Don’t you kind of hate it when people say something happens for a reason? It’s a pretty great rationalization technique for a crisis after the fact. A “god in the gaps” defense to explain that this particular suffering has a purpose and to quell grumblers and complainers mulling around physical deserts or the ones we erect to explain our own undoing.
The Undoing will come one way or another, but how this process comes depends on the right amount of variables clicking into place. Bipolar’s Coming at you like a Dark Horse. (See: Pegasus; Katy Perry)
There were so many clues and inconsistencies within my life that went detected, criticized, shamed but the root cause was never identified. If I drove you crazy at times, how do you think I felt not being able to explain a certain action when I didn’t know either?
I am not excusing behavior or thoughts or patterns of living because of misdiagnosed mental health. It’s not a get out of jail free card. But it is bail money. It’s enough to get me back in the right direction and away from the very litigious self-castigation team working in my own thoughtsicles.
I kept coming back to and searching myself for answers. I had a whole fucking house, thousands of dollars in furniture, paintings, books, clothing in storage. How did I miss paying my storage bill? The payments were on autopay, so how could I have missed it? I literally lost everything because I couldn’t even see past the filter mania had involuntary unleashed upon my own mind and emotions. And I couldn’t forgive myself for it.
My debit card got eaten by an ATM in Colorado 1.5 weeks into my road trip. I used my credit card for all expenses and paid the balance off every day. By the time I got a new debit card, and another check for $10,000- I had already been suicidal and my sister had to come rescue me in Seattle. I just figured it would work itself out and my bank would know to pay them. I didn’t look at my bank account for about two months. I was going to get a book deal and recording contract and or win the lottery and would just buy all new things.
It was months later that I found out my father had also flown to Seattle in secret. My mouth dropped open when my sister told me this on MLK Jr. Day. “He came because he wanted to be close by in case you needed him.” But I didn’t once ask for him. I was completely floored and started sobbing. What a selfish prick I am.
He flew to Seattle and rented a car and followed my sister and I down to Portland, and then to Crater Lake, and finally in San Francisco. My sister had told me, “Josh, dad is willing to come meet you and you guys can finish the trip together.” I thought about it and decided to ask him to come meet me at the Grand Canyon. The symbolism was not lost on me. The great chasm between my father and I would be summited in the desert of Arizona. I told her that this sounded really cool and that I would ask him when I got closer to Arizona.
“Why didn’t y’all tell me he was there?” Jess replied to me in her direct but tender way, “you weren’t ready to see him and we thought it might set you off.” She’s probably right of course, but I don’t think I would have stayed so mad for so long if I had been able to reconcile with my dad at that time.
I wish I would have dropped everything and called my dad and asked him to meet me right then. It was never to be though because mania resurfaced the day after I dropped my sister off in San Francisco.
And it didn’t end until months later when I was in Mexico feeling like the world was collapsing around me. It is my biggest regret I didn’t reach out to my father or to anyone. It’s hard to break past your own blockade of isolationist policy of breaking down in solitude.
I was still paying over $1,400 a month in bills during my travels. Then my car got towed in San Francisco- a $555 fine for parking one foot away from a curb. I went on Instagram live that night and decried the ills of Western greed and the lack based mentality we’ve been conditioned into believing. That fine only proved my point but it was also the last great warning that I needed to reassess my actions before things got even more out of hand. That was the first week of October.
I ticked off nearly every symptom of the mania checklist but was still sure I was just experiencing a break because of ptsd, cessation of medications, and a whole score of other situations I’ve already discussed. I would have resisted and refused a bipolar diagnosis had it just been the mania.
But after my wallet was stolen, and my book didn’t take off as I thought, when my belongings were auctioned off and then my phone was stolen- My spirit was nearly broken. I couldn’t understand how I had said so many harsh and hurtful things and was acting completely out of character. I couldn’t figure out how I let myself down by blowing through my savings.
I was wrenched with hopelessness and suicidal almost every day for two months. Racked with guilt and so confused by my actions. How did I get so out of control? It was the crushing depression that led me to seek out more answers and professional help.
There were three more months of exhilarating highs and 3 of the hardest lessons I’ve ever experienced to occur before any reflection occurred.
If this sounds like a twisted morality tale of unfortunate circumstances- it’s not because I got the wrong fairy godmother. When I realized there was a mental health connection so many of the loose marbles started to find their place again. Having a general answer gave me strength to confront myself.
To be continued….