John Haec's Bipolar


Hi Colleen, 

You are right this is gonna be hard, So I'll give it to you as best I can.  Maybe I'll be able to edit it later.  Here Goes…..

I am a 51 year old Bipolar man and I have 5 children I have a good relationship with 3 of my children one from my first marriage and two from my third. We raised one daughter who also has Bipolar Disorder…but that is her story to tell.  I don't know where there other two are, they are a grown boy and girl. 

I was not diagnosed until I was 39 after a three-week stay in the state hospital.  This wasn't my first experience with psychiatric hospitals but I had such terrible experiences earlier in my life I never went back.  My first experience was in 1968 after being carried from a US Navy ship because I couldn't move.  This was after I had been up for weeks with only a few hrs sleep a night.  I was released from the hospital and given an Honorable Discharge even though I broke every rule I could.  The Navy was happy to get rid of me.  I had escaped several times from custody and been A.W.O.L. several times including once over seas I thought I could somehow get home.  Their diagnosis did not include manic-depression, which bipolar was called then so I couldn't get treatment.  In fact they said I had temporal lobe epilepsy, a sociopathic character disorder and just psychiatric problems in general.  This kept them off the hook for benefits to me.  And it made me believe I was a real bad person.  All those events took place on my second enlistment after my first where I received a commendation from the Secretary of Navy and served on the rivers of Vietnam. 

I returned home for my second time this time not only disgraced by people having disrespect for Vietnam vets period, but my family because I was mental.  I was thrown into having to care for my now 2 year old son,  This had been one of my triggers while over seas, I knew he was being abused and couldn't get anyone to listen.  Now I was taking care of him and trying to work. His mother, my first wife went to prison for child abuse.  Finally I went into a deep depression and tried suicide.  I didn't do a very good job, I think because I was at a point where nothing mattered much I just wanted to hibernate.  My mother and brother took me to the VA Hospital in Long Beach, Calif.  And I was sent away… they said they couldn't help this was summer'69.

I left my son in the care of my grandparents and went off into the drug culture of Los Angeles and it's suburbs.  I went into a deep depression and stayed there for what seemed forever.  Finally it broke in '71. I met and married my second wife, started a business, worked two jobs and learned a new trade. And had two children.  Then the depression came back and everything fell apart I was treated by my family doc with elavil and it seemed to only make matters worse.  This marriage ended after 2 1/2 years.

In '74 after my 2nd wife left I went back to my old habits, I stayed high and went back to the street life, spent all my savings and ran up lots of debts.  Finally after a few months I was placed in a psychiatric ward by my family doctor.  When I was released after 48hrs I was given a bottle of haldol which I threw away. They had told me to come back if I had any problems so I did that.  It was a big mistake. I was given a shot and sent 60 miles to another county to the State Hospital, I woke up 3 days later and didn't get free for 2 weeks, all because I didn't have an address.  There were horrible incidents that took place there that I won't go into here but I will never forget.  After getting out I stayed high and worked for myself (when I wasn't isolating in one of my houses in L.A) until '76 when I went into an alcohol program inpatient for about 6 mos. Then after getting out of the hospital in the spring of '77 I met my 3rd wife. 

Things seemed to get better.  I got a job and settled down in the southern California desert.  We had a boy and then we got married. A few months later I decided to move the family to Oregon. I got a job right away and things were good.  I got a better job right away and was made foreman, my daughter was born and then in May of '81 I injured my back.  I didn't lose my job right away. I stayed working on light duty until the plant started to shut down that was March of'82.

After I was out of work I tried to start a business and worked at painting and the shipyards but my back couldn't handle it.  I got pretty down and started to hibernate again.  About this time, my third wife was raped by a fellow employee.  I blamed myself because she had to go to work for the first time.  I went after the guy who did it and went on nightly patrols, I was armed and pretty out of it.  I thank God I never found him when I was in that state.  About this time I began treatment for stress and depression through several places and I was one step from jail or the hospital, I was real careful of my comments to the docs and counselors because of prior bad experiences.

We got past this but our marriage was strained to say the least. I retrained myself to be a computer tech.  I worked until January '85.  I started not sleeping and walking around all night and getting way out there.  I was manic so my employer had no choice but to let me go because of my direct contact with the public.  My 3rd wife and I had lots of problems it was a struggle to survive and I just got worse. Finally I had surgery on my back in January '87. This threw me into a full manic state I'm sure.  I still wasn't diagnosed Bipolar, only stress and depression.  Well I lost 50 pounds in 3 months quit smoking and I knew I could talk to Angels and spirits. I got away with this until August '87 and I was sent to the State Hospital by a county mental health worker... This is where I first got my diagnosis of Bipolar.  After my diagnosis I quit smoking and drinking and haven't started again.  I have emphysema or COPD and my psychiatrist helped me quit smoking and said he wouldn't treat me if I kept drinking so I stopped. 

Since then I and have been hospitalized 5 times by the VA and I lived in one of their domiciliaries twice, once for 3 months in '93 and the other in '95-'96 for 7months.  I have a diagnosis of Bipolar I and PTSD from the VA on axis I of my diagnosis.  I have tried suicide several times and two times were very serious.  I am real happy to say that I haven't been hospitalized since '95 and I left the VA domiciliary in '96.  I owe it in part to my caring psychiatrist and psychologist.  In '96 my 3rd wife and I divorced and we are now better friends than ever... 

I can never fix the past.  All I can do now is go forward. 


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