has unplugged.

That causes me to take pause.

My leisure activities have always been obsessive. No matter what it is, I have thrown myself full-body into it. I had been avoiding the conclusion that my internet use is an obsession. I call it writing, and I am writing. I call it programming, and I do program. I call it business, and I do have a web hosting business that brings in a little money. It is all of these things, but it's also an obsession.

This scares me, on several levels.

First, I earn my living programming, managing programmers, and as a technical business analyst. I am very good at what I do, primarily because my technical knowledge gives me an edge over the others I work with. I have this knowledge through my drive to be technically knowledgeable, to be adept at several programming languages, and my need to be the best at what I do. But this all feeds into an internet obsession. If I were to walk away from this obsession, I would give up my edge. With my personality I would find another obsession, and that obsession might just sabotage my career, as has happened in the past.

So, as I see it, I do one of 2 things. I continue as I am today, spending most of my free time on the computer, or I climb off the technology treadmill and find a new career. It really does seem to be black and white for me. I guess that's the downside to my personality. The upside is my drive to be the most knowledgeable, the most competent, and really the best at everything I do. Hence, the obsession. I just cannot do anything half way. It's balls-to-the-wall, or I don't bother.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Lifetime Meds? I Don't Think So!

My baby bring me champagne when I'm thirsty
That little girl give me good reefer when I wanna get high
...Muddy Waters

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this medication thing, and I’m wondering where it stops, or if it stops. First, my bipolar is NOT that bad. Now that I have an understanding of it, I am able to watch out for the behaviors that have been damaging to me in the past. My main concerns with my bipolar disorder are as follows:

My anger, and how it affects those around me.
Depressions seem to be getting worse, even though they are quite infrequent.
My lack of concentration.

I have suffered from obsessive behaviors in the past, but I’m now aware of the condition, and that it can cause this. In the past I seemed to sabotage myself sub-consciously on jobs for some unknown reason, perhaps to maximize my time on my obsessive activity. But I see this now, and am able to watch for it. Although this blog, made in the middle of the day; is not a good indicator.

From all the questions I’ve been asking, and all the research I’ve been doing, it appears that the medical community will want to keep me medicated for the rest of my life. I am not comfortable with this. What are the long term mental and physical effects of these meds? It can’t be good. And I would assume that a given med will lose effectiveness over the years, resulting in higher dosages and more risk. And when I am off my medical insurance coverage in 20 years, will I be able to count on medicare or medicaid to pay these?

Why am I not better off self-medicating? When I get manic why shouldn't I smoke some pot or take a drink? Provided I don’t develop a dependance on either, what would be the difference? I don't smoke pot, and it's been a while since I have, but is anyone really going to tell me that twisting one up a few times a month is more harmful to me than a mind altering medication every day for the next 40 years? I am really not at risk for alcoholism, I have spent times in my life where I drank like a fish, and I never suffered from withdrawals, or never craved it. I did it because I wanted to do it. When I was younger and smoked a lot, it did become obsessive, but when I decided to walk away, it was no problem. I fully believe, actually KNOW, that I can handle these on an infrequent basis when and as needed. I can’t help but believe my long-term well being would be better served without a lifetime prescription to a mood altering med.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


On my last post I said there was a story about my grandfather to tell.

Let me preface this by saying I'm not a believer in the occult. I've never believed much in ESP or other types of extended senses. I am a Christian, and believe in the Christian concept of heaven.

First, my grandfather was one of the worlds most fun people to be around. But he was no saint. He smoked like a chimney, drank like a fish, and caroused around like there was no tomorrow. I loved him dearly. I was with him a few hours before he died. Until I got there, nobody would acknowledge death to him, and I don't blame them. But I knew he was going. I had a chance to sit and tell him some remembrances, and while he couldn't talk, he did make noise and nod his head when I hit on a good memory. When I told him he better have a thermos of coffee, a bucket of minnows for crappie fishing, and a goose hunting spot ready when I got there to join him, his eyes opened, and he managed to croak out "I will". It was the last actual words I heard him say. And there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he will be waiting.

But now the story.

First of all, my grandmother (also mothers side) preceeded Granddad in death by about 8 months. One night my mother saw her, and talked to her. Mom said it was like a dream, but wasn't a dream. Grandmother said she was having a wonderful time with the 2 daughters that had already passed on. Mom asked about Granddad, and my grandmother said that there was a little problem, and he hadn't been able to join her yet. Then she was gone. My mother told us this, and we laughed hard. Not that we necessarily believed her, but it was SO Granddad it made a great story.

My youngest brother lives alone in Manhattan. He is gay, not an outdoors lover, and had little in common with Granddad. It was always a strained relationship between them. Little bro has achieved incredible success, he is at the top of his profession, and is known in his field around the world. He has a friend that is a psychic. This is not a quack who reads palms under a neon sign, he's said to be just a normal guy with abilities others don't have. I could tell several fascinating stories about this guy, but for now you'll have to do as I did and try to swallow it. Just before Thanksgiving he was visiting my brother, and the two of them were talking. During a lull, the psychic kind of drifted off. My brother didn't bother him, but after a few minutes he got concerned, laid a hand on him, and spoke to him. The psychic shook his head like he was waking up, and said "Sorry, I was having a conversation with your grandfather."

My brother takes a quick step back, and said "my grandfather?!" The psychic said it was a tall man, gray hair, LOTS of gray hair, wearing khaki pants and a plaid shirt. Well, that was definitely him. Keep in mind my brother had no pictures of Granddad, and had never before mentioned him to the psychic. Brother mentioned that Granddad would never visit him, he'd go to the other brothers instead, they had more in common. The psychic told him that Granddad said that he wanted to tell him that he loved him, and he was proud of him. Then the psychic told my brother that Granddad was going to stay for a few days - he didn't want him to spend Thanksgiving alone. Granddad always was adament about families being together on holidays.

Upon telling our mother all this, Mom said that Grandad had told her that he was very concerned about dying before he could tell my brother this. Obviously Grandad had this, and maybe a LOT more to accomplish before he can join his wife and daughters in the afterlife.

One by one, the events of this tale would be meaningless. But together, it makes a damn believable story. At least to me.

Back to more conventional posts tomorrow.

Bipolar and Family Histories

Don't ask me to quote these sources, as my wife brought this home from one of my son Kyle's meetings. But I know this is right.

There is a 1 in a hundred chance of a person in the general population having bipolar disorder. I'm not surprised about a 1% rate. If you have a family history of bipolar, there is a 1 in 10 chance of having it. Looking at my family I'd say that's a little low. We seem to have at least one per generation.

My son was the first person in our family diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I am the second. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

I am absolutely convinced my grandfather (mother's side) had bipolar disorder. Iloved my grandfather like I love my own father. And growing up I couldn't see his personality clearly, and I wouldn't have thought anything wrong anyway. Granddad was a born salesman, but was a person everyone loved and trusted. He loved to have fun. He partied hard, drank like a fish, chased women, and caroused. But he was also a VERY loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend. I don't recall him ever being depressed, but I do remember his rage from time to time, and the way he would swear a bluestreak. Man, when he tore into you with that sharp tongue, it was something you didn't forget. But his anger didn't last long, and he could always let it go. He smoked like a chimney, but that didn't kill him. When I was younger I could ALWAYS count on Granddad to have some fun. I'd be in college, and would stop by his house frequently. Before long we'd be out hunting pheasants, or fishing, or in a smoky bar drinking and shooting pool. No matter what we did, it seemed to end in a smoky bar somewhere. Grandad was one of my favorite people that ever lived.

He had a large family, my mother was the oldest of 5 kids. 4 girls, then the youngest a boy. My mother has bipolar tendencies, but I don't think she has full-blown bipolar. But I am absolutely certain my uncle has it. He is very much like my grandfather, and is so much fun to be around. I have spent some of my most drunken times with my uncle. Everything we did ended up with us drowning in beer, and sometimes passing a joint or two. He's been married twice, he couldn't stop running around, and he was quite the ladies man. But he is very sentimental, loving, and sensitive. You can't help but love him. I have seen him depressed, and I've seen him hypomanic. I haven't seen him angry, however. He drinks very heavily, and also smokes. I suspect he still uses marijuana from time to time. He has held many jobs over the years.

In other words, we're all very much alike in our bipolar tendencies. I've avoided running around on my wife, thank goodness for that. But outside of that we're all from the exact same mold.

I need to figure out a way to let my kids know what to expect when they start raising their own families. I guarantee they'll run into this.

BTW: This is a story that needs it's own post to do it justice. Grandad is still wandering around out there, he hasn't yet made it into heaven, or whatever form of afterlife you believe in. This has been verified by 2 different and unrelated sources. It's a hell of a story, but one I won't begin tonight.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Bipolar Top Ten List

Top Ten indicators that you might have Bipolar disorder

10. You think Robin Williams should Perk Up.

9. You just bought the Kenny G and Berry Manilow box set just

8. You think going to bed on Monday and getting up on Friday is a
good rest.

7. What do you mean you're tired -- I had only 3 orgasms!

6. You can not remember the number 7.

5. You know the names of at least three antidepressants and fifteen
mood stabilizers.

4. Your cat's name is Kay and your dog's name is Jamison.

3. You bring your own research to the doctor's.

2. You think a drive from Vancouver, BC to Miami is something to do
in four days.

And the Number One reason you may be Bipolar is:

1. Last night you understood the secrets to the universe and this
morning you are contemplating whether the jam goes on top of the
peanut butter or under it.

Friday, December 09, 2005

It's Fridayyyyyy......

It's been a short week for me, but I'm still fired up about being Friday.

A few things today:

First, my Lamictal experiment is going very well! Absolutely no adverse side effects yet, and I'm loving that. I'm still a few weeks away from a "therapeutic dose", but with other meds I've been on I noticed side effects almost immediately. I will say, though, that right now I'm hovering on the brink of hypomania. I almost feel too good. I feel like partying tonight, but that, of course, would not be good.

Next, from
An open letter to Larry The Cable Guy, written by comedian David Cross, in response to a verbal spat the 2 have going. I spent quite a bit of time over my vacation being "dumbed down" listening to Larry The Cable Guy. Now I'm not complaining, at a base level he is pretty funny. It's not always my kind of humor, however. But my host was enjoying it, and I have to admit, it was funny at times. This letter is long, but is pretty funny, especially if you're not a lover of LTCG.

Finally, I was just exposed to Sarah Silverman. She was a staff writer on SNL in the early 90's but got fired over a skit she wrote that referenced, "Chinks." Most recently, she starred in THE ARISTOCRATS and SCHOOL OF ROCK. But be sure to see her new movie, SARAH SILVERMAN: JESUS IS MAGIC, which chronicles her stand-up.

Check-out the trailor:

"Strippers should be role models for little girls...if only for the fact that they wax their assholes."
"I was licking jelly off my boyfriend's penis and all of a sudden I'm thinking, 'OH MY GOD...I'm turning into my mother!'"
And just as funny, a quote from my gay brother:
"Too bad that Sarah's boyfriend is Jimmy Kimmel because if I were a woman I'D marry her."

I guess the above material kind of points to my borderline hypomania today, huh? ;-)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Back From Vacation

Back from vacation. I worked my ass off, sat outside in sub zero wind chills, and got up at 4:00 AM every morning.

I also enjoyed it immensely.

My dad is 74 years old, and won't be doing this forever. We sat around in the goose pit trading stories, barbs, and jokes. It didn't matter if we got any ducks and geese, it was the camaraderie that was the key. It certainly wasn't the weather. It snowed one day, and we drove home in TERRIBLE weather. 50 mph winds blowing snow into a white-out condition. There were times we couldn't even see the interstate center line. Wind chills well below 50 below. If we'd had vehicle problems in these conditions we would NOT have survived out there. It's amusing (in a very warped way) to watch the California cars driving the interstate in these conditions, stopping at the truck stops and gassing up in t-shirts. Instant hypothermia.

Out there along the river are many incredible people. In my journeys to this place we have spent time with a person who owns and runs one of the most respected lutheries in the country. We have spent time with a person who owns and runs some of the most repected music festivals in the world. We met and spent time with a pilot freshly home from Afghanistan while between assignments for a private consultant. Businessmen. Ranchers. A well known wildlife artist. Athletes. Politicians. All with chapped lips, hands rubbed raw from the work and the weather out there, all with wind burned faces. And all there because of their love for the outdoors. Great people, all.

While out there I finished my first week on Lamictal. To be honest, I've noticed very few side effects. Racing heart sometimes, nodding off sometimes, but not much more than normal. Except for dreams. I am dreaming much more again. It's not as pronounced or vivid as when I was on Cymbalta, but it is noticeable. Also, my sex drive has not gone away like it did on Cymbalta and Seroquel. This is a VERY good thing.

Kyle was given a prescription, the med's name escapes me right now. But he has no way of paying for it, and it runs over a hundred dollars a month. They gave him the name of a charitable pharmacy that can dispense meds at a greatly reduced price, but he'll still have to call them and fill out an application. He's not capable of doing that, so the wife or I will have to get involved. Again. No big deal, really, we'll do it gladly. But the place we pick them up is many miles away and in a very bad part of town. I wouldn't trust Kyle to bus there, so we'll need to take him there.

But I'm not complaining, Kyle seems to be doing well, and I'm doing well, and the entire family's doing well. Life is good. For today, anyway.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I'll be leaving on vacation in the morning, and won't be back until probably Monday night. I'm looking forward to relaxing...

This was a decent day. I was supposed to be off work all day, but ended up working half a day. That was OK, it's easy to work when you know you can leave anytime, and when your lunch vendor for the day is Popeye's chicken. Their spicy chicken and red beans and rice is like a food orgasm.

This afternoon I took Kyle to his first counseling appointment. He had several sheets of paperwork to complete, and 45 minutes later he's still struggling to complete them. This is exactly what made school such a challenge for him, if he couldn't do something perfectly he did not hand it in - homework, tests, or anything else. I finally convinced him to stop after 45 minutes and hand it in, he was going back and changing his answers by that time. But he left the appointment upbeat, and we had a very nice talk. We drove back in a blizzard, and it took an hour to get the 12 miles or so from downtown to our neighborhood. We then stopped at a sporting goods store, and browsed around. He really enjoyed looking at the archery equipment. When they were younger, our kids spent most of their days in our store, an outdoor sports store. We had an archery range in the store, and when he was quite young he was shooting competitively. He was pretty decent for his age. We bow hunted for deer a lot back then, and I took Kyle along every time I could. He truly enjoyed being out there experiencing nature. At the end of the hunt I always had my kids tell me what they saw from their tree stand. Not deer, we'd talk about that later. But other things - squirrels, raccoons, sights, sounds, and everything that makes nature what it is. After all that, we would talk about the deer we saw. Kyle loved being out there, but he didn't enjoy bow hunting - too much stress for him. When a deer would get close he would get so flustered and nervous he just couldn't hit it. It caused him a lot of embarrassment and loss of confidence. It also caused him to give up archery. He's recently expressed an interest in getting back into target archery, and he really enjoyed looking at the equipment. We stopped at church on the way home to pick up my girls from choir, and he went in with me to get them. It's been so long since he's been there, I didn't think he would go in. It made me feel good that he was comfortable enough to walk in, he has been too self conscious to go to church in the past.

On another note, I did have my first official psych eval the other day. As if it's any surprise, I was diagnosed Bipolar 2. I told Kyle the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, although his symptoms are more severe, an easy BP 1. I really didn't like the guy I saw, I thought he was a prick, although a soft spoken one. He was mild mannered, polite, then would slip a zinger in on me, and I'd think, "yeah, he's right, but what a prick for putting it that way". But this being said, I still made a follow up appointment with him. He suggested Lamictal, and I decided to start on it. I wasn't planning on any med regimen, but decided I'd give meds another try. Although they've been nothing but trouble for me in the past. In 30 days or so, he says we'll add Depakote also. I'll see how it goes. But he told me NO alcohol, no tobacco, and start cutting back on caffeine. Well, screw that. I absolutely do NOT have a drinking problem, and never will. People don't understand this, they think with my personality I must have alcohol issues, but I really and truly don't. I am going on vacation, and I will have a glass or two of wine with dinner, and a cocktail or two in the evenings when we're sitting around talking. I will also have a cigar or two while I'm at it. Outside of vacations I smoke maybe 2 or 3 cigars a month, and do not use any other tobacco products.

I'll talk to you all again next week.