Sunday, January 29, 2006

Website Update

No sooner do I make up my mind to tackle the bipolar web site, a few other things come up. First, I get a paying design and hosting job. Web hosting, and to a lesser extent web design, are "third jobs" for me. I also design custom forms for businesses, but most of that I turn away as I just don't have the time. Most of the web design work I turn away also, although I sometimes agree to do design to get a hosting contract. Well, a job I quoted almost a year ago came through. So that's nice (I guess).

Next, Karen finally agrees to begin "the book". We have talked for many years about writing a book, but we can't commit. I finally approached it from a "project" point of view, we had our kick-off meeting, and we're underway. Underway means beginning the preliminary steps, and getting organized, but it's a start. We meet every week for planning and update meetings.

I'm still committed to the new website, but it's going to take the back burner for a little while. I hope I don't go all bipolar on the concept and leave it halfway started. That would be SO me.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Bipolar Web Site Idea

Looking for input here.

In my opinion, the web resources for bipolar disorder are not good. Some sites have great information, but are not professional in terms of design, and thus the content is not taken as seriously as it could be.

I can build a professional site (not like my blog...), and believe that with good input can put together an excellent resource. RSS feeds for blogs (available through Blogger, but not sure about all services,) which will show your most current blog posts, and drive additional traffic to individual blogs and web rings. Discussion forums, perhaps chat rooms, comprehensive links for resources, book reviews (if people submit them), current news feeds, and so forth.

If handled the right way, it would not pull traffic away from existing sites, but rather consolidate the resources and information to increase traffic to those sites.

First, is this something that is really needed? Or at the least something that would be used? Are the resources that currently exist sufficient? Do we really need one more? It would take a significant amount of time to build and maintain such a site. It might pull in a minor amount of advertising income, but would really be a labor of love. So if not seen as necessary or would not be used, there's no sense in putting the time into it.

Looking for honest and candid input, pro and con. If you don't think it would be used, or not a good idea, don't be afraid to shoot down the idea. Don't hesitate to leave anonymous comments for this one, you won't offend me.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Few Random Thoughts

Thanks to all for their kind comments on my last post. I can't respond via comments at this time, as I can't access comments from work. I'm still blogging by email from work, as the firewall restrictions are still in place. It's been relaxed a little, but Blogger is still on the banned list.

Karen's mom is doing better. Her doctor is an ass, but she's OK. She's had the doc all her life, and think's he's just a short step down from God on the respect level. The nurses all hate him, and the ER doc rolled his eyes when he heard who her physician was. The guy has zero bedside manner, is gruff, outspoken, and frankly, a lousy doc. She goes in for a stroke, and the doctor forgets to order an MRI. Now I'm no medical expert, but stroke victims commonly bleed in their brain, and an MRI can detect this if I understand it correctly. So this would be one of the first things you would want to review if your patient suffered a stroke. Unbelievable. Karen is keeping careful notes - if the guy screws up and she dies or suffers as a result we'll sue his ass off.

On to other things.

I really hope I don't offend anyone with this. But how many bipolar medication success stories do you ever hear? We are all on meds of some sort, but you rarely hear anyone saying the medication completely took care of their issues. It just doesn't happen. We still have major highs and major lows, unless we're medicated to the point of being stalks of celery. I'll give it this much, it gives us something to complain about, as if we needed any help with that. From weight gain to memory loss to erectile disfunction, bipolar meds are a crapshoot, and apparently with little hope of a decent return for the significant investment we make.

And since there's so much bitching, whining, and complaining going on here lately, I'll end on a lighter note. Web site sex.com recently sold for 12 million dollars. 12 million dollars for nothing much more than a domain name. They say content on that site was almost nonexistant, so it was merely the name that was sold. Per the article:

"The new owners said in the statement that they plan to transform Sex.com into 'the market-leading adult entertainment destination',which they said would include 'adult dating opportunities', sex and relationship advice, erotica, video-on-demand and live chat."

This adds new meaning to the expression"sex sells". ;-)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Irritability Level

My irritation level has skyrocketed. I don't know why it happens, but often when something out of the ordinary happens, my irritation level jumps. If my wife gets sick, my irritation level gets very high. In this case, my wife is not sick, but she's preoccupied with her mom, as she should be. This is feeding my irritation. It makes me feel very guilty, but I can't help it. I just try to keep my mouth shut, as the littlest thing sets me off. This started a few days ago, prior to Karen's mom getting sick, and is peaking now.

I thought since starting on Lamictal in late November this was under control. I see now it's nowhere close. In fact, I'd go so far as to say this drug has done nothing. Originally that was the best part - I didn't feel any major differences. But since being on this med I've been manic, I've been depressed, I've suffered extreme irritation. I thought I felt better earlier. I was enjoying being close to and holding my wife, and enjoyed her company more than I had in years. I interpreted that as being a positive effect of a mood stabilizer. Was that the effects of the Lamictal, or was that a placebo effect? My nervous tics are back, and have been getting more noticeable for the last 3 weeks or so. I'm sleeping less and less. I'm hating my jobs - both of them, and I've always enjoyed them in the past.

Over the last few years I have been on several meds - Zoloft, Cymbalta, Seroquel, Lamictal. Each started out with promise, then either did nothing in the longer run, or like Cymbalta or Seroquel, did way too much of the wrong things.

So one of several things could be at play here. It's possible my dosage is too low, I'm on 100 mg a day. I may be on the wrong medication. It's possible I have been misdiagnosed, and have, perhaps, borderline personality disorder, which doesn't respond to medication.

Or it's possible that I'm normal mentally, and am just an egotistical, self centered, asshole.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Prayers Requested

Karen called me at my part time job tonight to tell me she couldn't reach her mother all day. Her mother is an extremely active, spry woman of eighty. Karen went to her house, she hadn't been out all day as the mail was still there, and her house was completely locked up. She called me wondering what to do, and I told her if she thought her mother was in the house to call 911. Karen went home, and came back with one of my boys. He was able to pull open a screen door that was locked, and Karen was able to use her key. They found her mother on the floor of the bathroom where she had suffered a stroke. She had been there about 8 hours.

She's in the hospital, and they've got her stabilized. Her left side is pretty much gone, she can't lift her arm, and it's a question if she'll be walking again. Her speech is slurred. She's in good spirits, but comes and goes.

This is tough for Karen, they are very close. Several years ago, Karen found her grandmother after she had passed away, and it was very traumatic for her. She's been worried about this day, also. This isn't easy for either of them.

If you could keep Karen and her mother in your prayers, it would be much appreciated.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Kyle

Many visitors here haven't heard the history of my son Kyle. With this post, I will attempt to give a little history.

My wife and I have documented our life with Kyle in our blog Bipolar Support, which we started several years ago. We don't update it much these days.

Kyle is the second of 5 children. From the beginning he was a challenge. A high maintenance child, he slept very little. This is something that persists into adulthood. In school he struggled. Not for lack of intelligence, he is brilliant. But he could not do a project without making it perfect. If he couldn't make it worthy of his high standards, he didn't do it. Consequently, he ended up blowing off most assignments. This, of course, made success in school difficult.

We started Kyle in counseling when he was in middle school. This is when we first got an idea that there was more at play than just a lack of motivation.

Kyle never got into drugs or alcohol until late in high school. He was a runner, involved in cross country and track. In fact, when he was 17, he competed in 2 full marathons, winning his age division in his second. His faith was always important to him, he was a very religious kid.

After his junior year of high school he enrolled in the Marine Corps in their early entry program. But by the end of his senior year, he wanted out of the program, and was taking great pains to avoid his recruiter.

On Mothers Day his senior year of high school, he was with Karen at her parent's house. Kyle walked from his grandparents house to a near-by discount store. He tried to shoplift a Mothers Day gift for Karen, and was arrested. The employee suffered a mild injury when he tried to tackle Kyle, and on top of that Kyle had some marijuana in his pocket. It was late that night before we could gather the $2000 cash necessary to bail him out. One of the twenty dollar bills we came up with was counterfeit - can you imagine that discomfort? While he was out on bail he was arrested again, some very cute girls came to pick him up in a red convertible. We knew there was trouble brewing, and tried to keep him from leaving. They went to a grocery store, Kyle grabbed a few bottles of alcohol, and tried to run out. They caught him. This time we didn't bail him out. It was almost 60 days before he came to trial.

Somewhere in this timeframe I was talking to one of my best friends, a state trooper. He was trained in mental health issues, and he told me that Kyle had bipolar disorder. I'd never heard of it before. I told my wife, and she said the counselor had told her that also, but she didn't know how I would handle that information. That statement right there tells you a little about me.

Since then, there's been highs and lows with Kyle. Trips to the emergency room, treatment centers, so forth. He tries hard, then slides. It's been this way for about 4 years now. Meds are not an option, he refuses to take them.

While all this was going on, we were becoming knowledgeable about bipolar disorder, and blogging our experiences in our Bipolar Support blog. It was in this time that I started putting the pieces together, and realizing that I likely suffered from the same thing. Not at Kyle's level of severity, but fairly obvious all the same. I was finally formally diagnosed a few months ago, shortly after Kyle's first formal diagnosis. But in both cases we all knew for many years what we were going to hear.

So, in a very quick nutshell and for what it's worth, that's a history. I am hoping that by being open about my condition and treatment, I can persuade Kyle to be more open and accepting about his treatment options. So far it hasn't gotten us anywhere, but we keep trying.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Kyle Home

Kyle came home yesterday, he was gone 6 days. He was home when Karen got home from work, acting like nothing had happened. We sat him down that evening, and told him he was an adult, and could do what he wanted to do, but he needs to consider the people who love him when he disappears. He seemed genuinely surprised that we cared, and that he had us worried.

So, it's life as normal. I never see him anyway, he avoids me like the plague, but at least I know he's safe.

Thanks again to all for your comments and emails. It meant a lot to Karen and I.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Heard From Kyle

Thanks to all for leaving comments, and sending emails to us. It means a lot to Karen and myself. I have a hard time responding to comments, as blogger is blocked by my employer, and I have so little time at home between both jobs. But I get your emails, and your comments also come by email, so it's much appreciated. At least I'm able to post using Gmail.

Evidently Kyle has been staying with a friend, or maybe shuttling between a few friends. They both claimed they didn't know where he was earlier. He's been evidently avoiding his girlfriend. That's Kyle, he will avoid stress and confrontation at all costs. His girlfriend had an aunt coming into town that is evidently "famous" in some way. She was anxious to introduce her to Kyle. Kyle is a good looking young man, presents himself very well, and is very poised and polished when he wants to be. But, and this is conjecture on my part, he couldn't handle the stress of this meeting, and took off. It's his exact MO. Anytime there's something he doesn't want to do, be it medically, socially, or due to employment, he takes off or gets so drunk he can't function, and therefore can't go.

His girlfriend came over yesterday and held the phone to my 18 year old son's ear and told him to dial a particular friend. Evidently she had a tip he was there. She knew Kyle wouldn't turn down talking to his brother. He tried to tell her the line was busy, but she immediately called back and hung up, telling my son it was free. He called, and talked to Kyle. Kyle said he'd be home in the next day or two.

That's all I know right now. At least he's not in the hospital, jail, or the morgue.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Kyle Update

Our 21 year old bipolar son, Kyle, has been gone now since Thursday night - Friday morning. This isn't unusual, when things get too stressful for him, he disappears. We assume he goes on a bender, and usually comes back after 2 or 3 days. But he's not usually gone this long. We're a little concerned.

His girlfriend has been calling several times a day, she is very worried. She got some very mean text messages that said they were from Kyle yesterday, saying he wanted to break up, and being very mean. Karen told the girlfriend that Kyle would never do that, and he wouldn't. He's as compassionate as they come, and would NEVER knowingly hurt anyone's feelings. But she's scared, and hurt, and we don't blame her.

We've gotten some clues from various people so we know he's still alive (that really is a concern of ours), and he may be staying with a few different people. But he's not working, has no money, and is a sloppy drunk, so nobody will tolerate him for too long.

We get angry having him around the house, as he creates messes and is not respectful of our house or property, yet we miss him and worry when he's gone. That's the nature of a parent, I guess.

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

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Difference Between Men and Women

A woman was out all night. When she got home, she was met by an angry husband who asked her where she was. She told him she spent the night at a friend's house. The husband, doubting her story, called 10 or her best friends. All 10 said they had not seen her last night.

The next week, the husband stayed out all night. Upon arriving home, he was met at the door by an angry wife. He claimed he spent the night with a friend. The wife, doubting his story, called 10 of the husbands' best friends. Of the 10, 8 said he had just left, and the other 2 said he was still there.

Must Read

Just came across a blog by a lady named Teressa, called Oh blah dee Oh blah dah. Man, if anyone out there thinks they've had it rough, you need to read this. This lady is a survivor, and has been through things that most of us can't even comprehend.

Teressa, God bless you, your husband, and your son.

Friday, January 13, 2006

A Lot Of Work Ahead

They've blocked Blogger in my company's security settings! I'm seriously bummed! So this may or may not go through. I can access blogs, but cannot access blogger, or comments. I'm doing this post through GMail. So if this post comes out very garbled, you'll know why, and I'll correct it when I can. I'm also saving this post in a text format so I can replace it when I get home after the second job tonight.

Checked out Gen's blog again today, and she's getting things going her way. I really admire her for being so persistant in locating help given her frame of mind. I can't imagine how difficult that would be.

My main hobby is anything computer related. I do some web design, and some web hosting, and run a small web hosting business. (Begin shameless plug: go to homepagewebs.com for hosting plans and information). I have MANY web sites for my own use, for organizations I'm associated with, for family members, and for customers. I have several servers I use, and due to issues I've recently experienced I have to move all my sites on my main server to another. Talk about a PITA! I'll be doing this for a week or two. And I use mostly sites with a database back end, such as content management systems and message boards, so this makes it so much more than merely uploading some files.

If anyone out there needs any advice on this topic, don't hesitate to let me know. I know I wasn't able to help Belinda much on a comment issue she had the other day (for some reason I am getting returned emails a few days after each comment I make on your blog, BTW), but for design questions, or domain questions, or registration questions, or setting up your site, or any kind of code, or similar, I'd be happy to help.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

It's All A Frame Of Mind

I kicked it's ass!

Kicked what's ass?

Depression.

I was on my way down the last few days, and yesterday I allowed myself to really get down. But through the power of the mind, I am now flying high. I'm ready to party, or work out, or whatever I can do to use up some of this energy. Unfortunately, I'll be sitting at my desk jonesin' all day for some activity.

Another thing that helped - it's January in The Heartland. It should be single digit temps. Right now it's over 50 degrees, and maybe 60! Makes me wish I still had a fishing boat - I'd skip work and find some open water today.

Who needs meds? The mind is all-powerful and can work miracles. You have to know how to make it work FOR you.

And before all of you jump on and warn me about dropping my meds, I won't do that. I'm feeling better than I have in a LONG time, and these meds might be contributing to this.

Give Myself A Kick In The Ass

I am tired of this depression shit, and decided to give myself a kick in the ass and get things moving the right direction. So I put on some music this morning to get me going, I started with Les McCann and Eddie Harris doing "Compared To What". This is a jazz/funk classic from the sixties and it COOKS! I went from there to The Subdudes, a party band from New Orleans. I was moving and grooving before I even left for work.

At work, I have a killer headache, and coffee is tearing up my stress worn stomach, so I'm drinking tea and feeling better. Once this week is over, things will be MUCH better. But I'm still not letting that get me down, I am MAKING it a good day. In honor of that, here's an article I wrote for my company newsletter a few years ago:

************************************
Are you one of the world’s luckiest people? I am. For the last half of my 30 plus year working life, I have been able to earn a living doing things I really enjoy. I made a career change a few years ago, and joined a large telemarketing company after having sold a business I enjoyed running. I am now part of their IS team, and am, once again, utterly and completely happy. Things move so quickly here, you have the opportunity to work on new things every day. Programs go up and come down, a program you write today can be in production tomorrow. Talk about instant gratification! Fantastic management, great co-workers – it’s a dream job. Am I satisfied? Heck no. There’s more challenges and even greater satisfaction over that next bump in the road…

I’ve talked to many people out there unhappy because their lives don’t fit their expectations or 'scripts'. They feel the best path to happiness is to change their scripts to change their lives. Good advice for some, perhaps, but not necessary for most. You see, having been there on multiple occasions, I have come to believe that HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE. It is usually not a new career, a new position, a new spouse, a material object. IT IS A FRAME OF MIND! It took the first half of my working life, including several job and career changes to discover this. The man who gave me my first job at age 16, a successful entrepreneur who has since passed on, used to be fond of telling people 'Make it a good day.' Not 'have a good day', but 'Make it a good day.' It IS a choice. You can choose to be unhappy about things such as workloads, clients, co-workers, income, or a host of other things, but I choose to make every day a good day. I truly love what I do, and know the rewards will be there in the end, provided I continue to learn and improve myself.

It starts by being positive. Look forward to going to work. Maybe you need to look forward to small things to begin with – getting there early so you can enjoy that first cup of coffee and e-mail a friend. Lunch with a co-worker. The music you listen to while you work. Find those 'little' things that you enjoy, and build on them. Avoid, at all costs, negative people. A single negative person can poison the whole atmosphere of an office. Strive for perfection. The sense of accomplishment you get from doing your job well puts you on the path to happiness. Always try to improve yourself. Through additional education, reading, practice. If you are improving, your attitude can’t help but be better!

It’s a cliche, but the rest of your life really does start today.

Make it a good day.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Depression

This medication isn't helping prevent depression. I don't think there is a med that can do that for me. They can take away my highs, tame my irritability, sap my sex drive, make me gain weight, even make me more affectionate. But the single thing that pushed me towards seeking pharmaceutical help was depression. And that's the thing I can't control.

So, is a bipolar med SUPPOSED to control depression? I guess from interacting with other bipolars I can't expect it to do that - people get depressed anyway. So why are we on this stuff? I mean really - what is this accomplishing? Have we become pawns of the drug companies? We know they are in business to sell drugs, and we're an easy mark. Most of us are adult enough to have left the world of street drugs behind, but are we chasing the same thing with our meds? That desire to feel different?

I'm sliding into a depression, it took me two hours to find the motivation to write this. And now that I'm doing that, I'm getting pissed. Pissed at the entire situation. The drug companies aggressively marketing to those with mental issues. The medical professionals that so freely prescribe. And pissed at myself for getting sucked into this culture.

But that's enough of the negativity. I detest constant negativity, and I don't want this blog to turn into a whine fest.

Fun will be had tomorrow.

Blogger In Crisis

Hey All - I have come across a blogger that really seems to be struggling right now. I hope she doesn't mind this, but I think she'd appreciate a show of support from other bloggers that have been through her situation. Maybe it's that she reminds me of my son and his struggles that is tugging at my heart. But if you all could find a few minutes to visit her blog and give her a shout it might make a difference. She doesn't seem to allow comments for her posts, but there is a contact e-mail address there.

Her blog is I Am Gen.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Kickback Mountain

I'm sorry, I can't resist...

From American Idle.



(By the way, Blogger images are not visible to me at work, so let me know if this is not showing up)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Current Frame Of Mind

This bipolar stuff is a lot like a fighter jet. You're screaming along way up in the clouds, then without warning, the engine dies. You start plummeting. As you're plummeting, you're telling the control tower that you have things in control, you're OK, everything will turn out. But you're watching the altimeter quickly fall with a morbid fascinaton, while fantasizing about how many people will be crying at your funeral. Then the engine starts, and you begin to fly again, at tree-top level, trying to maintain control, and trying to gain altitude before you hit the mountain that's looming in front of you. Then the power kicks back in, you point the nose towards the clouds, give it all the power you can, and pull major G's while you streak towards the ozone. Those G's and that ride make it all worthwile.

With this Lamictal I'm on, I'm now flying a little twin engine plane. I can't fly too high, can't fly too fast, can't fly too low. I just putt along. I really want to fly fast, fly high, pull G's. But I can't right now. Interestingly, things that I wouldn't give a second thought to before are now worrying me. Irritability seems to be higher, as is anxiety. But irritability is no longer focused on people like it was before, but on situations. Anxiety is due to things that would not have bothered me previously. While I suppose this is normal for most people, I can tell you this: I don't much like it. But I stay on the Lamictal, as much as an experiment to see what it does to me as anything. I'm starting to wonder if this is not so much a desire to get "better" as it is a way to make myself feel different for a while.

Or maybe it's just a "manic' precursor to a depression. If so, it's not nearly as severe as before, but I'll have to see if it gets worse.

For fellow bloggers reading this, sorry if I've been somewhat caustic with recent comments. I'm going to avoid making blog rounds for a few days so I don't piss anyone off too badly.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Disability Questions

OK folks, I'm looking for answers here, and I have a feeling there's some experts out there. So if you could leave comments after this post, it would be MUCH appreciated.

I have written frequently about my son Kyle, both in this blog, and in the blog we started several years ago, Bipolar Support. Kyle is 21, and I want to get him started on Social Security disability. He refuses to go along with it, for several reasons. So, I'm addressing his concerns.

First, if (when) he's approved, what if he decides to try to work again? I am assuming he loses his disability at that point. If he only lasts a few months at his job(which is normal), does he have to completely go through the application process again? What if his job does NOT offer medical benefits? Can he keep medicare or medicaid while working that job?

Is medical and presciption (medicare or medicaid) an integral part of Social Security Disability? If he qualifies for one, does he automatically get the other?

Next, I assume his benefits are for an amount of money that depends on how much he's contributed for the last "X" period of time. Let's say $400 a month. What if he can hold a job for a long enough time that his benefits amount could potentially rise. When he stops working after that, assuming we don't have to reapply per the question above, does the increase become automatic?

He was looking forward to a job interview today that his girlfriend lined up for him. But when we checked in on him this morning, he was gone. He was presumably partying last night. It's his normal behavior. When he's nervous about something he copes by getting so wiped out the night before he can't make his obligation the next day. So I have my doubts that he'll be able to secure a job unless we fill out the application for him, and trick him into the interview. Then he'd perform well in the interview, he always does. It's the stress leading up to that he can't handle.

Any input on the SS process would be MUCH appreciated.

Cross posted to Living With A Purple Dog and Bipolar Support.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

NAMI Meeting

Went to another NAMI meeting tonight. I really like going to these meetings, I come away with a lot of motivation and ideas for my son. And also for myself, but that's not why I go.

I've written about this before, but it bears repeating countless times. NAMI stands for National Alliance On Mental Health. It's a national organization, but many, if not most, medium to larger communities have NAMI chapters. Many of these local chapters sponsor support groups. Karen and I got started attending these meetings several months ago, and the information we found has been invaluable.

Now this being said, my son would not feel comfortable in the "Consumers" support group. Some of the people have been institutionalized for much of their lives, and I don't think he'd open up in those conditions. But the support group for loved ones and caretakers is excellent. Many people participate, all in the same boat we are. In this setting, a consumer would be welcome in either group.

I blogged earlier about a support chain. This is another excellent link in that chain. And it's as valuable for loved ones as it is for those suffering from a mental disorder, and perhaps more so. Very few of our significant others have a clue what we go through. I would like to see everyone research their local chapters, and find out if they offer support groups. Grab your spouse or SO, and drag them to a meeting. If you can't go, send them. If they won't go, go yourself. If your group is anything like the one we've been attending, you'll be glad you attended.

Can't Make It Here Anymore

Heard a song on "The Pig Online" (KPIG Radio) the other day by songwriter James McMurtry. It was called "Can't Make It Here Anymore", and was quite moving. James McMurtry is an excellent songwriter, in the "American Roots" genre. He has done some excellent songs, but not quite as biting as this one. I would recommend giving him a listen if you ever have the opportunity. This song has been banned by stations across the country. Here are the lyrics, unedited, in their entirety:

"We Can't Make it Here"
James McMurtry


Vietnam Vet with a cardboard sign
Sitting there by the left turn line
Flag on the wheelchair flapping in the breeze
One leg missing, both hands free
No one's paying much mind to him
The V.A. budget's stretched so thin
And there's more comin' home from the Mideast war
We can't make it here anymore

That big ol' building was the textile mill
It fed our kids and it paid our bills
But they turned us out and they closed the doors
We can't make it here anymore

See all those pallets piled up on the loading dock
They're just gonna set there till they rot
'Cause there's nothing to ship, nothing to pack
Just busted concrete and rusted tracks
Empty storefronts around the square
There's a needle in the gutter and glass everywhere
You don't come down here 'less you're looking to score
We can't make it here anymore

The bar's still open but man it's slow
The tip jar's light and the register's low
The bartender don't have much to say
The regular crowd gets thinner each day

Some have maxed out all their credit cards
Some are working two jobs and living in cars
Minimum wage won't pay for a roof, won't pay for a drink
If you gotta have proof just try it yourself Mr. CEO
See how far 5.15 an hour will go
Take a part time job at one of your stores
Bet you can't make it here anymore

High school girl with a bourgeois dream
Just like the pictures in the magazine
She found on the floor of the laundromat
A woman with kids can forget all that
If she comes up pregnant what'll she do
Forget the career, forget about school
Can she live on faith? live on hope?
High on Jesus or hooked on dope
When it's way too late to just say no
You can't make it here anymore

Now I'm stocking shirts in the Wal-Mart store
Just like the ones we made before
'Cept this one came from Singapore
I guess we can't make it here anymore

Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin
Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I'm in
Should I hate 'em for having our jobs today
No I hate the men sent the jobs away
I can see them all now, they haunt my dreams
All lily white and squeaky clean
They've never known want, they'll never know need
Their shit don't stink and their kids won't bleed
Their kids won't bleed in the damn little war
And we can't make it here anymore

Will work for food
Will die for oil
Will kill for power and to us the spoils
The billionaires get to pay less tax
The working poor get to fall through the cracks
Let 'em eat jellybeans let 'em eat cake
Let 'em eat shit, whatever it takes
They can join the Air Force, or join the Corps
If they can't make it here anymore

And that's how it is
That's what we got
If the president wants to admit it or not
You can read it in the paper
Read it on the wall
Hear it on the wind
If you're listening at all
Get out of that limo
Look us in the eye
Call us on the cell phone
Tell us all why

In Dayton, Ohio
Or Portland, Maine
Or a cotton gin out on the great high plains
That's done closed down along with the school
And the hospital and the swimming pool
Dust devils dance in the noonday heat
There's rats in the alley
And trash in the street
Gang graffiti on a boxcar door
We can't make it here anymore


James McMurtry has a blog, it's not updated often but it can be found at http://www.myspace.com/jamesmcmurtry.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Bipolar and Suicide

This is a very difficult subject, and I hesitate to even tackle this. But these figures and the little research I've done blow me away.
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At least 25% to 50% of patients with bipolar disorder also attempt suicide at least once.
J Clin Psychiatry. 2000;61 Suppl 9:47-51. Suicide and bipolar disorder. Jamison KR, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.
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This review of the authors' and others' work demonstrates that the lifetime risk of suicide attempts is highest in bipolar II and lowest in unipolar patients, whereas risk is intermediate in bipolar I patients.
Psychiatr Clin North Am. 1999 Sep;22(3):667-73, ix-x. Bipolar II disorder and suicidal behavior. Rihmer Z, Pestality P.
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Nearly half of all U.S. suicide deaths each year are in patients with bipolar disorders, in whom the risk is more than 20 times that of the general population.
Bipolar disorder more prevalent and costly than believed; high suicide rate could be curbed with mainstay drug lithium
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This scares the HELL out of me. It's only recently in my life that I've had suicidal thoughts, but it seems to get worse as time goes on. Up to 50% of all bipolars will attempt suicide? That means that statistically either my son or I will be attempting. That's messed up.

I'd like to say that I would never do that. But when depression hits you like a ton of bricks, rational thought is gone. What you KNOW when you're stable is NOT THERE when you're in the depths of a major depression. I've talked to people who have described voices calling them, beckoning them. I've never been there, but once again, when it hits you hard you absolutely CANNOT say what you would or would not do.

Let's all do our best to let our loved ones know the risk we're facing. They are in the best position to see what is happening to us, and to help us to seek assistance.

Yesterday's Pdoc Visit

Visited the Pdoc yesterday. An interesting visit. He gave me several insights that made me sit up and take notice.

We discussed my medication, 100 mg of Lamictal. I told him the side effects are minimal, but the benefits were significant. I expressed my concern about long term effects, I'd hate to end up with Kidney or thyroid problems. He told me there was no evidence of that with this drug. I told him one of the major benefits is that I enjoy being affectionate with my wife. Not necessarily sexual, but I'm enjoying just holding her. I go to bed and snuggle with her every night, and I am REALLY enjoying that. He asked if things like her breathing used to irritate me, and he hit the nail on the head. Snoring, even just breathing would set me off. He said I'm more able to live just in the moment now, and enjoy my loved ones and surroundings. That has been a HUGE benefit to my medication. Also, I havn't blown up or gotten particularly manic since starting. If I can keep my explosive temper from my family it will be a HUGE factor.

We also talked about my obsessions, all my life it's been a series of obsessions. Everything I have gotten into, mostly leisure activities, I've gone about obsessively. I throw myself completely into it, or I don't do it. Currently it's computer related. He told me that's likely been a coping mechanism for many years. Instead of tolerating the ups and downs of bipolar disorder, I put on blinders and charge full speed into whatever activity is my obsession at the time. I stay pre-occupied with the activity, and don't have to deal with my personality turmoil. Once again, I think he hit the nail squarely on the head. I need to set some guidelines for myself where my computer use is concerned, and do my best to stick by them. My wife is concerned that if it's not this it will be something else - TV or another hobby. I'll have to stay cognizant of that, and ask for her help and support.

Lastly we talked about "substance" abuse. He asked me about drug use, there is none, of course. He's concerned about that as it's so prevalent among bipolars. We talked about alcohol, I told him, once again, that I don't have a problem, but out of respect to his judgement I have cut back. I told him I had wine over the holidays and did drink during the Cornhusker game and The Iguanas show following the game. He asked me about my cigar smoking (just on my hunting trip), and about coffee (cut back, but not eliminated). He wasn't concerned about any of my responses.

All in all it was a great, productive appointment for me.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Quitter

I'm doing great right now, but I just ran into this poem in a back folder in my desk. It may sound corny, but this has gotten me through many difficult times, and given me the motivation to keep plugging away.

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The Quitter

When you're lost in the Wild, and you're scared as a child,
And Death looks you bang in the eye,
And you're sore as a boil, it's according to Hoyle
To cock your revolver and . . . die.
But the Code of a Man says: "Fight all you can,"
And self-dissolution is barred.
In hunger and woe, oh, it's easy to blow . . .
It's the hell-served-for-breakfast that's hard.

"You're sick of the game!" Well, now, that's a shame.
You're young and you're brave and you're bright.
"You've had a raw deal!" I know -- but don't squeal,
Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight.
It's the plugging away that will win you the day,
So don't be a piker, old pard!
Just draw on your grit; it's so easy to quit:
It's the keeping-your-chin-up that's hard.

It's easy to cry that you're beaten -- and die;
It's easy to crawfish and crawl;
But to fight and to fight when hope's out of sight --
Why, that's the best game of them all!
And though you come out of each gruelling bout,
All broken and beaten and scarred,
Just have one more try -- it's dead easy to die,
It's the keeping-on-living that's hard.

--- Robert Service