This is the sixteenth in a series of episodes, detailing my dawning realization, that I have some mental issues, that I must address, or risk losing those around me, who mean so much to me. I do not know how many installments this will entail, because I do not have an outline, for this particular avenue, that my Life has chosen to pursue. Because I have always found writing to be therapeutic, I am going to share my journey with anyone, who cares to read along. Believe me, I am not having that much fun.
Sharpen Your Pencils
As we prepared to leave Dr. Garratt’s office on Tuesday, I asked where my homework was. When Dr. G looked blankly at me, I mentioned that while in therapy with Dr. Jill, I had been given copious amounts of reading to take home and read, and then read again. He laughed and said there wasn’t any homework, but that I could look up the writing of a man named Bion. I did so, but whereas I found him interesting, I did not learn anything new about myself.
When I asked Annie, why Dr. G did not have any homework for me, she told me that what Dr. Jill and I had worked on was cognitive therapy, which is not an effective tool with bipolar disorder. Again, I aways picture raving demons, when the subject of bipolar disorder comes up. I am not raving yet.
I persisted, saying I just wanted to read up on what it was I was supposed to be suffering from. At least I would know which symptoms to try and perfect. If I was going to be a bipolar kind of guy, I may as well learn how to do it properly. Oh, I see. I already have it mastered. Well, then I may as well check out, what it is that I have mastered. Annie gave me www.dbsalliance.org and told me that there was a lot of inaccurate information about bipolar disorder, but that this site would provide accurate information, not only to me, but for caregivers as well.
This is a site which focuses on bipolar disorder and depression, two mental disorders which are often linked, because they share common characteristics. After reading about some of these personality traits, I was invited to take a quiz, that was available for free, and would screen me for symptoms of mania. I thought to myself, this should be interesting. Maybe once and for all, I can put this whole thing to rest. Or not.
There were fifteen questions, and I did not even take out a number two pencil. All I wanted to do was scan these questions, so that I could put my own overworked mental machine to rest on this bipolar issue, once and for all time. Prior to the questions beginning, there was a posted prompt which read, “Has there ever been a period of time when you were not your usual self and...”
“You felt so good or hyper that other people thought you were not your normal self or you were so hyper that you got into trouble?”
This was a tough first question, because it requires that I answer from the perspective of others. How am I supposed to know if others view me as normal or not? And no, I have never been so hyper that “I got into trouble.” Not guilty.
“You were so irritable you shouted at people or started arguments or fights?”
This was the opposite sort of question, with an undeniable affirmative response. Yes, I am human and have started arguments, and have used caps on my keyboard, to express shouting, on at least two occasions. (Why do I feel that I am confessing my “sins” to the priest in the confessional?) Guilty as charged.
“You felt much more confident than usual?”
More confident than usual? I am usually an extraordinarily confident guy, because my business, whether it be teaching or writing, requires a thorough knowledge of the English language, and I possess that knowledge. Therefore, if I write something which reflects this knowledge, then yes, I get a boost of confidence. Guilty as charged.
“You got much less sleep than usual and found you really didn’t miss it?” Well, I have been getting by on less sleep, but the part about not missing it, is not accurate. As I said, I have been getting by. But for purposes of this quiz, I say guilty as charged.
“You were much more talkative or spoke much faster than usual?” I consider myself a person driven by passion. I always have been, and presumably, I always will be. Guilty as charged.
“Thoughts raced through your head or you couldn’t slow your mind down?” In this past calendar year, I have put far more than a million words on paper, so I expect that that qualifies as racing thoughts, and yes, I have felt compelled to record these words. Guilty as charged.
“You were so easily distracted by things around you that you had trouble concentrating or staying on track?” Unquestionably what I would consider bipolar behavior, so I am delighted to say I have a single-minded purpose when I write; I do nor get distracted, period. Not guilty.
“You had much more energy than usual?” Just the opposite. My body has deteriorated at an exponential level, due to the abuse I put myself through last summer and fall, working construction, in a young man’s game. My energy level has been dominated by my jenky knees. Not guilty.
“You were much more active, or did many more things than normal?” This would appear to be a repeat of the previous question. Not guilty.
“You were much more interested in sex than usual? My rate of interest in sex has not varied one iota, since I figured out what the difference between boys and girls is. Not guilty.
“You were much more social or outgoing than usual, for example, you telephoned friends in the middle of the night.” Annie mentioned recently that she thought I got more amped on my cookies, than by the normal method of ingesting reefer, so I may have appeared more outgoing than usual, especially at the weekly market, but I think this is attributable to reefer and not a mental issue.
When I mentioned that I have never phoned anyone in the middle of the night, Annie stopped me, and reminded me, that I once texted Jeff in the middle of the night, but I did not think that that was the same thing. Texts don’t waken either Casey or me, so why would I know that a text would wake up Jeff? Casey taught me that texts are always OK, because the texter never expects a response at any given time. My text was sent in the wee hours, simply because I am up in the wee hours a lot, and my text was computer-related. Not guilty.
“You did things that were unusual for you, or other people might have thought were excessive, foolish or risky?” Again, this question asks that I be able to interpret what others think. My protest in front of the local paper was viewed as excessive, but anything tied into Jamal’s murder, is justifiable, because it was not about me; it was about Jamal’s family, and someone in this community had to take a leadership role, and I will be god-damned if I will accept criticism for my actions. Heavens to Murgatroyd, folks might think I am amping. Not guilty.
“Spending money got you or your family into trouble.” Never. Not guilty.
“If you checked yes to more than one of the above, have several of these ever happened in the same period of time? For the sake of this quiz, I will assume the answer is yes. Guilty as charged.
“How much of a problem did any of these cause you, like being late for work, having family, legal, or money problems; getting into arguments or fights?” I drove Annie away. Guilty as charged.
Final tally: Not guilty--8.......Guilty--7
According to the quiz, any more than one “guilty” means whatever the shrink wants it to mean. I do fit into many of these categories, but with a big enough hammer, I can also do a fairly effective job, of forcing round pegs into square holes.
Draw the conclusions you will, because Dr. G is certainly going to do the same. Just make sure that the pencil you are using to draw those conclusions, is as sharp as I am.