Loving Men-Clarity

The adage goes: Distance makes the heart grow fonder.

But distance also provides a deep sense of clarity.

The past three months have been, in a word, tortuous. Three months ago I gained a cropped-image2-e1456481018688.jpegprofound depth of clarity as well as humility. Over the course of six years, I’d been prescribed by doctors copious amounts of amphetamines, opiates, and benzos. When I mean copious, I’m not kidding. 6 kilograms of amphetamines, 3 kilograms of opiates. I should have died from these lethal doses, but I muddled through unscathed. No damage to my brain, but my metaphorical heart was crushed. I’d become a monster. I was drooling on my self, lost interest in others, and ruined my 30-year relationship.

I went cold turkey to purge myself of these toxins which wasn’t painful, but terribly discomforting. I don’t have an addictive personality, but I was dependent. When I drugsmeditated the voice of wisdom told me to rid myself of these toxins. Without their removal, I wouldn’t gain clarity. And without clarity, I wouldn’t ever understand humility.

There are six fundamentals of the human condition: Life, Peace, humanityHumility, Clarity, Courage, and Truth. These words have been carefully selected so as to avoid any misinterpretation. The human condition cannot achieve one without the others. For instance, we cannot gain clarity without truth and courage; we can’t gain humility without life and peace. But as humans, we tend to avoid these tenets. We lie, we cheat, we distrust, we have arrogance.

I have been blessed to receive them all. I have seen and felt them missing. I have lied. I have fostered mistrust. I have pretended to be humble but acted out of arrogance.humanity2 Whenever we deny ourselves the full embrace of these tenets, we deny our own existence. We deny ourselves our own humanity. Are these tenets difficult to accept? Yes. But once we surrender ourselves to these fundamental expressions of our humanity, the world, in its divine expression, provides for us the very fabric of Life.

And Life is the greatest gift of all.

This morning I gained profound clarity. I understood that Artem and I will never be together. That I had wholly manufactured our relationship because I had experienced a hope which was so pervasive and desperate that I was willing to forgo sanity. I had beengaycrying incarcerated for two months as a severe manic. I’d been entombed in some of the most sadistic and disgusting psyche wards in Chicago. 4 psyche wards in 14 days. Some offered a bolted down cot, with no pillow, and a sheet which was tied down so I couldn’t strangle myself. I’d been locked away in some nursing homes which prevented me from wandering outside wrought iron fences. My former partner took out a restraining order against me after I’d tried to strangle him in an ER. I had no home, no address, nowhere to run from these oppressive places, so I turned to my imagination to escape.

It was in the bowels of my imagination that I found Artem. I yearned for any escape. Any psychewardthing which even smacked of normalcy. So I developed a relationship with Artem that I thought was real. I was so desperate that I didn’t know what else to do. I asked my Parisian over breakfast this morning, “Haven’t you been so desperate to free yourself from the bonds of personal anguish, that you’d believe in anything which provided the most ridiculous shred of hope?”

But it wasn’t until last night did Wisdom bestow upon me clarity.

My Parisian is flesh and blood. When he first embraced me, I felt the knobs of his spine, I gayloverslanguidly stroked his chest hair, I allowed my fingers to trail down his belly to his button, I let my eyes wander through his eyes and I saw my own attractiveness there; I touched his arousal as though it were molten iron; I kissed his tender lips, letting our tongues dance with each other as though they’d known each other for lifetimes.

And it was there, in flesh and bone, that I’d discovered the stark difference between fantasy and reality. The dreams of Artem were simply a way for me to maintain sanity. It’s my Parisian that allowed me to feel my future, my reality.

So I’ve learned over the course of the past few days that I’m not interested in hope, but am fully vested in reality. Whatever doesn’t happen with Artem doesn’t happen. Artem is paying dearly for crimes he committed in South Africa years ago: Tax evasion, fraud, and criminal intent. I simply can’t help him.

Ah, but the Parisian? In him, I have found myself, and in his eyes I see myself. In all my true colors and wrinkles; in my Parisian, I have learned to fall in love with myself.

Shame and Regret: The Sting of Social Stigma

First posted in August 2012 Shame And Regret: The Sting of Social Stigma has more of a wallop five years later than four years earlier. We as a race must get something out of persecuting the disenfranchised and marginalized friends, family’s, lovers, idols, and heroes. Maybe we ought to look inside ourselves and find that kernel of fear. Then erase it. And then get back to being compassionate brothers and sisters.

 

boygerman

Why are we ashamed by what we do?  We do what we choose to do because we stand to gain something.  Yes, some people are forced, say at gun point, to compromise; some are coerced through drugs and alcohol; and yes, some actions are purely altruistic (ashamed of philanthropy?).  It’s my opinion that consciously withholding or denying or lying about our actions is caused by fear.  Not a generic fear, but a two-tier fear.  The first tier-fear: judgement by others is beyond your control; but the second tier-fear: consequence sits squarely in your lap, and which, by the way, you’d already equated as a potential cost of your unprecedented action.  We all know this simple truth: We have absolutely no control over the actions of others.  That said, we can remove the first tier-fear: judgement by others; we now find ourselves staring down the steely barrel of culpability: we encountered a situation, measured consequence against benefit, and toed the line or stepped across it.  So shame and regret were considered well before we pandered to our hunger, thirst, or warm body (emphasis on warm).

The best possible precursor to a mental illness diagnosis was, until 1973 its own mental illness: homosexuality.  Coming out as a gay man taught me the valuable lesson that there will be people who can’t distinguish between my sexual orientation (which places me in a specific group) and who I am (in general terms) as a fellow human being.  Having learned that lesson years ago I was well prepared to face similar discrimination based upon my mental orientation, i.e. mental illness, e.g. bipolar disorder.  And yet, what is there to be ashamed and regretful about?  Don’t carry the burden of Shame or wear the shackles of Regret; never apologize to anyone irritated by what you have, especially if what you have is a medically recognized disease.

Recently I conducted a thoroughly non-scientific giddy-up poll which asked: What diseases do you think you’d be ashamed to admit having?

Answers?  Anal warts, vaginal herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea. . .what?  Anal warts? Venereal diseases? According to our non-scientific poll of middle-aged men and women, they said that carrying a sexually transmitted disease is the only other human affliction besides mental illness that they would be ashamed of having and which also carries with it a damning social stigma.  STD’s are the result of risky and unsafe sexual activities engaged in by choice. Does mental illness really belong in their company? Really?

Shame and Regret are burdens that those who choose to remain ignorant and judgmental should shoulder.

Not me.  Not you.  And certainly not the neighbor, best friend, Richard Dreyfuss rdreyfuss2
parishioner, bowling buddy, Ryan Phillippe, phillippeprom date, recipient of the first kiss, Girl Scout, Teddy Roosevelt (yes, really), Girl Scout Leader, Sinéad O’Conner, full back,  Metta World Peace ,
mettapeace offensive line coach, movie star, Burgess Meredith, Opera Star, Ronald Braunstein, famous orchestra conductor, infamous commuter train conductor or any one of the other 25% of our world’s population. How about the other 75% of the world’s population loosen the reins of their prejudice.

Has Been’s, Could’ve Been’s, Once Was’s, and Children

Note: Like a sliver that’s penetrated the thick skin, it needs to be removed by a sterilized needle and constant squeezing. It will continue to ache until its presence causes you far more anguish than it’s extraction. The parallels are one reason why this post means so much to me.
Me (right) and my brother (left)

My brother got my dad’s physique; I got his mental illness.

Once I assumed the role of cook a couple of years ago, I planned my menu so that every other day I’d prepare a new meal.  The only cookbook I owned was a 1960’s copy of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook.  This cookbook was my mother’s, and if you saw it, you’d think Betty Crocker herself passed it along to my mother.  It was a solid first-step for me, my hesitation quieted by my mother’s obvious use of the cookbook, evidenced by the incredible number of batter-splattered pages; missing pages; half-pages; and an index at the rear which resembled the color palette of Crayola’s 64-Color box of crayons.  There were highlighted recipes; notations at the margins; and just a few, but oddly significant in an extreme way, an ad infinitum decree by way of thick, heavy lines, one or two eliminated altogether by a formidable, dense marker, applied as determined and repeated coats, forbidding any chance that these recipes might appear on our kitchen table.

My father was already a train wreck when my brain began recording his presence.  Failing at life (mainly due to his undiagnosed mental illness, bipolar), his appearance was infrequent: his social mask was one of humor: albeit acidic sarcasm and shearing, pointed wit composed in the key of tease and enacted before an unending column of untried yet promising second-shift ladies.  His role as a bullying, boorish big shot, whose sole domestic purpose was to reprise the 1963 verbal variety of water boarding. His peacocking drove us  closer and closer to suffocation, as though with each matinée he pressed another thick pillow of despair onto our faces and then, just when our desperation went quiet and we felt that first, foamy wave of disappearance, back we’d go into his second act and the shrill, ingenuous cackle of his subordinate’s callow laughter warned us that he was gaining adoration.  And the louder the laughter, the more lewd, raunchy, and viscous his anecdotes became, and our mention increased proportionally until, by the end, the three of us, his family, descended well past indecency, a good way beyond degenerate, and somewhere between contemptible and worthless.

And as the ladies stood and he, broadcasting his manners, helped them with their coats, those ladies whose saturating attention fueled my father’s mania sending him further and further afield, looked at the three of us, fodder of my father’s insanity, and delicately lifted the corners of their mouths in an effort to produce a symbol of empathy that my father couldn’t decode.

But what those lips produced was that sneer tossed at has been’s, could’ve beens, once was’s, and children who repeatedly witness their father falling apart.

Ker-Plunk!

"I love it here!"
“I love it here!”

Our dog Jenni is a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier. The Wheaten was bred in Ireland for over 200 years to be an all-purpose farm dog. They share a common ancestry with the Kerry Blue Terrier and the Irish Terrier. In Ireland, they were commonly referred to as the “Poor Man’s Wolfhound.” The Wheaten was not recognized as a breed in Ireland until 1937. The first Wheaties were exported to the United States in the 1940s.[7] Finally, in 1973, they were recognized by the American Kennel Club. They are loving and very smart dogs i.e. Jenni knows English, Spanish, and Shitzu. She greets everyone in the same way: standing up and licking their faces. Jenni is protective of us, but isn’t aggressive even when attacked by a Rottweiler. And most importantly, they maintain their puppy like qualities throughout their lives. Yay! (Sheesh).

I had no intention of buying a dog, but I was in a manic state. When I’m manic my mantra is, “I get what I want. Period!” I’d wanted a dog for the longest time; ever since FiFi my childhood pet leapt into the front seat of the car holding a one way ticket. Had I known she’d never come back I’d at least been able to tell her how much I loved her, and that I’ll miss her dearly, and I didn’t know why adults kidnap pets which won’t be coming home.  Back then I convinced myself that my toy poodle had been set free in the woods where she could join the seldom seen and subject of many legends, the pack of wild poodles!

What a great day!
What a great day!

Of all the things Jenni is, there’s one she isn’t. She’ll never make the Olympic Swim Team in the 100 meter freestyle. In other words, she can paddle for her life, but Esther Williams she ain’t. It was late spring and the fish in our 500 gallon, 5 foot deep pond were beginning to shed their winter blues by swimming close to the water’s surface to enjoy the warmth of longer days and warmer sunlight. I let Jenni out to explore the Daffodils, Crocuses, and Snow Drops, all signs of Winter’s imminent departure. I always kept an eye on her even though the perimeter of our backyard was fenced in. Then I saw her: She had leaned to far beyond the safety of soil and onto the slippery limestone, her paws slid across the smooth face of limestone and Ker-Plunk, head first into the pond! I ran to the pond to find her circling in the middle precariously beyond my reach. I tried to coax her to the side, but she was panicking and her dog paddling was becoming erratic. I leaned over the edge of the pond, well beyond balance, grabbed her by the nape of her neck, and lifted, with one arm, a saturated fifty pound dog.
I expected that my bravery would result in a flurry of unstoppable wet kisses, but instead was the target of three whole body shakes, saturating me with gallons of my own pond water.

Finally Understanding Life As Mani A.

manny-young

I first met Mani A. a few months after my father died when I was fifteen.  He appeared from around a blind corner where Wong-Su restaurant and Teddy’s Tavern meet like a knife’s edge.  He was a restless, sinewy, no-nonsense blond wearing his older-brother’s-hand-me-downs.  I apologized and excused myself immediately, but he roared to life like a freshly started chainsaw and lunged at me with a ferocious diatribe about a blokes right-of-way and his unalienable rights, to which I chimed in, “But you are an alien!”  He paused, his idling mind wafting the blue smoke of burning oil, when suddenly he hit the throttle baring his teeth and chortled that he wasn’t a bloody martian, see, so piss off with the alien bullocks; crikey, he has the right to use public property as a thoroughfare without being gobsmacked by some daft wanker! until, I think, he heard himself running-on about some kind of whack job hyper-speech at which time he slowed, eventually landing softly on a patch of green peckhamengland-1grass.  I sat next to Mani A. who opened up like a teenagers compact, and divulged his personal life in Peckham, England (just outside of London), which, by the way he described it, was a tortuous place; a hometown without a home, a chilling place that nobody admitted coming from, everybody just shows up one day, street-smart and dodgy, showed up-growed up because nobody ever had a childhood.  You were either born a teen-ager or plain old smeg.  Nobody was ever just a kid; and nobody ever saw a kid.  We were around the same age and dreamt of similar things, but whereas I knew mine were silly fantasies, Mani A. was certain that whatever he wanted he could have.  No kidding.  Without the slightest doubt or reservation, whatever Mani A. wanted, Mani A. could get.  Period.  Mani A. had balls.  Whether Peckham beat them into him or he developed that confidence on his own, the strength of his conviction, no matter the degree of unlikelihood, you had to think, hey, it just might happen.  I’ve never met anyone in my entire life that expressed the depth of fortitude that Mani A. did.  I said my life must seem like a cartoon compared to yours: I was two-steps west of being white trash, and while our home lives seemed oddly similar, I never learned how to survive; I just wait.  For what, he asked leaning his elbow onto the grass.  For anything.  Anything besides this shit hole I can’t get myself out from.  At which Mani A. leapt to his feet, extended his hand and said, come on mate, I’ll show you the dog’s dinner that’ll make your life now look like a wee bit of the hard lines.  Your going to get a crash course in Peckham Survival Know-How.  First, you learn about being borne:  In Peckham you didn’t cut your teeth; you growled and snapped!  We learn to bite before there’s anything to bite.  Being ahead, that’s tickety-boo; getting ahead never happens, especially in Peckham.  And so started six months of juvenile delinquency including assault (knife-school-teacher), battery (brother), truancy, and one stern lecture from a juvenile judge away from living in a home for dangerous boys.

It wasn’t until Mani A. left town did I get my head screwed back on tight.  I toed the line, straightened out school, became popular, played sports each season, acted, sang, even led student government.  Counselor’s referred to me as the idyllic example of reform.  But in the back of my head I could still hear Mani and all the things he said and showed and prompted me to do.  Being “ways” by choice, not by reaction.  Mani didn’t show me how to live,chubbyseniorportrait Mani showed me how to survive.  Mani and I have maintained our friendship for over forty years.  One of the things I admired about Mani was his bond of friendship.  Or should I say degree of bond of friendship.  Whenever he helped take care of something cagey, I’d ask him why he’d get involved?  His answer has always been the same: friendship.  He said all other relationships have their own bloody baggage and demands and expectations, and ways to screw you in the end.  But friends are simply friends.  Easy, like looking in the mirror.  I see a wee bit of my bloody self in you.

Mani continued to visit at irregular intervals, all of which were concurrent with troubling, impossible, or unavoidable circumstances.  For example, he swung into town when my junior year in high school devolved into adolescent chaos: ducking senior hazing, sidestepping discussions highlighting my grim blue-collared, unionized, married and fatherly fate; derailing any parochial collision between varsity lettermen and my shadowy shine for Mitchell, an underclassman; and my obesity targeted by jeering and loathsome bullies.  He arrived shortly after Stokowski and I went to Union Drop Forge hoping to snag summer work which leads to full time after graduation.  Our bus drove through the “Blue Mile,” a one mile corridor of heavy, eye-reddening, cough-inducing, toxin-saturated manufacturing exhaust.  We nicknamed that part of oldermani2town the “Blue Mile” because of that solar eclipsing blue haze belched from fifty-foot smoke stacks every minute of every day.  I took my application home where it still remains blank.  I wanted my future to be unexpected.  To be a lifetime removed from the cadence of the dead-end-man: a union job, a wife, a stuffy upper flat, kids we can’t afford, dependence on two incomes, kids dumped with objecting in-laws, hate and regret pitched at the other, and some place my hope tumbled out of my greasy coveralls pocket while reaching for my lighter which I never missed until I reached for it, right after she left with the kids flanked by her objectionable parents.  That tableau was the only life option offered to kids like me.  It was expected, and you were expected to follow the guy ahead of you.  But I dreamt of the unexpected, the unpredictable chaos of life beyond the “Blue Mile.”  College required good grades, but demanded money.  The costs were way beyond my family’s reach; so far afield that going to college became a family gag.  And then, when my avenues and alleyways around the tuition hurdle went bust Mani stopped by on his way back to Peckham.  His first words were, You look like a sorry sod, chum!  causing me to expunge my year of hopelessness and depression.  He waited until I stopped crying before he said, Sometimes you’ve got to be bonkers, your mates marching to a paycheck will call you a mug, but remember life is horses for courses!  And you’ve got to be bold!  You’ve got to be; because being bold and senseless and relentless are the only way out.  Back in Peckham if you’re pegged a nesh or are sussed acting naff the rest of life in Peckham is going to be piss poor.  You and your chums go about blagging tough, and sometimes it goes fist-to-cuffs.  In Peckham it ain’t about violence because violence there is like your factory here.  In Peckham it’s about surviving life, about tomorrow.

In 2008 Mani broke all the rules.  Rather than subtle clues that he’s a stones throw away, he decided that my end game was near, so he ruptured my barrier of sanity, perforated my character, elbowed out reality, and declared chubyoldermaniautonomy.  Mani was finally emancipated; freed from the crushing compliance of decency and propriety, he ignored laws, took chilling risks, discovered a steady stream of opiates which he washed down with lethal liters of alcohol, ignored vows, ruined friendships, tossed out of jobs, denied benefits, and finally barricaded himself in the office of a psychiatrist who eventually evicted him, and reinstated my authority over the dominion of my life.

I’ve never faulted Mani for his insurgency.  He was simply providing the bravado to traverse the craggy cliffs of life, and of which I was ill-prepared to navigate.  But as Mani A. learned, freedom from consequence isn’t freedom at all.  It’s destruction, it’s disregard, it’s vengeful and dangerous and hateful and lethal   But Mani did have a knack for getting the job done which he introduced, tutored, and polished in me, providing the backbone for a career.  I think that’s how he survived: Mani and I got hired by gentlemen to take care of things quietly and cleanly.  Not that we ever broke the law, but we definitely broke the rules.  Mani recited many adages over the years, but the single-most poignant he shared with me was:  You can’t quit; every bloody cry-baby “says” they want “it,” but quit the second they’ve got to act like a chancer.  There are just two times you can quit: when you take the biscuit or hop the twig. 

 

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You Can Remove A Gall Bladder Faster

I think my mother coined this adage:
However long you think it’ll take, or, however much you think it’ll cost, double it!

Is it age? Competency? Vim and Vigor?

How come we never see Martha Stewart experience the notorious exploding bag of flour, or Ty Pennington experience driving a wood chisel through his hand?

Oh no, both Martha and Ty have everything they need in tidy little bowls at the ready.  (Those tidy bowls are tidied by twenty-something “producers” whose job it is to produce tidy bowls.  But doesn’t “producer” sound impressive?  (We used to call them “gophers” or “grunts.”))

Here’s a litany of tasks I disgracefully muddled through (thank God it was in the basement) in order to complete a “quick and easy do-it-your-self-er” project:

1.  Pry speaker box from cabinet;
2.  Continue to pry (with pry bar), indifferent to salvaging speaker box wood;
3.  Prying now escalates to demolition – just get the damn speaker free of the damn box!
4.  Wipe sweat with t-shirt, clean speaker of dirt and dust, ignore collateral damage at corner of room (friendly fire if you please);
5.  Scout in-house scrap stock for suitable material for speaker front;
6.  Select 3/4″ furniture-grade plywood
7.  Measure width between interior faces of ceiling joists; transfer measurement to plywood;
8.  Make cut on Makita 10 in. dual bevel compound miter saw (it’s like a day at the spa. . .);
9.  Measure circumference of speaker grill; place speaker gill on plywood and trace its circumference;
10.  Locate much loathed power jigsaw; locate much loved cordless drill and place 3/8″ fractional brad point bit into chuck;
11.  Drill pilot hole (to start cut with loathed power jigsaw);
12.  (WORD OF CAUTION: Remove dentures, lose fillings, eye glasses, and any item which might fall out/off during 7.5 magnitude earthquake);
13.  Place loathed jigsaw blade in starter hole, aim at the traced line, hit the safety and the trigger;
14.  Attempt to steer teeth-chattering, grip-jarring jigsaw along your traced line;
15.  STOP!  Back the jigsaw out, aim at your trace line, and hit the trigger;
16.  PAY ATTENTION!  Your cut looks as though you were blind-folded!
17.  At long last your cut ends where it started, but the hole is hardly round, resembling the road up to Pike’s Peak;
18.  Wipe sweat with t-shirt, locate dovetail saw, “trim” plywood to reshape cut to circular shape;
19.  Locate the four-in-one hand rasp and file; use curved rasp end to reshape details of cut; then use curved file end to smooth cut and edge surfaces;
20.  Locate sanding block and affix 80-grit sandpaper to begin smoothing and shaping; next affix 140-grit sandpaper and sand all surfaces;
21.  Locate mineral spirits and clean wiping rag; pour generous amount of mineral spirits onto rag; wipe all surfaces of wood with mineral spirits soaked rag; let wood dry;
22.  Locate speaker and check for fit in cut-out;
23.  Locate appropriately sized “L” brackets; choose between wood screws or bolt and t-nut to fasten wood to “L” brackets and “L” brackets to ceiling joists;
24.  Chose bolt and t-nut fasteners; root around in bolt drawer like a boar looking for grubs trying to locate correct length and diameter bolt to fit t-nut;
25.  Grab (what is now) the warm bottle of Sprecher’s Root Beer, pop off top, and almost drain bottle; emit improper and gauche oral yet non-vocal expression;
26.  Frustration beginning to simmer, forced to settle for two differing pairs of bolts for t-nuts; chose smaller wood screws as other fasteners;
27.  Place “L” brackets on “ceiling facing” side of wood; mark drill holes; remove “L” brackets;
28.  Locate screw and bolt gauge to determine correct drill bit size (different drill bit sizes: larger for bolt and t-nut; smaller for wood screw);
29.  Secure workpiece to table and drill holes at marked locations;
30.  Locate the four-in-one hand rasp and file; use the flat file end to smooth surface area around drill holes; turn workpiece over and check for tear-out; smooth areas;
31.  Locate t-nuts; place in larger holes on face side; locate hammer and pound t-nut into hole until flush with face surface;
32.  Place “L” brackets on workpiece and fasten to workpiece with bolts and wood screws;
33.  Check watch for time of. . .Jeez, that late all ready?
34.  Climb short ladder, place wood at eventual location, drill pilot holes for fasteners in ceiling joists;
35.  Locate ratchet screwdriver and wood screw fasteners; drive fasteners through “L” bracket holes and into ceiling joists;

36.  VOILA!  What a beaut, eh?  Ty Pennington’s got nothing to worry about.  Next time I think I’ll opt for the Cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal).

“You Brought This On Yourself,”

momwashingdishes
My mother’s back: her way of avoiding conflict.

That’s what my mother used to say, her back to me, and her hands wrist deep in dishwater.  I needn’t see her hands to know she was wringing them upon hearing my news; I could tell by the way the muscles in her forearms were flexing.  There were several of these confessions at the kitchen table over the years, and I always found her reaction astonishing.  She was incapable of ever helping me solve whatever dilemma I disclosed.  The scope of my problems were well beyond the dimensions of her upper-flat apartment and any collateral influence her small circle of single-mothers might discover.  No, my mother lived a small, tightly wound existence, and like those gated-communities with elaborate, electronic gates and guard-posts manned by ex-militia, she’d honed the art of deflection, quickly interrupting my admission like a towering volley ball player blocking an opponents spike, by conjuring up the standard retort to unwelcome news, “You brought this on yourself.”

Which in many instances was both honest and obvious.  Most people don’t find themselves in a pickle by being an innocent bystander.  Most pickles are borne of poor planning and even poorer execution.  But not all admissions warrant my mother’s standard suppression.  For instance, the admission that you suffer from a mental illness in which you slide from a manic state to a depressive state as easily as Ferrari’s change lanes on the Autobahn. And that stress is a definite trigger, especially if that stress is a direct response to particular issues, situations, or circumstances.

What I’d like to know is whether other bipolar patients are accused of mania by a friend or relative when attempting to communicate important (and potentially volatile issues), and if so, does your intensity escalate in direct response to their continued defensiveness about the issues you are attempting to discuss?  And if the discussion derails and car after car of well-intentioned-but poorly-stated-examples jump track and pile atop each other deeply burying your initial point, does the person with whom you are now arguing with pull out the trump card, the ace-in-the-hole, the Coup de Grace and draw the conclusion that your passionate (implication: ridiculous) and persevering (implication: absurd) diatribe is characteristically manic, therefore you are literally, ranting like a lunatic, what do you do?  Back off as proof of your sanity (thereby recusing your accusations)?  Or stand firm and mad which guts the rationality of your point-of-view?

I recently cautioned a close friend that, out of desperation, played that card, and immediately quelled my interrogation.  But later, when civility returned, I quietly cautioned him of setting this precedent: “If I’m defenseless or simply tired of fighting, and he is intent at satisfying his blood lust, I’ll shut him up by asserting he’s Manic.”  Because most likely I’m not manic and accusing me of being manic in the context of an argument is cowardly and insensitive.

And lest you’ve forgotten, my mental illness is a disease not a strategy; it’s not my power play.

I’m out of control and therefore, by the very nature of the disease, am incapable of rational thought or reason; and the last thing an irrational person wants to hear is he’s behaving irrationally.  Talk about a dog chasing its tail!

Any thoughts?