Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Yup I am crazy, a lot of you know that by now, my rants on line, dedication to all things badger abuse and penchant for seeing the weirdness in the world. This talent or curse depending on your tolerance to nuts has been both a blessing and curse for me. You see I am not just nuts in the Steve is eccentric kinda way. I am a man living with Bipolar Disorder. Not an easy thing to discuss on such an open forum like the interwebs, or on first dates for that matter but I am very open about my madness and no longer carry any shame in it. You could say that my crazy is ok and I am ok with my crazy. It has not always been this easy............
Bipolar Disorder: lets start with the science here is the description from the DSM IV the official medical guide to crazy!
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depressive disorder or bipolar affective disorder, is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated mood clinically referred to as mania or, if milder, hypo-mania. Individuals who experience manic episodes also commonly experience depressive episodes or symptoms, or mixed episodes in which features of both mania and depression are present at the same time. These episodes are usually separated by periods of "normal" mood, but in some individuals, depression and mania may rapidly alternate, known as rapid cycling. Extreme manic episodes can sometimes lead to psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations. The disorder has been subdivided into bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia, and other types, based on the nature and severity of mood episodes experienced; the range is often described as the bipolar spectrum.
Ok fun with science translations;
Psychiatric Diagnosis: you start behaving odd and doctor asks you question and voila! You are officially nuts ( this is very traumatic the first time you hear it and took me years to get my squirrelly little mind around)
Mood Disorder: sounds to the lay person and sane just like it says, my moods were disordered, happy, sad, angry, confused, all out of my control and too the most part early on or when I am really sick invisible to me. I just know something is not right. It is also a classification of mental illness as seen above and in the Holy DSM IV.
Mania: Bring on the big lunacy, Mania is a elevated mood state, for me, and many others it includes loss of sleep or total loss of sleep, ( if you don't sleep for a week things get very, very, weird very very fast) Impassivity, i.e. spending way too much money, gambling, really heavy drinking, sex ,sex ,sex, and more sex, and other risky behaviors like my personal favorite poking badgers with sticks and waving fried food and pain killers in front of Rush Limbaugh.
Depression:The Crash and Burn! Mania cant last for long your body just cant take it so soon you settle into depression, sleeping, not leaving the house, not bathing ( my personal best while depressed was 3 months no washy), more drugs and booze, loss of interest in everything, even badgers.
The others are bits and parts think of them as the extras on the mobile phone plan of insanity some of us have them some don't.
THE CRAZY ME:
I am a bipolar I, the more severe of which I was finally diagnosed with 7 years ago after many wrong diagnoses and a lot of emotion pain to me and the people who cared about me. I truly believe I have been sick all my life in hindsight I can see it now but could not for along time. I have spent weeks with no sleep, spent over 10k in one day on crap . Wrote a poem that was 200 pages. I have tried to kill myself twice. And a whole lot of other stuff.
I am creative, I write, I paint and draw, take pictures ect. It is a common theme in bipolars a lot of very cool and smart people have and had a penchant for Loco here is a short list;
Rosemary Clooney, singer
Robert Downey Jr.
Connie Francis, singer and actress
Kevin McDonald, comedian
Burgess Meredith, actor, director
Ben Stiller, actor, director, writer
Jonathon Winters, comedian
Most people have never been in a Psychiatric hospital. Nor would have wanted to be so I will shed a little light on them and the treatment you get. I have been hospitalized 9 times in my life for my acute case of nuts. Seven of these were of the voluntary variety whereas I knew I was in deep trouble and asked for help and twice because others thought that I could use a little time at the “Mind Spa & Ranch”. Hospitals vary in quality and amenities like spas. They thankfully in North America are no longer like the ones you see on t.v. and film.
Are there rubber rooms, well yes! Are there screaming people, sometimes. But for the most part they are pretty much like other hospital wards if the other wards had locked doors. You eat communally like some kind of dysfunctional Amish restaurant. Nurses chase you around to give you little pills, and you watch shit loads of bad television. Lets not forget the amusement of watching your fellow spa mates.
TREATMENTS or PILLS, LET'S CHAT & ELECTRICITY:
1.Pills: I have over the years taken more pills than Kieth Richards & Hunter S. Thompson combined. Most, make you crave carbs and fried food and also lower your metabolism to that of a three toed sloth of Xanex. I went from a attractive 32 inch waist to Jabba The Hut in a few months. They switch your meds a lot, til they find what works. I am currently on 2 meds that do not cause weight gain and midnight trips for deep fried pasta.
2.Let's Chat: Therapy more the most part is moot. Psychiatric Drs. ( who yes like the stereotype to tend to implie have a larger proportional amount of beard than other doctors) do not talk to you long they give you pills* (* see above). Social worker talk to you. I am convinced that most social workers wear mom jeans or hippie hemp clothing and they tend to wear large jewelery that they got at a local art fair. They also had traumatic childhoods so now they want to save the world or they came from very wealthy families and want to help the needy whilst giving a big Fuck You to their daddies and “The Man”. You go to see a therapist to heal the damage that your crazy has left on you, your family and friends. This takes years.
3.ELECTRICITY: Most of you have seen “ One Flew over the Cookoo's Nest” when Jack gets electo shock treatment and then is turned into a brussel sprout. They still offer this treatment. For years they stopped. It was seen and was cruel in it's present form. Now it is reborn safer, painless and it really works. I have had 9 ECT ( eclectro-convulsive-treatments). When offered I freaked, with visions of either being smothered by a large Indian with my pillow in a mercy killing ( it is a cookoo's nest reference) or wandering around postulating on the meaning of belly button lint for the rest of my life. After some good old education I decided to give it a try. They take you to the recovery room of the hospital, give you some muscle relaxer and a general anesthetic and next you wake up. While you are asleep they pass electricity across your brain causing a seizure. This reboots your brain, like a computer. I noticed a difference immediately. After 8 treatments I had little or no mania and no depression. I have been thanks to this on less medication, and very very healthy. I am thankful for this treatment.
My Mental Illness has taken away a lot from me, friends, lovers family it was a blight on my life keeping me always just out of reach of my potential. Now thanks to amazing professionals and my own growth I am successful, healthy and happy. I accept who I am, like who I am and embrace my nuttiness. I am who I am partially due to my mind and I will not deny that. To do so would sell myself and others who have gone before me and who come after me a great disservice.
No longer should we look down on people who live with Mental Illness, when 10% of the worlds humans suffer from chronic Mental Illness and 30% at some time will suffer. So next time you see that guy talking to no one, please do not laugh. Some Mentally Ill are very very sick and may never have what you and I see as a normal life. They are being trapped in their own minds.
Be well everyone...... And always embrace your inner crazy...........