Joel’s Story: Bipolar Beginnings

Joel’s Story: Bipolar Beginnings

I can’t start from the beginning because I cannot remember when It started. By It I mean my mental problems. When I was young I had bad vision and saw floaters in my peripheral vision. After I hit puberty, I thought I could see little unicellular microbes, but I did not tell anybody. To this day, when I am exhausted, I see them and do not know what they are. I am taking a risk of telling you about my Life because you may not understand. My hope is that a least a few will read this and say: “I can relate. I understand!” For those who do not understand, I apologize for my frankness.

My real problems began in college my senior year. I was co-captain of the swim team and was a leader on campus. I was popular among my friends and I had a girlfriend we’ll call Lisa. Life was good. When the winter hit that year, I took it harder than usual because of the snow, short days and overcast skies. To top it off, I had a sinus infection. When the nurse practitioner treated me with antibiotics I had an allergic reaction and did not compete in my last swim meet, which I took hard. I swam the meet, but fell far short of my personal bests: My first Failure. In addition I was attempting to finish my Senior Thesis on William Carlos Williams. My grades were suffering and threatening to blow my hard earned G.P.A. Life was starting to suck. I had my first taste of Major Depression. Although at the time, I just thought that I now hated Christmas. Lisa and Professors Anderson were the only ones helping me to keep it together. I did not tell my parents how I felt, although they knew something going wrong and tried to help.

Spring semester was even worse because even though the season was changing, I still felt Major Depression. I skated through my incomplete Senior Thesis and could not write the paper I had in my head. I just had an inability to put together a sentence: My second Failure.

Then I graduated with honors, somehow, despite my plunging grades. Fortunately, my last quarter was a cake walk, class wise. Because of my erratic thoughts and behaviors, most of my relationships were on the Rocks. I was no longer popular and even Lisa did not want to be around me for any length of time.

But somehow by July, I started to feel a little better. I had a great job and was taking two classes at the University of Illinois. Life was good again. “I can feel it coming in the air tonight. I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life.”

My first Manic Episode had begun. Where have you been all my life? Less sleep, more libido, more drinking, more fun. This is awesome! I had arrived. “Please don’t stop the Music!”

And so it was while it lasted or three months that is. Then I leveled out without the aid of medicine for the first and last time. Still I had no idea what was going on with my brain chemistry. I was three years away from the correct Diagnosis and six months from my first Diagnosis. “It’s a hard, hard, hard, hard, a hard rain’s gonna fall.”

I started a new job as a case manager at an HIV/AIDS clinic which had a steep learning curve. By Thanksgiving It was back. My work became difficult and I was sleeping ten hours a night: then Lisa broke up with me: The straw that broke the camel’s back. I was Depressed again. “All ever wanted was you and me.”

I finally told a co-worker about my Problems and he told our boss. She showed me the Employee Assistance Program. I saw a psychiatrist who prescribed me Paxil because I was Anxious and Depressed. I did not tell him about my Binge Drinking. After a few weeks I was feeling better about the time Spring rolled around. The Problem came when I started feeling too good. Just a few hours’ sleep, a killer libido, excessive spending no appetite, more binge drinking to try to self-medicate. “Around the World: Give Life back to Music.”

Because of the Paxil, I started a sexual relationship one of my roommates, I’ll call her Alice. I had always liked Alice, but if it weren’t for the SSRI a would never made the move. We were happy in each other’s arms, but the relationship was destined to fail because of my worsening Mania. “If you Love somebody set them Free.”

Fortunately, I lost my health insurance when I gave up my job after a year of service in the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. So I came off Paxil in October. My drinking binges became longer and more frequent. I had started a job as an assistant manager at New York Café and Bagel Co. in Nashville, Tennessee and regularly got stoned with Corporate. I tried cocaine for the first time, but it made me calmer and was a complete waste of money. My pot habit had gone from occasional to chronic which I could now afford because the job paid more than I’ve made before or since. “Feeling Stronger Every day!”

I lived two blocks from Belmont in a ‘transitional’ neighborhood at that time. My favorite hangout was Bongo Java because they made killer espresso and I enjoyed the company of like-minded, intelligencia. Playing chess stoned was my favorite activity after clocking out at two in the afternoon. “Is it any wonder that I’ve got too much time on my hands?”

I met John at Bongo Java and we got stoned at his house. His girlfriend and roommate had a bad case of schizophrenia. Cindy talked about how she was one of Hitler’s mistresses in a very detailed way. She scared the shit outta me. Funny thing was when she smoked a joint, she was completely normal. So we got stoned almost every day. One thing that John taught me was that two half pints of whiskey is cheaper than buying a whole pint. I did not have any friends in the traditional sense. But when I found someone who drank like I did, we at least got along. “If life is a highway, I want to drive it all night long.”

Some say I was being tempted by the Devil. I believe I was simply straying from my path. I wasn’t a bad person, but I was behaving badly. I was moving down a path to destruction. “But what’s puzzling you is the Nature of my game.”

So began a four year love affair of booze, pot and debauchery.

Jonah’s Story Part I: Ain’t No Jive

Jonah’s Story Part I:
Ain’t No Jive

I thought that they were Angels,
But much to my surprise
They climbed aboard their Starship
And headed for the Skies!
Come, sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me!

Come Sail Away

Styx

I had been underground for six weeks: Extreme Spelunking.

As I take off my re-breather I notice a scent in the air that I cannot place. Burnt hair? Melted plastic? I gag as a reflex. What the hell is that smell? As I exit the cave and walk 2 miles back to my truck with my gear, I notice that the Ranger Station is closed even though his Jeep is parked out front. Also the parking lot is empty which is unusual for a Sunday morning. Trying to put my apprehensions out of my mind I get on Route 96 and head for home. I pass no one on the road and even the Wal-Mart looks closed.

I pull into a Dollar General and I go into shock when I finally saw the blue sky above. Where are all the People? Because of the enormity of the desolation, I find relief in the clouds. I see a Red Tailed Hawk soaring above my head: a good Omen for a Bad Day. Staring at the sky, I repeat over and over: “My God what have we done?” Then I fall on my knees and weep. I lose time in my grief and soon the sun sets. As the dark descends I am completely blown away that the street lights turn on at Dusk. What the fuck is going on? What happened to the EMP?

That night I cheer myself by writing a song:

Let me lay it out real clear.
The moment of Truth is near.
Fear not! All will be well:
Hunky-dory. Peachy. Swell.

Dark dreams have the power to kill,
Like swallowing a bitter Pill.
“Live and let Live” is what they say.
Well then, you better get the hell outta my way.

Depression is just Self-Pity manifest:
A time to be less than my best.
So here I am on the Road:
No letters, no email, no phone.

Utterly and completely Alone.
Not a Soul in sight.
So I force myself,
To turn my thoughts to the Light.

My only Hope is to stay Alive.
My prayers to God I send
And that ain’t no Jive.
Fences will we mend:
Much more than just Survive.
Strive every day for the End.

Thankfully, I have a dreamless sleep that first night and I wake at Dawn. I am beyond low, in the depths of a deep Depression I can seemingly not shake. So I sing my song again which lifts my spirits just enough to pack for the road ahead. With the shelves undisturbed, I find all the supplies I needed at the soulless Wal-Mart: a large backpack, canned goods, bread, lunchmeat, boots (two pair), dozens of CDs and DVDs (for boredom), plenty of guns with ammo, several books and maps, camping supplies, a propane stove and of course coffee and a pot. What did I forget to bring?

Not a single corpse to be found. Was I Left Behind from some all-inclusive Rapture? Where has the radiation gone? More and more evidence showed that the attack was not nuclear at all. No fallout, no radiation, no EMP. What the hell happened? Maybe a biological weapon? Conventional bombs? Chemical? Where are all the bodies of the dead? Why are the birds and other animals unaffected? Where is the electricity coming from? Too many questions and no answers, at least for now.

I find a Jeep with the keys in the ignition, a full tank of gas, GPS and a CD player, so I grab all I can and I throw my pack and other supplies in the back seat and drive out of town on interstate 24: Free of only the occasional car on the shoulder. Most of the traffic appears to be heading into Nashville rather than running from. Very confusing. Where did the hundreds of thousands citizens disappear to? Do I really want to know? More unanswered questions . . . So while I drive, I decide to write another song:

Everyday

Somebody’s World Ends Every Day:
The Death of Man’s Ignorance, they say.
I would ride that Missile like fate.
You better get your Afterlife Straight.

Where have all the people Gone?
Is it Darkest before the Dawn?
So many Unanswered Questions:
Where are the Solutions?

These Lyrics keep me Sane.
Am I the New Age Cain?
Marked for life by Homicide?
Or should I seek solace in Suicide?

The Guilt of the Survivor is my Lot.
No markers on this Funeral Plot.
Alone I drive to who knows where.
What the hell is that over there?

I break my reverie when I see a semi jack knifed in front of me outside of LaVergne. I decide to check it out. Oh my God! A corpse! Or what’s left after the turkey buzzards had a crack at him. I’m no CSI, but the body appears to be badly burned: a crispy critter. The semi is also covered with burned and melted parts and the load has been completely destroyed. I take plenty of pictures with a digital camera I grabbed at Wal-Mart on a whim. Observe with an Objective Mind is my new motto.

***********
I’m Friends with the Monster under my Bed. I get along with the Voices in my Head.
Eminem

As I get back in my Jeep an old conversation pops into my head. In high school I once asked Susie Solomann out on a date. See declared: “Jonah, I wouldn’t go out on a date with you even if you were the last man on Earth!” Well, now I am, you bitch. Where the hell are you?

What are you gonna do when you get to Nashville? I approached Nashville from the Southeast. More and more I find myself talking out loud to myself. No big deal given the present circumstances. My concern grows when I start a conversation with myself complete with different voices and points of view. They used to call that Schizophrenia, but to me it feels perfectly Natural. Look for survivors, of course. What are you gonna do when you find someone? I do not know, yet. What if they aren’t friendly? Then we’ll kill them. Really? Yes, of course, we will.
As I drive toward the outskirts of Nashville, I see more and more abandoned cars. Entering the valley, it becomes more and more difficult to navigate as the road fills with vehicles. Eventually, I must drive in the median then on the wrong side of the road which is mostly free of cars. Still, no more corpses appear which is a real relief. I make camp at a Hampton Inn and Suites. The clean linens feel great.

I wake in a cold sweat from a nightmare: I was a Hawk in the sky, flying over the Desolation of an unknown city on the coast. San Francisco? No, East Coast. Where? Baltimore! That’s the Inner Harbor and the Aquarium! I soar to a lower altitude and I see people, dozens of them. They are raiding a K-Mart and loading stuff into U-Haul trucks. One of the women sees me, waves and smiles. Then she screams, “See ya soon, Jonah!”

I could not shake the shrillness of her Scream and its Message: go to Baltimore. Her voice haunting in the morning light: I take a few minutes to get my bearings. Oh yeah, Hampton Inn and Suites has sheets that are no longer clean. Go ram it. Maybe I’ll write another song . . .

End Part One

Copyright 2014 Joel Paddon

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Gia’s Rage

Wodin and Gia’s Rage

We Gathered around the Fire because Wodin knew the E.T.’s Story:

“The Universe does not Condone Imbalance. Gia was seriously Imbalanced. 8 billion humans covering Her like a Virus: Wantonly using and abusing Her Natural Resources. But the Universe has a Sick Sense of Humor. So They came from another place in the Galaxy: Escaping from a Dying Star. They came because They smelled Blood. They were starving and low on Fuel. Uranium and other Minerals was what they really needed: we were an Afterthought. But Gia had other Intentions for Humanity.

“The ETs were the Treatment for the virus in Gia. Not a vaccine more like an antiviral: an anti-homo sapiens. Just what the Doctor ordered.”

“So you’re saying God brought Them Here?” I asked

“Not necessarily. Gia is not God, exactly. So it came to pass one day not too long Ago that Their Ships appeared in the sky like a flock of Morning Stars: dozens of extra blips on the horizon.”

“I remember that.” Jo said.

Wodin continued: “Only one Agent was sent by the Armada to act as an Ambassador. His name sounded like the French pronunciation of Robert: Row Bear. There were no Negotiations. He was presenting unconditional terms. No real Choice for Us.

“Some ignorant people thought Row Bear was an archangel: a messenger from God. Sad really. Ignorance is Bliss or so they say.”

“Where was God in all of this?” Jo asked.

“Who Knows? I have no Idea.” Wodin kept it simple. “Some others thought the E.T.s were demons sent to punish us. This was closer to the Truth then they knew.”

“What were Their Demands?” Rebeka jumped in.

“They wanted several million pounds of a variety of minerals.”

“What else?” Asked Rebeka.

“They also wanted all the domesticated cattle, pigs, horses, sheep and goats. In exchange They offered us six Interstellar Starships with full crews. Humanity would be given the Gift to Visit the Stars.”

“So We are Out There Somewhere, right now?” Jo said incredulous.

“That is if Row Bear didn’t welch out on the Deal which would not Surprise me given what happened next.” Wodin was a skeptic.

“What happened Next?” I asked because I was Underground when this Went Down.

“Well, before that, They started to mine in Russia, Canada and Southern Africa. Then, except for a few breeders, they began taking all of our cattle down to the last kid.”

“Won’t we starve?” I questioned.

“There’s always chicken.” Wodin replied.

“True dat.”

“But They didn’t stop with sheep and goats . . . They began to Harvest Us.”

“How?” I asked.

“As They were already there for the animals, They started with the rural areas. Word got our quickly and everyone started to flock toward the Cities which played right into Their plans.”

“How do you know such details?” I asked.

“Well to put it simply: I arrived with Them.”

“What the eff?!?” Jo declared.

“Are you for real?” Rebecka.

“I am an E.T. from another planetary system who visited your Earth three thousand years ago. You might call me God. Odin of Asgard the Norse.”

“You’re with Them?” I pulled my .45.

“No! I am not! I came along for the ride this time because I love humanity and I wanted to see where you ended up before you were destroyed.”

“Unfreaking believable.” I stood up and pointed my .45 at him.

“Yes it is. Please put away your weapon, Java. I wish you no Harm.”

“Prove it!” I demanded.

“Put your gun away and I will.”

“Fine.” I holstered my weapon.

“Thank you. You are near sighted, right?”

“Yes.”

“I need to touch your eyes.”

“Okay.”

Wodin removed my glasses and then covered my eyes with his right palm. I felt a tingling sensation where he touched me, then I opened my eyes and I could see perfectly. “Wow! I can see! How did you do that?”

“I am . . .”

“Freaking awesome! Do me next.” Declared Rebeka.

“I need to rest before I do anything else. Healing drains me.” Wodin sighed. “Jo? Throw another log on the fire, please.”

Jo did and the flames went higher.

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