Monday, December 24, 2012

My Christmas Gift To You

If I had the power in me I would wrap a special gift and it would be sitting at your doorstep the very first think in the morning. It would be the most precious gift anyone could give you! When you opened it this horrible, incurable illness would be gone from you...forever! Oh, if you truly knew my heart you would know how sincere I am. I wish so much I could give this gift to you. But I cannot, and I'm so sorry.

So the gift I can give you is some advise. We all know we cannot control when the low spirit of depression may come. It usually comes when we least expect it, or want it. You see, many years before I realized I what was wrong with me and finally went to the doctor, I have, I guess I would not say ruined but put a major "damper" on many my little girls Christmas mornings  You try to hide it, but the little cute ones can see right through you! So try this and hopefully it will hep you:

  • Make sure you take your medication! Hopefully your timing is so you can take it in the morning
  • There had to be your "favorite" Christmas song that makes you feel good and puts you in the spirit. Play it. Play it to death if you have to. Then have it set up so as soon as you get up in the morning, it's the first thing you hear!
  • Finally, not knowing your faith, and to be honest I really don't care, it would not hurt to say a quiet little prayer when you go to bed. No matter what your faith, if you are sincere, it will help. A quote is on my desk that I read everyday : "And ALL things whatsoever ye ask in Prayer, believing, Ye shall receive." (Mathew 21:22)
Those who do not know me very well know that I do not write very often, But what I do write, I write with everything in my heart! My wish, from the bottom of my heart is that each you of have a good Christmas and you are able to truly, without any forcefulness enjoy it with your family! I will be thinking of you.

Merry Christmas, and God Bless 

P.S. This is the song I love to hear Christmas Morning

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bipolar I: Symptoms: What They Mean and How They Feel --To Come

     I was working on the above title (it may change) when I realized why I was having so much trouble. You see, many of the very things I was writing about, I am going through this very moment. It makes it almost impossible to focus. Here's and example...still taking meds and being treated...of what I am feeling now. I intend to go further in depth with the next post (The above Title) Here are a couple the great attributes of this wonderful illness that is flowing through me: {Notice the mixed states}

Irritable Mood: It would not take much or anyone to set me off.

Tendency to be Easily Distracted: I cannot keep my thought on one thing long enough to finish.

Increased Recklessness: -I leave that one alone for later.

Depression: Where it came from I don't know. Curling up and hiding sounds attractive to me right now.

Guilt: How acted, what I said or did (or may not have said or did) the last couple of days to my family makes the above depression increase dramatically. Friends, as I will bring out later, if possible, people do not realize this can be, and has been for centuries if grouped with just some of the other side-effects, more dangerous and destructive than most combined. I hope you understand this.

I soon will be going to work on a 9 -12 hour stressful job. How can I? But I do. Some may not believe like me, but I say a little Prayer on the way every day. Speaking of the above "Guilt", here's a suicide note written moments before Virginia Woolf killed herself:

"I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can't concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don't think two people could have been happier 'til this terrible disease came. I can't fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can't even write this properly. I can't read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that — everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can't go on spoiling your life any longer. I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been. V."

"My Mind"

Sunday, September 2, 2012

They do not Understand us...Excerpt from "Night Falls Fast"

I have said it over and over again: No one, even your closest friend; spouse; or parent does not understand what is going through our mind. They may be sympathetic and try to be supportive, but even with love at times they give up and leave us alone to our torment.

This is an excerpt from the book Night falls Fast by Kay Redfield Jamison:

 "The horror of profound depression, and the hopelessness that usually accompanies it, are hard to imagine for those who have not experienced them. Because their despair is private, it is resistant to clear and compelling description. Novelist Will Stryron, however, in recounting his struggle with suicidal depression, captures vividly the heavy, inescapable pain that can lead to suicide:

"What I begun to discover is that, mysteriously and in ways that are totally remote from normal experience, the gray drizzle of horror induced by depression takes on the quality of physical pain. But it is not immediately identifiable pain, like that of a broken limb. It may be more accurate to say that despair, owing to some evil trick played upon the sick brain by the inhabiting psyche, comes to resemble the diabolical discomfort of being imprisoned in a fiercely overheated room. And because no breeze stirs this caldron, because there is no escape from this smothering confinement, it is entirely natural that the victim begins to think ceaselessly of oblivion."

"My Mind"

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Four Minutes of Therapy

Sometimes when things gets real bad and the pressure seems like it is just about to get to me, I have a few things I do that I enjoy; makes me happy; makes me feel good inside even if it is just for a few minutes. The important thing is while doing this, even if it is just a few minutes, the crazy Bipolar mind is at rest! This is the key. 

As you know, I love my Eagles. Oh! How they soar way above the earth, high in the heavens away from all the filth and troubles here on earth. They are made so special nothing or no one can follow them. They are alone in "their" world! I envy them so much.This is a video I love to watch. For a little over four minutes, my crazy mind is gone and I am following these majestic creatures as the soar among beautiful country. The added benefit to this video is I like the group Abba, and the words are perfect.

The lesson here, is for each of you to find that one thing that comforts you. It could be as simple as watching a video, sitting on a porch swing, listening to a certain favorite song...whatever it is it does not matter. Just give that crazy, controllable mind a break. I hope you enjoy this:

"My Mind"

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

From my Heart to Yours

Many drafts lay in the folder of the blog waiting to be finished and published. Some, hours before, were burning in my heart and I could not wait until I finished them. Then, either the fire was immediately put out or slowly the dark mist came over me that causes me to loose all interest in anything. Writing is too much of a task. My Mind becomes tired. Of all the pages I have published I have went back to them over and over until that "feeling" is right. Tonight I am having a rough time so please overlook any mistakes in writing.

Even though the last two years I have live a live of unimaginable agony mentally, and went through several major trials physically; tonight I am thinking of you. I cannot get you out of my head.

You and I are for the most part are...all ...alone. No one can relate to us. Even our most dear loved ones who stand beside us and try their best to support us  - do not understand us. There are many who will disagree with me when I say that as far as my humble (for what-ever-it's worth) opinion:  it does not matter how long you went to school, what degree you hold, how many patients you treat...unless you live ALL the nightmares that comes with this illness day after long day; begging the night to come so maybe sleep will shield you - OR you wander what it would be like to just kept on sleeping so you won't have to face another day - you will never know what we really go through!

If I am the least qualified, but I'd like to offer some advice or suggestions to you.

1)   Facebook and Social Network Groups

I am happy to see thousands of you joining Bipolar and Mental Illness groups on Facebook and other networks. I am members of many on Facebook and I slip in from time to time to read the latest, click the "like" button and once in awhile comment. I read the dreadful condition you are in and am proud so very many offer support. THAT my friends is what this is all about! I will caution those of you who are new to this illness, please be careful - sometimes on there you are being given advice by many people who may not know or understand your exact situation or understand your problem. Watch the posts the administrator's put on their group site and read them carefully. More often than not you will find some answers to your questions.

2)   Blogs and Websites:

Spend the time to research and find the Blogs and Websites that you not only find interesting but will constantly "feed" you valuable information! This is critical. When I first started I subscribed to so many I was getting over 50 emails a day. OK, so I over did it just a bit. But the lesson here is find the ones you like, trust, and keep watching for them. Not all of them will apply to you "every time" but you will eventually find GOLD! For those of you who may just be getting started if you don't mind I'd like to recommend some of the ones I started out with, and have stayed with them because they are consistent and more importantly have a treasure of information for you. (I cannot list all my favorites so I'm sorry if yours are not mentioned here. I will continue to recommend sites at a later time.) Trust me; this is just a couple to start with as there are hundreds that are helpful:

1) bp Magazine

2) Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

3) HealthyPlace

4)  Kay Redfield Jamison --Face Book!/KayRedfieldJamison

5) McMan's Depression and Bipolar Web

6) Bipolar Today

7) Healthline

Like I mentioned, this is a few that I enjoy and trust you will also.

 Finally and probably the most critical is:

3)  Please --READ; STUDY; DISSECT books written from the best you can find!

As I mentioned above, if I am going to try to help myself understand and learn what I am to expect with this illness of Bipolar (Manic - Depression) than I am going to study someone who not only devoted their life to this illness, but is also a patient. Of course I am talking about Kay Redfield Jamison. Here is just a short biography:

"Kay Redfield Jamison is Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as well as Honorary Professor of English at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. She is the author of the national best sellers An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide, and Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament. ...
She is coauthor of the standard medical text on manic-depressive illness and author or coauthor of more than one hundred scientific papers about mood disorders, creativity, and psychopharmacology. Dr. Jamison, the recipient of numerous national and international scientific awards, was distinguished lecturer at Harvard University in 2002 and the Litchfield lecturer at the University of Oxford in 2003. She is a John P. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow"

On the right sidebar of this blog you will find the three books mentioned above. Don't worry; I have not seen a dime from the sale of these books. These three books lay in front of me on my desk as I type this. I cannot imagine anyone not reading them. If you do not want to buy them, go to the library and check them out. If you have this illness, and are serious about learning as much as you can about it, there is no reason why you would not read at least these three. 

Well, my mind is shutting down. It's time for me to go. Keep pressing on; encourage someone when you can; and never forget there is a man behind this blog who although fights daily for every inch of peace of mind he can find, is thinking of you and hoping you are ..."hanging in there."

"My (Very Tired) Mind"

Monday, July 23, 2012

"The Mind ...It's Impossible"

"No Human, no matter how intellectual he/she is, can cure another human mind when it did not create it; and moreover is more intricate and measureless than all the galaxies of the worlds put together."

Jerry D Parker

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Revelations Unveiled:


It has been a long time of silence since I wrote "How Much Can I Continue To Bear?" I actually did write you. It is completed and sits it the "drafts" section waiting for me to hit the publish button. I almost published it many times but each time something inside me stopped me.

 Following my state of mind in How Much Can I Continue To Bear? And the months preceding it anyone could tell my mental and actual physical survival was held by the strength of a single strand of spider web. I did not publish that last post with the hope that I would be able to speak to you again. The one that is still "pending" would be the last one I would ever write. I'm so glad I waited!

I just wanted you to know I am still here. Even though I am still wandering in the depths of the deep, dark, scary forest, I am now on a little unmarked trail that I trust will eventually lead me out into the sunlight.

 There are two things that had a great impact on the fact that I am here writing you today. I will share these with you next:

   1)   The unbelievable realization that for all these years I put my very unstable, week life into my doctor's hands; at times on the absolute edge of suicide, and to realize there were critical portions of information (some medical) in my file that could have, did have, affect my life, went unread. An Eight hour Neuropsychological Evaluation taken on June of 2011 --she just now realized some of their recommendations that could have possible helped me over a year ago. (I was not able to obtain a copy until now)

   2)   And extremely important part of the puzzle is something most people do not realize. Don't brush if off, I just want you to think about something until our next discussion. I'm just going to throw something out there for you. We are battling the mind. The mind is inside the brain that still has science spending their entire careers trying to figure out. BUT away from the brain and completely unconnected with the brain is the Heart and Soul (some look at these from the spiritual realm and not the actual beating muscles of the heart a doctor can hold in his/her hands). It has been stated that once something serious is placed upon the heart, and with complete faith - undoubted, absolute faith, it will produce results. We will look into that later.

You know me. I don't know when my mind will let me sit still enough to write. I will be back as soon as I can. I just wanted to thank you for your thoughts and Prayers. I am still..."trying to hang in there."

"My Mind"      

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How Much Can I Continue To Bear?

       Natalie Grant - The Real Me

Foolish heart looks like we're here again Same old game of plastic smile. Don't let anybody in Hiding my heartache, will this glass house break. How much will they take before I'm empty. Do I let it show, does anybody know?But you see the real me. Hiding in my skin, broken from within Unveil me completely I'm loosening my grasp There's no need to mask my frailty...Cause you see the real me!

I chose this song because there was a time long ago when I could successfully wear the mask and at times only my wife could see through; see the real me and know the hurt I was feeling deep inside. Those times have all disappeared. The plastic smile melts before it is visible and now everyone knows. They do not know to what extent the pain is behind the plastic smile, nor do they know how what is exactly wrong with me, or the serious damage it has caused, and still does cause me and my family. "Something just isn't right." That is...for now all everyone sees. In addition living with daily multiple symptoms of the evil illness, thinking inside I am an open book does not help the situation. 

I'm sorry but this is a post like no other I have done I am not going to apologize how this will turn out. I believe you will understand when you finish reading it the state of mind I am in is not in any condition to turn out a perfect article…not that I succeeded it that area in the first place. The normal post, according to most, should be short as to keep the reader’s attention and not ramble on. Well, there are some things I am going to say and if it’s a little long…well so be it.

My intentions, among others when I started this blog were:
• Give you as much words of encouragement I could to lift you up and let you know you are not alone.
• Offer some information and plant some seeds that you can think about, take with you, and give you the desire to research more to learn as much as you can about your situation.
• Share some of my experiences with you that hopefully someday will educate, encourage, or at the least let you know you are not alone.

I hope and pray after all months and yes, years I have spent writing this blog I was able to accomplish a few of the above. I have not asked much from you but I am going to now. I so desperately need some words of encouragement—just a kind note will be worth gold to me right now.

Looking in reverse right now I see signs of my illness of over 42 years. Of that time, the last nine - plus years I have been faithfully going to the psychiatrist, taking whatever medications prescribed to me, seeing specialist and the way I am feeling this very moment, please forgive the sarcasm, all the money spent that the insurance did not pay was basically flushed down the toilet.

The last twenty days have been a full scale war with me. Look up the charts of all the symptoms on Bipolar I and every day for at least twenty days I have had anywhere from five to ten hitting me from time to time with no letting up. You name it from mania; rage; irritable; deep dark depression; the urge to fly away - where does not matter as long as this dreadful blackness following me cannot follow; daydreams; nightmares; and on and on. Looking at it from my point of view this very second the way I see it is a poison releasing itself into my system, even though a slow dose, and am all too aware that if continued even at the same level with no letup - it will surely kill you.

I'm sorry, this is not like me. You all that know me I will try to keep fighting and will continue to "hang in there" but does there ever come a time where enough is enough?

You don't really know the REAL ME! Even those who do know me probably have forgotten over the years. Years ago I was a friendly person who never met a stranger. I was passionate; romantic - I loved with all my heart and soul and my heart raced with romantic thoughts; I looked forward to life - dreamed and fantasized what life could be like; I lived for beautiful sunsets, photographs of beautiful scenes, animals and such. Once in a while, I am able to let a glimpse of this slip through on Facebook under Jerry D Parker (Eagle Mind). But it's getting less and less. The real me is still there but it is surrounded by a dark ugly shadow.

“If I can't feel, if I can't move, if I can't think, and I can't care, then what conceivable point is there in living?”

Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

About two weeks ago I went to the doctor again, she is exasperated... As I mentioned before she stated I am one of the hardest patient to treat because my condition (symptoms) continue to change, but most of all my mind just does not respond to medication the way it should. One example was a fairly high dose of extended release that was supposed to stay in my system for 8 to 12 hours, would be gone in 3. Sure, she could totally dope me up to rid all the mental pain but I would not be able to function. I would be a zombie -better off in a mental hospital. There's a fine line between being able to be coherent enough to carry on a job to support my family and totally "out of it." My doctor stated after almost 10 years of treatment she could print a list of all the medication I have tried and the rolls of paper would spill out into the street. This does not even account for the combinations taken together and the doses changed. She has consulted with her colleges - something should have worked by now!

It's so hard to explain to you what is going on this very minute. I am so very tired. Mentally tired. I want some relief. I long for a break, even if it is short time. Oh what I would give for a few days of no symptoms whatsoever!

Many have asked me advice on various types of medications, how they have helped and what they should expect. Know you know why I have not even brushed the subject of medication. How can I give advice when nothing I have taken so far has completely helped? Is that because my system does not even acknowledge the medication at all? I could list some strong medicine I took that has the same effect as an aspirin.

I just saw the doctor again. She monitored the results of doubling the dose of the medicine I was on, and adding yet some different kinds at a high dose -one last effort. Her next recommendation is to go to a Renowned Psychiatric Ward in a large Hospital in my area for a battery of special tests including an MRI. Unfortunately with all the surgeries and radiation treatments I have went through, I have still have my deductible and out of pocket expense I have to cover, and now today I find out the company I work for just increased my deductible and out of pocket by $9000 more effective immediately. The doctor stated the treatments at the hospital will be very expensive, who can afford this?

I'm tired. I want it to end. I want, no I Pray desperately for relief. For thousands of years ones just like me have fought this illness. Just like me they did not know what path to take.They just did not think they could bear it anymore. However, many wonderful famous people found that little path and destroyed the dreadful, relentless illness the only way they knew how...they killed it.

I have suddenly come to the conclusion and embrace the fact that one way or another it will take more than doctors and their medications to help me get out of this hole. I long for the day when the Majestic Eagle sweeps down and lifts me up to a plane of peace and relief not known to man. I am clinging to this.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Early Morning Thoughts 11/5/11...(Sharing Again--Nothing Has Changed)

It was sometime between two and three this morning, when the world seemed asleep and at peace, I was sitting here trying to get over a major hurdle in the draft of the next post I promised when like the fog that slowly moves in just before daylight, thoughts of despair and helplessness started entering into my mind. Either brought on by what I was trying to write or just because "It" can, the illness inside of me caused my mind to think... 

"My entire neighborhood was quiet. Except for outside driveway light posts and an occasional porch light on, all the houses were dark. I thought of all the people in bed, asleep, "their" minds are wherever they go when peaceful sleep comes. When they awake, their mind will still be at ease. Mine, it seems, will be never know what that feeling is like. Proof of that is while the country is asleep or out doing what they enjoy, I am still up, possessed on writing about an illness that will not leave. 'It' may at times seem like it has left, but it really never does. It likes to tease and it never fails to creep back in and remind me - I am not in control, it is. I have no say when it will appear, how long it will stay, or how bad it will be. I live everyday a slave to it. What would it be like to go just one day without even one symptom to reminding me of it? And now, this main point I am trying to write so they will understand, does not seem it can be translated into words. By me anyway..."

So, as this happened, I was finished for the rest of the night. I was getting tired of trying to force this - "It" - away, and more thoughts kept coming so I took the medicine and went to bed. It was awhile later when I too fell asleep. I remember thinking just before I started drifting off how I so much looked forward to it. At least, I would not be aware of what was going on in this crazy manic-depressive mind, and the words on that draft that is so difficult to write would for awhile anyway, be forgotten.

I will leave you with a quote that seems like this one just fit the mood: 

"I’d been depressed before, of course. But I’m talking about really depressed. Not just feeling a bit down or sad, a depression that has something to do with biorhythms. I’m talking about the kind of depressed that floats in upon you like a fog. You can feel it coming and you can see where it is going to take you but you are powerless, utterly powerless to stop it. I know now"

Alan Cumming, Tommy’s Tale

"My Mind"

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"Starry, Starry Night" - Vincent Van Gogh (Previous Post)

"Now I understand what you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
The would not listen they did not know how
Perhaps they'll listen now."

~~~Please watch this video before reading this. It is Perfect!~

Many have recorded this song “Starry, Starry Night” written about Vincent Van Gogh. This video by Julio Iglesias almost tells the story without words.

When I first came up with the thought about writing about Van Gogh I thought it would be rather simple. But as I started writing I realized the information about this great master is limitless. I intended on posting this much sooner then now, but I had to stop and reorganize my thoughts because I had to make a hard decision on what to include and what to omit. I could write a novel, or just try my best to share what information I thought was necessary to fit with the subject of my blog. What ever the outcome, it will not do his life story justice. {Keep in mind who is writing this…a sufferer of bipolar myself and not a biographer!}

From the time of his birth on March 30, 1853 and his death on July 29th of 1890, he painted almost 900 paintings! Since his death, he has become one of the most famous painters in the world. It is said that in this time period, although he was commissioned to paint several paintings, he only sold one. Yet around 1970 a Japanese businessman purchased the “Portrait of Dr. Gachet” for $82.5 million! Saito was so attached to the painting that he wanted it to be cremated with him when he died in 1996...but the painting was saved.

Despite his great success, Vincent Van Gogh was also known as a lonely, tortured artist who many felt was insane or at least on the edge of madness. The debate of his mental condition has raged, and to this day still unsettled as to his mental condition, and whether it was schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, paranoia, or a combination all of this and even more! It all depends on what you read and who wrote it.

In 1888, Van Gogh experienced a psychotic episode in which he threatened the life of Guaguin a personal friend and fellow artist. This episode also brought about the notorious incident in which he cut off a piece of his own left ear, offering it as a gift to a prostitute. Then, {Listen my friends!} he admitted himself to a mental asylum for more than a year.

Starry Night was painted while Vincent was in the asylum at Saint-Rémy and his behavior was very erratic at the time, due to the severity of his attacks. Unlike most of Van Gogh's works, Starry Night was painted from memory and not outdoors as was Vincent's preference. I am a great fan many of his paintings and sketches but “Starry Night” I am very sorry to say, is not my favorite. It is different, drastically different than most of his work. Was this because it was the work of a tortured mind? As always after an artist or author has died, many years' later people will try to “read into” what they were thinking. This my friends is what gets so upset I want to scream! Unless the artist has opened his mind as to the finished work, what makes people 100 years later interpret what he was going through!!! This is what makes Starry Night his most famous work.

After leaving the hospital because he was not getting any better, Van Gogh suffered a severe setback in December 1889. Although he had been troubled by mental illness throughout his life, the episodes became much worse during his last few years. In some of these periods he was either unwilling or unable to paint. His depression gradually deepened. On 27 July 1890, aged 37, he walked into a field and shot himself in the chest with a revolver. He survived the impact and managed to walk back to the Ravoux Inn. He died there two days later. His brother, by his side, witnessed his last words as "La ordedtristesse durera toujours" (the sadness will last forever).

What a shame that in his lifetime the information and treatment we have today could have helped this great artist live past age of 37! In the late 1800's although one was considered insane, mad, crazy and so on, they did not have the knowledge available to them to define the illness. What if, he was in our day, where he could check himself into a clinic where they actually and correctly diagnose his condition, and give him all the resources we have today?

I will print some quotes of letters he wrote, and written about him. Let’s let Van Gogh speak for himself!

Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Saint-Rémy, 22 May 1889

“But while I stay here, the doctor is of course in a better position to see what is wrong, and will have his mind set at rest, I hope, about what he can let me paint.

But joking apart, my fear of madness is wearing off markedly, since I can see at close quarters those who are affected by it in the same way as I may very easily be in the future.

Again - speaking of my condition - I am so grateful for yet another thing. I've noticed that others, too, hear sounds and strange voices during their attacks, as I did, and that things seemed to change before their very eyes. And that lessened the horror with which I remembered my first attack, something that, when it comes upon you unexpectedly, cannot but frighten you terribly. Once you know it is part of the illness, you accept it like anything else. Had I had not seen other lunatics close to; I should not have been able to stop myself from thinking about it all the time. For the suffering and the anguish are not funny when you are having an attack.”

Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Amsterdam, 18 August 1877

“Then I breakfasted on a piece of dry bread and a glass of beer - that is what Dickens advises for those who are on the point of committing suicide, as being a good way to keep them, at least for some time, from their purpose. And even if one is not in such a mood, it is right to do it occasionally, while thinking, for instance, of Rembrandt's picture, “The Men of Emmaus.”

Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
The Hague, 19 July 1882

“As for my constitution - Tersteeg is not my physician and he does not understand my constitution in the least - when I want information on the subject, I shall go to my own doctor and ask for it, but I absolutely refuse to discuss it with him any more. But it is certain that there are few things more harmful either to the woman or to myself than visits like that one we just went through. Avoiding these is absolutely one of the first medical orders I shall have to carry out. Never has a doctor told me that there was something abnormal about me in the way and sense Tersteeg dared to tell me this morning. That I was not able to think or that my mind was deranged. No doctor has told me this, neither in the past nor in the present; certainly I have a nervous constitution, but there is definitely no real harm in that. So those were serious insults on Tersteeg's part, just as they were on Pa's, but even worse, when he wanted to send me to Gheel. I cannot take such things lying down. I am looking forward to discussing my indisposition further with you, what caused it, etc."

Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Saint-Rémy, 22 May 1889

“Again - speaking of my condition - I am so grateful for yet another thing. I've noticed that others, too, hear sounds and strange voices during their attacks, as I did, and that things seemed to change before their very eyes. And that lessened the horror with which I remembered my first attack, something that, when it comes upon you unexpectedly, cannot but frighten you terribly. Once you know it is part of the illness, you accept it like anything else. Had I had not seen other lunatics close to, I should not have been able to stop myself from thinking about it all the time. For the suffering and the anguish are not funny when you are having an attack.”

Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Amsterdam, 3 March 1878

It must be good to die in the knowledge that one has done some truthful work and to know that, as a result, one will live on in the memory of at least a few and leave a good example for those who come after. A work that is good may not last forever, but the thought expressed by it will, and the work itself will surely survive for a very long time, and those who come later can do no more than follow in the footsteps of such predecessors and copy their example.

Very true...yet very sad.

My Mind

Friday, April 13, 2012

My Absence --But Still Hanging In There!

"Hope is necessary in every condition. The miseries of poverty, sickness, of captivity, would, without this comfort, be insupportable. ~~Samuel Johnson

Somewhere in the hidden corners of my mind I have been longing to write. At times the urge is so strong; it is like a craving that needs to be fed. I often wandered if professional writers feel the same way. However, many obstacles, both mental and especially physical have not allowed me this opportunity. As I mentioned, I have a small window of opportunity, and that little time is consumed with chasing what I have come to think of as a mind that changes its characteristics and color often, which causes us (Me and my Psychiatrist) switching various types and doses of medication to play "catch-up"; while not allowing my physical condition to make this process even harder.

I am longing to get "in that groove" I have always wanted and write more often. I have a long list of topics that are listed in order of priority, but as often in my case, as I open the blog, my mind will usually guide me along a path not on the list. That's alright as long as it is not just interesting, but gives you ideas to explore, information, and most importantly assures you are not on this rollercoaster alone!

I'll be back as soon as I can. Until then - "Hang in there with me!"

"My Mind"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My Mind: Rhythmic Disturbances--Could it Be?

I have over twenty subjects that are either in my notebook or in the draft section in the blog, but here I am, unable to start, add to them, or finish any of them. Why? For two days a particular subject has been burning in my heart, but as I sat here, I look at the rough draft and I feel nothing. My mind will not come up with the words. I try, but I cannot find the passion I had when I first came up with the subject that I thought "I just had to get out!" Last night I thought about it over and over and could not wait to write today!

So, I sit here and with a blank page, write what my mind feels like saying. It may not be good, it may not be worth anything, but something will be written Oh, I wish I could explain in words what this feels like. If anyone who does not have my illness, you would probably say to yourself "my heart is not in it anymore." If you could just understand, and turn that around and realize I really and truly want to! I type one line, delete it, type something else, and delete that, until I get so frustrated I just give up. Last night my mind was burning with fire, words coming and going, ideas, everything so vibrant and real.

But this morning, I am depressed. Not only depressed, but anxious, restless, irritable - I am in a mixed-state that most do not want to be in. Symptoms from mania and depression come flowing in at the same time. It's scary! How come many people get "well" or better as they state, and although every day, faithfully I take my medication also, but as I sit here, I could count at least 7 different traits of manic-depression upon me right now?

I know by research that most of us who seriously suffer from this illness are, for the most part controlled by "rhythmic disturbances" which moods and symptoms change during the course of the day. Many articles and books I have read on this supports that in some, mornings are the worse. In her book "Touched with Fire" Kay Redfield Jamison quotes British psychiatrists W. Mayer-Gross, E Slater, and M Roth describing this very thing:

"An important and significant symptom of the endogenous depression--but also mania --is the daily fluctuation of mood and of the total state. Improvements of all symptoms usually occurs towards evening, the retardation and depressive mood particularly showing a change for the better. In the morning however, the patient wakes direct from sleep into his characteristic somber mood or is normal for a few minutes, before, as he says, the depression come down -like a cloud"

Guess with my particular work schedule, and everything else going on is just about the only time I can write? You got the morning. I guess I just answered my own question as to why I cannot complete what I want to write late in the evenings. Go figure...

"My Mind" --For sale.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Quick Mental and Physical Update: Summary

"The defects and faults of the mind are like wounds in the body; after all imaginable care has been taken to heal them up, still there will be a scar left behind, and they are in continual danger of breaking the skin and bursting out again."

Francois de La Rochefoucauld

I will make this quick because I am not feeling my best at this moment.

I mentioned not long ago that I entered into the New Year with high expectations that 2012 will be a better year for me, which in turn will be better for my family also. Well, if it's ok with you, I'd like to roll back the calendar and start all over. This is the middle of March, and already it has been rough.

On February 16, in the piece "Lack of Writing - An Update" that the years of living under the beautiful Southwest sky has now taken its toll on me. For years this rather fair skin of mine soaked up the scorching hot suns rays. Working outdoors with temperatures in excess of 115 degrees - so hot rattlesnakes was begging for water -as most people knows it usually catches up to you years down the road. In other we get older, we pay the price in the form of skin cancer. Once again, as with the "black blood" of bipolar that runs in my family - of my siblings, I got the worst. My brothers' who lived and worked with me does not seem to have this problem.

This is my third bout with skin cancer. Friday the 9th, I had surgery once again. The cancer was located on my left temple. Realistically, compared to the others it was not that large. There were one three spots not far from each other, one larger that the other two. When the surgeon went in, she found that under the skin however they all connected with one large mass of cancer. Now I bear the incisions and that kind of look like a "star fish." One line starts at the top of my receding forehead and runs down under my eye. The other starts over my ear, crosses the other one and ends over my left eyebrow. The doctor said in time the scars will look rather "pretty." That's just great. A man in his early 50's does not want a scar to look "pretty", but rather masculine, or one that builds character. The good new is the doctor was able to get ALL the cancer, so I will not have to go through radiation again!

Yesterday, sitting at my usual coffee shop, I was not in the best of spirits. I was in that middle stage of depression, irritable and in the mood that I just did not want to talk to anyone. I just wanted to be left alone. Over the last week, many who had seen the bandages and the large incisions from time to time had asked "What in the world happened to you?" and I would explain. But as I sat there yesterday, I wandered "What kind of scars is left on my mind that no one could see? Fifty-two years of never ending 'manic-depression' surely has left some open wounds or damage to the mind! But they cannot see that. No one will ever see THAT illness, or know that while it is being treated, the disease is still more alive now than ever."

"My Mind"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Writing Style: No Rules to Guide Me

Professional writers expect some rejection and criticism. I believe this is what makes them stronger, and in turn, builds character. Some receives hundreds before their work is published. Now that my friends is dedication, character, and above all belief that their work is good!

A few days ago, out of the blue, I received an email from "X" with the subject line as follows: "Great Blog - Poor Writing." His email was about a page or so long outlining some rules of grammar, punctuation and probably just about every other mistake I have been guilty of. Even though I had to look up some definitions of a couple of words, I though it was very interesting. More importantly, I agreed with him one-hundred percent! I went as far to tell him so.

My situation on creating a "well written, proper, ready-to-publish" blog is hindered by, two major obstacles:

One:    My education is limited. Not only did I not major in English, I did not attend college. My favorite subjects in school were math and history - English was on the bottom of the list, therefore my grades reflected this. In addition to this, most of what I did learn, I forgot.

Two:    I think there are some who forgets the title of this blog and who the author is. I made a comment once that on many posts even if I did not mention my condition, you could read the article, most importantly the "tone of my voice" and could tell the what level on the chart of manic-depressive I am in at that time. The worse off I am, the worse my writing becomes.

Trust me; all grammar aside, I love to write! I have dreams of writing a novel and I have the subject and characters all lined out. It would be a thriller...of course. But I doubt very much there is a publisher or editor out there willing to tackle making it 'marketable." :)

"My Mind"

Thursday, March 8, 2012

"My Mind"...Please let Me have Control ! !

"Mania is a sickness for one's friends, depression for one's self. Both are chemical. In depression, one wakes, is happy for about two minutes, probably less, and fades into dread of the day. Nothing will happen, but you know twelve hours will pass before you are back in bed and sheltering your consciousness in dreams, or nothing."

Robert Lowell

I wanted to write so bad today! But it is useless to even try. There was something that has been on my heart to write about, and I made up my mind last night I would this morning. But, about twenty minutes from the time my feet hit the floor this morning, I felt it creep in me. Slowly it built up steam... imagine pure depression, irritable, major anger, guilt, restless, anxiety to the point where I cannot breathe --all at once.

There is no use in me trying to type anything else. I feel that I either have to get up and run as hard as I can, or sink into the covers and turn on music and hide. I don't know which, or what to do, and this makes it worse.

I'll be back as soon as I can. Until then, think of me. I know I'll make it...but sometimes it's such a fine line...

"My Mind"

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My Last Psychiatrist Visit

The good thing about living in a rather small town near a metropolitan city is that it has character. To me there is nothing like walking down the old sidewalks, looking into the stores that have been in business for over fifty years.

I parked my car on the street in the last spot near the fire hydrant. I sat there for a little bit, looking over my notes. There were several questions I had written down to go over with my psychiatrist. To me, this was a decisive point. I needed answers, and I was prepared to consult other doctors if needed. Finally, I got out of the car and walked along a narrow stone pathway, near a gazebo, around a nice small fountain and up 10 steps to a large stately stone building. As usual, I signed in, took the forms and just filled them out when the doctor called me back.

It started out as normal; how have I been, what has changed, measuring my moods –both mania and serious depression on a scale of one-ten. I told her “I hope you have extra time because this will take a while.” I guess by the tone in my voice and the serious look on my face she replied; “Well, I guess I have to make the time.”

I went over a lot of things, for once, not forgetting what was written on the paper in my pocket. In a nutshell, here’s to the best of my recollection what I said.

“I have suffered with this illness all my life. I can trace it back for generations. Before I walked into your office the first time, I do not believe anyone could be in worse shape and still be alive. ONLY two things held me from weeks carrying out plans that so many in their black hole where only the evil devil awaits: My Faith, and the strong love and support of my wife - the ultimate consequences it would have on her for me to "go" that way. And now, ten years later, I had three consecutive days where these feelings came back. Every symptom in your book I went through. The plans I had set in place all came back. The guilt I placed on my family; they would not only be better off without me—both financially and the burden they live with. Along with that, I am tired. I am so very tired mentally of the sudden instant rollercoaster, unpredictable moods. Why am I not getting better?”

I guess she waited a little bit for me to calm down before she replied. “I have been practicing psychiatry for over thirty years. You, by far are not my worst case…trust me. I have patients in the hospitals that would run chills down your spine if you saw them. And, if you remember, without coming right out and saying it I almost sent you there. Just a few weeks ago I asked you if you could take a week or two off from work and voluntarily commit yourself, so we can monitor you 24/7 and see what’s going on. You are not the worst, BUT, you are about the hardest patient to treat I have.”

I asked what she meant. “Number one, you do not respond to medicine well. We try several; get the dose where it helps and where you can still function, and then you change. So we either raise the dose or add another to assist that medicine. All the medications you are on should be more than enough to even you out. Some that usually puts some patients in a trance has no effect, while others have the opposite effect on you. And like I said, we get things worked out pretty good and your moods and cycle changes - it’s like starting all over again. I will never give up on you, but the rest is up to you.”

I walked in the cool breeze slowly watching the traffic go by. I thought about it as I walked, and all the way home, driving almost in circles, slowly taking the long way home. She was right. One reason so far I have not yet mentioned any medication I have taken over the years is because the list is long. You name it. Many have the effect of Advil. Lithium is out of the question because some of the serious side effects I already have.

I love my family with all that is in my heart. My wife is made of gold.* I will tell you about her someday. I have no intention of going anywhere. If my wife has not given up on me all these years, then I will not give up either. I owe her more than that. How can you repay someone with that type of love and devotion? The only way I know is love her back with every drop of blood in my veins.

This week has been rough. I go for surgery Friday. Man, the thought of that really makes one all warm and fuzzy inside huh? I’ll try to write before then. There’s something I truly want to say before Friday. I’ll try.

Until then…hang in there with me.

“My Mind”

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My Identity - Unveiled

My Identity - Unveiled

Years ago I set up a Facebook account under my real name. I loved this account! I was able to connect with friends and relatives I have not heard from in years, and it allowed me to be "friends" with terrific people from all over the world. I guess you could say this account is the "good" side of me. I do not discuss politics, religion or such, but rather share my passion of beautiful, stunning, rare and wonderful photographs and quotes of all kinds. I have over 1200 photographs in albums entitled:

Wall Photos - 225

Love and Friendship - 200

Love and Friendship II - 110

Wildlife - 198

Wildlife II - 158

Arizona; Native Americans; Old West - 200

Arizona; Native Americans; Old West II - 120

There are many more. Of course I have my eagles, my favorite of all! No surprise there huh?

In 2010 I started this blog. I had never set up a website in my life so this was new to me. As green as they come, instead of a short, to the point, easy to search blog address I chose: At this point in my life it was perfect for me because if you compared this blog with the Facebook account bearing my name, I was two totally different people.

I had just started this blog when in August 22, 2010 I wrote a piece entitled "Who Should I Tell".  Several times in this blog I have mentioned why I have used a "pen name" instead of my real name. Some see it different than me, and I guess that's what makes the world go around. If you could read it, it will help you follow where I am going with this and save me a lot of time.

Ok, try to stay with me here:

The Facebook account under my real name and this blog was going at a normal pace while doing research on this dreadful illness I noticed hundreds of websites, groups, organizations and causes on Facebook that I wanted to be a part of. Obviously, I did not want it to be tied to the real me so I started a Facebook account under the name "Eagle Mind" {Notice the first picture on the top right of this blog}. Eagle Mind allowed me to combine the best of both worlds - the normal family man (as must as possible) who is filled with love, passion, friendship, and humor - with the manic-depressive person that is also able to belong to many bipolar groups; post comments on their walls; send words of encouragement to others and share my blog.

Then, not too long ago, I signed up with other social network groups -some under Google - when I get an email from Google that Eagle Mind - or My Mind -(Ok, even I get confused of my identity from time to time :) "does not fall within their Names Policy" and if I did not comply to their names policy, my Google + account, email, and possibly any account I have with Google will be suspended in four days. Guess who hosts this blog? Yep you got it. So, on Google + I changed the name to my real name with the hope that my "nickname" I entered (Eagle Mind) will be used. Nope! There was my name loud and clear.

I signed onto this blog and to my surprise; Google automatically added my real name to every page I had ever written on this blog! Oh, you all have my name.

As I write this, I have mixed feelings. But as long as Facebook allows me to use Eagle Mind, I encourage you to be my friend there and see a different side of me. I am in the middle of transferring hundreds of photos onto that site. But don't forget the real reason why "Eagle Mind" was set up in the first place.

By the way, at the bottom of each page I publish here I will sign like I always have done, because my friend, "My Mind" for the most part, controls my life.

""My Mind"

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lack of Writing - An Update:

When I logged into this blog I had no idea what I was going to write, and as I type this I still do not have a clear-cut outline or idea where this will go. At this time, I have no title for this, so I will try to name it after I am finished.

I entered the New Year optimistic that 2012 would be MY year. I do not believe in the typical "New Year resolutions", but I did had personal goals, dreams and plans of what this year would bring, and where I would hope to be when I reach the end of December. However, January was still young when personal problems came pouring in.

My mom, whom you read about, became and still is very ill. She has been in the hospital, rehab, and back in the hospital several times. In addition to the mental illness she faces, her health has changed overnight. The very strong 74 year old mother who up until a year or so ago would briskly walk an easy 5 miles a day, has developed heart problems; trouble with her knee; extremely and dangerously high blood pressure that no doctor or medication has yet been able to control; and now with only the one kidney she has, they suspect it is going south also.

Then, in the middle of this, I have been to medical specialists also. It looks like I am paying the price of the wonderful years of living under the beautiful, hot, southwest sun and skin cancer, once again has developed and I will have to undergo surgery.*

All the above, as you can imagine, has been a challenge to keep my unpredictable manic-depressive - moody, extremely depressed, mania, irritable, angry, dangerous mind… under control. Not writing for a while did not help either. It was just too difficult for me and… this obviously adds to the depression. I have come to realize that dealing with this “mental” illness; worried and trying to help mom; and scheduling and worrying about the upcoming surgery, there is no doubt why I feel as though I am in the center of a ferocious circle of problems - each one magnifying the other until I feel, mentally, it is impossible to handle them all.

There have been so many things I have wanted to write about and I soon as I can. At least I hope you understand, and will "hang in there with me" until I am able to write more.

"Manic-depressive illness is an inherited vulnerability to a disease that can manifest itself in a wide range of fluctuating emotional states, behaviors, thinking patterns and styles, and energy levels. Heightened passions and partial derangement of the senses tend to come and go."

Kay Redfield Jamison
"Touched With Fire"

Bless you all,

"My Mind"