Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My history with bipolar disorder... the short answer

I figured I would just post this answer to a friends question "Did you feel bipolar symptoms as a teenager. I tried to keep it short, but anyone who knows my writing, it is impossible for me to answer anything short. I spent enough time on this answer and I had a list of things left to do today, so here you go...

It's fine Paula. While most of the bipolars I know hide their disorder, I am happy to be open and "out." I think I can help people better this way. In regards to your question, I am going to write a detailed post on my blog today , But I will give you the short answer here. As if I'm capable of writing short answers... 

In high school I became very hyper active. I did AP classes, worked on the newspaper as the photographer, Sounds of BC, choir, acting, musicals, and I worked 20 hours a week as a restaurant manager and I had Cheri. I don't remember sleeping, but all that wasn't really a sign. I should have been more aware of my mental health since my grandmother, one of her siblings and my uncle had already committed bipolar driven suicides, but I didn't. 

After HS graduation I started working as a forklift driver and in the following eight years had worked my way up to General Operations Manager of a large network of Oakland warehouses. I had my ups and downs, but nothing major. Thought about suicide a bit more often than one should, but I never attempted. 

Around my mid 20's I started telling Cheri I was wired wrong. It felt chemical, but I didn't understand it. It was just a feeling. A few years later, my dad committed suicide. I still didn't get it. 

I went back to finish my undergraduate and graduated sum cum laude. Flew threw my first grad school (DU) and became the CEO of a small tech start up. I was already having alarming symptoms, but I masked it by diving into school and working like a mad beast. In 2001, I lost the company and I was hospitalized in a mental ward for the "first" time, of several to come later, for bipolar disorder. In 2005, I decided I needed a masters in education and instructional design so I did... easily. 

It had been rough since 2001. I worked for maybe 10 companies in seven years. Never again in management. In 2008, I was committed to the mental again for an extended amount of time after a major "major" bipolar/psychotic episode and I haven't been the same since. In some ways I am broken. In other ways I am not. I'm a good husband and a great dad and I am still intelligent, but I have hard mornings and some good afternoons. If I keep myself real busy and take all my meds I can run on auto-pilot. By the time Cheri comes home from work I am usually off the ceiling or I take a time out and just watch tv. 

That's as short as I can possibly get. My advise... read my autobiography when I'm done with it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Day after Synvisc One injection

Yesterday I went to the orthopedic surgeon and received the Synvisc One injection. The gel like substance temporarily replaces or helps the remaining cartilage protect bone on bone arthritis.  

As I lay there on the table he told me it would sting a little. I thought he was talking about some kind of numbing agent. No, I didn't look up to see what he was doing until he started to inject this rather large and long needle into my knee. It felt as if he went all the way in between the bones of my knee and injected fluid. It hurt like hell. I guess if he would have said, "this is going to hurt like hell," I might have flinched or something.

Instead I took the pain and he popped out the needle in a few seconds and said, "There we go. We're done." "What?," I replied. The procedure was done. He told me I could walk on it, but no exertion until maybe Thursday afternoon at the earliest. I was planning on going to the gym on Friday afternoon to take this new gel for a spin.

Yesterday I walked to the car okay and drove myself to CarToys to pick up a new blue tooth and I could barely get out of my car by the time I reached my house. I iced it and just took it easy. Like I had a choice. Today I am walking on it with soreness, but not crippling pain. I can even go up the stairs okay, but coming down hurts like I'm stretching my ligaments to the brink. I'll take it easy for the rest of the day and I imagine if the percentage of pain goes down respectively than I'll feel pretty good tomorrow and ready to roll by Friday.

We'll see.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Waking up in a Anxious State of Mind

Last night I felt bad; anxious, nervous, depressed and antsy. I couldn't sick still and my mind was wondering around racing beyond control. I wanted to climb out of my own skin. I woke up the same way.

I have no reason. Finances are fine. Could always be better, but whose couldn't? It was not a worry. My relationships, particularly with my wife and family, couldn't be better.

I am concerned about my sister taking my wheel chair bound mother to NYC. However, if they can handle the big city then they can handle anything. I admire my sister's balls. I wouldn't do it.

I am worried about US economic shutdown and looming default, but I have written to my US Representatives and Senators. I can't do anything rational about it.

I am a mere observer watching things I can't change. I hate being out of control, but these things should not make me wake up the same way I felt last night.

I don't like to take Seroquel in the morning because it makes me sleepy, but it also makes my brain slow down. It is a powerful mood stabilizer. I have that feeling. The feeling that leads me to the mental wing. I haven't felt it so strong since this past winter, but I feel it today. Yes, I need Seroquel. Damn.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Synvisc One- Knee repair injections

My doctor is John Davis III, MD at Orthopedic Physicians in Littleton, Colorado. If this works, he is brilliant. If it doesn't than my ligaments really do need surgical repair. He took x-rays and they clearly show my knees without any more cartilage. They are literally bone on bone. If this works on the left knee, I'll get it done on the right knee.

On Tuesday morning, October 15th, I will have an injection (actually I think its three injections on the same day) into the joint of my left knee. They just use local anesthetic. It should give me a cushion much like cartilage for about six months.

I have bone on bone arthritis. It hurts when I get up and it hurts all day long unless I really exert myself for about fifteen hard minutes hiking or jogging on the tread mill for about a 1/4 mile. I think that by then my adrenaline takes over and masks 90% of the pain.

I know swimming and bike riding provides better protection of the knees, but I can't stop hiking. I live in Colorado for goodness sake. The nearest serious and beautiful mountain trails are about ten minutes from my house. I like the treadmill because the it doesn't hurt my butt (from the bike seats) and I can enjoy the satisfaction of jogging faster each time. I can't wait to get back on the tread mill after Thursday October 17th. I've never jogged at 308 or less pounds before. It should be a lot of fun.

So the product that I am having injected in my knee is called "Synvisc One." Straight from the brochure:
"Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis and one of the most common causes of knee pain. In the U.S. alone, more than 10 million people are estimated to have OA in one or both knees.
In a knee with OA, the fluid that cushions and lubricates the joint (called synovial fluid) can break down and lose its ability to cushion your knee. The cartilage protecting the ends of the bones can also deteriorate, in some cases causing bone to rub against bone. OA is usually associated with pain, stiffness and more limited range of movement."

The are three stages... mild, moderate and severe. I my case it is severe and even walking up and down stairs cause great pain that can't be moderated with any pain killer I have found.
You can try medications if your only mildly or even moderate, but I am not. The other options are Viscosupplements, Steroid injections, or Surgery. I still pick the Synvisc One option.

We'll see how it works. I have low expectations, but my friends who have also had it say that is feels like a miracle as soon as they finish the injections. You have to take it easy for 48 hours and then you should be good to go. I can't wait to get back into the gym and up on the hard to extreme mountain trails!

Friday, October 11, 2013

My struggle with obesity today

Hello. Thanks for dropping by. This could be a very good day as I have a "second opinion" mechanic coming by to check on my son's car. I think it needs a new head gasket and some coolant tube exchange work. We'll see. Fingers and wallet crossed.

As anyone know if they have checked my progress site, I had a bad 2012 as far as great weight loss followed by horrible weight gain. I fell into a deep depression and life's stresses went through the roof and I gained massive weight, but, no excuses, I screwed up big time.

However; I lost a lot of weight when I was in the hospital and then the nursing home in January 2013 and since then I have held steady and have lost 8 to 10 pounds consistently per month. Today I scaled in at 309.6. I can't even remember when I was this weight before. Considering I started the year at 400++, I feel pretty good.

And I have been able to withstand another major depression and some current mania. Considering that it is only the 11th of October and my weight is starting to shed once again, it is completely possible that I could hit 299 by the end of the month.

But, I would still be happy if I hit 299 or less by the end of November. At the beginning of March I told myself that this was the year I was going leave the 300's behind. And now I'm looking right down the barrel of 280 to 285 by New Year's. I could actually reach 270 by my birthday on March 19. That would be the best present ever!

One side note: If you goggle massive weight loss photo's it pretty disgusting. Maybe it's my age or maybe it's the slower consistent weight loss, but my extra skin doesn't even look that nasty. My skin seems to be keeping up with my weight loss. A little flabby under the arms, but I think I can compensate for that in the gym. On Tuesday I get the knee injections that should hold back my arthritis for six months. In that time I can hike and run all I want. I don't think I'll have much of this loose skin thing.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

US National Mental Health Awareness week.

This is a good time to reflect on mental health awareness week. Practically no one knows about the awareness week so I posted the crap out of it on FB. See 

I demand presents! 

Seriously, people should know that one in four people suffer from some kind of mental illness whether it's depression to schizophrenia; whether its professionally treated, or God forbid, not professionally managed.

The only way I really survive is with a sense of humor. I am, as you can read a few posts ago, very well medicated. I can't feel the medications, except for seroquel. It makes me dizzy or sleepy. I can't or shouldn't take it when I'm going to drive somewhere. I always drive okay, primarily because I don't drink and drive and avoid any distracting activities. 

A police officer wouldn't know the difference in my driving under the influence of seroquel, but I wonder if my timing is just a bit off. Like if someone makes an irrational stop right in front of me. I have had rabbits and other animals run out in front of me and I've never even ran over the remains of an animal, but I still can feel dizzy, so I don't drive on seroquel. The rest of my meds do say "can make you dizzy," but they don't. I'm probably just used to them. 

If I did get into a crash and I maybe acted a little off, I wonder how they could tell if I had just taken a seroquel unless I told them. I have so many drugs in my system I doubt a blood test would be useful anyway. I just have to rely on my better judgement. I have my wife or one of my sons drive me around when I do feel dizzy or sleepy. I think driving sleepy is one of the worst things you can do. It should be up there with driving drunk (well probably not that extreme), texting (also that extreme), and eating which I find distracting. I have been known to eat while driving, but I think I'll stop doing that.

Well, there's one thing. Mentally ill, depressed, bipolar... ect... shouldn't drive if they don't feel perfectly aware. I know that's not what they mean by "Awareness Week," but it does make me think.

What does it feel like to be lumped into the category or stigma of being mentally ill. It took me a long time to come to grips with the connection between being bipolar and being mentally ill. That's why I really prefer that people refer to or think that bipolar disorder is really manic depressive illness. 

Some mental illnesses like depression can be treated and forgotten. Some people are chronically or clinically depressed which is something else all together. One shouldn't lump behavioral illnesses with chemical illnesses like manic depressive illness (Bipolar) or schizophrenia. 

You hear a lot about mental illness on the news, almost always, say 95% of the time in a negative way. For instance, the guy who opened fire on the audience of the movie theater, coincidentally about fifteen miles from where I live and on the same night that I was watching a movie myself across town from this deadly massacre. It could have been my theater. My movie. I just got lucky I guess. They said he was "mentally ill." Of course he was. More recently, the poor woman who ran the police on a short car chase in Washington, DC. They said she was suffering from mental illness and had stopped taking her medication. How about the guy who poured gas all over himself on the National Mall also in Washington D.C.. Of course they were mentally ill, but I hate when they just say the words "Mentally ill." That could mean anything, but no one ever follows up the story with the facts.

We know, without a doubt, that someone that stops taking the kind of meds that I am on, will become delusional and dangerous to themselves or others. 

The most important things that Mental Health Awareness Week can do is end the stigma and open the healing or management and help people realize that the mentally ill need help from their families and friends. I have a very strong circle of family, friends, therapists, and psychiatrists who watch me all the time. They keep track of any irrational thing I do. They make sure I'm safe. I feel aware and safe today.    

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Quick description of what they do during a 72-hour suicide watch

The very first time I was placed on a 72-hour hold (Spring and Summer 2001) they took my shoes and gave me soft slippers. They took my belt and my wife returned with some sweat pants and they took the drawstring. No strings of any kind. I was allowed to check out my electric razor for 15 minutes. My door, if I even had one, was kept open at all times and they checked on me every 15 minutes. I think they let me out once I was on lithium and I ended up going to two other facilities that summer on suicide watches while they tried to boost my medications up until they were efficient. Collectively I spent around three weeks in three different mental health facilities that summer.

When I entered the protective mental health wing of Porter hospital in Englewood, Colorado in January 2008, I had all of those stringy things removed and they had someone in my room to watch me at all times. It's hard to sleep with someone a few yards from you reading a book. I was in a psychotic/bipolar episode and a danger to myself. That suicide watch continued for about a week and then they let me sleep with my door open and someone checking on me every 15 minutes. When I came back to reality they kept me on the protective wing until a bed was available on the regular watch wing. I was moved to my new room and given my laced tennis shoes the very last day of my inpatient care. You can't believe how nice it feels to have tied shoes. This particular facility is on one floor so I hadn't walked on stairs for a month. It took me at least two weeks to get used to our stairs at home. It was a three story home so that was a big deal.

I continued outpatient care for about three weeks when they decided I was okay. Outpatient care takes about four or five hours a day, but you do get to go home and sleep in your own bed. Oh man, nothing, even the shoes feels as good as your own bed. And, of course, being back with my family was awesome.

I would have gone back into the mental health wing in January of 2013 except I was on IV's with an infection that made it into my blood stream in the regular hospital so they just keep someone outside of your door. But, you do get to close your door when you're in the regular hospital. That was another month wasted.

Current medication list

I am currently on bariatric vitamins and b-12 injections and...

Weight loss progress

I'm a very impatient person to a fault. I'm also a competitive person to a fault. So, it's very hard to resist the urge to lose weight like crazy. I mean starve myself into skinny jeans, but that is exactly what got me to this point.

This time I have been diligent about losing weight slowly but surely. While I was in the nursing home in January I am pretty sure they initially scaled me in at 429 and then 421. I must have weighed more when I was admitted into the hospital at the beginning of January, but I don't know.

Whatever the case was, I didn't eat anything except for fruit. I wasn't trying to starve myself, I was just that sick and the food tasted horrible. In mid-February my scale, which only goes to 400, finally started to show my weight. 399 and then 390 by the end of the month. I took that start and became determined to lose no more and no less than 10 pounds per month. There have been a couple of months that I think I only lost 8 pounds.

Nonetheless, I scaled in a 312.4 this morning. I don't have any cravings and I feel as if I can make my big goal of 299 or less by the middle of November at the absolute latest. That would be one and a half months earlier than my annual goal.  

Friday, October 4, 2013

Protest, scream, demand an end to this pointless SHUTDOWN

I've lit up my facebook page enough to light a fire, but I need to vent here. Honestly, I don't know if the Affordable Healthcare laws will work. I've been arguing and debating that it will work, but that's primarily because no one else will. We hear from the fading Tea Party on television every night, but we don't hear enough from reasonable compassionate adults from either party so i scream from every online mountain top I can. If I knew of a protest, I would be first in line.

The experiment already began. The conservative Republican's had 42, now 43 chances to repeal "Obama Care" and failed. But, now it's here. Previously uninsured professionals and regular citizens alike are signing up in droves. They're crashing websites because of the volume of people rushing to buy this new alternative healthcare. You can't take away what people already have. Your best bet is to get back to legislating and try to work on the fiscal responsibilities and repercussions. Fine tune it. Fine tune everything. Balance the budget through responsible efficient budget cuts. Do all of those things, but stop the shutdown. Avoid the October 17th default. The game has ended. Get off the field and play another day.

In case this is the first time you have found my blog, let me give you a quick recap of my personal relationship to this US Government Shutdown. Before my dad, the filmmaker, professor and artist Paul J. Sharits, committed suicide in 1993 I had only worked at two companies in ten years. My resume was stellar. I had been promoted throughout the years from forklift driver to General Manager of Operations, third in line to the crown, of a rapidly expanding company. It was already large when I got there, but it started exploding with growth after I took my first position as a warehouse manager with them. Ten years of near perfect employment history.

After my dad died I went back to college and graduated sum cum laude with nearly perfect grades. I slid through my first graduate program and then I started to lose the rapidly emerging company that I led and co-founded. The pressure sparked my first near death manic depressive episode. I was hospitalized into three different mental facilities that summer. I worked at perhaps ten different auto dealerships and other non-related jobs and I earned my master's in education and instructional design in 2005. By July 2007 I was too worn out and sick to continue so I left the workforce intending on returning when I felt better. By November 2007 I was hospitalized for everything from mono to leukemia.

In January 2008 I went psychotic and had another major bipolar episode and spent the entire month of January in a protective mental health facility while they tried to pull me back into reality. My wires got crossed. We lost everything. Our beautiful dream house.. We were at the mercy of our families. They came through and held us together. They gave us shelter.

If you hired me from 2001 to 2007 you would have probably gotten a stellar ambitious employee. You would relax and feel good. Then I might call in sick a few days. I didn't have a cold. I was really unable to leave my room, my house, because of the sudden rush of depression. Then maybe I would come back. I would start arguing or ignoring the staff creating some hard feelings. The situation would spread until I became a liability; not the charmed one you thought you hired. I might become so manic that I might try to take over the company. No one could possibly be as good or as smart as me. Then I might have miss a month or more while I spent some time in the "hospital." Then I would need to work half days because I needed to attend outpatient therapy classes. You fire me. It's inevitable.

Being manic depressive or bipolar doesn't diminish my intellectual abilities, it just makes me impossible to work for or with. So all of my psychiatrists, therapists, state appointed psychiatrist, and a State appointed Judge agrees that I could no longer be in the workforce. At one time I was a great businessman and student and now I stood before the court with head down low and my stomach even lower as I said, "Thank you your Honor."

How did this happen? I don't know. But my grandmother, one of her siblings, my uncle and my dad all committed suicide before their 51st birthday. I turn 49 in March. I feel the illness getting worse. I do have the best possible medical and mental healthcare that money can buy and I still fluctuate, but not as badly as I would if I were off medication.

Manic depression illness is not behavioral; it's chemical and it will never go away. We might create better medications, but we will never "find a cure" or pray it away. Its insulting to even say that.  

So the social security mental health disability was approved or "awarded" in writing on July 17, 2013. I was supposed to get an award letter telling me how much disability money I would get each month in 60 days or less. 60 days passed and I called. They said they were working on it and I still haven't received that letter. Once I get the letter it can be 30 to 60 days before the benefits start to kick in.

Now, with the shutdown, my application or award, whatever you want to call it, is sitting quietly on somebodies desk gathering dust while the shutdown continues. If you figure out how hard it is to catch up with backlogged work, one can figure that for every day furloughed there will be one week to get caught up. So far my award has been backed up over a month and counting.

I really don't care what side you're on; I want the shutdown to stop. Get Americans back to work. Don't even come close to defaulting the country for the first time in our history.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I need a break

I have written through some parts of the book that really deserve and require elaboration. For instance, the profound affect of my Uncle's suicide in 1980 and, of course, my father's suicide in 1993.

In 1993 I tried to be strong for my family and suppressed my confusion and grief. It resulted in a huge weight gain for me and possibly the emergence of my own manic-depressive actions and behaviors. I really should have gone into counseling right then and there. I definitely should have been seeing a psychiatrist. I had plenty of baggage to work through and my mind was stressing out.

In 2001 I had a major bipolar episode. I don't think "major" is strong enough. I almost took my own life describes it a bit better. I had to be institutionalized three times in 2001 describes it better.

I've easily written past those times by ignoring the details. Most of the book, more than 3/4's, is about my life and education about bipolar disorder since I collapsed in 2001. But, now I have to go back and detail my dad's suicide and my... 2001. It's too painful right now and I need a break. Today, tomorrow, maybe next week. I don't know. Maybe little bits at a time, but I will write it. I need to write it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The United States Federal Shut Down is KILLING ME!

Okay. I only have about ten minutes or so to vent. I HATE THIS FEDERAL SHUT DOWN!

This is my situation as you may know if you follow my blog regularly. Uhg. I've re-written this stupid post three times.

The short version: I'm smart. Before 2001 I had maybe three different employers, each of which I was either upper management or the CEO. I was an extremely successful businessman since I was 19. I graduated college Sum Cum Laude (nearly straight A's). I won fellowships and scholarships both of my master's programs. I couldn't afford my PhD program.  

I had my first major bipolar episode(s) in 2001 when I tanked my dot com company. Since 2001 I've barely held non-supervisory positions in maybe ten companies. In 2007 I had to leave my last job. In 2008 I had my worst bipolar/psychotic episode and I haven't been able to hold a paying job since.

I won my mental health social security disability claim on July 17, 2013. Many psychiatrists, including State psychiatrists and therapists and the judge agreed that I am no longer able to hold any job. I have also had five bipolar related suicides in my family, so everyone, including the judge just wants me to take care of myself.

I was supposed to receive my disability award letter 60 days after the court award and I have still not received it so I am not collecting social security and I won't until 30 to 60 days after I receive my award letter. Everyday the gov't is shut down equates to a week of backlog.  

Don't get me wrong. Filing for disability was the worst day of my life. I had to recognize that I couldn't work anymore. It was hard. Very hard. BUT, I'm writing books now in hopes of pulling myself out of disability, but, in the mean time, I NEED THE GOV'T TO GET BACK TO WORK!