Saturday, December 30, 2006

I'm Very Surprised

Most everyone may know this, but it really surprised me.

ANNENBERG STUDY FINDS THAT THE PRINT PRESS INACCURATELY SUGGESTS SUICIDES RISE DURING THE HOLIDAYS

Suicide is a serious public health problem accounting for between .4 and .9% of the deaths in the U.S. The CDC also report that in the population at large it is the eighth leading cause of death; but among adolescents, the third leading cause. In l998, 30,551 Americans took their own lives.

In the most recent year for which detailed national data are available (1996), the chart below indicates that November and December rank the lowest in the number of daily suicides. Spring and Fall are by the far the riskiest seasons for suicides in the US. Although research indicates that suicides may increase for a brief period after New Years day, January still remains one of lowest months for suicide risk in the US.


This shows the highs in spring and fall, which many of us who suffer from seasonal depression have experienced. And while suicide at any time is a tragedy, I am surprised, and pleased, to see this information.

Times Article

I LOVE this!

The Graying of Naughty

From The NY Times:

DE’BELLA — or Debbie, as everybody calls her — decided late in life to become a porn star. This year she turned 50, time, she knew, to chase her dream.

“I love sex,” she explained, biting into a Burger King special before embarking on her scene for the day at a rented house in the San Fernando Valley. She was wearing a bright pink satin and black chiffon nightie with a matching thong and heavy makeup.

“I decided I wanted to do something different,” she said. “I’d been working behind the scenes, and my friends said: ‘Why not do movies? Have some fun, and get paid for it?’ ”

So she has. Since May, De’Bella (she did not want her real name published) has used days off from her job as an administrative assistant at a sex-related entertainment company, Platinum X, to shoot about 30 scenes, with men mostly 19 and 20 year old.


Not that I'm a porn fan, but I love that a 50 year old can be a porn star.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New Jon

Throughout the Christmas celebration, there was some ribbing of “The Old Man” (me), about “New Dad” or “New Jon”. There would be a story told about something that happened at a previous Christmas that set me off, and we’d joke “that was ‘Old Dad’”. Or my wife would tell me she was amazed something didn’t bother me, and I’d tell her it was because “New Jon” was there. And it really was a HUGE difference. The family wasn’t on eggshells worrying about setting me off. Of course they didn’t completely let their guard down, I could see a little hesitation at times, or incredulity about certain situations where I didn’t flinch. But it made for a very pleasant holiday.

I can’t begin to express how this “balance” is improving my quality of life, and that of those around me.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I Can Hear

My bipolar disorder has always leaned towards the hypomanic side. Since finally finding some stability, my wife pointed out something that she considers one of the most priceless benefits of my "recovery". I can finally hear. I can look my children in the eye, and hear what they are telling me. I have the patience to listen, and to find what they are telling me important enough to remember.

Believe me, it wasn't always this way. The past was somewhat of a maniacal blur.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas List

What I want for Christmas

1. To be a better Christian
2. To be a better husband and father
3. To be a better employee
4. For my kids, I don’t care about “success”, or wealth, or possessions. I wish them nothing but good health and happiness.
5. For all my friends and peers out there, good health, peace of mind, and happiness.
6. For the religious right, and people in general, to re-discover compassion
7. For an end to our kids coming home from overseas in pieces, or worse, in boxes.
8. Wisdom for our leaders, that they may make the best decisions on our behalf
9. For the wisdom to know when things are good
10. And while I'm at it, a suitcase of small, unmarked bills would be OK, too.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Blogs and Blog Changes

I am SUCH a bipolar...

I get hypomanic, and start a project. I've got a million uncompleted projects floating around out there. I've also got a million great ideas, but no perceived ability to bring them to fruition.

I'm particularly susceptible to internet projects. Web hosting. Web design. Programming. Writing. Blogging. Here's a list of my current blogs. There's a lot more that I've abandoned:

1. This one (Living With A Purple Dog)
2. Bipolar Support was my first blog, my wife and I started it to chronicle a son's life with bipolar disorder.
3. The "blog" I have with Health Central's Bipolar Connect site isn't really a blog, as they approve all content, and comments.
4. I started a blog about being a product of the seventies. It was fun to write, but pretty useless as blogs go.
5. The X-Ring Blog. The X-Ring is a site where I store a lot of miscellaneous stuff, including a series of stories I'm trying to sell. In a previous life, the wife and I owned a bait, tackle, and archery store, and we came away with a LOT of stories. Totally broke, but with LOT'S of stories.

I started The X-Ring Blog as a creative outlet, but then lost that round of hypomania, and my creativity. I got some motivation back with my current hypomania, but I started posting things I felt passionate about, rather than what the site should represent. So I'm going to update that blog less frequently than I have, and start updating this more often, but with less focused material. If something interests me, I'm posting it, bipolar disorder theme or not.

So, let's see how long this lasts. At least through the hypomania I'm in now...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Early Christmas

Never a dull moment at home in our house.

I got home from work last night, poured myself a rum and diet Coke, and started cleaning the kitchen. With kids home from college all day, that kitchen is ALWAYS a mess. I don’t usually drink after work, but it sounded good last night. After a few minutes, my wife comes home with one of the kids.

My wife has a way of making an entrance at home. Never anywhere else, she’s absolutely not a person who craves attention, but when she gets home, you know it. She bursts into the house, my 8 year old daughter bounding up the steps ahead of her. They’re both bubbling with enthusiasm, clapping their hands and exclaiming how excited they were. My wife asked if I wanted my present right away. Before I could answer…

Another part of the “Purple Dog” contingent bursts into the house. They’ve been at another daughter’s 6th grade basketball game. 2 sons, a girlfriend, and my 11 year old daughter. They were all talking at the same time telling stories about the debacle that masqueraded as a basketball game. For the story on the basketball debacle, click here.

My wife grabs my arm and tells me we’re going someplace. I resist, telling her I’m enjoying my drink and listening to the debacle stories. Insisting, she says she’s driving, and not taking no for an answer. Irritated, I freshen my drink, and since I wasn’t driving took it with me. We drove a few minutes, and she pulled into the parking lot of a large health club a few minutes from home. Merry Christmas! she exclaimed as she pulls me inside.

I’ve been really worried about my health, and the long-term health consequences of my medication. I’m putting on weight, and I’m terrified that I’ll hit retirement and die or be incapacitated before I can enjoy it. We’ve been talking lately about buying exercise equipment or joining a health club, but there’s always other uses for the money.

When it comes to a health club, there is nothing more intimidating than that first time in the door. I joined a club once through work, and for the year I paid my fees I never once walked in that door. Well my wife pulled me in, and took me right to the membership consultant she had worked with. I’m feeling the effects of 2 tall rum and cokes, trying not to breathe on this lady, and she gives us a tour.

This place is great. It has it all, including a cafĂ© with healthy foods. And the best part? Many of the people there are in no better shape than the wife and I. It was a great atmosphere. And with both of us joining, we’ll encourage each other and be more likely to stick with it.

Watch out world, I’ll be the studliest 40 plus around by the end of 2007.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Med Perfection

I never cease to be fascinated with psych meds. I have a full blown hypomania going, but my head hasn’t joined the party. For the last 2 days it’s like my body is ready to run a marathon, but my head keeps things moving at a normal pace. It’s a curious feeling. No anxiety, no irritability. No desire to self-medicate. I feel pretty good, all things considered. I suppose this means my meds are pretty close to being right.

Cool.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Checking In

Thanks to all for your comments and emails. I'm doing OK, feeling OK, and things could certainly be worse right now.

For a little more explanation on why I'm not updating this blog much, there are a couple of reasons. First, I don't like defining myself as a person with bipolar disorder. I don't want to be your bipolar friend Jon, I want to be your friend Jon.

Next, I'm getting my blogging fix a few different ways. I still have the Health Central gig, my blog is located here: http://blogs.healthcentral.com/bipolar/gjs-bipolar-blog/. It's a different environment, it's not blogging, I submit articles, they review them, and if suitable, they publish. Also, I do not have access to comments. They review comments, if suitable they publish them. If I respond to your comments, I leave my responses the same way you all leave comments. But that's all OK, it's a good organization to work for.

I've also begun blogging on a site I've had for several years, The X-Ring (http://blog.xring.us). I don't make my bipolar disorder known on that site, so while I sometimes write about mental issues, I don't acknowledge my own bipolar disorder. I've been accumulating stories for a book for several years, it will be a collection of short stories called "From The Baitshop". I publish excerpts of stories on the blog, and this helps motivate me to continue the stories.

Now a question for you all. I located a site that sells very inexpensive generic drugs without a script. I'm thinking if they are legit I can afford to pay for meds for my son Kyle out of my pocket. That way he can get stable enough to hold a job, which will give him insurance. Then he can take over himself. Here's the site I'm looking at:
http://www.life-pharmacy.com/generics/generic_lamictal.html

If anyone has experience with this, or a similar, offshore pharmacy please let me know by comment or email.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Stepping Away

Hey all,

I will be stepping away from blogging about bipolar disorder for a while, and maybe completely. I’m to the point where I really feel the need to stop defining myself in this way. Of course I say this now and the next crisis that hits I may be right back here looking for the support only this community can give.

This is a remarkable community, and I don’t want to step away completely. The support I’ve gotten here, and the friendships I’ve formed have been wonderful, maybe even life-saving. I don’t want to lose that, and will continue making rounds of blogs from time to time. So please don’t take my silence as a bad thing, or as a lack of caring for the people in this community. I don’t want to lose those friendships, even though I won’t be in contact as often.

I hope to be able to continue blogging and writing, so far I still am not able - the ideas and motivation aren't back yet. When they do return, I started a blog on a hobby site I have, The X-Ring, which is located at http://xring.us . This is a site where I store my writings, and am accumulating material for a book. I’m not a technically competent writer, but it’s my enjoyment and therapy.

Happiness and good health to all.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Innocent Man

John Grisham has written his first work of non-fiction, a tragic tale
of a man with bipolar disorder who's sentenced to death row for a
crime he didn't commit.

You can hear an interview with him and read an excerpt at NPR:
Grisham Traces Exoneration of an 'Innocent Man'

This really disturbs me, as the bipolar disorder community is so
vulnerable to things like this.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Where Is The Yardstick

Once I went down the road of beginning treatment, I forever lost my yardstick, or ability to really determine how well I am.

Before beginning treatment, I had a baseline. I knew what was a "normal" day, and could base the good and bad days from there. Granted, many of the days, normal or otherwise, were obscured by self medication. But self medication didn't last forever and those affects went away and left me at my "normal" baseline again.

Right now I'm so fucked up I don't know what's good or bad. I can barely remember how I felt yesterday, let alone how I felt un-medicated. Increase the dosage of this med, stop that one, start another one. Yesterday I woke up feeling better than I had for MANY months. Today I'm in a funky cloud. Depression, lethargy, irritability. The bouncing around makes it difficult to do a job. Makes it difficult to relate to the family. Makes it difficult to live.

And, unfortunately, it may never change. I'll likely never be off meds. And one med begets another. You start fixing the problem with one med using another. And fix a problem with that one by using yet another. As my body adjusts to the medication it becomes less effective, so I go with larger doses or something different. Before long I'm worried my hands will be trembling, I won't be able to work, and will need 8 or 10 pills to make it through the day.

Fucking depression. Fucking bipolar disorder Fucking society where I feel the need to become a round peg.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Don't Know What Is Going On

It's been a while since I've made rounds of blogs, and I truly hope everyone is OK. Please try to understand when I say I just can't do it.

I'm trying to understand what is going on in my head, and I'm not doing well. I spent the month of August in a deep depression. I thought I worked my way out of that one, but I'm not so sure. I am not in a crippling depression like I was, but I can't write, and I have no interest in much of anything. I started a new job in late August, and I haven't been able to really grab hold and sieze this opportunity. I'm getting by, but I want to be excelling. I am getting crippling bouts of OCD, which I've NEVER had before. That is making it difficult for me to do my new job. I can't return personal emails, I can't even bring myself to read what I've blogged, let alone read anyone else's.

2 weeks ago I contacted my Pdoc about all of this. Remember the new job? Old insurance gone, new insurance trying to get established, so no coverage. I talked them into samples of Lamictal to tide me over until I got my new coverage. I had to cancel an appointment until everything got set up anew. But the doc told me I should have called earlier, he might think about upping my dosage of Lamictal. I reminded him of no prescription coverage right now. He asked about my Risperdal, I told him I thought it was making things worse. He told me to continue anyway. I told him I had some Seroquel around, and he told me to start on that until we got together again. That has helped with the anxiety and irritability that hit me so hard during the depression, but I'm left without any motivation at all.

So, I'm left wondering if I'm still in a depression, or if my meds are doing this to me. Avoidance is the over-riding theme right now. Avoid writing, avoid reading, avoid contact. Avoid everything but eating and TV.

This is starting to worry me...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

No Great Genius...

No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness.
- Aristotle

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Current Stresses

First of all, apologies for this post. It’s not the kind of self-indulgent whining I like to do. Another clue, count the number of times the word “I” is used. A dead giveaway of hypo or even full mania. It’s times like this it becomes SO obvious that I’m just not right.

This summer has been a blur. I have accomplished NOTHING. I don’t know if it’s my meds or a progression of illness, but it’s been awful. I have done almost none of the things that bring me pleasure all summer long. I have not fished, except for a single camping trip. I have not taken the bicycle out of the garage all summer. I have not walked, have not done yard work, haven’t even been able to clean the garage. I’ve done NOTHING. And because I haven’t been able to keep up on even minor cleaning and maintenance, I feel so much like a failure. My yard is full of weeds, my house is filled with junk, and I react to it by getting either manic or depressed, both of which are equally crippling for me.

My wife’s mother had a stroke and moved in with us several months ago. She just recently acknowledged that it’s time to sell her house and move on. So this week my wife has been working with her siblings to get the house cleaned out and ready to sell. They’re cleaning out 40+ years of accumulation. Her mom is taking it well, better than I would. Can you imagine accumulating stuff your entire life then watching it all get tossed in a dumpster? This has been a very stressful time for everyone.

Then, I start a new job this week. I’ve been with my current employer for 7 years and just took a new position with a competitor. It happened so quickly, and I feel so impetuous for doing things this way. I took this job as a contract with option to hire. I took it without knowing the benefits package, how much the end employer will offer me when (and if) they hire me, and without knowing exactly what I will be doing. All I know is the interview “clicked”, and 2 hours later my recruiter was calling me with an offer.

So I have a HUGE life change happening with the new job. They wife has relatives in town. The house looks like shit because I’m not capable of taking care of it right now. The wife let someone into our bedroom to use the bathroom in there. I’m working on that master bedroom bathroom (have been for 3 years) so it’s a mess, no bathroom door, tools and clutter everywhere. And she let’s someone in there. That triggered an instant mania. In a HUGE way. She knew it would happen, and she did it anyway. It’s her way of punishing me for not being more supportive of what she is going through with her mother. We had her relatives over for dinner, but I wanted to crawl under a rock and die. Or leave, start driving and never look back. Or drive off a bridge. But I couldn’t, to do so would graphically illustrate the imbalance I’ve tried my entire life to hide. So I suck it up and try to maintain.

It’s times like these that I just want to say “fuck it” and leave everything behind. All the stresses. All the clutter. All the baggage. All the shit that causes so much pain. All the stuff going on in my brain. But I won’t. I’ll suck it in, choke it down, and move on. I don’t have to like it, though.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Bipolarconnect Message Boards

Hey all:

Most regular readers know my main blog is now at Bipolarconnect.com. At bipolarconnect.com there are some message boards or forums. These message boards are one of the first stops by many people who are just coming to the realization they have bipolar disorder. They are often in crisis and the pain in their posts is plain to see.

If anyone has any time on their hands jump on over and lend some encouraging words to some of these folks. There are only a couple of us that are trying to keep up the spirits of these folks, and I'm lucky if I can put an hour a week into those boards. If anyone else can lend an encouraging word I think it would mean a lot to some of these people.

Bipolarconnect.com does make you register to use the forums, but that's not a big deal, if you're concerned about it, give a screen name instead of a real name.

Thanks to anyone who can jump in with a postitive word or two.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Suicide Hotline To Shut Down

An email alert from Nami.org.

1-800-SUICIDE Hotline Set to Shut Down on Saturday August 12

August 10, 2006

The nation's largest suicide hotline, 1-800-SUICIDE, is scheduled to go out of service this Saturday, August 12, 2006. There are currently negotiations in progress that may prevent this. However, in the event that these negotiations are not successful, NAMI is issuing this alert to raise public awareness of the alternative for those in need of help.

The alternative number for those in crisis is 1-800-273-TALK. This number will put callers in touch with the federally-funded National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a service that has been in operation since January, 2005. It functions as a central switchboard to immediately connect callers to virtually the same network of certified, local crisis centers accessed by 1-800-SUICIDE. So callers can receive counseling or emergency services, if needed, close to home.

All calls to the 1-800-273-TALK Lifeline are private and confidential. Confidentiality of personal information and of personal disclosures during calls is a high priority for the parties involved in operating the Lifeline.

The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is working with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the entire suicide prevention community to ensure that every call for help during a suicide crisis is answered. Some of the measures being put in place include:

* Ensuring that the entire suicide-prevention community is working the phones and Internet to make sure that all referring agencies know that 1-800-273-TALK is the number to call for suicide intervention.
* Notifying service providers, including directory 411 and 211 operators, that 1-800-SUICIDE is scheduled to go out of service beginning August 12, 2006 and to direct callers to 1-800-273-TALK for help.
* Redirecting callers who call 1-800-SUICIDE to call 1-800-273-TALK through a recording.

As a part of this effort, NAMI will participate in a meeting with SAMHSA and its other partner groups on Friday afternoon, August 11, and we will issue an update afterwards if there is additional information to share.

NAMI urges you to help distribute this alert in your community. Together, we can ensure that every call for help is answered.

Thank you,

Michael J. Fitzpatrick, MSW
Executive Director
NAMI

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Bipolar Song Changes

Sitting here, just manic enough that I can't concentrate to do any serious writing, and this pops into my head.

Take the actual lyrics, and substitute the word "bipolar" for cowboy, and what do you get?

Mama don't let your babies grow up to be bipolar
Don't let 'em pick guitars and drive them old trucks
Make 'em be doctors and lawyers and such
Mama don't let your babies grow up to be bipolar
They'll never stay home and they're always alone
Even with someone they love

Bipolars ain't easy to love and they're harder to hold
And they'd rather give you a song then diamonds or gold
Lonestar belt buckles and old faded Levi's each night begins a new day
And if you don't understand him and he don't die young
He'll probly just ride away

Mama don't let your babies grow up to be bipolar
Don't let 'em pick guitars and drive them old trucks
Make 'em be doctors and lawyers and such
Mama don't let your babies grow up to be bipolar
They'll never stay home and they're always alone
Even with someone they love

Bipolars like smoky old pool rooms and clear mountain mornings
Little warm puppies and children and girls of the night
And them that don't know him won't like him
And them that do sometimes won't know how to take him
He ain't wrong he's just different
but his pride won't let him do things to make you think he's right

Mama don't let your babies grow up to be bipolar
Don't let 'em pick guitars and drive them old trucks
Make 'em be doctors and lawyers and such
Mama don't let your babies grow up to be bipolar
They'll never stay home and they're always alone
Even with someone they love

Mama don't let your babies grow up to be bipolar
Don't let 'em pick guitars and drive them old trucks
Make 'em be doctors and lawyers and such…

Hmmm - let's see, what song will we find next?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Apologies

To all my friends out there, a heartfelt apology. For some reason I am currently incapable of relationship building or maintenance. I'd like to get around to your blogs and leave comments. I'd like to return emails. I'd like to pick up the phone and call friends. But I can't, and I don't know why. It's not depression, or not exactly. It's not mania, or not exactly. Kind of a nasty mixed episode that is doing some strange things to me.

Thanks for being understanding.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Friday Shorts

I'm posting this be email, at work I can't access blogger, our "surf Nazis" have blocked the site.  They have also blocked comments – I can't read comments or comment from work.  I know I have comments out there to respond to, but they'll have to wait.

Had a terrible night last night.  Lately I'm not sleeping well, vivid dreams are affecting my sleep.  Most of the dreams are quite uncomfortable.  Last night it was a dream of a rocket launch.  I was at our local airport watching a major rocket launch.  The rocket lifted off, but lifted slowly, and looked like it just didn't have power to make it into space.  It got up a ways, and started to lose velocity.  I'm saying out loud "Oh, this isn't good."  It flew straight for a while, then flew right into the ground and made a huge explosion.   It crashed in a direction that indicated it might have been close to my home, so I tried to get to my vehicle.  But the vehicle was on the airfield, and with the planes taking off and landing I could not get to my vehicle.  Very disturbing.  And yes, the significance of this dream is not lost on me.  A symbol such as a rocket that can't quite make it up, tries hard, and ends up crashing and burning.  Everyone else is coming and going, soaring and landing, and I'm stuck in the grass.  It was a panic type of feeling.  While the crash and burn has not actually happened to me, my meds have taken away enough desire that the rocket wouldn't have even made it to the launch pad.   That's probably the reason for the stuck vehicle.  Oh well, it could be worse – I think – or could it?

My 22 year old bipolar son Kyle got a job!  Great company, a major telecom everyone has heard of.  Good money, full benefits after 30 days, they know about his arrests and everything.  He'll be in the call center – call center work is difficult and draining emotionally and physically.  He's done it before and really didn't like it.  But we have had a discussion that after 30 days he's eligible for full insurance coverage and he needs to get hooked up with a Pdoc IMMEDIATELY once this comes about.  This will begin his meds that will possibly allow him to keep this job through the manic periods that have caused him to walk away from his previous jobs.   So let's hope it works…

A few posts ago I hinted at thoughts of suicide.  Let me set the record straight, as I have family members and kids that read this from time to time, and I don't want them worried.  I also don't want to minimize the process either.

The notion of suicide ideation is common.  In other words, you have thoughts and ideas pertaining to suicide.  Ideation is one thing, implementation is something entirely different.   Ideation is absolutely nothing you can control, and it's actually a good gauge for frame of mind and mental health.  If the thoughts come, you know to watch carefully.  I let my wife know, and I try to stay on top of it.  Recently, I have had days where I've been tortured with racing thoughts, anxiety, irritation, nervous tics and an over-abundance of nervous energy.  Combine this with a lack of sleep so your physical energy level is down.   The ideation was absolutely there.  Then Sage's comment about hospitalization, and I'm thinking how tired I was, how tortured my mind had been recently, and the thought of  being someplace where there were no worries, no responsibility, and where there was relief from my tortured mind was strangely attractive.   But I'm not going anywhere, you can count on it.

How about Rush Limbaugh being nabbed for another prescription drug violation?  Carrying a prescription of Viagra written for someone else.  He's given an ultimatum, and can't abide by the court's orders.  I mean, how hard could it be?  (Rimshot!)

Everyone have a great weekend, and for those in the USA have a great Independence Day!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Musical Shows This Summer

Music is my art of choice. I'm not a musician, not for many years anyway. But music is to me what visual art is to some, or performance art is to others. It's that sensory stimulus that keeps me grounded, that invokes strong emotions, and in general makes life enjoyable.

This summer has been a banner year for musical acts in our remote area, carved out of cornfields in the US heartland. So far this summer I have seen 3 acts that rank in my top 10. A few weeks ago it was Junior Brown. Very twangy country, but this boy could cook on the guitar. He had a custom double-necked guitar he dubbed "Big Red". One neck for regular playing, the other for slide. He was an incredible axe-man.

Next was Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Such talented musicians, probably the best in the world at their respective instruments. The music is pretty much indescribable, it doesn't fit in any genre. Bluegrass to jazz to classical. Just make it a point to see them if they hit your area.

Tonight it was Dave Alvin. Another musician most have never heard of, but probably America's greatest songwriter, and a very fine musician. He came out of Southern California in the late seventies / early eighties in a band called The Blasters. This band fueled the rock-a-billy craze of the eighties. Then to a punk band called "X". One of the first true punk bands in the states. Since then he has written songs that have been recorded by many HUGE stars. He is a true professional, and put on a show that cooked. The wife and I danced and had a great time. It's a shame that someone of this musical stature and talent is playing dive bars like he played tonight. But the crowd was large, and they gave him a hell of a reception. His band played their hearts out. In the midst of crap like REO Speedwagon and BTO reunion tours, to find an act of this quality for $15 a ticket is like finding treasure.

Camping Trip

The camping trip was great. Very relaxing. Many cigars smoked, a few beers consumed, much chilling ensued.

A PB on fish I was actually trying to catch:



I've caught bigger fish, but on accident, such as snagging them when fishing for other fish, or shooting them with bow and arrow. I don't bowfish much anymore, preferring to pursue the rod and reel approach.

We were in a park that was on the path of the Lewis and Clark voyage, and they had many related exhibits. Here's a son, his girlfriend, and our 2 daughters on a replica Lewis and Clark keelboat:



I could post pictures all day, but it was a great trip, albeit short. The hardest part was coming back home. Then the stress just floods back...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Battle

You hear about the incredibly high suicide rate among those suffering from bipolar disorder, and you have a hard time comprehending it. Then at some point you realize that you are too tired fighting with this damn disorder and any kind of relief would be a huge welcome.

Don't worry, I'm not particularly suicidal. I don't have time for it...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Why Should This Surprise Me

Pentagon Document Classifies Homosexuality as Mental Disorder


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

WASHINGTON — A Pentagon document classifies homosexuality as a mental disorder, decades after mental health experts abandoned that position.

The document outlines retirement or other discharge policies for service members with physical disabilities, and in a section on defects lists homosexuality alongside mental retardation and personality disorders.

Critics said the reference underscores the Pentagon's failing policies on gays, and adds to a culture that has created uncertainty and insecurity around the treatment of homosexual service members, leading to anti-gay harassment.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeremy M. Martin said the policy document is under review.

The Pentagon has a "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prohibits the military from inquiring about the sex lives of service members but requires discharges of those who openly acknowledge being gay.

The Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, at the University of California at Santa Barbara, uncovered the document and pointed to it as further proof that the military deserves failing grades for its treatment of gays.

Nathaniel Frank, senior research fellow at the center, said, "The policy reflects the department's continued misunderstanding of homosexuality and makes it more difficult for gays and lesbians to access mental health services."

The document, called a Defense Department Instruction, was condemned by medical professionals, members of Congress and other experts, including the American Psychiatric Association.

"It is disappointing that certain Department of Defense instructions include homosexuality as a 'mental disorder' more than 30 years after the mental health community recognized that such a classification was a mistake," said Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass.

Congress members noted that other Pentagon regulations dealing with mental health do not include homosexuality on any lists of psychological disorders. And in a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Monday, nine lawmakers asked for a full review of all documents and policies to ensure they reflect that same standard.

"Based on scientific and medical evidence the APA declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973 — a position shared by all other major health and mental health organizations based on their own review of the science," James H. Scully Jr., head of the psychiatric association, said in a letter to the Defense Department's top doctor earlier this month.

There were 726 military members discharged under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy during the budget year that ended last Sept. 30. That marked the first year since 2001 that the total had increased. The number of discharges had declined each year since it peaked at 1,227 in 2001, and had fallen to 653 in 2004.

Monday, June 19, 2006

SO Fired Up!

Later this week we take our first (and maybe only) camping trip this summer. This is something the family does together, although this year the boys (18, 22, & 23) are not joining us. Or so they say, one or two usually end up joining us for at least one night.

This is the time of year I can absolutely, totally, relax. No worries, no responsibility, just enjoying nature and the family.









On these vacations, we don't do a lot. I fish, which means watching a carp pole, and the kids play, hike, fish, and eat a lot of cookies and smores. I'm so thankful my wife enjoys this also, our enthusiasm fuels the girl's excitement.







How often do you see a young girl so contented, while spending time with the family?









My boys love to fish, and also love to camp. But unfortunately, they are going too many different directions. But even if they join us for a few hours it's worth it - to us and them. Here's my oldest, tall, blonde, college graduated, and enjoying life:






And my youngest boy, tall, dark, high school graduated, and in a hurry to break camp to get home for a date.






And for those of you wondering about our fish, yes, we catch carp and we love it. If you're from Europe or Asia, no further explanation is necessary, and we release them all. If you're from the states and are shaking your head and rolling your eyes, well, you just have to experience it.

We'll post some current pictures when we get back. With a little luck, Kyle will join us also and we'll have pictures of him.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Week In Review

Hey all - don't forget to visit my bipolar blog at Bipolar-Connection.com. Thanks to all who have read my blog over there and left comments. It's a different format, but it does help me out to know there are people reading that.

Just finished up a particularly difficult week. Mania was sky-high, and it was scary. We're talking full-blown mania, not that hypomania stuff I usually get that I try to pretend is mania. This was BAD. I had a job interview for a job I REALLY want, and didn't do as well as I had hoped. Then I got turned down for a car loan mainly because we had a dental bill that had been reported that we didn't know had been turned over. We thought we were OK with the payments we were making. I was all set to buy one of those boxy little Scions. A ton of room, and 34 mpg. I'm getting like 14 mpg now.

But a high point, the wife and I saw Bela Fleck And The Flecktones tonight in an outside concert. This was one of the best shows I've ever seen. The best musicians you've never heard of. Bela Fleck on banjo, Victor Wooten on bass, a guy named Futureman on percussion, and the horn player's name escapes me. The combination of banjo, saxophone, bass, and electronic percussion is so absurd it's wonderful. Their styles ranged from bebop to fusion jazz to bluegrass. The bass player, Victor Wooten, is probably the best bass player in the world today. He approaches the late Jaco Pastorious as a virtuoso. Bela Fleck on banjo had sounds and styles ranging from twangy bluegrass to an electric banjo that sounded like a rock guitar. And the guy can PLAY. Incredible. If they ever hit your town, they are a MUST SEE.

I won't be updating this blog as often, my bipolar blog gets most of my attention these days. And with the week just finished I haven't been around to the blogs as regularly as I'd like. Sorry to all my friends, I promise to get around more often.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Bipolar-Connection

I have worked out some details, have escaped the depression that had me doubting I could put one foot in front of the other, and have rejoined the team at Bipolar-Connection as a patient blogger. My blog can be found here. I go by GJ, the "J" standing for Jon. Bipolar-Connection is part of the Health Central network.

If everyone who visited here would take the time to check out the new blog and leave their input as comments, that site would become an even better resource. Message boards, accessible experts, and a staff willing to do what it takes to serve the community. I feel blessed to be a part of this team.

I will keep this blog, and will update it from time to time as time allows, but most of my bipolar posts will be at the Bipolar-Connection blog.

So stop by and let me know you're still around, I won't have stats to check traffic anymore. If you're a blogger, be sure to post your blog so I can link back to it.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Fighting Depression

4 coworkers received the "tap on the shoulder" yesterday and were let go, including my closest coworker. This is going to be a real challenge to avoid sliding into a depression.

On the upside, I have a phone interview this morning as an IS business analyst with one of the largest food processing companies in the world. I am hopeful about this one. And I have many resumes out, something will come through shortly.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Outsourcing

Just like the immigration issue, there's been some very hateful things said and written in the name of outsourcing. I'd like to spend a few lines of blog addressing this.

My occupation is in programming, specifically telemarketing programming. If you've ever received a credit card offer in the mail and called the toll free number, there's a good possibility that Indian (or Phillipinian, or Canadian, or ...) phone operator is using a program I wrote. I know, don't hate me. At least it's not as intrusive as outbound telemarketing. The guys that write outbound scripts are in the next aisle...

Within the last year I began training a team of developers in India. Great kids, and they are mostly "kids", I don't have a person over 25 on my team. We've known all along, even though management has denied it, that our jobs will be questionable when these developers are up to speed. We received confirmation Friday that this is indeed happening soon. By the end of the third quarter, they anticipate our on-shore IS staff will be reduced by 70%. So, in effect, we are training our replacements. It's like training a soldier, knowing that when he's learned his job, he's going to turn around and put a bullet in your head.

We have a great IS department, I am the newest person in the organization with 7 years experience. We have improved our processes, our programs, our knowledge. As people have left, we haven't needed to replace them. We just work better and more efficiently. I'm proud of what we've accomplished over the years in a fast moving, fast changing industry. But those processes, those improvements, they really didn't mean anything. The company just silently reaped the benefits.

At this point, I could choose to do many things. I could be angry with the people who would replace me. But it's not their fault. They have become peers, even friends. I chat by messenger with them at all hours of the day and night. I see their wedding pictures, they recognize my kids through pictures. My team lead over there even wears a red turban on Fridays in the fall as a sign of support for my Cornhuskers football team.

I could choose to be angry with my management for allowing this to happen. But they are just carrying out objectives from those above them. Yes, they are selfishly and zealously clinging to their own jobs, but would I not do the same?

I could choose to be angry with the CEO and the top echelon of management for allowing this to happen. And perhaps they could have delayed it a bit, but it's inevitable. We had a high-level smug asshole come out from "Corporate" and talk to us recently about "The Transformation" as they call it. We pointed out that already the gains to be realized in India are shrinking, the playing field is leveling. He responded that he knew that, and that's why the company has already established a presence in China. While his job may not be in immediate jeopardy, it's not his fault either. If it wasn't him as an axe-man, someone else would be there to do it.

So where does the problem lie? And is there really a problem?

We pointed out that the staff in India was not yet fully trained. The exec that was fielding questions responded that it didn't really matter, because knowing the gains that were awaiting this transformation, the stockholders were pushing.

Boom. It sunk in. That was the answer. This is all in the name of stock prices. To the shareholders individual wealth is more important than the welfare of the country's citizens.

Now I'm not saying I don't agree with the capitalistic concept. I was a business major, and it was pounded into me. To think otherwise would be to embrace socialism, and the pure "evil" it represents. But something is wrong here.

Is the system broken? In the US, what professions are safe? Medical, some education, and certain services are all I can think of. Is there anything else that can't be outsourced? Engineering, consulting, programming - there's almost nothing that can't be done for a cost savings somewhere else in the world.

Is there a solution? As workers do we quickly retool and re-educate to become health care providers? Or should we look for work maintaining the pools and sprinkler systems of the shareholders we used to work for? Maybe that's the reason for the right's opposition to immigration, to keep those jobs available for out of work technical people.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Mike Wallace Speaks About His Depression on 60 Minutes

Just received this press release from http://nami.org

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On Sunday, May 21, 2006, CBS correspondent Mike Wallace will make his last scheduled appearance on the news television show 60 Minutes, broadcast on CBS television stations at 7:00 ET/PT (Check local listings). The show will highlight many parts of Wallace's career, but particularly poignant will be a frank discussion with his colleague Morley Safer about his struggle with depression -- including for the very first time, his attempted suicide.

Wallace has devoted himself to ending the stigma of mental illness and encouraging people to get help when they need it. This broadcast will continue to advance that public education. NAMI thanks him.

For more information, please visit the CBS web site.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I'm Back

I'm back to blogging here. Bipolar-connection is an excellent resource, and the people there are great. But writing about my condition commercially just didn't feel right, and therapeutically it didn't fill my "need". I really wish I didn't feel this way, because it was a very sweet gig...

More details, and a complete post, later.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I've Moved!

My blog has moved! It can be found at Bipolar-Connection, which is part of the Health Central Network. I would very much appreciate if you would adjust your links and bookmarks for the new location. Since Bipolar-Connection already has a "John" - the well known bipolar advocate John McManamy, I am going by my initials, GJ.

Bipolar-Connection has the potential and backing to be a significant resource to those suffering from, or wanting to learn more about, bipolar disorder. I am proud to be associated with this organization, and want to spread the word.

So continue to visit my blog, and while you are there jump over to the message boards and add your input. The amount of knowledge and experience in this ring of bipolar blogs is mind-boggling, and collectively we comprise a huge and valuable resource.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Summer Casino Concerts

I've written so many times about music it must be tiresome. Here's another post about music, kind of...

We have a couple of those dreaded riverboat casinos floating on the river forming the border between our state and the "immoral" neighboring state that allows gambling. I'm not opposed to gambling, I loved the horse races our city used to host for a few months every year. I loved visiting casinos at Lake Tahoe a few years ago. I love a friendly poker game with family or friends. I sometimes play Powerball, and have even bet on a few college football games, with REAL bookies. But I detest local casino gambling in my community. I have never spent a dime gambling, dining, or lodging in one of those damn casinos. My wife put it best, when the casinos first came to our area, we still owned our store. She said "every day of our lives is a gamble. Why do I need another one?"

A couple of years ago one of our casinos started sponsoring outdoors concerts. We're talking some GREAT entertainment in a nice venue. Not too big, it can't hold a thousand people, so it's as intimate as you're going to get outdoors. The first year we saw Indigenous play for $5 a ticket. A great, high-energy blues band that's worth seeing. Last year we saw Robert Randolph and the Family band, the GREATEST live show you will ever experience. Seek them out and see them at any opportunity. We saw Lyle Lovett and his Large Band. We missed Bighead Todd and the Monsters, and Willie Nelson. Every one of these shows was less than $25 a ticket.

In going to these shows, we have to purchase tickets, and, (gasp!) a beer or two. I had thought we'd only give them a few entertainment dollars. But last year we purchased tickets in advance, and twice had to actually enter the hotel to pick up our tickets. The first time, we were in and out, and thought we avoided most of the taint. The second time, well, they gave us lawn chairs. Said it was a bonus to their "good customers" for purchasing tickets early. We kept the chairs. (Hey, back off! They were nice chairs!)

Sigh. We've been sucked into their insidious plan. It's a slow, methodical, breaking down of barriers. Just as certain as that first cigarette will lead to hard drugs, the accepting of those chairs will lead us down the path to a "Preferred Members Platinum Players Card".

All winter long, I've been watching for the release of their summer 2006 concert schedule. Another part of their plan, to get me checking their website every few weeks. But finally today, I see the new schedule.

Jonny Lang
Nickel Creek
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones
Los Lobos
George Thorogood
Dwight Yoakum

Those sneaky casino bastards. I'm on a road to ruin.

There's not a throw-away show in the entire line-up. Some of the most incredible, diverse, and significant music available today. Every show will be an experience, as I've personally seen NONE of these bands or artists in a live show before, unless the PBS show "Austin City Limits" counts.

For at least one of these shows the wife and I will have to get a room so we can have a few drinks, relax, and casually stroll upstairs after the show. Shudder. I've been assimilated into their culture. I feel dirty.

But excited.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Friday Odds and Ends

It was quite a scene at our NAMI meeting last night.  A lady showed up at the meeting, and sat in on the support group for those who care for loved ones with mental disorders.  She had evidently agreed to care for her 25 year old niece who suffers from borderline personality disorder.   This lady had no clue.  She evidently thought that a few months with her and she'd have this young gal shaped up and ready to face the world.  At one point she said that she wasn't aware that she'd be sitting in with "them" and gestured towards the room that held the "consumers", or those suffering from a mental illness.  She said that she raised 3 girls without problems, and she didn't know where this girl got it because HER family didn't suffer from mental illness.  After a while it was bedlam.  It almost evolved into a shouting match.  I had to hold my wife back, and there was a mother of a schizophrenic boy who wanted to tear the lady's head off.  This just shows that some people have absolutely no clue.  I talked to the lady after the meeting – she really needs to return.  This group can do her a lot of good, provided we can keep her alive long enough to benefit from it.

Spring in the heartland.  85 degrees yesterday, tornados last night, in the forties today.  How I envy those of you in the more temperate and stable areas.

I felt really good earlier this week.  Kyle called me for fishing advice.  I felt really bad later, it didn't work.  He didn't catch anything.  I'd really like for him to develop this interest, it's something that could provide a refuge for him throughout his life.

That single 25 mg dose of Seroquel taken earlier this week took over a day before the effects were totally gone.  I don't think I'll be wanting to sleep that badly for a while.

Karen and I were talking this week about her mother.  She is living with us now, recovering from a stroke.  She may be with us permanently.  But Karen was telling about some of her mom's behavior when my wife was a girl.  It sounds like she is also bipolar.  Add this to the obvious bipolar that we have on my side of the family (I am bipolar), and it looks like Kyle caught a full double whammy.  This explains a lot…

Friday night, my favorite night of the week.  I always work my second job on Friday nights, but afterwards Karen and the girls and I go to a local restaurant to eat and unwind.  It's a place that has "bar food",  greasy burgers and chili cheese dogs and fried onion rings and fried cheese sandwiches, and it's REALLY good.  They also have 99 cent longnecks and 99 cent margaritas.  Karen and I both have 2 drinks, never more but sometimes less, and eat unhealthy food.  The girls eat their chicken strips and help themselves to "suicides" at the self serve soda machine.  It's the single thing I look forward to more than anything every week.

I just had a birthday, and a good friend gave me a birthday card.  On the cover it shows George W Bush, a serious expression on his face, and he's holding up 3 fingers.   It says "Heard you're getting older.  Just three words to say about it."
You open the card and it says simply….
"Happy Birthday"


Well, another work week comes to a close.  I hope it was a good one for everyone, and that the weekend is relaxing and rejuvenating to all.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Bipolar Diagnosis

The Queen at My Bipolar Life told an interesting story in her last post. I am reposting it here:

Something has been bothering me since yesterday. I went in with hubby when he saw his psychiatrist. He felt like maybe I could give her more insight into his behavior.

Anyway, I mentioned my diagnosis to her, and she said that she didn't believe I was bipolar. She said I was too well spoken and clear headed.

Trying to ignore the insensitivity of that doc's comment, and that he or she walked all over a peer's work, let's explore this a bit.

I have yet to meet ANYONE (except my wife) who agrees with my diagnosis. They think I'm too well spoken, or polished, or smart, or successful, or hard working or... But that is EXACTLY my issue. I live my life to keep it together for the world, and nobody is allowed a glimpse of what's behind the curtain. The family knows, they bear the brunt of my highs and lows, the meanness and the laughter. That curtain extends even to our home - I'm not comfortable with people in my house, and it took me years to realize why. The house is something too large and overwhelming to keep together. When my house is messy or dirty I often lose it. It's just too much for me to handle alone, and because I can't handle it alone, I'm often not able to handle it at all...

But back on topic. After watching my bipolar son struggle through school and struggle through life, I wanted to become an advocate of sorts. I began pursuing knowledge about this condition. the wife and I began to blog, slowly becoming part of the bipolar community. When I was finally diagnosed as bipolar after several yearly trips to the doc over depression related issues, it was almost a relief. From the time I learned about this condition, I knew I would eventually find this out, and am cool with that. In fact, I now have a legitimate soapbox from which to preach.

Onward and upward. My diagnosis of bipolar disorder is really secondary to any of this. I have a pdoc that rarely mentions the word "bipolar". We talk about successes and failures, highs and lows, and what can be done in the coming month. But perhaps most importantly, we discuss meds. How they are working, side effects, what is good, what is bad. Without meds I could live life the same as I always have. The highs would be higher, the lows lower. The curtain would remain, the exterior unchanged.

So why accept the diagnosis? Why take the meds? Because it makes life easier for my loved ones. Even medicated I'm still not an easy person to live with in many ways. In other ways I'm an adventure every day. But the quality of life of my loved ones is better when I'm faithful about taking my meds. Which brings us to the point of this post: It wouldn't matter if they rescinded their bipolar diagnosis. I am a better husband and father due to these meds, and I don't care what they want to call it.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

In A Fog

Yesterday the pdoc prescribed Seroquel to help me calm down and sleep - 25 mg, and take one or two based on need. I took 25 mg last night.

I am a zombie today. I could barely haul myself out of bed, and this morning I can't shake the cobwebs. I remember now how that Seroquel affected me last time I was on it. And I was taking 200 mg twice a day. I got almost 6 hours of sleep last night, but it seems it wasn't NEARLY enough. Not like the last week where I was needing zero sleep. Up until yesterday it felt like I was moving into a hypomanic period, but the Seroquel seems to have nipped that in the bud.

Damn - I was looking forward to that.

Blog Comments

Pdoc today prescribed me some Seroquel to help me sleep. I got halfway through my blog list and hit a wall. Tomorrow I promise to start from the bottom and go up. I'm going to get through them all tomorrow.

Kyle is doing fine. He's still drinking, I have smelled it on him recently. But he sought me out the other day to ask me some fishing questions. Made me feel good. I bought him a fishing license right after that.

I realize I haven't blogged about the family in a LONG time. Get ready for a complete family update in the next day or two.

Well, the seroquel is kicking my ass. More tomorrow.

Later, ya'll!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Lack Of Sleep

Today was one of my best days in weeks, if not months. I could concentrate, I got a lot of work done, I was stable, and felt great.

I didn't sleep more than an hour last night, if at all.

For me, this is a big deal. My life has to be somewhat structured, and sleep is part of that. If I'm not in bed by midnight, I start getting nervous. The alarm goes off at 6:15 in the morning. Last night I couldn't sleep. I just laid there and let my active mind go nuts. This morning I felt great, no morning Lamictal headache, no morning fog. I got more done at work than I have for a long time.

In the past I've gone expended periods of time with little sleep. Several weeks on end getting 2 to 4 hours a night. After a couple of weeks I'd get mild hallucinations. It was like seeing ghosts. Plus I lost my creative edge. I could maintain, do day to day chores and activities, but creativity took the biggest hit.

But maybe we're only talking an advantage one or two nights a week. Perhaps only during a certain mood phase. Over the course of the next couple of weeks I'm going to explore this. Can you imagine how much more productive a person could be if they could get by on a few hours of sleep a night?

The Pig is Back!

My love of good music has been written about numerous times on this blog. It's my greatest therapy, my art of choice. I'm not a musician, or not for many years anyway, but good music keeps me sane, or as much as is possible with me.

The greatest radio station in the world is streaming live on the internet again. This may not last long, so if you're interested better pull it up. KPIG.com There are regulars to this blog in the Bay area who have probably heard this station before, but most have not. Their ground signal originates from the California central coast, but they broadcast from a few areas up into the bay area.

No matter what you consider your musical tastes, this is a station that must be listened to with an open mind. Many say it's a country station, and immediately write it off. And there is some country, but NEVER the "hot new country" or the formula type of music. And today's pop country absolutely sucks big time. The Pig's playlist includes rock, blues, country, americana, tex-mex, and much that is totally unclassifiable. And that diversity is VERY cool.

To listen, you need Winamp. With Winamp, you click on the little "lazy 8" symbol in the upper left of the player, select "Play" then "Location" and tell it to play this location "http://64.236.34.196:80/stream/1001". If it's not full, the station will begin playing.

Enjoy.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday Shorts

Still no new contract from the website I hope to be writing and blogging for. Development on the http://livingbipolar.com site is still pending until I hear back. That site will go away when and if this contract comes together. But it's been 2 months, I'm starting to wonder if it will ever come together...

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Had an interesting revelation the other day. Bipolars are notoriously bad sleepers. We get by on very little sleep. Unless we're exceptionally depressed, then we don't get out of bed. But anyway... I have come to the realization that I do best on 5.5 to 6.5 hours of sleep a night. When I get over 6.5 hours I dream and sleep restlessly. I wake up feeling shredded. But 5.5 to 6.5 hours, I feel best. Still not good, Lamictal headaches and mind fog in the morning are a bitch, but it's still better than too much sleep.

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Speaking of sleep, I've been waking every morning with a song stuck in my head. I get up and have to play it. This week it's been Wilco's "Jesus Etc.", Steely Dan's "Any Major Dude", The Subdudes "Late At Night", and a few others that don't immediately come to mind. My wife is used to it, with both my son and myself, she knows if we play music in the morning, it will be a good day for us. And therefore a better day for her...

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What happens when a psychiatrist and a hooker spend the night together?
In the morning each of them says: "120 dollars, please."

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Sorry I haven't gotten around to commenting on other blogs. If it's on my link-list, I absolutely check in every few days. But I don't always comment. That doesn't mean I don't care what you're going through. Someone may have already given more words of wisdom than I'll EVER have, or it may already be 2 in the morning with a 6:00 wake-up, or whatever. But do know I'm thinking about you all.

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For those reading this blog, I do allow anonymous comments. Please don't hesitate to leave comments. If you want me to give my opinion on something, I'd be happy to. I have an opinion on everything, and this blog is evidence I'll share it even if you're not interested.

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Two elderly couples were enjoying friendly conversation when one of them asked the other, "Fred, how was the memory clinic you went to last month?"

"Outstanding," Fred replied. "They taught us all the latest psychological techniques - visualization, association - it made a huge difference for me."

"That's great! What was the name of the clinic?"

Fred went blank He thought and thought, but couldn't remember. Then a smile broke across his face and he asked, "What do you call that flower with the long stem and thorns?"

"You mean a rose?"

"Yes, that's it!" He turned to his wife. . ."Rose, what was the name of that clinic?"

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I hope everyone has a GREAT weekend!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Any Major Dude Will Tell You

I never seen you looking so bad my funky one
You tell me that your superfine mind has come undone

Any major dude with half a heart surely will tell you my friend
Any minor world that breaks apart falls together again
When the demon is at your door
In the morning it won't be there no more
Any major dude will tell you

Have you ever seen a squonk's tears? Well, look at mine
The people on the street have all seen better times

Any major dude with half a heart surely will tell you my friend
Any minor world that breaks apart falls together again
When the demon is at your door
In the morning it won't be there no more
Any major dude will tell you

I can tell you all I know, the where to go, the what to do
You can try to run but you can't hide from what's inside of you

Any major dude with half a heart surely will tell you my friend
Any minor world that breaks apart falls together again
When the demon is at your door
In the morning it won't be there no more
Any major dude will tell you


Steely Dan
Any Major Dude Will Tell You
Pretzel Logic
©1974 MCA Music Publishing, a division of Universal Studios, Inc. (ASCAP).

Monday, March 27, 2006

My Wife Talked!

Actually, my wife talks all the time. She'll follow me to the bathroom, I shut the door directly in her face, and she continues to talk through the bathroom door. But tonight I finally got her to open up.

She has refused to give her opinion on my meds. It's always been entirely up to me, my life, my decision. Finally tonight I sat her down and made her see that it's me vs 7 other people in a quality of life question. That's a no-brainer. If the family is happier, if she is happier, then it's a done deal. She finally admitted, after relentless grilling by me, that things are easier for the family when I'm on meds. OK - I can deal with this. She did say I'm cycling more quickly, which isn't necessarily good, and gave me a little more insight. I appreciated her input.

I see my pdoc in a week. I'm going to lay this all out, and see what direction I should go.

Damn, I sound like such a basket case. Yes, no, up down, confident, doubting...

Thanks to all for your comments, emails, and support.

Memory Loss

I am experiencing significant memory loss. Mostly short term, but long term also. I can't remember what I worked on Friday. I can't remember what we talked about in meetings last week. I can't remember what we did Saturday, the wife and I. For long term, if I try to remember what my best friends looked like in high school, what our house looked like, and so forth, I can't remember. Long term may be happening anyway, and may not be a good example, but it is a real problem for me. But my short term memory is ABSOLUTELY affected. This is scary. I can't afford to lose this, particularly with my job.

I have been doing some research on this, and I have read that memory loss can occur with meds like Lamictal, but it generally returns once moods stabilize. Frankly, I don't think I can wait, or am willing to gamble that it returns. I hope that permanent damage hasn't already been done.

I'm going to talk to my wife, but I'm fairly certain I'm going to be med-free very soon here.

I don't think things are going to be bad without meds. I'm not normally suicidal, so that's a very minor risk. My hypomanias are controlled, I'm not one who will die of a drug overdose or alcohol poisoning while chasing a high. I'm cognizant of my moods, I am understanding of what happens to me, and I'm becoming more knowledgeable about the disorder itself. That understanding and knowledge should allow me to react accordingly to the people around me. And afterall, that is the ONLY reason I'm on meds - the people around me.

This may all change after I talk to my wife and sleep on it, but I really doubt it.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Another Music Meme

Saw this on I Am Gen and Pax Nortona - A Blog by Joel Sax.

Since Joel took The Beatles, I had to go with Steely Dan. "The Dan" is a band that you won't appreciate until you sit down and listen past the "pop hooks". The 2 main members of the band, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, create intricate songs that combine rock, elements of jazz, and biting, satirical lyrics. They surround them with "pop" wrappings, and that's one thing many can't get past. But listen deeper to what's underneath. If you listen from a musician's point of view, it's incredibly complex, with difficult chord changes and unusual arrangements. Some purists don't like it because it's purely studio - crafted and blended until perfection. But on every listen I find something else that amazes and delights me.

Choose a band/artist and answer ONLY in titles of their songs.

1. Are you male or female?
Third World Man

2. Describe yourself:
Charlie Freak

3. How do some people feel about you:
Only A Fool Would Say That

4. How do you feel about yourself:
Monkey In Your Soul

5. Describe your ex boyfriend/girlfriend:
The Boston Rag

6. Describe your current significant other:
Pearl Of The Quarter

7. Describe where you want to be:
New Frontier

8. Describe how you live:
Night By Night

9. Describe how you love:
The Fez (Never gonna do it without the Fez on...)

10. What would you ask for if you had just one wish
Time Out Of Mind

11. Share a few words of wisdom:
Any Major Dude Will Tell You

12. Now say goodbye:
Change Of The Guard

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Self Medicating

I don't mind saying, the last week has been a total bitch. Anxiety has been high, energy level rising, but not in a positive way. Nervous tics are out of control, and my face, head, and scalp feels like tight cluster of clenched muscles. It's not pleasant at all.

I fully understand why bipolars and others with mental disorders are so apt to self-medicate. Psych meds are designed for long term results. When feelings like this arise, we crave something immediate that can relieve our discomfort or suffering. Today I'm sitting in my chair fidgeting, shaking my legs, and trying hard to sit still and concentrate. It's a losing battle. For some reason I don't want to drink, but if there were other drugs around, I would be tempted to do almost anything to get rid of this feeling. It's better today than it has been, but still bad. If I was 20 years old, I guarantee I'd be outside torching a bowl right now. Instead, I try to do it on willpower alone. Even if I knew where to find weed anymore, I'm job hunting right now. I KNOW I'd get a great offer contingent on a drug test if I went that route.

At least I can put the headphones on and work to music. Today Radio Paradise has gone from Miles Davis with Taj Mahal and John Lee Hooker to Stevie Wonder to Paul Simon. A few songs later, The Psychedelic Furs and Porcupine Tree. Music absolutely helps soothe the beast in me.

Another 2 weeks till my next P-doc appointment. I hope there's something he can suggest that can help with this. I may work through it by then, but if not I'll be climbing walls and trying to score SOMETHING.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Snow Day

While we didn't get nearly as much as they said we would get, it was still a significant snowstorm on the first day of spring.


The girls had a great time building a snow "Miss America". Notice the sash (partially snowed over), and the hair.


Here's a picture I took of my neighbor shoveling his walk. I took this picture to send to my colleagues over in India - they really have no concept of snow, and what we do with it. My neighbor and his wife leave for Indonesia tomorrow on a scuba diving trip. You don't think he was enjoying this snow...

While they're saying another foot of snow, I don't see that. It appears we're pretty much done. And that's really too bad, I was hoping for a snow day tomorrow.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

What Is It About Kansas?

I may alienate some with this post, as I know there are several regular readers that hail from Kansas. Kansas has a lot to offer - Lawrence is a little cultural mecca in the Heartland. And Kansas City (partially in Kansas) brought us some of the world's greatest jazz and barbecue. Count Basie hit his stride in KC. But the intolerance that oozes out of Kansas is mind-boggling.

Families Seek Legislative Remedies From Funeral Protesters

The Kansas-based church, which believes God is punishing America for its tolerance of homosexuality by sending home U.S. soldiers "in body bags," chose as one of its most recent demonstration sites the funeral of Army Staff Sgt. Lance Chase, 32, father of two sons, who died from a roadside bomb while on duty in Iraq on Jan. 23. On Sunday, Westboro's adherents traveled to Yankton, S.D., to the memorial service for 21-year-old Army National Guard Spc. Allen D. Kokesh, Jr.

These people are demonstrating at and disrupting funerals of fallen soldiers.

... signs held by members that Feb. 2 were dutifully noted ...: "Steve held 'Thank God for Dead Soldiers,' 'You're Going to Hell' and 'Fags Doom Nations' while Shirl held 'America is Doomed,' 'God is America's Terror' and 'Don't Worship the Dead' with a flag tied around her waist."

There's more:

Westboro Baptist Church, an independent congregation of about 75 people, has been picketing in the Kansas area for years, often choosing memorial services for AIDS victims. But the group has recently made national headlines by traveling to places like Oklahoma and Tennessee, bringing their anti-gay rhetoric to the memorials for soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Congregation members also picketed outside of the funerals for the 12 West Virginia miners who perished after a mine explosion in January.

Asked what the church expected to accomplish by upsetting grieving families, Phelps explained they are on a mission, and that it is their right to be there.

"We are delivering a message. God is punishing this nation and he is using the IED as his weapon of choice," she said, referring to the improvised explosive devices that have killed many of the U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq since 2003. At least 2,255 American military personnel have died in Iraq since the war began.

Un-freakin-believable.

But how to stop it? Legislation? That tramples on the first amendment, doesn't it?

... lawmakers like Schodorf of Kansas, state Sen. Mike Friend of Nebraska and others say they will work with constitutional experts to ensure any laws they draft will withstand a legal challenge from the group.

"I believe it's constitutional," said Schodorf, who said her proposal to keep protesters 300 feet from any funeral or memorial service would supplement an existing statute that bans protests an hour before and two hours after these events.

Schodorf said a constitutional attorney will be guiding the process, and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has promised to sign the bill once it passes the Legislature.

"We're having trouble finding the balance but we think we can do it," said Friend, regarding the Nebraska proposal, which is still being molded to fit constitutional concerns.

"We're trying to keep the people who are mourning from being subjected to this stuff, and prevent any potential violence that could break out," he said.

Ed Yohnka of the American Civil Liberties Union in Illinois, another state considering a restriction on funeral picketing, said his organization wants to work with legislators to ensure their measures don't cross the fine line between constructive regulation and violations of free speech.

"We're talking to legislators and governors. While their aims are good and may be viewed as compassionate and perfectly appropriate for many reasons, how do we get there in terms of being constitutional" is the challenge, he added.

What rock to these people crawl out from under to disrupt the funeral of someone's child? A fallen soldier? No matter how a person feels about the war, or gays, or anything else, these actions are miles beyond ANY definition of indecency.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Basket Case

I'm a basket case today. I'm sitting here with the "jimmy legs" big time. I'm full of nervous energy. And I do mean nervous. My nervous tics are back with a vengeance. My 7 year old said to me yesterday "Daddy! You can wiggle your ears!" And I wasn't trying to do that. My face is tense, my body is tense, and I have no real reason to feel this way. I'm wondering if a muscle relaxant, or something similar, might help this.

Karen's mother is living with us now, and Karen and I have butted heads about this several times. She says I've been a real asshole lately, and to get used to it, because her mom isn't going anywhere. I'm trying to adjust, and it's been much more difficult than I ever antipated. We have newspapers all over the house, dishes all over, dirty tissues dropped everywhere, and so forth. Also, her walker is too wide to fit through the main bathroom door and she has to use the bathroom in our room. Karen set up a portable stool in her bedroom, but that's the most disgusting thought I've ever encountered, to think she's sitting in her own bedroom letting loose. And who's cleaning up that portable stool? I guarantee my wife is. She wouldn't tell me about it, knowing I'd be upset. They moved our TV and surround sound system from our rec room to the upstairs living room, just stacked the stuff around, and pulled the chairs and couch close to the TV. We have a huge living room with all the furniture pulled to one side, and a surround sound system with all the speakers in one pile. I am so pissed about this I can't begin to express it. I try to express my feelings and am informed that I'm a jerk for not being supportive. So I try to suck it in, not say anything, and let things continue as they are. My wife would go through the rest of her life living "temporarily" like this. It just drives me fricking CRAZY. I told her that at the bare minimum we need an entertainment center for the upstairs, and another TV for down, but I doubt we'll get either. Instead, we have a TV sitting on a small bookshelf, and a sound system piled on top of itself. It sucks.

Is my irritation showing? I try to express this at home, and I'm called an ungrateful prick. I don't mind her being around, I really don't. I just don't think we should have to settle for such a drastic quality of life change for this reason. I think my wife should stand up for things more, and insist her mom pay for the necessary changes we have to make. I certainly can't say it, my opinion doesn't count here. I do know that things have to change. I can't take this forever.

That's likely one component of my anxiety, maybe ALL of my anxiety. More to discuss, but that needs to come later.

Added:

I appreciate the comments. I feel guilty for having these feelings. I've always known my mother in law would move in with us at some point, so I really don't mind having her here. She's been very good to us over the years, financially and otherwise. My wife is doing all the work caring for her, and I don't like that either. If all her time and energy is spent caring for her mother, our time is going to suffer. There's a lot of frustration right now with both of us, and mine spilled out into my blog. I wonder where my wife's is going? She tore into me the other day, there's ONE place it's going...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Dragging Ass

Dragging ass like a motherfucker. Big time blocked, too. I'm down, I'm slow, I couldn't put two meaningful words together right now to save my life. And if it's not obvious, I'm not getting around to visit and comment other blogs. Sorry, all.

And a full moon, too. Go figure.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Concentration Issues

Lately it's been more and more difficult to concentrate. I've always suspected I'm somewhat ADD, but often think I'm somewhat martian, too. This week has been particularly difficult. I do my best work in the late afternoon / evening, which means after the work day is essentially done. Remember the line from Office Space? "I'd say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work." It seems that way for me sometimes.

I suppose one reason is my job isn't holding my attention any more. Or is that merely a justification? I truly love to program, to sit down, block out the world, and allow my mind the luxury of unrestrained, logical, thought. It's wonderful. But these days that luxury is long gone. I'd say in a given week, I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, programming. I tell my team in India how they should program, test their programs (I HATE testing), and spend the majority of my time cleaning up issues caused by my colleagues overseas. Not that I'm complaining, my job still exists because I'm needed to handle those exact issues.

But where was I going with this? Oh yeah, concentration. (Slap myself on the forehead).

I've applied for an internal posting. Not coding, unfortunately. It's time for me to grow professionally, and step out of that comfortable box. This will be a sink-or-swim venture. I'll succeed, and move up quickly, or I'll sink like a stone and drown. It's as a single point of contact in a technical capacity. I would coordinate all technical operations - between the client and the call centers, including call routing and phone issues, between the client and sales, between the client and development, and so forth. Project management, product management, and client management. It sounds like a bitch, but it also sounds like something a bipolar personality could really sink their teeth into, doesn't it? It's sounding like a 75% chance I'll nab this one. Be that good or bad...

Another way my concentration is failing - right now I should be working on a program for a web site I'm building. I looked forward to it all day at work, and I get home and can't do it. That's life in my world.

Enough me-me-me. It's helpful, but must be incredibly boring for everyone else. I promise to try harder...

Bill Maher's Rules For 2006

By now you've probably all received this by email from people you haven't talked to in person for years. I received it from my brother, and it was credited to George Carlin. These days if I receive ANYTHING credited to George Carlin, I jump immediately to Snopes to check it out. Ditto Ted Nugent. Ditto General Norman Schwartzkopf. Ditto Ollie North. Ditto Rush. No, scratch Rush. NOTHING he says surprises me anymore, and I really don't care enough to spend the time researching something he might have said. But anyway.

A little disclaimer. Because I might think this is funny doesn't mean I necessarily agree with it, but it also doesn't mean I don't. I have a very active and sick sense of humor, and exercise it whenever I can.

Updated Rules for 2006:

New Rule:
Stop giving me that pop-up ad for classmates.com! There's a reason you don't talk to people for 25 years. Because you don't particularly like them! Besides, I already know what the captain of the football team is doing these days: mowing my lawn.

New Rule:
Don't eat anything that's served to you out a window unless you're a seagull. People are acting all shocked that a human finger was found in a bowl of Wendy's chili. Hey, it cost less than a dollar. What did you expect it to contain? Trout?

New Rule:
Stop saying that teenage boys who have sex with their hot, blonde teachers are permanently damaged. I have a better description for these kids: lucky bastards.

New Rule:
If you need to shave and you still collect baseball cards, you're a dope. If you're a kid, the cards are keepsakes of your idols. If you're a grown man, they're pictures of men.

New Rule:
Ladies, leave your eyebrows alone. Here's how much men care about your eyebrows: do you have two of them? Okay, we're done.

New Rule:
There's no such thing as flavored water. There's a whole aisle of this crap at the supermarket, water, but without that watery taste. Sorry, but flavored water is called a soft drink. You want flavored water? Pour some scotch over ice and let it melt. That's your flavored water.

New Rule:
Stop messing with old people. Target is introducing a redesigned pill bottle that's square, with a bigger label. And the top is now the bottom. And by the time grandpa figures out how to open it, his ass will be in the morgue. Congratulations, Target, you just solved the Social Security crisis.

New Rule:
The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the ass hole. If you walk into a Starbucks and order a "decaf grande half-soy, half-low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one Sweet-n'-Low and one NutraSweet," ooh, you're a huge ass hole.

New Rule:
I'm not the cashier! By the time I look up from sliding my card, entering my PIN number, pressing Enter," verifying the amount, deciding, no, I don't want cash back, and pressing "Enter" again, the kid who is supposed to be ringing me up is standing there eating my Almond Joy.

New Rule:
Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it doesn't make you spiritual. It's right above the crack of your butt. And it translates to "beef with broccoli." The last time you did anything spiritual, you were praying to God you weren't pregnant. You're not spiritual. You're just high.

New Rule:
Competitive eating isn't a sport. It's one of the seven deadly sins. ESPN recently televised the US Open of Competitive Eating, because watching those athletes at the poker table was just too damned exciting. What's next, competitive farting? Oh wait. They're already doing that. It's called "The Howard Stern Show."

New Rule:
I don't need a bigger mega M&M. If I'm extra hungry for M&Ms, I'll go nuts and eat two.

New Rule:
If you're going to insist on making movies based on crappy, old television shows, then you have to give everyone in the Cineplex a remote so we can see what's playing on the other screens. Let's remember the reason something was a television show in the first place is that the idea wasn't good enough to be a movie.

New Rule:
No more gift registries. You know, it used to be just for weddings. Now it's for babies and new homes and graduations from rehab. Picking out the stuff you want and having other people buy it for you isn't gift giving, it's the white people version of looting.

New Rule:
When I ask how old your toddler is, I don't need to know in months. "27 Months." "He's two," will do just fine. He's not a cheese. And I didn't really care in the first place.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Girl Scout Cookies

This has nothing to do with bipolar, but it's on my mind.

The grade school my girls attend is in a nice neighborhood, but it's a 1960s neighborhood. This means it's in the first transition. Back in the 60s and 70s, there were kids EVERYWHERE. Now, there are still many original home owners, and not nearly as many kids. Younger couples are buying newer houses in suburbs rather than in established neighborhoods. The neighborhood school is suffering from declining enrollment as a result. So our school district has made our neighborhood school a "school of international studies" and a "magnet school". The school district provides free transportation from lower income neighborhoods to students who choose to attend this school. It's a great way to help attain necessary integration. This is VERY cool, as it gives my girls the opportunity for a diverse educational experience.

My wife is a girl scout leader, both for my youngest daughter's Brownie troop, and my older daughter's Girl Scout troop. And of course, it's cookie time. The people in her troops are a diverse mix just like the school. Once again, very cool. But cookie time brings problems. Last year we had a young mother whose daughter sold several hundred dollars worth of cookies. The money disappeared. The young scout's mother died 2 days later from an overdose. It was tragic. The grandmother stepped in and made up the shortage, but she worked at Walmart and didn't have an extra $200 plus to spare. Along with that, she now had the extra burden of raising the young girl. A local business owner heard the story, stepped in, and paid the shortage. It was a very classy thing for him to do, and I respect him greatly for it. The girl is still involved in the scout troop, and loves it.

This year, we have another problem. Not to the magnitude of last year's, thank goodness. But we have a mother, always red-eyed, and always with shaking hands. She is a self-admitted meth addict. My wife is not able to collect money from her for their cookie sales. She's being pleasant, calling with reminders such as "we'll have someone home all day today if you want to drop off the money, or let me know if it would be more convenient for me to pick it up". Today, the mother's phone was disconnected. Luckily, it's not a lot of money, less than $100. My family or the troop will make it up, but you can't just let it go. That money is important to the troop, my wife's troops pay the girl's yearly fees out of cookie money as some of the parents just can't handle an extra $20 fee.

So they're left with a problem. Do they kick the girl out of scouts? That wouldn't be right, her home situation is obviously difficult, and the scouts could be a huge positive influence on her. You hate to make the girl pay for her mother's problems. And you don't want the girl to be uncomfortable around the others, so you try very hard to shelter the youngster from the situation. But the mother needs to know this can't be tolerated. The scouts will take legal action if necessary, but my wife won't turn her in. She'll cover it instead. We'll ask for payments, and may get one or two, but won't get them all. At least it's not enough money to bring about another OD.

Thinking about this, we're pretty damn fortunate. This is our biggest worry today, and we're not in a position where we are on the opposite side of this issue. I just wish everyone was so lucky.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Formatting Issues?

Real quick post here.

I would appreciate knowing if the picture I have displayed in my prevous post is throwing off my blog's formatting for any of you. If you notice that my links have slid down to the bottom, or there are other formatting issues, please take a moment and leave a comment to this post. I can resize the image if that's the case.

Thanks!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Tagged

I started at the bottom of my list tonight, and see that Jil at Wild Abandon tagged me for the desktop screenprint. I don't usually participate in these, call me a stick-in-the-mud, but I am enjoying seeing everyone's desktop. So I will share also. Mine is a "Google Maps" aerial photo of my neighborhood. My girl's grade school is at the bottom of the picture, and my boy's high school is just off the picture to the upper left. I marked our house for the girls so they could recognize where everthing was. It's been fun for them to look at this.



Back for more later...

Monday, March 06, 2006

Lunch Today

Since I so rarely see Kyle (21 year old bipolar son) at home anymore, I make a point to see him at lunch from time to time. He works at a restaurant about 2 blocks away from my office, so I walk over every 2 weeks or so. It makes me feel good to see him and shake his hand (I'd hug him if he'd let me). It's such a success story for him. He doesn't see it that way, he EXPECTS to have a job, and expects it to come as easily as it does for the rest of our family. Of course, nothing about Kyle getting and holding a job comes easily. But he looks so confident when I see him there, and it's obvious he's proud for me to see him there.

It's just one of those things, those successes that bring tears to the eyes of a parent. Success is relative to the person, and I'm every bit as proud of Kyle as I would be of my oldest landing his dream job at Rolling Stone or FHM, or my youngest meeting his goal of graduating from tech school.

Friday, March 03, 2006

NAMI Meeting

The wife and I went to another NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill meeting last night. I always leave those meetings feeling optimistic and thankful. We sat in the "loved ones" support group, and after seeing what some of these parents are going through I am so thankful. It could be SO much worse. Our son Kyle is in great shape compared to some of the others. So many are schizophrenic, and that seems like such a cruel disorder. So many have been hospitalized or institutionalized, and he hasn't. In fact, most seem to be in and out of hospitals and treatment centers.

One parent asked if there was any possibility of a "normal" life. I wanted to stand up and say "yes there is, look at me", but I am still doubting that I'm really bipolar. I express these feelings to my wife, and she says "Puh-lease. How many examples do you want?" She reminds me of how easy she makes my life, and she does. She protects me from the myriad of things that I find difficult or impossible. She is always there for me. She is patient and understanding. But I digress. My life has been enjoyable and relatively trouble free. I have had many successes in my life, but I've also had some significant failures. I've never have a dime to my name, but I've never been hospitalized, and I've never been arrested. I fit in very well with society. Mostly. So obviously my bipolar is NOT NEARLY as severe as most.

I think back to when I was younger. Using drugs, abusing alcohol. I can't help but wonder if I'd been arrested or caught, if my folks would have sent me for rehab or evaluation. Wondering if that would have started a spiral like I've seen with so many people. I had it easy at home, my folks knew I drank, and more or less condoned it. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it was a far different world then. And I do believe as they do, that there is NOTHING wrong with moderate alcohol use for most people. Legal drinking age in our area was 18 at that time, and I drove drunk often. Very often. One unfortunate accident or incident at that time could also have caused a long-term spiral.

So am I just lucky that I've had a great life so far? Or is my bipolar so mild that I've not faced major issues? Or do I not even have it?

I'm still looking for the answers like everyone else out there.