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Artwork:  tolbert

…On the road again…  (Part 4 of 7)

Soon after some of these unpleasant experiences I decided to come home to California to join my wife, who by now had left Ohio and returned to California, setting up an apartment there.

After a short time in California we moved again to Arizona, bought yet another home, and have lived here for ten years. Notice in the preceding paragraphs I always said ‘I bought, I moved, I sold…’ That is what bipolar does to the mind; it becomes extremely selfish and uncaring for others. The irony is that the opposite is also true and selfish transforms into compassionate and understanding while uncaring becomes attentive and caring, My wife always believed that someday, somehow somewhere, I would come around and for that I am eternally grateful.

Our two married, grown daughters are now  residents of Arizona.  They and our four grandkids, along with our two Boston Terriers, are more therapeutic than any of them will ever know.

Sound like a lot to deal with? That’s why I call it a whirlwind. Real Estate fees alone could make my head spin but in my mania I was so far gone that I was literally lost and feeling hopeless. Toss in three suicide attempts and a few incarcerations in psych wards in three states and the picture takes on more clarity than I would wish on anyone. This is the ‘non-clinical’ part of bipolar, the part that is lived day in and day out in the confused mind of one afflicted with this ugly disease.

At this time I won’t get into the ‘hospital’ stays and what Phych Wards are like but those of you who have been there know about magazines dated years earlier, coloring books with pages that were colored over and over multiple times and usually by at least one person who thinks every page needs a black crayon waved over it in an erratic pattern of crisscrossing lines. Some angry soul ensured that every crayon was broken into several fragments and Crayola was obviously not included in the state budget of California, Washington or Arizona.  The good news was…oh, there was no good news.

life’s lessons

while traveling alone down life’s desolate road
i met several strangers who lightened my load

there was the wasted singer without a tune
who was hopelessly lost and facing his doom

as he strummed his guitar it strained with his song
about the rights of workers and wars that are wrong

the poet with flowers never left his room
like an infant still curled in the warmth of the womb

his words were like colors, pastels in the day
‘til the colors all faded into pale shades of gray

the merchant with money peddled his pride
then sold his own soul for the price of a bride

his wares were imported and sold in the night
to kids on street corners in bags of pure white

there was the sailor left stranded while holding his beer
in the midst of wine masters serving bottles of fear

all the soldiers had died but i met with their names
on white tombstones proclaiming their loss as our gain

heroes became presidents strung out on a wall
they had forgotten young warriors who died at their call

i met with the lawyers who kneeled in the court
holding lives in the balance like a sickening sport

that gavel still pounds somewhere in my mind
while i try hard to forget that justice is blind

i met with a prophet armed only with words
cloaked with a sign saying ‘do not disturb’

and i listened intently as he poured out the blame
then blessed the sayings in his god’s holy name

every preacher was certain only his was the way
to life everlasting come the last judgment day

gravediggers dug deeply when burying their souls
then left it for pirates still searching for gold

i met a young maiden who had always been pure
yet she took me to places i had not been before

she cried as i left her alone on her bed
curled up in a promise and a dream for her head

i went to the farmers to learn how to grow
but found we can reap only that which we sow

i watched a skilled tradesman so good in his craft
a carpenter who built where the jester had laughed

in my sojourn i saw beauty when i returned home
in the face of a child who had no need to roam

for children are pure and free from this strife
until one day they travel this journey called life

Next up is a concise statement about the clinical aspects of bipolar disorder taken from the website of NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health)

What is bipolar disorder?  (Part 5 of 7)