I was born in the spring of 1959, the unexpected last child of a 42 year
old. I had 3 older brothers and two senior sisters, Baltimore Irish
Catholic all the way. My parents both worked in DC and met on the
train commute. They married and settled in suburban Maryland. That
is where I came from. My earliest memories are all of love and pride and
fun and games. I've always had a fear of my Dad yet great admiration and
desire to please. Hours of sitting with my Mom as she cooked and
talking about everything I had seen that day. Strange neighbors and
walking to school, bike riding alone with a whole cast of imaginary
friends! Around the age of twelve I was everyone's darling.
All across the board, jocks liked me, girls liked me, teachers, my
parents, I .liked me, and I loved it. The day of the Kent State killings
that all changed.
As I was running my mouth in defense of the
protesters 2 of my football teammates came up and proceeded to punch me
out, guys I thought liked me! It shattered my confidence and all through
high school I developed a severe low self-esteem problem, my
self-image was that of a retarded freak who could only fall short of his
potential! It was very sudden; I really don't have any idea what
happened. One year I loved myself and then I didn't. Then I
discovered Drugs, L.S.D., pot, booze, the whole party scene. I liked it!
could get out of my own head, plus my worth was determined by the quality of my dope, something I could control!
In 12th grade my father got
a call from my guidance counselor about drug use and depression and it
would help my schoolwork if I got some psychiatric care. My Dad sat
me down and told me what the man said about me, then with all the
certainty in the world said it was nonsense, I was bright and sociable
and had no problems! All I needed was to buckle down and be the son
of a great man! Ok, I thought, right Dad, I am a powerful member of your
clan, lets just be grandiose, so I was! then two days later I'd be
depressed again, classic symptoms of my bp but everyone remained quiet.
was oblivious to everything but the pain I felt emotionally. When I
So in 1977 I graduated high school and moved in with my
friends family as my parents retired to Florida. I was set up by Dad to go
to college in my hometown, 2000 miles away from him! I never went to class
but for a solid year had him sending me money. Finally he caught on.
So I took a construction job and spent a year and a half partying, dealing
with my low self esteem, depression, manic depression by using
illegal drugs. Found my self in county jail before the year was out.
there straight to the state mental hosp. For 6 weeks of strange throzine
lock down! My brother took me in and I sobered up for a month or so
and then found myself in the middle of craziness again, caught
shoplifting, skipped court and moved in with this girl and her criminal
roommates, then I was hit with a full blown psychotic manic episode.
Paranoid, I knocked on the catholic priest door that had counseled me back
in high school. That landed me in Georgetown hospital for several
months, diagnosed manic-depressed and released to my parents in Florida
where I slept through an entire year.
The doctors had me on lithium
and Valium, going to a high priced analyst plus expensive group
psychotherapy. All thanks to Federal employee blue cross health insurance
because my Father had reenrolled me in community college when I hit
Georgetown hospital; He loved me trying to get me help. It was hard for
him to watch all efforts just make me lay around his house getting
fat. He got me a little motorcycle and I went to classes 3 days a week and
slept the rest of the time. One day I decided enough was enough, it
will never get better so I ate the bottle of valium and then the
lithium got on my bike and drove. My only thought was of where on Beneva
road I would crash, well I didn't crash but instead fell over at a
red light, was rushed to the e.r. And woke up the next day with a
catheter hanging out of me, my shrink standing over me looking disgusted,
and a feeling of utter despair. I was now officially dangerous
they told me straight up they didn't know what to do to help me.
sat down with my Dad and, much like back in high school, decided together
that I should quit all this illness talk, be a man and join the navy.
that's what I did. Never talked to the doctor about any of it, just
cancelled the appointments and stopped the meds. Made my way through all
the paperwork and found myself at the Orlando navel training center.
I had been clean and off all meds for 3 months at least and as I
settled into boot camp I began to feel real good. Hypomania was making it
easy to make friends and by the 5th week I was feeling cocky. As our
tent was turning in one night I snuck a cigarette and our c.o. smelled it
causing all of us to have to stand at attention until one of us
admitted to it. This guy told on me so I screamed obscenities and was
promptly removed from my class. I accepted the punishment of being put
back 3 weeks and wrote my parents a letter that I had come down with
pneumonia and had to be sent to the hospital so graduation would be
postponed. My new class was a rowdy group and soon I was in trouble again.
This time they sent me to "MO TRA" motivational training.
It was physical punishment and it sent me in to a tirade immediately.
drill instructor laughed and walked me into the C.O.'s office, told me I
should forget about a career " I don't want your type in
my navy" so I said fine, release me! It was that easy, they released
me in a week with my civilian clothes and a check for the time I was
Cool, happy mania was on me, I had cash so I called dad and said
goodbye. Hitched a ride to Maryland and tried to be a drug dealer
Thank God that didn't work out. I became very depressed and lived
off my family for a few months then one night I called my dad and asked if
he would send me to computer school, I was serious about going
straight. He agreed and I came back to Florida, joined alcoholics
anonymous and did well at Tampa tech. I was working and going to school
when this friend offered me a high paying job. Only one semester
from graduation I quit school. I was still thinking like a bipolar on a
manic roll, irrationally! For two years I was in a self-help group
treating insanity by not doing drugs. Believing that my mind would return
to rational thinking once time healed it from the years of drug
abuse. The entire time ignorant of bp. As if my mind completely blocked
out those years of hospitals and knowledge. I'm beginning to believe it
was shame, fear of stigma. But still, why I sabotage myself is a
mystery, and I still have to fight it!
Back to the story, at this point I
was 26 years old and determined to just make it on my own. In the
middle of all the school turmoil a casual girlfriend tells me she is
pregnant with my daughter. We got married and I landed a job back in
Sarasota where I've been now for 15 years. I was completely coned by
my wife due to bp denial. Then one manic spring in '91, I left my
4-year-old daughter with no cares at all. Never even thought about her.
wanted to be a free young playboy and that's what my attention
focused on! Well that lasted about 3months and with the divorce
bills mounting I had no way to pay rent so moved in with this woman and
her 16 year old. I did fall in love with her and felt love back so
we eloped to the New Orleans jazz fest after 10 months.
two years were great. She was on the board of directors of the blues
society so for two big name festivals I got to be a behind the
scenes player. Along this time I started up my drinking and smoking
a little pot. Soon I was very depressed. My 34th and 35th year were spent
in my house except I went out 4 times and took a job that lasted at
the most a month. My wife was stressing out having to pay all the
bills and I was just getting meaner. Then my Dad died right after my
oldest sister was killed in a car crash. Then 6 months later my
sister in law died of cancer. In 7 months time my family got
together more then in the last 20 years!
I cycled out of my depression and
with so much family discussion and stories going around I keyed back
into my manic depression and began my quest for help. P-docs, meds,
psychotherapy, participation in this BB is still helping a lot! My wife
had long ago lost faith in me so it was hard for her to help me.
tried. I was too self important-STILL-to even realize she needed extra
care to heal from the damage I caused. I just wanted her to help
herself and me at the same time. So over the past couple years my
life has been turbulent but not out of control. I get depressed but
not suicidal, excited but not manic stupid. I trust and pray that I can
continue to grow as a loving person, farther and farther away from