2017; A Wrap

In rereading, I realized my last regular post here was almost one year ago; some things have changed, others have not.

I’m currently well, in fact I don’t think I have ever felt better in my life.  I understand that even when symptoms aren’t present, the underlying condition isn’t gone, merely dormant, but it is great to feel this good.

It’s been just about a year since I last heard from Ed – he tried being assertive, which was downright laughable; I informed him that not only had I done nothing wrong, even citing the valid legal argument and precedent behind my position,  I had kept all of his email, and his notes were quite damning in a legal and personal sense – replete with confessions after all. I then let him know that any potential suit he brought  against me would be met by my suit against him; he let it all go, just as I knew he would.  Ed’s a coward, making a grand show for people he wants the world to believe he cares for. He is infinitely pitiable and disgusting.

It’s Christmas again, which means family parties and events in healthy extended families – not so much in mine.  My wife has been in contact via text messages with my sister these last couple of weeks, but other than that we’ve not been in touch.  My aunt still hasn’t seen my mother (but has remained in very welcomed contact with me).  To the best of my knowledge, there will be no rekindling of family ties this holiday season.

An article I stumbled upon recently stated the holidays were infinitely painful for those estranged from family, but I have never seen evidence of this in mine. For the most part, I think my parents, especially Pat, felt well rid of me by the time I cut ties with them; if they felt differently, they did not share or elaborate.  And me, well I was far too busy enjoying my first taste of true happiness to feel saddened by the estrangement, even in those first few holiday seasons.  Now, many years later, I cannot imagine any of us miss the others just because it’s Christmas. This fact speaks volumes as to the depth of dysfunction that was always so much a part of who we were as a family.

I have given extensive thought as to the direction Silence Shattered will take in the new year.  I will be posting frequently again, with a focus on my original mission: to explore the link between child abuse and mental illness; the evidence is conclusive, compelling, and it must be shared.

Last week, I was contacted by a contributor to BetterHelp.com, the largest online platform for counseling services, and asked if I’d share as infographic on Silence Shattered, as well as a link to their depression resources.  The infographic is forthcoming in an upcoming post, and the link is below:

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New World and Me Too

Image result for quotes a change is coming

 

It’s been a while since I updated here, but the recent trend in outing men with a past that includes sexual assault, sexually inappropriate behavior, sexual abuse and misconduct is relevant given my having exposed Ed here …

Society is changing, redefining acceptable and unacceptable at a furious pace; gone forever is the naive notion that what happened in a man’s past has no bearing on today.  A man’s past has always mattered; people do not change – finally recognizing this as a collective can have only positive impact on society.

The solution, at least for now – in the early days of this revolution, remains exposure …

When I was about twenty years old, Ed won a cruise for selling a specific number of insurance policies, and he took me with him on this vacation.  The entire ship was filled with insurance agents who had sold the requisite number of policies, as well as their guests.

There was a woman – this is better than thirty five years ago, so I do not recall her name, but she was the guest of a colleague of Ed’s.  During the cruise, she became deeply offended by Ed’s unwanted touching – he would put his arm around her in group photos, try to hug and kiss her when she came to dinner, or when he saw her on excursions.

I told him to stop, that he was making her extremely uncomfortable, but he wouldn’t listen to me, and he didn’t stop.  She finally spoke up, after suffering through several encounters with Ed, and he thought she was, “extremely rude.” She did nothing but set him straight.

My wife’s own “Me Too” moment was given to her by Ed; just like the woman on the cruise, Ed was always touching and trying to kiss her …

and when I told him to stop, that his unwanted affection was making her uncomfortable, he acted as though she had the problem; he was, after all, only being friendly and polite.

Men like this do not alter their behavior, because they do not believe they are the problem.

Decent people have the right to know when they are exposed to those with a history of sexual misconduct. It’s that simple …

so tell your story, and hold them accountable.

A man’s past is an accurate prediction of that same man’s future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arduous Journey

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None of this is easy, if I have made it appear easy, I apologize for the unintentional duplicity.

Depression is hard, and mine has returned.  It isn’t as deep and dark as it has been, not by a long shot, but I’m not exactly myself either.  To top it off, I’ve been hypo-manic as well – and mixed states are hard to treat.  I’m taking Lithium and Wellbutrin, and balance is returning, but the process is slower than I would like and I can be impatient.  I’m still working, still engaged in life, still involved with my family and friends – and I still very much want to be; that isn’t a facade – I’m not just going through the motions this time, so I know it could be much, much worse than it is; the benefit to having been here before is recognizing the signs quickly, before they spin out of control and drag you into the abyss.

Naturally, because I hadn’t been depressed for a long time, my therapist and psychiatrist began treatment by assessing what had changed in my life; “what were the triggers and or stressors?”  The answer wasn’t immediately clear, but over the last few weeks it has become obvious …

Ed – having Ed in my life is what has changed.  That isn’t bad or stressful in-and-of-itself, but the thoughts and feelings it evokes can be.  I shared with my sister that he is trying now, and I can see it – the things he has done for my daughter are thoughtful and kind and would be for any grandfather, but all I can think of is how different my life would be, how different our relationship would be today, if he had valued me in the way he values building a relationship with her.   And that is just one example …

I still don’t know if people change; I’m beginning to think they just acquire a better mask.  I’ve seen glimpses here and there of the father I remember – a man quite unlike the man he sees himself as today.

Early in our email conversations, he mentioned that he “checked in with me mentally every year or so.”  Aside from not knowing exactly what that means, it baffles me; I am his son, did he not feel a sense of loss?  He also indicated that he “sought therapy for anger” – anger he believed to be directed at me for having ended our relationship … he felt anger with me? I was incredulous.  Then I remembered, and it didn’t take me long – anger was always his go to emotion.  Was he grieving our lost relationship, as any normal father would; did he replace the pain he felt with anger?  Would he even recognize this if it were true?

I don’t buy his not knowing exactly what he did to me, don’t appreciate his inability to look at life as it truly was while he was raising me.  The deeper we get into a new relationship, the more this concerns and bothers me.  I know some things are best left in the past, and I’ve let go of a lot in the months since we began speaking again – but I’m finding that the past is made relevant by today, and that bit of irony can be cruel, messy and complicated.

Rhonda asked me the other night what I wanted from Ed now, and I replied; “I want him to be a dad.” The deeper meaning behind those seven words is this:  I want him to feel something about who he is to me; I want it to matter and to be important to him — I want him to view fatherhood like I do … and that just can’t happen; he has no idea how to be a father, much less a dad.  So I have forgiven him this shortcoming, but I’m still left with a man who makes almost no sense to me.

He has apologized to me, to Rhonda, to our children – and we all appreciate that, but I don’t think he has any understanding of the depth of what he did; how can he?  He refuses to engage, to remember.  He likes who he thinks he is now, facing the monster he was would be hell, but for his apology to have the meaning it should have, he needs to do this.  I need for him to do this – on his own, deep soul-searching – a willingness to face who and what he was.  A willingness to feel my pain, and my sister’s.

And it would mean a lot if he’d do some research, find out how to support a family member with Bipolar Disorder – if my child were diagnosed with an illness, any illness, I wouldn’t rest until I’d become an authority on the subject.  This is what dads do.

Reconciliation is a One Step Up and Two Steps Back process;  many, many stops and starts all predicated on the past as it is reflected in today.

It isn’t easy, it’s more complicated than anything I have ever done before.

The Link Between Child Abuse and Mental Illness

Harvard Research Study:

Child maltreatment has been called the tobacco industry of mental health. Much the way smoking directly causes or triggers predispositions for physical disease, early abuse contributes to virtually all types of mental illness.

Now, in the largest study yet to use brain scans to show the effects of child abuse, researchers have found specific changes in key regions in and around the hippocampus in the brains of adults who were maltreated or neglected in childhood. These changes leave victims more vulnerable to depression, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the study finds.

Harvard researchers led by Dr. Martin Teicher studied nearly 200 people aged 18 to 25, who were mainly middle class and well-educated. They were recruited through newspaper and transit ads for a study on “memories of childhood.” Because the authors wanted to look specifically at the results of abuse and neglect, people who had suffered other types of trauma like car accidents or gang violence were excluded.

Child maltreatment often leads to conditions like Bipolar Disorder, depression and PTSD, so the researchers specifically included people with those diagnoses. However, the study excluded severely addicted people and people on psychiatric medications, because brain changes related to the drugs could obscure the findings.

Overall, about 25% of participants had suffered major depression at some point in their lives and 7% had been diagnosed with PTSD. But among the 16% of participants who had suffered three or more types of child maltreatment  — for example, physical abuse, neglect and verbal abuse — the situation was much worse. Most of them — 53% — had suffered depression and 40% had had full or partial PTSD; 38% had received a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder.

The aftermath of that trauma could be seen in their brain scans, whether or not the young adults had developed diagnosable disorders. Regardless of their mental health status, formerly maltreated youth showed reductions in volume of about 6% on average in two parts of the hippocampus, and 4% reductions in regions called the subiculum and presubiculum, compared with people who had not been abused.

That’s where this study begins to tie together loose ends seen in prior research. Previous data have suggested that the high levels of stress hormones associated with child maltreatment can damage the hippocampus, which may in turn affect people’s ability to cope with stress later in life. In other words, early stress makes the brain less resilient to the effects of later stress. “We suspect that [the reductions we saw are] a consequence of maltreatment and a risk factor for developing PTSD following exposure to further traumas,” the authors write.

Indeed, brain scans of adults with depression and PTSD often show reductions in size in the hippocampus. Although earlier research on abused children did not find the same changes, animal studies on early life stress suggested that measurable differences in the hippocampus do not arise until adulthood. The new study finds that the same is true for humans.

The findings also help elucidate a pathway from maltreatment to PTSD, depression, Bipolar Disorder and addiction. The subiculum is uniquely positioned to affect all of these conditions. Receiving output from the hippocampus, it helps determine both behavioral and biochemical responses to stress.

If, for example, the best thing to do in a stressful situation is flee, the subiculum sends a signal shouting “run” to the appropriate brain regions. But the subiculum is also involved in regulating another brain system that, when overactive during chronic high stress such as abuse, produces toxic levels of neurotransmitters that kill brain cells — particularly in the hippocampus.

It can be a counterproductive feedback loop: high levels of stress hormones can lead to cell death in the very regions that are supposed to tell the system to stop production.

What this means is that chronic maltreatment can set the stress system permanently on high alert. That may be useful in some cases — for example, for soldiers who must react quickly during combat or for children trying to avoid their abusers — but over the long term, the dysregulation increases risk for psychological problems like depression and PTSD.

The subiculum also regulates the stress response of a key dopamine network, which may have implications for addiction risk. “It is presumably through this pathway that stress exposure interacts with the dopaminergic reward system to produce stress-induced craving and stress-induced relapse,” the authors write.

In other words, dysregulation of the stress system might lead to intensified feelings of anxiety, fear or lack of pleasure, which may in turn prompt people to escape into alcohol or other drugs.

With nearly 4 million children evaluated for child abuse or neglect in the U.S. every year — a problem that costs the U.S. $124 billion in lost productivity and health, child welfare and criminal justice costs — child abuse isn’t something we can afford to ignore.

Even among the most resilient survivors, the aftereffects of abuse linger forever. Not only are such children at later risk for mental illness, but because of the way trauma affects the stress system, they are also more vulnerable to developing chronic diseases like metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.

We can do better for our kids.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Written by Maia Szalavitz for Time;  Health and Family

 

Dealing with Depression

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Depression, and the anxiety that often accompanies it, is the most difficult mental health issue I face.  I’m one of the lucky few for whom bipolar mania doesn’t present many real obstacles – in fact, I’ve almost always been able to direct and channel mania productively, but depression is my nemesis – it is like a never-ending, terrible storm that I am caught in the middle of with no hope for escape.

Depression, even without psychotic features, is darkness, and it envelops me so completely I can’t remember what light is.  I can’t concentrate, I can’t sleep, I can’t eat. I’m irritable and endlessly tired; my entire body aches physically, but the physical pain is slight compared to the emotional pain – and there is no escape from the emotional pain, it is pervasive and agonizing.

I’m a strong man, I know I can survive almost anything when I’m well.  When I’m well, I focus on – literally picture in my mind – the end of any crisis; that place where everything is OK again; the storm has ended and I’m OK, I am still standing.

When I’m depressed, I can’t picture the end – because it doesn’t exist for me.  The emotional pain compounds daily, washing me – the strong, capable me, away – second by second, minute by minute, hour after lonely hour until I’m adrift at sea and the storm is raging and I am simply lost with no hope of ever being found.

Try as I might  to write them, words don’t do justice to depression… it is dark and it is terrible.

But I’ve found there are things I can do, things that actually help:

Catch it early and adjust meds

Exercise hard, endorphins are a depressed person’s best friend; I go to the college football stadium near my house and run up and down the stairs daily

Listen to music I enjoy

Make myself go to work

Devote extra time and attention to practicing martial arts

Spend time with positive people who understand depression

Disallow myself, to the degree that I am able, to disengage from life

Focus on finding a viable solution to any problem I am facing – embracing a problem only exacerbates my depression

Even when I struggle to hold on to the message, I remind myself over and over again that the storm will pass …

Just Sad I Think …

It’s been a surreal day; my head is full of random disconnected thoughts that I’m afraid will never coalesce into an articulate post, but I’m going to try; right now I need to write …

In reality, I guess it’s been more than a surreal day – my thoughts and feelings have been disordered since Ed emailed me last Friday; my cousin’s revelation earlier today merely added to the storm currently raging in my mind.

I’m not sick, in fact I’ve never been more well.  I’m not depressed – sad, but not depressed.  I’m not anxious or manic.  I’m not having flashbacks, but those could easily come now I’m sure …

I’m just so sad.

It’s tragic, all of it.  Violence, abuse, denial – an entire family, through God knows how many generations, whose solution has been to sweep it all under the rug and pretend everything is well.  There was no abuse.  There is no denial.  There is only “False Memories” and now a man – their nephew or son who cannot let go of the bad and focus on the good … 

There was no good.  And even if there had been, it wouldn’t change the bad – wouldn’t erase it or its legacy; mental illness is forever, it isn’t curable.  And it isn’t a choice.

Their thinking is flawed — I know that’s ironic coming from someone who has experienced psychotic depression, but it’s true; their thinking isn’t sane or rational – it isn’t even based in common morality.

Is this why they saw rape in the way they did?  Is this why they believed a fourteen year old girl could give consent?  Is this why they excused Ed’s repugnant, degenerate behavior?

Lord help me …

I never saw it, but did my father beat my mother?  He beat his children, did he beat her too?   I am no fan of my mother, but a man who will hit his wife and children is capable of anything … anything.

And the silence.  Keep the secret no matter the cost – keep it now, keep it forever.

Fuck the kids – their feelings don’t matter.  Lose control and beat them, they’ll get over it or they won’t; makes no difference either way.  We’ll just say their memories are false …

Or that children deserve to have “the fire whipped out of them.”

I am out of words,

FOR NOW.

But I will not be silent.

I will not pretend.

I will not let go of what I didn’t ask for to begin with and could not keep from coming back even though Once Upon a Time I did, miraculously, manage to turn my back on it all.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Return to the Wound

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I am recognizing how true this is  – “You cannot disown what is yours.  Flung out, there is always the return, the reckoning, the revenge, perhaps the reconciliation. There is always the return.  And the wound will take you there.”     Wherever there is.

When I first learned about the far reaching effects of child abuse – the life long struggle survivors face, the mental illness caused by an abused past, I was enraged. To have lived through it, to have survived it and gone on to happiness despite my horrific childhood had been such a victory for me – such an accomplishment.  And it suddenly felt as though none of that mattered – life was about one more injustice, one more struggle, one more uphill climb.  The past was never really gone, it could come back without warning and destroy me.

I was suicidal then.  What was the point in living if everything was outside my control and could simply be taken away?  My wounded heart, soul and mind were in need of a respite that just wouldn’t come – instead, they returned over and over again to the pain of my childhood.  For years I hadn’t thought about my parents, or my past, and all of a sudden I couldn’t keep the flashbacks from happening — PTSD is cruel, and the effects of PTSD exacerbate Depression.

Depression is my biggest nemesis – that and anxiety.  I don’t think clearly at all when I’m battling them.  I’m irritable, paranoid, unreasonable, delusional and psychotic; my therapists, doctors and family telling me that I could reclaim my life, that I wouldn’t be sick forever, that everything was going to get better went in one ear and out the other.  I was incapable of holding on to hope …

And just about the time I reached the end of my rope, the meds began to work … and my calm and balanced mind allowed therapy to work.

Eventually I understood and accepted that

it always goes back to the wound,

and wherever the wound takes you.

“You cannot disown what is yours.”

But you can [through therapy] learn not to give it any power in your life.

The Role of Therapy

Eighty percent of all people referred to Mental Health Services have histories of child abuse, eighty percent; thankfully therapies have evolved to successfully treat survivors:

Briefly, meds – they are often a first line defense necessary to stabilize and/or treat underlying illness caused by abuse.

I take Depakote, Wellbutrin, Ativan and Abilfy to provide symptom control for Bipolor Disorder, Depression, Anxiety and Psychosis/mood swings, but these illnesses aren’t the only residual effects of an abusive past …

I also have  had severe trust issues, abandonment issues, dissociate symptoms – symptoms only therapy can address:

I spent my childhood in a state of hyper-vigilance, always trying to assess the mood of my parents, always in expectation of the next beating or emotional outburst.   This hyper-vigilance is common among abused children;  it increases physical safety – if you can anticipate you might be able to avoid, and it  consumes all your cognitive energy –  a positive because thinking introspectively [if you are an abused child] is intensely painful emotionally.

By contrast, children in safe environments do not spend their time in a state of hyper-awareness, instead they learn introspection and how to process their individual identity.

When I first entered therapy I had little self-awareness, little ability to predict my own reactions in emotional situations, and very little insight into the effects of the abuse I knew I had suffered.  I never really considered what I wanted or needed – not only had it never mattered in my parents’ house, but I didn’t know enough about myself to know what those things might be.

The goal of therapy was to facilitate self-exploration and self-reference – as opposed to my usual process of defining myself primarily in terms of others’ expectations or potential reactions.  Abuse-focused therapy allowed me to gain a greater sense of personal identity.  Key to this therapy is Socratic Questioning – I was guided through the process by a series of open-ended questions designed to gently get me thinking about early experiences and perceptions, the options that were and were not available to me at the time of the abuse, my feelings and reactions surrounding events in which I was victimized, and what conclusions I formed about the abuse through my answers to the questions … equally important, I was encouraged to examine my feelings about current things, abuse related and otherwise.  Because the external directedness needed to survive abuse works against self-understanding and identity, I had to be taught to explore how I felt about myself and others through therapeutic support and manifest acceptance.

Therapy disarmed my triggers, something no drug in the world could do.  I see things as they are now, not through the distorted lens of a hurt and fearful child.  I won’t tell you that I no longer clinch at the thought of being abandoned, I do – but I’m able to rationalize now, able to tell myself that isn’t going to happen – separations from my family are temporary and  nothing to worry about.

I’m no longer made angry and frustrated by things outside my control because I no longer assume the worst will happen if I’m not orchestrating.  I accept what happens and move forward from there – without the stress, rage or drama of a traumatized mind.

I know myself now.  I trust myself now.  The faulty thinking I learned as a child – through exposure to my parents’ faulty thinking and my own hyper-vigilance is gone, replaced by healthy coping skills and a self-reflective, introspective thought process.

Therapy helped me moved from Survival, to Healing and Recovery.

 

 

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.

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.