My plot looked plausible on paper, as grandiose as it was, but it never stood a snowball’s chance in hell at being executed. It was a figment of my imagination based on half-truths and crazed thoughts. The most notable reason the plot was a flop is because I acutely suffer from a mental illness called bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression or a chemical imbalance; as Charlie Sheen would call it, “Bi- Winning”. It is a psychiatric diagnosis for a mood disorder in which people experience extreme and disruptive mood swings and psychosis. I suffered from frenzied states known as mania or manic episodes alternating with bouts of depression as well as psychosis, which is a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.
In my case, I am a high-functioning bipolar that has been able to carry out many of my life’s goals and ambitions to some extent, but not without several major disruptions and setbacks. I was able to maintain balance with family, work, and friends without them knowing most of what was going through my mind. Sometimes I wonder if I had made smarter choices in life, I could have harnessed the illness to my benefit more and accomplished my grandiose plans. However, the odds were definitely not stacked in my favor to become the Ruler of the Universe or much less, President of the United States.
The Tip of the Iceberg
The stories contained herein do not even represent the tip of the iceberg of what was going on in my head. There’s no way to capture the intricate, detailed thoughts that sometimes would come and go so fast it was like trying to remember a dream. I think most everybody understands depression to some degree, be it chronic and crippling or just short-term; however, unless you are bipolar, the feeling of being manic is indescribable. I can tell you that it’s an abnormally elevated mood state and proceed to describe some symptoms, but it’s hard to really describe the real feelings that go on. The closest thing I can liken it to is an acid trip, but I know that doesn’t help a lot of people. One feels like an invincible superhero.
Mania is characterized by symptoms such as inappropriate elation, increased irritability, severe insomnia, grandiose notions, increased speed and volume of speech, disconnected and racing thoughts, hyper sexuality, markedly increased energy and activity level, poor judgment, and inappropriate social behavior. Many of us have experienced these symptoms individually, but a manic person might experience them all in one episode. One might experience a oneness with God, like me most of the time, and others might feel a total disconnect and feeling of disparity.
At times, I felt like life was an actual movie directed by God for his own entertainment. My character seemed like a juxtaposition of the main protagonists from five different movies: Robert Langdon from the ‘Da Vinci Code’, Brian from Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’, Truman from ‘the Truman Show’, John Nash from a ‘Beautiful Mind’, and Dave from ‘Dave’.
I resembled John Nash’s character played by Russell Crow in the ‘Beautiful Mind’ in that I was on a secret mission for something that simply was not real. Although I didn’t have schizophrenia nor did I see imaginary people, I did have a mental disorder with many common overtones such as hallucinations and psychosis. Nash was a mathematical genius that ended up winning the Nobel Prize. I had the mind to excel at mathematics in grade school and high school, but I fall far short from genius level.
My life has felt like a thriller fiction novel by Dan Brown with angels, demons, symbols, codes, and conspiracy theories. There were always elements of real and perceived danger and excitement in my life. One phenomenon that makes my story seem fictitious is the plethora of bizarre and unexpected coincidences. I’d meet just the right person I was looking for and my dates would coincide perfectly with what I was trying to do. It would be like picking the right Powerball numbers. It could have been something simple like the perfect parking spot opening up as I drove up. It seems I would fall into the most random circumstances like running into a friend on the other side of the world. As Carl Jung explained it, I encountered a perceived synchronicity, which is a concept that holds that events are "meaningful coincidences" if they occur with no apparent causal relationship, yet seem to be meaningfully related.
My life was like the Truman Show because I would get the sensation quite often that this whole life is a production about me and everybody was in on the act. However, Truman was just an ordinary average guy, whereas I thought I was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ at times. Truman had to break through the barriers of the production set that encompassed his whole world to find that, indeed, his reality was all a hoax. Metaphorically speaking, I had to live as God’s global servant until the day I would “break on through to the other side” like Jim Morrison sang. I thought that on the other side was a world where I was the Son of God, the Holy Spirit and even God himself. My purpose was to restore love, compassion, and order to the universe and eradicate evil, which is how I live my life.
My life took on the appearance, at times, of the false messiah in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”. Brian was born on the very same day as Jesus in Bethlehem and was mistaken for as the Son of God by the three wise men. Brian joins a political resistance movement aiming to get the Romans out of Judea. The movement is not very effective but somehow Brian becomes a prophet and gathers his own following. His fate is sealed however, and he lives a very short life.
In the movie ‘Dave’, the protagonist by the same name becomes the President of the United States under false pretenses due to the fact that he closely resembled the actual President, who had fallen gravely ill. Once in power, he started to take liberties to change world as he saw fit despite what his cabinet desired, just like I aspired to accomplish.
Synthesizing traits from the five characters, I came up with the following story-line for the movie about my life: Mr. Neutron, a bipolar hallucinating treasure hunter with a messianic complex is in search of the lost ancient secrets of the universe in order to bring about a New World Order. To find them, he must overcome his mental defects, deflate his ego, and find his true self.
Six degrees of Mr. Neutron
I have always felt interconnection with mankind. I would always say, “We’re all in this together.” Just like Kevin Bacon, I felt I was mathematically linked to just about every person on the planet within six degrees. I did not have a broad base of power hitters nor celebrities in my first level or degree, but there are some highly recognizable figures that are friends, relatives, and colleagues that I’ve met or at least seen in person. You’ll see that within two degrees, I knew the biggest power players of all; politicians, musicians, humanitarians, business leaders and so on. Some of them I met personally, others I thought I was only a phone call away.
The website LinkedIn for working professionals calculates how many people you can connect with within three degrees of separation. For instance, I have over 1,000 first level connections of people I know in some capacity. Therefore, I have 130,000 second level contacts and over 20,000,000 in my third level.
This phenomenon is important to the story because I’m aware at all times that if I start picking up the phone and dialing, I can reach anybody on the planet and at least ask for or offer a favor. I had the confidence I could do just about anything.
Against all Odds
It’s curious how fate works for all of us. We’re dealt a certain hand of cards at conception when it comes to your genetic predisposition. Then you factor in the coincidences and circumstances the universe deals you. Some call that predetermination. Mixed with that, you have the free will to change the world, both inside and out of your mind. Tainted with bipolar disorder, the act of maintaining the balance of these complexities can be like crossing a very fine tight rope between two tall buildings on a unicycle while juggling five balls, whereas, for the ‘normal’ person, it comes much more naturally without the extra challenges.
I attribute the greater part of my poorer choice making to the illness, to which I was genetically predisposed. 90% of all marriages with a bipolar spouse in the United States end in divorce. Over half of bipolar Americans have substance abuse issues. Some call the bipolar genes a gift, others a curse. For me it was both. I made a lot of stupid decisions while not in my right mind. But the blame game doesn’t solve anything and can overshadow the reality that I simply screwed up just like anyone else.
At extreme levels of a manic state, I experienced total psychosis, which is a total break with reality. I made zero sense at all. I was not of sound mind. The lights were on, but nobody was home. I drew the most ridiculous conclusions. My thought patterns were scattered across the board, to say the least. I thought I was a genius politician, a secret agent or a hilarious comedian, but while manic, the people around me viewed me as nothing of the sort. To them, I seemed ridiculous, volatile, unstoppable and sometimes out of control like a wrecking ball off course.
Having stated that, I have a long-standing track record of making foolish decisions that winded me in jails, hospitals and/or mental institutions in various locations around the world such as in Europe, Central America and the United States. In one instance, I was even detained by Barak Obama’s Secret Service.
Luckily, I never had to serve hard time; however, I was close to a lengthy jail sentence in Cuba once. It hurt me once to find out that when I went missing overseas, my family was calling the morgues just to find out where I may have ended up.
I owe a lot to the doctors, nurses, friends and especially my family who prevented me from getting too out of control and making huge mistakes. I am really lucky to have survived through several of my extreme episodes. Only through the belief in some supreme being and a lot of luck did I narrowly avert ending up in a coffin. I came close several times when I was clowning around in a frenzied state and also when I had suicidal tendencies in my times of deep depression.
I consider it rather unfortunate that I suffer frequent bouts of mania; however, on the positive side, I was fortunate to have the mental fortitude to ward off depression to a great extent. It took me a lot of therapy to build up a set of mental conditioning tools. I’ve learned that through my travels through dark places, I now know how to better appreciate sanity.
In two distinct cases, I fell into deep, chronic depression, spending days and nights parked on the sofa watching television hours on end, wishing I had owed a gun or a noose to end it all. I would wear my robe all day and night and never got dressed for anything. I never left the house. I’d go weeks without shaving and my toothbrush seemed like it weighed fifty pounds.
I experienced dozens of bouts with mania and hypomania throughout the years. It could take weeks to snap out of a manic episode depending on the severity of it. It simply never took too long before I flew the coup, so to speak, and something drastic happened. It was like getting sucked into a vortex that rapidly spun out of control like the cone of a tornado. Thoughts trickled on top of each other. My imagination started to run amok. My self-control depleted rapidly until I did something out of control.
Most people with bipolar disorder, including myself, suffer from grandiose delusions which are characterized by fantastical beliefs that one is famous, omnipotent, wealthy, or otherwise very powerful. The delusions are based on fantasy and typically have a supernatural, science-fictional, or religious theme. In my case, I climbed to the very top believing that I would become President of the United States and, better yet, God’s ‘secret agent’ with unlimited power; you could say a modern-day prophet.
In many instances I felt like “the Chosen One" on a special Mission from God to carry out His work like Neo from the movie, “The Matrix”. The manic missions tend to have little relevance in reality and without much, if any, foresight. For instance, I tried to contact Pope John Paul II in the Vatican. I faxed a special request to his secretary for him to forgive me for my sins. I knocked on the White House door in the middle of the night to tell George Bush where Osama bin Laden was hiding. No shit.
I’ve come to call the manic side of me my alter ego. My friends and family call this curious identity, Mr. Neutron, The Most Dangerous Man in the World. It stems from a skit by Monty Python in the 70’s. He is essentially me in a manic state of mind. He is the identity wanting to become President of the United States and rule the world as a divine benevolent dictator.
He always aims high and shoots for the very top. He believes that he is the ultimate specimen that defies the rules of nature. He suffers from racing thoughts that go a million miles a minute through his brain. He is tireless and needs little sleep. He is totally self absorbed and could care little what the other people have to say. He speaks really fast and tends to dominate the conversion by not shutting up and constantly interrupting. He mainly wants to talk about himself in a racy and rapid tone.
As in the Monty Python skit, he was on surveillance by the U.S. Government to make sure he didn’t do anything too outlandish. His mind was the center of the universe.
Over the years, Mr. Neutron would go into intense manic states where he would truly believe that his plot was real. When the manic episodes subsided and Neutron paused to relax, I would come out of the haze and realize how silly and juvenile my thoughts and actions really were; history had no memory though.
The next time I would experience mania, I fell back into the same rabbit hole thinking I’d be President or some kind of prophet. In my right mind, I could not conquer the fantasia and delusions Mr. Neutron was experiencing. It’s as if I should have left little reminders all around me so the “Future Mr. Neutron” would not fall into the same pitfalls as before. Maybe I should have tattooed on my chest, “You are not really going to be the President” so I’d look at it every morning in the mirror to remind myself of the obvious reality.
An Inconvenient Truth
I thought my destiny was to be voted into office on Election Day 2012, which surprisingly fell on my forty-first birthday. Obviously that didn’t happen. That would have been awesome though. The world would have had an immigrant as First Lady as my ex-wife at the time was from Latin America. I envisioned pulling up to the White House in a small Ryder truck we drove across country with our few possessions. We’d open the door to the truck and our two little Chihuahuas would jump out and start scrambling around the White House lawn. What a grandiose vision!
The façade of my mastermind plot to become President may have appeared quite believable to those that didn’t know me and for some that did. I’ve been given quite a few unsolicited comments that I looked and acted “Presidential”. For example, I’d talk to just about anyone and everyone about any subject from golf to politics to UFO’s.
Conversely, I also consorted with the dark side through my extensive travels such as hardened criminals, thugs, and destitute homeless people in back alleys of big cities and other people of dubious character typically between one and four in the morning. At the end of my encounters, I frequently heard, “Dude, you’d make an awesome President. You’ve got my vote for sure.” All of the compliments and adulation validated my ambition to run for office. I said to myself, “If I only could get the homeless drug users to vote, I’d be a leg up.” Little did I consider, those people typically don’t vote.
I also shared my presidential aspirations with my family and one particular friend that worked inside the White House and during the Clinton Administration. He later became a high level manager for John Kerry’s presidential campaign reporting directly to his campaign manager. Now he was a contact I would have relied upon for when I was going to campaign for the White House.
On the other side of the story, those that know me well knew I could never have stood a chance in hell to become the President. For one thing, a large portion of my life revolved around sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, although these do not seem like disqualifiers these days. Business and politics were way distant runners up. I was semi-industrious at my previous jobs, but never made any great strides moving up the corporate ladder.
In my opinion, I could never be President in this day and age due to my history of mental illness, despite that fact that it could be been covered up in the past. If the population knew I had been hospitalized several times and that I’ve been taking Lithium most of my adult life, they would have voted me out the door.
The Bipolar Express
So at what point did I wake up from the Bipolar Express train? I’m not sure I totally have or ever will, but I did give up the chance of being elected President in 2012, 2016 and 2020 along with the chance to rule the world for at least now. That dates have come and gone and not even Mr. Neutron can reverse time without getting into a discussion of alternate realities. I have pretty much debunked most of my own myths and have since departed from concocting such wily ideas, but I’m forever prone to travel down the same rabbit hole again.
I’d like to think I was in greater control of my future, but I have learned to live with the handicap of unpredictability that comes with the territory. The illness is supposedly not curable, but with the proper treatment, it can be managed properly to enable living a ‘normal’ lifestyle. At the very extreme, it can lead to suicide. I lost four good friends that couldn’t keep up the struggle of life due to chemical imbalances and decided to take their own lives. I made a solemn pact with my Higher Power that no matter how bad things get, I will not end it that way.
So what was the truth and what was fiction and fantasy? The lines for me were always quite blurred. The truth is that I was only out of my right mind a very small fraction of the time; however, my story concentrates on times when I was manic.
1.) Did I create a Plot to rule the world? Yes. For instance, I thought I would hop on a flight one day to Afghanistan and surrender myself into the hands of Al Qaeda operatives in order to be taken to Osama bin Laden to talk diplomacy and bargaining with him. Then I’d help broker a peace agreement between the United States and the world’s most notorious terror organization. I would later use that fame to gain the world’s attention as The Most Dangerous Man in the World.
2.) Was I the world’s most dangerous man? In my mind; Yes. In reality; maybe just a little dangerous, but not much. My plans entailed no violence or harm to anyone. I’ve never fired a gun in my whole life, well once. I am a man of peace and diplomacy. I am a hippy throw-back from the sixties.
3.) Did I work on terrorism projects for Top Secret America? Yes, but only for a brief time on each project before they were both terminated in their infancy. My role was much less significant than I had once thought. I never reached a level where I had to gain government clearance.
4.) Did I join the Freemasons and an obscure international Order? Yes, but I entered the both with the right, humble intentions of just becoming a better person. I did not really know what sort of mystery I was to encounter with either group, but they both enhanced my life for the better.
5.) Did I know anybody from the secretive ‘power elite’? A few, but none that I communicated with on a frequent basis or even met more than once like the Director of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano; George H.W. Bush’s Chief of Staff, John Sununu; the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces, Wesley Clark, and three ex-presidents of Costa Rica.
6.) Did I get a graduate degree from the top program in the world? Yes, I attended the Thunderbird School of Global Management in 1998. For over fifteen years standing, they won the top ranking for a full time international Master’s of Business Administration program. It is a recruiting ground for both private and public sectors including the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency. Two of my professors were top ex-CIA operatives in the Middle East and Latin America.
7.) Was I a successful international expatriate that worked, studied and toured on four different continents? Yes. I attended high school in Australia, toured North Africa, conducted business in Europe and Russia, and lived in Central and South America for over ten years.
8.) Was I ever in a position to become a very wealthy man? A billionaire no. A quarter billionaire, yes, but a very small chance. What ended up happening was I went totally broke and completely destitute, living hand to mouth from my family members. I was promised millions on two separate occasions by other successful millionaires. Before they panned out, I went on lavish shopping sprees that wiped out my bank accounts.
9.) Did I make any strides at becoming President of the United States? Not even close. I felt in my manic mind I was doing everything I was supposed to do to chase the dream, but that didn’t entail exerting much effort at all. I looked into a couple of potential political parties and spoke with some of their leaders, but I never took action outside of sketching out a few platform issues in my diaries and researching Federal Election guidelines..
Throughout all of my ups and downs, I have been able to carry on a ‘semi’ normal life that held some major accomplishments, such as holding on to some important, meaningful jobs for some time. I continue to maintain great relationships with my family despite all the shit I’ve put them through. I have thousands of friends and acquaintances scattered all around the globe. I forged a path of happiness and did a good job to suppress depression along the way.
Another notable feat was that very few witnessed the manic side of me get out of control first hand except for close friends, family and a handful of strangers. Friends that hear my story for the first time will be shocked and in disbelief to hear about how harsh my illness is. I am able to joke around about it now with anybody that wants to talk about it.
As far as the most predictable consequences of the illness goes, you name it; I’ve hit most of them. Hooked on drugs and alcohol. Thrown in jail various times. Wiped out my bank accounts. Ruined a perfectly good marriage. Fired from several jobs. Committed to several mental hospitals. I've gone through various rehab programs. Most dangerous of all, I’ve risked my life and the lives of others in a crazed state numerous times. I almost killed myself on several occasions, accidentally and purposefully. I had suicidal tendencies and couldn’t find a reason to live. There was zero light at the end of the tunnel.
Fortunately, I was able to forge on without attempting anything rash. Certainly, these are not activities that would lead one to become the ruler of the free world, at least not on paper.
Extreme levels of mania can lead to devastating results and my case was no exception. I suffered three total breakdowns that left me so upside down I didn’t even know my name. I’m not kidding. I forgot my own name. I was completely insane for several days at a time. It has taken a slew of doctors and nurses in the psychiatric hospital to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. It also takes the help of family and friends, who, in many cases, might be angry and/or reluctant to help. I owe an un-repayable amount to my father and my older sister who have had to bail me out of jails and hospitals in Europe, Central America and Miami. Without them, I wouldn’t be alive.
In addition to the extreme delusions of grandeur, such as becoming the world’s leader, there is a large laundry list of other symptoms of manic depression including hallucinations, intense worry and anxiety, unreasonableness, insomnia, over stimulation, lacking in focus, increased sex drive and increased vitality. Pick any one of these and I have a story for you. I went through each and every one of these dark tunnels.
It has been proven scientifically that the illness is genetic. It certainly runs in my family. I have two siblings that also are diagnosed bipolar. We kid about our episodes with each other and share our absurd stories in order to learn from them. We also work together when something goes wrong or we get depressed. When it comes to Nature vs. Nurture, I realize I was preprogrammed to be bipolar, but it is life’s everyday occurrences that shape the outcome of how the illness manifests itself and produces very peculiar decision processes. In my life, the genetic coding along with the crazy adventures have come together to create what I call “the perfect storm.” Sometimes it’s a perfect “shit storm”, other times, it is brilliant. It’s everything but stagnant and conventional. As Jimi Hendrix put it, “Manic depression is a frustrating mess.”
There is no typical bipolar person, only a rainbow spectrum of colors. They come in all shapes and sizes. Men, women, religious, criminal, successful, destitute and so on. There are no two exact cases nor is there a silver bullet cure.
Bipolar triggers are situations, events and behavioral patterns that predictably lead to bipolar symptoms. It’s essential to be able to recognize them as soon as possible in order to modify one’s behavior to prevent the ensuing symptoms. I have had a tough time recognizing them and putting in the stopgap measures to avoid mania. I finally started picking up self-help books from the bookstore and realized how well defined triggers were. I compiled a list from several sources of major triggers. All of them have applied to me without exception.
Stop taking medication, drug and alcohol abuse, time zone changes, work related stress, lack of exercise, caffeine use, heavy traffic, poor diet, poor relationship, lack of balance, poor sleeping habits, lack of a schedule, excessive obligations, too much television, hanging out with people that make you crazy, planning big events, going overseas, illness or death of a loved one, and stressful world events.
Living with manic depression demands that you live a balanced lifestyle of moderation and avoiding excesses. One has to recognize triggers that lead to undesired consequences. I continually pushed everything to the extreme levels. As I would start to go into a manic episode, the lines became blurred as to what a trigger was. My doctors collectively used the phrase “the bull shit filter is turned off”. I had a semblance of balance throughout the years, but excesses kept creeping up. The real key is moderation of thoughts, habits and beliefs. In therapy they teach coping mechanisms and symptom management to harness the illness.
The number one trigger is to stop taking your medication suddenly, for whatever reason. Always stock up before you run out, but NEVER just quit your meds suddenly. For me, within a week without meds I’m already manic bouncing off the walls.
Little did I know, after completing graduate school, I entered into an unbalanced lifestyle that was full of triggers. I worked in high stress job environments in many countries spanning many time zones. I was constantly on the move and taking on excessive obligations. In a way, it was exactly what I wanted and what I thought I was cut out to be; an International Business Development Manager. However, the work
related stress became more than I could handle at times and I would enter into a mania. It would eventually result in me quitting or getting fired.
Certain life events could also trigger an episode such as an illness or death of a loved one such as the World Trade Center tragedy on 9/11. My sister narrowly escaped Tower 1 that fateful morning. She witnessed the carnage of the “Jumpers” during her escape from the building.
In down times in between jobs, poor habits would always creep in such as alcohol and drug abuse that would lead any which way up or down, but always beyond the threshold of normal. I started drinking and taking drugs when I was twelve years old. They were interwoven into the fabric of my life that continued into my middle age years. I don’t know why I had such an insatiable penchant for pot, cocaine and psychedelic drugs, but I lacked the self control to stop taking them. They usually were accompanied by rock ‘n roll music, whether it be at a party, a concert or just sitting at a friend’s house. I guess you could say I had the Peter Pan syndrome and refused to grow up. Deep down I knew the abuse was detrimental to a normal mind, but even worse for someone that is bipolar, but I just couldn’t stop making poor decisions even though I knew better.
Acceptance and the Fighting the Stigma
It’s safe to say that most people have a friend, co-worker, family member or at least somebody they know with bipolar disorder. Even in this day and age, there is a huge stigma still and many people are still uncomfortable when the topic of the illness comes up. Some are all too familiar with it and would rather avoid the discussion. Others are totally ignorant and have made unfounded conclusions. A mission of mine has been to perpetually attempt to tear down the wall of prejudice and unfamiliarity and lead people to place of higher enlightenment about the subject.
Over the last decade, I have grown to accept and embrace my illness and am open about it with friends, family and even strangers. People are taken aback when I’ll reveal I’m bipolar while telling a story or making a joke. Some are like, “Did he just say that out loud?” “Who brings up he’s bipolar in his own conversation?” “Aren’t we supposed to bring that up ourselves behind his back?”
A lot of times, I feel my life is a total joke. I’ve come to that realization and I’m okay with it. Healthy or not, I no longer take life too seriously in as much as outside influences dictate my outcomes. It’s a wonder how I was never laughed off the face of the planet when my illness was exposed. At times, I was so humiliated at myself that I wanted to wipe my own self off the planet.
I’ve learned that it’s a part of my reality and who I am. I feel it’s to my advantage to be open with it, although with some obvious discretion. Of course, unless the context is appropriate, I don’t go announcing that I’m mentally ill. Some wear it as a badge or use it as a crutch. In my estimation, it doesn’t bode well while trying to gain credibility and integrity in any conversation.
There exists an ethical dilemma when it comes to disclosing versus omitting the fact that each of us has to be comfortable with. In certain situations, I’m OK with omitting the truth altogether. If I put on every job application that I was bipolar, I would never get a job. Yes, they sometimes ask.
Mania or Spiritual Awakening
Over the years, I’ve done some studying on bipolar disorder at the bookstore, library and online and concluded that mental breakdowns can really be spiritual breakthroughs. I truly believe that there can be a transformational process if you have the right attitude and guidance. According to Sean Blackwell in his YouTube videos ‘Am I Bipolar or Waking up’, one has to continually seek to heighten their lever of consciousness, deflate their ego altogether, and manage past psychological traumas accordingly.
In Eckhart Tolle’s “Power of Now”, he also talks about deflating the ego and living in the present in his book. It took me on an inspiring spiritual journey to find my true and deepest self by realizing that the past and future don’t exist; only the present. It seems obvious, but it takes a lot of reinforcing to get it down and be a “practitioner of the present.” The tight rope act I previously referred to combines juggling emotions from past hang ups and anxieties about the future. I worked hard with a psychologist using a technique called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help solidify these thought processes. I learned that you choose your emotions; you choose happiness. If you don't like the way you feel, you have to change the way you think. Many people let life happen to them without using their God-given steering wheel to direct its course.
I personally had a major breakthrough in 2013 during a manic episode as I tried to process what the aforementioned authors and my psychologist were trying to impart upon me. It was a healthy spiritual awakening, although a bit dangerous because I became completely deconstructed and wasn’t making rational decisions as perceived by others, namely, my family who acted like my gurus.
As for whether medication is needed after a major breakthrough, that’s above my pay grade to say. I personally take my meds. The consequences are too dire if I don’t. Listen to yourself. You are your best own doctor/psychiatrist.
The Challenging Pursuit of Happiness with Manic Depression
My inquisitive mind constantly ponders the age old questions; “Why we are here?” “What’s it all about?” “Where did we come from?” For me, the purpose in life is the perpetual pursuit of joy and happiness - following your bliss. I learned a lot from the movie “What the Bleep Do We Know?” such as to ask what consciousness even is.
Maintaining happiness is a true skill that continually needs to be honed in on, especially finding the equilibrium between the extremes. Moderation is the key to balance. I think you can do just about anything you want, just don’t be an idiot and overdo stuff like drinking, smoking, sitting on your butt, caffeine, overeating, etc. Unfortunately, people with manic depression are prone to have addictive personalities, including myself. If I try to curb one addiction; I end up replacing it with one or more others. When I stopped drinking, I replaced it with more caffeine and nicotine. When I stopped smoking, I ate more and continually chewed Nicorette.
Some say the solution to maintaining a balanced life is to lead a boring one without much stimulus at all - no alcohol, no time zone changes, no caffeine, no nicotine, no recreational drugs, no staying up late, avoiding confrontation, no foreign travel, boring diets, and drastically curbed emotions. A little of everything is OK. What DOES need to stay constant for me is a steady regimen of medication as prescribed by a professional psychiatrist. Yes, homeopathic remedies and other forms of treatment, such as Eastern medicine work, but I don’t kid myself. Western medicine is where it’s at for many when it comes to treating mental illness. L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, denied his members any medication and essentially let many of them die locked up in the solitary confinement.
The Jesuits taught me happiness comes in the form of contemplation and meditation. I fell away from organized religion in my youth, but consider myself quite spiritual. I believe in Order. You could say, “The Force”, which could also mean that I believe in a supreme being. That being said, I believe he/she put us on the earth to enjoy ourselves and have fun as much as possible, not to suffer. I know that it’s very subjective, but it seems to be the consensus across many cultures. Definitely there’s work and certainly a sense of duty to our family, friends and society at large. Yes, we have responsibilities that might not seem fun to perform, but our goal, I think, is to overcome adversity and find joy and happiness in everything we do, which is much easier said than done for people with bipolar disorder.
My Bipolar Heroes
The famous people pictured below were or are afflicted with bipolar disorder and/or depression that I consider my personal heroes for having influenced me through their music, comedy, acting, and politics.
Jim Carrey, Charlie Sheen, Jimi Hendrix, Sting,
Robin Williams, Mel Gibson, Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln