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. 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 "". If it's not full, the station will begin playing.