Does your wife approve of your last blog post? That question has come up more than once. In writing about the situation wife my wife’s deteriorating health at the beginning of my last bout of mania I touched on the sensitive subject of her own bout of the crazies while on mass doses of the steroid prednisone.
Well she has read and approves of what I’ve written-probably because my decent into insanity makes her little “prednisone moments” pale in comparison. In all seriousness, the reason I interjected a glimpse of what she was like on prednisone is that a reoccurring theme in my last bout of mania was my pointing the finger at her, repeatedly, as the crazy one.
In a very pronounced way I learned a very valuable lesson in projection. That is, I learned that the faults we so easily see in others are, more often than not, faults we haven’t addressed in ourselves. As I continue to take personal inventory—Step Ten in Twelve Step Recovery—a good starting point is to reflect on what faults I am seeing in others at any particular time.
Before slipping into mania I deliberately, and mistakenly, stopped taking my bipolar medication. My wife knew that I had stopped taking my medication and agreed with one condition, I would resume if she deemed it necessary. As I skipped manically through the winter and early spring, it wasn’t long until she decided it was time to get back on meds. I did, at an entirely too low dose, but was convinced that she was the crazy one. Couldn’t she see that I was trying to build a business empire so that I could single-handedly save her from her COPD?
Throughout the entire manic episode, which lasted for months, there wasn’t a single time where I thought I had a problem. She was the crazy one I convinced myself. I was absolutely convinced that she was in no position to judge my behavior. It spawned the only disagreements we have had in our marriage.
As my condition deteriorated, I lost my primary consulting contract for sending bizarre, rambling emails in the middle of the night; I went on a pointless business trip, dragging others with me, at considerable expense; I spent money at an alarming rate (justifying the squandering of tens of thousands of dollars as necessary to the building of a business empire); and then in full manic glory “decorated” our front yard prior to a Memorial Day party with three thousand dollars of Walmart crap I had purchased during a two a.m. shopping spree.
That little yard decoration (it looked like the garage had vomited on the front yard and into the street) caught the attention of everyone but me. The party (a blog post unto itself) was a disaster. In very public fashion I proved my wife right in so many ways.
Following the party I was trying to console my despondent wife and I noted that I didn’t know where the key to our gun safe was. Fearing that she meant to do herself harm I politely asked for the gun safe key… and by “politely asked” I mean I ranted and raved like a lunatic.
That was the final straw. My wife left me that night and sought solace at the home of a couple who had witnessed my bizarre behavior at the party. Later that night that couple came to retrieve the gun from my possession. My wife was not with them. I gave them the gun they asked for and kept the one they didn’t know about. The gun that would land me in jail. Oops.
They next day my wife made no contact. Multiple calls went unanswered. I flitted about like nothing was wrong. Later that night, as I was just settling in to bed, two “men-in-blue” showed up in my bedroom. Turns out they wanted me to take a little ride with them. Was I under arrest? “No,” they answered, with very little additional explanation.
Funny thing, being led out of your home in handcuffs feels a lot like being arrested. I decided then and there that whatever was happening couldn’t be good. I had to get myself out of this situation and pronto.
Turns out I was headed for the psych ward. At least that’s what I ultimately figured out. When you are being taken in for an involuntary psychiatric evaluation the people involved don’t feel compelled to tell you much. You kinda figure things out as you go along.
Once at the facility my blood was drawn, I was given an all-to-revealing gown and told the doctor would be in at six a.m. to have a little chat with me. I was assigned a chair that reclined into an all-to-narrow bed and told not to make any trouble.
That part was easy. I was surrounded by people muttering, shuffling about and some even literally howling. I was petrified. No sir, there wouldn’t be any trouble out of me.
Having a few hours on my hands until the psychiatrist checked in for duty I had time to plot. Could I talk my way out of this? I wondered. My wife had taken me in to see my psychiatric prescribing nurse a few weeks earlier. I had gone into that meeting thinking I could convince my nurse that it was my wife who was a little crazy.
My nurse noted that I was talking a little too fast and seemed to have racing thoughts. That little sit down hadn’t gone as planned. Maybe talking my way out of this institution wasn’t the best course of action.
All I knew is that I needed to get sprung free. How could I save the world if I was locked up? I made my way down the hall to the restroom (I do my best thinking on the porcelain throne) and continued to plot. Jarred fully awake by the cold toilet seat a thought hit me. I knew how I was going to beat this rap.
Channeling every Academy Award performance I had ever seen I kept my eye on the clock, reclined my chair and waited until six a.m.
As the clock struck six, I put my plan into action. As sunlight started to stream into the room my fellow crazies got even crazier. The room bustled with psychotic energy, nervous chatter and animalistic noises. I played the role of the unaffected innocent party. I pretended to sleep.
Laying there on my side, with my gown displaying more of my backside than is appropriate, I took deep, deliberate breaths. As the psychiatrist made her rounds I was putting on an award-winning performance of man asleep. When she tapped me on the shoulder I opened my eyes groggily and feigned disorientation.
“Hmmm, if you can sleep through all this I don’t see how you could me manic,” she observed audibly.
I followed her to the consultation room, answered questions deliberately and slowly, and feigned sanity. Within two hours I was released. No seventy-two involuntary hour hold for me. I wasn’t crazy.
My little scheme went perfectly… with one little glitch… four days later a S.W.A.T. team was encircling me as I hid out at a rental property, a police helicopter was hovering above, and I was about to head to jail… but that’s a story for another day.
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