What Brought You Here?

Friday, October 16, 2009

A *real* Bipolar Life

. . .not descriptive my moods nearly as distinctively as my life. It takes a year or two for my depressive episodes to successfully mentally castrate me.

For instance, I became pretty gung-ho about suicide at the ripe old age of 9. Or maybe I was 8? What I know for sure is that I was in the fourth grade. So commenced my long, boring, often worthless/ detrimental life in therapy. However, it wasn't until the 6th grade that I opted to trade off leisure time and my brain-mouth filter for passing grades and freedom from the tyrannies of detention.

5 years after that I quit high school and, over the 7 years to follow, spent my time essentially being a winner at life. I travelled around the US and to the opposite end of the Earth. I followed the Grateful Dead (the *real* Dead) I travelled the Russian countryside "riding the dog" (Russian colloquialism for taking the train without buying a ticket.) I dyed my hair blue, red, pink, and purple and taught college classes without considering removing my nosering. I won over 20,000 dollars in grants, largely for the express purpose of going to study in countries known for hard drinking. I met a fabulous girl and married her.

Unfortunately, in my 2nd year of grad school I was socked in the belly by the most ruthless depression I had, till then, experienced. My concentration was so poor that, not only could not read for awhile, but I couldn''t even sustain attention long enough to make it through a sitcom anymore. I also lost a huge chunk of my appetite; I probably averaged a couple hundred calories a day for about 3 weeks. Oddly enough, I didn't notice that I was getting malnourished until one night in bed I discovered my cervical vertabrae. At the time, I also noted how much money I hadn't spent on groceries.

Of course, cash flow from starving myself ended very shortly. I relapsed with my bulimia in all its former glory. I was genuinely aurprised and secretly proud when I was diagnosed with Anorexia a few months later. I mean, I knew that I could puke my way thin, but this was the first I'd heard my 100,000-calories-per-day habit included in the criteria for AN.

While its true that earned my M.A. that year, and, two years later, was awarded my second FLAS fellowship to spend a year drinking in Poland, I never recovered totally mentally/physically and certainly not intellectually. My flame had burned out, and I slogged my way through the fifth year. Unfortunately, 5th year is when your committee and your advisor seem to expect brilliant ideas to actually be developed and ardent copyediting of every last draft. The ten=day long exam sounds like it would suck, as well. I started getting occasional Cs, whereas in my first term I'd actually cried about A minuses. I always felt like a mental midget in graduate school after maintaining a 4.0 GPA (in my field only) through my BA. While my specialty isn't large enough to be considered a big pond, I did feel that I'd gone from big fish/small pond to small fish/small pond.

It's pretty much been upstream in cold waters since then. I've gradually lost interest/ability in everything that once made me at least minimally sociable and lucky enough to have varying regular opportunities to appreciate singlehood (from taking exstacy to going dancing at the S&M club, to taking random jobs- some under the counter- and leaving them on a whim and dying my hair to clash with my mostly Goodwill couture). My friends were family to me and our fundamental duty to one another was to let the good times roll. Having to quit graduate school did a number on my self-esteem & my work ethic. When I thought nothing could be any worse, 2004 really was spectacularly bad, especially exogenously. (Nearly had my foot amputated, the last year of my 20s, an awful president was elected for the first time to a second term, my wife left me.) 2005 sucked me dry and spit me into the wind as I dealt with the end of my marriage by honestly applying myself to suicide. I just went round-and-round the drain of my own misery, pulling anyone who tried to care about me in to drown, too. To top it off, my eating disorder- which is now old enough to drink, BTW- has managed to mature into its most feral and extreme depths in the past 4 years.

I would really like to grow out of this stage, but I honestly believe that 34 may be too late for me to accomplish a life worth writing about, not to mention worth reading about.

(If you actually managed to read this thing, kudos! Leave a comment so I can single you out on tEEf)


  1. i don't really have anything to say... except that i'm reading, and i'm glad that you're writing again.

    and hah, i'm not on TeeF these days so you can't even single me out.

  2. I'm reading, too. Despite everything you've been through, you're still an awesome writer. Take care.


  3. oh but sir, in my opinion a life of smooth sailings of getting everything done step-by-step the way you and society thought you would/should/poop, where at age 5 you already know where you re "supposed to be" at 15 and at 15 you know all about your life at 30 and so on, now that is a life that i dont want to write or read about.

    now i know this is much easier for me to say since i dont live inside you, (or do i.....) but i think you would not be nearly as interesting--nay, enthralllling, as you are now, if you had just been some textbook smart/successful person, with a bunch of letters behind and titles in front of their name on a beige business card. those people are a dime a dozen and all they have proven is that they know how to play the academia game/be functional and sane in a stupid fucked up world. good for them but that impresses me verylittle. smart without crazy is boring&vapid. crazy without smart is annoying. both together is a total winning combo imo. you, my love, are crazysmart and crazycrazy. and i think those are the only kind of people who really has the capacity to really understand life and all it has to offer like going to a 3-D movie and having the proper 3-D goggles for it, while the rest of us see basically the same movie but it's like, blargh. maybe you get startled and spill your drink all over your lap more often, because yk, you think the rocks coming at you on the screen are really Coming At You. but is the alternative (just sitting there and being like oh there is a rock on the screen, whoopidy) really better?
    yes yes having FLAS scholarships are nice. but surviving looney bins and near-foot-amputations, that is what gives your soul texture and color.

    my positive-pete worldview is that you are not at the end of your life right now, so you cannot know where all of this what has happened is leading/building up to. (esp if you take into account all that butterfly effect business of one small thing having a whole bunch of unforeseeable consequences etc.) some stuff that looks like dead ends may turn out to be sharp turns in the road too sharp to see beyond. so withhold judgment please. i have never been accused of being a great intellectual so i cannot reaaally empathize with your whole fall-from-grace there. but ive done my share of fucking up. and basicaly what i try to do is not to see this deviating from where i was supposed to be as some big prolonged detour and "oh god it will take sooo long to get back ahhhh." but just kind of, believe that that was not where i was supposed to be headed toward anyway. life is open-ended. i am going somewhere else now. maybe this path is not walking through rainbows and butterflies. and in a way it is like a little death and that i just give up on a dream. but on the other hand, there are many many different kinds of happy places out there.

    i dont like this Bloog business. it is too new and hip for me. get an lj like normal old people pls.

  4. You are a great writer. Your age is not too old. Not everyone is judging you as you think they are.


  5. I read it all, I can have cookie now?

  6. I want to do your writing style.


If you don't have anything nice to say, come sit next to me.