Loving Men-Hospital

We’re all as delicate as a porcelain tea cup.

About six weeks ago I called 9-1-1 and told the operator that I was manic and was experiencing SI/HI (suicidal ideation and homicidal ideation). They sent a handful of policemen that then escorted me from my hotel and into a police cruiser.

Before I knew it, the police cruiser was heading north to a town called Davidson. It was there in Davidson that I was interred in a psychiatric hospital for fifteen days.

The reason I was manic with SI/HI was because I have Bipolar II disorder. But more importantly, I was unmedicated: I turned my back on Depakote and Abilify and Gabapentin. Instead I flew to Paris where I met Jean-Baptiste. He also knew I was manic.

It was in Paris that I started to self-medicate with beer, whisky, and men’s affections. When I left Paris I brought my self-medication across the Atlantic and into Charlotte.

I have a high tolerance for liquor so I was able to consume a relatively large quantity of whisky. Not on a daily basis mind you, but when I was lacking the affections of men. I’m not an alcoholic, but I am abusive; I am an abuser of alcohol; I drink to excess.

But upon discharge I had my medications straight; I’d dried out (and stayed sober); I’d understood that patience is a conscious pursuit.

Fifteen days in a psychiatric hospital might seem to some as a mark of weakness. But I can assure you it is not. It is a sign of strength; of humility; of character; and fortitude.

I am now a medicated and sober man that has Bipolar II disorder. I am stronger and wiser and calmer. I have been blessed with patience. I have found great friends in both Robyn and Mike.

I think that our weakness is often the gateway to our strength.

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.

 

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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.