Category Archives: Mental Illness

Three affirmations arising out of 2016: Week One.

Try to type “affirmations” without sounding like a d-bag. Go ahead, try.

The first week of 2016 has been full of affirmations. I’ve been encountering the word everywhere –in print, on signs, in casual conversation. Even my friend Damian referred to his liking a photo I posted on Facebook as “affirming the photo.”

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The affirmed photo. Highbanks MetroPark.

But before I go into detail about any more of the instances, I need to acknowledge how silly I feel writing about affirmations. Yes, I’m a silly, self-centered man for foisting my New Year’s affirmation encounters upon you, but it’s deeper than that… I feel silly even typing “affirmations.” I wish there was a font that adequately conveyed the voice I feel I need to use to whenever I say the word “affirmations.” My normal voice will not suffice, mainly because it feels weird to hear “affirmations” in my own voice, in my own head, thru the bones in my face. I feel that “affirmations” is best said in a voice and timbre similar to that which I use for the outgoing message on my phone –the voice that’s acutely aware it had to go thru speech therapy in the fifth grade along with all the other boys who couldn’t throw a ball.

Affirmations: I say it deeper, but more out of the body. Like there’s a speaker playing a self-help cassette an inch in front of my face. And I’ve taken a couple Quaaludes.

Affirmations. Continue reading Three affirmations arising out of 2016: Week One.

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Flammkuchen, or I storm out of a German restaurant.

“Hey man, great shirt!” said the guy at the bar.

Didn’t he know I was storming out of the restaurant? I thought I made it very clear to everyone involved that I was storming out. I had thrown down my napkin purposefully. I had been walking in a straight line, avoiding eye contact with all the shocked (They were shocked, right?) patrons. I felt I had done everything short of a curt “I said GOOD DAY!”

Yet here was this guy looking right at me and smiling like a goon.

IMG_3953“Thank you,” I mustered because, let’s face it, the t-shirt was great –all pleasingly ill-fitting in all the right places, with three-quarter length sleeves and a design that cleverly mimicked the logo for the punk band Black Flag, replicating their logo with cats and changing the name of the band to “Cat Flag.”

Also I felt it was important to acknowledge the compliment because doing so would snap me back to earth, to get me back on my mission, which was to enjoy visiting my friends back in Brooklyn. My mission was not storming out of restaurants. There are plenty of restaurants out of which I can storm in Columbus.

Of course, no one walks into a restaurant planning to storm out. Yet… Black Forest Brooklyn, a very brownstone-y take on the traditional German Biergarten in Fort Greene, had messed with me before. My friend Greg, who I was with this night along with two others, and I had each had escalating bad service experiences here. I mean, the food is good and the room is pleasingly airy, but good luck getting your check. Continue reading Flammkuchen, or I storm out of a German restaurant.

CLEAR YOUR MIND! NOW! DAMMIT! BOWL! SWING HEIGHT! SWING HEIGHT! DON’T THINK ABOUT KITTENS!

gutter-ballThe ball veered left. It went into the gutter. Less than halfway down the lane. The bowler turns around for the sad Charlie Brown shuffle back the little step at the beginning of the approach. Those strips of wood are so narrow; why don’t they use wider strips, or even narrower strips? He makes it all the way to the little fan. Can he pretend to dry his hands long enough for the ball to return without looking up and seeing the disappointed looks on his teammates’ faces?

Every pin fucking matters, and you’ve just fucking missed ten of them you fuck! This is important stuff, this Monday night league of bowling homos. People aren’t giving up their MONDAY nights to watch you throw gutterballs.

He wants to punch his head so bad, but he knows how much that scares people.

But it feels so good. In a hurtful way.

He takes a deep breath, and, in doing so, makes the mistake of looking up. One of his teammates, the one who takes care of the paperwork because no one else understands it, looks right at him. The bowler knows a lesson’s coming. He knows it’s coming from a pure place of respect, concern, and brotherly love, but he dreads it nonetheless.

The team mate, the one who does the paperwork, delivers the lesson. From back at the table he holds the back of his hands to his head and flicks his fingers out in a poof moment. It’s reminiscent of the “you just blew my mind” gesture, but the bowler knows it means “Clear your mind!” Continue reading CLEAR YOUR MIND! NOW! DAMMIT! BOWL! SWING HEIGHT! SWING HEIGHT! DON’T THINK ABOUT KITTENS!

Your stupid bumper sticker makes me regret an old Halloween costume… good job.

I’ve seen your bumper sticker, and it’s not awesome.

I want to crush this particular silver Honda that I see driving around the Clintonville section of Columbus. I’ve been behind it at the light at Henderson and High, and I had to fight the urge to rev up my Volvo and give them a good smack in the ass. The other day I chanced to park next to them at the Krogers. To make a long story short, they’re lucky I was in more of a depressive mood than an impulsive mood. Otherwise, I would’ve keyed a penis into the trunk of their car. First of all, this would have fulfilled a lifelong dream to draw a penis on something; I feel I’ve missed out on something by never having done that. Second of all, they had this bumper sticker:

bibumperWTF?!? I’m so glad you find the disease that’s repeatedly derailed my life so effin’ amusing. Now, before you go and accuse me of having no sense of humor, trust in the fact that I find myself very amusing. Hell, I used to do improve: Yes… And take a look at these other great disease-related bumper sticker ideas I’ve come up with on the fly:

  • Diabetes is sweet.
  • Hypertension makes my blood boil.
  • It grows on you.
  • Amputation makes me hopping mad.
  • I don’t see what’s the big deal is with glaucoma.

There. Call Cafepress.com: I have five good pieces of merch they can sell alongside the 49 different versions of “I hate being bipolar/it’s awesome.” You can wear it, drink out of it, mouse on it, and, of course, slap it on your car’s ass. I wider Google search brings up 6,100 hits for the bumper sticker and 53,300 for the t-shirt.

I get it; you find an inherently humorous juxtaposition in the bipolar. One minute crying, next minute laughing, next minute crying again. Those people must cycle through all two available emotions thirty-seven or thirty-eight times a day. Continue reading Your stupid bumper sticker makes me regret an old Halloween costume… good job.

Judgey, Judgey

Who’s judging whom?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about an awful encounter with a new psych doctor at North Central Mental Health –via Stonewall Columbus, the LBGT organization in Columbus. In a nutshell: One Dr. Bela Agabalyan assumed I was some sort of Klonopin addict (because Klonopin is so fun) and induced a panic attack with her slouchy demeanor and accusatory behavior.

FUN SIDE NOTE: I filed a formal complaint against her, which came back finding no fault on her part. I discovered what may have been the reason for this when I got my so-called “continuation of care” paperwork from North Central. For my diagnosis she listed Substance Abuse and Borderline Personality Disorder. For the record, I have neither. Also BPD requires a lot more diagnostics than carping at someone for 20 minutes about how he’s just in the whole mental illness game for the Klonopin.

The good news is I believe I have finally found an organization through which I can get the proper care –and Klonopin. The only downside with AccessOhio is that I have to see a case manager, Peter, each time I go in. Normally, I would think this was just typical bureaucratic hoo-ha, but Peter’s office decor really gives me pause.

His walls are covered with diplomas and memorabilia from Bob Jones University, an ultra-conservative Christian “school” in South Carolina. You hear about the joint every four years when presidential candidates you would never vote for in a billion years stop by to pander to the haters who bleat every second about how much Christ-like love they ooze. I could take this memorabilia on its own. After all, every second inch of wall in Columbus is covered with some sort of paper from THE Ohio State University. But consider what Bob Jones III, the Chancellor of the “university” has said on the record about his feelings towards the gays:

From the AP in 1980: “I’m sure this will be greatly misquoted, but it would not be a bad idea to bring the swift justice that was brought in Israel’s day against murder and rape and homosexuality.  I guarantee it would solve the problem post-haste if homosexuals were stoned, if murderers were immediately killed as the Bible commands.”

So, I’m sitting in this case manager’s office teetering on the edge of full-blown homosexual indignation. After all, mouth-poop like the above gave cover to all those bullies –especially the Young Life crowd –who felt they were “right” to throw things at my head. Worse yet, it reinforced the idea in my own head that I was somehow misshapen and wrong.

Oh, this hater’s gonna get it. I’m on the edge of my seat, just waiting for him to say even the slightest judgey syllable. Then I will stand up and declare, “I am a homosexual American! You have grievously wounded me. Good day, sir!” Then I storm out, making sure my ass looks good doing it because you know all the haters are picturing us gays naked 24/7. Why else are they so concerned? Continue reading Judgey, Judgey

Stigmata by notecards

stig·ma /ˈstiɡmə/ —from the Greek, a mark made with a pointed instrument.

I’ve been thinking about the ways in which people stigmatize people with mental illnesses a lot in the past few days. This is not because the idea got stuck on the Mobius Strip in my brain, and I can’t let go of it. Eh, who am I kidding? Of course that’s that reason. But at least I had a couple good catalysts.

First of all, a friend of mine in San Antonio was going on a Walkathon for NAMI, the National Alliance of Mental Illness, a group dedicated to fighting the stigma of mental illness. She’s a good person, and it was heartening to learn she was doing this.

The second reason was a flood of pictures on Facebook from a former friend’s birthday party. Each time a picture of a current beloved friend embracing this ex-friend came down my feed, and before I could delete it, I wanted to scream, “How could you betray me? Don’t you know how awful this [person]* was to me? I see your embrace of him as a rejection of me.” Then I would jump up and down, pointing and screaming at the computer, “J’accuse! J’accuse!”

[*Trust me, I came up with some pretty good, really descriptive, devastatingly cutting epithets for this person, but upon editing they all seemed as petty as him. So, I just reduced him to generic “person.” Trust me, if I could find something more boring I would.]

Luckily, I had the wherewithal all Sunday afternoon to practice my Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. While the immediate response going through my head may be that these friends of mine must obviously hate me as much as this [person] hates on me, the more rational response is that people like a party; that they don’t know how this [person] rejected me overnight in the coldest manner possible; and that people can’t be expected to take my warped and crushed feelings into account every time they pose for a picture.

Yet, the stigma of people being assholes towards the mentally ill is not the most insidious kind of stigma. Trust me, I could write volumes on how this [person] (and his boyfriend) erased me from their lives because they thought a coping mechanism of mine –when stressed I find a quiet place to shadow box a wall, a very private action –was directed at them. Or I could write about how another ex-friend –God, I so want to name names here –shut me out of his life after I called him on the phone looking for a friendly voice to talk to during a period of heavy stress, saying that the had to cut me off because he was worried I was too much of a suicide risk. Or, heck, I could talk about the guy a bar last week who, after asking why I was wearing long pants on a warm night, got flustered when I answered him honestly: “My cargo shorts were covered in deadly Cheetos dust.”

“I don’t know how to respond to that,” he said as he backed away like I was stroking a king cobra.

No, the worst stigmatizers are the ones who think they are helping you. Continue reading Stigmata by notecards

Der Schlaf Krieg: Fighting, to get some sleep

zzzzpanzerOne of the more exciting symptoms of having the bipolars is the inability to get anything out of your head. I often refer to my brain as a Mobius Strip because no matter how far I follow a thought, how much I think I turn it over, I always end up back at the beginning. Then I repeat. They can be profound, or they can be mundane. What they all have in common is presence:

  • Why didn’t [insert friend here] return that text? Is [insert friend here] mad at me? What did I do to piss off [insert friend here]? Why do I even have friends? I certainly don’t deserve them.
  • How am I ever going to find a job? How will I explain all the holes in my resume because of the bipolars? You’ve made a mess of your finances? You’re gonna end up homeless or made into Soylent Green. If there’s ever medical rationing, I definitely won’t qualify for
  • Why don’t people ever play Elton John’s “Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘n Roll)” and “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” off of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road together when it’s obvious from the album that they are meant to be played together? There’s no space between them on the album. What’s wrong with people? Is this why people never let you DJ? Your taste in music sucks, and people are just being nice when they don’t point that out.
  • Is the cat mad at me?
  • They’re really gonna screw up that X-Files reboot, aren’t they.
  • Did I talk to my stepmom enough before she died? I know I could’ve done more.

The upshot is that I more often than not I just lay in bed, upsetting the cat by not slumbering. Yes, the cat is mad at me. The cat is always mad at me; she bites my toes to punish me for not sleeping. My brain punishes me for not thinking.

I lay looking up at the ceiling, the patterns in the spackle forming islands and cows and mocking popes. And the tiny ambient noises – traffic, the house settling, some animal scurrying in the woods –organize themselves into whispers that offer rebuttals to the thoughts running thru my head. “When have you ever heard those two songs played together except on the album? No one likes it when you DJ.”

Ambien and NyQuil lose their effectiveness after a few days, plus you don’t ever want NyQuil to lose its effectiveness. I’ve tried white noise machines and such, but I begin to hear patterns forming which keep me awake. And, of course, there’s music, but music makes me think. “Seriously, they’re one song! They should be played as such!”

But a couple years ago, I discovered the one thing that did the trick: WORLD WAR II Continue reading Der Schlaf Krieg: Fighting, to get some sleep

Manners maketh the hump.

People sometimes accuse me of being overly obsessed with manners. I have my reasons.

Table_SettingI was reminiscing the other night with my friend Chloe. Her birthday was the next day, and I brought up celebrating with her back in 2005. A bunch of us sat on grass next to the East River in Brooklyn, watched the sun go down over Lower Manhattan, and drank copious amounts of wine. I brought a bottle of Smoking Loon Viognier. That day Chloe was turning 23; I had turned 39 three months earlier.

I remarked how wonderful it was that I was able to become such long-term friends with someone so much younger than me. Well, the fact that she was dating and eventually married one of my best friends certainly helped. However, I would have gladly been friends with Chloe regardless of that. (Though that would have probably involved a 39yr old man hanging around the Pratt campus).

“I just wasn’t into the typical college bullshit,” she said.

“True. I remember telling someone I had found a 35yr old 22yr old friend.”

“Yeah, I didn’t do crap like fuck in front of my roommate.” Well, that was out of nowhere, but I understood.

It’s all about manners, and nothing says ill breeding like fucking in front of one’s college roommate. College is the first time many people are away from the manner-enforcing mommies, and sometimes they go insane with improper etiquette.

Manners exist for a reason.

During my first term at Wittenberg after transferring in, they existed for the very necessary reason that I needed to be able to walk into my dorm room or fall asleep without seeing my new roommate Sheldon and his girlfriend Denise having sex. Continue reading Manners maketh the hump.

A necessary palate cleanse with groundhog and Klonopin

Wherein some things are too close to write about, but you gotta write anyways…

klnohogIt’s odd, but in the middle of a panic attack, even the worst one in seventeen years, one is still capable of a lucid thought or two or three. A couple of weeks ago I was at a new psychiatrist’s office attempting to get my meds refilled. However, Dr. Bela Agabalyan thought I was an alcoholic whose only purpose for being in her office was to score Klonopin. You know, because the three-hour nap Klonopin brings on really gets a party going.

She refused to listen to me, even when I pointed out that I didn’t need the Klonopin refilled anyways, and could we please talk about my bipolars. “I see two diseases here: bipolar and excessive alcohol use!” she snapped. It should be pointed out that according to the info available to her I drank three times a week for a total of five drinks a week. I’m really not much of a drinker. My interaction with her proved that weird corollary that the more one says they don’t drink all that much, the more people think you have a flask of Beam strapped to your thigh.

Nothing is more frustrating than when people who are wrong don’t listen to me. And when you don’t listen to me, your reward is a panic attack. Usually, these consist of me storming out of a room in a huff, but I needed my meds. I was trapped. Trapped in a room with a stupid person gets you a doozy of a panic attack. I might even punch a wall (or in this case a Purell dispenser). Trap me in a room with stupid person the same day I receive the news that I’m wildly diabetic and a few days after my beloved stepmom dies, Katie bar the door.

Literally bar the door Katie, because I’m going to start beating my head into it. Which is what I did, well over a dozen times. Yet, even though I was having by what any standard was a psychotic break, I was still capable of some lucid thoughts…

  • This has got to look bad.
  • Why isn’t Dr. Bela Agabalyan telling me to stop? People always tell me to stop banging my head. What is her problem?
  • I’m lucky I don’t need the Klonopin filled because she’s never gonna fill that scrip now, is she?
  • I’m gonna get some good writing out of this.

That’s the solace I take out of whatever misfortune, real or manufactured, life hands me: I can always write about. The universe didn’t give me many gifts when it came to dealing with the world, but it gave me the ability to describe my feelings thru stringing together words and sentences in a pleasing manner, hopefully funny, that helps me understand what went on. And hopefully it helps others, too. Continue reading A necessary palate cleanse with groundhog and Klonopin

“Ohnmächtigsozialbuchzorn” and other German words that have come in handy during this morning’s time using the social medias.

¡Ohnmächtigsozialbuchzorn!

Ohnmächtigsozialbuchzorn: A German noun describing the impotent rage that overtakes you when you see that someone has repeated the same clever comment on a Facebook post that you had made at an earlier time. Don’t people realize that they are part of a community whose basic requirements include reading previous comments? That is unless there is a button for “previous comments.” Clicking on that is understandably above and beyond.

Großeninnerstohnmächtigsozialbuchzorn: When you turn this impotent rage inward because the person has phrased their comment much better than you did. This is also often accompanied by an undercurrent of Ichwerdenierichtigerschriftstellerwerden, where you feel you will never be a “real” writer.

Kleinemitleidohnmächtigsozialbuchzorn: This is the tiny bit of pity you feel when the person has phrased their comment poorly. This is often concurrent with intense Kannicheinfachnurdiesenkleinensieg, muttering to the universe to please let me have this little victory. It was a pretty lousy joke to begin with, but, still, you cannot allow it to be sullied even further.

Kleinemitleidohnmächtigsozialbuchzornmitdrossel: Kleinemitleidohnmächtigsozialbuchzorn accompanied by the overwhelming desire to hunt down this person and throttle them for ending their post with “LOL,” or worse yet, “lol,” which indicates a flippancy that you cannot tolerate. You imagine them smugly chuckling as they tap your words into their device. You have to leave to go for a walk. You hit a few garage sales. At the second one, you experience a pleasing Kleinemitleidohnmächtigsozialbuchzornmitdrosselundmitzufälligenmesser when you score some fine German Henkel knives, and the guy at the garage sale says maybe you should leave the knives at the cash table because you’re smiling too much walking around with the knives.

Yes, a burning Kleinemitleidohnmächtigsozialbuchzornmitdrosselundmitzufälligenmesser
Yes, a burning Kleinemitleidohnmächtigsozialbuchzornmitdrosselundmitzufälligenmesser