Can Bipolar People Like Richard Escape Life Sentence Of Mental Torment?
by Richard Mason
(Farmington, New Mexico, USA)
I was born a long time ago in San Bernardino, California. I moved at the age of two back east to Missouri to a little town I call Cowpie.
I am 53 years of age, though some say I act more like a 13-year old. I am the youngest and most handsome of three boys.
I have never been married, just too thick, gosh golly John Boy Walton thick, when it comes to the ladies. I have a child I was never allowed to see, not one picture, nothing, until three years ago when she was 17.
I currently live in the desert southwest. My hobbies are gardening and writing and making people laugh. I have a few books at Amazon that I wrote to honor my mom and to prove I have some kind of value that I have something to say, something to add to the world beyond asking for more bread at the food pantry.
My official status is disabled due to bipolar disorder. The government signed off on it. I'm certified, or certifiable, or a combination of the two.
I started out life with loads of promise, only something went wrong along the way, sometime around the 11th grade. It grew worse in my late teens, early twenties, until I became a recluse. To this day, people have a hard time getting me out of my apartment.
I didn't ask for bipolar disorder, but that's what I got, along with ADHD, chronic pain, PTSD and ergophobia.
Please don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I have accepted my lot in life with quiet dignity. I know things can change, sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better.
There are no happy highs. Sure, there have been credit cards run up to the max. I bought $7000 worth of semi-expensive guitars and a half-stack amp, but I can't even play the guitar.
I have had a couple of serious head injuries while doing stupid things in the throes of mania, and that's where the chronic pain comes from. My jaw snaps, crackles and pops. My neck hurts if I nod at someone.
My shoulders hurt so bad I want to cry, but what can I do? I have no doctor to go to. I don't have a primary physician. I just live with the pain and try to make people laugh like I wish I could laugh.
I tend to function best when I am by myself writing stories or working in a garden. I am happy when I score a job pulling weeds for extra cash. There is no boss, just me versus a half acre of weeds. No pressure.
I was so full of rage. I was taking the proper pills, doing what the doctor said, but I became a monster and it scared the stuff out of me. I had never had an episode so horrible like that one was. It took three days to clean up the mess!
I dialed the doctor to beg for help. I faxed her. I called her secretary. I left messages. She didn't think it was worth her time to call me back, so I kind of told her where to go.
I threw all the pills in the garbage and said: "To hell with that stuff!" Now I am here today feeling better than I have in months, but it's like I have had ten pots of coffee.
I write. No one ever gets a two-sentence e-mail from me. They get pages. I have written several books and countless short stories, even though I have a hard time keeping my thoughts together.
It's work; writing is hard work, but it's the only thing that keeps me going. I figure any day now I will write my masterpiece, like Deniro in Being Flynn, and all this welfare stuff will be part of my past.
The day I can officially consider myself a real writer, that's the day I will finally be able to hold my head high. In my book, nobody worth his salt wants to be on HUD. Nobody. I write. It's what I do, but the bipolar disorder makes it difficult.Financial Hardship
I do the best I can with what I have. I don't think about the things I don't have, or I should say, I don't think about them much, so I don't miss them or feel too bad.
I don't buy steak. I wear clothes more than one day so I don't have to go to the laundry place too often. Mostly, I do without and I don't complain. I want things same as everyone else, but I learned a long time ago to live with what I have.
I want to have some medical issues looked after, like how my head feels weird when I have a depression, you know, have a CAT scan, or have my aching joints looked at, but I don't have a doctor, and I can't count on Medicaid to pay for it.
Just when you get clear of the bills and think about new boots, you get a $300 past-due bill for a colonoscopy you had three years ago.
I would like to get my teeth fixed, as my once perfect smile was ruined by one of those falls. I can't even afford to walk by a dentist's office, let alone pay $8000 or more for the work they claim I need. $8000 was an estimate from 15 years ago. It's probably gone up. You learn to chew on one side of your mouth.
It seems as if people are always buying the lunches whenever I go out with friends, when I had friends. Everyone else bought lunches. I get my disability money, pay the bills first, then buy food. Never anything left for burgers, and people I know seem to eat out all the time. I think it should be a treat to go out, not a lifestyle.
I don't buy new clothes. I don't go to movies. I don't have a car. I can't afford a car. Insurance, gas, that's beyond me. I walk everywhere.
In my neck of the woods, you learn to live three weeks out of the month with no money. Day one, payday, you pay the bills, spend the rest on food, and then you have 29 or 30 days of avoiding things that cost money. You get used to it, but your friends don't.Income Efforts
I am on disability, said that already. I get HUD and LIHEAP. Occasionally, I make an extra ten or twenty dollars pulling weeds.
Family do not send money because they believe it's every man for himself. Either that, or they believe a guy has to do for himself.
As for food stamps, $29 a month. A guy gets really sick and tired of beans, but that's just me looking a gift horse in the mouth. Some people don't even have beans to eat.
Grants? Donations? I don't know about that. Who's going to donate anything to me, but the church down the street?
I don't work-at-home. A friend got me to send someone $25 for a work-at-home job that never came through.
I used to do other people's term papers for spare cash, but I gave that up because I got tired of writing about abortion and global warming.
I have, we're talking over 15 years ago, had plenty of jobs, most of them being temp jobs in St. Louis, filing, factory work, even worked in a radioactive enema factory, but that gradually turned into a couple of long-term jobs.
Long term for me is more than one year. Because of the bipolar stuff, those long-term jobs fell apart because jobs require good short-term memory and bipolar disorder makes you have a terrible memory.
I had a job at Walmart and quit after three days because I was scared to death. I told them, or thought it was agreed to that I would not be put on a register. I wanted to work there, but not have to deal with money and crowds and a line building up.Specific Needs
I want to buy clothes and food, maybe a car. I need to get out of credit card debt. While I am not behind on the things and my credit score is improving month to month, the money I send those guys could also go for a sack of Fuji apples and a new couch without so much cat damage on it.
I would like to have a car. People take those things for granted. I know I did.
I would like to have money to pay someone to help me with my books. They have things to say, real positive wise things to say, but I am not as good an editor as I need to be.
All I know is I want to have a place of my own. A trailer home with a yard, or a tiny house anywhere but the desert southwest.
I don't want sympathy. I don't trust sympathy from others. It's temporary. I want to earn sympathy by writing about stuff and doing it well.
I appreciate advice, but if it's not something practical, like "stop buying meat that comes in a tube," I probably won't take it seriously.
I would like to get my teeth fixed, as my once perfect smile, mom and dad made me wear braces, was ruined by one of those falls. I can't even afford to walk by a dentist's office, let alone pay $8000 or more for the work they claim I need.
What do I want? Just to be relevant. I want to feel at home. I don't want to have to live in an apartment that's one notch above being condemned.Business Idea
I have a business idea, not for me, but as a suggestion.
People with mental illnesses need a place to go. Breast cancer patients have Susan G. Komen fundraisers and walks and such, but people with mental illness, people like me, where do we go?
Wounded warriors have Wounded Warriors. Poor farmers have Farm Aid. Bipolar people, anybody with a mental illness, we have nowhere to go.
My suggestion is not for me. I don't have the attention span to manage a business. Where do people like me go? Our town had a "drop in" center that closed a week before I decided to go down there and give it a try.
Wed MD is not any help. We don't need suggestions or other people's stories. We need answers, which are in short supply. Do we go to the health food store and spend $400 on supplements?
What do we do when we've tried ALL 20 bipolar medications on the list and they make us into monsters nobody wants to be around?