Tuesday Tuneup 121

Q. Where would you like to be?

A. Sitting in a therapist’s chair.

Q. Then why aren’t you?

A. Lack of affordable therapy in this neck of the woods.

Q. Why is therapy indicated?

A. I’m taking a new medication. It’s recommended I work with a therapist while adjusting to it.

Q. What is the medication?

A. Lithium.

Q. Are you bipolar?

A. That’s what they say.

Q. Do you believe them?

A. Sometimes.

Q. Why are you skeptical?

A. Past history. I was diagnosed bipolar at the age of 51 and given a bunch of meds. Nine months later I was sleeping on a bench outside a CalTrain station. I lost everything I had–approximately $13.000, a car, a nice rental, and all my accounts. Then I was homeless for roughly twelve years. Had I never accepted the diagnosis or the medication, I would not have become homeless.

Q. And you fear this will happen again?

A. The parallels between my life today and that of 18 years ago are glaring.

Q. How so?

A. I was attaining a higher profile back then. Newspaper articles were being written about me. I was being interviewed, I was winning awards, and I got into Who’s Who then too.

Q. Who’s Who?

A. Yeah, and it went to my head (even though, looking back, I think they only wanted me to buy the gold-plated book.)

Q. Do you think you became more manic as you achieved more notoriety?

A. You nailed it.

Q. Well, lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place, does it?

A. What do you mean?

Q. Can’t you learn from your past experience, and ensure you don’t repeat the same errors?

A. Frankly, I’m trying to figure out what errors I have made.

Q. You don’t think you’ve made any mistakes?

A. Of course I’ve made mistakes! What I mean is, which of my many errors are the ones that will land me on the streets again?

Q. What landed you on the streets last time?

A. Spending over ten thousand bucks fairly rapidly, wrecking my car in an accident, acting weird in my apartment, thus arousing the concern of the landlord . . .

Q. Do you have ten thousand bucks to blow?

A. No.

Q. Do you have a car to wreck?

A. No.

Q. Have you been acting weird in your apartment?

A. Yes.

Q. Have you aroused the concern of the landlord?

A. Not at all. Every time I see him, he smiles at me, and I get the feeling he’s fairly thrilled that I always pay my rent on time.

Q. Then what makes you think you might land on the streets?

A. It’s hard to explain. I just feel the way I felt back then.

Q. Can you describe the feeling?

A. Unusually high energy, and a sense of grandiosity.

Q. Grandiosity?

A. Yes. I keep seeing myself as more important in the overall scheme of things than I actually am.

Q. Why do you think this is?

A. It seems to result from having seen a few articles about me published on a few local sites. This causes people to approach me saying they read about me in the papers.

Q. So you’re becoming more famous?

A. On a local level, spanning about four counties. I’m not nearly famous, but it’s starting to look as though a lot of people know who I am.

Q. How does this make you feel?

A. Paranoid.

Q. Why?

A. The excess of human influence will overload my brain, and I fear I will implode.

Q. What does implosion look like?

A. It looks a lot like depletion. Emptying of all inner resources. Lying down on the floor. Not wanting to get up. Telling them I couldn’t possibly make it to work.

Q. Not possible?

A. I honestly think that if I had an apartment close to the job, and not a twelve mile bike ride away, I would have gotten to work. Some unpleasant things had been happening for the past three or four days, and my head was getting overloaded.

Q. What does overload look like?

A. I tried to integrate two separate incarnations of my musical project. I could not rectify the sentiment of the workshops we held for two and a half years and all the Kids who so devotedly helped me to prepare this musical, with the fact that it had now been released to a professional theatre company.

Q. Cognitive dissonance?

A. Yes. My heart wanted to include all the Kids who had worked so hard. But my head knew that this was professional theatre, and that they would only be cast if they showed up at auditions and were considered the best people for the parts.

Q. Surely you were professional, weren’t you?

A. I tried to be. These guys really liked me, and for seven months I served them well.

Q. Then what happened?

A. I collapsed.

Q. What does collapse look like?

A. Loss of willingness. Loss of motivation. Loss of heart.

Q. Is this when you went to the doctor?

A. Yes.

Q, What did the doctor say?

A. He diagnosed me Bipolar One and said I probably had a manic episode. Then he prescribed the Lithium.

Q. Then what?

A. I told the boss. He said “Very good, Andy. Just get well.”

Q. What does “well” look like?

A. Neither he nor I knows what it looks like. I’d go back and work there tomorrow if they’d let me. It’s been nearly three months of trying to “get well” in a clueless vacuum of no communication, no contact, and no trust.

Q. So now what?

A. Now I sit down and try to create these performance tracks so my musical can be produced.

Q. Who wants to produce the musical?

A. That, I am sorry to say, is a very good question.

The Questioner is silent.

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