Present Day, October 29, 2017

We should get chips.

We are expected to take our meds. Go to therapy. Get our sleep. When we do not, best case scenario we are ostracized. Worst case, we hear the old song and dance denying the existence of our illness. Our “mental” illness. But in a world that would never argue the importance of positive reinforcement, there is no system for it. At least, none that I am aware of.

Maybe we are told that our health is its own reward. True. But I think chips would be better.

If you are an alcoholic who has made a living being drunk you are rewarded when you go a week without a drink. A month. 90 days. 6 months. 9 months. A year. And you should be. Those are significant milestones on the road to recovery.

If you have abused drugs throughout your life, people applaud you as you pick up your token for seven days without abusing. 30 days. 3 months. And more.

Why? Because we live in a society that believes that when you have been facing a significant battle, it will aid your success to feel that very success. To be recognized for what you have accomplished. For people to say, “Hey, that is no small task you have just completed. Congratulations. Carry this with you and take pride when you hold it.”

Yeah, I think we should get chips.

At the end of this week I will complete one month on my new job. 30 days. Small potatoes for some people. Not for anyone with bipolar.

My wife recently congratulated me on going a year without spending a night away from home. What she meant was, on the run. Because that is an achievement for me. I panic. Depression overtakes me. I flee. And I haven’t for more than a year now. That’s noteworthy.

It has been 14 months since my hospitalization. Since I reached such a state that legal and medical intervention was necessary to keep me out of harm’s way. To keep me alive. Seems like that might be worth celebrating.

Definitely. We should get chips.

People get raises for doing their job, even though it is already what they are paid to do. Parent’s get Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts for being good parents, even though being anything less is really just wrong. And substance abusers receive accolades from their peers when they pass landmark days on their journey of sobriety.

Is it that absurd to suggest that an individual who suffers from a mental illness and takes all of their meds, with all of their horrific side effects, for six straight months should be congratulated? Is it that crazy (no pun intended) to think that individuals who are prone to manic or suicidal flight but stay put for 90 days should be told they are doing well? Has anyone ever thought that if we said, “Great job” to the bipolar individual who has averaged 8 hours of sleep or better for 30 days they might dig deep and find a way to pull it off for another 30 days?

Call it a hunch, but I think so. Yep, we should get chips.

Present Day, March 27th, 2017

Insomnia is an awful thing.

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday my job requires that I wake up at 3 a.m. Saturday…5 a.m. Wednesday…6:30 a.m. Yeah, I know.

Sunday is my sleep-in day, but you can imagine how well that works for a body conditioned to these other alarm times. There are options, such as Tylenol PM, to try and get a good night’s sleep heading into my day off, but there is also the yang of the yin which is attempting to wake up on that day without having to fight through a fog in my head for the first two or three hours. So there are evenings I choose to take nothing.

(CONFESSION: the best weekend remedy I have found is a couple quick hits of the mari-ju-ana. Knocks me right out and I feel great in the morning!)

So what is worse than your everyday insomnia? Well, there is the insomnia when it is 8 going on 9 o’clock and you are still awake knowing the alarm is going off at 3 a.m. Because nothing makes it harder to go to sleep than the awareness that you damn well better get to sleep!

Or there is the insomnia that this is your one night a week, one of your four every month when you actually can get a good, long, full night of sleep…and here you lie wide, fucking awake.

Or there is the insomnia on Saturday afternoon when the week of sleep has been pretty off the rails but now you can get a good nap and reset yourself for the weekend, but you can’t fall asleep and are aware that you will be crashing out at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night when the rest of the family is looking to have a great time.

Or there is the insomnia that reminds you that this is your life and you will never feel rested, never feel in a circadian rhythm and that the god’s of time changes, sun cycles, and moon phases have a personal vendetta against your existence. (Yeah…even I am aware of the fact that one is fairly irrational.)

I am working on accepting my reality. Working on it. One, because of my work schedule, it will likely always take some type of medication schedule and/or prescribed drugs to sleep. Two, healthy sleep numbers will almost always require a combination of napping with my nighttime hours. Three, guilt over my sleep schedule and its impact on family life will do me no good. None. Zip. Nadda. Four, living by strict sleep hygiene rules will always be imperative to my existence. And five, all of the above mean I need to quit being a little bitch about it and just accept that it is what it is.

All of which are a lot easier said than done when you are staring wide-eyed at the ceiling, knowing the clock reads 9:27 p.m. and the alarm 3 a.m.

January 28th, 2017 – Musical Truths

…They’ll try to push drugs that keep us all dumbed down
And hope that we will never see the truth around…

They will not force us
They will stop degrading us
They will not control us
We will be victorious

Interchanging mind control
Come, let the revolution take its toll
If you could flick the switch and open your third eye
You’d see that we should never be afraid to die

Rise up and take the power back
It’s time the fat cats had a heart attack
You know that their time’s coming to an end
We have to unify and watch our flag ascend