Friday, November 13, 2015

Broadcasting to Heaven | A Short Bipolar I Disorder Memoir | Including Three Manic Episode Stories

Manic Episode #1 - 1999

It was a dark night in North Hollywood, but the street lights allowed me to see the large cracks and potholes.  I was roller blading up and down the middle of the street, at two in the morning.  I was experiencing insomnia.

The next day I made an appointment to see a psychiatrist.  She was young and mousey, and she didn’t take long to diagnose me with depression.  I was prescribed Prozac, and took it for a year.  The Prozac seemed to lose its effectiveness over time, so I quit after a year of taking it.

At age twenty eight I had experienced some insomnia as well, and I would drink myself to sleep when it occurred.  I wonder if I had had a girlfriend at that time – I had trouble landing one that I really liked, and one that really like me – I would not have had the insomnia.  And I wondered the same thing this time around, as I still had no long term girlfriend.

Taking a series of personal growth seminars worked as a “natural” anti-depressant.  I went a year without taking any medication when I met my wife.  She had done the seminars also, and I met her at her party that a friend of mine, who introduced me to the seminars, told me about. 

I thought the depression diagnosis was a thing of the past.  But not long after I became married, at age thirty seven, I was browsing the web one evening, looking at a web site on Celtic druidry.  A few mornings later, I awoke to the laughter of leprechauns who were running out of my rented condo in Burbank! 

I could only hear the leprechauns or fairies, as my eyes were not yet open – I was just beginning to wake up.  It startled me, and seemed so real that for some months afterwards I was fearful of anything faerie-like.  Garden gnomes, a leprechaun stuffed animal my mother had, anything of the sort.

A day or two after that, I was opening an email message for a new web site/email hosting order.

“Oh that’s weird.  I got an order from New Zealand with the word fairies in the domain name,” I said to my wife, considering it to be quite a coincidence.

I was active in the Los Angeles Chapter of a prominent environmental organization, being an outdoor enthusiast and environmentalist.  I had co-created the Chapter’s first web site on a volunteer basis, as well as participating in some hikes and outings.

As it turned out, participating in online discussion groups is my trigger for triggering full blown (psychotic level where you lose contact with reality) mania.  (Apparently I am not the only one with this trigger.)  I didn’t know this at the time, and I had been participating in an email discussion within the Chapter, as this was before web discussion forums had taken the place of email discussion lists.  There was an accusation of some sort, of some minor “corruption,” hijacking the email discussion.  I dismissed the accusation, as one candidate, or a group of Chapter members, was attempting to smear another candidate and existing office holder.  It was the stuff of internal politics.  Inconsequential as the bickering was, the bickering, combined with perhaps other stressors in my life at the time, pulled the trigger, and I snapped into my first full blown manic episode, not knowing what mania or bipolar disorder was.

One email message that I sent to the list that I can remember contained a proclamation “count on me to find the truth!”  It was a grandiose statement and was not really about finding the truth of the political infighting, it was about finding a larger truth, I suspect.  And it marked the start of manic episode number one.  The hallucinated fairies were some sort of precursor I guess.

On the other side of the Verdugo Mountains, across this small mountain range from Burbank, I noticed I could hike faster than my usual pace.  Once I had made some progress on the trail and had climbed in altitude to provide a good aerial viewing spot overlooking the communities of Sunland and La Crescenta, I had a sort of realization that “it was all magic!”

After returning home, I was compelled to lay down on the floor on my back, and I believed I had experienced a spiritual waterfall, followed by a bluish spirit that was paying me a visit.

I was at it again on the email discussion list, still fully manic.  There was original classical music composing and playing in real-time in my head, not as a faint, tinny experience, but as if I were wearing stereo headphones, at the same time that I was writing.  I played trumpet as a youth but I had forgotten how to compose music and had no way to record it on paper.  I don’t remember much of the off topic banter that I was sending out to everyone on the list.  I do remember a bit about "If the Devil is a friend of God," and a resulting "It’s too good to be true, and too true to be good."  I was writing in a grandiose Elizabethan English accent.  There was one member of the discussion list who responded to what I wrote, saying he didn’t remember having such “belly laughter” in a long time, and referred to me as a “budding playwright.”  It’s hard to concentrate on something like writing when you are full blown manic though, so I have my doubts that I displayed all that much talent.

“Ring, ring, ring.”  I heard the telephone ring three times on several different occasions.  I think they were hallucinations, but they seemed perfectly real.  I didn’t answer the phone, somehow knowing they were just a signal of some kind.  As of 2015, years after that fact, I was reminded of this experience watching the movie "The Accidental Tourist" I believe it was, where the telephone would ring three times and no one answered.

Oddly, I realized at some point that the time stamps on all my email messages had either a number three in them or were divisible by three.  Unless I hallucinated the time stamps.  I was unable to save the messages or verify the time stamps after the manic episode, as I had become afraid of the manic episode experience, and as a result I permanently deleted every message I had sent or received on the mailing list.

I decided to take my wife to Universal CityWalk, which is the outdoor mall part of the Universal Studios theme park in Studio City.  I could drive just fine.  As we walked by three jazz musicians, I stopped and watched them intently.

“Loret, let’s dance.”  This was out of my ordinary nature, as I would ordinarily be too reserved to dance in a public place, particularly when no one else was dancing.  “No.” My wife said, simply, a little bit surprised with me.  “No one else is dancing.”  And we walked on.

Sitting on a bench, I felt as if I could heal some past psychological scar of my wife’s, by placing my hand on her belly, and perhaps also putting my arm around her.  She did not ask what I was doing nor did she mind.

Back at the condo, I felt connected by strings, to the universe, and I felt I could communicate with “God,” but moving through about seven to nine levels of Gods, by going up a sort of chain, and back down, using feelings.  As many people do when they are fully manic, I felt like a religious prophet.  Not Jesus, but Jesus-like.

It seemed like animals were around our condo more often than before.  The owl that had been active at night in a big tree was active.  The deer walked by to eat some flowers.  And I would sit outside staring at the birds, thinking I could communicate with them.  Our condo was located in the foothills of the Verdugo Mountains in Burbank, and had a small hillside strip of landscaping which attracted these animals.

“Jim, I think you need to go to a psychiatrist,” my wife declared one evening.  “No, Loret.  I’ve reached a breakthrough.  I’m going to make a fortune with the way my mind is working.”  I thought I must have reached enlightenment, whatever enlightenment was.  I considered driving the next day to the personal growth seminar office to tell them, but I was under enough self-control to decide that that was probably not a good idea.

At the end of my first full blown manic week, I crashed into a mixed mood of heavy depression -- the kind you read about those with unipolar depression have, where they are lying in bed crying, which is what I was doing – and with the mania still blended in with the depression.  The result was a confused mental state that was so bad I could not drive myself to the psychiatrist when my wife finally convinced me to go.  So she had to drive me there.

I didn’t know what bipolar disorder was, so I wrote down “possible schizophrenic break” on the patient intake form at the psychiatrist’s office, which was in Glendale.

The doctor, a middle aged man, had piercing blue eyes.  As my wife and I sat in his office, he diagnosed me with bipolar I disorder, the strongest grade of bipolar, because of the psychotic level mania symptoms, and I was prescribed three medications -- an anti-psychotic (Risperdal), an anti-depressant (Celexa), and a mood stabilizer (Depakote.)

While for a time I thought the personal growth courses may have caused my acquiring bipolar disorder, I have long since rejected that idea, and I have learned that in all three of my incidences of getting a full blown manic episode, the online discussion forum or email list participation is what the cause was.  I also thought Deepak Chopra might be at fault for my first manic episode, as I had been listening to one of his audio tapes around the time that I lost it.  But it turns out it was, without a doubt, only the online email list or discussion forum participation.

Over time, I settled back into a depressive state only.  I could only work about two hours a day after the weeklong manic episode.  I just couldn’t handle much stress.  I swam daily, hoping that would help reduce the depression.  I ran, I walked.  I went to a few different doctors, including one who had me doing testosterone injections and another, a Chinese acupuncturist, who stuck needles connected to electrical pulses in my head.  The electrical acupuncture worked for the depression – however, they wanted me to come three times a week, which I couldn’t afford, and the acupuncture effects only lasted a few days.

It took a few months to pull out of the stress.  As the years went by it seemed like I continued to improve.  I don’t like taking drugs of any kind, so I asked my doctor if I could quit first Risperdal and then Depakote, and he gave me the OK on both counts, not long after I was first prescribed.  I was unable to quit Celexa though, feeling hung-over and depressed when I tried to quit the medicine cold turkey.  I later learned there was an ailment called SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome, which involved withdrawal symptoms from SSRI anti-depressants.  The syndrome mimics the symptoms of depression, making it very hard to quit, as you figure you can’t go without the anti-depressant.  So I continued on the Celexa for some time.

American Dream

After buying a house in the mountains of Southern California by financing the down payment, and losing a large customer, we had to cut out our health insurance expense, and so I quit Celexa as a result of not wanting to pay for it out of pocket.  I seemed to go OK without it once I got over the withdrawal, which took some weeks.  But my mind wasn’t at full tilt by any means, not on the Celexa and not off it.  My brother asked me what depression was like, and I told him that it was like having a bad hangover every day.  It is more involved than that of course as it also involves depressed feelings, and since memory and cognition are affected.  Mental "fogginess" is another aspect.

I loved our home in the ski / lake resort town.  My wife had an irrational fear that our children would fall down if we were to buy a multiple story condo in the Camarillo or La Crescenta area, so I told her I knew of a place in the mountains where the single story houses were about half price.

I was stacking the purchasing of the home in my favor, being a nature lover, but my wife ended up liking being surrounded by nature as well.  Armenians are very close to their families, so that was the hardest part for Loret – being a two hour drive away from family.  But for me, I was right at home. 

Since the free to a good home dog I picked up bit my daughter, I decided to replace the dog with a Siberian husky, as I knew full bread huskies were good with children.  I drove to a breeder a few hours’ drive away, and bought Alexi, an all-white Siberian, full sized, with blue eyes, for two hundred dollars, since he was full grown.  They wanted to make him a show dog, but he was too shy for that.  I ended up getting a second Siberian later on, from the same breeder, who had problems of her own.

I’d take the dogs “sled dogging” with my mountain bike, in the mountains on dirt roads, and on the boardwalk that goes around the lake.  I had two leashes connected to each other, connected to a harness connector that the two dogs were connected together with.  The leash was connected to a carabiner to the post that held the handle bars.

My kids learned to ride bikes in that neighborhood and at the lake in the parking lot during the off tourist season.  The cold got a bit old towards March and April, but the warm half of the year was paradise.  I liked some snow, including even getting out in the storms and shoveling the driveway and sidewalk, which I considered to be a good workout.

I went skiing a few times, although I couldn’t afford to ski much.  My young son would ski faster than I, using no brakes on the way down.

We had our cozy fires in the living room, our dogs, and nice, old-fashioned neighborhood of a combination of locals and second home vacationers.  There was low crime, our kids could take the bus to school, and we could walk to the center of town as well as ride our bikes to the lake.  We could hike right from the end of our street, four or five houses down, on a dirt road that went through the forest.  On the fourth of July, we’d camp at the lake, watching the fireworks over the lake, with my wife’s relatives coming up for a few days.  It was a great place to raise children, and in my opinion, a great place to live.

As the years progressed, and our income steadily declined from losing web/email hosting customers, my wife decided to get into a teaching credential program, and so did I.  She would be getting a multiple subject credential to teach elementary school, and I would follow the law of supply and demand and attempt to teach math in middle or high school, as there aren’t many business teaching positions at the high school level, my degree being in business, and teaching math was in demand.  We would be able to take long vacations together with the family, I had hoped, as a fringe benefit of both of us being teachers.

Although I got two good reviews by the University reviewer of my student teaching of geometry and trigonometry in the local high school, I had forgotten a lot of math, it being a few decades since I had had those subjects, and I would re-learn the material the night before I taught it.  This resulted in my being a bit late a few times in the morning.  The master teacher could tell that I was rusty, perhaps because I had trouble with the hardest problems, wasn’t happy with the tardiness, and kicked me out of the student teaching one day after I had called in sick to study for one of the teaching credential course exams I had put off studying for.

I mentioned to her that I had bipolar disorder, I’m not sure why, perhaps to explain the tardiness, but that obviously didn’t help any, as she kicked me out the same day I told her.  I would like to believe that it wasn’t discrimination based on having a health problem, but it might have been.  I believe when she was away on a field trip one day, and that my students didn't have any questions from their homework the night before, that was evidence that I could have successfully taught in a full time position at that high school, particularly Algebra, but my stickler of a master teacher would have no part of it.

I tried student teaching Algebra in a middle school in the high desert, but the students were so out of control at this school, even with the master teacher in the back of the room, I walked out.  The high school I did the math student teaching in was going to have two openings for math teachers the following year, so I was hoping to get hired for one of those.  I also had a secret plan of possibly switching to teach English after getting the math teaching position, as I have more interest in English literature than in math.  And I was hoping to coach football as well.  It was very unfortunate.

I proceeded to work at another middle/high school in the high desert as a substitute teacher.  I did this for over a year, but I wasn’t a very good sub teacher as I am too easy going and the out of control nature of the students required a school “marm” type disciplinarian.  I liked the kids, and they liked me, and I was fine with them in small groups, but when thirty of them would get together in a classroom with a substitute teacher, they just wanted to have a party and not learn.

My wife was not able to pass the multiple subject teacher’s test, trying several times.  So we both failed in our attempt to become teachers, mid-credential, racking up some student debt in the process.

I noticed one of the companies I was collocating my web and email servers with was looking to hire a system administrator / tech support person back in downtown Los Angeles, so I got hired there.  We rented out our home in the mountains, and started renting a condo in La Crescenta, which is about a 20 minute drive to downtown Los Angeles, and is located near where I had taken that hike in the Verdugo Mountains when I had my first manic episode, declaring that “it was all magic.”

Manic Episode #2 - Holidays 2009/2010

Little did the owner of the colocation business tell me he had been hoping to sell his business for some time, taking up an interest in real estate investing.  Sure enough, after three months he sold his company to another colocation company in the same building, and I was let go by the new company who already had a system administrator and a tech support person.

We were unable to pay one of our two mortgages.  Our renter then stopped paying the rent as well, so we now could no longer pay either mortgage on the house.  The stress was almost unbearable when we had the renter and we could not afford to pay the mortgages on our house.  Our house was our only investment.  I was so stressed, I had trouble applying for jobs.  I did get a few interviews, but no job. 

I tried to deal with the situation by learning about Buddhism and meditation, meditating in nature near the condo we were renting.  A few times I got to a level of real peace – where I had a spontaneity and “present moment flow” -- after meditating for an hour or two.  That state of mind was wonderful when dealing with my children.

“Look kids, it’s fun to clean your room when you can move the furniture around to make your bedroom different.”  The kids responded enthusiastically, and vacuumed and cleaned while rearranging their furniture.

Another way I dealt with the stress was to go for a hike on a nearby trail that was not used very much.  I would break branches with my hands to care take the trail for people to use without having to be bothered by brushing into branches or having to duck to avoid them.  I took my kids on this trail a number of times, and they enjoyed it as well.

My wife cut our expenses by finding a smaller, less expensive house to rent, in Montrose, which is next to La Crescenta.  We had been in the townhome for a year.  I started to spend some time in another online discussion group that was about “open source religion,” while I was going through the financial stress, and I went through a midlife crisis I think at the same time, which all contributed to triggering my second full blown manic episode.  This time I dealt with the mania and midlife crisis by drinking, while also stopping my medications.  It was also the Holidays, and I had told the real estate agent we had in the mountains, who was trying to short sell our house, to let the house foreclose, after getting some bites on the house, with none of them panning out.  I had read that a foreclosure is no worse than a short sale on your credit record.

I had a story running through my mind with a military theme, because of a member of the discussion group sending me private messages about how military fits into a grand scheme of things, and how its theory applies to the business world.  He was very intelligent.  I do have a patriotic streak.  I worked at a defense contractor at one point, Northrop Aircraft – the division that made target and reconnaissance drones in Thousand Oaks, and I felt patriotic while working there.  I had also tried to join the Navy Reserve near the same time, but I was disqualified for admitting that I had tried marijuana in the interview.  I had considered the Navy SEALs or some other Navy job after college but it was just a brief consideration, thinking I should find a regular job and get married instead.

The mid-life crisis aspect of the manic episode had to do with getting in touch with long lost values, apparently.  Politically, I am primarily an environmentalist, while secondarily I have other values from both sides of the isle.  I think I was kind of doing my own psychotherapy during this manic episode, which is one reason why drinking was involved – to help with airing out stuff from the depth of my subconscious, perhaps.  I was drinking leftover hard alcohol, sitting on the floor of our kitchen late at night.  The drinking was completely misunderstood by my wife.  “What were you doing last night, drinking and laughing?” My wife asked.

While manic, I thought that the flashes I saw on my computer screen must have been my deceased father’s spirit coming through the Internet.  I also felt like I was the reincarnation of Moses, George Washington, and Winston Churchill during the episode, at three distinct times.  My CIA name was Moshe and also Monk Seal, as Moshe is another name for Moses.  And Monk Seal was because I was a little bit interested in becoming a Buddhist monk, perhaps even a Catholic monk when I was practicing Catholicism, and had at one time been interested in becoming a Navy SEAL.  I also felt I was half the reincarnation of Churchill and half Hitler, with each taking one side of the brain, which would explain having bipolar disorder.  Also, that Osama Bin Laden was my counterpart on the other side of the world who was afflicted with the same condition.

I went outside one day, feeling like Moses, with umbrella in hand.  It was starting to rain, and there was a lightning strike not far away, which further fueled my psychotic beliefs.  The water was rushing through the drainage canal off Honolulu Avenue while I walked over a bridge, and this reminded me of Biblical stories with floods and parting seas.  I hiked to my meditation spot, which was in a shaded area forested with oak and other trees, in Whiting Woods, with tall grass growing wild.  I saw a black leather jacket hanging from a tree limb, and I figured it must have been Satan’s jacket, also representing Hitler, and that Steven Spielberg was involved somehow and that he was the one who ripped a hole in the jacket.  I walked up to the jacket and touched it to see if it was real and not a hallucination, and it was real.

There were foot prints on the ground leading up the creek bed and away from my meditation spot, which I thought must have been Jesus’ foot prints, since I had a suspicion that one of the people in the online religious discussion might have been Jesus, based on an image asking jokingly if the person was Jesus in the discussion web site.  I had imagined myself controlling US Navy submarines, blowing up an enemy nuclear weapon armed submarine.  Since I believed my father was inside the internet, and because of his being a radioman in the Navy during World War II, I figured I had the help of my father in the fiber optic lines running across the oceans as a sort of sonar net.  I hallucinated some people who were out of site behind the trees, who were hiking out of site to keep up with me, cheering on what I was doing.  I could hear them but not see them.

While walking back over the drainage canal, I had the idea of being half reincarnated as Churchill and half as Hitler, and while feeling like "one hundred percent Hitler" I stared at briefly and thought of jumping into the raging drainage canal, which was a sick feeling.

I then became "one hundred percent Churchill," while Bin Laden would have experienced the opposite -- becoming worse than he already was by becoming all Hitler and no Churchill.  After learning about Carl Jung's "unconscious" theories, "Hitler" apparently represents the archetypal shadow.  I originally didn't want to mention anything about Hitler, not being a fan of his at all, to say the least, but after learning about the archetypal shadow I figured I should include it.  I had no thoughts of harming others during my brief feeling as Hitler.

I then walked as (fully) Winston Churchill with umbrella open while it was raining lightly, through the shopping district and back to the house.  I have not had acting lessons, but I really felt and acted like Churchill while manic.  I learned what it takes to be an actor, although I don’t think I could act at all while not in a manic state, because I can tell that you need to have a powerful belief that you really are the person you are acting out.  I am also normally too inhibited to act, not being very good at that type of self-expression, preferring instead to write.  I also acted the part of the person who narrated “The Secret” movie, talking to my wife about a related “law of attachment.”  “We need some space apart from each other Loret,” I said.  This again was way beyond my normal self-expression and acting ability.  I really believed I was Moses, George Washington, and Winston Churchill, at different times.

I also believed that I might have caused the rain storm and the lightning strike while “being” Moses.  My inside joke at that time was that I was sure to find a job in Hollywood if I could make it rain.

I believed the Buddha must also be reincarnated and somewhere near, presenting a different kind of Trinity and a different kind of Second Coming -- Moses, Jesus and the Buddha.  While hiking, I hiked past an Asian man with a dog, so I figured he must represent the Buddha.

At some point during this second manic episode, I thought my son had been pre-selected to be a future American president, and that the presidents were being pre-selected way in advance, by the government.  There was a reason why the guy living next door worked for JPL and why there were police officers living across the street in a city-owned property -- they were there to protect my son.

“(Son), I think you are going to be President one day,” I told my son while he was lying in bed.

I put a few keepsakes from my box of memories in different places in my son's room, as if I was going to leave and I wanted him to remember me by.

While George Washington, I packed my small Toyota Yaris with some belongings, an American flag, binoculars, and a computer joystick.  I was wearing my Cub Scout leader shirt, which was the closest thing I could come to wearing anything that resembled the military, and a black leather jacket which I rarely wear. 

“Jim Jon, don’t go,” my wife pleaded, but I kept avoiding her contact, telling her about the "law of attachment." 

I also planned on driving out to Edwards Air Force base to try to find a job there.  I have a cousin who works at the base.  I remember telling my wife, “You can’t just walk into an Air Force Base holding a pair of binoculars and an American Flag and tell them you want a job.”  Although perhaps that was exactly the kind of spirit that was needed to find Bin Laden, I thought.  The joystick was from playing Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator with my son, but I of course figured there must be a more important use for it, such as flying drones. 

When I worked as a substitute teacher for the high school alternative education classroom in the desert, I would let the boys play Microsoft Halo if they were caught up with their self-paced school work.  The meaning this took on during my manic story was that I was also to train boys at that facility, since the school district had budget cuts and partially shut down I had heard, to be real life remote control warriors.  That could be why I hallucinated a few boys who came out in the rain near the bridge where it was raining to see me, I suppose, when I had become Churchill.

On the way to a fast food restaurant to have lunch, I hallucinated a black SUV stopping in the middle of the four lane road, with some men in dark suits getting out of their doors and looking at me.  I stopped, then drove around the SUV into the other lane, then turned into a fast food restaurant, In and Out Burger, to get lunch.  If it was a hallucination it was very real.  There was a man at In and Out Burger looking at me with an amused look, smiling.  I’m not sure if he was a hallucination or not.

There was another vehicle on the freeway ahead of me with right turn blinkers on, and a woman driving, which I thought was a signal for me to merge onto another freeway to head out to Edwards Air Force base.  I had the presence of mind to continue on course to my mother's mobile home.  These experiences both felt reminiscent of the movie 'The Matrix.'

At the mobile home, I put the American flag in my mother’s flag holder.  I started hearing a voice internally that gave me instructions.  Furthermore, I could consult it at any time, asking questions.  I was a fan of Ted Turner’s, so I walked in step to the internal tune of Dixie, around part of the golf course where I was staying, and I put out two beers on the patio, one for Ted Turner and one for Jesse Ventura, as I figured they were both coming to pay me a visit.  Since there were two military men coming (Ted attended military school in his youth I knew from reading his auto biography, and Jesse Ventura of course had been a Navy SEAL,) I went around the house tidying it up, including sweeping the outdoor patios.

“Tidy the place up,” the internal voice stated.

My mother was wondering why two opened beers were outside.  It is amazing how much I can drink while fully manic, without being affected much.  I went through a case of beer in just a few days.  A bit later there were also a chorus of voices answering my questions at the same time, who were people I thought I was psychically linked to.  Those people may even have included some well-known celebrity types such as Bill Gates.

Drinking a beer, I thought to myself, “Just like old times, eh Walt?”  Walt was a friend of mine from all the way back to third grade, and we had snuck some of the fathers’ beer one night while on a Boy Scout outing.  I was still wearing my Cub Scout Leader’s shirt.

I drove to the grocery store at one point, not being intoxicated from beer at the time, and felt that I was breathing cold oxygen, while feeling a higher amount of gravity, taking slow steps to handle the increased weight.  Outside the store, I was told by the internal voice to stop and stare at a spot in the parking lot, and to not move, holding my cell phone to my ear, for some minutes.  The cell phone was cover for looking weird, as if I was listening the whole time to someone talking to me.

Then the same thing happened near my car, I was told to stop and watch my passenger side windshield, when I hallucinated and saw a tree appear on my windshield while I was staring at it, and I was "cloning life" onto another planet.

There was someone from the government who represented a past web hosting customer of mine, who I knew was a trainer of Navy SEALs, at the driver's seat of a car, parked near me to watch over me while I was being this important link to space.

Later, while I got into my car, I was a ground, and Senator John McCain was flying through a worm hole after being launched by the space shuttle to the moon.  I could hear McCain's voice and I was psychically talking to him while he surfed the worm hole.  He also spoke to my father.  I had joked that I was afraid of heights, so the space shuttle trip to the moon was for McCain, being a pilot, while I would be better off staying as "ground" in a submarine, being the last one off the planet, as all the people on Earth, at least the good ones, were going to follow McCain to a new planet or parallel planet or something.

My uncle was a volunteer at a World War II aircraft museum in town, and so I took my mother to see it.  She had never seen the museum, although she was of the World War II generation.  I thought I was being filmed for a movie by now, and that I could film and broadcast to Heaven in real-time, through my Transition Lens glasses, as well.  When a helicopter was flying low at the airport, I thought it must have been filming us.

I had come up with a humorous line, to go after Osama Bin Laden, “give me two redundant routes of Army Rangers up the same mountain, and drop a daisy cutter down the middle.”  The two redundant routes meant Judaism and Christianity, and the daisy cutter referred to the Buddha, which was another reference to the "Trinity" that I had come up with.  It also referred to military strategy of course, as a daisy cutter is a large bomb, and football, as a “daisy cutter down the middle” in football would be a fullback.

I could think in various character accents, such as Popeye, and I had some one liner jokes all to myself just in thought.  I then thought that CNN was testing me to see if I could either take Larry King’s job when he retired, or if I could be the voice of Ted Turner’s ‘Captain Planet’ cartoon.  Back at home, I hallucinated some CNN news and a Larry King broadcast on the television, all perfect but hallucinated, at the same time that there was a real broadcast of CNN News and Larry King on the TV.  It was a hallucination taking the place of a real broadcast, on the TV.  I could tell it was a hallucination as Larry King was apparently talking about me at times.

I had a song that my mind had created, playing in my mind in real-time, which was really quite creative and unique music I think.  I also had a small part of Led Zeppelin's 'Black Dog' song playing in my mind, with a twist.  When I had called my psychiatrist -- I can't remember why I called him -- my song was playing as an auditory hallucination as background music on the telephone while I was on hold.

I was also playing air guitar to music inside my head, believing I was projecting an image of Yoda onto a movie screen somewhere else, with people watching the movie screen.

I felt I was psychically linked to DreamWorks studio, that they were developing my movie, and that I was psychically linked to their orchestra and choir, as they were making the sound track.  My son’s friend’s father worked for an entertainment industry sound engineering company in Burbank, and I figured he was involved as well.

I also heard the voices of my father and John Wayne.  I had the privilege of growing up in Newport Beach, during the 70’s, back when it was a lot more affordable, and I was a classmate of John Wayne’s youngest son, Ethan.  I felt I hallucinated making physical (cold) contact with my father's spirit. 

“It’s me Jim,” my father said, hearing his voice as another internal voice.

John Wayne was acting as my "movie" director, at one point, for my “film.”  He also gave me coach-like encouragements.  He was a member of the football booster club when I was in high school, and I think that is why he reminded me that I was “a tar”, which was the nickname for the Newport Harbor Sailors.

I could really be a good listener when I was going around thinking I was filming everyone I was talking to with my Transition Lenses glasses, including my mother, who told interesting stories of what it was like for American women during World War II, when I interviewed her about that time in her life.

I left my mother’s place when I felt she was being controlling towards me regarding taking my medication.  I had considered driving to the Air Force base in Nevada where drones are remotely flown, but I had enough presence of mind to drive home instead. 

Back at the house, my kids gave me an excited hug, happy to see me.  I could put film clips of Notre Dame Football games on the open source religion web site I was participating in, which was a social networking site, which would allow my father to watch through the Internet, as he was a Notre Dame graduate and a big Notre Dame Football fan. 

Everything I was seeing I thought I was broadcasting to my father and maybe to others in Heaven, such as John Wayne and my longtime friend Walt’s father, who was also a World War II Navy Veteran.  I imagined the three of them in Heaven as friends, watching the football games I was putting for them on the open source religion web site.

I ended up sending an email to my sister threatening her to not attend my mother’s eighty fifth birthday party due to a past controversial accusation of hers towards my father, or I would cut her head off.  The threat was nonsensical, which was actually an internal joke of mine in bad taste, regarding Navy SEALs and Buddhism -- “Navy SEALs are not afraid of getting their heads cut off in Afghanistan as they are not attached to them.”

It was not taken in context of my internal manic storyline, of course, so my sister contacted my wife, who in turn contacted some social workers from the County, who were escorted by two police officers, I found out when I woke up the next morning.  One of my sisters did try to talk to me on the phone as well the night before, but I didn’t want to talk to her at the time.

“Jim, there are some people here who want to speak to you,” my wife said.  I got dressed and walked out to the living room.

“Hi Jim.  We work for the County.  We are here because your wife says you threatened her”, a woman said.

“I didn’t threaten Loret,” I said.

“Yes you did,” the social worker said.

“No I didn’t,” I insisted.

“Yes you did,” she said again.

“No I didn’t,” I replied once again.

“Yes you did,” she continued.

“I didn’t threaten Loret.  I threatened my sister with an email message, but not Loret.”

“Yes you did.  Have you been taking your medications?”

“My medications are only an hour’s drive from here,” I said.

“We need to take you to the hospital,” one of the police officers said.

“Can’t I just drive to my mother’s house and get my medication?” I asked?

“No,” replied the police officer.

“Can I bring my computer?  OK hold on, let me get my shoes on,” I finally agreed.

The two officers escorted me outside where there were two ambulance drivers waiting with a stretcher and an ambulance.

“I’m not going on that, I can walk,” I said.

The ambulance workers allowed me to walk into the ambulance, and then I sat down on the stretcher.

Obviously I wasn't seriously contemplating harming anyone, it was an empty threat I emailed to my sister.  Without being privy to my internal joke, it would come across the wrong way of course, in the real world.  There was some genuine anger towards my sister however, surfacing from the past, at the time I sent the email.  She had accused my father of something serious, which was an accusation that he had always denied.  I still don’t know who to believe, but my father should be deserving of the “innocent until proven guilty” rule of thumb I felt, regarding the accusation.  Particularly since I heard my sister had relied on hypnotherapy to retrieve “repressed memories” from childhood about the accusation.

This happened right before Christmas, so I ended up spending Christmas away from my children, locked up in a mental hospital by the name of Kedren in South Los Angeles.  I was there a few weeks.  Initially I stayed overnight in an intake ward at another hospital, Olive View / UCLA Medical Center located in the East San Fernando Valley, sleeping on the floor on a rubber mattress, as there weren’t enough beds.  At the intake ward, I objected to being held involuntarily by refusing food and medication.  There were about a dozen of us sleeping in that room, half on the floor.  Some of the guys were just lying in their beds all day and night.  When the doctor asked me why I was not eating food, I told him “so I can sue you.”  He got angry and walked away.  And shortly afterwards he transferred me to Kedren, via another ambulance ride.

I decided to cooperate and take medication and food at Kedren.  I seem to get along with people of all stripes and colors, so I had no trouble fitting in and making friends, and the diverse patients I should say also had no trouble getting along with people of different ethnicities, including myself, being Caucasian.  The patients were quite friendly, most of them anyways.

One of my two roommates, a Hispanic, younger man, was having a problem with paranoia as he would sit up on his bed awake all night long, watching me and the other roommate, not getting any sleep.  He had asked me if I thought killing someone was a bad thing, which made me wonder if he had killed someone.  He was certainly troubled by that question.

We had some great volleyball games outside on the exercise yard.  There were some people who had never played volleyball before but took to the game very quickly, being good athletes.  One of the patients I got to know who played volleyball, a younger African American man, was going around promising everyone he would pay them a lot of money when he got out, and later he wanted us to sort of worship him or something.  He must have been manic.  I and another patient walked away from him when he was telling us we should worship him.

Another friend I made, a Caucasian, near my age but a bit younger, told me over lunch one day that he thought the ones and zeroes of information going through the Internet was a conspiracy of some kind.  He was a computer programmer.  He told me to watch the Truman Show movie, starring Jim Carrie, when I returned home, after I had mentioned to him that I felt I was being filmed and filming during my manic episode.

We did some art projects at the hospital, and I remember doing them very quickly – hyperactively even.  I must have been hypomanic still, coming down in mental state from full blown mania but not fully down yet.  I made two collages, as one wasn’t big enough, during the time that others made one.  My collage largely had to do with family and family camping trips, as I wanted to get back to my family.  During one activity, we were supposed to act out our feelings or what we had in our minds at the time, and I decided to act out being George Washington.  I proclaimed “we must sacrifice nothing."  I must have been a tad delusional still, if I was acting out George Washington.  I didn’t do a very good job as I was not fully manic and therefore I had my usual inhibitions blocking the acting ability.

Although my wife visited me once at the hospital, when I asked her to bring a change of clothes, she unfortunately refused to pick me up from the hospital when I was released.  This was not good news to say the least.  I can remember sitting quietly by myself, in an isolated corner of the quiet section of the mental hospital.  I had been promoted so to speak, to the quiet section, after I had told the manager of Kedren about my roommate who wasn’t sleeping.  She must have thought I was pretty level headed.  My new roommate was a fireman who had lost his temper somehow.

Luckily I had a friend, Pete, I could call who came and picked me up the same night.  He also covered for my absence with my Internet business while I was in the hospital, by doing my tech support.  Although I had told my wife I wanted some space, in part perhaps because we had been 24x7x365 for eleven years, since I worked at home, and she did my accounting also at home, I didn’t want that much space.

Update:  06/14/2016  I should mention that at some point during either my second or third manic episode, probably the second one, that I also felt I was communicating telepathically with a "friend" from another solar system.  The communication I felt I heard was that they were pretty sensitive and didn't like us referring to them as "aliens."  Rather they would rather we refer to them as friends.  I have added this update because I've been watching a YouTube channel that is about testimony regarding UFOs and aliens coming into contact with us and the military and so forth.  I used to think UFO believers were crackpots, but I actually believe it to be true now.  In terms of psychotic mania and hallucinations -- I actually think "our friends" might be as logical an explanation for hallucinated people as any explanation.  It is an otherworldly experience, so perhaps when the brain is fully manic, it can get on a different plane of reality which the "friends" can get on as well.

Another possibility for the hallucinations might be an alternate reality with time traveling Government agents.  As before I had my first manic episode, I reported something to the FBI.  An FBI agent contacted me to gather information, and we met in person.  He asked me if the vehicle was a black SUV, and smiled.  Which actually reminded me now, years later, of one of the hallucinations I had during my second manic episode.  As the vehicle in question was an old pickup truck, not an SUV.  Why I would be important to the FBI to have them mention this I am not sure, however.

Manic Episode #3 - January 2011

I had no choice but to move in with my mother, who lived an hour from my rented home.  I tried to return home after a few weeks.  When Loret and I went for a walk, to talk about it, she told me “we are different people.”  Different, perhaps, but we had been married for almost ten years and had children, I thought.  I also wondered, what happened to “for better and for worse” and “in sickness and in health?”

The following weekend, when I was spending time with my kids, sleeping on the couch overnight on the weekend, I took my wife’s laptop computer after she had left to run an errand, so I could take the accounting system off of it and start doing my own accounting, now that we were separated.  My kids were concerned when I left in a hurry with the laptop, but I reassured them I would return it in a few days.

Loret was so angry about my taking her computer that she got a restraining order against me, based on the emailed threat I made to my sister.  The judge did not want to grant the restraining order, but did so because of a technicality in the California law regarding threatening one person allowing another person to get a restraining order, as he explained.

My wife's restraining order had nothing to do with my being physically abusive or threatening towards her.  Although I have had moments of verbal abuse towards my wife, such as calling her “a dummy,” which was of course a mistake and not a good way to communicate with a partner, I can only surmise that the restraining order was punishment for losing the house and for temporarily taking her computer away from her to move the accounting duties of my business to myself.  The separation was also punishment for the worsened financial situation, most likely, although I will admit that our relationship wasn't ideal and needed some counseling to patch over some issues, as well.  We had stopped having sex for one thing, and that was mostly on my initiative.  I just grew bored of it, I think.  Either that or I fell out of love with my wife to a certain degree.  Or both.  We had actually started to see a marriage counselor, but my wife decided to quit the counseling after a few sessions, deciding instead to get her own individual therapy.

This was a very painful time for me, and added insult to injury regarding feeling like I hadn't accomplished much in life.  I had lost my dog, my house, my job, my mind, and now my wife and, to a large degree, my kids.  I managed to see my kids on the weekends, insisting that I could take them to stay with me at my mother’s house every other weekend, at some point, which my wife agreed to.  During the summer, I would take my children every weekend.  The rest of the time, at night, I would Skype to my children, on webcam, helping them with their homework, holding back tears the first few times.  The first time I spent the weekend with my kids, I had to take them straight from their school because of my wife’s restraining order, before my wife could pick them up.  She eventually allowed me to set foot on the property, but not come into the house, when I picked up or returned my children.

I managed to obtain a work at home technical support job, which didn’t require a college degree and didn’t have high pay, but had good benefits and was better than no job or a low paying job.  My brain seemed to work well enough to be productive enough in that position.  My memory was not so great, but I wrote down detailed notes, which I referred to, searching in the computer document, quickly enough.  I also asked others questions when necessary.  Sometimes those questions were asked more than once due to the forgetfulness, which was a bit embarrassing.  I managed to get a rating of 3.5 on my reviews, however, which was .5 higher than "meeting expectations" for the position.  My productivity was average -- some technicians were faster and some were slower than I was.

I was taking Wellbutrin XL anti-depressant by this time and had been for a few years, changing from Celexa.  It seemed like the Wellbutrin XL was an improvement in my energy level and mood.  My kids stayed with me most weekends, and on some occasions we all went hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains with my friend Pete.

My third full blown manic episode happened after I had been working in the work-at-home tech support job for almost a year.  Because of mania being triggered by online discussions, I was not able to concentrate on my work, after participating in an online forum belonging to Eckhart Tolle, and my supervisor noticed, so I took a night off, combined with two regular days off on the weekend. 

The mania kicked into high gear, and I ended up in the hospital again, taking about two weeks away from work locked up in a small hospital in the Pasadena area that I referred to as a resort, it was so nice compared to the first hospital I was involuntarily committed to – Kedren -- during my second manic episode.  Luckily, my employer was fine with taking a doctor’s note and did not terminate me.  You’d think I would have learned to avoid online discussion groups by then.

During this third manic episode, I had a story playing out as usual.  I took my children to Disneyland, which is about a thirty minute drive from where my children live, buying “2-Fer” tickets, where Southern Californian’s get a 2 day deal for the price of 1 almost.  The first day we went to California Adventure, and the second day to Disneyland.  I wanted to make sure my kids had their fill of Disneyland before they grew too old.  They were nine and ten at the time, and when you are manic, you just put it on the credit card. 

I don’t spend a lot of money when I’m manic.  I don’t have much money to spend on the other hand, so I'm not sure how much I'd spend if I were wealthier.  I don't think I'd spend money wildly though -- the most I would do would probably be to take the kids to Hawaii for a vacation.  Although it's possible I might start a business if I had some capital in the bank.   However, both of the businesses I've started in the past have been successful, and I started them without capital, so it could turn out to be a successful business.

I did not intend to involve my children in the future if I ever became full blown manic again, to be safe, and I wanted to shield them from any craziness.  Although judgement goes out the window when you are manic so I could have tried to fool everyone and take them somewhere again – that was something I had hoped I didn’t do, and I had hoped I didn’t become manic again anyways since it didn’t seem useful to me in any way.  My kids did notice that I acted strange, during the Disneyland trip, however, and when we talked about the trip to Disneyland they told me I was "just staring around at things."

I drove up to the employee gate at Disneyland, telling the security guard that I was reporting for duty working as Goofy, as I believed I was to don a Goofy suit for part of the day.  She promptly pointed to the visitor's parking garage and picked up the telephone.  I also stopped at a bus stop, thinking a special bus or tram would be picking us up, expecting us.  My kids told me to get out of the bus stop -- an example of their helping to keep me grounded in reality.  I also used my friend Pete’s idea from hiking, which was not such a strange idea, when he gave the trail map to my children and told them to navigate the trail system as a learning experience. 

So I did the same thing, giving the map of Disneyland to my kids and letting them decide which ride to do next.  This took some cooperation between them, and they learned the best solution when arguing over what to do next was to compromise, doing what the other person wanted first, then doing what they wanted after that.  It slowed us down a bit as they walked ahead of me, being the leaders, but I’d say it was probably a great learning experience for them.

While I was inside Disneyland, I thought I was pretty normal and not noticeably manic or crazy, maintaining my composure, although I had the story and real-time meanings going on internally.  Since my kids noticed I was "staring" at things, though, it's a good bet some others might have noticed the same thing, but for the most part I blended in.  I had one foot standing in reality, and another in the manic story.

I wanted my son to be more proud of his father, so I bought him a Stealth Bomber model at the aircraft souvenir store in California Adventure, since I used to work for the company that makes the Stealth Bomber at the time the first Stealth Bomber was made.  I “flew” the box of the model, pointing it in the right direction, between my legs, as incognito as possible -- without my son noticing or anyone else for that matter, hopefully, while we were riding on the Silly Swings.  I thought that I was flying the real bomber remotely or something.  Again, I was torn between my manic story and my reasoning with reality, which was really the case in all three episodes, particularly the second and third since I knew I had bipolar disorder during those two episodes.  I knew it would look strange flying a model of an airplane between my legs on a theme park ride, but I felt compelled to do it.

I figured Disneyland was in part designed, especially Tomorrowland, by aliens, and I also felt that the entire Disneyland resort was acting as a balancing mechanism, balancing visitor’s minds towards World peace.  I observed some Middle Eastern women in line on one ride, thinking they must have been Osama Bin Laden’s sisters.  I envisioned how a fourth Disney theme park with a Middle Eastern bent built in Tehran would be a major contributor to world peace.

I stared at both the Matterhorn and the real Southern California mountains in the background, which were snow topped, at the same time, while riding the Ferris wheel at California Adventure, thinking about a connection between something that stood for a dream and the real world magical fruition of the dream -- about a connection between the snow topped Matterhorn model and the real snow topped mountains.  I was compelled to stare at them as part of the "ritual" experience I was going through.  I also felt the high prices for food and souvenirs was a good idea and set the stage for economic growth individually and collectively.

On the Indiana Jones ride, I thought the ride was putting me through the Skull and Bones ritual that Yale college students go through, and that I would become an honorary member of that organization, as well as the Illuminati.  When a bell rang while standing in line, I thought that to represent the killing by bomb from the Stealth Bomber of a certain country’s dictator, who didn’t have very many friends if any, and that I pulled the trigger to release the bomb, "ringing" his "bell."  I felt saddened after believing I had pulled this "trigger," as if I had lost some innocence by killing someone, however I did not feel any guilt, and therefore I did not feel any remorse.  My answer to a question I perceived about how I felt afterwards was that it was "complicated."  I have since seen that leader’s death later in the same year by heart attack to be coincidence, or an obscure foretelling perhaps of the dictator's impending death.  A small delusional part of me believes I might have killed him.

I think I hallucinated some benevolent men watching me at Disneyland, in a few places.  They might have been real security guards if someone noticed I was acting strangely, or they could have been perfectly life-like hallucinations.  I figured they must have been members of the Delta Force, and that I was as well now, with communications being psychic rather than spoken or written.

During another part of my visit to Disneyland with my kids, I thought to myself that I was the reincarnation of Walt Disney, and my job was to walk around the park and give instructions for improvements.  What a great job that would be.  Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to not tell anyone what to do, nor to take any part of my story seriously, other than feeling I was Walt Disney.  I bought a flashing wizard stick and a Goofy sweatshirt, along with a few souvenirs for the kids, and I walked around with the wizard stick flashing, but tucked into my back pocket -- a sort of compromise between believing the internal manic story of being a wizard and not wanting to look weird.  I also hung the flashing wizard stick from my rear view mirror in my car afterwards while driving home at night, thinking it was some sort of navigation device or something.

At one point after I dropped off the kids, I parked outside of a nearby bar, and I thought I was “moving the planet” out of the way of an asteroid.  I actually experienced what seemed to be the car slightly moving back and forth while parked, a number of times, once for each move.  There was a near collision asteroid approaching Earth three quarters of a year later, in November 2011.  But also, Stealth Bombers were used to bomb Libya in March 2011, during the Libyan civil war, which was part of Arab Spring.  The Arab Spring was a sort of “movement,” perhaps.  There was a small delusional part of me that still thought that I caused the use of Stealth Bombers over Libya, and that I helped to trigger the Arab Spring.  What makes more sense of course is that perhaps I foresaw those significant events of 2011, but not in a clear way.

The night after one of the days at Disneyland, I stopped at a McDonald's restaurant, and a plastic cup took meaning to be a holy grail of sorts.  I kept the cup in the glove box in my car.  When I arrived home, I smashed one of my mother's china coffee mugs as part of the continued ritual, which I also thought was the Holy Grail, which then took on the image of an alien symbol.  I saved it, but I eventually threw it out and bought her a replacement. 

I also thought I was flying a stealth bomber remotely for part of my drive back home, and for some reason I thought the stealth bomber should be crashed as a sacrificial offering after it was used to “ring” the dictator’s “bell.”

I am quite capable of driving safely when fully manic, so I do not believe that I endangered my children.  I ran out of gas knowingly though one night however, when I did not have my children in the car.  I pulled over on the freeway just in time before running out of gas completely, while trying to drive the car on “oxygen”.  I could feel oxygen coming through the air conditioning system, which was another hallucination.  I was also trying to "fly" the car, seeing if I could levitate the car just off the freeway to be a way to drive without using gas.  

I felt I could walk all the way to the lake resort town in the mountains I used to live in.  I felt no pain – my bad knee from a high school football accident didn’t have any pain, and I was out of shape but didn’t feel like it.  I could feel warm or cold depending on what I wanted. 

I stood on the side of the freeway, declaring to myself that if I could not be in the ski resort town, I’d just bring snow to the area I was standing.  I felt very cold then, shivering.

As I was walking southbound on the side of the 210 freeway, near Sunland, I noticed two California Highway Patrol cars stopped ahead of me with their red “stop” lights on and their search lights beaming ahead, illuminating me. 

“Stop,” one officer shouted.

In the apartment I lived in in North Hollywood before I got married, a neighbor who became a buddy of mine, an older man of Korean War age, claimed to have been an ex-con of sorts.  I thought I was being filmed by cameras, at least cameras inside the Highway Patrol cars, and so I thought Johnny, my ex-con buddy, might get a kick out of watching me run away from law enforcement officers.  So instead of stopping, I ran towards the patrol cars.

The officers ran around behind me and as I headed for the hills, the one who ordered me to stop tackled me from behind.  I landed on my front and side at an angle, which pinned my arm from my weight, and I did not struggle.

As the officer was putting on handcuffs, he jerked hard on my right arm, which was the one that was pinned under my weight, and although I could not feel pain at the time, turned out to permanently damage some ligaments or muscles in my right shoulder.  To this day I can barely, and with pain, reach for the top of my head, and I am unable to throw a football very far.

I am not certain whether the officer was being abusive and damaging my shoulder on purpose, or if he thought I was resisting his bringing my arm around to the handcuffs. 

“Where are you coming from,” he asked, after making contact on his radio.

“Hell,” I shouted.

“Where are you going?” he asked again.

“Heaven,” I replied, again shouting.

He repeated what I said into his radio and raised me off the ground once handcuffed.  The two officers started to drag me to one of their cars, but I told them if they would just help me to my feet I would walk.  And I did walk and cooperated fully, as they put me into the other officer’s car.

The other officer was easier going than the first.  He was in fact very nice.  They put me in the front passenger seat of his car.  I was still manic, so I asked him if he was a Christian, while he was driving, which he nodded in agreement (he looked like a stereotypical Christian white male, and young.)  Then I asked him if he wanted to be an actor, and he just looked at me.  I then hallucinated a motorcycle rider ride in front of our car, looking back at us, as if acknowledging our presence and then accelerate off, thinking it was Tom Cruise.

“Look, there’s Tom Cruise,” I said.

I also asked him about the Taser gun – asking if he had to experience it, and he said yes, and that it was excruciatingly painful.  And I mentioned to him that my dog, Alexi, was the first dog the California Highway Patrol had Tasered.  I found a great home for Alexi, where he would be part of a sled dog team, and on the way to Montana he escaped and tried to run back to Southern California on the freeway.  A CHP officer had called me to tell me about and apologize for the Tasering, but I was glad they did it as Alexi survived the Tasering and made it to his new home in Montana.

He drove me to the Olive View / UCLA Medical Center that I had been to once before.  This time, I had Blue Shield insurance.  In retrospect, I have forgiven the more stressed out officer for injuring my shoulder, giving him the benefit of the doubt that he might have thought I was not cooperating with my arm, and I also figure I’m lucky I wasn’t either Tasered or shot.

There was in fact a small amount of snow that fell to the ground a few weeks later in that part of Los Angeles County, which I drove through while taking my kids to their grandmother’s house.  It wasn’t the first time the area had snow, but it was still fairly unusual to have been that cold, especially during the day.  The altitude in those foothills is about 1,500 feet, which is an unusually low snow level for Southern California.

After or during this third manic episode, I submitted in an online form a message to the CIA, informing them that I had evidence that I was somewhat psychic, although undeveloped psychically, and that I thought Bin Laden was located somewhere related to Castle Crags, which was a rock climbing spot in Northern California, that I climbed with a friend once during college.  As it turned out, Osama Bin Laden was killed four months later by Navy SEALs in May, 2011, shot in the head, in a compound that was accessible by rappelling from a helicopter and that had some characteristics of a castle, particularly the 15 foot security walls.  It was probably just a coincidence, but I entertain the idea, that there might have been something to my intuition about high “castle walls," rappelling by rope, and Bin Laden’s compound.

As a coincidence, one of two stealth helicopters crashed accidentally in Osama Bin Laden's compound the night he was killed by Navy SEALs, which had to be destroyed by explosives to protect technology secrets.  So my delusional beliefs about forecasting also include the idea that the "bell rung" was Bin Laden's, not the other leader’s, and that the crashed stealth bomber turned out to be a crashed stealth helicopter.

One night when the kids were not there, I was drinking and doing a continuation of the ritualistic things, but it took a comedic turn while drinking as I was doing a Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean imitation, including a flop onto my bed which resulted in my bouncing off onto the floor, since Depp's character always seems a bit tipsy.

I also went on a short hike in nature to a California State Park area that is near me.  I thought that there were more birds than usual and that they would fly near me.  I have always felt that way when I have been manic, that I have attracted and have been connected to animals.  I also heard a pack of coyotes howl nearby, which was odd for the middle of the day -- this could have been a hallucination or it could have been real -- I have no way of telling as the hallucinations blend in perfectly.  The delusional part of me of course felt that the animals were responding to my manic state.

The emptiness of the "grail" was supposed to represent Buddhist "emptiness," and at a fire ring at the State Park, in a model Chumash Indian village, there was a metal object that looked like the top of the McDonald's cup in the fire pit.  This meant to me that the grail was empty, as the top was to be burned in the fire pit.  I have since noticed that the metal object is most likely a cover to keep moisture out of the fire ring.

I also had a train of thought where I should eat just oranges, including the skin, and there was an orange grove and ranch nearby which I thought the owner was going to give to me.  I actually started to drive late at night after coming home from Disneyland with my children, to the ranch home, but my daughter started crying and telling me not to, both kids told me not to, so again that was an example of where they put me back into reality as I promptly turned around and drove them home to get to bed.  I almost started to drive over an embankment/small cliff, thinking that was the way to the ranch owner’s house, which is when my daughter started crying and convinced me not to.  That would have been devastating had I driven over the side of the road, although I probably would have stopped when the car started to tilt downwards.  During my second manic episode, I first had the thought of being given and living on the citrus farm.

Also during my third manic episode, I thought of myself as a "Merlin" or a druid, since I was not Native American by ancestry, but mostly Irish.  I purchased a book on druidry after the manic episode, although I did not participate in the book by doing the rituals of druidry it outlined.  One reason is that I believe you'd have to be manic in order to really create magic, due to that delusional part of me that still believes I can be a sorcerer when I am manic.

I couldn’t afford to be manic.  Not only is mania a bit out of control, I would lose money from not working, incur expenses from being hospitalized, and possibly even lose my job.  I also need to be able to spend time with my kids and not have my wife threaten to keep them from me because of my getting manic episodes.

Perhaps because I now had Blue Shield insurance, and I had no insurance the first time I was sent to Olive View, I was transferred quickly from Olive View to Aurora Las Encinas hospital in Pasadena.  This was the hospital I considered to be a resort, it was so nice, and had so few patients.  It was really just apparently a converted house, although there were other buildings, other houses, on the large grounds.  There were only about four or five patients at any given time in my building.

I helped a blind patient quite a bit while I was in this hospital.  He had been kicked out of a free living situation with a relative, and had nowhere else to stay.  He was pretty depressed and anxious about the situation.  He was a writer, and would record his writing into a pocket microphone in his room, which he was going to type into a computer later.  We talked a bit about writing.

There was one worker there who I liked, a Hispanic gal about my age.  I eventually asked her for her phone number, and she gave it to me.  Unfortunately when another staff person washed my clothes, the phone number was lost, and she had taken that day off, which was the day I was leaving.

I remember playing card games with other patients and the staff, and during yard time we shot basketball hoops.

My brother had flown out from Pennsylvania to help with the situation.  He had gotten my car out of compound and drove me home, or perhaps he drove a rental car and I drove home, to my mother’s mobile home.  It was approximately another two week stay, as was the case with my first hospitalization.

Still, Small Voices

I mention in the chapter on my second manic episode about hearing a voice that I could ask questions of.  I have discovered that this new found voice is also present sometimes when I am hypomanic -- although it is not a loud and clear voice in my head as with the psychotic level mania, it is just more of a normal thought kind of voice.  And I can still ask it questions.  I am not sure if you would call it my soul, my subconscious, Freud's Super-ego, or an Over-Soul / God / Universe / Higher Power. 

No matter -- whatever it is, it comes in handy actually because it always gives good advice.  Sometimes it tells me the decision is mine to make and doesn't give an answer, which sometimes comes in the form of not saying anything at all in response to a question.  Other times the voice will be in agreement with my decision or just acknowledge my own decision.  My best guess might be that this is Freud's Super-ego, because it's sort of like having a dispatcher to a driver -- a dispatcher is a sort of supervisor for the driver, although there is two way communication and decision making.  I would say this is a benefit of bipolar disorder, unless it is normal psychology to have such a voice. 

A PhD psychologist on the web, in response to my comment on this topic, says she doesn't think it is the super-ego as that would be harsh and critical, she thinks it is the "voice of wisdom."  This sounded good to me, although I find it rather strange that I would only be connected to such a voice after going through psychotic experiences.

Other pages on the web when you google "listen to still small voice" refer to it as the voice of the Holy Spirit, as the quotation "still small voice" is from the Bible.  So I think what it was would be entirely dependent on your "faith"/belief system.  I think I like referring to it as "the dispatcher," because of the night job I had for seven months driving customers in long range shuttle vans to the airport, as we had dispatchers who we communicated succinctly with over radios.  The thought voice is succinct as well.

This begs the question, then who is the "dispatcher" “working for?”  And the answer could be "God" or "The Universe."  Once again it doesn't really matter -- all that matters is that the voice is in fact wise and accessible and perhaps access to it is a learned skill that may or may not require a mental disorder to achieve the ability to access it.

There is a saying, "you have to be a little cracked in order to see the light."  Perhaps this wise advisor is that "light", or a "light" of wisdom.  Perhaps it is access to the “truth” I was seeking in my first manic episode.  It is important to note that while I was psychotic and had a voice "in my head" (which was the loud and clear voice,) I think that was the same “dispatcher”, but that the dispatcher was going along with my delusions as if it was also delusional. 

But when hypomanic or normal in mood, there is no delusion, and thus the dispatcher is also not delusional during those times.  So I think that would imply that the PhD psychologist I link to above might be incorrect in believing the voice of wisdom to be external, unless I misunderstood her.  It would be internal.  But "working for" (the external) perhaps.  And I guess being a bit of a skeptic, I might side with New Age at this point on it being the Higher Self, but with the addition, which may be found in some religions I think such as Religious Science, of the "working for God/The Universe" bit rather than being God/The Universe.  There is another New Age idea that it might be my spirit guide(s).  And, referring to my update of 06/14/2016 that I included at the end of my second manic episode section regarding my feeling that I had communicated telepathically with a "friend" from another solar system while I was fully manic, another theory regarding the thought voice that I have experienced could be that it was telepathic communication from such a "friend."

If I were to rely on my Catholic upbringing, this "Higher Self" voice may be the voice of the Holy Spirit, which is one of the three aspects of God according to Christianity.  At one point, in fact, I heard a second and third voice.  Of these two other voices, one sounded older, so that it could have been the "Father", while the second new voice referred to me as "bro", and since my name is James that could be a clue that that was Jesus speaking to me since Jesus' brother was James, as Jesus is known to have spoken in parables.  In which case I will have heard the voice of all three aspects of God.  I know it sounds hard to believe, but if I am to believe the Nicene Creed literally, why am I not to believe my own experiences of hearing the “voices of God” literally, particularly since I was sane while experiencing them?

Perhaps the reason these two other voices showed up was to encourage me to believe the literal beliefs of the Church rather than believing them metaphorically which is what I was doing essentially while dropping out of Catholicism for 30 years. 

I can believe all the Catholic beliefs more because of my mania experiences than without my mania experiences, in fact.  I have one sticking point with Catholicism -- belief in judgement day.  But I can un-stick that belief as follows:  Perhaps Jesus would be on a parallel planet where we are reincarnated onto and thus a sort of heaven on earth but just a parallel earth.  And this happens throughout eternity over and over.  Borrowing reincarnation from Buddhism.  It would be in line with recent theories in science regarding parallel universes and what not.  And so as long as we are able to fill in the details like this regarding believing judgement day literally, I might be fine on all the Catholic beliefs.  Perhaps I was just being closed minded.

While becoming a Buddhist, I have retained my belief in God.  I have no way of knowing if Jesus was just a special case of man or more than a man, but I am confident he would be alright with my being a Buddhist, if I chose that path.

God must have a sense of humor.  As I was pondering the parallel planet heaven idea, the God voice-thought mentioned that something was "earth shattering", which I at first thought maybe there's an asteroid on its way.  And in fact "God" told me that I was to "pull the trigger" (which could have been an inside joke by God referring to my third manic episode when I thought I was pulling the trigger so to speak to do away with a certain head of state,) to send the asteroid on its way.  I did “pull the trigger,” jokingly referring to "there's too many bad drivers" as the reason to destroy the planet now and let us get on with reincarnating onto the next planet.  But then I realized – this happened at night – that my cell phone was not functioning that day, which I didn't know.  It happened about once a year, I had to take the battery out and put it back in.  So when I got the phone working again, there were two voice mails waiting, one a job offer with a place I have had about 12 interviews and tests with and was going to give up on, which is my current job of working in computer support in a public school. 

Getting the job I think was earth shattering news since it took so many interviews and because I've sent out quite a few resumes the past 4 or 5 years which seemed to have gone into a "black hole" where there is no response back, with the exception of a few interviews, which didn't result in an offer.  It may have been God giving me a hard time about taking so long to find a decent job, referring to the news of the job as “earth shattering.”

I don't think my higher self would have been psychic in that I knew I had a voice message waiting that I couldn't see until I replaced the battery, that said I had gotten the job, so it must then have been the voice of God!  With the humor provided to prove to me it is the voice of God.  As if God would like me to know that it is indeed God that I can communicate literally with. Just as "the Son" wanted me to know it was He who was chiming in in order to prove to me that there are literally three aspects of God within the Trinity.  Why I would usually hear from the Father or the Holy Spirit, your guess is as good as mine as I don't know why it wouldn't be just one voice.

The question I now have is -- why me?  Why am I hearing the voice of God after 30 years of being away from the religion of my upbringing?  When there are most likely a lot of folks who have done the opposite -- being faithful for 30 years -- who presumably cannot hear the literal voice of God?

I don't expect anyone to believe me about the thought voices or voice thoughts being God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  After all I'm bipolar, right?  Even the Catholic Church wouldn't believe me I don't think.  Perhaps that is the way God would want it though?

I started to read a book that was about conversing with God, the first book, some decades ago.  I didn't finish the book.  Someone I knew told me I was right when I posited that it was probably just his own self, as from what this person told me, that is how the end of the book or series goes, that the author determines it's been his own self talking to him.  Yet for me it's been the opposite, starting out thinking the thought voice was my higher self, but concluding that it's actually God, while I can tell when it's only from my self.  I can tell based on my feelings if it was from God or just from my self, which I guess I could call the fourth voice, although sometimes my self tries to pretend it is coming from God, yet I can tell how it sounds and how it feels that those mimicries are not authentically coming from God.

I haven't yet tried to document what the thought voice(s) have said.  It has just been wisdom provided for even mundane activities, such as how to treat people and how to act and what not.  As a response to my thought(s) I guess.  And I have no idea if I can ask "God" questions from other people as an intermediary.  I have asked questions from myself before though, but again I think they were pretty mundane questions.

I Googled the topic of hearing God's audible voice and found a Christian web page saying the only people who have claimed to have done so have been money seeking charlatans.  I have not heard any earth shattering revelations, just mundane stuff and some sense of humor.  So I'm not sure what I would have to pass on.  I suspect God will keep it to mundane information and sense of humor and just regarding myself not others, to prevent me from becoming a prophet.  It seems in other words, ultimately a personal communication between myself and God.  There is a book out there on hearing God's voice, but I think others hear God in different ways than audible thought-voices.  So I see it as a spiritual gift as a result of having bipolar.  Jesus could hear God's voice audibly I believe.  And I think the Pope can.

I made an appointment to speak to my local Catholic priest regarding the "spiritual crisis" issue of possibly returning to the Church.  In the email I sent to him, I had mentioned my hearing a thought-voice(s), although he dismissed this rather rapidly in our face to face meeting by saying he would see it as highly suspicious and likely coming from my own psychology, as that sort of communication with God is very rare in the Church, particularly coming from someone diagnosed with a mental illness.  I suppose that would be the expected response.  He just recommended that I “take my medications” and "come to communion."  He also mentioned that God does not issue commands, but that God does make suggestions.  I think he was a little afraid of me, and unfortunately the stigma is very pervasive no matter who you are talking to, just about.  He concluded our meeting by saying a nice prayer on my behalf, asking God for me to have a good life.

I actually believe it was God, and Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  But all the same I have not returned to the Church and I think it is fine being a Buddhist with a belief in God.

I had not been taking the Abilify medication most of the time while I was hearing the thought-voices.  If I reached a bit of trouble sleeping a full night -- waking up early or trouble getting to sleep, I'd start popping the Abilify pills.  Starting to go back to Church was an aspect of a little “bubble” of hypomania I was experiencing.  As soon as I went back on Abilify I did not hear from the thought-voice(s.)  I didn't have any other symptoms of hypo-mania other than some grandiosity and not sleeping a full night's sleep.  The grandiosity taking the form of my wanting to start a project or non-profit organization that would benefit homeless children.

The downside is the Abilify has a side effect in my case of being a bit tired.  Although I was working a night shift driving job where I would get to sleep around 2 to 4 am, which might have been part of it.  The tiredness was more pronounced when I took the Abilify.  So it may just come with the territory of taking medication that you may have side effects that cause some other minor trouble. 

Most clergy of course are grounded in reality and therefore may not really be communicating with God at all.  Or to be fair they may be with their more prayer-based communication.  Who could know?  The "Lord, Liar, or Lunatic" choice some ministers give to their followers is a false choice, in my opinion.  It could be Lord and Lunatic both.  As it is probable that some people could master their "lunacy."  Not many people but perhaps the prophets could.

My belief waned after going back on the Abilify.  Not my belief in God.  My belief that anyone who is talking about or writing about God is really talking about God.  As in, why would I be excited about what others say God is saying when they can't literally hear God and I can?  I became a God snob.  Although I believe Jesus could literally hear God and I'm not criticizing the Bible. 

As of Sept, 2015, my psychiatrist told me to go off Wellbutrin XL because of my reporting a problem with memory.  I also had an anxiety problem pop up.  I didn’t agree with him as I didn’t see memory loss as a side effect for Wellbutrin on their web site, but I gave it a try to see.  It was strange to have a psychiatrist who wanted me to go off a drug instead of on but maybe that is a good thing in my case. 

As it turned out, cutting out Wellbutrin cold turkey removed the anxiety problem and I think helped the memory problem a bit, but my depression increased, then decreased, then finally was about the same.  I did endure a few days of depression and 24 hours of headache during the withdrawal symptoms.  But if my level of depression was the same, and I no longer had the anxiety and memory problems, cutting out Wellbutrin was a good idea. 

Perhaps Wellbutrin trained my brain chemistry to work better after using it for seven years, who knows.  Or -- more likely -- Wellbutrin's effectiveness tapered off over time so that it seems no different going off of it.  I also tried going off Abilify, but I thought the feeling like I was having bad hangovers every day was more than just withdrawal symptoms.  This was followed by some hypomania, some depression, and finally a minor amount of a mixed mood, which is a little bit of hypomania combined with a little bit of depression.  If there is a drug that can prevent me from feeling like that, I might as well use it, so I went back on Abilify, at my low dose of five milligrams a day.  There are psychiatry critics on the web that would claim that I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms, but I didn't buy that argument, as I had given it two or three weeks, and I really believed the shortcomings with my brain chemistry were showing up again without the use of Abilify.  However, as of April 2016 I finally got on a scale to weigh myself after not wanting to know how much I weighed for several months, and I have topped three hundred pounds.  This prompted me to try a low carb diet, but also to try quitting Abilify cold turkey again, since Abilify has a well documented side effect of weight gain, and this time around I have been able to quit Abilify.  I am finally med-free, and I believe the psychiatry critics finally as well.

Update:  4/26/2016:  I lied -- I experienced withdrawal symptoms, after 3 or 4 weeks of going off Abilify.  It made me want to go back on, as before.  But this time since I reached that three hundred pounds mark, I tried to believe those were indeed withdrawal symptoms and not a minor mixed episode, and I tried to stick it out.  The beer I was drinking at night to cope was probably not a good idea.  The withdrawal symptoms included:  Mixed mood (minor depression and mania at the same time, resulting in confusion) anxiety, emotionality (desire to cry for no apparent reason, although I didn't actually cry,) ankle rash, headache, muscle ache, light-headedness, and sleepiness.  I couldn't afford to take time off from my job so I needed to show up to work feeling like the Walking Dead.  According to this page, the withdrawal symptoms can last up to three months.  Update:  5/1/2016:  The good news is the withdrawal symptoms persisted for only one week!   I made it through the withdrawal, and I feel the same as when I was on Abilify.  It feels great to be medication-free, and to be psychiatrist-free as well.  Update:  5/7/2016:  Another wave of withdrawal symptoms has hit.  This time two additional withdrawal symptom were present -- ringing in the ears and some insomnia (with the depression, and then mixed mood returning.)  I am back to drinking beer at night to deal with feeling lousy again.  Since the worst of the withdrawal symptoms is depression, which is the same as the symptoms you were taking the drug to treat, it is not simple to quit psych drugs.  There is only one way to tell whether you are still experiencing withdrawal symptoms or if you really need the drug forever, and that is to live with the symptoms for apparently up to three months.  I think this is a big reason why so the psychiatric system may be a racket for many patients.  They can never quit!  And their psychiatrists will just tell them the symptoms of their disorder have returned.  And they buy into it.  After all, I didn't feel this bad before I went on Abilify.  I was first given Abilify in the mental hospital during an involuntary stay.  Update:  5/18/2016:  I am still experiencing the second wave of withdrawal symptoms, but they seem to be letting up.  I no longer need to drink beer, I have quit caffeinated coffee as well, to prevent mixed moods.  For four days I've been without hypomania and am just sleeping twelve hours a day plus having some overall "tiredness" of the brain, which the naps after work before and after dinner help.  There is still ringing in the ears.  Update:  5/24/2016  If I consume caffeine in the morning, it affects me all the way until bed time, giving me a little bit of insomnia.  So I find that I am better off drinking decaf coffee.  Update:  5/30/2016  Withdrawal symptoms persist, coming in waves still, but less problematic than the first waves -- not as strong.  Advil doesn't help too much for the headache.  It has been five weeks of withdrawal symptoms, so I guess the info I found on the web saying it can take three months was on target.  Update:  6/21/2016  I consider the withdrawal symptoms to now be a thing of the past!  I feel very good and continually good -- better than when I was on the Abilify.  A few days ago I had a brief period of not feeling better, but it may have been a residual and light withdrawal symptom.  I do not feel as if I have bipolar disorder at all, and I am not taking any medication.

I applied for another job at the school district I work at a while ago, which would not have been working with students like my current job, but would have been double in pay, and the time to take the test was right when I was in the middle of the worst of the withdrawal symptoms.  Therefore I was unable to study for the test, and as a result I didn't show up to the test and I missed out on the opportunity, which I might have had a good chance of getting since the district likes to hire from within.  The hearing from God, and in particular since it had to do with the announcement of the job that I now have in the middle school, makes me believe everything happens for a reason though.  That we are given our share of suffering for some reason.  Perhaps having to do with Buddhist karma, I don't know.  So perhaps it was not meant for me to get this job, but instead to obtain a night job in addition to my school job, so that I can continue to interact with the students.  I'd rather be a teacher, where I could interact with students and get enough pay, without needing a second job, but I can't afford to finish my teaching credential, and there is the memory issue which would not be helpful with teaching I suppose.

It is apparent that taking medications can be very much like playing the game “Whac-A-Mole,” however, where you take one medication to address a certain problem (depression,) only to find another (anxiety or weight gain) problem to pop up as a side effect.  I am thankful for having had an open minded psychiatrist who was against increasing the drug “cocktail” when my side effects arose.  It sounds a bit “man bites dog” that he told me to quit Wellbutrin, but I am very glad to have had such a psychiatrist, and I am very happy to have taken a low dose of Abilify also because of my psychiatrist.  Every patient has to decide for themselves which medications they need, and whether they should be taken temporarily or forever.  Obviously psychiatrists don't want "temporary" incomes, so they, in my opinion, are biased towards telling patients they need to take drugs forever.  Likewise the pharmaceutical companies don't want "temporary" incomes, right?  I happened to be very skeptical of the need for cocktails of drugs, but that may be because Abilify can seem like a sort of a “wonder drug” in that it apparently works as a mood stabilizer as well as an antidepressant.  (Technically it only works by making antidepressants work better, as well as being an anti-psychotic.)  As long as I avoid my trigger for manic episodes, I should be fine without anything!  Perhaps that makes me an unusual case.  If you read the Mad in America web site however, you might not think I am an unusual case.  It may very well be that many cases of mental illness only require a temporary usage of psychiatric drugs, and in some cases perhaps none are needed.

There's no sugar coating the fact that I have lost the American Dream.  It's not going to return to me in any shape or form.  Some of the depression I experience may be from that loss.  There is the aspect of the American dream regarding freedom that I suppose I have.  I can still appreciate the present moment when I'm on a walk or hike.  I can still enjoy nature.  I have a good job now working in technology support in a public school, with pretty good hourly wage, although it is only twenty five hours per week so I will soon obtain a night job as a security guard, combined with my declining income from the web/email hosting business.

Often times during the week, at night, after work, without my children in my life, and trying to get space from my mother by retreating into my own room, I feel like I might as well still be in a mental hospital.  I feel just as lonely and isolated.  I’ve felt that way ever since my wife decided to not pick me up from the mental hospital six years ago.  Perhaps more so, as there are people to talk to and meet in a mental hospital.  But on the weekends I get to see my two teenagers, who are my two crown jewels.  My kids are teenagers now though, and so they are needing less time with dad and more time with their friends on the weekends.

Whether there was any magical meaning to my manic experiences I am not sure, although I tend to believe that magic may be the best explanation.  If I am a wizard, I am surely just a dormant wizard.  And perhaps I was just a temporary wizard, since I no longer become full blown manic.  I believe any such magic, which might stem from God, or perhaps just from some other plane, does not come from the wizard him or herself.  That the magic chooses the person and not the other way around, via madness, with madness being something our culture does not understand and is even fearful of.  The rituals are not learned, the wizard is compelled to perform them, without dress rehearsal, and without mentor, as if they were innate.  So I am not practicing druidry while sane, as I don't want to be a wannabe wizard.  I guess that makes me a druidry snob.  I realize this would be considered delusion by the psychiatric profession.  I don't buy into a delusional explanation myself, based on my personal experience and analysis.  Instead I believe in a shamanic / wizardly explanation which our ancestors believed in and which primitive cultures still believe in.

The resolution of my slice of life story is that I am sort of using the Serenity Prayer, where I focus on what I can change, not on what I can't change.  I can't change not being a homeowner, I can't change only seeing my kids on weekends, and I can't change my memory being worse off.  But I can strike up a new relationship if I can find the time and money, and I can certainly write -- writing is free.  I still have my creativity.  I can hike as I have nature nearby.  The American Dream is usually thought of as a materialistic dream -- being a homeowner primarily.  But it also has to do with freedom.  At least I have my freedom, or a reasonable amount of it, left, to write.  I will be getting a second job in the next few months, so the freedom will decline, unless I enjoy that second job.  I enjoy my day job.  But I'll still have the weekends.  I think writing fiction would be next if I do write -- such as, what happens if I get into the SUV that I hallucinated?  But it seems like such a daunting task compared to writing non-fiction, and the outcome so bleak, I just don't know about writing a novel.  It probably will be that writing this memoir is enough writing for me.  Another thing I have been able to change is my no longer being on medication, as I have discovered that I don't need it.  That actually enables my mind to operate better than on medication I believe.

Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

One thing is certain, I'll never be a "victim" of anything.  I've had a great life and I still have plenty of great life left -- if I remember to have a good attitude about that amount of life left that is.  If you watch the Robert Whitaker video linked to at right, you might think there is some evidence my being prescribed Prozac long term for having some insomnia might have been a factor in my developing Bipolar Disorder, that I might be a victim of the psychiatric establishment.  I took the pills voluntarily however.  And there is no proving that the Prozac was a factor.  Likewise, there is no proving that the personal growth seminars I took during the time I quit the Prozac were a factor, as some people think they can.  I lied on the application for the seminars regarding if I had taken psychiatric drugs or quit psychotherapy without completing both were true in my case.  My sister convinced me to do psychotherapy years ago but I only stuck with it a month or two.  So I took the seminars voluntarily and lying on the liability disclaimer/warning.  The Bipolar might very well have been destined to have happen anyways on it's own.  In the big scheme of things I can buy into believing that it was destined, factors contributing or not.  Maybe it was not all bad to have acquired Bipolar.  If I believe I heard from God, and I do, then I'm sure he had planned on giving me my share of suffering for a reason.  All I can do is move forward under the belief that healing has possibly taken place, and that my case of Bipolar I is evidently in permanent remission, where I don't need to take psych drugs.  I wouldn't go so far as to say cured because of the memory issue.  I used to think I was left also with a slight amount of depression, but I find that that is no longer the case now that I have been medication free.  I suppose the memory could improve as well without medication.  I'll keep updating here over time how it all turns out.

For now in my public school job, which is the one I believe God to have (with a thought-voice) informed me that I was offered the position, I perform technology support for administration, teachers, other staff who use computers, and students.  I can make an indirect "difference" for the students when the technology is working well, as the technology is a teaching tool.  I am attempting to also run an after school club where the club members will create how-to videos on using the technology, peer to peer, and if that idea comes to fruition, I will also be able to make a direct difference to the students in the club and perhaps as an end result to the students who watch the videos.  The other reason I think I am putting that idea together is the same reason the Blues Brothers had in the Blues Brothers movie.  While that is a grandiose reason, and in the movie is hence comical, perhaps grandiosity is something useful that we can learn from maniacs.  If we have a choice to be grandiose or not to be grandiose, why not choose to be grandiose?  In the case of someone with bipolar, the initial idea may have been partly due to a spell of hypomania.  But for someone without bipolar, or for someone who may have had the initial inspirational idea while hypomanic, as long as the "grandiose" idea can be executed sanely or while in a normal mood, it may very well be a helpful philosophy to possess.  In my case it's an easy philosophy to hold.  For others who have not heard so blatantly from God, it may not be as easy to hold such a philosophy of choosing the grandiose.  There is so much to the human mind that remains a mystery, we can never know for sure if we are to take sole credit for all of our ideas and all of our inspirations. If you are like me, such ideas and inspirations may come together over a period of time as in putting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle (perhaps without having the puzzle box to see the picture ahead of time.)  If our ideas and inspirations really can come from God, then everyone can be a "prophet," and everyone can be on a "mission from God."  And again, it seems that choice is involved. 

Additionally, it may be that Jesus was dealing with puzzle pieces, without being able to see the big picture beforehand, when he and the authors of the New Testament put together the "puzzle" of Christianity.  After all, the New Testament was written decades after Jesus died.  And some pieces even seem to have been thrown away, only to be found relatively recently in clay jars hidden in caves.  So while my seemingly insignificant cross that I speak of pales in comparison to Jesus' cross, the taking up of both crosses might have been similar in that they were a piecing together of "puzzle pieces" that came by way of spiritual inspiration.

If I Google "take up your cross", I find this link which does a nice job of explaining my choice I think.  Because as I try to take my job outside the box and to a next level of making a direct difference for the students, I can only do this without pay, working after school, and still retaining my five hour a day part time job.  If I try to get one of the eight hour jobs in the same position at the same school district, I would probably not have time to run an after school club for making how-to videos.  Instead I'll need to find a night job which starts after the club ends.  Thus "dying to myself" because of following God.  When Jesus states because of following him, it could also mean, in my opinion, by following God, since Jesus, it seemed to me, was speaking for God at the time.  Either way it doesn't matter to me if I am following God or following Jesus.  Since Jesus was the one who was crucified, I guess technically I am following Jesus.  Although I think it was God who spoke to me regarding my getting my job.

This is a small example of taking up a cross.  I feel as if I had taken up another cross or two in my life at other times that I have worked with children and as a result forgone riches.  I guess I feel it not necessary to attend Catholic church services, that the only real issue for me would be the choice to take up the cross that has been presented to me in inspiration and idea one way or another.  However, I think attending services might give me strength and I don't think would hurt.  As I think I have mentioned earlier in this short memoir, I don't agree with all of the Nicene Creed.  But I also don't necessarily believe it wise to throw the baby out with the bath water.  Whether I return to the church on my own accord now, or whether I meditate in a Buddhist temple, or both, I think makes no difference.  Those things can help, but I think the critical thing regarding Christianity is to identify and take up one's cross, which may take the form of multiple crosses throughout one's lifetime.  I don't think it is always easy for people to identify a cross.  I also think it might be possible to take up a cross at one point in your lifetime and then to not take up a cross at another time, as if "retiring" from your cross.  But for me, with literally hearing the voice of what I can only believe to be God as an internal thought-voice but loud and clear, telling me that I have been offered a job before I learned I was offered the job, I am faced with a clear signal that something might be going on.  Slightly over a year later, I believe the pieces of this cross have come together, and that I have been able to identify a cross / choice.  And I have made a decision to commit to carrying that relatively easy to carry and perhaps small in "making a difference" impact cross.

I think I would be making the same decision had I not heard God's voice regarding my job.  How much of the decisions I've made in my life to take up various crosses working with children is due to my being raised Catholic vs. how much of that decision is due to "me" or other factors of psychology such as having a father who was a traveling salesman and not very present I have no way of knowing.  But I suppose hearing God's voice is a "nail in the coffin" for me regarding knowing I am making the right decision regarding this latest cross.  To clarify, it doesn't seem to me that just going to church every Sunday, praising Jesus and/or God, and praying, nor being "saved" by accepting that Jesus is one's savior, makes a person a real Christian.  Some of the web sites that talk about taking up one's cross claim that there are three things that make a real Christian;  Denying one's self, taking up one's cross, and obedience to Jesus.  To me that is really just one thing and can be summed up as taking up one's cross.  I agree that it requires a choice to be a cross.  I believe that attending Church on Sunday and all of the other aforementioned things can serve to strengthen one's resolve in committing to take up a cross.  But it clearly seems that the crux of Christianity is to simply take up one's cross.  And of course not ignoring the Ten Commandments, following them to the best of your ability, but also not condemning yourself to a life sentence of guilt and/or giving up on faith because of mistakenly breaking a Commandment.  I'm betting Jesus and God would agree.  And I wonder how many "Christians" never do take up a cross but instead feel entitled to "the Kingdom" solely on the basis of being "saved" and forgiven.  It isn't really my business to question how others approach their faith, and I'm no know-it-all, but it makes me wonder just the same.  P.S. I don't have anything against other religions, it's just that in my case I think Judeo-Christianity with a side order of Buddhism works for me.  The Dalai Lama has said that he thinks we should all stick to the religion of our upbringing.  There is probably some wisdom to that.  

I only know the basics of Islam.  I tend to agree with Islam, sort of, not really sure if one hundred percent, that the whole "Jesus is God" thing went a bit too far.  If I believe that the whole point of Christianity should be to take up one's crosses in life, then it matters not the degree to which Jesus was God or the son of God.  Isn't being a messenger of God valuable enough?  I suppose at some point I will read parts of scripture from the Koran out of curiosity.  However, I don't get a very good feeling about Islam if it has bred so much infighting between sects as well as terrorism.  I think those two things probably backfire for Islam and limit it's adoption in the world rather than spread it's adoption.  I also don't feel like I need multiple prophets.  If I have been raised with one prophet, I find that I may have had a religious experience where I have heard not only from God but also from that prophet, and if I agree with that prophet's message of taking up one's cross, why do I need yet another prophet?  Particularly since I have done some listening to Buddhist scripture.  You have to respect the Muslims however for their devotion to prayer, five times a day, and it seems their religion does promote helping others who are less fortunate.  

Although they form the foundation of Judeo-Christianity, I feel that the Jewish faith is stubborn in that it does not seem open to any sort of evolution.  I respect Jews because they strive to follow the laws of Moses and of so many other lesser laws.  How can you not respect righteousness?  We probably shouldn't be throwing the baby out with the bathwater regarding Judaism either, although it seems to me that Jesus presented an evolution and as such Judaism should only be seen as a foundation to Christianity.

I don't know much about Hinduism.  But quite frankly, I think one only has so much room and I don't think we need to know about every religion.  Some of Hinduism might have some things in common with Buddhism, I think, although I am no expert and I will not Google the topic here.  I have attended Universalist Unitarian, but they have their sermons, while my temple would not, and they talk about so many faiths it may lead one to wonder if they should believe anything at all?  So I think blending two prophets, Buddha and Jesus, would be enough.  If someone else wanted a blend of Islam and Buddhism, or some other combination, they could follow my idea.

I have read on the Web Christians who claim that Buddhism does not have anything like denying ones self.  However, "no self" is a very big deal in Buddhism.  Which sounds the same to me.  Buddhism is harder to understand than Christianity, including this link on Buddhist teachings on self and no-self.  (You have to keep scrolling down on that page for the entire page to keep moving up.)  I will copy a bit from that page which is from the oldest branch of Buddhism, Theravada, and the branch that I have participated in:  "Theravada considers anatman to mean that an individual's ego or personality is a fetter and delusion. Once freed of this delusion, the individual may enjoy the bliss of Nirvana."

It could be considered the same thing, if you were to look at it open mindedly, as denying ones self and taking up an authentic cross.  As Jesus was quoted as saying: "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."  Presumably following Jesus into the Kingdom of Heaven.  And what would be the difference between the Kingdom of Heaven and Nirvana?  In both religions there seems to be a Heaven here and now and a Heaven there.  As I think Buddhists believe you live about seven lives and finally make it to Nirvana.  At least I read that somewhere, lol.  While Nirvana can also be achieved in the here and now if you become enlightened while living.  Jesus also said the Kingdom of God is within you.  I am no scholar, but Google is "my friend."

From Wikipedia:  "In the Buddhist context, nirvana refers to realization of non-self and emptiness, marking the end of rebirth by stilling the fires that keep the process of rebirth going."  So if we were to partner Christianity, at least my view of Christianity with the crux being the crucifix, and Buddhism, you could say that taking up one's cross is another method of realizing non-self and emptiness, which leads one to the Kingdom of Heaven.  While meditation can also help to realize non-self and emptiness, so could contemplative prayer.  And the practitioner could get a bit of a here and now "high" if they were to meditate or pray for a long enough time (for me two hours seemed to really work, although I rarely meditate now out of laziness and also perhaps out of not having a good place to meditate.

So I think the two religions, Buddhism and Christianity, in fact are quite compatible, if you maintain an open mind on both accounts.  Buddha didn't speak of God.  That doesn't mean that he didn't believe in God however.  More importantly, nor does it mean that a person couldn't be a God believing Buddhist.  

I don't think we should make faith based decisions such as choosing to take up a cross out of the desire to earn "brownie points" or "karma" to make it to Heaven/Nirvana.  I think it better instead to have a goal, as the Buddhists seem to have more so than the Christians, with the exception perhaps of Christian monks, to seek the Kingdom of God within us / to seek the here and now Nirvana.  I suppose that would need to include a balance of following "missions" in life, (taking up crosses when authentic crosses present themselves with a choice,) which presumably make a difference for others, and of adding meditation, yoga, or contemplative prayer.  I think it might be more the Mahayana Buddhism branch that seems to believe that meditating is for the benefit of all.  As from that same page I link to above:  "The ideal in Mahayana is to enable all beings to be enlightened together, not only out of a sense of compassion, but because we are not really separate, autonomous beings."  So looking out for "number one" may also be looking out for "number two" in Mahayana Buddhism?  Whereas in Christianity it seems to be the opposite -- more looking out for number two is also looking out for number one.  

I tend to side with looking out for number two the Christian way of doing good works, but I can see where someone raised Buddhist might believe sitting on their bottom their entire lives would be looking out for number two.  It's impossible for me to know which is the "best" path.  However, raised Catholic, I choose to be a meditating Christian.  Rather than a Christian meditator.  Where a "Christian meditator" might be defined as, say, a monk.  Either a Buddhist monk who believes his meditation is his cross.  Or a Christian monk who believes his contemplative prayer is his cross.  And a "meditating Christian" I would define as someone making a direct, face to face difference for other people as his cross, following Jesus, but who practices both Buddhism and Christianity (in my case Theravada and Catholicism.)  I am sure I have confused myself, and perhaps the reader, in this paragraph.  But it might be helpful for me to come to such a conclusion so that I may know what my path should be.

If I had to choose to simplify my spiritual path at this point in time, I would say that I should keep the cross but attend the Buddhist temple not the Catholic church.  As mostly what takes place in the Theravada Buddhist temple is meditation.  And to tweak it a bit further, I might be best off performing contemplative prayer while others are meditating, at the Buddhist temple, with my legs crossed and sitting on the cushion.  So that I haven't thrown the baby of Jesus out with the bath water of the Catholic mass.  And that sounds like a new religion, lol.  Perhaps what is needed is a project that promotes the blending of Buddhism and Catholicism/Christianity.  (A Christian temple, not church, where people go to contemplatively pray, in silence, while sitting on cushions with their legs crossed.  Or I suppose they could meditate if they preferred.  I guess there would be statues of Jesus on the crucifix and Buddha meditating.  It might refer children to go to the Catholic Church, and then join the temple once they are adults, so that they can get Catholicism as a foundation.  Or it might hold services on Saturdays or evenings, so that families can attend on Saturday while attending Catholic mass or Christian service on Sundays.  Talks on Buddhism and Catholicism, perhaps only in the areas that there is agreement between the two religions, would be optional and occur after the meditation/prayer hour.  As at the Theravada Buddhist temple nearest me, which is about thirty minutes away, on Monday and Thursday nights there is a meditation hour with optional informal discussion group led by a Sri Lankan monk afterwards.  Ideally such a project could have monks involved leading meditation/prayer services and leading the optional, informal discussions afterwards, both Catholic and Buddhist, but they would have to be very open minded of course.)

Googling, I found an interesting article by a professor of theology on the blending of Buddhism and Christianity.  The author also has a book on the topic.  I purchased the Kindle version of the book and am just starting to read it.  So far my reaction is that most of it is flim-flam and an apology rather than an explanation for Christianity.  But I have found some good points.  Here is one very interesting point which sounds true, and if it is true, would be a very good point:  Regarding the golden rule, to love your neighbor as yourself, "If Christians call this a "commandment," for Buddhists it's something that comes naturally, as part of the Enlightened experience of Nirvana or InterBeing."  It hadn't occurred to me that loving your neighbor would come naturally to Buddhists.  Why then do you need Christianity and Jesus if you can just be Buddhist?

The answer may be found in something that I have thought of while reading the beginning of the book mentioned above is that, if you were to follow both Buddhism and Christianity, you could consider yourself to be denying yourself in two ways.  The two ways would be:  1. In meditation, which leads one to achieve no-self if I am not mistaken, which sounds to this amateur at least to be the same thing as denying one's self, and 2. In your life, making the sacrificial choices where we look out for number two, and take up the crosses that we are presented with in life.

Using the same logic, Buddhists without Christianity or Jesus, would be denying themselves only one way.  In their spirit.  They don't necessarily need a cross to carry.  Christians likewise would be denying themselves only one way without Buddhism or Buddha.  In their life (or flesh or body) because of their cross.  Would it not be more effective to deny oneself in both spirit and body?  And this then could be the explanation for why Buddhists need Christianity and why Christians need Buddhism.  A meditator seeking emptiness / no-self then, could be compared to an empty grail waiting to be filled up by the Holy Spirit.  And the equation is complete, as then you have the cup (spirit) and the bread (body) in relation to the denying of oneself.

Credit is due to professor Knitter for my idea, above, about the meditator waiting to be filled up by the Holy Spirit, as he talks about Buddhist emptiness as having potential for filling up.  As I mentioned, the book hasn't been all flim-flam so far, and I'm just being a bit brutally honest with my feelings.  Perhaps professor Knitter explains the "two ways to deny oneself" also later in his book.  I'll update if so.

Googling, I did find support from the World Community for Christian Meditation in the idea that meditation may be another way to deny oneself:  "Finally - but this is central to any understanding of meditation - we meditate in order to take the attention off ourselves. (Jesus said, leave self behind)."

Why might meditation be missing from most Christian's religious practices?  It may be because meditation is controversial among Christians.  

And from that same Wikipedia page, "Christian meditation is different from the style of meditations performed in Eastern religions (such as Buddhism) or in the context of the New Age.  While other types of meditation may suggest approaches to disengage the mind, Christian meditation aims to fill the mind with thoughts related to Biblical passages or Christian devotions."

So I have a couple of reactions to that.  One is that it probably isn't a big deal to do "Christian meditation" rather than "Buddhist meditation," even if you did Christian meditation in a Buddhist temple.  However, I would need to experiment with both in order to see if there was any difference.  And secondly, those Christians who seemingly are afraid of Buddhist meditation may not have considered the possibility that Buddhist meditators are denying themselves.  Ultimately though, if Christian meditation achieves the same degree of denying oneself, or of reaching no-self with the help of meditation, then I could agree that a Christian might as well use Christian meditation, as they would have nothing to lose by using Christian meditation.

I suppose the fear by Christians regarding Buddhist meditation might be along the lines of, if it is correct that Buddhist meditators are empty grails waiting to be filled up by the Holy Spirit, that would mean that there is overlap between the two religions.  And I don't suppose overlap is taken lightly, particulary since the Buddha never spoke of God.  In other words, those Christians afraid of Buddhist meditation might think Buddhist meditators are being filled up by something else, if I am not mistaken.

I just ran across this excerpt from the Bible, from John 14:15-17:

"15 If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."

Holy smokes!  That's downright alarming, as it describes what I've been trying to define as the remaining "thought" guide that I still communicate with, different from the "voice-thoughts" which included what I believe to be God and Jesus.  More toned down.  And Christians believe this excerpt from John to be talking about the Holy Spirit.  So while I was guessing the third voice may have been the Holy Spirit, if I believe what Jesus was saying in that excerpt, it was indeed, and still is, the Holy Spirit, not my "higher self."