I was born in the spring of 1959, the unexpected  last child of a 42 year old.  I had 3 older brothers  and two senior sisters, Baltimore Irish Catholic all  the way.  My parents both worked in DC and met on the  train commute.  They married and settled in suburban  Maryland.  That is where I came from. My earliest memories are  all of love and pride and fun and games. I've always  had a fear of my Dad yet great admiration and desire  to please.  Hours of sitting with my Mom as she  cooked and talking about everything I had seen that  day.  Strange neighbors and walking to school, bike  riding alone with a whole cast of imaginary friends!   Around the age of twelve I was everyone's darling.  All across the board, jocks liked me, girls liked  me, teachers, my parents, I .liked me, and I loved  it.  The day of the Kent State killings that all  changed.

 As I was running my mouth in defense of the  protesters 2 of my football teammates came up and  proceeded to punch me out, guys I thought liked me!  It shattered my confidence and all through high  school I developed a severe low self-esteem problem,  my self-image was that of a retarded freak who could  only fall short of his potential!  It was very  sudden; I really don't have any idea what happened.  One year I loved myself and then I didn't.  Then I discovered Drugs, L.S.D., pot, booze, the  whole party scene. I liked it!  I could get out of my  own head, plus my worth was determined by the  quality of my dope, something I could control!

  In 12th grade my father got a call from my guidance  counselor about drug use and depression and it would  help my schoolwork if I got some psychiatric care.  My Dad sat me down and told me what the man said  about me, then with all the certainty in the world  said it was nonsense,  I was bright and sociable and  had no problems!  All I needed was to buckle down and  be the son of a great man!  Ok, I thought, right Dad,  I am a powerful member of your clan, lets just be  grandiose, so I was!  then two days later I'd be  depressed again, classic symptoms of my bp but  everyone remained quiet.  I was oblivious to  everything but the pain I felt emotionally.  When I  wasn't high.

  So in 1977 I graduated high school and moved in with  my friends family as my parents retired to Florida.  I was set up by Dad to go to college in my hometown,  2000 miles away from him!  I never went to class but  for a solid year had him sending me money.  Finally  he caught on.  So I took a construction job and spent  a year and a half partying, dealing with my low self  esteem, depression, manic depression by using  illegal drugs.  Found my self in county jail before  the year was out.  From there straight to the state  mental hosp. For 6 weeks of strange throzine lock  down!   My brother took me in and I sobered up for a  month or so and then found myself in the middle of  craziness again, caught shoplifting, skipped court  and moved in with this girl and her criminal  roommates, then I was hit with a full blown  psychotic manic episode.  Paranoid, I knocked on the  catholic priest door that had counseled me back in  high school.  That landed me in Georgetown hospital  for several months, diagnosed manic-depressed and  released to my parents in Florida where I slept  through an entire year. 

The doctors had me on  lithium and Valium, going to a high priced analyst  plus expensive group psychotherapy.  All thanks to  Federal employee blue cross health insurance because  my Father had reenrolled me in community college  when I hit Georgetown hospital; He loved me trying  to get me help.  It was hard for him to watch all  efforts just make me lay around his house getting  fat.   He got me a little motorcycle and I went to  classes 3 days a week and slept the rest of the  time.  One day I decided enough was enough, it will  never get better so I ate the bottle of valium and  then the lithium got on my bike and drove.  My only  thought was of where on Beneva road I would crash,  well I didn't crash but instead fell over at a red  light, was rushed to the e.r. And woke up the next  day with a catheter hanging out of me, my shrink  standing over me looking disgusted, and a feeling of  utter despair.  I was now officially dangerous  and  they told me straight up they didn't know what to do  to help me. 

 I sat down with my Dad and, much like back in high  school, decided together that I should quit all this  illness talk, be a man and join the navy.  So that's  what I did.  Never talked to the doctor about any of  it, just cancelled the appointments and stopped the  meds.  Made my way through all the paperwork and  found myself at the Orlando navel training center.  I  had been clean and off all meds for 3 months at  least and as I settled into boot camp I began to  feel real good. Hypomania was making it easy to make  friends and by the 5th week I was feeling cocky.  As  our tent was turning in one night I snuck a  cigarette and our c.o. smelled it causing all of us  to have to stand at attention until one of us  admitted to it. This guy told on me so I screamed  obscenities and was promptly removed from my class.  I accepted the punishment of being put back 3 weeks  and wrote my parents a letter that I had come down  with pneumonia and had to be sent to the hospital so  graduation would be postponed.  My new class was a  rowdy group and soon I was in trouble again.  This  time they sent me to "MO TRA" motivational training.   It was physical punishment and it sent me in to a  tirade immediately.  The drill instructor laughed and  walked me into the C.O.'s office, told me I should  forget about a career   " I don't want your type in my navy" so I said  fine, release me!  It was that easy, they released me  in a week with my civilian clothes and a check for  the time I was there!

 Cool, happy mania was on me, I  had cash so I called dad and said goodbye.  Hitched a  ride to Maryland and tried to be a drug dealer  Thank  God that didn't work out.  I became very depressed  and lived off my family for a few months then one  night I called my dad and asked if he would send me  to computer school, I was serious about going  straight.  He agreed and I came back to Florida,  joined alcoholics anonymous and did well at Tampa  tech.  I was working and going to school when this  friend offered me a high paying job. Only one  semester from graduation I quit school.  I was still  thinking like a bipolar on a manic roll,  irrationally!  For two years I was in a self-help  group treating insanity by not doing drugs.  Believing that my mind would return to rational  thinking once time healed it from the years of drug  abuse.  The entire time ignorant of bp.  As if my mind  completely blocked out those years of hospitals and  knowledge. I'm beginning to believe it was shame,  fear of stigma.  But still, why I sabotage myself is  a mystery, and I still have to fight it!

 Back to the  story, at this point I was 26 years old and  determined to just make it on my own.  In the middle  of all the school turmoil a casual girlfriend tells  me she is pregnant with my daughter.  We got married  and I landed a job back in Sarasota where I've been  now for 15 years.   I was completely coned by my wife  due to bp denial.  Then one manic spring in '91,  I  left my 4-year-old daughter with no cares at all.   Never even thought about her.  I wanted to be a free  young playboy and that's what my attention focused  on!  Well that lasted about 3months  and with the  divorce bills mounting I had no way to pay rent so  moved in with this woman and her 16 year old.  I did  fall in love with her and felt love back so we  eloped to the New Orleans jazz fest after 10 months.

  The first two years were great.  She was on the board  of directors of the blues society so for two big  name festivals I got to be a behind the scenes  player.  Along this time I started up my drinking and  smoking a little pot.  Soon I was very depressed.  My  34th and 35th year were spent in my house except I  went out 4 times and took a job that lasted at the  most a month.  My wife was stressing out having to  pay all the bills and I was just getting meaner.   Then my Dad died right after my oldest sister was  killed in a car crash.  Then 6 months later my sister  in law died of cancer.  In 7 months time my family  got together more then in the last 20 years! 

 I  cycled out of my depression and with so much family  discussion and stories going around I keyed back  into my manic depression and began my quest for  help.  P-docs, meds, psychotherapy, participation in  this BB is still helping a lot! My wife had long ago  lost faith in me so it was hard for her to help me.   She tried.  I was too self important-STILL-to even  realize she needed extra care to heal from the  damage I caused.  I just wanted her to help herself  and me at the same time.   So over the past couple years my life has been  turbulent but not out of control.  I get depressed  but not suicidal, excited but not manic stupid.  I  trust and pray that I can continue to grow as a  loving person, farther and farther away from the  beast.


Email jimijames here



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