Archive for November, 2013

What’s it like? Here’s an old, but not faded, ‘snapshot.’


Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 14:15:32 -0700

Subject: Yeah what?

I’ve probably always been BP1, or what my pdoc describes as “suffering from a mood disorder.” That’s because all my life I’ve ping-ponged between uppish and downish moods more or less on a daily basis. One moment I’d be the zany wit of the party, the class, the dorm, the, the, the..and in tears the next. Sometimes after a couple of visits to each pole (¿mood?), I’d settle into a peaceful, blah kind of place. My doctors kept leaning on me that I was suffering from depression and I should take an AD and be cured. Yeah, right!

I won’t bore you with the details with which you must all be familiar in your own lives and struggles. Let me just finish off with a cautionary tale: Last fall my pdoc started me on Parnate, and all went well for a few weeks, i.e., I felt great, the world was my oyster… And then, and then, and thennnnnnnnnn…BP1 came to visit. I eventually figured out what the problem was and tapered off the Parnate, but not before the damage to my life was done. Everyone in my family and at work thinks I’m a dangerous nutcase. Maybe that’ll go away with a long sustained siege of well-behavedness. Anyway, the post Parnate period culminated in a severe, deep depression. I was suicidal, so much so that I now know what that means and how it progresses through stages, which no shrink I’ve ever been to has bothered to tell me. You know: 1) you pick a method, e.g., helium is what I was going to use (and when I’m down, still will use); 2)you make tokens or accumulate mementos of you to give to those who will understand and these may or may not be people you love; you apologize to those you love, and it doesn’t matter how the apology goes or what it is seemingly for, underneath it’s always an apology for having existed, you apologize for your existence, and make no mistake, these are not self pitying, but rather are heart felt, and very likely the only thing you do or can feel; 3)you finish your journals, or rather tidy up any loose ends therein; 4) you pass out the tokens and mementos to those for whom they were intended; 5)you destroy the journals, e.g., throw them in the trash, or maybe give them to someone you think might be interested, but probably not; 6) you drink the juice, take pills, jump, lie down in the water, walk out into the freeway, breath the gas or the exhaust, take off your clothes put on the adult incontinence diaper and climb into bed with a breathing mask, the cylinder of helium (full!!!!, you need to check ahead of time) and tubing (that fits, you need to check ahead of time) to connect these, sit down naked in the cold, cold night, or feeling your way, climb up into the tall, tall tree taking care to not fall out because one hand is sort of occupied with the rope, sit down to contemplate the room when viewed thru’ the thin film of a plastic Walmart shopping bag, fetch the shells for the shotgun that has been leaning against the back wall of your closet for very, very long time, it seems, behind all the clothes that no longer fit you, and climb into the rocking chair for that is the only chair that will lean over backwards far enough to allow you to eat the barrel without choking on it or chipping your teeth. I suppose you could have an accomplice help you get yourself started down the throat of one of those industrial strength shredders that the city uses in the fall when pruning the street trees. But probably not. My advice is to eschew having to rely upon an accomplice. In the case of the shredder, removing your clothing first and smearing your body with a couple of tube of KY should do the trick. But what if it doesn’t? What if you get stuck and can’t go any deeper than somewhere just above knees.

I do enjoy watching myself type through all of this, and of course, I’m sorry and do apologize; kind of cathartic. If you want real,honest information that’s has no trace of a BP flavor visit

Anyway, as I was saying. After having been thru a several months long sustained, truly manic experience, and after having been helped by a therapist to talk me out of seriously pursuing, or actively pursuing oblivion as a way out, my life has been changed and while I’m probably not BP2 or BP1 and never was, because of the Parnate, I am now. Or maybe I always was and the Parnate was the catalyst that made them bloom. I carry with me now the memories, the not so destructive ones, of the intense pleasures to be found in mania and enjoyed and look forward to visiting them again and again and again. I now know how to do myself in and am prepared to resume my progression thru the stages-I have prepared my token which I will give my therapist whom I love terribly and god I hope she doesn’t mind, too bad if she does, I can’t help it. I’ve found out where a normal person can buy canisters of helium (party supplies, for blowing up balloons), and this is how I live. The Lithium turns down or negates any intense desire to revisit my beloved hypersexuality, and turns thoughts of suicide into a source of amusing discourse, something to be mulled over as simple abstractions, impersonal and remote. And inside I resent, deeply resent being turned down, or having all the suffering I experienced while on the road to serenity and oblivion be trivialized, delegitimised. As if they (“they”) are saying to me, “Yes, your tits were in the wringer, but they aren’t now, so the pain doesn’t matter. Yes, your nipples will always be black and blue giving your chest the appearance that you were attacked by a psycho tattoo artist bent on adorning it with a happy face, who only got as far as the pupils of the eyes, before we stopped him. So it doesn’t matter.”

I don’t remember being like this before. I don’t. I don’t think I was, or if I was, it wasn’t as intense. It’s at times like these, when the mood switches come so close together, one following closely on the heels of its predecessor or should that be precursor. Sometimes the switching is so rapid there is no time to act, to be either depressed or find the button on my pants. I feel like my soul is being shaken like a rat by dog. Mother of God, get me out of here!

Ooooo, I see by the clock in the upper left (lower right for PCers) of my screen that is time for a hit of Lithium, as if I couldn’t tell, yeah, as if you all couldn’t tell.

To you all, I am so sorry to be such a pain in the ass, but I got “nowhere to run to, baby, nowhere to hide.”

I need to stop; I’m ramping up so quickly now I can barely type, and thoughts are flowing faster than I can render them black onto white. Is it that “God has left me here to read signatures of all things.”? And that is what I am, a signature? Yes, but of what exactly?



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“What’s it like to be hypomanic?” revisited.

At first glance the term hypomania seems like an oxymoron, i.e., a little bit of a lot, but in my world, the hypomanic mood state is a real one. In it, the “victim” experiences what psychiatrists and psychologists like to refer to as a reduced (hypo-) form of an extreme state (mania). But their jargon tends to gloss the truly significant differences between the two. In mania, the victim has no or very little control over his/her thoughts, emotions and reactions. Their innate sexuality and/or moral convictions give way to hyper-sexuality and/or hyper-religiosity, and this is just for starters. They have a propensity, unless they are Scottish, to spend and/or give away large sums of money; one might even say ‘with abandon.’ They are compulsive and impulsive to a fault, and as their lives converge on the shambolic, their lives become indistinguishable from chaos, and this to the extent that their speech, and even their thoughts, grow increasingly incoherent, incoherent but yet not disorganized as in schizophrenia, but I may be splitting hairs here.

“Yes,” you say, “That’s all well and good, but what does mania feel like?” Well, for one thing, while it may feel pretty grand at the outset, by the time it reaches full-blown status, it feels pretty damned dreadful, like the difference between ‘warm’ and ‘fucking, scalding hot,’ or the difference between feeling animated and energetic, and feeling totally taken over by frenzy. Make no mistake, the manic state is damned dangerous and likely to wreak great destruction in the lives of its victims and their families—”tornado in a trailer park” I like to think of it as. And that’s why psychiatrists are so quick to pounce on the hypomanic state, because they see it as nothing more than a “wide spot” in a very narrow road that leads straight to hell—mania. And for the most part, their view is the correct one, although I know a few manic depressives who are living their entire lives (so far) in a hypomanic state. They lead happy, energetic, creative and productive lives, but do so only for as long as they can elude the frenzy of which hypomania is so often the harbinger. “All their sanity and wit they will have vanished, I promise, it’s just a matter of time,” and they rip off all their clothes and run naked down the middle of the street singing (if they’re lucky) or screaming (if not).

But what of hypomania; that’s what I really want to talk about. “What’s it like?” I’m sometimes asked. “You feel like you’re in love,” I say to them then.  But with whom? You’re in love with someone you have yet to meet but hope to meet soon, very soon, and the expectations exude from every aspect of your being leaving you thoroughly intoxicated with anticipation and enthusiasm. And it feels like you’ve been set free. It’s as if God has just whispered in your ear that you cannot die. And in your very soul you know that there is nothing beyond your capabilities. “Nothing,” you repeat to yourself as your head fills with plans and projects, one piled upon another. Needless to say, hypomania is addicting, addicting as hell—as addicting as meth, I’m told by the few bipolar tweakers (crack heads) who cross my path—in that, like meth, having experienced it once is enough, more than enough, to leave you longing for its return ever after.

I had been actively manic-depressive for the better part of 6 decades, before someone noticed—my family doctor—and sent me to a psychiatrist, so, in some sense then, that qualifies me, or should, as an expert, of sorts, at least among the laity, on what it’s actually like to be hypomanic. (The aforementioned laity, it seems, is very uninterested in what it’s like to be depressed.) So, over the years since my diagnosis, I have been asked many times what it’s like, and have tried many, many times to explain and describe the experience. I’ve not been successful according to my family and normy-friends. The claim is, they say, that it’s not possible to make them understand, sort of in analogy to the impossibility of making the deaf understand what it’s like to hear one’s  friends laugh, say, or what it’s like to hear Beethoven’s 9th for the first time . Still I persist. My latest stab at it: when mania takes you that all-pervasive feeling of emptiness that is always there will vanish, the weight of it lifted from your shoulders leaving you light as the air we breathe. And life will suddenly have meaning, a meaning which had always eluded you in the past, but what that meaning is is not clear, but that there is a meaning is a given.

I’m thinking now, back to a time before doctors were permanent personae in the drama of my life, and while my affliction was present even then, for I seemed to be affected by everything in the universe. I didn’t think constantly about it. For that to happen, it had to have been given a name, and this required the active participation of doctors—doctors have names for everything, and I suppose I should be reassured by that, but I am not.

And now that they have put a name to it, I find myself thinking about it all the time; it has assumed a role in my life, one commensurate with its effect—it’s in my every waking, idle thought. “But surely you are more than it,” others are fond of reminding me, and while I agree with that in principle, the truth of the matter is that much of the time it holds sway. It’s as if my soul came equipped with an ear trumpet tuned to detect every sound in the universe, down to the last audible tick, click and creek. How can I not think constantly about my madness when its cacophony, furious at times, if not altogether ardent, constantly reminds me of its presence like the shrills of one tormented by love—supremely seductive and yet somehow tainted? And of its attendant hypomania, what of it? The longing that used to fill my heart to overflowing has in time given way to melancholy, and I am often overcome with sorrow at the loss of my beloved hypomania, now denied to me forever by modern medicine. It’s in moments of reflection such as these that the tears are quick to come.

I keep a mood chart, and as I look back over this chart which extends backwards in time clear to the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, I see how each day’s entry begins with “Okay.” Occasionally there’ll be a “Not Okay.” I’m such a simple soul, I dutifully keep my mood chart every day, rain or shine. I keep hoping one day my entry will start with “Wow!” or “Holy shit” or, may it please God, best of all, “I’m back!”. What do you think? It’s manic depression at its poignant best, no? “I’m back!” will be the first words out of my mouth when once my beloved hypomania returns. I ache for it. God forbid I ever come down with cancer, but if I do, swear to God, I’m coming off my fucking meds. If I have to die, let me die a free man and not all doped up on meds. Let me die the way God made me and intended me to be—crazy!

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