Sam tells his story
chronologically, as it happened. A typical, yet not so typical story
about the discovery of Bipolar Disorder and dealing with it. Bipolar
World thanks you Sam for taking the time to share your story with us.
My email tells me that these personal stories mean a LOT to our readers....some
for the first time realizing that they are not alone with this disorder.
Many readers will be able to relate to your words.
father. I have probably bonded with my father and not my
mother. I am just
five. Mother gets custody and moves to another town in the
All of my earliest
recollections are of my father, I can never visualize my
mother in any of
my memories of this stage of my life. I can even remember
I was a very small boy with a speech impediment and reading
I struggled to overcome. My beginning school years were not
easy but I did manage
to have a few very good friends.
My mother takes
a new husband.
My new step father
turns out to be a red headed, mean tempered Swede. His
only redeeming factor,
he does not drink. I remember very little of this
time, although I
can remember and visualize many visits to my real father.
During one of my
summer vacations I received a self-inflected, accidental, bb
gun wound to my
right eye. I was staying with my real father at the time. It
was a very bad wound
but they saved the eye. While I was recuperating with my
mother, the family
physician came to the house to check on me. I remember him
telling my mother
and step father that something was psychologically wrong
with me and I should
be checked. I was completely withdrawn and non
was family history of mental illness. Aunts from both sides
of my family were
institutionalized at that time. There was no follow up.
I was staying away
from home nearly all the time. The only time I went there
was when my step
father was not at home. He disliked me and I had no use for
I have a lot of
friends, high school is a time of cars and girls. I love fast
girls and fast cars,
not necessarily in that order. In one year I receive 38
while driving my car. I am in debt over $2000 at a part
time job from auto
parts, gas and oil. I am having an on again, off again
steamy affair with
my future wife (who was later diagnosed as bi-polar).
I am also seeing
other women. My school grades are barely passable. At the
same time I am forced
to help my step father build our new home, a situation
that is intolerable
for me and I am sure nearly as bad for him.
I begin to drink
to make myself feel more comfortable in social situations.
I plead with my
family to let me attend an art academy after graduation, but
truthfully I had
shown no effort toward that cause. My family decides against
the expensive school,
so I go to a community college to study
I hate it.
Becoming more and
more entangled with first wife. I am in mania and don't
know it. My grades
are failing in school. Drivers license is suspended for
My father passes away after a long hard illness. I
maintain a very
erratic job record. It is a time of rock and roll, sex and
Married now, with
my first son on the way by late 1962. Working for my father
in law. We have
a house, lots of money, we are very social and involved in
our community. I
try other jobs on and off but am always unsatisfied with
them and return
to work for my father in law.
I still drink heavily
before and during any social activity.
A daughter and another
son are born. We are big time in debt. I am involved
in many extra marital
We host lots of
house parties and water ski every weekend. I have boundless
at rock clubs is the scene.
Wife and I move
away from families that cannot understand our life styles. I
am now working for
a large retail company. Wife is addicted to prescription
drugs. She has a
doctor that will prescribe anything. I am drinking heavily.
We are into the
rock dance club scene at least 3 nights a week. "Hey Jude" is
popular. We spend
my fathers $15000 inheritance in 6 months. We fight
the fights become very physical and dangerous. We split
up and she moves
back to her parents, I follow but we cannot reconcile. I am
I am now into drugs
heavily. I deal some to help financially. I am back
working for my ex
father in law. All of my old high school friends are
heavily into drugs
as well. I keep myself insulated from the world with sex
I use many including
marijuana, acid, mescaline, peyote, speed, seconal and
of course alcohol.
I will do anything I can get my hands on. My ex-wife is
in the same boat.
I just barely function in society. My ex father in law
fires me for dealing
drugs while at work. Blues clubs are now my scene.
I pick up what little
I have left and move away, to a new job in a close
city. My total assets
are an old Thunderbird, the clothes on my back and what
I can carry in the
trunk of the car. I still have plenty of money for drugs
and alcohol though.
I meet my future
wife shortly after moving. We live together for a while then
Things have gotten
better. My relationship with my new wife is good. She has
2 children. She
is from a dysfunctional background and is probably bi-polar
as well. Like attracts
like. I get kind of straightened out and we go after
custody my children.
My ex-wife is in such bad shape that we win. We now have
5 children plus
one of our own.
But we can't compete
with my ex father in laws money and the kids elect to
return to their
old home under his and an housekeepers supervision. My
present wife gives
up an ATD child for adoption. We are both now on the
slippery slope of
My wife and myself
are deeply depressed. We pack up and escape to another
state. She is in
terrible shape, but it is 5 months before I can go back to
work. I am still
drinking heavily, doping when I can. She works enough to put
food on the table
and pay the motel rent where we live. Out of dire necessity
I am forced to go
back to work.
Everything I touch
turns to gold. I am back in retail, making stores that
have never been
profitable turn black. I can do no wrong. They slide me up
through the employee
ranks at unprecedented speed. I get on an airplane to LA
for schooling from
the company stoned on cocaine. Mania again, but I don't
recognize it. I
can't address the class of store managers at graduation out
of social dysfunction
. I am afraid to take a store. I can't develop any
other store managers. I am treated well but just cannot
handle the social
aspects of the job.
Both my wife and
I are partying heavily. Hotel lounges are the scene.
I am offered the
opportunity to set up a department for a private store. I
take it. I uproot
my wife, son and wife's daughter's lives and move them
again. The job lasts
less than a year. I am fired for many reasons. I am in
the middle of another
affair, this one serious. Lots of drugs and alcohol.
When it comes right
down to it I decide that I really do love my wife and end
I cut firewood for
a living. Far removed for society I am comfortable. I
clean up. I don't
do drugs or alcohol for 6 or 8 months.
Winter set in and
my wife goes back to work. I am unemployed and drinking
again. I take a
menial job and have a terrible time controlling myself around
the other employees.
I am very angry, I get fired just before Chirstmas 1980.
Honkytonks and biker
bars are the scene
I go to a Christmas
program, a singing Christmas Tree. I am half drunk. The
music was inspiring
and emotional. The following morning I wake up in
euphoria. I have
never felt like this in my life. All the drugs, no
experience has even
come close to rivaling the ecstasy. I immediately quit
drinking and doping.
I am exploring the bible, I am baptized. I drive my
family nuts with
the transformation. The ecstasy lasts about 6 weeks and was
probably a form
of mania but it is the single most remembered experience of
I go into business
with a church member. The business lasts as long as the
ecstasy, but now
I have a new idea. I scramble to rent a building and start a
new mechanics business
which is my trade. I put it together and it is
successful. I am
not drinking or doping. We buy one house then another. I
My wife quits her job and comes into the business. She is on
the city council,
She is president of the chamber of commerce. I am involved
with Rotary, the
chamber of commerce and a member of the volunteer fire
is good. The kids are happy.
We open a small
hardware store, then start importing engines from Japan to
I take on developing
and implementing a very large community celebration
which is immensely
We are head over
heels in debt. We have borrowed heavily and at not favorable
The economy is in a major slowdown. We desperately try to
hang on but slowly
the business is eaten away. We are back into the
As they turn off the street lights in the town because they
can't afford to
leave them on we leave.
We are forced into
I am completely
out of control. I can't answer a phone. I am terrified of
everything. I can't
see anyone. I go through the bankruptcy hearing in a fog
of marijuana. My
wife is stronger and the only thing holding me together.
We are penniless
with no place to go. My crazy aunt on my fathers side dies
and leaves us a
cabin in a mountain town. We go there to try and recover.
I hid in the cabin,
drinking and doping. The aunt had been reclusive and the
cabin was in bad
disrepair. I fool around fixing it. My wife forces me to go
to county mental
health for help.
They treat me for
depression with Xanax. It really does not have much affect.
I start drawing
and painting again, the first time since high school. I am
still good, in fact
I am very good.
My wife goes to
work, I go back to school at a local community college. I
carry a 4.0. I love
My art looks good.
I am handling part time jobs and carrying a full load in
school. I am not
drinking or using drugs.
I transfer to a
University in the city that my wife and myself first met in.
I had gone the complete
circle. My wife and kids did not want to move again,
but they did. We
took over the management of a trailer park for a place to
live and I went
to school. My
a little uninspired were good enough to be looked on very
favorably. I was
in full blown mania. I had a very fast motorcycle and rode
it that way every
where I went. My wife refused to ride with me. I found
myself riding both
beyond the motorcycle's capabilities and beyond my own. I
was not drinking
or doping. I had plans for everything. I could not settle my
art. I painted with
every medium and on everything I could find. I painted
most any topic.
I graduated 1991 with a 3.49 and honors classes for the four
years of college.
I quickly found
that I did not have the ability, drive or guts to market my
work and quickly
put the art on the shelf as it was too difficult for me to
undergo the rejection
that an artist has to go through.
My wife had started
up a small business while I was in my last year of
school. I jumped
on the opportunity of not having to show my art. We borrowed
(again) from everyone
that we could think of. A few of the loans were from my
wives family and
large. We rented a building and spent years building the
business only to
have it end again the way the other did, bankrupt. We worked
12 hours per day
seven days per week but there was just no way that we could
do it. We always
just bought too much stuff. We lost everything again.
Again I was devastated.
This time was the last. I was just too old to go on.
We wound up on general
assistance and the county made me go to mental health
where I was diagnosed
as bi-polar. On one hand I was so very mad at the waste
of my life, on the
other thankful for an excuse for my life.
I feel much better
now on my medications that I can ever remember. My wife
and children are
amazed. I am amazed, but I have much to regret and much to