In the next month, Fat Daddy's Farm with be releasing an e-book version of "Insanity: A Love Story" --it is a memoir about dealing with the diagnosis of bipolar disorder and the hospitalization after a manic-induced psychosis--below is an excerpt from the book
Want to win a free copy? Check out this free giveaway.
I was always mercurial, moody and fickle. I came by this naturally, witnessing the mood shifts of members of my family, trying to cope with a world that seemed so intense I wanted to hide sometimes. I was the type of child who cried at my own birthday parties, overwhelmed by the crowd of people singing “Happy Birthday” to me while all I wanted to do was play with my new toys in peace. Every moment seemed larger in importance than anything, and my own mind either raced in high speed or trudged through the lows I felt I could never escape.
Born in 1975, in Houston, Texas, I moved to California when I was eleven years old. Already a severely introverted child, the move shifted me into the first depression I have the clearest memory of. I spent my first summer in the new and extreme brightness of the San Fernando Valley, feeling intense anxiety about the life I had left behind and the life I was about to have. I spent many hours obsessing over what could have been.
My Southern drawl separated me instantly from my new sun-kissed classmates and subjected me to attention anathema to my withdrawn nature. In Houston, I had been bright, but never considered an intellectual. Now, in my new school and my new large lensed glasses, my reputation as the smart one grew in proportion to my deepening sense of inadequacy.
One of the ways my insecurity exhibited itself was my longing for love. I was now an outsider in my new location, an experience I had never felt before in the middle class suburban life I had led in Texas. I might have been moody, but I always felt I belonged. In Houston, we had been comfortable, but now in California, the higher standard of living meant we could only live in a working class neighborhood. Gone were the ever-present room-mothers and well-employed fathers.
Now I felt untethered, not fitting in with anyone, and it set the stage for wanting to find a sense of rooted-ness in the relationships I would have later in life. My sense of self had been challenged, no longer shaped by the innocence of childhood—and I was to seek a foundation in my ability to have deep and intense connections within friendships and romantic interactions.
This desire to merge and find my identity in relationships, plus the fear I would never rid myself of the intense loneliness I felt in this new place, motivated me to later on leave high school a year early in 1996 and attend Scripps College, without a high school diploma and only to get a GED when I was a sophomore. This wasn't the result of some heroic ambition, but the desire to follow my then boyfriend, who was to attend a college in the same Claremont Colleges consortium. Just like any adolescence, I craved freedom, but I also had an ever-present desire to emerge myself in the safety romantic relationships could provide.
Unfortunately, this relationship ended after I had already been accepted by Scripps and had made a commitment to go to college. I could have stayed in high school and made a different, more solid, decision based on my own independent long-term goals. But I was already committed to the fantasy of freedom I saw in the collegiate experience and the possibility I might win my boyfriend back. My co-dependency desires continued, but this was not to be. Instead I was to enter into a grief induced cycle of depression and mania that would continue on for my whole freshman year.
During college was when my mood shifts seemed to be most apparent. Every semester I started out with the manic belief I could do anything and would enroll in five courses, an overload beyond the required four courses that only the most ambitious and confident would attempt. My overconfidence would not be sustained because the darkness would always be a moment away. By the end of each semester, in the depths of a predictable depression, I would have grades that were contradictory at best—one or two courses I would excel in, others I would have barely attended and barely passed, and one class I invariably would fail. These failures were always avoidable—I could have easily dropped these courses, but it would have meant interacting with the professor, seeking their signature, when I felt the most anxiety in my contact with people. I felt so ashamed of not being able to attain the goals I had set during my mania.
Thus, most courses had been peppered with absences, and I never signed up for classes before noon, the result of an increasing insomnia and crashing, numbing sleep I succumbed to at the first light on the morning sun. My freshman year was marked by the first time I ever went to a therapist at the mental health center on campus. Cognitive therapy was supposed to be my answer to everything, a vaccination against my mood shifts I couldn't even put into words. Eventually, I would give up therapy at the same time I fell in love with a senior who seemed to be the anti-thesis of me: stable, confident based on real accomplishments, and who I tried desperately to hide my flaws from. I was deeply in love with him and yet he didn't feel the same way. With each rejection, interspersed with a physical connection I had never felt before, my insecurity was nurtured. I felt like I was nothing if I wasn't in love. Soon after this ended, I met my next boyfriend, who I would be with off and on for the next five years. At first, we were inseparable and this relationship provided me with a way to mask my social anxiety and find a safe emotional haven for my moods. Soon enough, we danced the dance of rejection and intense melding of selves, chipping away at my delicate sense of self-worth.
This relationship precipitated my first manic-induced psychotic ending. We had a series of breakups and makeups before, but when the ending seemed the most definite, I cycled into the most disorienting depression I had ever experienced. Most of my dreams for the future had been tied to this relationship, and with its ending, I had no idea what I wanted to do. My long ago deeply held goals had been abandoned with the sense of purpose this relationship had given me. Without this emotional compass, I was adrift.
An interloping relationship, right before this psychotic break, would fuel an even deeper sense of insecurity. I clung to the fantasy that this new boyfriend would be an antidote to the deep loneliness and purposeless I felt at the time. Our courtship provided a band-aid to my wounded soul, but in the end would leave me broken and empty.
With that crushing disappointment, in a relationship that increasingly my poisoned my sense of self--
I couldn't exist anymore within reality.