This version of STC is relatively new, when compared to the five years prior to this incarnation where anything goes, and everything went.
So this time around, I’m sharing my views of what it’s like to be a dude with bipolar, what it’s like collaborating with other peers, what it’s like collaborating with community stakeholders, what it’s like having opinions and feeling grandly compelled to share these opinions, what it’s like having incredible ideas on how to help make the lives of peers better, what it’s like having incredible ideas of how to help make the lives of my friends’ families better, what it’s like to be involved in wonderful community projects… and lastly, or firstly, what it’s like having bipolar.
What is it like having bipolar? This is a piecemeal excursion into my recovery journey to be doled out over the next… however long I have before I kick this nasty oxygen addiction. If examining what it’s like right now, you’ll get stories out of me that are much different from when I was first starting to get symptoms and a retrograde examination of my bipolar experiences well before I was diagnosed.
While many of these early-on-in-my-recovery-journey are heartbreaking in the impact and repercussions on my life and my dreams, some of them (a lot of them) are so ludicrously heartwarming that I’ve just got to share these stories for a balanced view of what bipolar is like for me. Often, you’ll hear words to the effect of “suffering from bipolar.” I counter “suffering” with “sometimes bipolar is freakin’ excellent.” Truly. Bipolar symptoms can be so much fun!
Want an example? Sure enough! Let’s dial back the decades to when I first came to New Mexico to attend college at New Mexico Tech in Socorro. As a geology student, New Mexico is prime real estate for exploration and discovery. There are rocks everywhere, and the rocks in New Mexico do some really cool things, and they have really cool histories, and they hold really cool stories of their own.
To explore and discover geology requires trips into the wilds, excursions into the field, and essentially just wandering around to see what there is to see. Now, New Mexico is more than rocks. On the surface of these rocks is our diverse cultures. Human imprint on our rocks goes back thousands of years – I’ll share a story of sneaking into the Folsom Site later – and a major imprint of humanity in
New Mexico is ranching. Ranching initially was primarily sheep, and Lincoln County had a war about sheep, and our Bernalillo County shield has sheep. There are jokes to be made here about having a girlfriend who provides warm sweaters, but those are jokes mainly about the Aussies (if you ask the Kiwis) and about the Kiwis (if you ask the Aussies).
Cattle is the other livestock critter that holds a primacy in our ranching communities. Bison was a short-lived Ted Turner/Jane Fonda thing, and ostriches went out of style even before they were in style. Cows, though. Beef. That’s a New Mexico thing, and you’ll find evidence for cattle ranching everywhere when out doing geology stuff.
Cattle corrals are nifty. So many of these go back generations and are made from timbers felled in our forests decades upon decades ago, sun-cracked yet solid, bound together with barbed wire that was hand-fashioned and often speaks to very specific eras in our state’s history. Did you know that? The way the barbed wire looks can tell you a bunch of stuff about that corral fence, or even the extended fences around our largest cattle ranches.
Cattle corrals are not only nifty, they are plentiful. That’s probably because we have hundreds of thousands of head of cattle in our state at any one time (a number I was told by a member of the Wellborn Family in Catron County). That many cows means you have to have places to round them up before sending them off for… processing. So finding a cattle corral is not difficult, and finding a cattle corral full of cattle is also not difficult.
One of these cattle corrals just north of Socorro is found at the base of the Lemitar Mountains. I would love to go totally on the meandering right now to talk about how cool the geology of the Lemitars is, but I promised my therapist that I’d try my bestestestest to stay on task and concentrate on completing these tasks. So, it’s the cattle corral at the base of the Lemitars I’ll yarn on about.
Before moving forward with this yarn, let me explain as concisely as possible what the manic (or hypomanic) end of bipolar is like for me. This is best described with a few sentences:
1.) Euphoria, and lots of it.
2.) Billions of ideas rushing through my brain all at the same time.
3.) Increased hyper-charisma.
4.) Rapid-fire impulsive thoughts.
5.) Not considering the ramifications and/or consequences of these rapid-fire impulsive thoughts.
6.) Skipping past any qualified consideration and following through with these rapid-fire impulsive thoughts.
This means I was in an elevated, excellent mood, I got tons of ideas, I didn’t think things through, and I made very very poor choices. Got it? If not, stay after class (leave a comment) and ask your questions after class (really, just leave a comment).
To some, this is hypomanic behavior is destructive and irresponsible. To my dorm mates, this behavior can be described with one word:
The thing with my hypomanic episodes is sleep is not only optional, it is often not even considered part of a daily routine. My brain has no time or cognizance of “sleep” and how it pertains to “making good decisions.” The less sleep, the worst the decisions… or seen in another way: