Back on the Ice

If I could describe being bipolar with one movie scene it would have to be from Mighty Ducks, 1 or 2, when the Minnesota Miracle Man, Gordon Bombay, sees the error in his ways and goes back to the ice to set things right in his head.

I do a lot of that now.  Self reflection I mean.  I don’t think I could even stay up right on ice skates or rollerblades at this point in life.  There is a lot of self reflection in dealing with being bipolar.

I’ll be going along great and then something feels off, like a pebble in my shoe type of feeling, and it just builds til I have to go back to the ice and figure it out.  Or worse, you’re hit with seriously depressing thoughts out of nowhere and it wrecks you for about four days.  That’s what happened to me recently.

When I first found out that I was bipolar I made a daily checklist of things just to keep tabs on my behavior and I think I’m going to have to go back to that.  More than anything, to remind myself that  I do have more good days than bad days.  Its just the weight of those bad days can be so severe.  And what’s annoying is that my down swing came, at least partially, from having a great day the day before.

Things have definitely gotten better and I’m back to what I call normal thankfully.  The therapist has been pushing me to make a schedule for myself to help me see when I’m becoming manic and not wanting to follow it.  Unfortunately, I’ve never been much of a schedule type of person.  To quote an old friend “I do what I want” and no schedule is gonna change that.  He’s definitely right though and I’m gonna sit down again and give it another try for tomorrow.

Basically just wanted to let everyone that I reached out to through my rough patch I’m doing better again.  I just need to get better at realizing when I put blinders on and just concentrate on the hard things in life.  I turn that switch on and it pulls me down before I even realize it.  Prayers I can get better at that.  I’m also gonna start trying to spend some time in the ol’ Bible to try and help my mindset.  I was “saved” when I was five and I’m not sure I’ve ever made the transition into being an adult Christian.  I’m still that five year old in many ways.  Here’s to self improvement!

 

Advertisements

Cougar

I have been writing for the better part of my life.  It was just relatively recently that I started sharing with people that I didn’t grow up with.  All of my earliest stuff was about where  I grew up, a little place in Texas called Merkel.

This continued when I wrote my first full length movie script.  It was about two kids growing up in Texas who ultimately didn’t end up together but always meant the world to eachother.  The main character, Nick Brody, was the son of Jack and Diane.  This was an obvious tip of the hat to the song Jack and Diane by John Cougar Mellencamp.  I liked the idea of writing the next generation of that love story.

The song Jack and Diane was really the first love story I remember hearing and it was definitely the first one I could somewhat relate to.  I, too, grew up in the heartland.  One day, when I was still an impressionable youth I went to Walmart and bought a John Cougar Mellencamp TAPE.  Not a CD, a cassette tape.

I spent the rest of the day driving around Colorado Springs, Colorado, listening to hits like Hurt So Good and Small Town.  Mellencamp completely encapsulated what it meant to grow up in the small Texas town I yearned to be in.

It would take me years to write that script that I ultimately threw away when my attempt to move to LA and be a famous writer blew up in my face rather quickly.  I quickly regretted that move but I was about to go through the roughest patch of my life.

The next few years I was unknowingly manic and mentally ill.  A lot of my writing has covered this time in my life so I won’t go into great detail but when I got out of the mental hospital years later I made myself a promise.

I wanted to get back to sharing my stories and not letting things build up in my head like they had been.  For some reason, I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want to use my actual name.  It was just lacking something, not to say that I don’t love my name it just wasn’t right for this endeavor.

I thought back to that script that I wrote and how much it meant to me.  I remembered the characters Jack and Diane and just how grounded the story felt to me in my own life.  For better or worse, when I remember my childhood, John Cougar Mellencamp is singing in the background.

Ever since that first book, I’ve instinctively gone by the faux middle name Cougar.  It is simply my way of staying true to my writing roots.  If you notice, all my stories take place in Texas.  That isn’t on accident.  Like the Cougar himself, I want to tell stories about people like me.  I think in this day and age everyone can use a little more down home stories.

There’s a pace to living in Texas in the early nineties that I want to keep in my writing.  I’d like to say Texas is still that way but unfortunately we went and got ourselves in a hurry somewhere along the way.

Anyway, that’s why I go by the name Cougar.  If you haven’t heard the original Cougar in awhile I implore you to change that.  I’m listening right now and feel like I’m back at home sitting on my childhood front porch watching my dad and brother playing catch with my mom sitting by my side.  Yall have a great day!

Beautifully Broken

So I’ve been sitting here for a few hours writing my next book about having to go to a mental hospital a few years ago and all my experiences there and that led up to it.  It has been a tumultuous night with all the emotions that go along with self reflection but I feel so happy to be where I’m at.

I’ve known that I’m bipolar for about four years now.  They haven’t been the easiest years but God has definitely been watching out for me.  One of my biggest blessings is the people I have in my life.  That goes for family, friends, and coworkers.  It seems like every person in my life serves a purpose in my fight to survive the ups and downs of being bipolar.

The main thing I remember from the time that led up to my ‘incarceration’ was how awful I was to loved ones and strangers alike.  I spent my daily life trying to live up to what I was pretending to be on Facebook and Instagram.  I could never be a celebrity because having 500 Facebook friends went straight to my head.

I didn’t realize it but living that lie made me completely miserable.  I also didn’t realize that the stresses of being a teacher, for the year and a half that I did that, was the exact same thing.

Teachers, on the whole, are not allowed to be human.  This is not an attack on my previous employer but a nation wide problem.  They have insurmountable odds that they have to fight everyday and administration nay-saying their every move.  They can’t have personal lives or flaws.

I spent the year and a half that I was a teacher trying to live in a way where no one would think I was bipolar.  To be fair, this ‘rule’ was self imposed but I definitely didn’t feel the freedom to be a three dimensional person in the public school system.

Teaching ended for me, and in retrospect, that was the best thing that could have happened in the given situation.  I returned to working as a nurse and I’m once again allowed to care for people without having to worry about their grade point average in second grade.

It was so unhealthy for me to try and live like a “normal” person.  Being bipolar has its drawbacks but it definitely has upsides as well.  I was unknowingly trying to ignore both and live in the mundane middle and that’s not living.

Now, I’m allowed to be myself.  All of it.  All of my coworkers, friends, and supervisors know that I’m bipolar and it is completely fine.  I take my pills and supplements daily and go about my day.  I have never felt like a more complete and happy person.

To get here, though, I had to stop acting like I was perfect.  I’m beautifully broken and I’ve come to love that about myself.  The first thing I did when I got home from the Looney Bin was get online and blow up the facade that I had been living under on Facebook.

Seriously, the most toxic part of my life back then was who I was trying to be on social media.  If I could give any advice from this it would be to make sure you’re aware of who you are being online and if it is affecting your real life.  And also, respect the H-E-Double L out of teachers.

As always, thanks to everyone in my life that gives me the space to find out who I am daily.  I no longer feel like I have to tape myself up into something to be suitable for society.  I am blessed by each person in my life and want to do my best to return that blessing to each one of them.

Daily Battles

When I was at my lowest, it was a battle to even get out of bed.  That’s a problem about living alone.  There is nothing in this world heavier or more intoxicating than covers when you’re depressed.  The release of rolling back over and ignoring the world a little longer is like a breath of fresh air.

Fortunately, my sleeping habits have improved since I went to the hospital for suicidal thoughts about a month ago.  At that time, I was sleeping about 15 hours a day.  Easily.  I would come home from work at ten at night and go straight to bed.  Then I would sleep until 1:15, in the afternoon, so I had just enough time to get up and put on, hopefully, clean scrubs, and head back to work.  That is not a life.

For better or worse, the increased book sales lately have helped my self esteem.  It has helped give me a little pep in my step and given me a push to get out of bed each morning.  It is so nice waking up in the morning and checking to see that anywhere between 15 to 20 books have sold in the last 24 hours.

It is especially uplifting because Bipolar Express is my life story.  And having so many people reading it, and hopefully learning from my missteps, further changes my perspective of what has been the darkest point in my life to date.  At my lowest, I wanted to help others find peace.

That’s what I found in the mental hospital in 2014.  I was given a mental picture of my happy place and it becomes clearer and clearer with each day.  Rocking back and forth on the water under an orange sky.  At the time, I could almost feel the water splashing up and touching my face but I was insanely doped up at the time on Ativan.

What’s funny though, it seems even more real now sitting here writing.  I’ve decided to make a sizable part of my life and energy into realizing this happy place and bringing it into my daily life.  One of my best friends, Zach Gill, is an avid kayaker.  That’s probably not the right term but oh well.  He invited me to go with him sometime in the future and I realized that it was a great opportunity to experience my happy place in a real way.

One thing that I think is interesting about my happy place is that I’m there alone.  It may sound weird, but I find that comforting.  I’m a 34 year old man who hasn’t had a relationship last longer than a Tootsie Pop and loneliness plagues me.  I think the most comforting thing about being alone in my happy place, is the peace I felt inside being there.  I felt like I was one with everything.  I felt anything but alone.

Since Bipolar Express..

Hey guys! My first book that I ever wrote, Bipolar Express, is starting to really take off on Audible and Amazon and I just wanted to have this blog to hopefully catch some of the people who are reading it so I can get some feedback.  BP Express is basically my life story from 1983 to 2014 when I was hospitalized for major anxiety and where I began to realize that I was bipolar.

Like I’m assuming a lot of people, I started to really question in a real way my mental health the day that Robin Williams took his own life.  I always knew that my subconscious basically ran like Robin Williams did on a late night talk show.  It was non stop one liners and jokes which were usually funny and kept me up.

Unfortunately, in the summer of 2014, that all took a dark turn and my mind started focusing on all the bad things in my life.  Friends from work could tell a drastic difference and I, of course, didn’t listen.  I ran away from my life and a girlfriend that was leaving anyway and ended up on my brother’s couch in Columbia, South Carolina.

I got worse there and it forced me to Carrollton Springs in the Dallas, Texas area.  From there, I got help and started to try and make sense of my diagnosis as Bipolar One.  As I began to digest the last year or so I began to write a blog, much like this one, and it morphed into what Bipolar Express became.

Since then I’ve written four other fictional books of varying length and quality but I’m in the process of heading back into nonfiction and delving into my present battle with depression.  Almost three weeks ago, I found myself in the hospital with suicidal thoughts and feeling right back where I was four years ago.

If anyone finds this that has read Bipolar Express or any of my other books, please contact me on Facebook at Gabriel Cougar Burt.  I would love to hear what my story has meant to you and would also love to hear your story as well!

If my life can mean one thing, I would like to lead the way in bringing mental health issues out of the darkness and into the light because problems seem so much smaller when you bring them into the light of day.  Even just recently with my suicidal thoughts, they went away as soon as I acknowledged that I was having a problem and faced them instead of letting them fester in the back of my head.

The new book is a very slow process but I’ll be glad to get it out there.  Thanks for all the support from my friends and family.  Couldn’t make it without yall!