Monday, April 18, 2011

Getting a Live One

Enough messing around. Let's get busy.

It was the last day that we were in Samos and I was tired. I had been manic earlier due to lack of sleep and was currently crashing down. I remember wanting to just lay down and sleep, but we couldn't because we had already checked out of our room. In fact, we had already been to the airport and been told that our flight was cancelled, so we returned to the hotel to hang out in the lobby. When that got old we rolled everything down to the pool bar. I remember my wife saying something to the effect of "let's see if we can wake this guy up a little," referring to me and the use of alcohol.

Now, usually, this would have meant a joke, as in ha ha, Michael needs to loosen up and have some fun. But this was also long before I was diagnosed as bipolar. We had no idea what could happen. Indeed, we had no idea what would happen.

Suz and I went down to the pool bar, and I was inside my head, not talking much at all. I was really tired, but there was no sleep to be had. I suppose I could have stretched out on one of the chaise lounges at the pool, but then I wasn't really capable of relaxing enough to sleep. I was tired and anxious-- anxious to get on the plane and get going towards getting back home. I wanted to get home, but I didn't want to leave, either. This was such a paradise, and I'd had some powerful, moving experiences here. I didn't want to leave and go back to the daily routine and work. But I wanted to get out of this purgatory, waiting for the rescheduled flight, too. So there was a tear in my psyche. I had no idea I was to be ripping up entirely by night's end.

While sitting down at the pool bar, every song that came on the canned music overhead seemed to hold a message for me. I can't recall the exact songs-- it's been almost ten years now-- but I remember the magical thinking. Like "A-ha! That's why this is playing," or "That's what those lyrics mean!" I'd be curious to know what my wife remembers from that time. We'll be talking about it again, I'm sure.

Getting back to the "wake him up" comment-- I remember thinking that this was all magical. Somehow, all the times that I'd heard about references to sleep and death and all things related were cued up and ready to augment any theories that I could come up with about what was going on in this altered manic reality. The times I had heard someone refer to themselves sleeping like they were dead-- lead me to magical thinking that I had died and was being brought back to life with potions and rehabilitation. Let's go get Mike a drink and see if we can breathe some life into him.

The death scenarios were enhanced by the happenings of the trip-- Milt's near death experience with the fractured skull, coming back to rejoin us on the trip after a hospital stay. Milt had magically appeared at the airport and assisted our group in getting the details ironed out when the flights got fouled up. In my state of mind, I likened this as a renaissance, a rebirth of Armand's fallen father, resurrected to assist us through this portal in life. As if our plane was to deliver us to the promised land. Or something like that.

So. Back at the hotel pool, I remember feeling as though I was awakening from an illness. And in a way I was, but I had no utility to fathom it at the time. I was in between states of mania, in a depression of sorts, making my way in my manic sleep deprived mind. I remember feeling like I was in a rehabilitation facility of some sort, that I had been detoxing off some drugs or something and was "coming back to life." So out of these thoughts was born the idea that I needed to be sober. This was probably a good idea, but it perplexed the others around me at the time, because we had been drinking buddies for most of the trip, and we were still partying, after all. But I was reacting to deeply thought out patterns from my overactive mind that told me different things about the reality that I shared with these people. This is how psychosis occurs-- warped thinking develops into thoughts that seem factual. It feels common and acceptable, though it is wacky and crazy.

So I think we may have had a beer or two, actually, down at the pool bar. What else would we have done? I don't see myself as ordering a diet soda. We were in Europe, after all, so they wouldn't have had Diet Coke. It would have been Coke Lite or some such manifestation. So we killed some time (again with the death) and eventually made it back to the cabs to make another go of the airport ritual. Little did I know how sick I already was. And it wasn't the beer, either.

The second go of the Samos airport was a little bit smoother. This was when Milt showed up to arrange for us our departure and unwrankled a lot of nerves in our group. At least, that's how I'm remembering it now. Suzy can help me out with the details. I remember when Suzy and I reached the check-in desk, I said something like "I'm a complete nutcase" and Suzy said "And I'm a nervous wreck." Neither of us new how poignant we were being.

Once on the plane, I settled into my own demented thinking. I closed my eyes and imagined that I could control the plane with my mind. This would lead me to thoughts that magically ushered me in as god-like. After we took off, I settled into the rhythm of the engines and closed my eyes. I imagined that I was controlling the plane, and that I made it take a nose dive into the ocean, a half hour or so into our flight. I imagined that I had to do it, as God, to take life away just as I create it-- out of my whim. I knew that this was somehow incorrect, on some level, because I opened my eyes and the plane and all its passengers was still there. But the thought lingered, probably because I was manic, or maybe because I hadn't slept. Whatever reason, my mind was not operating correctly and I gave equal parts reality to those god thoughts as I did my perceptions that flew in contention with them.

One other thing-- when we were getting on the plane in Samos, I remember thinking that I saw a different plane that Armand and Melissa were getting onto. They had different travel plans than Suzy and I did, so this made sense metaphorically. They would be taking a different plane than us. But my imagination ran with the idea, showing me an Armand that was a jet-setter type of person, rich and famous, darting off with his wife to save the world under the watchful eye of his following fans. The idea was that He had already realized fortune and fame to a degree that I could only dream about, and that they had made time to see us but had to get back to their jet-setter lifestyle now. All of this was in my head-- Armand and Melissa were just getting started in their lives back in the US, just as Suzy and I were, really. But the brush with Susie Buffet had accented the fortune telling in my brain (pun intended) and lent justification to the idea that the Hatzidakis' were of a different tax bracket entirely.

Maybe it was a bit of jealousy that lit the fire of these thoughts. Coulda been. Family relationships with billionaires are difficult to come by, I would think. But what they actually mean was being romanticized, dramatized in my head. And the idea that a doctor and a dentist just starting out after school would be rich and famous is laughable in reality. But reality wasn't what I was dealing with, obviously. Obvious, at least, now that I have the perspective. Now that I know that I'm bipolar and what that entails. Now I know a different bunch of things to think when my thinking starts going weird places like that. Now I know a few more ways to check myself and realize better what reality is. And I realize how far gone I was at these points already. I hope to catch myself earlier, now that I know.

Still, it's a struggle. How do you really know? You can't know all the time. So don't try. But you can build in check points, and check people. And you can make it work.

That's the life I'm trying to live now.

1 comment:

Gerri said...

It appears you have made some great progress! Keep fighting, Mike, for you are worth it. I know your struggle is a daily one, but remember, you are not alone. You have many people who love and care for you and are here to help in any way we can.

Love you, Buddy!!!