Psychotic Depression or Bipolar Depression?

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“It’s a bit like walking down a long dark corridor, never knowing when the light will come on.”  –Neil Lennon

There’s Depression – which is the type of Depression most people with Depression have.  And then there’s Psychotic Depression, otherwise known by its clinical distinction; Major Depressive Disorder with Psychotic Features.  The second type of Depression is far less common than the first – My Depression is Major Depressive Disorder; Recurrent with Psychotic Features.

Psychotic Depression is characterized not only by the symptoms of Depression itself, but also by hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t really there) or delusions (irrational thoughts and fears).  At the time of my diagnosis, I had irrational thoughts and fears  my behavior reflected — yet even in those moments when I was truly crazy, I had an awareness that I was.  I knew what I thought and believed wasn’t right, I knew my behavior was out of control and wrong , but I was powerless to change any of it; I literally had no control over my own mind and knew that I didn’t.  My feelings of victimization (now not by my parents, but by my own mind) and guilt over what I was doing to my family caused intense self-loathing which did nothing but fuel the depression – the cycle was endless and utterly surreal.

I have had two full-on psychotic periods – the first was actually horrific;  the second led to my hospitalization before it became horrific (thankfully) because my wife just couldn’t take anymore.  Going through my life retrospectively with my psychiatrist, we know that I’d actually been having occasional mild psychotic episodes since my teens.  With Recurrent Psychotic Depression, each recurrence tends to be increasingly more severe than the last, making the illness and subsequent need for care more and more obvious – mine should have been diagnosed long before it was.

I will never know for sure how my parents missed all of this — probably a combination of our having no bond or relationship; I certainly did not trust them or share my life or feelings or problems with them, and  their own detachment; they existed within their own problems and screwed-up lives.  We were the classic Dysfunctional Family.

When I left that toxic environment, my life got better – I was happy.  Eventually, I had a successful career and a wife and kids and all the benefits of an upper-middle class existence.  Stability and happiness offered a respite, a kind of very real remission.

Yeah, I was cyclically moody and challenging to live with every once in while – aren’t we all?  My wife suggested I see someone – a therapist, occasionally – but the period of moodiness would pass and life would return to normal very quickly.  I was emotionally stable so I was able to care for her feelings and make right anything I had made wrong during my moodiness, thus closing the cycle; normal adult behavior in an emotionally mature and healthy marriage …

But when you’ve been abused, there are potential triggers everywhere.  And when you closed the door on that abuse as I did, without working through it fully, those triggers fire automatic weapons …

And when all of that is combined with hormones that are suddenly imbalanced due to the onset of middle age and Metabolic Syndrome – a common middle age ailment in Abuse Survivors, the automatic weapons morph into time bombs …

All of a sudden:

the remission was over.

The respite had ended.

My life did not work.

I was psychotic.

It is my understanding that when a patient who has been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder; Recurrent with Psychotic Features subsequently receives a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, the first diagnosis is dropped.  Bipolar Depression is the new designation, but this hybrid diagnosis typically occurs during late adolescence, not in middle age.  Maybe I should inquire about an updated diagnosis …

In the end though, it’s just a label – and since I don’t let my illnesses dictate my life,  I don’t really think it matters what anyone calls it.

Just as long as it responds to treatment, I’m good.

Why Forgiveness is Impossible

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To explore forgiveness,  I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate for this post. (kind of)

In this post, I took the position of the abuse survivor – myself.  I do that a lot on this blog, actually – it is the premise of Silence Shattered and and integral part of my life experience:

But to consider all of this from the other point-of-view – now that’s foreign to me.

So …

Just for the sake of argument, let’s say Ed and Pat didn’t want to live the last thirty years estranged from the their only son.  Let’s pretend they are capable of feeling the loss in never having known their grandchildren.  Let’s assume they’d like for things to be different than they are.  And we’ll all imagine them to be capable of change and asking for forgiveness …

I’m going to open myself up to all those possibilities, despite their inherent improbability.

I am going to attempt to see all of this through their eyes …

proceed from the ideation that I’m wrong – my memories are false, or I’m a liar, or under the influence of a very bad woman.

I’m going to step away from abuse that bordered on torture

from never feeling loved or understood, valued or wanted as a child (unless I was with my maternal grandparents)

I’m going to believe Ed – he didn’t rape that girl; she was able to consent morally and legally, and she did.

I’m going to understand Pat’s inability to cope with her life and unhappiness as a reason for being cruel to her children

I’m going to understand them, damn it!

I am!

I’m going to sit right here until I do.

If I try, this will come to me.

I.  Am.  Going.  To.  Understand.  And.  Forgive.

Wait a minute, I can’t.

And it isn’t just because I don’t want to, or because I don’t think they are deserving of forgiveness:

I simply lack the psychological make-up to understand,  my mind won’t allow me to.

No matter what I do, I will never get to a place where I understand the abuse, or the denial – or them.

To forgive someone for something, I have to be able to put myself in their shoes – and I have to be able to my admit my part in any shared conflict:

But I was a child, I played no part in the conflict

and I will never be able to put myself in their shoes…

because they just don’t fit.

What is Happening to Me?

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I had no clue what was happening to me – it’s crystal clear in hindsight, but at the time I was lost.

In retrospect, I know I had been depressed for a long time. I had Major Depression I should have been treating, but not knowing or understanding anything about Depression, I chalked it up to aging and mid-life crisis:

Aches and pains; aging

Anxiety; mid-life crisis

Night sweats:  aging and hormones

Lack of stamina: aging

Blurry vision:  aging

Short-term memory impairment:  aging

Inability to concentrate:  aging

Fatigue: aging

Apathy: tired – part of aging

Irritability – part of aging and being tired all the time

On and on this went for better than two years – my wife saying, “You need to see a doctor.”  Me saying, “What for?  I’m getting older, this is all normal.”

And then came the late summer of 2009:

First, I could no longer maintain emotional stability.   Exhausted from battling severe depression for so long, I no longer had  the emotional resources to maintain proper perspective or complete self-control; my moods and feelings fluctuated, sometimes from minute to minute. I was irritable and prone to angry outbursts that didn’t make sense to anyone other than me.  And then, I could not sleep;  Not.  At.  All.  I saw a doctor for the first time after almost a week of sleeplessness.  He took one look at me and said, “Depression.”

I took  meds for Depression and my life became a nightmare.  Rage filled out of control behavior, which of course we now know to be the result of Bipolar Me taking anti-depressants (a definite No, No for those of you who may not know this – as part of a ‘cocktail’ with a mood stabilizer to balance things out, anti-depressants may be OK – alone, probably not) I had no control over my thoughts, feelings or actions — and no idea what was happening to me.  My character changed completely.

I had moments of psychosis that were like  flashbacks to my childhood, but not exactly;  In psychotic moments, I behaved as my parents had; I became distant and cold, emotionally abusive and cruel. I ranted, raved and raged. I said and did things I would never, ever say or do.  In those moments, I was gone.  My subconscious was in control and all it knew was the violent, cruel abusive behavior I had been subjected to as a child.  It was surreal and frightening …

Today, I thank a God I do not believe in for mercifully disallowing me to remember much of what I said and did during this time – and for giving my wife and children the capacity to understand, and forgive.

Then, I was lost completely because I  had no idea what WAS happening COULD  happen, to anyone.

It was called “A Complete Psychotic Breakdown.”

And it happened because I lived with the constant emotional strain of untreated Depression and Bipolar Disorder for years:

Breakdowns are not the result of weakness – on the contrary; breakdowns are the result of having been too strong for too long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bipolar Diagnosis

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 My psychiatrist said, “You’re Bipolar.”  And I said, “Now tell me something I don’t already know.”

It took a long time to be accurately diagnosed, and by then I was tired and frustrated by the process; tired of thinking it was one thing only to be told it was something else, too.  I was never inaccurately diagnosed with anything, but they kept adding to it; Major Depression was first, then came Anxiety Disorder, which was followed by Dysthymia and PTSD … at that point, it looked like we’d reached the end of my illnesses.   It was February of 2012.

But we hadn’t we reached the end;  Bipolar was the final piece of the puzzle – and the definitive diagnosis came in October of 2013, although it was not the first time it was suggested …

The first time a psychiatrist suggested that I was Bipolar was in June of 2010, and I rejected it completely.  I did not want to own this diagnosis, not in any way, and the Psychiatrist who used the dreaded ‘B’ word did so during our initial session.  She was not the first psychiatrist I had seen – and her predecessor had rejected Bipolar Disorder over and over again – to top it off, her abrupt approach did not inspire confidence, so her opinion was easily rejected by me — even though I was a raging lunatic at the time.

My wife was still patient with me in those days, she still hadn’t reached the end of her rope, and she believed I needed to be allowed to control my life and my circumstances to the extent that I was able.  Although she agreed with the diagnosis, she wasn’t sold on the doctor herself either – so  she didn’t press the point then; if I wasn’t ready to accept, she’d wait.

During inpatient treatment, we broached the subject of Bipolar Disorder more than once, but they were reluctant to make that diagnosis — despite the fact that  I had been manic, I had even been manic on anti-depressants, and my moods were wildly unpredictable …

They kept going back to my marriage, which had been rock solid for more than two and a half decades at that point.  There was no pattern of instability.  And I didn’t engage in reckless behavior …

Only I did.  The truth is, I did:

Because of  our relationship dynamic, and our complete acceptance of the other’s sexuality, neither my wife nor I recognized my hyper-sexuality as reckless behavior; she knew I was exhibiting symptoms of hyper-sexuality –  I refused to even see it that way at the time – but because it hadn’t caused problems in our relationship, my therapist and psychiatrist discounted it as symptomatic of Bipolar Hyper-Sexuality …

As for lacking a pattern of instability:  there was no pattern of instability because my wife had  found ways of coping with my sometimes ridiculous behavior and ever-changing moods …

Their reluctance to diagnose was based solely on a marital dynamic they saw as antithetical to the concept of long-lasting, loving marriage …  and my wife does not exemplify the archetype of a Bipolar spouse.

Fast forward to September of 2013.  I wasn’t unstable, but I was definitely ‘off.’  Slightly irritable and a bit uncooperative in interaction, I made an appointment with my psychiatrist – during which time I told him my wife still suspected Bipolar Disorder.  He increased the Abilify and told me to have her write him a letter detailing why she thought I was Bipolar.

She never had to write the letter.  Ten days later, while she and my children were on a trip, I did something that forever put to rest the idea that I am not Bipolar …

But it shouldn’t have had to come to that.  I appreciate a psychiatrist who doesn’t jump to conclusions, but your life shouldn’t have to fall apart over and over and over again before they understand your situation as atypical – yet still indicative.

A psychiatrist can’t accurately assess my state of mental health based on my wife’s devotion to her family …

Or on a relationship dynamic he can’t understand.

Confronting an Abuser and Denial

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If you’ve spent any time in therapy due to residual feelings from childhood abuse, you know all about the desire and need to confront your abuser(s).   Some days this need is so strong it borders on compulsion …

I have yet to meet a therapist or psychiatrist who recommends confrontation.  All of mine have said Abusers Deny, it is simply part of who they are.  If they admit at all, they minimize – or worse, they blame you for being a bad kid so they had to beat you.  A true abuser will [almost] never admit to anything – and this denial, if you confront, actually allows the abuse to continue; it is emotional abuse because you are left devastated – your world rocked by denial you know to be false.  

I’ve thought a lot about this – and Silence Shattered has certainly proven the Abusers Deny theory to be true in my case, at least with Pat, and Ed’s prior admission included blaming his parents – which is tangential to the entire point of admission being part of assumption of responsibility.

So, what are we looking for when we confront?

An apology?  Maybe, but could anything they say ever be enough?  Could an apology erase years of living in fear and pain?  Could it take away Depression or Bipolar Disorder?  Would an admission of guilt leave you emotionally healed?   No.

When we confront, we are after an emotional response from our Abuser.  We want to see guilt, pain, remorse – something.  We want to know they understand what they did and what it caused …

but they will never understand – they are fundamentally incapable of understanding.

They have no awareness of what they did, and if they do – they [often] do not see it as having been wrong or damaging.

They do not think as we do.

Personally, I am far better off without my parents in  my life.  I do not want a reunion or reconciliation, and wouldn’t even if they did. Further,  I would disbelieve the sincerity of any apology or emotional response they offered; I know who they are and what they are all about  — I know the face they hide from others.

But, as my therapist pointed out, integrity and accepting responsibility for what I have done – and making it right whatever that takes – is a foundational principle of my life; I have high standards for personal accountability and this impacts everything I do, feel, think, say — am …

I know they will never understand – hell I know they CAN’T understand, they are psychologically incapable of understanding, so for them to be able to assume any kind of responsibility is impossible.

But given who I am, I can only know and accept this truth …

I will never be able to feel it.  

 

 

 

 

Turn and Face the Change

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I let someone else hold the pen for fifty years; the story took twenty one years to write, and they’ve been telling their version for almost thirty now.   Their denial, distortions, lies and manipulations are abhorrent to me today.  For so long I didn’t care – the door was closed and as long as I was away from the world inhabited by Ed and Pat I didn’t have to care what they said or did.  When I closed that door, I left extended family on the other side too.

I was young, and I’d been abused and hurt my entire life.  I should have taken the time to tell them why – not that I think they’d have owned their truth then any better than they do now, but I gave them a way to blame my wife for my absence in their lives – something they have taken full advantage of, and that was and is wrong on every level.  I know I should have gone back and set the record straight, but I was caught up in the euphoria of being happy for the first time in my life – going back, even for ten minutes, was unthinkable then – but I deeply regret not making myself do it now.

Facebook.  Now there’s a concept that must infuriate, frighten, confuse, torture, enlighten or elate every estranged family on the planet.  A way to reconnect, or merely spy.  For me, it’s been reconnect – and this has been surprisingly enjoyable and positive.  I had coffee with a cousin I hadn’t seen since 1983 last Sunday, and two Sundays before that I had coffee with her mother whose absence from my life dates back to the same year.  This Sunday, they are coming to my house for dinner … and in late September they will be joining  us – me, my wife, sons, brother-in-law and niece as we celebrate the closing night of my daughter’s first ever had-to-audition-to-get-into-the-cast-production/show.

Pat reads this blog, and vehemently denies – not to me directly you understand.  I never expected her to take responsibility for her actions, Dear Reader; it is not in her character to do so, but I am surprised  by how much her denial is affecting me.  I’m not hurt or upset, merely contemplative and puzzled …

Did people really believe what she told them for thirty effing years?  Critical thought would have to have come into play at some point, me thinks; these are intelligent, thinking, feeling people we’re talking about.  What’s that old cliche?  There are two sides to every story, oh and the other one about things not always being what they seem???

Come on now – sons do not walk away from their mothers [over a rift concerning their girlfriend] never to return if their relationship with their mother had been what it was supposed to have been to begin with.  Thirty years is a long, long time — and grown men with my commitment to family, my sense of loyalty, duty, honor and obligation do not conduct their lives that way; we don’t turn our backs on our mother.   A rift over my girlfriend, even one Pat turned into a ridiculous little melodrama, we’d have gotten past.  The years of abuse, Pat’s inability to mother – that is why we are here today …

And the girlfriend who later became my wife, literally saved my life – and not just once.  In thinking about this post, how to say what I need to say, I realized what my wife is actually responsible for; she  had the courage to say to me, when I told her how Pat beat me, pants down with a wooden spoon – often more than once in a day, “My God, that’s child abuse.”  She didn’t have to say it of course, I knew it, I told her  – God knows I needed to tell someone …  she didn’t minimize it, didn’t laugh it off uncomfortably, didn’t assign it some delicate word like spanking, didn’t tell me I was wrong to feel violated or betrayed by Pat, didn’t tell me it was normal or right for parents to violently hit their children. And hitting me isn’t all Pat did, not by a long shot … So if Pat wants to assign all this to Rhonda, she has our blessing – Rhonda had the courage to call a spade a spade and the conviction to stand by me while  I played the hand I was dealt.  And it amazes me that, after all these years, I can sum it up so succinctly —  one sentence.  One God damned sentence.

Pat is currently a little displeased with her sister – not for talking to me exactly, but for talking to me about their family.  Um, excuse me, they were my family too. They were my grandparents, and I loved them completely – their house was the only place I felt safe as a child and finding out they were human didn’t have the power to change that; I’m fifty two years old, I had already figured out that they, like the rest of us, were flawed. I judge people’s character based solely on their interaction with me, which is something I encourage everyone to do, and Big Daddy and Butter (childhood names for my grandparents) will always be my childhood heroes. The information I was given by my aunt was given in love, compassion and concern – it would not have been right for her to remain silent within the context in which we were speaking.  She merely confirmed that my therapist had been right in suggesting my grandparents could not have been the people I built them up to be given Pat’s behavior as a mother; abusers aren’t born, they are made, and none of this was news to me.   (So Pat, if you are reading, be mad at me – and only at me)

Pat, who couldn’t be bothered to return correspondence – letters and email I sent in 2010 asking for a family medical history when I was desperately ill and being tested for a brain tumor as well as other equally terrifying possibilities ( hell, even Ed replied to my request for a medical history – and to his credit, he did so immediately) is troubled because her sister and I very tenderly spoke of my grandparents being human and making mistakes, and blames my wife for everything that is wrong in her world <shaking my head gently> how is that someone can live 70+ years and not understand what behavior like this says about the content of their character?  Denial is quite a concept, is it not?

Changes have come into Pat and Ed’s world.  The internet, Facebook – this blog, has made it possible to reconnect with people I never wanted to lose to begin with.  Aunts, uncles, cousins – my niece and my brother-in-law, and I welcome them all.  My life is, because it has to be, based on the story the way Pat and Ed wrote it, not on the edited version they have given to family and friends, and I realize how difficult this all may be for some of you, but:

I am done being complicit in their lies through quiescence:  Silence Shattered is Canon.

The Impact of My Illness on My Wife, My Marriage and My Children

My marriage has survived tremendous strain – mental illness is a test unlike any other of which I am aware.

My wife has admitted that when she promised me In Sickness And In Health the possibility of living through months of  psychotic raging never entered her mind – Sickness for her was defined as a backache or the flu, not a condition that could literally make me into someone she no longer knew.

My wife is a Highly Sensitive person, so everything about my behavior in the midst of a psychotic meltdown upset her deeply.  I overwhelmed her …  my antics were antithetical to our normal interaction, and my usual care and concern for her sensibilities was nowhere to be found.  The situation would have challenged any wife, but for mine it commanded her to rethink who she knew herself to be in order to just survive.

Luckily for me in addition to being Highly Sensitive, she is also highly intellectual and the strongest person I think I have ever known. Her coping skills are acute and she does not leave problems unresolved — this saved my marriage, and my life.

She researched and questioned – accompanied me to neurologists, cardiologists, endocrinologists, psychiatrists, therapists and our GP.  She made them all explain, and took notes and compared their conclusions to her own and those of other sources she trusted.  She suspected I was Bipolar long before any doctor ever uttered the words …

She had gone from being my wife, best fried, lover and mother of my children to being my care-giver, advocate and voice – my clear, rational, sane voice ….

Eventually the storm ended – I was properly diagnosed, medicated and stable – but the real work was just beginning.  I had to reclaim my life and clean up the mess I made when I was sick.

Never had I known my wife to be so unsure, so shaken, so lacking in confidence.  Prior to my illness, we had a kind of trust predicated on knowing the others’ deepest secrets, and I had betrayed hers.  She could no longer allow herself to be vulnerable with me – she was guarded and hyper-aware of my moods and behavior.  She made small talk, and we enjoyed polite interaction, but real intimacy was out of the question – she didn’t trust me with her inner-most self any longer.  Interaction with  me when I was sick had actually changed who she was …

When you’ve been sick, and you get well, you naturally want to jump back into your life right where you left it — but my wife and children could not do that – their feelings were raw and fragile.  I had to be patient – they needed time to grieve the loss of our lives pre-illness and come to an acceptance of our new normal.

Trust was rebuilt through my stability and patience, the tender care I showed with their emotions, and the sensitivity with which I approached their fears and concerns regarding my illness, and the future.

We survived, we are still here and somehow, amazingly, stronger for the trial …

and I’ve concluded that it is harder to watch someone you love struggle with mental illness, than it is to be mentally ill yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Was I Abused?

Early in therapy when I still did everything I could to avoid discussing the abuse in detail, my therapist explained …

Having been abused as a child was affecting me – it was the cause of my Depression.  (Depression was my only diagnosis at that time)

Later, in group therapy during inpatient treatment our therapist explained …

Abuse and what defines it can be subject to individual circumstance and interpretation – we are all unique and feel and react differently to our environment and the events that shape our lives.  In short, if someone feels they were abused we have to proceed from that point of ideation …

This discussion occurred when a group member stated she hadn’t been mistreated in any way that should have lasting impact – not when directly compared to the kind of abuse other group members had suffered …

And there’s the rub.  We can’t compare – whatever she suffered as a child left an imprint on her psyche.  It’s doesn’t matter if what she went through was or was not similar to what I went through, or what other group members went through; she felt violated and betrayed by people and events she knew as a child – and that is the defining factor.

 

 

 

 

 

Tragic Endings – When an Abuse Survivor Refuses to Heal

The dichotomy feels strange:

to be who I am —  to know I have mental illnesses and fully understand why I have them

and still recognize completely that my sister, despite our shared history of abuse, is responsible for what has happened in/to her life.

There can be no absolution when you refuse to get well.  

I live a life of total wellness today – getting to this point was difficult, arduous, exhausting and painful, but the alternative – losing my family – was unthinkable.

My sister has chosen to lose her family, and I will never understand that …

in part because of where I know she has been – I know what her childhood was like.  She should, today, value her own family above all.

I told her two years ago if she didn’t get help, she was going to lose everything;

she was going to wake up one morning and realize it has been years since she has seen her daughter – her only child,

because there is a limit to the amount of emotional abuse that child would be able to take, no matter how much she loved her mother.

I explained that her husband, who loves my sister to this day, wouldn’t be able to live with her toxicity forever, either – nor should he have to

and I offered to do whatever she needed – go with her to the hospital, stay with her, go to therapy with her – whatever it took,

but she said no, she didn’t have time.

I told her it was OK – that I understood.  I told her how much it sucks to have been beaten and violated as a child and then have to relive it all, to face it again, in order to get well …

I explained that it was completely acceptable for her to blame Ed and Pat for the illnesses and addictions she was battling …

but she couldn’t blame them for the abusive way she was treating her family now — she owned that; it was, and is,  all on her.

The latter pissed her off – left her cold, distant, cruel and vehemently defensive; of all the people in this world, I should have understood.

The truth is I did …

and I didn’t.

Not having a real family as a child has made me fiercely protective of my wife and children and the wonderful life we’ve built together  – and when they told me they’d had enough, that they couldn’t take anymore – that they were leaving if I didn’t get help, I got help – I checked myself into the hospital that day.  Getting well, and staying well, became a moral imperative for me.

So …

I do understand why my sister is sick.

But I will never understand why she chose to lose everything she has ever loved and valued rather than get well – like me, she finally had everything in life that matters.

And:

I recognize that she made a choice – she had all the support and love she needed to face whatever she had to in order to get well.

She could have known a happy ending, but she chose tragedy.

A tragedy she owns from inception to end.

 

 

 

 

Observations, Beliefs & Musings

1. Doing the right thing simply because it is right – with no fear of consequence if you don’t, or hope for reward if you do, is the highest form of integrity.

2.  You can judge a man’s character by the way he treats his child and his dog.

3.  Everyone you interact with deserves respect, compassion and kindness from you.  If you can’t give those things to someone, it is best not to interact with them at all.

4.  It is OK to be an atheist, or a believer.  It is not OK to expect everyone else to agree with you.

5.  Sex and cooking are best approached with reckless abandon.  This bit of wisdom came from the Dalai Lama, who I think borrowed it from the Kama Sutra — I just happen to agree.

6.  We are profoundly affected by what happened to us as children, even the stuff we can’t remember.

7.  Kids are not as resilient as everyone says they are, we have to be careful with them.

8.  There is no alternate sexuality – there is only sexuality; what goes on between two consenting adults is healthy, normal and OK.

9.  I am a progressive liberal politically – I believe in social programs, a woman’s right to choose, marriage equality, national health care and the right to an affordable, quality education.  I think corporations and government institutions should be made to play by the rules. I have never voted for a republican in my life, and if things continue as they are I probably never will, but I don’t see it as Us and Them – it isn’t black and white – I just know what I believe and tend to vote along the lines of social agenda;  the current political divide in America is patently absurd.  Repeat, there is no Us and Them.

10.  I think living a conventional life would bore the hell out of me, so I don’t even try.

11.  I have a mental illness – it does not, however, have me.

12.  I am owed profound and sincere apologies from people who will never give them.   Taking responsibility for what you’ve done, even if it doesn’t/can’t change anything, is always the right thing to do.  See #1.

13.  I am open to anything except excuses.

14.  An adult must assume all responsibility for what occurs between him or herself and a child.

15.  A man is courageous, but not always unafraid.

16.  Even when you’re sick, there is a standard for behavior you must uphold.

17.  I’ve learned that loss is something not everyone is capable of feeling.

18.  My daughter extended a hand that Pat did not take.  At fifteen my little girl understood far more about love, family, life and forgiveness than my mother ever will.

19.  A man should not be defined by his mistakes, but by what he does to make them right.

20.  Wine tastes better in Italy.

21.  My wife and children have loved me at my best, and at my worst.

22.  I am a lucky man.

23.  I can let my children go now, whenever they are ready.

24.  I fell in love at fourteen, and still love the same woman.

25.  Family is Everything.

26.  I will find the courage to blog about hyper-sexuality, an often over-looked symptom of Bipolar Disorder.

27.  I believe love and marriage can last forever, but it doesn’t just happen.

28.  I care deeply about my sister, but know I’m better off without her in my life.

29.  It is true, things people aren’t always what they seem.

30.  I wouldn’t know what to do with Uncomplicated or Ordinary, but there are times when a few minutes of dull would be nice.

31.  Beer tastes better in Germany.