My Favorite Thing About Myself?

Posted on April 27, 2017 in Humility Reflections

square958I am shy about talking about the good things which identify me and present me as a person. There’s a part of me that believes that a good person does not brag about his goodness or it doesn’t count. A passage in the Bible affirms this. It hangs on me like a signboard flapping in the wind, its clattering drowning out any temptation. I make jokes about it, saying “Humility is my best quality and I am very proud of it.” But that is just a joke I tell, not a real expression of who I am as a person. All these years of my brother telling me that I was a narcissist paid off for him. He — Rob the Great as he styled himself — crushed me totally, which was his aim.

A garden

Posted on April 25, 2017 in Routine Writing Exercises

square957The cactus on my deck stand still for most of the year, with no expressions except their green sides and thorns. I buy amaryllis, tulips, and daffodils in the winter, but they flower and die so I toss them out and wait. Then, with no prompting by me except some MiracleGro, the first cactus flowers appear. One more I go out and find a surprise in a red or pink or yellow bloom. The exaltations keep happening through December. I simply watch them appear and then disappear to be succeeded by a new blossom as if they decided on a schedule.

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Healthline Bipolar Blog of 2017

Posted on April 25, 2017 in Web Sites

Hi Joel,

Healthline would like to congratulate you on making our list of the Best Bipolar Disorder Blogs of 2017!

Our editors carefully selected the most up-to-date, informative, and inspiring blogs that aim to uplift their readers through education and personal stories. We’re glad to have you on the list!

We’ve created a badge that you can embed on your site to let your readers know about your win. The embed code is at the link below.

Winners list: http://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/best-blogs-of-the-ye ar
Badge to embed: http://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/best-blogs-badge-201 5

If you have any questions or need help embedding the badge, feel free to be in touch. Congratulations and keep up the great blogging!

Warmly,
Maegan


Maegan Jones | Content Coordinator
Healthline
Your most trusted ally in pursuit of health and well-being

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Seeking Help

Posted on April 24, 2017 in Depression Psychotropics Writing/Darkness

square956I woke up one morning, turned on my side, and said to Lynn “I’m sick.” Oh, I had sought help before this, many times from therapists and, one time, a psychiatrist. Encouraged by my mother, I tried the bootstrap approach where you somehow reached into your soul and made the depression go away.

What had preceded this bout? Several months of going from town to town speaking about the war in Yugoslavia and how people could support the peace movement over there. The subject had worn me down, eroded my belief in myself. I stopped returning phone calls, stopped believing in my own intelligence, my worthiness to be human. The period came to a soft but painful landing like running into a beanbag chair and feeling nothing of the collision except a rash of pain. I was not rested. I slept badly. I stayed up in the night and stared at the ceiling. I did not even have the energy to hate my condition. It was as if I did not have a proper body, just a jelly log that could do nothing but lie in bed. Who could pull themselves out of this by sheer force of will when there was no will to have.

I had heard about this new drug, Prozac, and I wanted to try it. Kaiser required that I make the appointment myself, so as Lynn watched, I picked up the phone and arranged to see the psychiatric triage nurse. I feared that she would see me as a fake, but she passed me on to the psychiatrist who prescribed Prozac.

I was cured the next day. Uh oh.

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A Time I Shared Something Personal

Posted on April 23, 2017 in Depression Humiliation Privacy

square955Judy. I did not trust Judy or her mother. What a pair. A diary or a journal is private, to be read by others only when it is shared and then only the pages that you have chosen. They violated that privacy and commented on what they read.

Once I wrote “My life is a dung heap.” I was in a deep depression, one of the many I experienced over the years. I wore the mask of wellness but not very well. The wings of a drone suited me. How did I feel about this invasion, about my potential mother-in-law’s lame excuse that my journal had just fallen open. Rape suggests itself, certainly violation, invaded, my secrets open to the world. I could not stay in that relationship because trust was lost.

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Cutup Speech — There May Be a Poem in Here?

Posted on April 23, 2017 in Originality & Creativity Poems

and insight allowed. to get from others about our affliction to myself “everyone here is name anyone – who has the nature of my illness, disorder. my brain is compromised. by ourselves, that we just as soon as my medication and my therapist. eventually i in a grand contract between a place where my opinions has on my wife, on keep my pancreas healthy for about its wellness could be others. that is how we had to turn to others anxiety i feel when i if i was to muddle people, that it was in my recovery began. i finally to understand what happened next, unlock our hidden potential and gotten where they are without nurses stared at me, then letting go of that delusion – was that while there to see our story play become super humans. i know here every week to get – it is called bipolar the pain. alone. but then my all right?” i let her it. we come here to succeed. together. i could not control come here to gain insight in part, to believe that beyond that poor, silly diagnosis doesn’t end there. there’s also help from others. it was we can do it all get help to fix. i my friends, and my extended depression. my recovery depended on family. how my culture sees out before an audience. we are parts of having this me and the world. you to being helped by others, an indefinite length of time. human being – without engaging south coast medical center. i illness. now i have a disease reached beyond the support group decided to go to a work to become better speakers fact that i had almost i am part of yours. my power to become a support group. i was scared of no one in my the mirror, but we come am in episode, the bad a deep breath, and said i had to learn – yes, we put in the the effect that my disease the thing that anyone with of glossophobia – fear of heard my story, but i mentally ill. including me.” i the world. it is the great carried out a suicide and sense of “stigma”. all of – my brain – in beyond my diagnosis, i had that disease, especially in negative illness that only i could it’s something that i handle through medication. around this kernel i texted my last will demand my diabetes medications. the cut my wrists. that was cell phone rang. i picked bipolar disorder has to learn received the right diagnosis. but fix, there are many more my in-patient psychiatrist. he leafed it up. it was my of the disease versus the that plus the actual disease share our experience to help measured against the opinions of are part of that world. secretive appointments with my psychiatrist now wanted drugs that would what toastmasters is all about? my way through. one day, i together let us flourish. agreed to put my mind let me share with you lie of our time that i did not need other the next day i met my rage was volcanic; my parts that i needed to i could sit and map the whole plan. that is up at me with tired, god. in psychiatry, that is called when i got there was for public speaking, or become help that went beyond my into a fight! then i a concept out of medical through my charts, then looked cope. i opened my mind my symptoms, overcome my anxiety and my handling of it public speaking. we come here and testament to my wife, whiting ranch wilderness park where made some notes that i talk me into going to and participated, once more, in and how we can overcome out the best way to grandiosity. eventually it leads to to trust others. and isn’t that you were bipolar?” this was when how i decided to end habits i follow as a by practicing in front of looked around the room, took anthropology and biopsychosocial psychology, that kind eyes and said “has a mensch – a better can only presume mentioned the to death. two women got trained outsiders. first thing i did listened and i not only half a resolve to overcome psychiatrist. she asked “are you experience – and you can’t way of coping. but it are other things like the is my illness. the first thing anyone ever told you that despair, oceanic in its depth. then found a log in heard of better ways to

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Just After Dawn

Posted on April 22, 2017 in Geology Recent Writing Exercises

square954We had gone on one of those boats that take you to where the lava flows and drips into the sea, a beautiful experience that left me with memories of the orange and yellow streams, floating rocks, and gas that made me barf. On the way back, we headed into the rising sun. Someone started talking about fishing. “You know,” I said, “I once caught a shark on light line. Eight pound test.” Everyone turned to marvel. I held my hands about a foot apart. “It was only this long, but it was a shark. The passengers burst out in laughter. I smiled then photographed the startling red of the sun erupting in the East.

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Events Before My First Episode

Posted on April 21, 2017 in ADD Childhood Depression Writing/Darkness

square953I was a tangerine. Sometimes I was a grapefruit. Actually, I was a little boy, living in the summer between first and second grades. That segment of time is blank for me. I can tell you what happened — two of my cousins came to live with us — but that is a fact not a memory. I had to move to my brother’s bedroom so the two girls could have mine. Their names were Ann and Jennifer. My mother fixated on Ann. She kept that focus to the end of her life. That is when I began to feel her resentment towards me for being a boy. That began after they left, but I felt the depression creeping in that Fall while I was in school. The first tears happened that September and the kids, my parents, my brother, and the nun who taught me mocked me. They never went away. Neither did the depression which came with the seasons. The first signs of the heaviness in my brow and the resignation of my body showed themselves. The first difficult weeks of my ADD arrived that same year when I could not focus during arithmetic lessons. My attention fluttered to other subjects. Sister Annette put me next to a bookcase. I read every book which she talked about seas of numbers. I became unpeeled and oblivious.

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An Insulting Question for Tall People

Posted on March 27, 2017 in Clueless Oafs Encounters Reflections

square952I walk into a room, shake the hand of the interviewer, and take my seat. First question out of his mouth: “Did you play basketball?” I have asked other tall men if they hear the question and they say yes. It is just as annoying with them as it is to me. But how to answer it?

No, I can hear myself say. But — I add mercifully — that does not mean that I don’t know how to be a team member. I learned this in high school when I was part of the speech and debate team. I learned this when I took part in club projects that required me to follow a leader and carry out instructions. I learned this in my first jobs as a fry cook and a grill cook, doing my part to get the meal out to the customer. As an administrator, I did my part to create information that was used by the companies to make decisions about employment, ordering supplies, and assignment of jobs to machinery stations. Then as a club officer, I worked to create an environment where members could thrive.

There is a darker enquiry behind this: are you a tall drink of water without the intelligence to do a job? I think my record speaks for itself: I went to the tenth best college in America according to Forbes Magazine. I got there based on my high school performance, SAT scores, and nonsports extracurricular activities. I got through it with a B average. Since then, I have engaged myself in learning as I could afford it: sometimes books, sometimes courses. My mind has been active since the day I tossed off my black cap and gown.

This is what tall men and women endure from those of average height. We may have the minds, but not their respect. That contempt is, for some, automatic.

One thing I know is that if I hear the basketball question at an interview, my interest in working for that boss declines geometrically. It shows me that he is shallowly judgemental and superficial about his judgements. Can I tell him what I think and get hired? I doubt it. But it may educate him.

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Beyond my diagnosis – A Speech at Toastmasters

Posted on March 2, 2017 in Agitation Mixed States Suicide

This is a speech that I gave for our club’s International Speech Contest. I am afraid that it did not come out as neat as this text — about two thirds of the way through I lost track of where I was. But I came in second nontheless.

square951My rage was volcanic; my despair, oceanic in its depth. I texted my last will and testament to my wife, then found a log in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park where I could sit and map out the best way to cut my wrists. That was the whole plan. That is how I decided to end the pain. Alone.

But then my cell phone rang. I picked it up. It was my psychiatrist. She asked “Are you all right?” I let her talk me into going to South Coast Medical Center. I agreed to put my mind – my brain – in a place where my opinions about its wellness could be measured against the opinions of trained outsiders.

First thing I did when I got there was demand my diabetes medications. The nurses stared at me, then made some notes that I can only presume mentioned the fact that I had almost carried out a suicide and now wanted drugs that would keep my pancreas healthy for an indefinite length of time. The next day I met my in-patient psychiatrist. He leafed through my charts, then looked up at me with tired, kind eyes and said “Has anyone ever told you that you were bipolar?”

This was when my recovery began. I finally received the right diagnosis. But to understand what happened next, let me share with you a concept out of medical anthropology and biopsychosocial psychology, that of the disease versus the illness.

Now I have a disease – it is called bipolar disorder. My brain is compromised. It’s something that I handle through medication. Around this kernel are other things like the anxiety I feel when I am in episode, the bad habits I follow as a way of coping. But it doesn’t end there. There’s also the effect that my disease and my handling of it has on my wife, on my friends, and my extended family. How my culture sees that disease, especially in negative sense of “stigma”. All of that plus the actual disease is my illness.

The first thing I had to learn – the thing that anyone with half a resolve to overcome bipolar disorder has to learn – was that while there are parts of having this illness that only I could fix, there are many more parts that I needed to get help to fix. I had to turn to others if I was to muddle my way through.

One day, I decided to go to a support group. I was scared to death. Two women got into a fight! Then I looked around the room, took a deep breath, and said to myself “Everyone here is mentally ill. Including me.” I listened and I not only heard my story, but I heard of better ways to cope. I opened my mind to being helped by others, help that went beyond my secretive appointments with my psychiatrist and my therapist. Eventually I reached beyond the support group and participated, once more, in the world.

It is the great lie of our time that we can do it all by ourselves, that we just unlock our hidden potential and become super humans. I know of no one in my experience – and you can’t name anyone – who has gotten where they are without help from others. It was the nature of my illness, in part, to believe that I did not need other people, that it was in my power to become a god.

In psychiatry, that is called grandiosity. Eventually it leads to depression. My recovery depended on letting go of that delusion as soon as my medication and insight allowed. To get beyond my diagnosis, I had to trust others.

And isn’t that what Toastmasters is all about? Yes, we put in the work to become better speakers by practicing in front of the mirror, but we come here every week to get beyond that poor, silly diagnosis of glossophobia – fear of public speaking. We come here to see our story play out before an audience. We come here to gain insight from others about our affliction and how we can overcome it. We come here to share our experience to help others. That is how we succeed. Together.

I could not control my symptoms, overcome my anxiety for public speaking, or become a Mensch – a better human being – without engaging in a grand contract between me and the world. You are part of that world. I am part of yours. Together let us flourish.

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Keen Ocelot

Posted on February 17, 2017 in Originality & Creativity Poems

I cut my mixmasters and all the computer hears mouse;
I screech my shrews and all is howl again.
(I storm I walk you up inside my harlot.)

The penises go running out in turbulent and grim,
And hard uterus chomps in:
I chew my aardvark and all the hamster imagines treason.

I heaved that you lofted me into hole
And trick me faint, bleated me quite hollow.
(I storm I walk you up inside my harlot.)

skyscraper manages from the house fire, cell phone’s pools screw:
sandpaper bar and menagerie’s bolt:
I chew my aardvark and all the hamsters imagine treason.

I sandwiched you’d sniff the way you seal,
But I drift rough and I drum your pancreas.
(I storm I walk you up inside my harlot.)

I should have pacifisted a nail instead;
At least when finger phrases they photograph back again.
I chew my aardvark and all the hamsters imagine treason.

(I storm I walk you up inside my harlot.)

– Joel & Sylvia Plath

Create Your Own Madlib on LanguageIsAVirus.com


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Write about saying goodbye

Posted on February 9, 2017 in Prose Arcana Relationships Writing/Darkness

square950I never said goodbye to her, never broke the connection properly. We had one last difficult conversation and that was it. She slammed the phone down as a screw you and that was it. I didn’t want her to marry that German. As far as I know, she did. I thought there was something special, something divinely sanctioned because we met in the Sistine Chapel. Shouldn’t that have been a kind of imprimatur? But time apart worked its fell magic on the little pieces of a relationship that we had. Damn Time, damn Love. I had fallen into a funk and wasn’t able to act properly.

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