This Was Inspired By A “Comment Discussion” About Music And Memory

When I was small, like about 3 or 4, my father frequently played the banjo. He was, in my little girl opinion, very good at it. Now that I am an adult and having tried the violin in school, I have to say my father is musically inclined in a major way. But, anyway, I got involved in a “comment” discussion about songs remembered from childhood, instruments that were tried, singing in general, and memories of those songs. One of the songs my father was trying to tackle was “Dueling Banjos”…..yes, I realize you need a second banjo for this song, but he was working on both parts. So, this post in the category, “Music on Mondays” from the blog Russel Ray Photos reminded me of this one bluegrass song that I have dearly loved since being a little kid when things were simpler and happier. So, here is “Dueling Banjos.” See, Bipolar people aren’t scary. We are just a little more eccentric than other people :) This was a hard video to find…but maybe that is because I am picky…..the kid in this video can pick. So, “Dueling Banjos” by Glen Campbell and Carl Jackson from 1973.


Still Feeling Maudlin

His Main Bike Looked a Little Like This ~ 1937 HD Knucklehead

There is something that I want to write. I can feel it forming in my brain, I can sense it coming out the tips of my fingers, but I can’t seem to find the words. Anyone who knows me well knows that me being at a loss for words is a rare occurrence. It all started this morning before I woke up. I was dreaming of someone whom I love very much, and will probably love in absentia for the rest of my life. It was not the greatest dream. I could see him, but I could not reach him or talk to him. Something was preventing that. Space, time, maybe? I have not seen him since I got married, and to this day, considering what happened in my marriage, I do not know why I chose my ex-husband over this man who never judged me, never had total losses of temper regarding my mood swings (he just held me, and made things okay)….pardon me, I have to stop and cry for a bit. Damn tears came out of nowhere, I am going to have to buy some waterproof mascara for days like these.

Okay, tears dried up. I have no idea exactly where that came from. It is like the chances of rain in my city; it can thunder and blow and have lightening breaking across the sky and the incredibly dark clouds, and not a drop will fall, or the downpour will be so torrential that flood warnings are issued and we are warned to stay out of the arroyos and run-off ditches. That’s what feeling melancholy is like for me. Sometimes not a tear will come to my eye even when by all rights they should, and then sometimes they come out of nowhere to leave black streaks beneath my eyes (hence the waterproof mascara.)

I am lamenting a bad choice. I think that is what it is. I made the wrong decision, and am now regretting it as it was a decision that left me open to a man that did not really care about me (both as a person, period, and as a person with an affective disorder), was abusive in very subtle ways that left me questioning everything about my self as a woman and as a person, was incredibly critical and considered it constructive while I considered it simply criticizing for the sake of being contrary. The man that got left behind was never abusive, never critical, never judgmental, didn’t need to understand my mental issues to be a kind and loving friend; he just inherently understood me, and that I was different than other people. He loved me because I was me. I would wager he still does as he does not strike me as someone who loves easily or lightly. That is something we have in common; I do not love (or trust) easily or lightly. To this day, I wonder how my ex managed to pull the wool over my eyes until it was too late, and I was stuck with the creature he became after marrying. I did see my lover-friend once after I made the mistake of getting married. It was at a bike run that I drove four hours to get to just to see him one last time. 

There is something that bound us to one another that I cannot put in words. It simply was. I told him one night after we had been out drinking beer and listening to live blues at some seedy bar that I needed to tell him something and he wasn’t allowed to think I was crazy. I told him late that night that I loved him, and his response (here we go with the tears again) to me was ” I have loved you for a long time.” That was the only time we said “I love you” to each other, and it never had to be said again. It was just something that was understood. I do not remember my ex ever telling me straight out that he loved me. It was always round about in some way, but it never came out as “I love you.” It was never to the point. I think that he loved the idea of me, but that he didn’t really love me as a real person with strengths and flaws and quirks. 

The odd thing is the two men were fairly close in age, but they could not have had more different outlooks on life. Whereas one told me the last time he had use for a tie was in 1967 to tie his bedroll to his bike before taking off for Mexico, the other lamented the fact that he had no real reason to wear any of his extensive and expensive collection of ties. How did I make the choice to abandon my true lover-friend for my ex? Or maybe the question ought to be how did my ex convince me he was someone he was not; that he was open-minded, quirky, silly, serious, funny, liked the same things I did, had a similar sense of humor, liked to make me blush with some comment that usually took me a while to figure out completely, liked to tell me when I was walking to “stop fast”, wished he could play blues on the guitar and had since he was a boy, and was basically a complete pervert (but in a good way, not a damaging way?) That’s the question I cannot answer, and that is what I ponder frequently when I wake up dreaming of my lover-friend. 

Old Lovers Enjoying s Quiet Time by the Lake

Old Lovers Enjoying s Quiet Time by the Lake

Feeling Maudlin

Old Friends

Old Friends

“Bookends” ~ Simon and Garfunkel

“Time it was
And what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence,
A time of confidences.
Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you.”

This Is What Happens When I Get Bored (Created With Gnofract4d and GIMP)

A Many Layered Starfish on LSD

A Many Layered Starfish on LSD

Selection From “The Gift” ~ Hafiz

Hafiz Garden Picture


Hafiz ~ circa 1320-1389 was a mystic, Persian (present day Iran) Sufi poet. This selection,”We Have Not Come to Take Prisoners”,  is from the lyrical poem “The Gift.”

“We have not come here to take prisoners,
But to surrender ever more deeply
To freedom and joy.
We have not come into this exquisite world
To hold ourselves hostage from love.
Run my dear,
From anything
That may not strengthen
Your precious budding wings.
Run like hell my dear,
From anyone likely
To put a sharp knife
Into the sacred, tender vision
Of your beautiful heart.
We have a duty to befriend
Those aspects of obedience
That stand outside of our house
And shout to our reason
“O please, O please,
Come out and play.”
For we have not come here to take prisoners
Or to confine our wondrous spirits,
But to experience ever and ever more deeply
Our divine courage, freedom, and


A very good friend of mine sent me the opening of the quote in an email, but I like the whole stanza. Always free yourself from anything or anyone who will not let you or will hinder your flight as a beautiful creature on this earth. 


Rough Anniversary But I Got Through It

Well, I survived the anniversary. It was a different sort of survival than other break-ups I have experienced. I didn’t get this (depressed is the wrong word, although I did get a prescription for 3 months of anti-depressants) moody when I broke up with other boyfriends and one fiance. Somehow, even though the marriage only lasted about 4 years, I felt more like a failure than when I broke up with my fiance of 9 years. I have been doing a lot of thinking on why that might be, and finally came to the conclusion that I was blamed frequently during the marriage for it’s shortcomings. Usually, it was the fact that I have Bipolar disorder that was blamed. I cannot help that, but somehow, I felt that I should have been less “me” and more of someone who does not live with an Affective disorder. In my rational mind, I do realize that my ex-husband never really did try to understand the disorder, and that is what lay at fault was his lack of understanding, and the emotionally abusive nature of the relationship. I always felt that I was not quite the person he thought he had married, and he tried rather hard to “remold” me into someone that more closely resembled the actors in his little “fetish” movies (I do not need to rehash all of that. There are many posts about that issue). 

Being blamed for something you cannot control but can only manage to the best of your ability is terribly disheartening. When you have a “severe” psychiatric illness, you already feel different than other people, but to be essentially blamed for having it in the first place is not just disheartening, it threatens your self-image, your ego, your self-esteem, and other essential parts of who you think you are. You become your illness because so much emphasis is placed on it. I was not diagnosed in my 20’s when I was engaged for 9 years so the break-up was mutual and fairly friendly. Somehow the diagnosis made this one worse. I truly felt that it was solely my fault that the marriage didn’t work because I had to be hospitalized once (he got very angry when I asked him to drive me to the hospital; I didn’t understand that) because I was playing the “line up the pill bottles and try to decide if there is enough to overdose” game. I was trying to get myself to a safe place. I had already taken too much of my Seroquel and was falling asleep when I asked. He just yelled at me about being sick of all the drama, so I told him I would drive myself (about 45 miles) to the hospital even though I knew I would probably die in a car accident on the way. And, so the relationship went for 4 years. After a month of pondering, I have decided that my Bipolar was just a convenient way for him to take no responsibility for the failure of the relationship. And, I am still not sure about that. 

The Dreaded One Year Anniversary Is Here

Dissolution of Marriage

Dissolution of Marriage

Today is the one year anniversary of the dissolution of my marriage. I have no idea how I feel today. I do not mean depressed or manic as those are mood states that encompass many other emotions. I am definitely not depressed (well not really depressed; I am always depressed), and I am definitely not manic (at least in any noticeable way). I am something else today. I do not know if I feel sad although I know that would be an appropriate emotion to have, I do not know if I feel somewhat angry that my ex-husband’s behavior forced my hand and made a divorce the only logical thing to do, or maybe I feel both sad and angry. Perhaps, it is a much more tangled set of emotions: I feel sad that marriage counseling didn’t work, I feel angry at him for not taking the counseling and/or my feelings seriously, I feel a certain amount of failure that, in spite of two attempts at counseling, the marriage still came apart. Maybe, I feel a certain amount of relief? That just seems so wrong to feel, though.

I know I am still angry with him for the behavior he engaged in that was really the root cause of the failure. I am trying really hard not to blame him; the behavior he was and is still engaging in is classified as an addiction in the DSM~5. However, it is very difficult for me not to blame him to some extent because I think that everyone has a tendency to point the finger at the other when it comes to things of this nature. He blamed my reactions to his addiction on my having Bipolar disorder (which he never bothered to become even remotely educated about), he blamed it on my lack of ego (if I had no ego, his addiction would not have bothered me to the extent it did, hello), he blamed my reactions on low self-esteem (once again, if I did not have some regard for myself, it wouldn’t have bothered me because I would have been a door mat). He pointed the finger at me and blamed me for his addiction. That still just flat out pisses me off. However, having been an addict of a different kind, I can see the behavior of blaming whoever and whatever is handy, and understand that is part of the nature of addiction.

He doesn’t and will never see it that way until he knows with his heart and soul that he has a problem. It is one thing to know intellectually that one is an addict. It is another thing entirely to own it, make it yours and yours only, and then get help. So far, he has only recognized it intellectually, and with me gone, he sees no reason to stop even though it will impact the next relationship and the next and the next. In many ways, I feel sorry for him that he just cannot see it.

I think also that I feel a sense of loss of self. I am not the same person who went happily into this marriage thinking it would be my one and only for the rest of my life. I have allowed myself to become jaded, cynical and suspicious of the motives of men, in general. I didn’t really realize this until several guys had hit on me, and my reaction to them was to question their motives. They could have been nice guys who just wanted to get to know me. I have been deeply wounded, and I do not know how to heal because the person who hurt me claimed they loved me more than anything else. And, I believed that……for a while. If he had truly loved me, he would have educated himself on Bipolar disorder, he would not have tried to change me from the boots and jeans type of woman I am into a woman who ran around the house cleaning in high heels like some mad version of June Cleaver, he would not have tried to make me look like the women he saw in Texas (of all places; no offense meant). Had he truly loved me, he would have let me just be me. But, he didn’t. 

I think more than anything I am confused. I loved him so I did the things I thought or that he had expressed would make him happy, and I received nothing but blame, emotional and verbal abuse, and shaming in return. And, he wonders why I divorced him. Had he really wanted to, he could have changed for me, or we could have compromised. I always thought compromise is part of a relationship. At least it was in the ones I have been in before him. I am also quite confused by his present behavior. It would seem that he wants to reconcile, and he is being the person he was (for the most part) before we were married. I have no reassurances, however, that he won’t go back to the person he became and, at heart, probably still is. Why can’t this man just be normal like everyone else I have been in long term relationships with? Why the confusing gestures and mixed signals? I dissolved the marriage for a reason, and in my experience, those reasons rarely change all that much.



10 Things You Should Say To A Depressed Person



We have all seen the lists of things a person, albeit well-meaning, should never say to a depressed person. We also know that periodically experiencing crippling depression can be a symptom of a relapse into illness.Hopefully, if you have either had Bipolar disorder for a while, or are just very attuned to your mental emotional shifts, you can stop it before it happens. Here is a list of things you CAN say to a depressed person,

  1. Can I relieve your stress in any way? Words have very little effect, if any, on a depressed person. In fact, they can twist them around in their minds to make themselves feel even worse. What you can do? Come over and offer to clean up their house or fix them a meal or go out and run some errands for them. These are ways of showing you care about them, and respect that they are experiencing depression. Showing through action that you care is worth all the wasted words in the world.
  2. What do you think might help you to feel better? Here again words are important. Especially how you phrase them. According to‘s associate editor, Therese Borchand, it is much like dealing with a defiant child. Depressed people are well known for being difficult, as are children when you take their candy away, for example, telling them they will turn into a ghoul if they eat more. What seems to be more effective is to ask the child about something he or she did while under the influence of a sugar rush. Ask them if they want that to happen again. The answer is usually ‘no’ and they will reach for something else entirely. The same goes for a depressed person. Acknowledge their depression, and rephrase questions in such a way that they come up with their own way of feeling better.
  3. Is there something I can do for you? Again we have action over words; showing the depressed person that you care about them. This is an excellent time to show compassion. The depressed individual is likely to say no, there is nothing you can do for them, but what does register through the fog and the tears is the thought “This person really cares about me”.
  4. Can I drive you somewhere? Here again is action over what may come across to a depressed person as shallow words of pseudo-sympathy (been there, done that). Here is something concrete that you can do for a depressed person. Apparently, people who are depressed are really bad drivers. So, offering to drive them somewhere they need or maybe do not need to go is good for them (they get out of the house for a while and maybe get some grocery shopping done or maybe a pedicure, as my mom once did for me), it is safer for them and all the other really scary drivers out there.
  5. Where are you getting your support? This is completely different than asking if they are receiving therapy or attending group meetings either in person or through an online support group. If you ask if they are receiving therapy or some type of support, and they are not, this has the implication that they are too lazy to get help (they are depressed, not lazy. It is hard to do anything in this state let alone secure support). This question is much more proactive. It says, if you are getting help, great! But, if you aren’t, let’s figure out a way that you can get support through a one on one therapist or through a group because the depressed person does need the help/support to help them through this part of their life so they do not feel isolated and one of a kind.
  6. You won’t always feel this way. I am a bit ambivalent about this one. Why should I believe someone who is not nor has experienced depression that this will go away? However, it is a simple statement of fact. It doesn’t try to manipulate, it doesn’t try to persuade, and it doesn’t judge the person who is depressed. It simply states that this is not going to last forever, and that can provide that little ray of hope that a depressed person needs to continue on to the next day. Now, whether that day bring a pin-prick of light at the top of your rabbit hole or a semi-trailer bearing down on you remains to be seen.
  7. Can you think of anything contributing to your depression?  This is basically a very kind and round about way of getting someone who is depressed to look at what might be causing it. It is a gentle way of saying, “Maybe it is the abusive relationship you are in,” without coming out and saying it. It could be a myriad of different things that is causing the depressed mood. This is a way of getting the person with the low mood to come to their own conclusions about the cause, and consequently, what to do to get rid of the source (we are talking about situational depression, not the kind caused by brain chemical imbalances). This allows the person suffering to come to their own conclusions about what is appropriate for them to do, take accountability for their own action, and not end up blaming someone fro advising them on a course of action that may be entirely wrong.
  8. What time of day is hardest for you? This is a question that my psychiatrist and psychologist have both asked me when I have been depressed which is most of the time due to the mixed episode problem. According to Therese J. Borchard, associate editor at, the most acute times for depression are upon waking (realizing that it is another day, and you will most likely not be happy-go-lucky just because you slept for 8 hours), and at about 3-4 in the afternoon when blood sugar dips and anxiety can set in. This is something anyone close to the depressed person can ask; a parent, a good friend, an extended family member. They can also do something about it when they get the answer; they can call the person experiencing depression when they are at their lowest during the day. For me, personally, I become most depressed at night when everything gets quiet, and everyone has retired to their respective apartments. Since no one thinks to call at night, I often end up reading in bed and then going to sleep so I do not have to deal with the emotions. I know what causes them, and that is not going to change any time soon. During the day, I am fine because I can always find something to do (but neighbors don’t like you vacuuming at midnight :)  )
  9. I’m here for you. This is a simple statement that carries no hidden meaning whatsoever. It is simple, and lets the depressed know that you are there, you aren’t going anywhere just because they are depressed, it tells them that you get it, that you understand they are going through a rough time, it says you care. It doesn’t imply that you understand; what it does say though is you care, and that you are there to support them.
  10. Nothing. My personal favorite. Sometimes, someone to listen is exactly what the depressed need. They do not need advice, they do not need to hear “this is what you SHOULD do”, what they need is attention and someone to hear them and their pain. From the book Kitchen Table Wisdom : “When people are talking, there’s no need to do anything but receive them. Just take them in. Listen to what they’re saying. Care about it. Most times caring about it is even more important than understanding it.” ~ Rachel Naomi Remen.

I wrote this list because I see so many lists about what NOT to say to people who are depressed, mentally ill, etc. that I thought it might be nice to have a list of things that may be helpful to do for or say to someone who’s having a rough time of things.

Therapy Animals: Service Animals And Family Pets

Venus the 13 Year Old Kitten

Venus the 13 Year Old Kitten

Since I have been on a rather serious posting binge, I thought I would write about something more positive than depression and suicide and substance abuse: the therapeutic value of both specially trained “service” animals and/or the family cat. The above picture is my 13 year old kitten named Venus. She has kept me sane(ish) for many years. I used to have her brother as well, but had to give him up when I moved to my present apartment. They have a one pet policy, and I cried for days about giving him away. Hell, I still cry over him. But the little monster above has more than enough love and general cat strangeness to make up for it. For example, she likes to stare me awake in the morning no earlier than 6 am. I love this little cat with all my heart, and there are days where just having her and that I have to care for her is what keeps me going.

From: “How Pets Can Help Bipolar Disorder” by Dennis Thompson and medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH  on

People struggling with bipolar disorder might be able to find four-legged solace from their depressed lows and manic highs through service animals and even regular pets.

Pet therapy, also known as animal-assisted therapy, is often recommended for people with bipolar disorder or other mood disorders. Service animals, such as psychiatric service dogs, provide companionship and are trained to work with a specific patient to help that person deal with his disabilities, including specific bipolar symptoms.

However, you don’t need a specially trained animal to get psychological benefits from having an animal nearby. Recent studies have shown that simply owning a pet can help someone who is recovering from a serious mental illness.

And also:

Other Benefits of Pet Ownership

Having a service animal specially trained to deal with your symptoms can be a huge help. However, Fido the mutt or Zsa Zsa the rescued cat also can help soothe bipolar symptoms. Doctors have found that pets are of tremendous benefit for people recovering from serious mental illness:

  • Pets provide a sense of being known and understood, with a sense of unconditional love that can restore a person’s empathy.
  • Pets enable bipolar patients to feel more connected with the world — they may feel a connection with the pet or, like Dykstra, find that the pet forces them to connect with other people.
  • Pets create a comforting sense of family for the person with bipolar disorder.

And they can help build your sense of self-worth and confidence. You might feel more in control of your life because you are taking good care of your dog or cat. Pets also can provide a sense of purpose to a patient in particularly bad shape. “I couldn’t commit suicide, back when that was an issue, because I had to take care of my dog,” Dykstra says.

I have found that for me, personally, having always owned a cat (or four) has been a huge benefit to me. Even during my first major depressive episodes which occurred in my teens, my cat was a source of comfort. Knowing I had a furry little ball of unconditional love to come home to after a bad day at school sometimes was all that was keeping me going. I also lived in a verbally and emotionally abusive household, and knowing I could retreat to my room with my cat (Maximillian de Winter Cat) kept me more sane than I would have been otherwise. I knew that my cat would love me no matter what mood I was in or what had transpired that day; all Max wanted was food, petting, and a warm place to sleep, and he would love you forever.

My current cat, Venus, is a funny little cat. First off, she is 13 and thinks she is 2. Secondly, she likes to wake me up at really atrocious times of the morning (like somewhere between 5 and 6 am). She accomplishes this in two ways: she sits on my bladder or she stares at me. This morning was a staring morning. I became aware that I was being watched and opened my sleepy eyes to find he furry little face about six inches from mine. She wanted me up so she could have the bed. I was in her way. Third, and most interesting, is she likes to chant with me ( I am a Nichiren Buddhist; we chant rather than meditate although the chanting can put you into a deeply meditative state), but she loves the chanting. It is like she understands it, and it just makes her all kinds of happy (rolling around on the floor, rubbing up against me, or head-butting me so I will pet her). So, I call her my Daimoku (the chanting is called daimoku) Cat.

She knows when I am depressed, and will follow me everywhere, and has to be on me at all times. It is almost as if she is protecting me from me. I think that is what she is doing. She can sense my mood shifts, and when I am shifting up to mania, she tends to hide because she doesn’t like all the activity and moving around cleaning things.

My upstairs neighbor has Asperger’s Syndrome, and she just got a therapy cat (well he is a 4 or 5 month kitten), and he is helping her learn what it is like to care for another being, to be conscientious about keeping his litter clean, and making sure he is fed and watered, and she is learning how to “feel” love for another being. This little kitten is adorable and spastic as kittens tend to be. He is doing no ends of good for her. She plays with him, has a kitty jungle gym for him, she loves him, and he loves her back.

That is why I think an animal is such a good “tool” in recovering or living with a serious psychiatric illness. They love you unconditionally (they really don’t care what mood you are in), you love them unconditionally which is step towards empathy, and they are always there for you. They don’t run or flake out on you like people can. And, you can talk to them if you want but be prepared for that quizzical look that says “what are you on about now?”

Yesterday At The Bus Stop


Negative Self-Talk

Yesterday, I was feeling very down when I woke up at 3:45 in the morning. That feeling of depression lingered throughout the morning despite the fact that I had to do something about my hair and makeup as I had to go out into that feared realm: the public. And, I do mean the Public as I have no car and rely on my feet, legs and the bus to get around town. So, there I am at the bus stop waiting for the bus so I could get to my therapist’s office which is some distance from where I live. Fortunately, my abode is centrally located next to the bus stops going North and South as well as the office of my psychiatrist which is a five minute walk across the street (so is the ER, just in case I go mad, well madder than I already am).

There were several people already at the bus stop which was a little unusual for that time of day. It was about 1:30 pm, and the general malaise had yet to lift although it was quietly being joined by mania. There we go off into mixed episode world, again. I swear I never get depressed and I never get manic, I just stay stuck and somehow balanced in the weird middle ground. Anyway, the people at the bus stop were comprised of an older gentleman named Charlie who had an impressive white beard, his wife, Stephanie, and I am assuming her son as they both spoke with accents, and Charlie did not. Charlie was also Caucasian, and I am not sure where Stephanie and her son had come from originally. As it turned out, her son had just been released from the mental hospital where I go for psych appointments and used to be a “frequent flyer” in the locked wards. The man, Charlie, spoke to me right off even though I was lost in 80’s metal land. There was something pretty nasty beneath the bench; I will not speculate on what it might have been. Charlie pointed it out, so I took out my ear buds to respond. 


My Brain Is Bouncing

Stephanie’s son picked up on the fact that I had these little ear buds, and made a point of showing me his head phones which he pointed out were much bigger than mine. As her son and I talked (I cannot for the life of me remember his name), it became clear to me that he was mentally “different” (the term illness has been talked to death over the past week). As it turned out, he suffered from Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Asperger’s (?) Syndrome, was also somewhere on the Autistic spectrum, some features of Borderline Personality, and ADHD, in other words, he had a multitude of mental “differences” that rendered him quite interesting and somewhat difficult to talk to (it helped that I have ADD, and Bipolar disorder that was slowly becoming manic) so I was sort of able to follow his train of thought.

This kid/adult was so excited to have someone to talk to, he could barely contain himself. And, not just someone to talk to, but someone who understood most of what he was thinking. He told me he sees and hears things that he knows are not there but he sees them anyway. I replied that I do not see things that are not real, but I hear things I know are not real. This young man was so hyper, I almost couldn’t take it, and I was becoming manic (and have ADD). I am naturally hyper, but this young guy had me beat. As he was also on the Autistic spectrum and had Asperger’s, he became fairly fixated on two things: his headphones being bigger than mine, and his dislike of his meds which he had apparently been off of for several months. It was obvious. I told him that I take medicine too to help me feel better, but that even when I feel okay, I still take my medicine because that is what is making me feel better. I gently told him that going off your medication just because you feel better is not a good idea, because after a month or two, you will feel worse and you are back to square one and the medicine has to build up in your body to make you feel better again. Charlie quietly agreed with me, and I told him the various anti-psychotics I had tried, and that a combination of Abilify and Seroquel had finally put me in the weird middle ground that is the true nature of manic-depression (you are one and the other at the same time).

I mentioned Zyprexa and Resperdal as being some alternatives if Abilify doesn’t work and Seroquel puts you to sleep which makes it a night time medication. Charlie agreed, and asked the young man if the Abilify had worked. The answer was an emphatic no, it had not worked. I am sure that his mother and stepfather accompany him to his therapy appointments. I suggested that maybe they could see what the doc thinks about trying another atypical anti-psychotic. He had apparently been on Haldol and Thorazine for some time. Which in retrospect explains his complaining that the meds made him sleep. I have taken Haldol, and been prescribed it for aggression (when I get overstimulated, I can get aggressive), and yes, it will calm you right down, but the next thing it does is make you sleepy. Add Thorazine to that, and yes, you will sleep most of the day. 

American Homeless

American Homeless

What was even more curious was the man who came by stating that he knew bus stops were a good place to get spare change. I live on disability. I do not even make minimum wage for a 40 hour week. I have no “spare” change. To me, that’s currency, and I need all of it to get by. Charlie and his wife, Stephanie, replied they had no money and were about to lose their storage if they could not come up with the rent that day. They were homeless, and all of their possessions were in that storage locker. Charlie told the man that he was looking for money to save their stuff.

All of a sudden, my life shifted about 10 paradigms to the right. Here was this family with both parents using walkers and not terribly well themselves, and their mentally “different” son whose mother had cared for all of his life, and I was depressed about what exactly. The fact that my brain is chemically messed up and I have no real control over my feelings be them manic or depressive. I have a place that I can call my own. Granted, it takes more than half my monthly income to pay the rent. But, I have the knowledge that when I am done with my therapy appointment, I do not have to look for a place to sleep. My mother picked me up so I could buy some groceries; more than I could conceivably take on the bus or carry as I often do. What I do not know is where were these folks going to find food. They were truly the faces of the homeless. Not the homeless as our society thinks of the homeless as worthless drunks and addicts that are to be stepped over on the sidewalk or crossing the street when one sees a person coming and they can’t be bothered to say that they have no change, or if one does have change, to give it to the homeless person. Many times they are trying to get enough money to pay for one night in a flea-bag motel so they can sleep in a bed, and take a shower. There are those who have become homeless because of addiction, but there are also those who have become addicts because of their homelessness. But these people were clean, clothing intact (probably from a thrift store, but that’s where I shop), hair clean and combed. Even the ever so excited young man was clean with clean clothes, hair brushed. They were clearly not society’s picture of the homeless, but they do represent a good portion of people who have found themselves losing their jobs, then their savings, then their homes. 

Homeless Women and Children

Homeless Women and Children

“Oddly” enough, my mood shifted. I no longer felt sorry for myself but rather hope that this family could save their storage locker, and hang onto their stuff for another month. Who knows, they may have been living there. That locker could have been “home” as there are a number of rescue missions that provide showers and other types of personal care. I have a friend whose dad (now deceased, too bad because he was a character) lived in his RV which he parked every night at his storage locker.

It is amazing how a random encounter with three people when you are feeling low and socially stunted can transform your day and your world. I am a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism and we hold that all people are deserving of compassion,



respect and fundamental dignity. We believe that all people no matter what walk of life they may come from all have the heart of the Buddha (we just forgot, and have to find it again), therefore when speaking with people, you try to tap your own inner Buddha so that your heart meets theirs, and a dialogue between Buddhas occurs whether the other party knows it or not. I generally wear my ear buds with my music cranked up loud so I can ignore the over-stimulation that can be public transit, but something about this family really made me tap that inner Buddha. It is not that we had anything truly in common except that both their son and I struggle with mental issues. They just seemed like good people in a bad circumstance, and doing what they could to make the best of it and care for the young man (who is going to need life-long mental care). The bus arrived before any of us realized it. I do not believe in random encounters. I was meant to be on that bus, that day, at that time so I could meet these people so they could help heal me in a small way, and I could help heal them in a small way.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 370 other followers

%d bloggers like this: