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Gratitude. Yes, I am either bipolar 1 or 2. What ever it is, it can mess me up sometimes. "Mixed Episodes" are really scary and difficult. Finding meds that work can be scary and tedious. On occasion, it's real bad! For some odd reason, I am happy to be me, warts and all. I think that those of us who depression, bipolar, ADHD or whatever often are blessed with gifts as well as deficits. This website demonstrates the level of love, compassion, intelligence and empathy that those with mental illness have. From another perspective we see the world differently than the average Joe or Joanne. Sometimes we just don't seem to fit or at least we think we don't. I have found that people like us are giving, creative and intelligent. Why do we have to suffer sometimes. I am not sure. I know that I usually have triggers that start me off. Bad experiences. The other day, I was re-hashing my bad experiences such as the demise of a relationship. Damn that relationship with the bipolar girlfriend and drug addiction was so bad, or was it. Perhaps my pain wasn't punishment for me but some sort of care and inspiration for her. I am starting to come to the conclusion that all things are for a purpose, even the suffering. I think my higher power puts me in just the right place at the right time.  I think I am a better person for all of it. I can talk to people openly (if they are open to listening) and they are often comforted and relieved. Being open is like looking in the mirror and seeing who is really there. Not some sick or bad guy. Not someone who has failed to meet any expectation. Just me and I am okay. I actually like me, even though I sometimes feel overwhelmed, hopeless and worthless. Somehow, deep inside, I still like myself.

Here's a silly thing I wrote about being bipolar. It's just a chapter of my observations. You youngsters might not be able to relate to the analogies but maybe you will -

"What's Your Sine?

The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat-

As a child the family always watched the Wide World of Sports. What a memorable intro to this wonderful program. Athletes running to victory, Football players being crushed by their opponents, race cars taking the checkered flag or crashing violently. It was all culminated by the famous ski jumper who fell violently while still on the takeoff slope. ABC aired this sports show so craftily. Their intro line, "The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat" was brilliant because everyone could relate to that. Everyone's life has these victories and defeats. ABC concentrated on the most thrilling of victories and the most agonizing defeats. It was entertainment. Only some of us could really relate to this because we know the most thrilling victories and the most agonizing defeats in our personal lives. Manic Depression feels this way.

Evil Knievil -

There it was on TV, the wonderful, Wide World of Sports. Evil Knievil revving his Harley and doing laps around the Caesar's Palace fountains. This man seemed so sure and brave. Knowing the the severity of the risk, he carefully calculated his plan. He figured the math, tuned his mind and machine to perfection for months. He practiced but no amount of practice could prepare him for the enormity of this task.  He was going to risk his very life trying this. He was hyper focused and determined. Everyone looked upon him in awe. What consumed us by this man who was putting everything on the line. Some saw him as foolish. Others like me, saw him as a hero. I was 10 years old.

After a series of commercials the viewing audience was whipped into a frenzy. Evil made his final preparations and tested his machine on some practice runs, hitting the brakes just before the enormous take off ramp that would propel him high above the beautiful landscape at Caesar's Palace. The cameras zoomed in on the intensity of his face as he readied himself. Finally with everyone on their feet, the Harley roared. We collectively held our breath as Knievil approached the ramp. Soon he was high above the fountain, flying in such style. The crowd (now silent) watched as he near perfectly approached the landing ramp. The back tire missed the edge off the ramp by a mere six inches. I gasped as the motorcycle's rear was thrust upward, catapulting my hero to the asphalt. He and his bike violently tumble down the runoff. Soon, he lay there broken and twisted. Only moments and months before he was in the blissful heights and now, seconds later he was so low. Was he alive? The announcers waited in anticipation. Their once frenzied tone was now silenced as we awaited the news. He was alive but very broken. The crowd cheered because he made it. He made it? Well he survived it, is more like it. Then we replayed this event countless times, often in slow motion. It was a spectacle. Each time I viewed it, I was wrenched, excited, terrified and thrilled. It was analyzed from a technical and mathematical viewpoint over and over again. 

He was a daredevil but never once did I realize what was going on in this man's mind. Never once did the commentators analyze the psychology of his pursuits. We dismissed this as a brave and heroic act.

For months he laid broken as he recovered. He did recover as best he could. He had broken almost every bone in his body over the years. Soon enough, there he was again on that Harley Davidson looking for the extreme high. He was jumping Greyhound buses and cars. We were once again wrenched, excited, terrified and thrilled. The depths of the Grand Canyon now lay before him.  It was a rocket powered motorcycle this time. With a blast, he was propelled into the sky. Soaring for a moment, then it went bad. This time, he packed a parachute though. He glided safely onto the Canyon floor. The crowd and commentators were so disappointed in his failed attempt. No successful landing and no terrifying crash. Evil was total failure.

Now, Forty years later, I start to understand this man. I contemplated why he soared to such heights and why he laid broken. Over and over, he reached for the high. Was it money? Some think so, but I think not. I think something else was going on. I began to wonder why I identified myself with man as a child. Now as an adult, I still identify myself with him but in far different way. In many ways Evil and I are much alike. Heroic, brave and determined but stubbornly mad at the same time. Reaching for heights then laying broken. On Evil's last pursuit over the Grand Canyon, he did pack a chute though! Perhaps Evil's biggest triumph was the Grand Canyon jump, because for the first time he was thinking of saving himself.

Over and over we go like a dramatic sine wave. The highs are short lived and the  brokenness seemed to last forever. I call it Knievil sine wave, after my hero of old.

Figure Eight Races -

Another spectacle of the Wide World of Sports was Figure Eight Racing! Racing around the figure eight track, the drivers sought the checkered flag but had to go through the perilous intersection where many had crashed before. No driver expected or wanted to crash. They all were confident that they could navigate the track and oncoming crashes that they all knew was imminent. Before the checkered flag was waved, there were terrifying crashes that both thrilled and scared the onlooking crowd. Drivers often walked away disappointed, some broken. The cars were were mangled and dragged off the track. Some of the cars and drivers managed to survive the crash and continued perilously around the eight in pursuit of the checkered. I loved this. Why? At one moment they were zipping around the track at high speed. The next mount the stopped dead in their tracks, broken. Some survived the race only to continue on to the next, knowing that a crash was imminent.  They couldn't wait until the next race. The broken cars and drivers hauled their mangled vehicles away. They somehow weathered the terrible disappointment and loss. Soon enough they were spending all of their money fixing up the cars or preparing new ones. They were going to win the next race. They couldn't wait! Like so many that we think of as heroic, they were destined to crash again. Sometimes they made it through a race but it took a lot of crashes before they finish one much less, win one. 

Years later I understand their brief highs and not so brief lows. Oddly enough these races were a lot like my head. Hundreds (maybe thousands!) of thoughts racing in figure eights at once in my mind. Mayhem! Like different kinds of cars, these contradictory thoughts keep crashing at the intersection. Over and over, again and again. Once in a while a strong thought would be skillfully driven through with a hyper state of focus. Sometimes it survived the race and sometimes it took the checkered flag. What miraculous results were produced intellectually, physically and creatively. Wow, I was amazing! I was a winner. The champagne would flow for a time. It was wonderful. Depending whether I had one bottle of champagne or a whole case it finally ran out. Deflated, I was off to the races again. Most times, I was just trying to survive but I hoped that once again someday the champagne would flow again."

That's my silly story. I have lost my career. My finances are hopeless. I may lose my home but still I remain hopeful. I have no bitterness toward anyone. I do love who I am. I love myself so much that I am determined to take good care of myself. This forum is one way that I do that. As they say when the plane is going down, put on your own oxygen mask before tending to others. Yes, I really want to help others, so I am taking care of me.

Copyright 2003 Beating The Beast. All rights reserved.  
Revised: 01/26/07.

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