Present Day, March 6th, 2017

I have entered into a loosely defined two or so week period that is traditionally a bit dicey at best and dangerous at worst for my life. It is the period of, and please…this is not a clamor for attention, my birthday.  Annually one of the most challenging periods of my year.

If you wonder how that might be possible, I would venture to say that you may not have spent the better part of your life wishing at some level that you were not alive. Or at the very least failing to see the upside of still breathing. For those who struggle with Bipolar, depression, suicidal thoughts or ideation, or other battles to stay alive it is difficult to differentiate the difference between celebrating having survived another year, and mourning having survived another year.

As is normally the case for me, there are soldiers on both fronts attempting to win the battle. It was the first full year of my life married to my beautiful wife. I was able to see my daughter achieve a massive life dream of heading off to college in the city of her dreams. My son performed an amazing senior recital and will soon find out where he will next venture to for his master’s work. My relationships continued to grow with three unique step-children. Together, my wife and I were able to purchase and launch our own business. I seem to have achieved a new level of stability in regards to medications, therapy, and management of my illness.

However, in almost the smack dab middle of all this was an unscheduled, unannounced train ride that resulted in a pseudo-arrest and eight-day hospitalization proving once again that no matter how well things may be going I am more than capable of losing my shit on a moment’s notice. There was an intense struggle with a depressive low at the Christmas holiday which almost resulted in a second hospitalization. As predicted, by the resident psychiatrist and staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the addition of medications to my life have added 15 pounds and climbing to my frame. And my inability to keep my mind together that glorious week will likely cost our family a cool $8,000 thanks to a health insurance policy that is “ass.”

I suppose every life has its yin and yang. For the Bipolars in the crowd, it is more like a damn yin and mother fucking yang. And it all makes the “celebration” of a birthday a little more precarious for a man who is notorious for over memorializing landmark days and moments.

In a few days, I will turn 48. My daughter asked me what I wanted. I told her that I wanted her to save her money. I told her I wanted her to enjoy her college experience and friends. I told her I have everything I need. And I meant it all.

They say money can’t buy happiness, and I happen to believe that. In my case, nothing can. Some days are just happy days. Some days just are not. For year 47, more were than were not. So I guess that means being alive for another birthday is a good thing. Let’s just hope that by the time this little period of life ends I still feel that way.

Present Day, January 24, 2017

Tonight I will pop my first Risperdal. For those of you who don’t know, much like me a few weeks ago, it is an antipsychotic often utilized for treating people with schizophrenia, autism irritability, and in my case…Bipolar.

Following another rough spell a few weeks ago, it was determined that an up in my Depakote and the addition of another medication may be warranted. Once again, for those of you who don’t know, this shit is pretty tough to get right. For example, when I’m put on 1250 mg of Depakote following 8 days of inpatient treatment and chug along in pretty good health for a few months…is it because of the Depakote or because of my quality treatment at Camp Northwestern Memorial Hospital? You never really know until the next crash, and maybe not even then.

So…here we go again. The original plan was a fairly new drug called Latuda. That is the brand name for it. My name for it is “Turn Around and Bend Over and Take It Up the Ass Twice Daily.” Why? Because it came in at just over $400 for a 30 day supply or a cool $1,100 for a 90 day by mail supply. Seriously, thank you Mr. Big Pharma for wanting to do your community service to those of us in the throws of mental health challenges. (sarcasm)

Plan B switched over to Abilify. A much better plan at $40 per month or $120 for a 90 day supply, but still enough to make me want to cry on top of therapy costs, the other 10 pills I take each day, and god knows what else hits my pocket-book over the next 11 months that make up the dream year of our Trump 2017.

Finally, which is actually a pretty appropriate way to phrase it as it involved almost two weeks, plenty of conversations and voice mails, and more people than ever should have had to be involved, we have landed on Risperdal. $5 for 30 days, $12.50 for 90. YES!

Of course, the list of side effects is long and illustrious, including increased hunger which should help me keep up my post-hospital pace of weight gain. Drowsiness and trouble sleeping are on the list (don’t ask…I did, and it makes my brain hurt thinking of the answer), which for a borderline insomniac who has to get up for work at 3 a.m. could be an interesting piece of my life puzzle. And on the more serious list, “painful, prolonged erections” which at my age does not seem like a problem at all (nor do I think my wife will see it as one).

I once again need relief. The depression is one thing, I’m learning how to rest my way through those bouts. But the racing mind…so exhausting. While attempting to nap today, I literally awoke to my own snoring. At the time, I was deeply immersed in a dream, whilst simultaneously writing this blog in another part of my mind, and in yet another cavern fighting back the inner demons that never seem to need a rest (thus last Saturday’s Musical Truth).

Bipolar is rarely treated with a single drug. If a cocktail is discovered, it rarely stays consistent in mix and dosages for the long-term. It is an unscientific crap shoot (not a term the professionals would use, but one that many of them will admit to). This is my next shot. Will see if it works…or just produces an even larger pile of crap.