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.