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A letter to my wife

Remember playing cards in your

Apartment, going on long walks together

At night, remember me sleeping all day,

And me blowing up like a balloon,

When I ate tuna casserole? Remember

Me being admitted for suicidal thoughts?

Remember the med changes, the visiting

Hours at the hospital, being mad at me,

Not believing that I would do it, and

Maybe you were right. Remember the

Tears, the arguments, the

Disappointments and heartbreak?

Remember the good times, with family

And friends? Remember the parents in

The hospital, your surgeries, my

Procedures, shock treatment and vocal

Cords? Remember the trips to Shands,

The Sunday school mornings and church

Services, music and children and

Candles and sermons? We’ve been

Through a lot in 21 years. And I wouldn’t

Change a thing, if I could! Love, Bonch

A Second Guess

How do you know

What to do

When you don’t feel quite right,

And you’re not getting through

Life unscathed,

And you can’t really sue?

I wonder

If I should have

Gone to get help

When my empty head

Was playing tricks on me.

I wonder if I should have stayed,

When I had a choice to make.

But was I free to choose?

Family and friends

Supported me.

The doctors were helpful,

So also the nurses,

Some of them, anyway.

I think it was good

That I stuck around,

But the journey was full

Of grief and regret.

Hindsight’s 20/20,

As they say.

Connections

Did you, too?

Have you been there?

Do you, really?

Thank you.

I’m glad you’re here.

I’m glad I’M here.

This is work.

I want to get better.

I wish I could sleep.

I sleep too much.

I’m ready to commit to that.

I’m ready to quit.

I trust you.

Thank you for being there for me.

A Light

A light twinkles

In the distance;

It is my hope,

Fragile, yet strong.

Will a big gust of wind

Blow out my candle?

I am protected

By many walls:

Meds, doctors,

Counselors, family,

Friends and helpers.

That gust of wind

Can blow if it must,

But my light will not

Be extinguished.

I will use

The tools I’ve been given.

I will continue the struggle,

And I will win.

Weatherman

Filled

To the rim

With anxiety,

Like a rising tide,

My feet don’t reach

The bottom.

I cannot get a sense

Of where I am.

Everything around me

Seems to happen

In slow motion,

While my emotions reel

Like tossing waves.

My mind tries to balance,

But is tossed about

Like a little boat.

Gravity plays with me

Like a child

With his toys,

Crashing them together,

And zooming them around.

I am natures plaything,

In the storm,

I am the storm,

I am a bystander,

I am a weather man,

Like an idiot,

Standing outside

In the wind and rain,

Talking to the camera

Until I can barely stand up.

Time to take my meds.

Perseverance

A Normal Day

A “normal” day

Is an unusual occurrence

For those of us

With bipolar.

But if our meds

Are doing what they’re supposed to,

And drama is kept to a minimum,

Occasionally,

We might find ourselves

Having a normal day.

I had a normal day today,

And it felt good.

Not so stressful

As a typical day,

I wasn’t anxious

Like I usually am.

I was just me,

Living life,

Almost like a normal person.

Both Ways

Sharing smothered thoughts,

Restricted feelings abound.

Hesitation rules the imagination,

Hiding from the truth,

Although it tortures me.

Yearning for stability,

Some kind of consistency.

If only I could have it both ways!

Mental, Part 3

Filling out all the paperwork once I was heavily medicated and in need of social services was a challenge. My dad helped me a lot with that as well as staying organized and getting my thoughts in order. He helped me apply for Dial-a-Ride, which was a must for appointments, since sometimes I couldn’t drive.

When I was in the hospital and they were trying to figure out what to do with me, two options kept coming up: being referred to UF Health Shands and ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). After several months of no improvement, I asked my psychiatrist for a referral to Shands Psychiatric. That would mean a two and a half hour drive, and my appointments were usually late afternoon, which meant an overnight stay in a motel.

Shands had me seeing an intern, with consultation during each visit with a resident doctor. They put me on trazadone for sleep, which helped a lot. Just before I had transferred to Shands my psychiatrist put me on perphenazine, an antipsychotic that would also help with sleep. I tried Shands for about six months, then I started thinking about ECT and going back to my local psychiatrist.

I did a consultation with the ECT doctor and he mentioned Buspirone, which is a non addictive anxiety med. He approved me for ECT, and Jackie’s Mom and my Dad volunteered to be drivers, coming from out of town and staying in our guest bedroom, switching off each week. After the 14th treatment, my memory had taken a plunge and I was still depressed. The doctor recommended stopping there.

I went back to my regular psychiatrist and since the ECT doctor had taken me off the anticonvulsants, Depakote and Gabapentine, they decided to try an old combination that had worked pretty well for a while, Zyprexa and Prozac (Olanzapine and Fluoxetine). Then he put me on Buspirone as well. I had been having mini anxiety attacks with a burning sensation all over my body and my body shook when talking about thoughts and emotions. The Buspirone stopped all that, along with a three times daily dose of propanolol, another anxiety med that I had been on since Shands.

We asked my shrink about memory loss. He suggested referring me to a neurologist. I went to see the neurologist, and he put me through a bunch of tests and memory function was very low, so he started me on a dose of Donepezil. After two months he tested me again and I went from a 70 to a 100 out of 130. He declared it a success.

Back in the Fall of 2017, I started the legal administrative specialist program at Lively Technical School. I had a hard time with the memorization at first, but by the Spring semester I went from D’s and F’s on quizzes, to A’s and B’s. I was very encouraged by my progress. Vocational Rehab was paying for my tuition and books, and after two rejections my SSDI case went to a hearing and I was approved, just as my long term disability coverage was about to run out.

That November my grandmother passed away and a month later I found my friend Curt dead in his house. He had a bad infection in his legs and his body went into sepsis. When I found him all the lights in the house were off and he was laying face up on the floor in his bedroom, with his eyes and mouth wide open. It was a little unsettling, to say the least.