Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sane Enough to Know I'm Not: Mania (3)

When I visited my delightful Irish psychiatrist the first time he gave me some medication to try. Being the good patient I am – up to a point – I swallowed one as soon as I got home. The next morning the sun was shining outside my window and inside my brain, so I took another as directed. Hey, it was a welcome change after months of tears and feeling beaten to a pulp.

I headed north up the interstate to the barn where I boarded my horses. By this time, for the first time in months, I was feeling energized and happy as a lark and found myself singing at the top of my off key lungs.

I’m a pretty timid rider. Years before, when I used to jump I did so only with my eyes shut and prayed to God that the horse knew what he was doing while I hung on for dear life. On this particular afternoon I rode like the wind and tried things that only my older daughter has the courage to do.

On the way home I decided to stop by the Press Club and share my excitement with my buddies and, of course, have a Jack and branch water. While blatantly bragging about my exploits and laughing my fool head off, I suddenly felt this very warm kind of euphoria wash over me. The lights got brighter and the sound of ice cubes didn’t just tinkle, they sang. I decided to head for home to enjoy this new feeling of ecstasy all by myself and to listen to a good opera. By the time I reached the house I could have danced on the ceiling ala Fred Astaire.

The next morning I awoke to a really weird phenomenon. I had only had those two drinks the night before (I wasn’t always a marathon drinker), so I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I started to feel my spirits sag through the floor and then suddenly I’d feel like dancing on the ceiling again. And then I’d sag. And then I’d want to dance. This went on for several hours. Really, really bizarre.

Bizarre turned into downright fear as I sat on my stairs and felt myself sagging and dancing all at the same time. And crying and shaking. I got myself together enough to call the doctor who ordered me to his office right then and there. I wasn’t even sure I could drive.

Needless to say, he told me in his unflappable way not to take it anymore. Gladly, said I, but thanks for the ride. He explained that this particular medication wasn’t only used for treatment, it was used as a diagnostic tool as well. To this day, I don’t know what the heck it told him that was so exciting beyond what we had already figured out. I was definitely bipolar but at that point I was beginning to think I was a stark-raving maniac.

But now he had this little pill to back up the DSMV criteria for manic depression and we began examining my most innermost secrets, desires, escapades, actions, reactions, non-actions, depressed moods and manic moods. No wart would be left unturned.

While depression causes a person to turn inward, mania causes them to turn outward. When depressed, an individual usually receives support, love and hugs to help ease the pain and suffering, not that these attempts meet with any great success. A manic person runs rough-shod over anything and everything that gets in his way and he usually manages to infuriate everyone around him, including his loved ones.

When I started attending those AA cult meetings several members told me that since I had stopped drinking I wouldn’t need those medications anymore. Like the majority of bipolars, I hate the daily ritual of swallowing pills. I momentarily forgot that AA doesn’t have much use for mental health professionals – it’s a control thing. Hell, they don’t even like members to read material that isn’t authorized by them!

Admittedly I was a bit fragile at the time but I was beyond stupid to listen to them. But I did. I went into a full blown manic episode that lasted for seemingly months and was the most intense I’ve ever had. I destroyed friendships that I had thrived on since high-school. Became hyper-intense and drove everyone nuts with constant emails and phone calls. Became angry and irritated at insignificant nothings. Thought I was the Queen of the Mountain. Started all kinds of projects that are to this day scattered around the apartment, none of them finished.

A few of the signs and symptoms of a manic phase are:

Poor judgment: Could write a book on this alone. I think impulsivity falls under this heading, something my mother was always lecturing me about and something I’ve never learned to suppress. I’ve always tended to make snap decisions without thinking them through and not always, but all too often, with dire consequences.

Rapid speech: Sometimes I refer to it as the blurts, but what it means is that words come gushing out of my mouth so hard and fast I can’t control the content or just simply shut the heck up. Sometimes the words can be cutting and harsh; sometimes they’re just inanities.

Racing thoughts and ideas: Think of a slide show set on fast-forward with each slide representing a different thought, a different idea, a different but entire scene played out in your mind. Click, click, click. No pauses. No longer than several seconds each. Forget trying to sleep with this rapid fire slide show going on. Night after night.

Agitation, irritation and rage: This is more than just feeling out of sorts. This is uncontrollable restlessness and an inability to stay still. It can be out-of-control rage. It is snarkiness, bitchiness, and eye-squinting acid-tongued jibes that could make Attila the Hun sink to his knees in gut-wrenching sobs. It is out-of-the-norm impatience with drivers, traffic jams, lines and Tea Partiers.

Spending sprees or unwise financial choices: Already mathematically challenged, this one aspect has caused life-long trauma. To make matters worse, my husband – despite other issues and being a conservative – never said “NO.” He was actually too generous, so I became used to being able to fly anywhere I wanted whenever I wanted, rent motor homes, buy horses, eat in five-star restaurants, buy a different house as soon as I remodeled the one we were in or grew tired of it, and in general buy anything I wanted without much regard to cost. And I would be remiss if I complained about the divorce settlement. My bipolar and inability to add and subtract, my alcoholism and his generosity was a lethal combination.

I don’t care anything about shopping for clothes, jewelry and other adornments. I just like gadgets and stuff. I don’t have to be manic to spend money. I buy stuff when depressed thinking it will make me feel better. It doesn’t.

Increased sex drive: More sensual. More electric.

Some of the other signals are poor school and work performance, frequent absences from school and work, careless use of drugs and alcohol (self-medication), inability to concentrate and decreased need for sleep (three hours but still very energetic), risky behavior, extreme optimism and euphoria. Remember, these feelings are far more extreme in intensity and longevity than the average person experiences.

Despite all the downsides of mania, there are upsides that are worth experiencing. Bipolars can be highly intelligent, creative and innovative. We can be so fine-tuned that we are extraordinarily sensitive to sight, sound, touch and even smell, which may be the ingredients that feed the creativity and innovation. We often possess an uncanny intuitive sense, which basically means we can see through people right off the bat. The accusation of making snap judgments about people may be true but we’re usually right on the mark.

I enjoy these times. I’m more creative and energized. At least until my behavior gets out of control and I can't focus or that little black cloud starts hovering over my head. And then all the pleasure goes away until the next manic episode.

Further Reading:

Sane Enough to Know I'm Not: Introduction

Sane Enough to Know I'm Not: Bipolar 101

Sane Enough to Know I'm Not: Depression


  1. I've learned a lot from this. I've battled episodes of depression for years and I feel for you especially since I'm in the midst of one so I started counseling -- again.

    I really respect your candor and am glad I found your blog.

  2. Call me unsympathetic, or maybe just an ass Leslie. But I've been digging on your attacks on right wing kooks lately. I hope you get everything under control and are able to keep the edge.

    In the end though, I hope you're okay regardless of what I dig.

  3. The (manic) personality you describe is a perfect fit for the love interest in many a favorite chick flick. Think Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant, Renee Whatshername. I fell for Mr BP several times before I caught on. Bipolar disease wasn't something our parents or schools told us about, if they even knew about it. Is it a fairly new diagnosis?

  4. Hi Ya Aya: Actually I'm doing fine and dandy. Just trying to do a little damage control on the myths surounding this disorder. Have to stay a step of the Tea Partiers and people like Pat Robertson.

    Paula: It's been around since the second century but not actually referred to until the late 1800s. Here's a link to a brief history:

    This one is a bit longer but more thorough.

  5. great job, great writing and such insight into my blogging buddy! Did you get my email reply the other day??

  6. Sue: Yes I did. Sorry I didn't get back to you but between this series and organizing for a yard sale this weekend I'm running. Thank you.

  7. First, I continue to be impressed with your style of writing.

    May I slip in a couple of questions?

    Am I correct that one is born bipolar? Are there situational factors, such as the aforementioned bad marriages, which bring on the mood swings and exacerbate them, or do they just happen regardless?

    Others might be wanting to ask this, so I will. On every blog we frequent, there is much discussion of the religious radical right. Does the constant use of words like “crazy,” “nuts,” “crazoids,” “nut cases,” “looney tunes,” etc., offend or hurt you? I hope not, because it sure feels good to use them on certain wingnuts! ;-)

  8. BJ: To my limited knowledge people aren't born with it, although the median age of diagnosis has dropped steadily over the last few decades. It used to be in the 50s, then went down to somewhere in the 30s, then the teens, and now they're seeing it in children as young as six or seven. I think those external forces you mention can certainly exacerbate it but, because it is a chemical imbalance in the brain, I don'tr think it causes it.

    Certainly my rocky marriage and the divorce had a huge impact on me. I wasn't diagnosed until immediately following the divorce, but as I've written, the doctor and I believe the manic episodes kicked in when I was about 15 or 16, the same age as my daughter when hers "flowered."

    I went through another bad one after I quit drinking. Whether it was due to that or stopping my meds or both I really don't know. Your body certainly goes through a lot of changes when you stop pouring alcohol down your gullet.

    I would be the world's biggest hypocrite if I said words like crazy,nuts, etc. offended me - since I use them all the time in describing the Tea Partiers. I mean, how else can you describe them? : )

  9. Excellent writing and conveyance of important info. People kept jumping in and out of mind, including self.

    Tiny always has to examine self first. She loves the way you worked Pat Robertson, Tea Partiers and the infamous Christine O'Donnell into your very important story. Tiny thought about writing C. O'Donnell and asking if it was okay to touch yourself in the shower long enough to wash between our legs. Or was that
    considered "pleasuring self?" Tiny thinks it's just good hygiene, but she's not an elite!

    Her ranting reminded me of the old-maid virgin who had engraved on her tombstone:

    "Who said you couldn't take it with you?"

    An old drunk stumbling through the cemetery saw it and wrote beneath her epithet:

    What good did it do you? The worms got it anyway!

    On a serious note, Tiny, being completely mentally, physically and spiritually numb, hopeless and helpless has been to the pit of depression hell. She thought she would never get the stench of hell off of her. But her college Rehabilitation Counseling classes and spiritual studies slowly pulled her out as one raw nerve, after one raw nerve, after one raw nerve ... regained feeling. Even that excruciating pain was better than all the nothingness she felt for so many years.

    Tiny agrees with Leslie, a good psychiatrist, and sometimes the proper meds. is a big help. So are good professors and spiritual teachers.

    Thank you Leslie for sharing your insight into a no-longer taboo subject that touches the life of everyone on earth in one way or another via family, friend, coworker or acquaintance. Everybody knows somebody...

    And thank you BJ for routing us to Leslie's story

  10. Tiny: Well thank you for commenting and your generous compliments. I do appreciate them. I'm also delighted that you are feeling so much better. It can be a long road. It's always good to have a support system, but I cannot recommend a good psychiatrist enough. For real treatment, I just don't think anyone less than a skilled professional can really help since it's biological.

  11. This is such an important topic - thanks for personalizing it for us. Even though you've been through hell and back, I'm sure you're also sympathetic to those who don't have access to the diagnosticians and meds that you've had...and I wonder how the future of health care in this country will help those folks. (My employer-provided insurance just slashed mental health benefits this year in an effort to economize.)
    (And while undoubtedly this is a society that likes to medicate whether we need it or not, in response to an earlier commenter who seemed to doubt the legitimacy of a diagnosis of depression, I would reply that there are very likely many, many more truly ill people who get no diagnosis, no treatment at all. And they don't suffer alone.)

    Now, I don't know about you, but the choices on the ballot for TN governor are enough to drive moi crazy!!!

  12. intelliwench: I might be wrong here, but I believe I read that the HC Reform Act requires mental health parity. Maybe one of our astute readers can speak to that? Not having insurance shouldn't stop someone from getting help - but it does make it a lot more difficult. Some doctors will work on a sliding scale. And most university hospitals and city health departments have clinics. This may not be ideal because you don't always get to see the same doctor with each visit. A friend gets her meds free from the pharmaceutical companies; she had to provide documents to verify that she is in fact quite poor.

    I read several years ago that 30% of people have undiagnosed bipolar. I don't have time to research it at the moment but it's something worth looking into. And of course, there have been cases of diagnoses.

    LOL. There is no choice for TN governor. At least we're not quite as bad off as AZ or Nevada. Not quite, but we're working on it.

  13. My wife goes to her psychiatrist once a month but I am no longer invited along....

    I ask too many questions...

    Like once I asked about bipolar/manic depression because I wanted to know when I would see the extreme happiness, or the high...because all I was seeing was the extreme negative.

    I also find anxiety and panic attacks to be a real trigger to alot of things. I saw this in my sister and my wife...both of whom now have some serious mental health issues.

    Perfectionism is also another trait that I watch for now that I have a little wisdom in the world of mental illness.

    I really think that one really big factor is stability in ones life. Some people really react to a period or an event that is destabilizing and others don't.

    I have a nephew who I have told his parents that they need to get their son in for help NOW! They think he will just grow out of it, that it is a phase....but he is very prone to panic attacks, anxiety, and cannot stand having his plans altered....on top of that he is very insecure. All of this at 20....

    Leslie, one of the benefits of living with someone who takes meds for bipolar/manic depression is the interesting conversations you can have with them once they are asleep! My wife goes to bed early and I go to bed late and every now and then, like last night, she will just start 'grilling' me about something...

    Last night she wanted to know if I had unplugged the lights on the christmas tree! I told her that I had and that I had checked the water.....

    But then she wouldn't sleep till I had gotten back up and double checked....

    I learned along time ago not to mention it in the morning other wise she will think that I am nuts...

  14. That should have read: "there have been cases of misdiagnosis."

  15. TAO: I just don't know why parents are so opposed to taking their offspring for help and to putting them on medications. The parents are condeming them to a life of pure hell. It will negatively impact on their school, relationships, jobs and in worse case scenarios, lead to imprisonment or suicide.

    Stability is vitally important - and structure. I'm learning to avoid certain situations because they can trigger something I don't want.

    But, TAO - at least you've kept your priceless sense of humor. LOL.

  16. intelliwench: I just found this very intersting piece. Published this past August.

    "According to Dr. Kathleen R. Merikangas from the National Institute of Mental Health and her colleagues, 'Nearly 40 percent of people with a history of major depressive disorder report periods of hypomania that just miss the threshold for a bipolar diagnosis.'"

  17. That is interesting ... the last bit of psychiatric research, not the fact that we have no choice for Gov.

    Sigh...we can always write-in our boy Basil Marceaux.

  18. L.P., this is fascinating and very concerning. It's reassuring you've learned so much from it and about it.

    I felt the hair stand up on the back of my neck when you got to the part where, first, your psychiatrist put you on some obviously potent medication, and then you had a couple of drinks. I'm sure you know that many, many medications of all kinds are not to be taken with alcohol. That goes double with medications that affect brain chemistry.

    Alcohol is a solvent and a depressant. (At this point somebody usually asks why a glass or two of champagne makes them giggly, if alcohol is a depressant. The answer: the depressant effect takes a certain blood level and length of time to kick in. Several other factors are involved, too. Trust me, it's always a depressant.)

    I wonder if some people have a less-pronounced form of bipolar disorder. I've known a couple of people who exhibited many of the characteristics you describe, but maybe at 4 to 5.5 on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the full-blown clinical condition.

  19. intelliwench: Poor old Basil. What a character.

    SW: Yep - I'm very aware of the dangers of alcohol with certain meds but I don't think we bipolars who self-medicate really care that much. That kind of drinking probably starts before there is a diagnosis and before meds are prescribed. By then it's too late. When you get manic and can't turn off the brain and can't sleep, alcohol seems to be a sedative. And then it becomes a habit!

    I think there are all levels of bipolar and I think that's why it can be hard to diagnose along with all the overlapping symptoms of other mood disorders. Plus, a psychiatrist only sees a patient for around 20 minutes, who very often holds it together during that time, so he doesn't see what people who are close to the patient see. Most people seek help when they're in pain from depression. Who wants to kill a good manic high?

  20. Over the last couple of months my wife fell into a series of similar behaviors. She has a history of them all through our marriage but this last one was the most extreme, took her doctor a good while to get her behavior leveled out.

  21. BB: I'm truly sorry for her and for you. I'm curious, had she stopped taking her meds?

  22. Over a period of time, health care reform will help those in need of mental health services, several ways, according to a column by Diane Lee on the KevinMD blog:

    •The law does away with the pre-existing-condition exclusion, which should encourage more people to seek treatment.
    •Insurance providers will be required to provide a minimum basic mental health benefit.
    •More people will be eligible for Medicaid or get financial help purchasing private insurance..
    •Cheaper drugs will be made available for people on Medicaid.
    •Individuals with pre-existing conditions will have immediate access to insurance through high-risk pools.
    •The new law eliminates annual and lifetime limits on mental health (and physical health) benefits.
    •Home and community-based services will be expanded for everyone, including people with serious mental illnesses.
    •A research center focusing on depression will be established and funded with 5 year grants.
    To read the entire piece, go to

  23. Paula: Thanks for that valuable piece of info. Of course, we're all aware of how the health insurance sadists will try to circumvent it any way they can. And how the GOP Neanderthals will try everything in their bag of dirty tricks to kill it. And people are going to vote for them?

  24. Good Morning Leslie!

    Excellent piece of work here ... I still think you can write a book .... but ... your choice of course. But Hell girl ... this is deeper than I even imagined ... you know it so well ... I dont think a doctor can do you any good beside's prescribing you what you need .. beside's that, what could they tell you? You know ... when I get angry, upset, frustrated, cry ot get sad ... I never even attempted to try to figure out why, or frankly felt uncomfortable with it at all ... why? Hell ... I dont know, I never even thought about visiting a doctor over it. AA I reckon is like them dope classes the judge sent me to, of course ... it didnt work for me as I previously posted, getting kicked out and probation violated, but other than that never been to any other classes, but knew many who told me they been to AA, and I reckon it work's for alot of folk's. I notice you seem to like horses ... although I lived in Texas most of my life and enjoy the Hell out of the rodeo ... I never even rode a bloody horse in my life! I remember out of town, in other town's ... people would just assume since I live in Texas, that I hang out with cow's, steer's, and horses though.

    Good Day Dear ....

  25. Also I want to point out Dear that I am not anti prescription drug's, although it may sound like that in some of my posting's ... I realize the importance of prescription drug's ... it's just that like every other market Leslie ... there is a segment of folk's that want to abuse it, and make a fortune off prescribing folk's stuff even ... it's just business. In your case ... this is where those drug's are needed though, if they help a person. The shit that's going on in Texas and Southern California, Florida, with the massive amount's being prescribed to all kid's in foster care, or with familia's who are receiving government assistance (housing, food stamp's/card's, etc) and those in Juvi Detention home's ... is a state racket, and it's poor inner city urban kid's that are being used, and the parent's are threatened that if they dont go along and question too much, they may have their assistance benefit's declined/ cut ... just as much as half the prison system's in this state (Texas) alone, milking money from tax payer's ... and getting these poor kid's f'd up in my opinion. Especially even in Los Angeles ... you wouldnt believe the shit that goes on in that town, Dallas and Houston are almost as bad ... I couldnt believe some of the miking I was seeing in Los Angeles though.

  26. One more thing I forgot to point out .... That header you have at top about "Vote Republican" although you may have done it in "humor", is not any joke .... because this is exactly how many of those especially Tea Party folk's even feel, and of course alot of republican's ... they actually are convinced also that some of these idea's will make us prosper even economically, as may have back in the 1960's or such ... the new marketplace does not work like that any more, and you have a country with over 300 million people now. So ... "NO" it's not that funny is any of your reader's think that ... let these folk's(republican's) gain power right now, is like suicide economically ... I would bet my paycheck on it! Even if they were able to even create a few job's and thing's looked on the surface to mildly look decent or improving( and any improvement would only be due to President Obama's action's he put in motion, but they would try to take credit for it, as well as any failure's, blaming him for it), it would be short lived and the crash would be like a hardcore heroin addict getting thrown in to jailhouse lockdown for two week's! Some folk's just dont realize how importante this is ... NO .. I dont hate republican's at all ... I voted republican most of my life ... I am pointing out the harsh reality we face currently. My apologies for the "off topic", but it is at the heading.

  27. RC: The psychiatrist's (pdoc) main job is to monitor medications, not provide talk therapy. The psychologist's role in helping a bipolar deal with the ups and downs of this illness, the cause and effects, is absolutely vital. Talking to Aunt Louise doesn't cut it - well-meaning but she doesn't have the training, skills and experience to really help see through and smooth very troubled waters. A therapist doesn't usually tell a patient what to do, per se. All I can say is, had it not been for my therapists, as well as my children's, I'd be in one hell of a mess or still in the one I was in.

    I don't think you can find an industry that doesn't have abuses. But with doctors, you can always find another one, or at the very least, get a second opinion.

    My new heading is dripping sarcasm - and it's directed as much at fair weather Democrats who threaten to go fishing on election day as at the GOP. Re-read the very last phrase. ; )

  28. RC: I don't really want to get into politics here, but isn't it funny that the Dems who are always pointing out the parallels between now and 1930s Germany encouraging the same kind of monster by not voting? How smart is that?

    And that's the end of politics here.

  29. RC: AA clarification. I don't mean to imply that AA is all bad. I met a lot of wonderful people and I know the organization has been a life-line for a lot of people. It just wasn't a good fit for me. I don't respond well to repitition and mind control, and the religiosity was a major turn-off. Too many people were trying to turn the meetings into an extension of their churches - forgetting that AA is in over 150 countries and not all members are Christian. I'm sure their faith played a major role in their recovery but I also think they're substituting one addiction for another. If it keeps them sober, fine - just don't push it on others.

  30. Leslie,
    Again,big props to your for your series.I continue to learn from you-I always do.

    Same here with AA.They do tremendous good and are a proven road to sobriety. That said,every meeting I went to was filled with chain smokers/chain black coffee drinkers and after a month and a 30 day chip I was outta there.AA doctrine is that I was setting myself up to drink again, but that's why it's doctrine and not fact.

    Great work Leslie.

  31. Oso: Being the proverbial chain smoker, I can't really comment on that. Have gallantly tried to stop lately, going for 2-3 months, but eating candy as a substitute. Not good for a diabetic. Happily, Have never been a big coffee drinker but I know what you mean.

  32. Thank You Leslie ... very "odd" indeed ... religion play's a role in AA? I didnt know that actually. The folk's that I met who were AA ... I cant say how religious they are ... we really never talked religion ... and I dont much myself ... since a large portion of my library at home cover's just about every religion, mythology, occult, and such system's since the beginning of human history writing. I never sat in an AA gathering though ... and only attended the drug class when the court assigned me too (was expelled quickly, when I didnt conform, or say what I reckon they expected, they wanted me to cry, weep I reckon and say "whoa is me","boo hoo", "please help me" or whatever, etc, I mean ... I f'd up, and was sorry sure ... that I got caught, more than anything else), another racket to make a buck and conform to the herd mentality, as far as I'm concerned ... I quit drug's that I didnt no longer want to do ... the same way I went on a diet ... I just stopped ... period. Was it difficult? Yes ... the first month or so was rather rough ... but when I "say" I'm going to do something ... well ... I do what I say basically. No ... I never tried to quit smoking, still smoke approximately a half pack a day, have an occasional drink once in awhile as I pointed out. My thing was cocaine, and at a young age in Los Angeles/ Hollywood ... I got heavily dependent on opium for about 6 month's. The cocaine I liked, because it kept me sharp, and made me think and move fast ... unlike pot or alcohol which basically make's me laid back and too relaxed ... it was cheap for me since I moved it part time, and dealt small level some as well. I just had to disassociate myself with the enviroment and associate's I had been doing it with. But religion wouldnt work for me though either, since I'm hip to how religion's were all made and for what purpose's. BTW ... the legendary occultist Aleister Crowley (1875- 1946/47?) wrote a book I have called "Diary of a Dope Fiend" ... and he talk's about his drug addiction ... and how even his spirituality worked on curing it.

    Good Night Leslie ....

  33. Correction Leslie ... the Aleister Crowley book is called "Diary of a Drug Fiend" (not dope fiend) ... and it say's it was wrote in 1922, but an excellent read. Actually ... I am in contact with Mr.Kenneth Grant, who is probably now, the oldest living disciple of Crowley, and of the OTO (Ordi Templi Orientis)who has to be at least around 90 year's old now ... he recently sent me some art of his as a gift for some printing/ graphic's work I done for him in the past ... which is mind blowing considering his age!

  34. Officially, AA was not meant to be a religious org., but fundamentalists know no bounds. But as I say, AA does help millions of people with and without the crutch of religion. Hey, whatever works.

  35. Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh ... that made me bust a laugh when you said "Fundamentalist's know no bound's" :)

  36. tnlib, my apologies for being away from this very important series of articles. After a recent trip, I returned to an emergency which is now resolved.

    Here is a link, Bipolar Happens that may be of interest to readers, especially to those who have a family member, a very close friend, or a loved one suffering from Bipolar. While meds and counseling are always an important part of symptom management, there is a third treatment modality that is often overlooked … the social supports of family and very close friends.

    The author of the above listed website, Julie Fast, fills this gap. Years ago, I had a very close friend, an especially brilliant and talented scholar and writer who was struggling with severe symptoms … whom I loved dearly. In an effort to help her, I researched the Internet and found the above link. Julie Fast has developed a program that helps sufferers document and communicate their symptoms to family, trusted friends, or other social supports (along with "what to do in case of" instructions). Thus, family and trusted friends can then be better positioned to serve an important role in symptom maintenance and management.

    My friend often wrote about the unspeakable cruelties of history and taught these subjects at a local University … genocide, the Holocaust, and torture. Survivors of torture, she used to say, remain tortured. Sometimes she used these as a metaphor to describe how she felt inside. Revolt, she used to say, is how one responds to unspeakable cruelties. At some point, she used to say, one must resign oneself to life’s cruelties because if you dwell on your mortal wounds, it will drive you mad. Revolt and resignation … that is how described her struggle.

  37. Leslie, thanks so much for the look within. My former wife was psycho-affective (bipolar with schizophrenia), so I recognize many of the things you describe, but she was more extreme. Worse yet, she was unable to recognize that she had a problem most of the time. I hope you find the right mix of meds quickly, and know that, should you ever need an ear or a shoulder, I'm here.

  38. TC: That's sad, but hey, I was in my early 50s before I got help. Don't know if I'd done it then had it not been for all the research I did after my daughter's diagnosis - about 15 years ago. Trust me, I haven't revealed all. : )

  39. Octo: Your friend's metaphor is pretty powerful stuff. Wish I had thought of that. "Revolt and resignation." Interesting contradiction, sort of like manic and depression.

  40. Little Ms Leslie. If you don't you should create during those periods. David deRosa does and his work is vibrant and very productive during these periods, often unable to stop for hours upon hours.