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Some of the craziness involved with the illness  (Part 3 of 7)

Okay, there are no Sheep Dogs, but hopefully there are some lessons.

In a nutshell, I left a very good job in California with no prospects for new employment, sold our home, moved out of state, and bought a home in Ohio. While there I started and left several other jobs (probably six or more in a years’ time) sold another house, moved from Ohio and returned to my original company in California where I bought another house. I left the company a second time, sold our home, moved out of state, to Arizona this time, where I bought yet another home, sold the home (six months later) decided to ‘go it alone’ in a state I had never lived in so I drove my (very confused and prayerfully patient) wife to be with her family two thousand miles from where I would be living. I moved to Bellingham Washington (about as close to being out of the United States as I could possibly be) while she lived in Maumee Ohio, and eventually, six months later, we hooked up again in California, in an apartment around the corner from the house we once owned but could no longer afford to buy. Believe me; by now I was all too well acquainted with what bipolar was all about. Fortunately a doctor in Seattle Washington started me on Lithium and, although Lithium is not for everyone, I must say it saved my life.

In addition to Lithium, I underwent Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in Washington and it was explained to me that ECT is often life-saving in severe depression and mania, especially if someone is suicidal. I was moving from manic episodes to depression so quickly the doctor admitted me to ‘the room’ immediately. In case you are not familiar with ‘the room’, it was about ten feet square, padded, no windows and no doorknob on the inside. There was only one chair so when I was told to have a seat it was easy to select a place.  I stood. All I could think about was I had a ninety-minute drive home and I needed to bring my garbage cans in.

While I was a guest in ‘the room’ one question I remember is “do you hear voices?”  My response was “Just a second, let me ask…”  The doctor was not humored and it almost caused my first situation regarding restraints. It was okay though, that opportunity was just around the corner and I took full advantage of it this time around.

Eventually, I received several treatments over time and was told beforehand that the most common side effect of ECT is temporary memory problems. They were right, but the fact that I was hospitalized just prior to this therapy indicated that the doctor felt my suicidal tendencies were reeling out of control so I suppose ECT was the better of the two options.

Some memory loss is probably an okay thing but for those remnants I will never know because they are blissfully gone. I do recall ‘losing it’ in a Washington Post Office and watching several very large policemen help me gain my bearings, that is back to my feet from a fetal position.  If you have never watched yourself in ultra slow motion I recommend it.

I recall watching myself in ‘out of body’ experiences and on more than one occasion I talked myself out of jumping from my window.  I realize this sounds a bit weird and yet I have to claim it and I imagine others who are bipolar can attest to the same experiences. The good news is I never used a bullhorn to talk myself down.

One more little ‘fun fact’ and then I will move on. This one was in an Ophthalmologist’s office. Once again, there is a happy ending since my hospital stay was cut short and, as a result, I gained valuable experience.  Lesson learned: Don’t stretch out of the floor (absolutely prone) of a busy office when there are plenty of chairs available, especially when the office is one that specializes in helping people see better.  They saw me and felt that my actions were not in keeping with the norm. Several other patients ruined it for me by sitting in chairs. That may have been okay except so many people needed to step over me to get to the Opticians’ desk.  So you get the idea.

lessons from a sheep dog

Artwork:  tolbert



he built a fortress with his hands
then climbed behind its walls,
and shouted to those in command
“you better run before it falls!”

he played alone amongst the stones
of false security,
and when the fortress tumbled down
the people came to see.

they chopped the wood
and rolled the stones
that formed a bundled mess
and when they got the fortress cleared
they stared in real distress.

for there they found no body
stretched beneath the rubbish heap,
but only a book that told of fools
who cleared a man’s debris

Next: Journey      (4 of 7)