Sunday, December 9, 2012

I'm moving my blog

Please visit my blog as I'm moving it to Wordpress. It's still titled Quickenings: Memoirs of a Prodigal. Here is the link....

I've enjoyed using Blogger, but Wordpress seems a bit more user friendly and cleaner. I hope everyone will visit my new site and become a follower. Thanks again for reading my blogs and following.

Lupe Picazo

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

There is nothing you can do

There are two things I know from life; Bipolar and addiction. I’ve spent my complete life searching for recovery from my Bipolar and almost the latter half from addiction.

Bipolar and addiction are so intertwined that some doctors routinely test individuals for drug or alcohol abuse or addiction.

During a manic phase, people often live a more reckless lifestyle. Many, as I did, may self-medicate with drugs or alcohol or both.

I am glad to say that I am at a place of recovery in both. I’m at the point of continually working on my memoir. The following is a short poem from my journal dated Jan 10, 2003. I’ve included it in my memoir.

It is my voice of frustration and anger with not so much of having to deal with both physical and mental pain but instead of broken promises and failures from treatments.  

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Electroconvulsive Therapy

Some do no not believe in miracles. But I assure you I am a walking miracle.

As much as the thought of electricity being sent through your brain many times might cause most people to become a bit unease, that’s not the case for me. For months I purposely sought a second psychiatrist that performed electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Maybe my body had become immune to the cocktail of medications I take twice a day. The tweaking had no positive affect.

My moods and behavior were as unpredictable as a two year olds. And the depression was getting the best of me. I was slipping away leaving behind a former shell of myself.

If you want to have a happy, healthy, and stable relationship, you have to treat bipolar disorder first.

Most people assume that bipolar is only about mania and depression. And to a large extent that’s true, but a holistic view understands that the disorder also includes a variety of symptoms in addition to mania and depression that also affect one’s thinking and behavior.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Things NOT to say to someone with bipolar

The other night I went to my local emergency room for blackouts and possible seizures. I went because I was in the midst of a blackout. I had already seen my neurologist and had an EEG and MRI that showed “red flags. So since I was home I figured I would make a trip to the ER.

I proceed with the intake process as normal being treated with respect and my condition with concern. But then came the moment when I had to list all the medications I was on and why. “Um, I’m bipolar.” It was if I had told them I had the plague or some kind of wife beater. The staff’s demeanor made a one-eighty turn.

If you have bipolar, someone has said at least one of these things to you. Probably more. If you know someone who has the illness, you may guilty yourself. Hearing them can be painful, infuriating, depressing - even destructive. Saying them, I assure you, is NOT going to be helpful.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Myths of Bipolar

Bipolar disorder is a serious and difficult illness that affects all facets of a person’s life: their education, work, relationships, health and finances, said Julie A. Fast, author of several bestselling books on bipolar disorder, including Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder and Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder, and a coach who works with partners and families.

Fast was diagnosed with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder II at 31 years old in 1995, a time when very little was discussed regarding the diagnosis. Fortunately, knowledge and media coverage of bipolar disorder have improved dramatically over the years. “I’m astonished at how much more people know about the illness,” she said.

Looking back at my early childhood it is evident that I had bipolar, but it wasn’t until I was 24 that I was officially diagnosed and began my years of trial and error of medications.
Even TV shows are featuring more accurate portrayals of bipolar disorder. “In the past, people with bipolar disorder were practically frothing at the mouth,” Fast said. Today, writers and producers make it a point to get it right. Recently, Fast served as one of the advisors on the hit Showtime series “Homeland” and talked with Claire Danes about her character’s bipolar disorder.
While information has gotten much better, many misconceptions still exist and endure.
Below, you’ll find five persistent myths about bipolar disorder.

Saving our American Soldiers

Whenever unit leaders handle combat post-traumatic stress disorder correctly—by ensuring that whoever needs treatment gets it—it rarely makes the news. And that’s unfortunate, because there are plenty of squad leaders, platoon leaders, and battalion commanders who make having mentally straight unit a priority. On the other hand, whenever leaders completely bolo the task of making sure their soldiers are receiving the care they, it always makes the news in a really ugly way. Take Mark Benjamin’s piece in Salon this week:

The day before Halloween 2008, Army Pvt. Adam Lieberman swallowed handfuls of prescription pain pills and psychotropic drugs. Then he picked up a can of black paint and smeared onto the wall of his room in the Fort Carson barracks what he thought would be his last words to the world. "I FACED THE ENEMY AND LIVED!" Lieberman painted on the wall in big, black letters. "IT WAS THE DEATH DEALERS THAT TOOK MY LIFE!" Soldiers called Lieberman's unit, the 1st Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, the Death Dealers. Adam suffered serious mental health problems after a year of combat in Iraq. The Army, however, blamed his problems on a personality disorder, anxiety disorder or alcohol abuse -- anything but the war. Instead of receiving treatment from the Army for his war-related problems, Adam faced something more akin to harassment. He was punished and demoted for his bad behavior, but not treated effectively for its cause. The Army's fervent tough-guy atmosphere discouraged Adam from seeking help. Eventually he saw no other way out. Now, in what was to be his last message, he pointed the finger at the Army for his death. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Commons myths of Bipolar

Bipolar disorder is a serious and difficult illness that affects all facets of a person’s life: their education, work, relationships, health and finances, said Julia A Fast, author of several bestselling books on bipolar disorder, including Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder and Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder, and a coach who works with partners and families.

Fast was diagnosed with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder II at 31 years old in 1995, a time when very little was discussed regarding the diagnosis. Fortunately, knowledge and media coverage of bipolar disorder have improved dramatically over the years. “I’m astonished at how much more people know about the illness,” she said.

Looking back at my early childhood it is evident that I had bipolar, but it wasn’t until I was 24 that I was officially diagnosed and began my years of trial and error of medications.
Even TV shows are featuring more accurate portrayals of bipolar disorder. “In the past, people with bipolar disorder were practically frothing at the mouth,” Fast said. Today, writers and producers make it a point to get it right. Recently, Fast served as one of the advisors on the hit Show-time series “Homeland” and talked with Claire Danes about her character’s bipolar disorder.
While information has gotten much better, many misconceptions still exist and endure.
Below, you’ll find five persistent myths about bipolar disorder

1. Myth: Bipolar disorder and depression are completely different diagnoses.
Fact: Bipolar disorder and depression — also known as unipolar depression — are not completely different illnesses, according to Francis Mondimore, MD, associate clinical director of the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins. In fact, he believes this is one of the most misunderstood ideas about bipolar disorder. (He blames psychiatrists for the misconception.)
Patients who believe this myth may oppose the diagnosis “if they don’t have the full-blown ‘medications-depressive’ picture and also resist taking “bipolar” medications like lithium,” said Dr. Mondimore, also author of Bipolar Disorder--A Guide to Family and Loved Ones.
It’s more accurate to think of bipolar disorder and depression as “probably represent[ing] two ends of a spectrum of illnesses,” he said. “The designation ‘bipolar II’ has helped crack this a bit, but this is why the term ‘bipolar spectrum disorder’ continues to gain ground,” he said.

2. Myth: People with bipolar disorder experience dramatic mood swings followed by complete remission of symptoms.
Fact: Some people with bipolar disorder experience this pattern, Mondimore said. (Lithium is typically very effective for these individuals, he said.) However, “Many patients have periods of residual symptoms and less severe but still significant mood fluctuations between episodes of more severe symptoms,” he said. This is especially common if people don’t engage in healthy habits to manage the illness.

3. Myth: Medication is the only treatment for bipolar disorder.
Fact: Medication is an important part of managing bipolar disorder. But it’s not the only answer. Viewing medication as your only treatment option “can lead to fruitless reaches for the ‘right’ medication,” Mondimore said. And it can lead you to avoid making valuable lifestyle changes and seeking therapy, he said.

As Fast writes on her website, “Medications take care of half of the illness, the other half is management.”

Both Fast and Mondimore stressed the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle, including avoiding alcohol and drugs, cultivating good sleep habits, exercising and effectively coping with stress.
Fast includes medication and alternative therapies as part of her treatment plan. Still, she cautioned against thinking “that we can exercise, diet, meditate, walk and rethink our way out of this illness.” (In fact, this is another big myth that persists, Fast said.)
Think of bipolar disorder like any other long-term illness, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, Mondimore said: It requires commitment and comprehensive management.

4. Myth: After having a severe episode, people with bipolar disorder should be able to bounce back.
Fact: If a person with bipolar disorder experiences a severe episode — one that requires hospitalization, for instance — there’s an expectation that afterward they’ll be able to get back to their work and life, Fast said. However, she equated this scenario to people who’ve been in a car crash. You wouldn’t expect someone with broken bones simply to get up and start sprinting.

5. Myth: People with bipolar disorder aren’t trying hard enough.
Fact: People wonder why someone with bipolar disorder just doesn’t try harder. They think that if they exert more effort, they’d have the life they want. They wonder why everyone else who experiences mood swings can cope with them but someone with bipolar disorder can’t. Sometimes Fast has even wondered the same thing about herself.

But this implies that bipolar disorder is a choice, she said. “Would you ever say that to someone with diabetes or pneumonia?” she said.
People just don’t realize how serious bipolar disorder is, Fast said. Thankfully, though serious, it’s highly treatable. Managing the illness is hard work, and finding the right medication takes time. But as Fast said, “Keep trying. Never give up.”

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Our fallen veterens

We form a social contract when we send our men and women to war: in return for their faithful service to the nation at great risk to themselves, we are supposed to assist them when they come home.
Somehow, this has been lost with this generation of vets.  They’re taking care of us, but we’re not taking care of them.  Congress keeps moving to slash budgets for veterans’ programs, vets have had to fight to get PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury taken seriously by military authorities, the military is now losing more troops to suicide than enemy fire, and for-profit schools are preying on vets to trade their New GI Bill benefits for worthless non-accredited degrees.  Some even face hiring prejudice because of worries about how combat has affected their ability to work (newsflash: it hasn’t).  Worse still, the VA–despite being run by distinguished former Army General Eric Shinseki–is completely overwhelmed at best and ineffective at worst.
On this Veterans Day, consider a donation that would serve our veterans as well as they’ve served us:
"What day is Veterans Day?"
It was a simple question my daughter asked me a few weeks ago. I was startled, then a little horrified. Do they not they teach this in school anymore? I wondered how anyone could not know when America officially honors military Veterans. When I was growing up, and even now, every day is Veterans Day.

My grandfather was a veteran of Korea. He never talked about his military service but it was the phantom of my childhood. He had an explosive temper and terrible nightmares.. He never held a job for more than a year or two, if at all, and looking back now, I realize he must have suffered terribly.

My brother will soon be deployed to Korea. His fifth deployment. His first was hunting for Hussein.
But he loves America, his kids and happy hours at the VFW. He hated hippies, foreign cars and people who belittled the armed forces. Red, white and blue were his favorite colors. He carried his service around in his heart, his mind and in the metal shrapnel scattered in his body. For him, every day is Veterans Day, because he lives his time at war in some way every day.

I am like most Americans. I have never fought in a war, never smelled fear and ammunition in combat, never worried about being blown up by a roadside bomb. If I could I would right there by a fellow soldier but because bipolar and parikinson’s prevents me I am unable to do so. We need to remember those who fought for our country while we stayed safe, out of the crossfire.
The Veterans Administration says there are 23 million living U.S. Veterans. They could be your co-workers, neighbors and friends. Even if you don't know anyone who has served in the armed forces, there are some small things you can do to let them know you appreciate their service.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America — Provides support, resources, and legislative lobbying for the New Greatest Generation.  The IAVA is an exemplary organization that does everything from hosting job fairs to getting veterans suits for interviews.
The Wounded Warrior Project — Seeks to create a generation of healthy, well-adjusted veterans by assisting them to recover in mind and body, as well as empowering veterans to help each other.
Homes for Our Troops — Builds accessible homes for veterans who have experienced life-changing injuries.  This can also include modifying existing homes.  All this is done at no cost to the veteran.
Warrior Writers — Is a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that creates a space where veterans can share their experiences through writing, provide a community based on artistic expression, and bear witness to the lived experiences of warriors.
Call of Duty Endowment — If you’re interested in supporting a video games-linked charity, the Call of Duty Endowment helps veterans find a clear path to employment after their return to civilian life.
The American Widow Project — In addition to the veterans, we must remember the families left behind.  AWP provides support for the new generation of military widows by creating a peer-to-peer network where women can share their stories and help each other heal.
And, of course, in a day that celebrates service we cannot forget that our emergency responders and National Guard are saving lives as we speak in Staten Island and Rockaway, which are still powerless from Hurricane Sandy.  The American Red Cross has missions in the area bringing people food and water who are unable to leave their apartments.  In addition, Doctors Without Borders has dispatched a mission–their first ever to the United States–and they could really use our help.

Today is Veteran’s Day. I’ve spent other blogs discussing how our freedoms aren’t free; they came at a price. Today is our chance to remember those who sacrificed, fought, and died to make sure that our liberties are protected. We should always remember to be thankful to those who have served and to those who are currently serving.
Yes, we would all prefer peace. The fact is, however, that sometimes if something is worth having, it’s worth fighting for, and that’s what our Founding Fathers decided in 1776 when they, and many others living in the American colonies under the rule of Great Britain, decided that taxation without representation, among other things, was an issue that was important enough to fight for. The colonists didn’t immediately jump to the conclusion that a revolutionary war was the answer. They did try, multiple times, to resolve things with Great Britain. When those attempts failed, a revolution was the only option left. War should never be the first option, but there are times when it becomes the last option and it must be exercised. The next time you’re complaining about how awful things are here in America, just remember that had our Founding Fathers not revolted, we could still be a British colony. Now wouldn’t that be fun? Yeah, I don’t think so either.
It took a while but eventually all citizens of the United States enjoyed the same basic rights, all of those outlined in the Constitution. Not every country’s citizens enjoy such rights. We are fortunate. Regardless of how much trouble many think our country is in right now, it is still the best country in the world in which to live. No place is perfect, but I’m proud to call the United States of America my home.
Today, on Veteran’s Day, be sure to remember and to thank those who have sacrificed, those who continue to sacrifice, and their families who also sacrifice so much so we can enjoy our lives here in America.

Friday, November 9, 2012

God's Real Marriage

I rarely watch TV. Something about a show that observes human behaviors and the social structures that drive them that turns me off.

Despite all the glitz, the shows demonstrates that money can't buy love. Or self-respect. Or a good marriage. Obviously.

But I am surprised by the flicker of something I see in the eyes of the women on these shows.
They know.

Maybe not at first. Maybe not all of them. But more than once, I've seen it in their eyes. Faltering. This is not what it promised to be.

And this is what comes to my mind: I thought so.
When a person wavers at the emptiness of a worldly payoff, I consider that a glimpse of God pursuing them.
God still pursues.

I thought so.

Unfortunately, a lot of the characters just forge ahead by kissing up to the cameras and mean friends and bad relationships so they can maintain the status quo, even if what they gain is … less than what they thought it would be.
Promises of Peace

It turns out that things haven't changed much.
Just ask Jeremiah.

He was a young man at a time when the Israelites had rejected God. God wanted Jeremiah to tell the Israelites to come back to him.

God said, "Then why do these people stay on their self-destructive path? Why do the people of Jerusalem refuse to turn back? They cling tightly to their lies and will not turn around" (Jeremiah 8:5).

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Perils of Mania

He who gives a book gives more than cloth,
Paper and ink. He gives more than leather, parchment, and words.
He reveals foreword of this thoughts, a dedication of his friendship,
A page of his presence, a chapter of himself,  
an index of his of love.

There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in the kind of madness that plagues one with bipolar. When you’re high it tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and too frequent like shooting stars. You follow them until you find bigger, better, and brighter things.

Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, they power to captivate others are certainty. There are interests found in uninteresting people. Sensually is pervasive and the desire to seduce is irresistible. Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence and euphoria pervades ones bones.

But then, somewhere it all comes crashing down. These changes. The fast ideas are far too fast and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Memory goes. Humor and absorption on friends faces are replaced by fear and concern. Everything previously moving with the grain is now against you is irritable, angry.

Frightened, uncontrollable and enmeshed totally in the blackest cave of the mind. Caves you never knew were there. It goes on and on and finally there is only the recollections of your behavior….your bizarre, frantic, aimless behavior….for mania has the grace of partially obliterating memories.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Alcohol, anorexia and God

Of all the many topics I rarely mention or write about I vaguely ever touch on my drinking or anorexia from my past. Alcohol consumed much of my adult life. For almost twenty years of it. It was my means of escape. My means of masking my depression. My means of running and hiding. Running and hiding from the hell of the bipolar that I was trapped in.

I drank every chance I got and that was pretty often, daily. Many times more than once daily. Alcohol was my comfort zone. It was my best friend and worst enemy at the same time. It didn’t care if it got me into legal trouble. It didn’t care if those I drank with were my real friends or not.

It only cared about one thing. And that was that I consumed as much as possible as frequently as possible. It didn’t care about the arguments between my wife and I. It didn’t care about the financial problems it caused. It didn’t care how I ignored my family. The alcohol didn’t care about the hangovers it caused. All it cared about was being in control of my.

I became known as the drunk at my place of employment.

I was a slave to alcohol and I couldn’t stop on my own. I tried many times and many times I failed. I had to stop. For different reason I had to stop. For the sake of my marriage and family I had to stop. The judge told me I had to stop. And to be honest….I WANTED TO STOP. I just couldn’t.

Facing a felony I was sentenced to mental court due to my bipolar. On the condition I was to attend a step study program and stay sober during the proceedings my record would be expunged and I would serve no time.

God was looking out for me and had his hands upon me. Rather than attend AA I requested to attend Celebrate Recovery. With its approval I began attending. I began attending shy and nervous.

I attended as an alcoholic and anorexic. My anorexia was my form of control. It was my way of having some form of control in my life. Every part of my life was out of control, but I had my say in my eating. It was mine. My control. I was in charge. My goals. My numbers.

Needless to say God began to work on me with my eating disorder as well. I was not in control. My eating disorder was in control. It was controlling me. Not me controlling it. It dictated how I ate and how, when and how much. It dictated if and when I purged. It controlled my destroying my own body. The very body the God owns. God proved to me that He was in control.

In time through Celebrate Recovery things changed. God changed me. God opened my heart and my mind. I no longer drink. I can’t remember the last time I did. I can’t remember the last time purged. I still don’t eat a whole lot, but then again I never really have. I’ve always been small.

I love sobriety. I love not seeing food as the enemy. I love enjoying food and not feeling guilting.

Friday, November 2, 2012

He never gave up

I thought it would happen in a moment, an instant, this finding of Jesus, of God.
An event. The day the wandering ended, the climax of the story, the crux, the peg on which I could hang my spiritual hat.
I imagined it happening at the end of a church service, a poignant sermon stomping all over my dress shoes, my icy shell splintering, my steel heart shockingly, suddenly bare, vulnerable.
Perhaps it would come when I closed turned the final page of a book, likely full of theology, telling of practice, even wrapped in story, and it would all make sense and in those words I would find it, peace.
I wondered if it would happen during the Christmas weeks, those days of reverence and beauty, of holy expectation. A candle lit service might hold power where Sunday messages had failed and I would cry warm tears into my folded paper candle cup and I would be new again.
There were those mornings when I woke before the small ones, lit a candle and played quiet piano hymns through speakers, as I was wont to do in days of old. Surely reading more verses, praying more prayers, surely these would hasten the moment.
It didn’t happen in a church service.
It didn’t happen when I read a book.
It wasn’t during Advent.
It wasn’t before dawn with a burning candle and quiet hymns.
I found Jesus the day I told Him I didn’t know if I wanted to believe in Him anymore, and was that okay, Lord? Was it okay if I just took a break?
Jesus became real at 2am in the rocking chair, when I cried warm tears with my head in my hands and I begged my God to show me Himself, whispered pleas to be real, be real.
Truth found me in late night talks fueled by red wine, morning conversation over coffee, three hour of writing and editing blogs, and honest confession, sitting cross-legged.
Salvation crept over my soul the day I scrawled fresh words in my journal, that maybe it is all a crutch, maybe I am weak for needing a god, perhaps this God is indeed too high to understand, but that I want a crutch, I am weak and I need a strong God and I don’t even care anymore about anything other than that Jesus, that Father, that Spirit.
Jesus came in the quiet, in the still and the small, and I opened my arms and said, I’m here I’m here I’m here. Take me, take my soul, bind my wandering heart to Thee. Help Thou my unbelief, but I believe
I believe
I believe.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Facing Lies

I’ve been trying to work on my memoir for some time. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough. Maybe I don’t feel my life is at a point to where it is complete. Maybe I don’t feel it is worth publishing let alone reading.

My life has been anything but boring. It has been laced with Bipolar 1 and psychotic episodes, alcohol and drug use…marriages and legal problems. But I’ve had successes and victories in my life.

There have been times when I have tried things and failed. I’ve walked away satisfied just for trying.

Memoirs of bipolar and alcohol use are a dime a dozen. Who would read a story of another? Sometimes I choose to believe the lie I’m just a messed up freak who writes about dark things intertwined with stories of faith and promises of good. So I quit.

Miserable humans we are, we sometimes feel, trying hard to make our fantasies and deepest longings come true for ourselves. We whip lies into submission until they become crystal clear reality in our squishy brain folds.

But then, actual reality. The cruelty of truth creeps in warning us to never do that again.

Then I think of playing in the pain – not being afraid of the darkness, because in the darkness, we find the light. And I’m reminded of that feeling crashing into your purpose and realizing that you’ve been wasting a lot of creativity and energy with excuses.

Maybe you know what I’m talking about.

All of us have dreams. Those dreams are built around purpose – what we’re made to be – what’s in our bones to do. And every single one of us faces a moment where we decide whether or not we’ll go through with it. Every single one of us has a chance to either push forward or quit.

And here’s the best news: even if you’ve quit, even if you’ve believed the lie that whatever it is you want to pursue isn’t worth it or that people won’t understand, there’s always a second chance.

Your dream is worth it. You are worth it. What if you ran with it? What if you didn’t give up and quit?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Grace in labels

The shortest amount of time I’ve ever held a job was three days. And that was last week. Like so many times before my past had followed me. This time it was my legal record. A felony. Some DUI’s. I was upfront about my felony. How I had blacked out after taking an increase in dosage of one my medications that my doctor and I agreed on and then got into a strangers car. The person who hired me had no problem with my criminal record. It was her bosses so I was let go.

I’ve learned throughout my life that the majority of the time what’s on paper is too black and white. If someone put it on paper before you then they must be right.

We have many ways of identifying and labeling people. I have a DOC number. It is to identify me. Yesterday, I saw my probation officer. Pictures of my tattoos were taken. They are to identify me. I lost my job because I have DOC number and a probation officer. Because I have a record.

So I am judged and labeled.

I am bipolar. So I am labeled. I used to self-medicate to try to cope. So I am judged. I am labeled. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thanksgiving of desperation

I’ve been mulling over two components lately; prayer and wisdom. Many times I find myself praying for wisdom or even contemplating the notion it’s in our wisdom that God hears us.

I’ve been out of work for a while and finding work is no easy task in my town. I’ve spent much of my kids lives before they went to school as a stay-at-home-dad so I’m no stranger to staying home. But now I’m alone in the house.

You may wonder what does this have to do with prayer and wisdom and praying for wisdom. By no means am “super-spiritual” but I try to spend much of my time conversing with God. Unfortunately, much of that time I question if He hears me. I know logically I He does, but feeling it is a different story.

Ever take anything for granted? Surely. Surely I have. And it’s how I feel about the wisdom God imparts upon me daily. I lost my job in March due to my disability. I’m handling that and that’s a different story to tell. But in the mean time it’s like Murphy’s law has sprung wide open on us. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. I need to work and I have filled out numerous applications but my illness is actually preventing me from working.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chasing Giants: A journal of my formal self

Chasing Giants: A journal of my formal self

Winter 1997

                Most of my years prior to my hospitalization I spent drinking heavily. Every chance I got I drank. Once it resulted in a DUI and that didn’t stop me.
                The mania was just as bad. Once on whim I talked my co-workers into taking a last minute trip to New Orleans for New Years Eve, and we live in Oklahoma. I constantly wanted to party. Looking back maybe it was it my way of masking my depression to extent. But then it caught up with me.
I vaguely remember that night before. But at that particular moment I have neither any idea where I am at or how I got here. I awake with two people standing over me bearing down with their condescending eyes. My head is pounding and the green colored plastic mattress and pillow doesn’t make it easy to find a 
comfortable position. That was 1997 and I was twenty-three.
“Good morning Mr. Picazo. I’m doctor ‘so and so.” I don’t remember his name. “What’s been going on that would make you want to hurt yourself?”
                “What the hell was he talking about?” I thought “Hurt myself?” But I’m pretty sure I answered that I had been very depressed lately.
                The memory came back to me. The evening before I had drank a fifth of Vodka and swallowed any number of sleeping pills. I don’t know how many. I just turned the bottle upside down and started swallowing.
                How did I get to this point? Why did I get to this point?

Monday, September 10, 2012


I was a good kid. Kid that is. Good in school. No trouble My list of I never ranged much longer than my list of have done.

Where I grew up, maturity was keeping the rules and doing the right things, marking your checklist of spiritual accomplishments and sins avoided. On the outside, I was doing well.

But inside,……I was dying. Plagued with deep depressions and manias. Inside I was different.

My accomplishments never felt like enough, and I was being crushed under the weight of my own expectations. Grades were never good enough. My art was never good enough. I was never a good enough friend. I used faith like a self-improvement plan, but ignored my heart in the process. As I cried out for acceptance, inadequacy and inferiority were my constant companions. They taunted me screaming at me in my mind.

Yet when I was exposed to the message of grace as a young adult, I struggled to believe it was for me. Even though it was like a breath of fresh air to my soul, and spoke to my heart in a way that accomplishments and discipline never could, deep down I believed I could manage without it; I’d heard of dramatic turnarounds – stories of radical sinners embracing the grace of God out of necessity. But me? I followed the rules and tried hard; I didn’t need it. I could figure it out on my own.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I'm going to pick a fight

Each one of us is a unique and unrepeatable miracle of God's grace. My wife is a miracle to me. My children are miracles.

But I do not always feel like an unrepeatable miracle of God's grace. Unique yes. Much of the time I feel alone in this world. But more often I behave as though God puts up with me because He made me and now He is stuck with me.

Logically I know this is false, but deep, and sometimes not so deep, inside it nags and gnaws at my heart, at the security and love I feel from not only others but also about myself. It creeps into my prayers, into my thoughts, into how I love and relate to her, to them, to me.

Bipolar disorder is one of the most elusive illnesses we know of. The lives of those who live with are written like a bestselling mystery novels. The beginning opens in the middle of nowhere and every page is a twist and turn full of surprises never knowing what is going to happen next.

Recognizing our thoughts are awry and our judgment is impaired is a risky business for anyone dealing with a mental illness. It all seems so sensible in our delusional state. We need to come to the conclusion there is an impairment in our functioning that prevents us from living life normally. Then again I hate that word, "normal." Who says what is normal?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Powerlessness = Choice

I met a man recently who is a lot like me. I don't want to be like this man.

Psychiatric hospitals are places you will always meet characters. Some you forget; some stick out.

I'm bipolar and 37, but look no older than 25. He is also bipolar, but 45 and looks no younger than 65. We are a lot alike. Both have succumbed to our manic states. Both experience disabling depressions. Both have lived years of abusing alcohol and drugs with bouts of binges. Both have ruined ourselves financially. Both have divorced. Both have alienated friends and family in the past. Both have been in trouble with the law. Both have received undeserving grace. Except.....

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I love justice, but I love grace too

I don't care how much I say love grace, but there are times when I really love it when someone gets his or her just end.

When the bad guy falls from the sky. When the murderer confesses at the end of a movie. When the serial rapist actually gets caught and is called to account for his crimes.

Yes YES! I feel like good has won and everyone on the side of good has also triumphed. I could brush my hands together, nod my head and whisper,

He deserved it!

I learned a long time ago that there are some people in this unjust world who do very wrong things and yet still never apologies. They will never make amends. They will never fix what they've done. They'll never confess, fall from the sky to get caught.

It seems to be how the world works.

I leaned a  long time ago that there are people in this unjust world who do very wrong things and will never apologize. They will never make amends. They will never fix what they've done. they'll never confess, fall from the say or get caught.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How do you know when to let go

How do you know it is time to let go? In one sentence:

            When you feel any kind of unpleasantness or discomfort.

You can consider unpleasantness or discomfort a clear sign that it is time to let go.

And I'm no stranger to letting go. Letting go has become a common practice of mine. Probably too much of a common practice that it leaves me unable to get close to others. Letting go has no longer become a problem for me.

But for some letting go is heartbreaking. And in some situations it's completely understandable. Not all things are equal to let go.

By letting go, we actually allow more of the mystery of life to come in for us.-- Leslie K. Lobell, M.A.

Letting go. It's difficult for us in so many ways and on so many levels. Yet life calls us up to do it, over and over again. Letting go is part of our growth process. We cannot move on to the new while continuing to cling to the old. For some we let go for their sake and not for ours. And why doesn't it feel like a learning process?

For some of us, we must let go of a past relationship. Or even a current relationship. Or just lesson the relationship. Maybe the relationship was not meant to be: perhaps it was hurtful to us, or perhaps it was hindering the personal or spiritual growth of one or both.  Perhaps we have no problems leaving the person behind, but we continue to harbor animosity. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Truth is not enough

Wish I had learned an invaluable lesson years ago. I'm trying to learn it now but I've always proven to be too hard headed. Too stubborn. The irony is that I've always fooled myself into thinking that I was the one taking charge.

Lately I have been having hard time dealing with my bipolar. I'm not referring to its symptoms, but the coping and dealing. I cycle so unpredictably. It gets the best of me and it is wearing me out. I'm tired from it mentally, physically and even spiritually. It's exhausting. What's worse is that it seems to worsen with each episode.

Scripture says that the truth will set us free. It seems to me not applying everything  of this wisdom from life's lessons learned is enough. I knew the truth years ago that whatever we focus on we become. It's the truth. But it hasn't set me free.

Do we all not know that E=Mc2? It's a fact. It's the truth. Now can you pass an advanced physics class and explain the concepts of mass-energy equivalences? Just knowing a truth is not enough.

Where my inspiration comes from

A Recycled-Dad with Bipolar & Parkinson's, reflections on fathering and family life and other stuff thrown in'll love my Soap Box Rants

Blog with Integrity\\ Auhor Lupe Picazo

Why I call myself a Recycled Dad

I call myself a Recycled Dad because of the struggles with remarriage and being a step-parent and weekend dad. This is also about my life living with bipolar and how it affects me personally, my family and my job. It also reflects on the grace God has poured out on me throughout recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder. Recycled Dad is about my reflections on the wisdom God teaches daily on fatherhood and being a better husband in spite of being bipolar.

Please feel free to leave comments. I welcome them