How to Destroy a Life in a Few Easy Steps (originally published 11/9/12)

“We used to dance under moonlight
But then the tears began to fall
And baby that ain’t right
Cuz’ losin’ you
Was part of the game
And misery loves company
Cuz’ fuckin’ up
Was part of the game
And misery loves company”
– Mike Ness, “Misery Loves Company”


Up until now I’ve only made minor mention of how I managed to thoroughly screw up my life.  I’ve mentioned lying, anger issues, substance abuse, and outrageous spending.  To blame bipolar disorder alone would be to take the easy way out.  I’ve been the biggest contributor to my own problems by not seeking treatment early enough, stopping treatment, and going off my medication.  I compounded all this with further lying and not recognizing the signs of my own mental illness.

I don’t want to go into specific detail for much of this simply because writing all of it out would take far too long to describe.  It is safe to say however, that what I did was disgraceful, dishonest, and unfair to my wife.  I took advantage of her trust and created lies complex enough to rival the plot lines of the last season of Lost.  Twice I got involved in relationships with other women, once while we were dating and once after we were married only a few months.  I lied to myself, also.  I kept telling myself that the second relationship was fine, since it wasn’t sexual, but I kidded myself that spending so much time with her was not a problem.  This helped feed my mania, this ego boost of women being attracted to me.  It was also another symptom of my mental illness, hyper sexuality; the want for dangerous sexual activity.

Hyper sexuality also explained my later proclivity for going to strip clubs.  These were pseudo-sexual experiences, since there was no sex in the strip club, no matter how much money you offered to spend (at least, that was the case in the clubs I went to).  Again, it was the ego boost that fed my mania.  I knew the feigned interest in me was a lie based solely on the size of my wallet, but I didn’t care.  $10,000 gets you much attention, as well as copious amounts of drugs and alcohol.  This was the ultimate episode of mania.  Sex, drugs, squandering money, and staying up all night; all things I never realized until too late that were classic symptoms of bipolar behavior.  Every possible effect of a hypomanic episode was right there, and I fully indulged them for hours on end.  Once again, these episodes relied on the elaborate lies I was able to spin to stay out of the house all night.

It came to a crashing halt when the money ran out.  This triggered episodes of depression which led to me missing work and reduced paychecks.  Soon, I was missing mortgage payments, tax bills, and a few other bills.  Over the summer my cell phone was shut off twice and my FiOS service once.  It took four months to catch up on car and insurance payments.  These were the consequences of my own mania.  As I’ve said, I wasn’t aware at the time that these were simply the symptoms of bipolar disorder presenting themselves, but now it had become all too clear, and these symptoms are my motivation to not only stay in therapy and on my medication, but also to be aware of the early signs of a relapse, specifically the reckless spending of money.  It’s also my motivation to stay honest.  My lies hurt a number of people and eventually I had to be held accountable for them.  If I can’t be honest with others, I can’t possibly be honest with myself.


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