Before The Breakdown

I have neglected completely to lay out the events which led me and others to decide I was a bipolar.

Work at the time was not going well for me. I was a sergeant in the Army, doing work for the “WTU”-short for Warrior Transition Unit”. We were tasked to watch over twelve soldiers apiece, monitoring their whereabouts, and generally making sure that soldiers were where they needed to be. I was considered an oddball, which I am used to, and I’m pretty sure everyone considered me a dumbass. Part of me felt they were right, part of me fought to felt that they were the dumbasses, neglecting to understand my contributions. There was this one time when the first sergeant, knowing that I was a medical supply tech, told me to make a matrix of drugs that were considered heavy hitters and controlled substances. I had to make him a graph of all the drugs we’d run into, and rate them for things like safe for alcohol, safe for driving, safe for mixing…

What’s wrong with that? What is wrong is that ALL psych meds are bad with alcohol, many with contraindications, and many for driving. I never completed that matrix; he had someone else do the dumb thing after I found out from a pharm tech that it is impossible to interpret each provider’s reasoning for prescribing the drugs they’d prescribe. They are allowed to override any precautions that the patient would take. The graph was impossible to complete. I knew it. He didn’t. He just wanted a pretty picture on the wall, probably fixing himself for a nice bullet on his review.

Months later, I became depressed and was put on Celexa. It opened the door to a high degree of clarity for me that I had not known in years. This was at a 10mg dose. As time progressed, we moved me up to 30mg, and then my behavior became erratic. The final straw came when I talked with a former sergeant major about the recent death of his son in Iraq. I admit it. I sat there and I cried in that room right next to the first sergeant. That was the end of my job, and from there on I was to be classified as Bipolar II.

As I cried outside, a former captain of mine came up and asked me why I was crying. I related the story to him, and he told something golden: “That’s your basic humanity showing.” I will never forget those words that let me know it was OK to be hurt. It just wasn’t OK to be hurt on the job. So, the Army dismissed me quickly, ending my career and ushering in the era of me as a disabled veteran. Who can tell who is right? Was I bipolar, or am I just sensitive?

About The Head Seminarian

I might be the nicest person you'll ever meet, but if you don't believe me, that is because I hate you. I went to war, I went to father, I came, I saw, and it is a mess. I wouldn't have it any other way. Shitty people amuse me, people who act like human volcanoes fascinate me like fine art. Life is beautiful, and it is under attack in a manner heretofore unseen in history. I came to remind you of this, not make it worse. I might be writing a blog. Yes, that's all I am doing, now that I think about it. If you have a bad memory, you will forget this. Even I forget sometimes, so we're cool.

Posted on October 17, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Writers are in the Artist category. Coming from a long long line of artists and having read books on the correlation between mental illness and creativity, I believe you are more sensitive than the average Joe. This is a wonderful thing as without people like you there would be no expression of humanity, no abstract thinkers. The Army as a whole does not encourage one to be sensitive or creative so I would think getting out was the best thing that could have happened to you. Bipolar or sensitive? Does it matter? Making a contribution with your talent, that matters.

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  2. I also have BD II and recently started blogging about my experiences being newly diagnosed. I’m glad to see the bloggers on here casting light on what its like living with this. Although everyone’s experiences are different it’s always nice to have someone to relate to. I’m really starting to love your blog. It’s safe to say I might be getting hooked!

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    • Thank you! I’m still working up to writing up my time in the mental ward, an event that happened in February of this year. It keeps growing, and I’m almost afraid to release it.
      Never mind that, though. I’ll blogroll you and keep up.

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  3. Someone who I love very much has also recently been hospitalized with bipolar illness. I really wish you would write about your experience. So many people are ashamed and believe themselves to be alone in this world because of the ignorance that is so rampant about any kind of mental illness. I really admire your bravery in putting yourself out there. You are a very talented writer who also has the ability to help others who have no voice. Sorry you couldn’t get your job back, maybe your future lies in reaching others through your experiences. A book? Or a website where bipolar’s can reach out to each other on a daily basis? What ever you do or write, I’m looking forward to it!

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