Bipolar Disorder Described in a Word: Addicting

For me, bipolar disorder is addicting as hell!  I’m not just talking about alcohol, drugs, gambling, buying 50 pairs of shoes (a week) or whatever other destructive habits you can think of; I’m talking about becoming addicted to virtually anything I’ve ever cared to do in my life.  I don’t know how to half-ass anything.  I either whole-ass it, or zero-ass it; no partial-assing for me!

I’ve also been told this once or twice, but I’ll save the assholiness for another post.

Really, this is just an extension of another post I wrote about bipolar disorder being engrossing, but it’s definitely worth expanding on.  Also, I’m currently addicted to Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, and if I stop writing this article I’m literally going to eat my face off (OK, figuratively eat my face off; whatever, I know).

Why is Bipolar Disorder addicting?

Imagine you’re white water rafting.  Everything around you is tumultuous, and you’re doing everything you can just to get down the river, and stay in the boat.  Maybe that’s holding on as tight as you can.  Maybe it’s paddling like hell.  Or maybe it’s something else entirely because I don’t know the first thing about white water rafting and this is just the first metaphor that popped into my head.

This is sort of what mania feels like.  You’re on this precarious little boat and your thoughts are racing around you like a raging river.  So you work like hell to stay in the boat.  Often this involves throwing yourself into something completely to keep your mind busy;  maybe you’re brewing beer, writing a blog, buying 5,000 pairs of shoes, or my personal favorite, becoming an (almost) YouTube star.  Whatever it is, you become addicted to it – at least for a time.

Conversely, maybe you’re depressed, and life is starting to feel a little overwhelming.  So you check out for a while – you start drinking, smoke some weed, eat 4 lbs of Reese’s peanut butter cups; really, just pick your poison!

They sell these fucking everywhere.  I shipped a package the other day and the UPS store had them.  So of course I bought one, goddammit!

I guess chocolate-peanut buttery goodness isn’t as bad as the war I’ve been waging on my liver for the past 10 years with booze, but still, it’s a little destructive.  I was hoping the first time I was on TV wouldn’t be on My 600lb Life.  My minimum goal is making the news getting perp-walked for something cool; like stealing a truck filled with Reese’s Cups.

It Ain’t All Bad

Addiction definitely has a negative connotation.  It should, since usually when you’re talking about addiction you’re talking about it in the medical sense – as in “Matt drinks so much he jumped into the resevoir, then came home and ate an extra large chicken bacon ranch pizza; he did that 3 separate times last week.  I think that meets section 12 of the DSM critera for Alcohol Use Disorder – do you do stupid shit at least once weekly?”.

But really, it can be a good thing if you channel it into something productive.

Here are some examples of the good and the bad in my own life:

The good: Got addicted to exercise and dieting and lost 40lbs (which is good since I was about 40lbs overweight).

The bad: Gained 40 lbs in two months after becoming addicted to Reese’s Cups.

The good: Created a successful YouTube channel after becoming addicted to Minecraft and video editing.

The bad: Became addicted to Minecraft and video editing and stopped hanging out with friends.

The good: Became addicted to work, got promoted several times.

The bad: Got addicted to work, got promoted into role that I hate.

The good: Got addicted to brewing beer, and had fun learning about one of my favorite things!

The bad: Got addicted to brewing beer, a habit which complimented my alcoholism nicely, and temporarily turned me into the most vanilla version of Walter White you’ve ever seen (I even have a chemistry degree).

The good: Got addicted to writing, and created a blog.

The bad: Got addicted to writing, and inflicted several made up ass-related words like “assholiness” and “partial-assing” to the general public.

Bonus Bad: Got addicted to diet Mountain Dew in an ill-advised attempt at a beer replacement and now my pee glows in the dark.

Weeeeeeeeee!

There’s many more examples, but it’s been 10 minutes since I last shoved Reese’s cups and Mountain Dew into my face so I’m going to have to wrap this post up.

Check out my other posts from my Bipolar Disorder Described in a Word series:

Like and follow me for more!  It really helps!

I Once Was (Almost) A YouTube Star

Bipolar disorder giveth, and bipolar disorder taketh away.  Case in point:

Fueled by mania, I almost became a YouTube star – then depression returned and my dream of YouTube stardom died like so many projects before, and so many projects since.

Right after I graduated college I became obsessed with Minecraft like a lot of other people around that time.  I also became interested in video editing because mania makes you interested in totally random crap – so why not?  Then I married the two and voila!  A Minecraft gaming YouTube channel was born!

pn
Good old Pugnation!  And no, this is not a shameless plug for my YouTube channel.  I promise you, there’s no reason to go there unless you really want to hear my faux-excited / nails on a chalkboard announcer voice.

OK, maybe 5,000 subscribers doesn’t make me a YouTube “star” but at the peak of the channel the growth was incredible.  I was gaining subscribers by the dozen every day, and like a snowball rolling down hill, it was picking up momentum at an incredible rate.  I started getting big views like this:

big vids
These actually paid for the computer I’m writing this on.

Stardom was still far away, but it seemed inevitable.  Fantasies of quitting my job ran through my head.  I became obsessed with making the absolute highest quality content possible.  It took hours to shoot a 20 minute episode, and then that was followed by many more hours in the editing room (And by editing room I mean the unused bedroom of our two bedroom basement apartment).

Everything had to be perfect – the footage, the edit, even the video thumbnail.  It seems strange now that I had that much time to do anything, but that was before children.

Just kidding.

I remember this obsession was a source of stress in my still new-ish relationship with my then girlfriend and now wife.  She always supported my little (or big) projects and still does; but this one was truly consuming.  This was years before my bipolar diagnosis so I didn’t fully understand all the reasons for the obsession myself; but really, it makes sense.  Bipolar mania hooked me at the beginning, and it slowly became an addiction.

At first, you’re sustained by your interest in the topic alone.  You spend hours working on a video, you release it, and nobody watches it (just like writing a blog!).  Then you do it again, and again, and again.  Eventually you get a trickle of views and some comments, and you’re thrilled!  It feels amazing seeing people interact with your work; it’s a high!  As you build an audience the positive feelings grow and grow.  And just like that, you’re addicted.

“Hit like, comment, and subscribe!  I need your views to validate my self-worth because I have crippling self-esteem issues that fuel an incredibly destructive alcohol habit that’s threatening everything I hold dear…”

But like alcoholism, it requires more and more work to keep getting the same high.  The pressure to release more videos grew and grew.  Eventually it’s all I wanted to do, and anything that interrupted my video making was extremely frustrating.

Ultimately, the channel collapsed.  The stress of continuing to release high quality content as quickly as possible began chipping away at it.  The strain it put on my personal life began to take a toll as well.  Eventually the depression returned and finished it off; one day I simply lost interest and stopped making videos.  The channel has since faded into obscurity, but still exists as a living monument to my bipolar disorder.

This all seems pretty negative, but there are some lingering positives that came from the whole attempt at YouTube stardom.  I already mentioned that it paid for my computer, but I also gained a ton of knowledge about video editing, image editing, and internet advertising; not too shabby!

Additionally, I gained some other valuable insights:

  1. You’ve got 5 seconds to hook people: YouTube lets you see exactly when people stop watching your video, and it’s very frequently in the first 5 seconds.  That’s how long you have to convince people to watch your stuff.  I can’t tell when you stop reading these articles, but I imagine the same principle applies to this blog.
  2. If you’re not passionate about your topic, nobody will watch: My voice might be annoying-as-hell in those videos, but at least it’s enthusiastic.  People hate it when you sound bored in videos.  They’ll be bored too.  Again, the same thing applies to writing.

In closing, I wanted to point out that Loudest Minds actually does have a YouTube channel.  Granted, it’s not exactly something I recommend you visit since there isn’t a single video there yet.

But hey, I can fix that!  Why don’t I just apply what I learned while making Minecraft videos and make a Loudest Minds video?  As I recall, the recipe for a successful YouTube video looks something like this:

  1. Get people’s attention FAST: Blow something up in the first 5 seconds.  Whatever you have to do to wake people up.
  2. Be enthusiastic: Drink 5 cups of black coffee.  Channel your favorite annoying sports announcer.  Hit record and let whatever happens happen.
  3. Give people a reason to watch: People have approximately 400,000 TV channels, 3 quadrillion webpages, instant access to free porn, 2 trillion apps, and Words With Friends all at their fingertips.  They have a lot of other stuff they could be doing other than watching your video.  Remember this and work tirelessly to give them a reason to watch. 
  4. Keep it short: Ever load a video and see that it’s 20 minutes long and think, No. effing. Way?  Me too.  Remember, brevity is the soul of wit.  Keep it as short as possible.  I made a successful tutorial series that promised you’d learn the concept in “3 minutes or less.”  People loved it.
  5. Cut Mercilessly: Record 3 hours and keep 10 minutes.  95% of what you recorded sucks.
  6. Include shameless self-promotion: Hit like, comment, and subscribe for more!  I need your views to validate my self-worth because I have crippling self-esteem issues that fuel an incredibly destructive alcohol habit that’s threatening everything I hold dear…

So with all that in mind, here’s the very first, very awesome video from Loudest Minds!

Hit like, comment and subscribe for more!  See you again soon.  (Side experiment: If you made it this far in the article, leave a comment that says “Rosebud” and confuse the 95% of people who stopped reading in the first 5 seconds).

You’re Sick of Sonnets – A Sonnet

I think you must be sick of all these poems.

Why can’t this dude find something else to write?

I’m not that good, I can’t even rhyme “poems.”

I promise I’ll write something else tonight.

But what if I just want to loaf instead?

My Cities: Skylines won’t just play itself.

And it’s exhausting putting kids to bed.

I think tonight will just be for myself.

But I’ll be back tomorrow that’s for sure.

With tales of alcohol to write about.

Or maybe mental health will strike a nerve.

I don’t yet know, but I’ll figure it out.

When you subscribed this isn’t what you wanted.

Oh shit!  I didn’t even mean to write this sonnet!

 

 

Can’t Sleep? Science Has 4 Completely-Not-Made-Up Remedies For You!

Can’t sleep?  Mind running wild, holding your body hostage while you lay awake in your misery bed?  Don’t worry, Dr. Scientist Man has some advice to help you get that much needed rest; advice he has shared with me, your humble slob, lunatic, author.  Read on for more!

Dr. Scientist Man let me know this advice is perfectly applicable to you “normal” people, not just the certifiably insane those of us with especially beautiful minds.

adult-care-cure-433635
Trust me, I’m a doctor.  Kind of.

So without further ado (adoo?… uh-do?… you-do?… we-do?), here’s an exclusive sneak peak at this definitely-not-bullshit-written-at-3am-because-I-can’t-sleep research study!

(Full paper to be featured in North Korea Journal of Medicine pending peer review by expert team of 13-year-old internet trolls).

#1 Get Hammered

Yes, the classic.  Did you know science says alcohol is a central nervous system depressant?  What that means is that this shit will make you tired.  And it definitely won’t make you dance like an asshole at that party.  Or tell your great-aunt what you really think of her.  Also, Scientist Man let me know that drinking alcohol has absolutely no negative long term effects – a fact I can personally vouch for!  Did I hear miracle drug?

“Vodka’s the most efficient alcohol known to man.” – Professional alcoholic, insane person, author.

As a bonus, you can use the whole “depressant” line on that recently divorced woman at the bar who’s drowning the emotional scars inflicted on her by her douche-bag ex-husband and get punched in the face impress her with your intelligence.  Then tell her (this part is important), “Now you know.  And knowing is half the battle…”

GI JOEEEEEE!  Works like a charm.

(Dr. Scientist Man has informed me that he will be including GI Joe in his published research findings).

#2 Do Activities! 

Maybe you can’t sleep because you have too much pent up energy?  So why not burn some of that off!

Dr. Scientist Man has informed me that calories are just a unit of energy, and when you perform exercise that burns calories, you’re in fact burning energy!  Fascinating!

So extricate yourself from that human-sized burrito of sheets you’re currently entangled in and do some activities!  Yeah, it may be 2 am, but your neighbors won’t mind if you shoot some baskets for about an hour.  Then when you’re nice and sweaty, take off that comforter (you won’t need it now!), wipe up that sweat (liquid energy leaving the body – science!), throw it on the floor (someone will get that), fix that fitted sheet (one more corner and… god dammit!), and go to sleep!

Dr. Scientist Man BONUS TIP!

Combine tips #1 and #2 – do activities while hammered!

Dr. Scientist Man TOP SECRET EXCLUSIVE BONUS TIP!

Alcohol has calories, so you’ll need to limit that.  Remember science!  Calories = energy.  Vodka’s the most efficient alcohol known to man.  Cheap, low calorie, gets you drunk.  Did someone say miracle drug?

The worse the medicine tastes, the better it works – Science.

#3 Think About Something Boring

OK, you’re out of booze, and your basketball mysteriously went missing… is all lost?

Well, no, obviously.  Otherwise I wouldn’t have asked that question in a super-helpful-evidence-based advice article.  What do you think I am, a hack-fraud writer spewing falsehoods to boost his readership?

Dr. Scientist Man suggests that you focus your thoughts on something boring.  This will have a numbing effect on your mind, and eventually you will fall unconscious.

Not sure where to start?  Dr. Scientist man recommends focusing on work:

“For patients struggling to fall asleep who do not have access to booze or basketballs, I recommend focusing on the most boring thing you can to numb your brain into submission.  Statistically speaking, 99.999% of the general population finds their jobs to be the most unfulfilling, boring aspect of their lives.  For those new to this technique, thinking about their job is a safe go-to!”

Science has also demonstrated that statistically speaking, 95.7% of the time you’re actually at work, you’re thinking about anything but work (ironically, you’re probably thinking about sleeping).  By focusing on your job while laying in bed, you’ll also begin to see benefits at the work place!

3 am is also an ideal time to realize that, shit, no, I didn’t send that email I was supposed to.  And… actually, wait, I don’t think I told Susan about the electrical problem maintenance found with the copier… I think Tim mentioned something about “electrical burns.”  

This time of reflection helps you identify the things you needed need to do!  Scientist Man warns that potential side-effects include night-sweats (See tip 2 for instructions on dealing with night-sweat), increased heart-rate, an-elephant-is-standing-on-my-chest sensation, and an impending sense of doom.

#4 – Read a Blog Post

Dr. Scientist Man conducted an experiment wherein a representative group of 30 individuals selected from the comment section of the Info Wars Facebook page was given a simple task; the participants were given a laptop without internet access, and 5, 1000-word blog posts to read.  The blog posts were scientifically determined to be representative of the internet as a whole.  They were as follows:

  1. The 5 Things Your Cat Doesn’t Want You to Know.
  2. The 5 Things Your Cat Does Want You to Know.
  3. Donald Trump Did Something Reprehensible Today.
  4. The 49 Ways You Are Silently Destroying Your Children.
  5. You Are scuh an iodit and I htae evyerhintg aoubt you!!!1!

The participants were also denied access to their phones, or other electronic devices.

Out of 30 participants, 25 fell asleep within approximately 10 minutes of the start of the experiment.  The remaining 5 had to be removed from the experiment due to a physical altercation arising from an argument over former president Barrack Obama’s nation of birth.

While Dr. Scientist Man did not offer any definitive statements around the cause of the massive loss of consciousness observed, he did offer a tentative hypothesis:

“Well, to be honest, I think what we showed them was just mindless drivel.  The human mind, which is capable of going to great lengths to protect itself, simply shut down consciousness.  Further experimentation is required to validate my hypothesis.”

This sentence began exactly at the 1000th word of this blog post (a coincidence that caused the author to chuckle hysterically in an endless it’s-3am-and-my-brain-won’t-work-anymore stupor).  Statistically speaking, if you are still reading this, you are one of 17% of people whose minds are resistant to the numbing effects of meaningless internet drivel.  The rest of you are already asleep, having accomplished the mission of this article.

(The validity of this study has been called into question by some.  The 30 members of the control group, who were also selected from the comment section of the Info Wars Facebook page were disqualified from the experiment; members of law enforcement were called to the university after violence erupted when members learned Facebook had shut down the Info Wars page and banned Alex Jones from the social-media service).

If you’re still awake, and you’re still reading, then unfortunately science has nothing for you.  At this point you should just stay awake – and maybe warn Susan about that copier thing.

Dr. Scientist Man and I encourage you to click that Subscribe button over there to the left and follow LoudestMinds.com for more!  Or don’t.  It’s 3 am and I’m incapable of encouraging anybody to do anything right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Things Your Loved One With Mental Illness Wants You To Know

You just learned that your friend, spouse, boyfriend, or whoever, is suffering from a mental illness like depression or bipolar disorder.  Now what?

Maybe you don’t know how to talk to them – so you don’t.  Or you do… but it’s really awkward.  You have no idea how to address it; do you address it?  Will you hurt their feelings if you do?   Will you hurt their feelings if you don’t?

This article hopes to give you some advice on how to proceed by sharing with you the things I, as a person with a mental illness, would like my friends and loved ones to know.  If you’re suffering from mental illness and you like what I have to say here, share this.

Now please note, I am not a mental health professional.  I am a person who suffers from Bipolar II Disorder.  My insight comes from someone experiencing an illness, and my own personal interactions with that illness.  Everybody is different.  Every illness is different.  In short, your mileage may vary depending on the individual person and the circumstances of their individual illness.  Use judgement.

With that caveat aside, here are 5 things I want people to know about me after learning I have a mental illness:

#1 – I Have Boundaries

Believe it or not, not everybody is cool with talking about themselves.  Some people have a really hard time with it actually.

Mental illness is still very taboo.  Mental health stigma is a very real thing.  Many people are not comfortable admitting they even have a mental illness.  Hell, most people probably aren’t comfortable admitting it.

Please respect the fact that people may not want to talk about it.  Take me for instance; I don’t really want to talk about it right now – at least not in person.  I’ve spent a long time building a pretty serious wall to talking about my problems and it’s going to take some time to dismantle.  So if you try to surprise me with a heart to heart about my mental illness… well… it feels sort of like this:

Nope.

I’m just going to run as fast as I possibly can away from you.  And then I won’t want to talk to you at all.  Because I’m afraid you’re going to eat me.  See?  That hasn’t really accomplished anything, has it?

Now some people will want to talk about it.  And that’s great!  People should feel like they can talk about mental illness.  If I just told you that I was diagnosed with depression, then I’ve sort of opened the door to talk about it.  But if you just heard that I have depression, and you bring that up, I’m going to feel attacked, and I’m going to put my shields up.

Now you don’t necessarily want to totally ignore it either.  This might lead someone to believe you don’t care.  So what do you do then?

Try this:

“Hi so-and-so.  I love you, and I want you to know I’m here for you if you ever want to talk about things.”  Boom!  That was great.  You obviously care, but you also respect boundaries.  Good for you!

Now there is one very important caveat to all of this.  If you think someone is about to hurt themselves or others, or is otherwise in crisis – then you should talk to that person, or hell, call the police if you think something bad is going to happen imminently.  But it has to be pretty extreme.

And lastly, for God’s sake, whatever you do, don’t go telling a bunch of people you heard so-and-so has a mental illness behind their back.  Whatever your intention is, it’s likely to be perceived by the person actually suffering as malicious and cruel, and you’re probably going to jeopardize the very existence of a relationship with that person.  This can be very traumatizing for the person suffering from mental illness, and can be detrimental to their treatment and recovery.

#2 – I’m Still Me

Ask me to describe myself and “Bipolar” does not make the top 10 list of adjectives.  I am not my mental illness.

This one is a little tricky, since you’ll often hear someone say I am depressed, or I am bipolar.  The language usage suggests that that person is that mental illness.  But really, they’re not.

And really, this is laughable on the face of it.  Think about it:

Someone has cancer.  Are they cancer?

You have the flu.  Are you the flu?

You have a rash.  Are you a rash?

No.  That all sounds ridiculous.  So yes, you’ll see me write things like I am bipolar but really, that’s just lazy English.

The point is, I’m still the same me I was before you knew I had a mental illness.  You just know a little bit more about me now.  But don’t worry, I’m still here!

Confused?  Don’t over think it.  Just look at this definitely-not-altered GIF, smile, and move on.

Feel better?

#3 – I’m Still Capable

A big reason why the mental health stigma is so real is that people fear that they’ll be perceived as less competent if it’s known they have a mental illness.  But if you’ve known someone to be competent and capable of sound decision making, then the knowledge that they have a mental illness shouldn’t change that.

I have bipolar 2 disorder.  I make decisions every day.  I have a family that I care for.  I take myself to work every day; in other words, I am completely capable of taking care of myself and living a normal life.

Do you want to know the biggest reason I don’t share my mental illness with people in my personal life?  I’m afraid I’ll lose my job – and if I don’t lose my job I’m afraid I’ll never be considered for another promotion again.  I’m afraid some jerk will think I have a defect that compromises my ability to make sound decisions.  This isn’t true, but I know a lot of people think that way.

Now I am not trying to trivialize mental illness in any way.  Many people do struggle with very real mental health issues that diminish their functionality in different ways, and these people do require help.

But if you’ve known so-and-so forever, they’ve always been highly capable, and they confide in you that they have major depressive disorder, I hope your opinion of that person does not diminish.  They’re still as intelligent as they were before.  Actually, there’s some evidence to suggest intelligent people are more at risk for mental illness.

My opinion of you wouldn’t be diminished if I learned you have cancer.  I’d want to help you in any way I could, and I hope that’s your reaction upon hearing a friend or loved one is suffering from a mental illness.

#4 – Help Helps

You may have just learned that someone you love has a mental illness.  You may be filled with an overwhelming desire to help, and that’s good!  But what do you do?  Do you smother them with kindness?  Or do you stay aloof and distant?  You’re just doing what the nice guy on the internet told you to, and respecting boundaries.

How about you listen to them, and ask what you can do to help?  If the answer is nothing, then do nothing.  If the answer is listen to them complain about their day, then do that.  If the answer is get a supersized order of fries from McDonald’s then…

The ketchup is dispensed from a fire hose.

Now sometimes you shouldn’t just wait around and wait for someone to ask for help.  Unfortunately, people who are suffering with depression often can’t see what will help them… even if it’s really obvious.  And sometimes someone will say they don’t need anything when really it’s obvious that they do.  This requires some judgement on your part, and has to be supported by your knowledge of, and relationship with that particular person.

So if there’s something really obvious that would help, like stepping on the gas when you’re being chased by a gigantic dinosaur, then go ahead and do that thing:

You don’t have to wait for an invite to hit the gas.

Just remember that a little bit of kindness can go a really long way with someone suffering from depression or bipolar disorder.

#5 – I Want You To Take Care of Yourself

So I’ve been talking about all the things you can do to help that person in your life who is suffering from a mental illness, but please don’t forget to take care of yourself too.

The person suffering wants you to be well too.  They don’t want to see you suffer, or even develop a mental illness of your own due to the stress of care giving.

Make time for yourself as well.  Make sure you set your own boundaries.  Don’t forget to help yourself too.  Don’t be a hero.

You’re no use to anybody if you get eaten.

So that’s all for now.  That should be enough to get you started at least.  There’s a lot more than just that which I’ll share in later articles, but my mania-brain has lost interest in writing, and suddenly I have an uncontrollable urge to watch Jurassic Park.

Follow for more!

Parenting and Mania: 5 Tips to Keep Your Head On Straight

Parenting is hard enough as it is, but parenting with bipolar disorder introduces its own set of unique challenges.

We all know little kids are certifiably insane energetic.  They’re excited all the time!  And why not?  Everything is new to them, everything’s an opportunity to learn!  We have so much to do, and we have to do it right now!  

Childhood really is kind of like mania… but unlike you and me, kids don’t really have the ability to completely destroy their lives.  Ah, the good old days!

I mean, I guess your kid could do this too.

But look, when you yourself are going through a manic episode, it’s hard enough to concentrate on 1 of 1000 things running through your head.  Add in some little kids running around, screaming, demanding your attention, and well… it’s enough to make you lose it.

But since losing it is generally undesirable, expensive, and you know… potentially marriage ending, it behooves us to keep it together.

So here’s 5 things I try whenever I feel a hard-core, mania-fueled, child-ignited, explosion of a freak-out session coming on.  And by the way, these 5 tips apply just as equally to those who aren’t suffering from bipolar depression.

 

#1. Drink.

 

 

#2. Get in the Car and Just Start Driving for a While.

 

 

#3. Freak-out just a little.  You know, scream into a pillow and then sob quietly in the closet.

 

 

#4. Maybe gamble a little… like a few hundred bucks… to start…

 

 

#5. Start that brewery!

 

#6: Buy a motorcycle.  #7: Grow a beard.  #8: Get in a high speed police chase and run from the cops?

 

OK, don’t do any of those things.  Seriously, try this instead:

#1. Keep a Schedule.

It’s easier to get through the day if you know it’s going to end.  If the kids go to bed at 8 or 9, then there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.  Set a time, then divide and conquer.

Here’s what I mean: say your kids are driving you to drink enjoying the innocence of childhood, and it’s… stressful.  Don’t think this is endless.  Think, I just need to get through the next 30 minutes.  Then another 30 minutes.  Then 1 more hour and it’s bedtime and I can get some sanity time to myself.

#2. Set Me Time.

So I said put the kids to bed at a decent time.  How about after that you stay up for an hour or two?  Make sure you have some you time.  Chances are your mind’s racing, and there’s a bunch of stuff you need to get out.  Well that’s no good if you don’t have any time dedicated to you.

I’m not saying sleep isn’t important, of course it is.  I’m just saying, get that me time (Also known by my family as “F-You Time”… as in, “F-you, I’m doing what I want to do”).

I know this one seems obvious but it can be really hard.  I’m too busy I can almost hear you saying; or I don’t have the time.  But chances are you just aren’t making the time.  Or maybe you feel guilty making the time?  I have to catch up on whatever chore, or maybe I have to spend every waking second with my significant other. 

Again, not saying you shouldn’t spend time with your significant other… and maybe that’s exactly how you want to spend your free time, and if so that’s great.  But you shouldn’t feel guilty carving an hour or two out of the day for just yourself to do what you want to do.

Besides, you want the time you spend with your partner to be quality time… and it’s not going to be quality time if your manic hyper-brain is making you trace patterns on the brick wall, or if you’re counting bumps in the ceiling, or if you just noticed the floor board joints make a pattern if you look at them from the right angle; or if you’re trying to write a blog post… oh wait.  Hold on honey, yeah, yeah I know, I just need a couple hours to finish this post.  Also, I’m taking the van this weekend, I’m going to Jimmy’s place on the lake… no, no, it’s just a dude thing, you can’t come.  Oh come on, don’t be like that, you’re so unreasonable.

#3. Get a Sitter.

It takes a village.

Ever hear that?  Well it does.

Don’t try to raise these kids by yourself.  You’ll die trying.  My wife and I were too proud to ask for help for the first 6 months of the life of our first daughter.  You know what happened?

Get some help.  Hire a sitter.  Call in a favor with that friend.  Get the grandparents involved.  They’ll love seeing your kids.  And then when things get hard for them?  They can leave!  And by the time you get back you’ll be ready to go again!  2 hours out on the town is like 2 months in parent-years.

#4. Get your kids into something interesting.

I’m not saying take your son whose clearly more into dancing than football and have him try out for the squad.  Don’t force your kids do do something they don’t wan’t to do, or be something they don’t want to be.  Don’t impose the same paternal inferiority complex on your kid that your father imposed on you.  Break the chain!

It looks cute to us – but that kid is devastated.  He’ll remember that forever.  This is how super-villains are made.

Get your kids into something they enjoy, and something you enjoy.  Get them, and by extension you, off the couch.  Make the time you’re going to spend with them no matter what fulfilling and interesting and you’ll both benefit.  You’ll get some of that manic energy out along the way.

But I’m a dude, you say, and I have daughters.  I don’t want to get into dance.  Well whatever dude, your loss.  Get over that toxic masculinity and start living the best life you can.

Get creative.  Go out of your comfort zone.  Don’t you want your kids to do those things?  Well set the example.  And make yourself better, and scratch that manic-itch to learn something new.

#5. When it gets hairy – take a minute.  Or ten.

You’ve been pushed to your breaking point.  Your kid is inconsolable.  You feel stressed.  You feel helpless.  And then you feel angry.  I do everything for you, you have everything you need, why are you still crying?!

What happens next isn’t going to be pretty.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is my kid safe?
  2. Are their basic needs satisfied?  i.e., are they clothed, dry, warm, clean, fed?

If the answer to the above is yes, and you feel yourself crossing that threshold into anger, then walk away.  Put the baby in the crib, make sure the toddler can’t get into anything, and walk out of the room.  I’m not saying leave the house.  I mean, you have to stay in the house, pretty sure it’s a crime if you leave (definitely is).

But you can walk out of the room for a minute.  Collect yourself.  Don’t feel bad, it’s OK!  Really!  Sometimes you have to chill.  We all do.  That’s completely understandable.  You might have to do this everyday!  You’re still a good parent, this is really hard man!  Your kids will forgive you… hell, they probably won’t even notice.  You need to forgive yourself.

What’s not good is freaking out in front of the kids, hurting them, or hurting yourself.  Or punching the drywall.  Or kicking the dog.

So that’s it friends!  What helps you?  Let me know below!  Follow me for more!

 

 

 

A Definitely-Not-Made-Up Study: Responses to Common Questions From People Suffering From Bipolar Disorder

A definitely-scientific study was conducted while heavily intoxicated using definitely-not-made-up techniques to determine the most common responses of the manic, bi-polar author bipolar individuals to common questions and situations.

The following results were compiled using definitely-not-bullshit scientific analysis of a single bipolar person’s a statistically significant sub-section of the population suffering from Bipolar Disorder.

The results detail responses to common questions as a function of mood.

How are you?

Mood Answer
Very Depressed Good.
Depressed Good.
Neutral Good.
Manic Good, how are you?
Fucking Nuts WOOOOO!!!! What a day to be alive!

Would you like fries with that?

Mood Answer
Very Depressed I want all the fries you have.
Depressed Yes.
Neutral No.
Manic No.
Fucking Nuts I want all the fries you have!

How was work today?

Mood Answer
Very Depressed Fine.
Depressed Fine.
Neutral Fine.
Manic Fine.
Fucking Nuts I QUIT LIKE 3 DAYS AGO, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

What are you doing this weekend?

Mood Answer
Very Depressed I’m busy doing stuff… and things… way too busy to make plans…
Depressed Nothing.
Neutral Not much, what’re you doing?
Manic Nothing, wanna hang out?
Fucking Nuts I’m starting a micro-brewery!  What?  No I don’t know the first thing about brewing, but I’m an alcoholic so what else do I need to know?

Do you have a minute to talk about your cable provider?

Mood Answer
Very Depressed No.
Depressed No.
Neutral No.
Manic No.
Fucking Nuts No.

The author of this completely-real-and-not-made-up study is currently unavailable for comment.  He’ll definitely have your money by Friday – or next Monday at the latest!  Once this brewery takes off we’ll all be rich!  Stop calling me, Rocco!

Shameful Moments in Parenting #1

So I’m a wonderful father who is completely infallible.

End of post.

.

..

….

Oh, you’re still here aren’t you?

Alright, let’s talk about some stuff.

So, parenting can really suck.  Sometimes frequently.  Often frequently.  OK… lately it seems more like usually.  I mean, I love my kids more than anything, and I’d do anything for them of course, but let’s be real for one minute… sometimes I just want to get in the car and start driving until I run out of gas.

Would I ever do that?  No, of course not.  But the thought gives me solace in times of trouble.

A time of trouble.

So I think I’m a pretty good dad but… well… sometimes not so much.  So here we go:

My job is very stressful (said everybody).  But really, it is… more on that some other time.

But anyways, everyday I get out of work, and every day I get stuck in traffic for an hour.  Every.  Damn.  Day.  Then I get the kids from the sitter and we go home; then the real fun begins.  When the doors of my dad van open, it’s like the door just dropped on the landing craft, and we’re storming the god damn beaches.

Welcome home.

The dogs have been locked up all day, so as soon as I open the door I know they’re going to go ballistic.  A tiny, angry chihuahua and a pug celebrate my return by digging their tiny little dagger paws into my shin and screaming (barking, I guess) as loud as possible.  Why are they screaming so loud?  I know why I am.

My 3 year old needs juice in her cup, but she already has it, she’s just confused for no reason.  But no, she actually doesn’t want the juice, she wants chocolate milk, but we don’t have chocolate milk.  WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T HAVE CHOCOLATE MILK?!

Then my 3 month old is screaming because she’s still coming to terms with the fact that mommy also works for a living, and daddy doesn’t have lactating breasts – just worthless man boobs; and I’m starting to sweat thinking I’d trade my testicles for a damn boob right about now.  My balls just make problems… boobs solve them!

Image is completely necessary.

Now the dogs are done eating, which means the Chihuahua’s timer has started – if he is not outside in 15 seconds he is going to shit everywhere.  Then he’s going to eat it.  Then he’s going to lick my face later… and my daughters’.

So then I open the door a crack to get the leashes, but there’s geese in our back yard, and the Chihuahua said FUCK THOSE GEESE! and shoots out the backdoor like a bat out of hell.  The pug gives me a quick, sorrowful look as if to say I know, he’s an idiot; I nod in agreement, but then he walks outside, stops short of the grass, turns around, stares me straight in the eyeball, and takes a dump on the patio.

Meanwhile, tiny humans are screaming.  My 3 month old is still strapped to her portable car seat, and is currently rocking it so violently that she’s skidded the thing about 6 feet into the living room.  My oldest continues to lament the lack of chocolate milk with an anguish befitting a funeral.

“Where’d chocolate milk go?!” – Tiny, insane human.

I contemplate letting the dogs continue to run free but then realize I have absolutely no explanation for their disappearance prepared for my wife.  So I run out as fast as I can and shepherd them back into the house.

Remember, I’ve been in the car for an hour before this, and it’s hotter than hell right now.  So like a good, healthy person, I’ve been hydrating all day.  This is great and all, but it has the unfortunate side effect that my bladder is so full right now that my back teeth are floating.

Apparently my 3-year-old’s is too, or at least it was, since she’s currently standing in a puddle of definitely not chocolate milk.  But don’t worry, she’s using the absorbent properties of her stuffed sheep to soak it up.

After mister pee-sheep gets thrown into the wash, I get my daughter and the puddle cleaned up, and I make her a sandwich.  Perhaps 5 minutes have passed since we pulled into the driveway.

Now it’s finally time to tend to the baby.  I get her out of the car seat and she continues to freak out.  I look in the fridge for a bottle but only find a bag of still frozen breast milk.  With one arm holding baby, I clumsily fish around at the back of the bottom cabinet looking for a pan to heat some water.  I know you’re not supposed to boil frozen milk this way but the screams of the tiny baby human in my arms are telling me that doesn’t matter right now.

I put the baby down in her pack and play while the milk is warming up.  My older daughter realizes that there’s a chance that peace might return to my life.  WELL WE CAN’T HAVE THAT!

There is no peace.

“Daddy, can you put on the show?”

The show… I hate the show.  The show is one of those awful things you find on Netflix or YouTube with the computer animated kids and animals that sing the same 10 songs on repeat until finally they become the soundtrack to your nightmares.  I begin to wonder how much gas is in the van…

“DADDY, SHOOOOOOOW! PEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAZZZZZ!”

I begrudgingly turn the show on.  The music seems to placate her for the time being.(Daddy finger, daddy finger, where are you?  At the bar, at the bar, how do you do?  By the way, who wrote that awful song?!)

By now the milk is warming up and I can actually take care of the baby.  I get a brief respite as the children are eating, and I sit down for the first time in what feels like hours.

“Mommy finger, mommy finger where are you?…” – certified asshole.

But soon my oldest is finished with her dinner, and I’m surprised that it’s already almost 8pm – I hadn’t realized how late I’d stayed at work that evening.  So it’s time for bath and bed for my oldest.

So we all head upstairs, and I put the baby down in her crib.  Bath time proceeds as normal with my oldest one playing with her bath toys in peace and my baby actually taking a break from screaming.  But after a few minutes the baby starts screaming again so I try to coax my oldest out of the bath.

At first I try to do the nice thing, ask her if she’s ready, try to ease her out of it.  But it’s clear she has no intention of getting out of the bath, so I’ll have to make her.  I start washing her and she loses it.  She knows that means bath-time is over and she’s not ready.  But baby’s screaming in the other room and I can feel that familiar feeling of “baby is crying, I need to do something” panic rise.

My anxiety is finally reaching a breaking point as I have to lift my oldest out of the water with one arm while I wash her bottom half because she refuses to stand up on her own.  The screams from the other room intensify, and the wriggling child in my arms begins kicking wildly.

Then at last my anxiety overcomes me and I break; I spank my daughter – hard.  And not just once, but ten times.  Over and over.

She stops resisting for a moment and is in complete shock.  Then she starts crying in earnest.  I quickly finish washing her, then lift her out of the tub to dry.  She’s inconsolable.  I do the only thing I can think to do to calm her down – I hug her.

She cuddles with me for several minutes while the baby cries in the other room.  At last, she allows me to let her go, and I scoop up the baby from the other room, and I tuck my oldest into bed – but not before she makes me read her her favorite books.  At last she asks me to turn the light off, and I kiss her goodnight.

I’ll admit, this incident freaked me out.  Many parents are fine with spanking their kids; they think it’s good for them… even think it’s necessary.  That’s never been my thinking but I know plenty of people who spank their kids and everybody turns out fine.  What upset me was my loss of control.

I wasn’t spanking her because I decided to, or because it was some life lesson about listening to your parents, and learning discipline.  I did it because I was pissed, plain and simple.  Now maybe she deserved it.  She was out of line after all, and she was the one who caused me to lose my temper.  But she’s 3… what does she really know?

So now am I someone who beats their kids?  A deadbeat dad who comes home from work and loses control?  I don’t know, maybe that’s an overreaction, but it’s something that will probably stick with me for a long time, and definitely qualifies as a Shameful Moment in Parenting.