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Posts Tagged ‘Bipolar sleep’

I’m manic, no doubt about it.  After almost two weeks down (some of it pretty rough, but nowhere as bad as it often has been), six days ago I came up – and I have come too far up.  I’ve been missing a lot of sleep, but I’ve not been irritable, not making big errors in judgment, not spending too much money. I’ve been feeling good, having a good time at work, being very productive.  Let’s call it a manic-depression 4 – significantly expanded.

When I’m manic, expanded, the work is grounding.  Here’s one way I worked on that this morning.  i was at my Sunday morning ecstatic dance, having a great time.  And something happened there which sometimes tends to happen when I’m manic: I started to smile – big smile, big shit-eating grin that just stayed there for a minute or two at a time.  i was just that happy, that benevolent, that much liking myself and the other people around me.

Some smiles can return us to a state of innocence.

Some smiles can return us to a state of innocence.

So what’s the problem, right?  Well the problem has to do with being ungrounded, with getting too high.  This ecstatic state (and yes, it is ecstatic dance) can kind of blow the top of my head off, can be too dizzy – it doesn’t get integrated.  But this morning I came up with a strategy that worked pretty well: I focused on my feet on the floor.  This created a wonderful little energy loop – a connection between my head (where my smile was) and my feet, my high energy and some groundedness.  This made me trust the smiling happiness more – and made me realize that it was tending before to have a little out-of-control quality, even a little scary.  This groundedness allowed me to move in and out of dancing with other people in a kind of seamless way – enjoying their energy, their dancing, without losing track of mine.

So I was grateful for the smiling, which tends to not happen much when I’m depressed – and grateful for the grounding, which tends to more come out of my depressed state.  It was a genuine complex healing state (see the page above) – a real state of relative balance even though I was still mostly manic.  It was sweet, precious – and to be savored.  Tomorrow I may be depressed, but I still had this.  It was real – actually more real because it was grounded, less in my head.

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I’ve been in a tough place.  Since my dog died almost two weeks ago, I have in some ways crawled in a hole.  I’ve continued to work (actually started to work – my first day on my new job as a cashier at a healthy supermarket was the day after I put Buddy down, which was in some ways very good timing,,,to have a new beginning and something to focus my energy right then).  I’ve continued most of my self-maintenance activities – which are quite a lot by most people’s standards.  I go to therapy every week.  I do peer counseling over the phone (30 minutes each way) with my friend Byron every week.  I went to a meeting of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance the other night. I talk with my buddy Monty on the phone every week.  I talk on the phone with my friend Lynn 2-3x a week.  i swim 2-3x a week.  I dance on an average of twice a week.  I talk with my housemates – especially Tom who is an extrovert and loves to engage.  Several friends have called me since getting the word about my dog, and talking with them has been good for me.  I got a flood of condolences after I put the word on Facebook and there has been some comfort in feeling a community around me.

IMG_1957

All these extraordinary resources and support have not kept me from being in other ways quite lousy.  Before this one, I’ve written one blog post in three weeks, At the Sunday dance I was in a miserable place – tight, contracted, depressed –  mostly not even able to dance.  The same weekend Buddy was dying, I went to parts of the three-day retreat for my entrepreneurship program, where I dramatically expanded my vision for my business – but I have since (until today) done nothing to move those plans along, and that has been seriously discouraging.

And I have been staying in bed.  With Buddy, I was almost always up by 7: “Hey, I have a dog to feed and walk – let’s get going.”  Not hard, really – I naturally wake up early.  It’s rare for me to sleep past 7.  I often wake up well earlier.  When I’m on the manic side of things, I get up and at ’em.  When I’m depressed, I lay there awake, trying to be asleep, getting myself in a progressively more and more foul mood.  Until 7.

Now it has felt like there is nothing to get up for.  I have stayed in bed until 9, 10, 11, 1.  Last Saturday I woke up at 6:30, but kept going back to bed until 1.  That’s a very long time to lay there awake.  It’s a depressive thing, I know – people with depression do this.  At my depression and bipolar support group the other night, there was a whole little conversation about how many of us have done this.  But I haven’t done it for over a year.  I’ve been miserably depressed at times, but not stayed in or gone back to bed.

Today was different – and I owe a lot of it to my friend Kate.

I’ll give myself kudos for making the call.  When I got off work last night, I was in a lousy mood, so I made two calls.  I left a message for my friend Johanna – and then I reached my Milwaukee friend Kate.  Kate and I have been friends for over a dozen years.  We usually talk every few weeks and it had been about that long.  She is under a lot of family stress and was glad to first talk about that – and it felt good to provide supportive listening to my friend.

Sometimes you need help from a friend.

Sometimes you need help from a friend.

Then she turned her finely-honed, intuitive, professional counselor attention to me.  She knew and loved my Buddy – and deeply loves dogs – so she gave me great support around that.  Then, when I talked about staying in bed, several positive developments tumbled out:

  • She asked me if my local friends knew what a tough place I’m in.  I acknowledged probably not.  After I got off the phone with her, I had a talk with my roommate Tom in which I fessed up.  It felt good to do.  I had a similar conversation with my other housemate Will today.
  • I committed to get up today at 7 a.m.
  • Kate suggested that I be a good loving father to myself and take myself for a walk.  She also shared her belief that Buddy’s doggie spirit is still with me and that I should practice feeling him with me when I walk.
  • Kate knows about my entrepreneurship program: almost took it herself, and completely jumped in my shit when I got depressed and almost didn’t follow through with it.  (“It’s not right for me – but it’s totally right for you.  You need to do it.”  And she was right.)  She got me to commit that today I would spend two hours working on my plans for my business.

The commitments I made to Kate turned my day around, though not without some pretty significant wavering.  I woke at 6:45 and got myself out of the bed by 7.  But then, after a trip to the bathroom, I came back and sat on the edge of the bed, staring at the floor.  I had told Kate that I would call her when I got up (more accountability).  After a half-hour of this stupor, I texted her about what was going on.  She texted back, “This is a loving kick in the ass – GET GOING!!!”  And it worked – I went downstairs and had breakfast.

But then I spent another half-hour doing the same thing before my 9 a.m. conversation with Monty – then afterwards spent 30 minutes more sitting and staring at the desk and another 30 minutes back sitting on the side of the bed.  I was precariously close to going back to bed – “I never told her I wouldn’t go back to bed” – but I knew that if I did that my commitments to work on my business and go for a walk would be greatly at risk.  And I remembered a woman at the support group the other night who spoke very compellingly of how she reached a point where she knew she had to summon all her force and just will herself out of bed.  I felt myself tapping into her determination as I finally headed to the bathroom to shave and, at almost 11 a.m., to get dressed.

Getting down to business 11-1-13

Then I spent 90-120 minutes working on my business!  That went extremely well and left me in a really pretty good mood.  What had felt intimidating and overwhelming and discouraging – developing an 18-day email class on healing through bipolar disorder – now felt eminently doable.  I practically did a little victory dance.

Then I wrote a few emails (including one to Kate), paid a few bills, then went for that walk.  On the walk I rehearsed two poems – one that I’ll perform at Jubilee in a week and one for a big poetry concert in March.  Then I mowed the front yard lawn: the front yard was where Buddy spent most of his waking time, and this was a hurdle for me – but it went fine, felt like a success.  Now I’m writing this blog post.  In 90 minutes I’ll go dance.  At this time yesterday, I would have been pretty nervous that dance could be a lousy experience – today I’m very hopeful that I will have a good time.

Thanks Kate – and your well-timed, virtual, loving kick in the ass.

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My weekend held a series of errors in judgment, which comprised poor self-care around my bipolar disorder – and were set in motion by a slip around my food addiction.

I have known for some time that peanut butter is a problem food for me, a food that I am prone to eating compulsively – and sometimes outright bingeing on.  I have written about this twice in this blog.  But I recently gave up gluten, when about the fourth person suggested this might help with depression.  I actually took her advice to also get off dairy, a commitment on which I have since reneged.  Bread and cheese have been such staples in my diet that I rationalized that I needed to add peanut butter – a quick and easy source of protein – back into my diet.  What was I thinking?  How much evidence do I need that it is a problem food for me?  How great is my capacity for denial?

So I took a jar of peanut butter with me on a weekend trip to see my son, daughter-in-law, and new grandbaby.  I love my son madly – and I know that he loves me deeply, but our relationship can sometimes get tricky – so it’s extra important that I take good care of myself when I go there, do everything I can to stay centered and grounded.  If you’re already smelling trouble here, you’re right

After taking the peanut butter on the trip, my second error in judgment happened at Starbucks Saturday morning.  I had some time to kill before the kids wanted me to come over (on the weekend, when the baby goes down for her first nap they nap also), so I took my laptop to the wireless internet at Starbucks.  Probably even going there was an error in judgment.  I don’t drink coffee – I know that, as someone who is trying to manage his moods, caffeine is a really bad substance for me.  And i don’t even do decaf – it has always seemed like a lame substitute for the real stuff.  I also (aside from periodic slips or extended lapses) don’t do sugar, which is also problematic for someone trying to mange their mood.  I tell myself that other sweeteners with a lower glycemic index (how fast they metabolize in the body) are not a problem.  But it’s hard to make a case that the 7 packs of honey it took to get my bitter grande decaf sweet enough for me was completely harmless.  But i did it – actually it not once crossed my conscious mind that this was an awful lot of sweet stuff.  More denial.

Honey probably is relatively harmless compared with sugar - and I'm not ready to take it out of my diet - but 7 packs of honey is a lot of sweetener.

Honey probably is relatively harmless compared with sugar – and I’m not ready to take it out of my diet – but 7 packs of honey is a lot of sweetener.

We had a great day.  That night, the chicken took a long time to cook and we ate pretty late.  I ate kind of a lot (it was very good) – right up to the edge of overeating, or maybe a little over.  I was very full.  Then, since it was already pretty late, I went back to my hotel room.  The beginnings of my trouble back there was my Zing bar.  I know that those energy bars are very sweet, but I somehow had managed to convince myself that it made sense to buy one – after previously swearing off them – at the gym, after a swim earlier in the week.  The blueberries I had had for dessert at my son’s house were really very good, and I was already quite full – but there was this candy bar calling to me, so I ate it.

My Zing  bar was sweetened with agave and did have protein, but it was awful sweet - for me it was a candy bar.

My Zing bar was sweetened with agave and did have protein, but it was awful sweet – for me it was a candy bar.

I guess that just opened the flood gates, because for some reason I then got into the peanut butter – really into it.  I was still eating it as I walked it down the hotel hall to find a garbage can to dump it in.  That night my stomach tossed around all night and I didn’t sleep well – and woke up early.

The next morning it was back to the Starbucks for internet – and another grande decaf, with another 7 packages of honey.  My son and daughter-in-law know a lot about my struggles with mood and I had over the weekend recruited their judgment about whether I was cycling high, which I had been concerned about on Thursday.  We all kept agreeing that I seemed pretty level.  But that morning  (or almost noon, the appointed time to arrive at their house) I observed to my son, “Wow, I’m pretty chatty today.  It does seem like I’m cycling kind of high.  I think it’s the lack of sleep.”  (The honey still didn’t cross my mind.)

A little while later, I had a tense encounter with my son.  Perhaps the most telltale sign that I was revving high was that I made very little of it, and –  when my time to leave came before the tension had been fully dispersed – I gave it no thought the rest of the day.  This even though the next day it seemed pretty significant, enough so that I want to make a point of apologizing to him.  Carrying some unconscious tension from this certainly did not help my growing mania.

When I left for the 7-hour drive home at 2 p.m, the genuine caffeinated coffee that I had at Starbucks was not an impulse move.  I had told them of my plan.  When they offered to make me some coffee, I said, “No, if I’m going to break down and have real coffee, I want it to be Starbucks.”  And still, as I was announcing this decision, I at no point thought this was maybe a bad idea.  Let me state it again: I don’t do caffeine.  It had been many months – maybe a year – since I had had any.  I was already describing myself as cycling high.  What was I thinking?

Here’s where I think my food addict – with all the denial that goes with that – intersects with poor management of my moods.  I had, during the last week, been outlining a blog post on strategies for staying grounded – lots of very positive ideas, which I was actively practicing and which are very valuable, and which I am still going to write up.  But I may need to add some don’ts: If you want to get good sleep to keep from cycling high, don’t overeat before going to bed.  Don’t consume 7 packs of honey.  Don’t have caffeine.

So I went to Starbucks and – thinking I was being very disciplined – had only half caffeine in my 16 oz grande.  The French Roast bold blend in my half-caf part (my request) made the coffee even more bitter than the decaf had been earlier that morning, so 7 packs of honey didn’t get it sweet enough.  Rather than go back and ask for two more packs of honey, I grabbed two packs of “Raw” sugar.  Let me say it again – I don’t do sugar.  It had been several weeks since I had had any.  And still it did not cross my mind that I was making a mistake – let alone being flat-out out of control.  What was I thinking?

For someone who hasn't had caffeine for a year, 8 oz. of French Roast is a lot of caffeine.  Then there's the honey and the sugar - and I'm trying to stay grounded?  Sometimes mania has a mind of its own.

For someone who hasn’t had caffeine for a year, 8 oz. of French Roast is a lot of caffeine. Then there’s the honey and the sugar – and I’m trying to stay grounded? Sometimes mania has a mind of its own.

The trip home was uneventful.  I never identified myself as revving high, though looking back some  signs were there.  That night I actually slept well and long (7 hours).  The next morning, I did identify myself as revving a little high..  By mid-day I had a bad case of stomach cramps.  All afternoon I went back and forth as to whether I was manic or sliding towards depression.  (Being bipolar, it’s so easy to obsess over the signs – which way is my mood heading?)  By late evening, I had chills and fever, stomach cramps – and I was depressed.  Was I getting sick?  Maybe, but I think it was the over-eating, the lack of sleep, the honey and coffee and sugar – and mania.  Crashing from all of that can explain a lot – and gets me out of denial.

I had stomach cramps all night and didn’t sleep well.  Today I have stomach cramps, feel lousy – like the flu – and am depressed.  Maybe it’s the flu, but there’s no real learning in all of that.  The real learning for me is to keep working my Overeaters Anonymous program and to remember some absolute basics for self-care around my moods: no overeating before bed, no sugar, no big doses of “innocent” sweeteners, no caffeine.  All my positive, pro-active strategies for staying grounded are wonderful, but if I don’t mind the basics they don’t have a chance.

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I’m not integrated today – I’m fragmented.  My concerns about an out-of-control mania have passed: I got seven hours of sleep last night and am not particularly speedy – just enough to call myself a 5, slightly expanded, rather than balanced (the grail and a state in which I spend very little time).  As always when I’m not depressed, I worry when the next depression is coming and how bad it will be.  Walking the dog this morning, I was not very responsive to the Spotify music playing through my phone (Steve Earle, who just yesterday was really rocking me).  Is this an early warning sign that a depression is looming?  Or just a part of how mentally preoccupied I am today?

And i am mentally preoccupied today.  I have a whole lot of writing queued up for this blog – posts that I have unfinished or unedited, dictated in my phone and handwritten in the little spiral notebook I carry with me everywhere.  This is some of the standard fragmentation that comes with running too high, which i have done for a week now.

But even more than that I have the disconnection between the grand vision that emerged for me last week for where I am going with my business (see Depression and Life Purpose, August 9) and the day-to-day reality of my life.  These aspirations for three books and a public speaking business are as yet pretty ungrounded: the first book, my memoir, is only part finished – and the other two books are as yet just a vision.  And the public speaking business is also right now just in my mind’s eye.

This wonderful vision crystallized in part as my response to a 6-month entrepreneurship training that I signed up for last week.  They came together from fragments that have been floating around in my mind for months and years.  They came together with a force that was a little shocking.  Was the mania that I teetered on the brink of last week a result of so much stimulation or the cause of it?  Is this vision just one more manic plan that there is no way that i can in reality make operational?

Aren’t these always the fears for someone who wrestles with bipolar disorder?  Can I possibly reach that mountain I saw so clearly just a few days ago?  How do integrate these two realities i inhabit?  Where are the baby steps that can link my grounded (or even depressed) reality with my bigger vision?

For me today, the baby steps have everything to do with this blog.  This blog is the link between my current reality and my vision of books and a speaking business.  I have posts and pages to write and edit.  I have several ways I want to improve the blog before I start promoting it with mental health professionals, an effort I want to begin within a couple of weeks.

And today I need to not get compulsive or too driven with these tasks: I need to spend time with my friend Badria.  I need to swim, big-time.  I was sick at the beginning of last week, got rained out of a swim another day – and it has been over a week since I swam, which is so integrating for me.

I have work to do, baby steps to take.

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I don’t know what manic-depression score to give myself tonight.  I have been strung out all day from having only one hour of sleep last night.  I’ve been in a pretty good mood, though definitely concerned that maybe my mania is cycling out of control.  I attempt to reassure myself that there are very good situational reasons for running high – I’m extremely excited about three things at once:

  1. this blog, which is on fire
  2. the entrepreneurship training i just signed up for and my new vision about an entrepreneurial future for myself, and finally
  3. this speech I wrote last night (which,  on reviewing a couple of times today, I like a lot) – and which i see as one key to building the public speaking business that is part of my entrepreneurial vision.

So who wouldn’t be overstimulated?  Still, though, I know the risks of going without sleep.  Lack of sleep makes you a sitting duck for mania – and what goes up must come down.

All day long, I have been planning to go tonight to a “Salon” – a gathering of lovely friends to play together and to share creative performances with each other.  I went to the first in the series a month ago and it was a gas.  I have two sweet, fun summer poems to share with the group, which I know they will enjoy.  But I know the risks: I am already overstimulated and strung out.  If I was depressed, it would be really wonderful to get out with such sweet people and have such a stimulating evening – but when I’m already high it may be a bad idea.  Bipolar disorder is really two simultaneous diseases – what’s good for you when you are down is often not good for you when you when you are up.  And, even leaving by 10 (early), by the time I walk and feed the dogs, etc., it will be midnight before I go to bed.  Nonetheless, all day I have been unwilling to let go of it.

But having gotten some dinner in me around 5:30 (supposed to be there around 7), my system has gotten heavy and I am starting to seriously crash.  And i trust it – actually I welcome it.  “My manic energy is running out of gas – this is good news.”  So often, when I feel myself start to come down from a high, I run harder – afraid that I will keep going down and plunge into a depression.  But for some reason tonight i have no urge to fight it – I trust that i will be alright. I don’t know where it will lead: will I really sleep?  Will I wake up super early again?  But it feels super-sweet to just let go.

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I’m in trouble – I’m not sleeping.  Having written late last night about the bad old days when I used to pull all-nighters, I came precariously close to one last night.

Yesterday I read that as part of the amazingly exciting six month entrepreneurship class I just signed up for, a member of our student cohort who owns a TV studio has offered to shoot and edit a video for each of us to put on our websites.  On fire with this vision, last night at 11 p.m. (time to be in bed, especially when I am already running too fast and got up at 4;30) I sat down to write a speech about bipolar disorder that was forming itself in my head.

An hour later i snapped out of the mesmerism of writing, having written a 17-minute speech telling in brief form the history of my bipolar disorder – really blinding fast for such a long speech.  And it’s hot – I know it is.  It’s powerful, poignant – at times brutal in its honesty.  Yet, after definitely descending to depths that resonate with just how low my true-life story has at times gone, it does come out into the light and ends in a golden place of hope.  Not rosy pie-in-sky happy – still grounded and realistic.  Not all healed, but definitely showing the promise of healing.

At a quarter past midnight, I wrote an email to a friend who I assumed was asleep – a good friend who has followed closely the events of my last few days: all the excitement around this blog and about my new training.  I told her, “When this video goes on my website, i believe that as soon as I start seriously marketing my public speaking I’m going to start getting gigs.”  And even now, the next day, this seems like not an unrealistic projection.  Pretty heady stuff.

I went to bed around 12:30, still very stimulated.  I thought, “If I sleep until 6:30, that’s six hours – not bad.”  i knew I was not that confident of making it asleep until 6:30 – that morning I had been up and writing at my computer at 4:30.  I looked on my little bedside table at the novel I’ve been reading at bedtime, and greatly enjoying, and thought – “Not tonight, too late”.  But I realized that I actually did not feel very sleepy, so I read for a while.  It is such a good story and so well written that it was too stimulating last night to soothe me towards sleep and I put it aside after 15 minutes, no closer to sleep than when i started it.  I don’t know how long it was until I actually fell asleep, but I know that when I did fall asleep, I slept lightly and fitfully.  And at 1:30 I was up to take a pee.  On my way back to the bedroom, I pulled a hard left and headed downstairs to the kitchen to get some peanut butter (a guilty pleasure of mine – for some reason peanut butter, one of my favorite foods, never tastes as good as in the middle of the night).  I told myself that putting a little something in my tummy might help me to sleep.

Five minutes and four spoonfuls of peanut butter later (my usual dose), I had the light off and was laying in bed awaiting sleep.  And it never came.  i first stayed really still, eyes closed, willing sleep to come.  Then my eyes popped open, but I still laid very quiet.  in my head, I had begun to write.  I was writing two pieces at once – part of my brain starting this blog post and another part editing the speech I had written last night.  The idea of getting up and starting my day after one hour of very fitful sleep was very threatening: “That’s damn near an all-nighter.”  But even when I am tending towards mania and needing the sleep, the artist in me does have a policy of “You don’t refuse the Muse.”  When she is giving you writing to do, it is at your own artistic peril that you refuse her.  It is exquisitely painful when she decides you are an unworthy host and turns her back on you.

So I got up.  I disciplined myself, as always, to make the bed – the chaos of an unmade bed disturbs my nervous system.  “But maybe I should leave it unmade, to leave open the possibility of going back to bed in an hour or two.  That would still only be 3:30 or 4:30.”  But I knew that was hopeless – I’m up now, up for the day.  So 10 minutes after planting feet on the floor, I was down here at the kitchen table at my laptop, writing (chamomile tea steeping on the table next to me – maybe that will settle me down a little).  And i tried quickly to transcribe both pieces I had been writing in my head, before either of them disappeared.  And I was mostly successful.

So here I am at 2:55, having had an hour of sleep and with no hope that I will get more.  I’m concerned about myself.

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Nothing can defeat depression more consistently than a clear, powerful sense of life purpose.

When I am very depressed, my life is dominated by nihilistic mantras like “Nothing helps and nothing matters” and “This is all bullshit” – which, on  a really bad day, may audibly escape my lips several times an hour.  This kind of devastatingly negative experience of my personal world cannot co-exist with a positive vision for what I have to contribute to the world – how i intend to make the world a better place by living out my unique sense of personal calling.

I’m definitely running high today – at least a 4 on my manic depression scale (see page at top of blog).  This morning I woke at 4:30 – really the early limit on when I normally wake up.  But I was up and at the computer within just a few minutes, buzzing with ideas for this and a couple other blog posts.  It’s exciting, it’s positive, it’s constructive.  It’s infinitely better than the alternative when I’m depressed – lying in bed for hours, trying/pretending to be asleep, really just not ready or willing to face my life.   There is so much clear reason why I would be running high.  But I still need to take this running high very seriously, to do everything I possibly can do to ground myself.

The first big factor that has me running high is this blog.  This blog is so clearly linked to my own sense of life purpose that it is tremendously important to me.

The second, even bigger factor that has me running high is that in the last couple of days I have gotten dramatically clearer on my sense of life purpose.  I have more and more intuitively sensed that this blog is somehow central to my personal calling, but that sense has been mostly only intuitive – murky, not well fleshed out.  But in the last two days that vision for my future has come together: threads that for weeks-months-years have been floating around in background, in and out of consciousness, have coalesced into a clear picture.

Yes, this blog is central to my future – and here is why.  This blog is a jumping-off point for the business that will carry me into this last phase of generativity in my life.  Out of this blog will be birthed three books and a public speaking business that will allow me to devote my full time to powerfully making a difference in the world.  It all has to do with bipolar disorder.  It is something that is so central to the truth of my life, the unique personal path that I walk.  After working for 20 years as a clinical psychologist and dealing with this disease for so long, it is a topic on which I am uniquely qualified to speak.  I have, over the last 15 years, applied the personal consciousness that has been shaped by 35 years of personal and spiritual growth work, to the healing of this disease.  I have learned a lot – it is meant to be shared.

My poetry book - my first foray into self-publishing.  I have sold 130 copies of this xeroxed poetry "chapbook" - a good and encouraging experience around putting my writing out into the world.  You can order it from the link on the right!

My poetry book – my first foray into self-publishing. I have sold 130 copies of this xeroxed poetry “chapbook” – a good and encouraging experience around putting my writing out into the world. You can order it from the link on the right!

My first book - "finished" for several years now, just waiting for me to do something with it.  Really a pretty solid book - some people adore it.

My first book – “finished” for several years now, just waiting for me to do something with it. Really a pretty solid book – some people adore it.

My next book, for mental health professionals, survivors and family/friends.  The product of 20 years practice of clinical psychology and more years of struggling with the disease - and, now, of this blog.  I have a lot to say on the topic.

My next book, for mental health professionals, survivors and family/friends. The product of 20 years practice of clinical psychology and more years of struggling with the disease – and, now, of this blog. I have a lot to say on the topic.

A self-help book for people with the disorder.  Besides my clinical psychology and personal bipolar history, I have taught all manner of personal growth courses for 30 years, designed courses for management consulting firms, etc.  It's a natural for me.

A self-help book for people with the disorder. Besides my clinical psychology and personal bipolar history, I have taught all manner of personal growth courses for 30 years, designed courses for management consulting firms, etc. It’s a natural for me.

The vision that inspired my fire walk in June: what I was willing to do "no matter what it takes", what I would walk across hot coals to realize.  It was a moment of  personal triumph - and clear vision.

The vision that inspired my fire walk in June: what I was willing to do “no matter what it takes”, what I would walk across hot coals to realize. It was a moment of personal triumph – and clear vision.

Public speaking has clearly, for a long time, been meant to be part of my life purpose.  I’m a performer, it’s in my DNA – it’s my karma.  Back in Chicago, I won some very high awards  for my public speaking in that region of 1500 Toastmasters.  Here in Asheville, I have for nine years now performed my poetry four times a year at Jubilee, my non-denominational church – where we can get 500-700 people at two services on a Sunday and where my performance poetry is absolutely adored.  Three years ago, I and two other men poets attracted 75 people, midweek for $10 a head, to an evening of poetry.  I went into an absolute zone, brought the house down, and emerged from that evening into a mountain top experience where I knew that my writer’s voice – and my performing – were meant for a much bigger stage than Jubilee, bigger than Asheville.

A vision for a public speaking business based on this blog and these books.  I'm a phenomenal speaker - it's work I was born to do.

A vision for a public speaking business based on this blog and these books. I’m a phenomenal speaker – it’s work I was born to do.

But I never was able to find the baby steps to realize that overwhelmingly powerful vision and I collapsed into a very deep depression – actually into a downward spiral that went on for over three years.  Now I am back to that mountain-top vision, but this time I have baby steps to take – this blog, one post at a time.  This blog will lead me towards those bigger goals.

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