I went off the rails when I moved to Texas in 2004.
That was the year I turned 21.
Granted, I wasn’t exactly calm, cool, and collected before that, but I really decided to fan the flames in my 20’s.
I got a job working in the shitty part of Irving. I’d work security for a bar until 2am and then work security for a seedy hotel (a lot of prostitutes and pushers) until 6am. The pay was shit. But I wasn’t doing it for the pay. I was doing it for the adrenaline rush.
Part of Bipolar is risky behavior. This doesn’t usually occur when you’re medicated. At least not for me. I look back now and am like, “What the hell was I thinking?”
But yeah, the adrenaline rush. I loved to fight. I’m sure I was antagonistic on more than one occasion. I longed for someone to jump in my face because that’s the only excuse I needed, technically speaking. I wasn’t allowed to hit people, officially, but I could twist their arms and shove them and throw them; for me it was all good fun. I had a knife pulled on me, I had a guy try to go to his truck for a gun. Most people would have been like, “This isn’t worth the slave wages, I quit.” But for me, the money wasn’t important, this stream of constant conflict is what was important. It was exciting. I longed to go to work.
What eventually got me to quit is that I almost did get myself killed trying to rescue a prostitute on the second floor of the hotel from two dozen men that had her locked up in one of the rooms. They were doing god knows what to her. Luckily I’d put a call into the police before trying to play the hero and just as they were going to work on me the cops came bursting into the hall with their guns out.
I quit the next day.
But my behavior, in general, did not change.
You see…I still barely slept. I was also having a harder and harder time holding down a job. The not sleeping made it hard for me to wake up in time to make it to work. When I was at work I’d go into these weird anxiety attacks, or I’d feel like I was coming apart at the seams…i can’t explain it. There’s a lot of information online that goes into the statistics with bipolars and how, many of them, have a really hard time holding down jobs due to the behavior that manifests itself in what most would consider normal social situations.
Luckily, for me, when I didn’t have money I had credit cards.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer (to do what I’m doing right now) so during the day I’d write some (not nearly enough) and go to the gym…this was usually mid afternoon.
Once the sun started going down it was drinking time. I drank probably 5 days a week…sometimes 6.
At this point in time I ran with a rather…rough…core group of friends. A lot of them worked regular jobs during the day and pushed weed on the side. One of them dealt crack. Point is, I was in a corrosive environment, mentally speaking. But they liked to party. I loved to party. For me a match was a match. And I’m not gonna lie and say they weren’t good friends…I mean, they were. They were nice enough guys..to me, anyway. But they definitely weren’t leading me anywhere good and I wasn’t a beacon of inspiration for them either. We spent time dragging each other down.
Before we’d go out I would always pick one of them up from work. He didn’t have a vehicle. So I’d get to his work and take him home to change and we’d go find a club. He worked at this french fast food restaurant that’s really popular, but I won’t name because I’m not trying to call anyone out. I go to pick him up one night and he’s not ready, so I lay on the bench in the lobby (it’s closed, but he unlocked the door and let me chill). I doze off because I hadn’t slept in probably 36 hours.
I’m awoken by this girls voice, “Hey, you? You wanna help me out?”
I was immediately attracted to her. Infatuated. Obsessed, even. When it came to cut off valves for feeling and emotion, I had none. Everything was an extreme for me. She worked there with my friend and she was wanting my help sweeping up the front and wrapping bread…or some shit. I don’t remember. All I remember is that I was up and helping immediately, my mind set on getting a phone number out of the deal. All I got, that night, was a thanks and then she was out the door, she didn’t even look back.
Did that stop me? Nope.
She’s the only thing I talked about the entire night. Yeah, sure, I got just as shitfaced, but even then, she was the topic of my slurred musings. My friend finally agreed to put us in the same room together if I’d shut up about her.
Now there was a long story with this particular girl. It was a very intense and sudden relationship that developed out of this whole deal. I’m married now (to someone else) and so I’m not going to go into great details about the courting and romance or whatever. What’s significant is that she stilled my mind (to a degree) when I was with her. During this time period I didn’t really drink that much. I didn’t smoke as much. I wasn’t out trying to get myself killed.
I should also note that I had bought and flipped a small house during this time period and had a sudden windfall of money. After paying off those that helped me it was somewhere between like 20 and 30 thousand dollars in my pocket.
If you ever want to know how to spend a little over 30 thousand dollars in a month, I’m your guy.
No. I’m not shitting you, I spent that money in a little over a month.
I got myself a drop top mustang (I only put like 1500 down) with an insane interest rate.
And I paid for everything when I was with this girl. I probably dropped 10 thousand on just her. Dinner? Let’s go to Three Forks!
And it wasn’t her fault, it was all me. I wanted to impress her (it’s why I bought the car).
I’m sure you see where this is going though.
We eventually broke up. She couldn’t handle how unhealthy and aimless our relationship had become, I think. It truly was poisonous.
And yeah, I went even further down the rabbit hole. I spent more and I drank more. I loved playing the 30 thousand dollar millionaire. I can’t count how many nights I spent at the Ghost Bar at the top of the W hotel (that bar is closed now, sadly) drinking 8 dollar beers. I imagine I looked rather silly pulling up next to the Ferrari’s and Lambo’s parked out front in my Mustang
I hooked up with some new running buddies (a lot of my regular ones had moved or gotten arrested during my relationship with ‘the girl’).
I met these guys at church.
Yes, I went to church, but it was mostly for the socializing and to meet my new friends. I had started getting to know them while I was still dating the girl and after me and her broke up is when we really started hanging out.
I remember for the first week or so after me and her broke up I was over at one of my new friend’s apartments. His roommate had a fully stocked bar. I would sit there and drink my ass off and cry and we’d play video games.
He must have thought I was crazy (I was) but we’re still friends (best friends) to this day.
The pattern continued: write during the day, workout, sometimes go to church, get trashed every single night.
I met another girl during this time. Got engaged in a fit of insanity. Cheated on her. And then I broke up with her (I got the ring back).
I also, somehow, managed to get a real job…sort of. It was seasonal. I was the manager of a Hickory Farms. Now this was ideal for me because I could hire people to work in the morning and at night, which is exactly what I did. You see, I wasn’t about to work a service job with a hangover. So my mission as soon as I opened that place was to hire a morning person to open it for me. I had a few applications and I went through them and picked the young female applicant (yeah, it was wrong…and probably violated some discrimination policy).
Want to know the funniest part?
That young female applicant is my wife today.
But no, we didn’t hit it off right away. She actually sort of hated me. She thought I was an asshole (I am). She thought I was a horrible manager (I was). I never showed up on time. When I was there I was at Toni & Guy getting my hair done while I was clocked in or I was in the storage room asleep on the boxes. Before she quit (yes, she quit on me) we exchanged numbers.
I don’t know how or why, but we maintained contact over the next year. We’d text back and forth occasionally. She asked me to go out to a club once or twice, but I was always hanging out with these two girls that were 18 and 19 and they couldn’t get in so I always turned down the invite. No, I don’t know why I was a man in his mid twenties hanging out with 18 year old’s…maybe it was a reflection of my mindset at the time.
Anyway, another year of destroying my liver passed and then I saw her (the girl who is now my wife) on Myspace. I decided to get in touch with her. One thing led to another and we started dating. I was still drinking and not sleeping…but I was drinking less and sleeping more. I was calmer when I was with her.
We moved in together and I got a stable job waiting tables. It was still dead end. But I sort of enjoyed it. I worked with a young crowd that liked to party. Most nights I’d pound a few drinks with them in the bar area before going home to find my girlfriend already asleep.
During all of this my wedding was approaching. This should have been the happiest moment of my life…and it was…still is. But it’s also when the bubble finally burst. You see, all the sleepless nights, the drinking, going through 30 thousand dollars and charging up another ten thousand in credit cards, the partying, and now the job and the impending responsibility of being a husband…it was too much. I’d been teetering, mentally, on the edge of a cliff for a very long time…since I was a kid…and I’d become a master at balancing. I was handling these undiagnosed illnesses free of medication. But the thing is…I wasn’t really handling them. I was masking them…holding them back…but slowly losing ground.
Hell, I haven’t even talked about the two years prior to this that I’d had a loaded gun to my head and had to be talked down by my mom.
There were so many other things before this.
But I thought that the worst was behind me.
This is how my breakdown began and how I ultimately ended up in the hospital, locked up.
But enough for now, I’ll get into the hospitalization and the night that I finally cracked in the next blog. I’ve completed the journey leading up to it.
There was so much more to it, this is really just a cliff notes version of everything. I just want to give you a general idea of the spiral of erratic behavior and addiction that paved the path.
Alcoholism and drug abuse is a common symptom for those suffering Bipolar. It shuts the mind down. Numbs authentic feeling, which can be difficult to endure and process. I had a lot of racing thoughts and insomnia and alcohol was a powerful tool when it came to handling that. For me, I didn’t feel like myself unless I had some sort of buzz, be it alcohol or pills. Even now, I take pills for generalized anxiety, but I’ve got to be careful. They feel really good. Knowing when I need them and when I just want to feel the high is important, it’s easy for me to slip back into unhealthy behavior.
Anyway, that’s it for this one.
All the best,