Hindsight is always 20/20

Looking forward by looking back is always a good way to see about growth in your life.  I spent a lot of time over the last two days reading my blog entries from a year ago when things were at their absolute bleakest.  It was an interesting, hard read.  It was a good read too though.

This time last year, the wheels were rapidly coming off the wagon and things were spinning out of control, to the point where I had already attempted to take my own life.  Thankfully it was a failed attempt and I’m here today to continue on and share my progress.

I hadn’t heard those two words yet:  Bipolar Disorder.

I hadn’t been introduced to antipsychotics yet either.

Life was shockingly different a year ago, but looking back at it today I see so many things that I could and should have done in other ways.  Those things are what keep me close to my support system today.

I’ve had glasses for nearly 25 years, and it never ceases to amaze me how much clearer things are when you first put them on when you wake up in the morning.

Though being diagnosed and going through time in a treatment facility was the hardest time of my entire life, looking back on it now I can see that those dark days were like when you first wake up and everything is all blurry.  Being on medicines has helped to an extent – it leveled me out, and gave me a chance to learn how to live, aware of my new reality.  Being in therapy was a chance to learn how to harness all of my anger and sadness and mania and energy on how to live better.  Therapy gave me the tools and the patience to be able say, “I got this,” even if I didn’t have it in the moment.  It let me share these moments with my family and helped me be able to lean on them even more when the tough times have come.  None of this is to say that medicine or therapy “cured” me either – I still deal with my manic tendencies on a day to day basis.  I just see clearer now on how to harness them and make them help me instead of hurting me.

One of the keys to my survival has been communication – open and honest at all times – with my family, especially with my wife.  She’s on the front lines of my reality and she is owed much more than she gets when it comes to her being there for me.

Another key to survival that has been made clear over the last 12 months has been the realization that this is a forever part of me now.  I truly can see that I’ve suffered with it throughout my entire life up to this point, and now I know that it will be with me the rest of my life.  I’ve thankfully moved into the acceptance phase of this though, and am alright with it.  I no longer look at it as a blemish, or a punishment from heaven.  It’s simply the burden that I’ve been dealt for this life, and one that I will continue to learn more about and how better to deal with it every day.

Hindsight really is 20/20.  To have a year as tough, and hard, and full of challenges as 2017 was for me to look back on – that’s invaluable.


The Sound of Silence

I’m on a big(ger than usual) music kick right now.  As I said last time, it’s an essential element of my day-to-day survival, so I’ve found myself diving deeper into songs and into their lyrics.

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

When I hear these lyrics – it speaks to my daily battle with myself.  Someone told me that my posts over the last ten days have had a different feel to them and I definitely choose to look at the positive lens of this – and the song goes that same route, because after talking about darkness being planted in the mind, it goes here:

“Fools” said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”

Those words that the songwriter refers to – for me – are talking about the words from friends and family and professionals.

It’s widely accepted that The Sound of Silence is a song about apathy.  When you’re trying to survive bd on a day to day basis, apathy isn’t an option, you know?  Conscious decisions have to be made on a day to day basis to be the better version of me.  Apathy isn’t an option.  Silence isn’t an option either.  I’ve got to fill my mind, and my heart, and my soul with the best kinds of sounds.

What are your best sounds?

The Power of Music

Music heals.  I’ve written about that before on this blog, but it bears repeating as many times as is necessary, you know?  I need music in my life – almost constantly- to keep my mind, and my heart calm.  The times that my mind is rushing too much, when things are moving a million miles a minute between my ears … music calms that.  The times when there isn’t enough happening in my mind … music fills that void.  I can’t imagine a life without music.

I’m a creature of habit with music – my family will tell you that I listen to the same artists, and the same music over and over.  It’s a comfort factor for me, you know?  We all have our favorite things in life, and especially for something that’s so foundational in my life, and in my survival, returning to those comfortable things over and over is part of the deal.

In the new documentary on the Avett Brothers, “May it Last” Seth Avett says that music is the “mining of the soul,” and I couldn’t agree more.  I think he was probably referring to their creation process … but when I think about my mind now, and how I feel like my mind has been mined … it makes sense to see that music fills that void now in my mind and heart.

None of this means that anytime I play music, it’s a sad thing, or a bad thing.

Music is just necessary for my healing, and my survival.




Defined by our friends at Webster’s Dictionary like this:

Definition of joy

1a the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires delight
b the expression or exhibition of such emotion gaiety
2a state of happiness or felicity bliss
3a source or cause of delight
What does it mean to you?
My joy comes from lots of different places.  And exists on lots of different levels.  It’s not always present – it can ebb and flow depending on how the days are flowing.  The benefit that comes of joy – true joy – is that you can come to know what it is and always find your way back to it.
My joy right now comes from my two daughters and my wife.  With all that’s gone on the last twelve months, and all the change and turmoil that we’ve been through – the three of them are my rock, and are the absolute foundation of who I am.  I am glad to have them, and I am glad that I feel a sense of need for them.  The joy I feel from them is key to my survival as I navigate the throes of bp existence.
I am trying to find other additional sources of joy as well.  Not to replace my family, but to almost diversify where my joy comes from, so that I can always have a source of joy that is active and shining in my life.  I think that makes sense – ha!
All I know is this:  joy is a powerful thing.  It can change your world individually, and is worth the effort to cultivate it, and make it a reliable source of strength for you in your life.
Joy.  Worth the effort.

I’m a fan of me.

One of the worst side-effects of being diagnosed with a mental illness and having to take the medicines that can go with it, especially later in life, is the effect that it can have on your sense of self-worth.  The experience, the mental and spiritual trauma – it can be horrendous.  It’s hard to remember who you are, and the value that you bring to the world.

It’s been nearly a year since my diagnosis, and I’ve been up and down that spectrum many times.  When you realize that the mania is something that drives your perception of you to unrealistic perceptions of yourself – it’s really hard to figure out how to feel about yourself, you know?

For me – grounding my self worth comes back to thinking outside of myself.  Taking a deep breath, and thinking about those who care for me helps.  My family is central to who I am, and how I survive.  My kids need me.  My wife needs me.

One of my favorite sayings talks about how you can’t draw water from an empty well.  I can’t be of value to others, personally or professionally, if I don’t recognize that I’m of value to myself.

I am a good man.

I have good intentions.

I am of worth to myself, and those around me.

I am a fan of me.


The Devil on my Shoulder

As I sit here writing this, there’s a lot of pain and anguish in me.  I’m struggling with the idea of staying on medications or not.  It’s been a long road from last year at this time and I am battling the idea that medicines are necessary.  I don’t think that’s unreasonable, right?  I’ve come a long way – and part of me feels like going it alone would be a better alternative.  Psychiatric care is expensive, and time consuming and a damn nuisance sometimes.  To be without it would be very liberating.

On the other side of the equation though, is the me that needs to take a beat and figure out what the results of going off meds could be.  Perhaps I can figure out what those results would be by looking backwards in time, you know?  Surely this nightmare has had long lasting and negative effects on my family.  On my marriage.  So what will happen if I stop meds and go au naturel?  Will people die?  Will I die?  I don’t know, and that’s the scary part.

I’ve learned to live my life with someone on one shoulder telling me that meds aren’t necessary, and someone on the other shoulder telling me that catastrophe will strike if I dare miss a day.  Where does the truth lie?

I don’t know.



One week down, eternity to go.

7 days into this new medicine, and I have to say that it’s been an interesting week.  From a mood point of view – which I guess is the main point of the med – I haven’t noticed too much of a difference from the past medicine.  There are some weird side effects though; near constant dizziness, major drowsiness after taking it … and they don’t seem to go away either.

But … I’m not here to complain.  The medicines are a much better alternative than not being on them.  It just has to figure itself all out again, you know?  That’s the ride.  That’s why I’m grateful though, to have family with me for support, and to have a marvelous care team in place to help get through this.


New meds, and a fresh batch of reactions.

Given that I work in marketing, I’m sure there’s a catchy jingle in there somewhere.  Given that I’m on the front line of taking these new meds though, and it’s my brain in the vice I can’t quite get to them today.

Let me begin with apologies for the 35 day gap in writing.  This blog has been so much for me at times, especially back when things were there blackest.  I can’t imagine being without it, but it just seems such a third layer, back burner thing when I’m doing well that it’s easy to forget about.  I believe that tools and things and people are all in our lives at specific times for specific reasons, and I don’t think that this blog has completely played it’s course out yet for me.

So … to the title.

New meds.

It’s not been a bad change this time, and in fact it’s one I requested.  It wasn’t haphazard, and it certainly hasn’t been rushed.  I was in my sixth month of taking these specific meds (from early April through Monday) and it had been a decent ride.  The worst side effect (like so many of the meds out there we all live with) was weight gain and overall malaise.  In the six months I’d been on these pills, I’d put on 70 pounds.  No joke.  It’s been tough to live with, seeing some of the things that have been dearest to me (running being the number one thing) be taken away because of weight gain.  Living in a manic depressive world like I do, this had all put me squarely on the depressive side of the spectrum.

It sounds horribly vain to talk about weight gain in such a flippant manner.  I get it.  But realizing that in my life I’ve yo-yo’d that much weight in that short an amount of time FOUR times – I knew something had to give because it’s just not healthy for my heart.  So the doc tells my about a newer medicine that’s available.  It takes care of most of the past medicine’s footprint but has zero weight gain side effects.  So … I said let’s do it.

Two days in … it’s been interesting.  There’s been no grenade go off in my head like with lemictal, and no corpse like feelings like with some of the other medicines.  I’ve felt all the old emotions surge, almost like the lid was taken off of a tightly closed pipe but so far I’ve been able to keep them all in line.  There has been some mental fog in the mornings, but I’m hoping that wears off the further I get into this.   The goal with all of this is to be stabilized, right?   Right now, at 3:03 PM on 10/4/17, I feel ok.  I’m not swinging from chandeliers, and I’m not ready to take my own life.  I’m here.  I’m aware of what’s around me, and what surrounds me (there’s a difference there).

I’ll keep you all posted.  New meds means new emotions.  New reactions.

Maybe a renewed lease on life.


Of anniversaries and things.

I am someone who celebrates anniversaries.  I commemorate dates, and remember things that have happened in the past.  I can tell you that Cal Ripken played in 2682 consecutive games, and that George Patton was born on November 11 among many other useless bits of information.  I am also able to tell you that nine years ago yesterday, my wife and I were married in the St Louis Missouri LDS temple.  It’s certainly been a busy nine years, and not an uninteresting nine years at that.  I can tell you unequivocally though, that it’s been a great nine years and it’s a decision that I would easily make again.

I believe that it’s important to commemorate, to look back and evaluate things and try to find progress.  I believe that we can only ever get better by looking forward.  I know I’m six and a half months into this journey of working – because you darn well better believe it’s work – through my diagnosis and treatment.  I know I was near a point of no return back in early April when I checked myself into a mental health facility.  I know I spent five days there and came out more equipped to face my realities.

I know I couldn’t have done any of this without my wife, who I celebrate yesterday, today and forever.  Here’s to you love.


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