Whew! 15 Minutes Is A Long Time!


Being the subject in a feature article which appeared in the first section of the Sunday edition of a US major newspaper like the Chicago Tribune was wholly a great experience, but also one in which I am relieved is diminishing in attention.  Like a child standing abreast the Sundae Buffet Bar at a local eatery piling one bizarre topping atop the last, the news cycle here in Chicago has a short attention span, especially when the subject (me) is an unknown (me).

It was the condition (bipolar); its manifestations before diagnosis; the odd behaviors preceding a mental breakdown; the swath of tawdry details, hateful accusations, and trust-damaging honesty laid bare which piqued their interest. The reporter who, with an eye focused on sensitivity, remained intent to anatomize sequential events like they were the identifiable behavioral ingredients required to produce a blue-ribbon breakdown pie.  She often returned to the timeline which, like a mooring buoy, guides a diver safely to the wreck.  However, my timeline represented a fall from grace, a clawing desperation numbed by opiates, acts of treason undermining my relationships; and finally, any semblance of sanity or allegiance to life was pitched like an unwanted circular.  The drilling for details only struck bedrock when trivial yet salacious activities, freely offered as context, had to be included in the article to highlight the stakes of my all in bet.

Absolutely not!  I would not be drawn-and-quartered on page 8, section 1, the entrails of my privacy displayed like human anomalies hawked at second-class side-shows!

I made it very clear: I’m not ashamed nor am I proud of my behavior, the pain it caused others, my professional devastation, the annihilation of trust, or the surrender of an identity.  But there’s a difference between honesty and privacy when it involves my life and the lives of those dearest to me.  I have been candid and explicit and straightforward.  But if your newspaper can’t respect what I say is private, then they must not respect what I’ve determined to be public.  In which case they can’t have any of it!

And that stand on my own behalf was my take-away.  Before 2008 I always felt like I had too keep going, had to get promoted, had to make six figures, because there was always somewhere to go, a place just beyond my reach that would be better, easier, calmer.  And on I went, like so many of my friends, pursuing. . .something. . .

After 2008 that place which had been so important to get to disappeared along with the constant gnawing I heard, and the “coveted by others” baubles bought to fill an expanding void where truth-to-self and character once resided, and year after year after year of acrimonious evaluations designed to hobble my self-worth.

I find great joy and comfort and silence knowing there really is nowhere else than right where I am.

 

3 thoughts on “Whew! 15 Minutes Is A Long Time!

  1. I thought you were amazingly brave to reveal yourself like that, and I’ll admit, when I started to read the article I was a little scared that they might make it an ‘illness of the week’ kind of expose. Instead it was an honest account of how your life has changed and without those kinds of salacious details best left to ‘reality’ tv.

    Congratulations on putting a face to this condition and bringing it into the public eye, even for a short time. I believe the less these kinds of things are kept quiet and private the easier it is for people to deal with them, be it in their family or more personally.

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    1. You say the kindest things. My partner Nick, received email and hand-written notes from some business associates heralding our commitment to each other, but especially his unyielding strength to “stay in the game.” I’ve never really been private about my life, perhaps because I don’t carry around regrets, and I’m not ashamed of things I’ve done. If I hesitate and wonder if I’ll regret something or be ashamed of it later, I tend to steer clear. But I did things during my breakdown that publicly humiliated Nick which resulted in a breach of trust. I’ll never, ever do that to him again, especially when I’ve got my wits about me. And your comment just gave me an idea for a post! How inspiring you are!

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  2. TMM, I found the profound experience you incurred and the GQ picture like looking into the mirror at a fun house. Truly, it is hard to “be” and yet take on the trappings you once were. I know you speak your truth yet the Tribune distorts the picture.

    I am troubled in the Tribune piece, not what you said, how the experts spun bi-polar into such a treatable illness. I doubt if the truth were said we suffer yet put on the clothes, trappings and stuff our emotions to get the job done. I still try to “please” others however this keeps me even further apart. When I share the pain, without drama, I feel the pain morphs and at times even starts to loose it’s life energy.

    I found at age 27 when interviewed by a news station about my depression an unsettling being vulnerable and naked, as if the king hand no clothes. I want empathy and compassion when I am sick. I refuse, at this juncture, to be helpless nor needing reassurance. I can finally ask for help, after I discern the appropriate need.

    Thank you for being who you are. I am in a different alignment, however, if the public is more aware. I think they were always aware but the integration of the newly drugged bi-polar into society is questionable.

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