Saturday, January 25, 2014

What being bipolar feels like

I woke up this morning with the thought of "one must fall and stumble to rise and become wise." It sounds good and I wish it was true. Before my first major bipolar episode it was certainly true. I fell, I got up and learned from my mistake.

First, may we stop calling my disorder bipolar? It's better described as manic depressive mental illness. I think "bipolar disorder" was someone's idea of breaking the stigma of the mental illness much like we stopped calling African Americans "colored" or "black." I have actually forgotten which one is proper these days and I assume it really depends on the individual. Usually I just call those that I know "friend." While I don't consider myself racist I know I am prejudiced. Maybe a bit elitist because I can make a rash judgement on someone who may appear or sound like they have a lack of education. To be honest, when I hear someone's southern american drawl or accent the first thing that I think is hillbilly as a derogatory term. It's not fair and often not true. I can also make the same type of judgement walking through a Walmart seeing a fat ill conceived dressed woman with screaming children and a man following in a camouflage t-shirt. I got off track and exposed more than I should have. My apologies. That kind of thinking is unfair. I'm actually quite sympathetic with anyone who is over-weight, but avoid Walmart because I do see far too many screaming kids and camouflaged dress which should only be worn when actually hunting. When worn otherwise, it seems to me to be a very poor fashion choice. One example of being elitist.

Back to my thoughts on being manic depressive and falling down. In most cases, I can stand up stronger, but I live with the knowledge that I may fall and fall and fall into a sobbing ball of tears for absolutely no reason or over the smallest challenges or anxieties. I wish I could control it or even see it coming, but I can't. Someone will ask, "how are you? You seem sad? Can I help you?" and I haven't the slightest idea what their seeing in me, but, apparently, I can be rather transparent. Sometimes I may just be sad or sometimes I can be on my way down to dire desperate depression. The kind of depression that seems insurmountable and utterly crippling. At that point I know I either have to call my psychiatrist's mobile phone and make some temporary medication adjustments and basically sleep until I can get in to see her OR I need to go to the ER and get admitted to the Psych Ward. I have to keep myself safe from myself.

Other times, like now, I am in perfect control and my prescribed medications are working fine. I never deviate from my prescriptions. Sometimes, as previously mentioned, that's not enough and the illness takes over anyway. Tonight, tomorrow, next week, next month, it could hit. I don't know. I don't break into a rash or something before I take a dive. It just happens which scare me the most because I rely heavily on my mind. My intellect is my gift and weapon against the will and obstructions of society. I suppose it is my depression and anxiety which has most effected my ability to work for and have people work for me. I used to be an awesome employee and a great manager, but that part of me is gone forever. Maybe I could be that guy again for a short period or even a prolonged period, but I can't rely on my illness. It has rendered me unemployable. Now I hope that I can write books that help people deal with the illness either themselves or friends and family. That would be great. It would give my life greater meaning. It's rather important to me.

Then there is the flip side to depression. I suppose every manic depressive has their own experiences with hyper-mania or hypo-mania, but this is mine. I become super anxious. It get so hyper that my mind won't stop racing. So many thoughts all at once. They won't stop. They won't stop and be quiet. Not for a moment and I become tired and irritable. I become somewhat of an asshole. People close to me whom I may reveal my true feelings find me hard to control. This is the time I feel invincible. This is the time I feel superior to everybody. Theories of grandeur fly wildly from my mind and from my mouth. Soon the thoughts become too loud and they scream. I become scared and more anxious. I feel like the only way out is death. Again, I need to call my psychiatrist to make temporary adjustments or I need to be placed on a 72 hour suicide hold on a psych ward. It never just lasts 72 hours. It usually takes a week or so. It scares my family so I try my best to stay off the ward.

I've gotten real good at hiding my feelings. The ones I let in is my wife and one of my friends AND, if I feel truly out of control I will call my psychiatrist, I will go to the hospital, but most people, even my brothers and sisters don't know. They think they know, but they don't really know. I generally stay away from people when it gets bad. I tell people I'm too busy or I've got a cold. For the most part I suffer in silence.

Sometimes I fall, I stumble, I want to get up and be stronger, but I can't. I'm stuck. I'm mentally ill.            


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What really matters... copied from a friend's FB status

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles roll ed into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was. The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’ The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed.. ‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—-your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.. The sand is everything else—-the small stuff. ‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn. Take care of the golf balls first—-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand. One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Personal Epiphany

I think I had an epiphany. If you believe that one side of the brain has different tendencies than the other, which I do, than January 2008 rewired the dominant side of my brain.

I used to be a linear, logical being, and manically hard driven. I used to be very concerned with work and titles. I was obsessively driven to be the best at work and at school. I served as General Managers, Vice-Presidents, Presidents and I collected master's degrees like bowling trophies. I would say that the left side of my brain was dominate.

In January 2008, I had a "brain trauma." Truth is that I had a severe bipolar/psychotic episode and spent the entirety of January on the mental wing. Nobody knew if I was going to come back, but I did and something had changed. I tried to think linear and dominate with my left side, but I couldn't. I couldn't even imagine doing the things I did before. Actually, I was kind of embarrassed by the man I once was.

My right side had taken over. My family became more important. Love became important. While my mind still lusts for knowledge, it is simply for knowledge's sake. I am more intuitive, sensitive, and subjective. Creativity dominates my thinking. I constantly think of writing, poetry, painting, and thinking. I have stopped to smell the roses. I tried to fight the new me, but it's impossible. My right side has taken over.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year 2014

It's the beginning of a new year. I hit my weight goal of 300 pounds. It felt great when the scale hit it. I feel like I really accomplished something special. 130 pounds in one year. I feel much better, but I'm not done. I set a new goal for 2014. I want to lose another 100 pounds. I want to be 275 by my birthday on March 19th. I just have to do what I do and maintain portion control. It should be easier now that the Christmas cookies, fudge, and family dinners are done. Now that it is the 2nd of January the weight celebration is kind of over. I did what I promised myself i would do and now I'm starting from 0. Well, really 300, but my weight loss for the year is zero. 100 more pounds to go by 2015! Yeah! :-)

I wrote a new weight summary for my website, I figured I'd share it here as well. Have a Happy New Year. May it be full of fun and love.

Obesity is the leading preventable cause of death worldwide. Globally, there are at least 300 million obese adults. Obesity, morbid obesity, and super morbid obesity has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and stroke, premature arthritis and certain forms of cancer. I started to have trouble with yo-yo dieting when I was in my early 20's. There is a couple of misconceptions I'd like to address. First, most overweight people don't like being fat and they don't pig out all the time. Sure, some people eat unhealthy and drink a bunch of sugary drinks all day or drink too much beer, but some simply eat 5 to 10% more than everyone else. It adds up and then people start giving up. They get hooked onto a diet pill or the latest fad just to fall back six to nine months later. Then the body through natural instinct kicks into famine mode. It begins to retain every calorie it can, thus, people gain back the weight plus the body throws in some insurance against weight loss by adding 10 to 20% of the original weight. Over the years it becomes out of control. That's basically my story; however, I had a little help like the suicide of my father in 1993 and bipolar medications known to cause weight gain after my first major bipolar episode in 2001. My psychologist told me she would rather have fat patients than dead ones.  Yea, I gave up. By the time I went into the hospital in November 2007 for Mono, H-pylori, chronic lymphonic leukemia, diabetes, and something else I weighed 456 pounds. I hated myself. I lost water weight in the hospital and then refused to eat the hospital food. They wouldn't allow sugar or salt or taste into my food. When I got out in December, I was still sick and under treatment and I didn't eat. In January 2008, I had lost too much weight too quickly and my bipolar medications worked against me and I was toxified into a full psychotic/bipolar episode. My poor wife and family did't know if I was going to come back. That was a perfectly horrible waste of a month. All I remember is a two week nightmare. I can't remember the first two weeks out of four as an inpatient at all. I spent another month as an outpatient. They changed my bipolar medications to medications that weren't so drastically effected by weight change and I haven't been on a mental ward since. Knock on wood.
Eventually, I worked my way down to 350 and was terribly frustrated that I started gaining weight again. I tried vegan. I tried riding my bike 50 miles per week and my body adjusted and I gained the weight back plus 20% extra. Then I gave up again. Once again, I hated myself for my lack of control, but normal weight people can't understand the emotional pain of food addiction. Again, I wasn't pigging out. I was eating maybe 10% more dinner than others, but my metabolism is completely screwed up and I gain weight just smelling good comfort food.
While I was losing weight in 2013, I actually had a guy pass me quickly on the way out of the grocery store and he said to me, "Shit, lose some weight man." I couldn't reply because he was gone by the time I turned around. I feel nothing by sympathy and empathy for overweight people. They didn't grow up and say, "hey, I want to be fat." Food is an addiction. I think the most powerful addiction. I figure that more people are overweight than addicted to meth or even cigarettes. 

I decided to get the lap-band surgery in August 11, 2011. They "installed" a saline adjustable plastic band above the stomach and it created a pouch. My father-in-law died in late September 2011 and I kind of messed up the purpose of the band and expanded my pouch. Then I got better and fell to 330 pounds by the end of November or mid-December 2011. I had a horrible time with a bipolar episode and started to gain weight again. I had completely stretched out my pouch and I could over-eat once again and 2012 was the big climb to stupidity. My stepfather, Dennis, went into the hospital with what ended up being brain cancer in December 2012. I ate like crap and probably boosted my weight by 20 pounds while sitting with him in the hospital. I also ignored two nasty open sores on my chins.
On January 2 or 3rd 2013, I wasn't very coherent so I can't exactly remember the date, but Dennis died. It was a fast death, but it was just as well. He told me everyday that he just wanted to die. By that point he was in great pain. The day after Dennis died I went to my doctor and he sent me to the hospital for a severe case of cellutisis (the infections on my leg). The sores were nasty, they immediately put me on IV antibiotics and other stuff and I missed Dennis' funeral. I stayed in the hospital for about two and a half weeks until they decided that I was stable enough to go to a nursing home to fully recover. I don't really remember being in the hospital. My wife said I was pretty out of  it. When they put me into the nursing home to monitor my infection, they had to teach me how to walk and make a simple dinners again (physical and occupational therapy). I hated the food in both and would only eat fresh fruit. I was in the nursing home for about 10 days. At one point I saw my chart in the nursing home and it said 429 pounds. I was sickened. Who knows how much I weighed when I entered the hospital?
I lost a bunch of weight and by the first or second week in February. I weighed just under 400. I decided I would lose 130 pounds in 2013 and fall to 300 pounds or less. I used the weight lost in the hospitals as a kick off point. I vowed to lose 10 to 15 pounds per month regardless of my bipolar problems and I did have many bipolar problems in 2013. I was stubborn and steady. Today is December 22, 2013. I weigh 299 pounds and I'm not about to stop. I have lost weight through exercise and portion control. I eat about 1/2 to 1 cup of food three times a day. I eat the bad stuff once in a while, but not often. It keeps my cravings away. My body's natural defenses are on the ropes. It can't keep up with the small portions and I don't lose weight so fast to throw nature into a panic. One year from now I predict that I will weigh in at 199 or less.
I wish I could be as enthusiastic about my bipolar disorder (manic depressive illness). I am fairly stable now, but, as my family and doctors can attest, I have had a lot of problems with severe mood swings weekly or even daily regardless of the large cocktail of medications I take. Being in the hospital didn't help. I was in a tail spin in the winter of 2013. I'm lucky my doctor was able to keep me out of the mental ward to adjust medications again. In 2014, I have to change psychiatrists and therapists. My anxiety is very high. Every bipolar has a different cocktail of meds that may or may not work for them, but I think I may be reaching the point where I'm taking to many meds. If I'm ever late taking a dose by an hour or two I can feel it. I've been thinking about shock therapy. I've heard it helps. If anything, it might help reduce the amount of meds I take. I have a lot of research to do before someone plugs my head into a socket. Actually, I've heard it's much better than before and painless. We'll see...

More than 10 million Americans have bipolar disorder to different degrees. Because of its irregular patterns, bipolar disorder is often difficult to diagnose and is often untreated. While the disorder has strong ties to genetics, predicting when the first symptoms will occur is very hard, if not impossible, to predict.. It can take over at pretty much any time in life. More than half of all cases begin between the ages 15 to 25. It has no discrimination between men or women or race. 
As I've stated, my first major episode happened in 2001 when I was 36. The worst psychotic/bipolar episode I've ever had occurred in January 2008. It rewired my brain. My intellect is still intact and I have a lust for learning everything from gastronomy to bio-astro-physics. I do have a problem with regular 9 to 5 jobs. Actually, my lack of tolerance and anxiety around a work setting or even working from home has permanently disabled me. I can write articles (of my choosing), write books, blogs, websites and, surprisingly poetry, but I can't do it for other people. The pressure and judgement is more than I can bare. Even the thought that someone might stumble onto this site and make judgments about me freaks me out, but I need to write. I figure that if I can help bipolars and/or bipolar families, then all of the openness is worth it. If you need me I'm always at
Thanks for visiting,
Christopher Sharits