(Editor’s note: This is Part 2 in a three-part series. Read Part 1 here.)
When I first became afflicted with this condition (I was in my early twenties), there were precious few books on the market about this subject matter. Today, it’s an entirely different story. There are literally hundreds of books available that will tell you how to deal with manic-depression.
Many of them offer various methodologies and exercises that you can use to cope with your condition. I have read an untold number of these books and tried virtually all of the methodologies they offer. I have been on virtually every single medication in existence offered by the medical community to help patients deal with manic-depression.
No matter what the experts tell you, the unfortunate truth is that if you suffer from manic-depression, the likelihood is that you always will.
Sorry, but that’s just the way it goes. If you go to see a doctor and he starts talking about “cures” – I suggest you do an immediate about-face and make for the door as quickly as possible.
All is not lost, however. With the proper medication, coupled with ongoing therapy, you can get better – and getting better is what it’s all about. Once I received the correct medication (and that is no easy task), I found that I was able to function in the world with a relative degree of normalcy.
Was it a major pain? You bet it was.
Fortunately, there are certain “tricks” one can use to fight the illness.
One of my favorite methods is to regard my disorder as humorous. Let me correct that. Not the disorder itself – but the situations that one gets into as a direct result of it. This is not a totally unrealistic thing to do, by the way. There are many things that happen to a person when he is subject to manic-depression that – looked at from a slightly different vantage point – can be wildly, howlingly funny.
Both as a journalist and a writer of fiction, I have successfully turned many of the more unpleasant situations I’ve found myself in as a result of my illness into the subject matter for numerous articles and stories – and now a book.
I seriously doubt, for example, that had I been “normal,” I wouldn’t have driven all night – accompanied by a similarly deranged private investigator – to Las Vegas in an absurd attempt to kidnap a 12-year-old girl from a foster home where she told us that she was being held prisoner. The girl claimed the foster home was, in reality, a front for a white slavery/kiddie porn ring, headed up by none other than Jerry Tarkanian – the head basketball coach of the University of Las Vegas! Tarkanian, as well as the entire UNLV basketball team – according my young source – were also Satanists.
The girl, of course, turned out to be totally delusional, and had I not been of a similar mindset, I would have recognized this immediately.
Just for the record, on that very same trip, I become completely obsessed with a 21-year-old belly dancer working in one of the cheesier lounges in Las Vegas. After she rejected my heartfelt proposal of marriage, I skulked around the city for the next three days (assuming various disguises in the process).
Fortunately, the girl – who had told me that she was studying to become an anthropologist at the University of Las Vegas – turned out to be moonlighting as a hooker. Upon learning this, my fixation on her magically vanished. Not that I minded hookers; it was the deception that broke the spell.
Had I had my wits about me, I most surely wouldn’t have spent six months posing as someone who believed they’d been abducted by aliens so that I could infiltrate a UFO cult in an attempt to prove that its leader – a well-known celebrity – was demon-possessed. Unfortunately, this little misadventure not only resulted in me being the subject of massive libel suit; it also never garnered me one single cent in income (the magazine with which I’d contracted to write the expose killed the story, fearing that it too would be sued).
Finally, I’m absolutely positive that had I been “wired” properly, I would never have married the same woman three times! Surely, such wantonly self-destructive behavior can only be the work of a severely diseased mind.
Are you beginning to get the picture here?
Please understand. I am not suggesting that any of these incidents were amusing. Exactly the opposite. Each of them, in fact, was fairly horrible when I was in the thick of them. It was only with some distance that I was able to recognize the inherent humor in these situations, and, best of all, that these manic adventures made for interesting – even saleable – material.
Once I found that I could, as it were, take advantage of the many absurd situations which my condition led me into, I realized, to my utter delight, that maybe this wasn’t such a bad deal after all. Heck, maybe I could turn my handicap into a career!
At times, however, this notion got a bit out of hand.