Depression And Other Fairy Tales

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” – Dr. Seuss

I had so many ideas about what to write about this week. My head was full of ideas; I bought notebooks, downloaded e-books, and wrote down a few ideas. I was motivated, pumped, full of energy and moxie, ready to continue my writer’s journey of self-discovery.

And then depression hit.


All it took was a single moment for me to realize, unwittingly, that I was looking at a blank, empty page, a sliver of time that went on for centuries in my head; for a fleeting moment I sat staring at nothingness with that awful sinking feeling in my chest, the absence of feeling, wondering where the world had disappeared to.

I began this blog, this journey, as a way to cope with my disease, to heal, to navigate through the stormy seas of a world that I barely understand most of the time. There are days that fill me with joy, the elation of accomplishment – pride that my work, as minute as it may seem, is the beginning of something special, something more.

And then there are days where I feel that nothing I do is good enough, where I obsess about website traffic statistics and analysis, insights, social media metrics, wondering why nobody is reading, why nobody says anything, why no one will validate me, why cheerleaders with pom-poms and pig tails aren’t ra-ra-ra-ing my efforts, why society doesn’t care about the downtrodden, the unfortunate masses, why people are so uncaring, cruel, ignorant, despicable.


Are you seeing a pattern develop?


Do you see the jumps and dips, the ups and down, the flips and turns?


The fact that I struggle every day with combating the concept of duality and binary thinking is a trademark symptom of bipolar disorder.


My first year majoring in Computer Science I discovered the concept of binary systems, how they are the bread and butter of processing data, the life blood of information and electronics theory; all information consisting of 1’s and 0’s, the state of on and off, the duality of existence, of chaos finding order and organization, finally enlightened to how the world should operate.

I was fascinated by that concept because I was obsessed with the dichotomy of everything, the thought that existence, choice, thought, is or is not.

You see, one important symptom that helps identify bipolar disorder is the famous concept of black and white, do or do not, there is no try.


*insert double entendre meme comment here; wink wink nudge nudge*


For someone suffering from bipolar disorder, shades of grey are a fallacy, an impossibility; it is extremely difficult to not deal in absolutes. When confronted with a situation where the dance of nuance, the tango of subtlety, comes into play we become that one drunk guy at karaoke – in his mind, he’s belting tunes out like David Draiman from Disturbed, while in reality he’s just squawking out of cadence like a monkey on horse tranquilizers.

*I just had to do it. Seriously, I had to; my description would never do this perfect moment in time justice. Lords bless the Internet. 


I call this common phenomenon the fairy tale effect.

Let’s be honest; we all have delusions of grandeur at some point in our lives (mostly when we’re teenagers who think we’re invincible, indestructible, infallible, in-whatever-word-to-describe-we-are-not-wrong-always-right, yada yada yada). We all have idealistic notions of what we want the world to be, philosophies of life that are set in stone, rigid, inflexible, perfect.

Until we realize the Universe is an ever-flowing ebb-and-flow of chaos; and that is not a bad thing, nor a good thing. It is just the way things are and always shall be.


Unfortunately, nobody delivered most mentally ill patients the memo.


And no one gave an instruction manual to their loved ones on how to deal with the backlash.


So with that being said, whenever things don’t go the way I want, my creative little noggin’ goes into overdrive; it becomes the Shakespeare of logic and reason, weaving tales of tragedy, victimization, and plots against my well-being that would make most JFK conspiracy theorists proud. These are the fairy tales concocted out of irrational thoughts and ideas when our minds cannot reconcile the fact that not everything is as simple as black and white; there are not only shades of grey, but a spectrum of bright colors, a venerable cornucopia of possibilities and solutions.


If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is; the same applies the other way around. When in doubt, just take a step back, look at the facts, and throw some introspection into the mix, sprinkle in some reasonable hope, a dash of healthy optimism, and – VOILA – life goes on.


Nobody needs to live happily ever after; that, my friends, is a fantasy.


Not all fairy tales need to have happy endings and not all fairy tales need to have unhappy endings.
Because there are an infinite amount of stories waiting to be written; it’s just up to you to write stories that make your world a better place.




The Law Of Conservation Of What Matters

“No man ever followed his genius till it misled him. Though the result were bodily weakness, yet perhaps no one can say that the consequences were to be regretted, for these were a life in conformity to higher principles. If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal,—that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality… The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.”
Henry David Thoreau


In chemistry, the law of conservation of mass or principle of mass conservation states that for any system closed to all transfers of matter and energy, the mass of the system must remain constant over time, as system’s mass cannot change, so quantity cannot be added nor removed.


Whoa, dude, English!


In layman’s terms, matter cannot be created, nor destroyed, only transformed.






I share this example with you because in essence it offers a great metaphor as to the nature of human behavior and personality, growth, and evolution, at least in my opinion.


I have been accused many times of being unstable, unapproachable, alienating; unfortunately, those assumptions are correct most of the time, especially during moments of extreme duress. In the past, I was (and sometimes, still am) guilty of erratic behavior, emotional outbursts, and what can only be described as man-child super-tantrums:


*I only include the footage as an example, mind you; it’s funny, sad, and creepy all the same.


Why am I sharing this with you?




My Law Of Conservation Of What Matters* states that even after extreme episodes of irrationality and stupidity, people are still capable of transforming themselves, because I believe that innately all people are good-natured, and have the capacity to change for the better.

*Patent pending. Psyche. 


To believe that life is a constant, static, cemented place is to not have looked up at the sky and wondered about the vastness of the Universe, nor played with Legos (without stepping on them, of course) to build castles of wonder and imagination, or stared at rose petals, watching flowers bloom, whither away, and then grow once again, more beautiful than ever. Perfection is a fallacy; it will never be achieved, will remain the unobtainable prize – the real treat, the real carrot in front of the mule, is in the journey, the brown sugar in the mocha latte being building the strength of will and perseverance to achieve what you choose to achieve.


Life is ever flowing, ever-changing, full of chemical reactions, dances of light and energy, miracles and disappointments; it is an everlasting tango of movement, chaos, mystery, and laughter, but at its core it is all the same: an experience.


An experience that comes with joy, sadness, pain, triumph, the amalgamation of everything that makes us human – the perception and acceptance of emotional responses.


At our core, we are just the accumulation of our surroundings and experiences, the events that shaped us into who we are, but that’s just a malleable foundation; we are still capable of taking those experiences, those emotions and memories, and turn them into something amazing, even through the hurt, through the agony of tears and smacks that life is capable of dishing out at us.


Go ahead. Do the math.*




formula for happiness.jpeg


I’ll wait.


In reality, I believe we are all capable of change; true enough, we cannot change the past, but we can most definitely live in the now, and always dream and strive for a better future, because in the end, it is imperative that we conserve what most matters – a healthy life, a healthy mind, and a healthy heart.




Guilt Trips And Broomsticks

“Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.”
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Humans, in my humble opinion, by nature, are innately flawed and imperfect. That is what makes us beautiful, dangerous, and unique.

People make mistakes; it is an inevitable, inescapable, unavoidable fact of life.

In my opinion, some are fortunate enough to accept this fact and live a life full of choice and consequence, living peacefully, able to reconcile their actions with the result; if they do good, good things happen and if they do bad, bad things happen.

Seems pretty simple and logical to me; it’s the way things should be, right?


For someone who suffers from bipolar disorder, reconciling the fallacy of that seemingly simple thought and absolutist idealization is a world of pain.

Those who suffer from bipolar disorder tend to be extremely sensitive to sensory and social stimulus; we are sponges, soaking up every sound, syllable, sight, gesture, etc. and as the input keeps pervading our senses, our minds kick into overdrive. The world is a very scary place, full of wonder, mystery, danger, and most of all, threats and temptation.

Lots and lots of threats and temptation.

As a byproduct of my condition, I have very poor impulse control; I will flip the nitrous-oxide switch at the drop of a hat, shift my transmission in a split second, and you better sure as hell get out of my way lest you be run over by my 10,000 horsepower top fuel out-of-control dragster of a mind. That’s why when temptations and threats loom, reason bids farewell and gives way to “LET’S DO THIS, LEEEROOOOOY JEEEEEEENKIIIIINS!”*


*Kudos if you got the obscure computer gaming reference; you’re a geek just like me.

Impulse gives way to action; action gives way to consequence.

And therein lies part of the crux of dealing with bipolar disorder; how do you deal with a mistake, an error in judgment, and the consequences that come along with it?

The sad answer: not very well.

Guilt will make you do many things; some funny, some dastardly, most quite desperate.

Guilt has led me many times to demean myself, to humiliate myself, forcing me to lose my dignity, my sense of self-worth and self-esteem. I have committed acts of self-humiliation and self-deprecation, broken rules of social engagement, disrespected myself and loved ones, all for the sake of hearing those sacred words of validation and forgiveness I so desperately seek when I feel I have failed and disappointed.

Instant gratification of impulse is a dangerous drug whose addiction is a daily struggle for bipolar disorder patients; guilt is our delirium tremens, the come-down, the desperation of withdrawal, the horror of acknowledgment.

So, how do I deal with guilt you may ask? It is not an easy thing for me to do, to be completely honest; it is something I still struggle with on a daily basis, but it is something that I have accepted, something that I will constantly work with for the rest of my life. I have alienated many people in my life due to my erratic behavior and abusive tendencies when I do not medicate nor follow the treatment protocol as designed and prescribed, but the following tips have helped me so far mature in that respect; hopefully these little morsels of wisdom may help you as much as they have helped me:

1) Accept responsibility: Let’s face it; we all make mistakes. Accept responsibility for your actions, accept that you are flawed, and accept that it is ok. Doing bad things does not make you a bad person; it simply makes you a normal human being. Acceptance is the first step to make amends.

2) Forgive yourself and others: To err is human, to forgive, well, the world isn’t very big on forgiveness these days. That does not mean, however, that you cannot learn to forgive yourself. Forgiveness is the second step to make amends.

3) Rectify and internalize: Do what you can to remedy a situation, but only as far as you can go, within measure and reason, and ONLY after the situation has passed – it is not healthy nor wise to try to fix a ship’s broken sail in the middle of a storm. Let the storm pass; cooler heads always prevail.

Patience. Temperance. Clarity. These are key traits that need to be exercised every day like you would work out a muscle group to build up body strength.


Those steps are just the beginning to dealing with the fallout of manic episodes; episodes leave you weak, drained, and most of all, vulnerable. In this vulnerable state, I tend to lash out at myself for hurting others, and that leads to an everlasting cycle of depression. I have learned, through hard work and introspection and retrospection, to not allow myself to succumb to the manipulation of guilt. I stop and think about what happened, I try to fix the situation, and if the situation cannot be fixed, then I accept the consequence, allow myself to be sad for a bit, and then I move on.

You will make mistakes.

Some people may never forgive you.

And that’s ok.

It is not your responsibility to be forgiven; it is your responsibility to forgive yourself.

To love yourself.

Life goes on.

You will grow, learn, and evolve.

Leave penance to the extremists, self-flagellation to that albino monk in The DaVinci Code, and stop blaming yourself for something that is hard to control. What you CAN control, however, is how you deal with the aftermath of your actions in a healthy, mature manner.

Drop that cat ‘o nine tails, kid, and pick up a broom; instead of making more of a mess, just clean it up, lift your head up, shed a tear, then smile and move along. Better days will always come.

Timing (And Clarity) Is Everything

“Logic: The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.” – Ambrose Bierce

#WARNING: This post contains language and imagery some may find offensive; if that is the case, then tough titty said the kitty.

Human communication is a funny thing.

We speak, we inform, therefore creating bonds, relating, sharing; words intertwine with meaning, emotion, and intent.

From the beginning of time, we have grunted our wishes, yelled out our aggression, announced our intentions, moaned out our pleasure and pain, through sound, symbols, gestures, and the occasional middle finger or two.*

*How ironic that just like creatures in the animal kingdom, humans do not necessarily need opposable thumbs to wreak havoc; one middle finger is enough to instigate gang warfare, so yeah, take THAT pesky lemurs, bears, and raccoons!


The universal communicator needs no translation, ladies and gentlemen.

So why is it that now, in an age of technological advancement, of electronic miracles gifted to us by the gods of invention and innovation, have we become so….damn….regrettably….STUPID.

Ok, so maybe the word stupid is a tad harsh.

Snowflakey, perhaps? (Snowflakey is an actual word; go look it up. I swear it’s real! )


No. That’s not it.

The word I’m looking for is desensitized.

Taking out cultural differences, language barriers, and all sorts of myriad variables and complications out of the equation, there is one all-encompassing, crucial component to effective communication, in my humble opinion:


A blessing that many mentally ill individuals sadly do not possess the way most healthy members of society do (and unfortunately take for granted).

I have struggled most of my life with social communication. I was a very awkward child growing up due to my senses being all out of whack; I was a quiet kid with an itchy trigger finger when it came to emotional response, especially in stressful situations. Being bilingual didn’t help matters much since I would think in two languages; a lot of things would get lost in translation. I would stutter, hesitate, become confused very easily, which would lead to anger, frustration, desperation, and finally, backlash. I would constantly get into fights and confrontations in school, in my personal life, and especially in my family life – every day was a constant struggle to keep control, keep myself in check, or get smacked around like a Mexican piñata.

Edgar Sanchez, 10, of Cedar Rapids, winds up to smack a piñata at the Festival Latino de Cedar Rapids on May’s Island in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, July 12, 2015. (KC McGinnis / The Gazette)

Yep, just another normal day at school for me.

That struggle followed me throughout my teen years, where it was amplified by puberty and rebellion, hormonal imbalance, and the constant desire to fuck almost everything in sight.

And then I graduated high school.

Oh boy, did the fun begin there!

You see, I entered college, and then -BOOM- the freedom to do whatever the hell I wanted, however I wanted, was granted to me, except I didn’t count on one simple detail: actions have consequences, and the only sense of consequence I had ever experienced growing up was violence.

You could get away with a lot when you’re 13 – the age I was officially diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder – but not so much when you are legally bound to take it up the ass from Chucho El Horrible* after you’ve broken quite a few laws while disturbing the peace getting into drunken bar fights because your mouth wrote checks your body could not possibly cash.**

*I have withheld Chucho’s picture out of respect and fear; needless to say, imagine if Sasquatch and a rhino had a baby, that baby would be eaten alive by Chucho.

**What can I say, I had the need; the need for speed. See what I did there? Twice? Whatever.

I was lucky, though; I never served a single day in jail (though I have been institutionalized many a time), nor have I ever been convicted of a crime, and I am still here, living and breathing because the All-Mighty Lords of the Universe decided I misbehaved, yet learned my lesson so I could tell my story.

You know, communicate.


Other people, unfortunately, are not so lucky.

That is why it is so important to be mindful of everything you say, every gesture you make, every syllable you utter – it is exhausting to scrutinize every last detail, but it is a burden that is worth carrying if it means better living and better relationships with those around you.

For someone who suffers from mental illness, even the slightest twitch equals an alien invasion, so if a situation arises, here’s what you do (mind you, it’s worked miracles for me, but please feel free to try your own variations):

1) Speak clearly and intently: No, this does not mean “Heeeeellloooooo Biiiiilllyyyyy, I am heeeeeere toooooo heeeeeeeelp youuuuuuuu” – that’s just being a condescending jackass. Just be clear with your intention if the person seems to be confused or taken aback; when in doubt, explain once again.

2) Be assertive: Translation – this is not the part where you insult someone to the point of chemical meltdown; just get your point across, firmly, affirmatively, with respect and consideration to the other person’s feelings. You cannot control how someone else reacts, but you can sure as hell control how you say things. The second you include a curse word or a combative phrase, it’s game over.

3) Avoid aggressive gestures: Yeah, gesturing is a fine way to emote your displeasure with dramatic flair, but this ain’t the movies nor Broadway, so if you want to avoid getting popped in the kisser, or avoid a confrontation that you will surely regret later, keep your hands at your sides and to yourself; do not fist up, or, better yet, you may try hugging yourself by clutching your elbows or clasping your hands. It’s a self-comforting technique I’ve been advised of many a time, and it has worked wonders when I feel I am losing control of my temper.

4) When in doubt, shut it down: When all else fails, and the communication breakdown is imminent and irreparable, it’s time to pack it up and go home. The situation will only escalate to the point of verbal aggression, or worse. I highly advise to use the first three steps mentioned above when closing an argument; clearly state why you are ending the conversation, do it in a concise, respectful manner, avoid making angry gestures, throwing insults, etc. and most of all explain that the reason you are walking away is PRECISELY because you don’t want to engage in hurtful behavior. Hopefully, the responding party will react in a mature manner and leave it be; if not, fuck ’em – just walk away anyway, but you can be proud of yourself for attempting to diffuse a sour situation and not being an immature jackass.

I have lost many people, and burnt many a bridge, in my life due to miscommunication. It makes me sad when I realize that usually they were just silly things that could have been avoided if I had just kept an open mind, identified and assessed the situation, and addressed it accordingly.

That being said, the beauty of it all is not to look back on past failures with regret; I look back with melancholy, yes, but I also use it as a learning tool, another experience, another opportunity to become wiser, to take one more step towards serenity and peace with myself and with others.

Playful banter, witty sarcasm, cynical jokes, and a satirical outlook on life can be a healthy choice, but like all good things, they must be kept in moderation; not everyone will see things my way (though they should, dammit), nor yours, and that is perfectly fine.

In summation, as two wise men once said:

Be excellent to each other.

A New Life Granted or: That Time I was In a Coma Pt. III

“How nice — to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five


It was business as usual in the world while I lay there, dormant, being fed through tubes, hydrated through IV’s, a breathing tube keeping my lungs functional, multiple closed suction drain tubes pouring accumulated plasma and waste out of my body.

There was no sound, no smell, no touch, no sight, but most importantly of all, or so I erroneously thought later, no world to come back to.


I had finally gotten what I wished for.


For three days there was nothing. No light at the end of the tunnel, no choir of angels singing, no hellfire and brimstone searing my flesh; nothingness, that’s all there was.


And then three days later I woke up and realized how selfish and full of shit I was.


The first sensation I felt when I woke up was gagging; I now know that for three days I was an unwilling participant in the BDSM community*

*No offense, I’m sure you are all a lovely group of people, but having my mouth stuffed with a ball gag and deep-throated all the way down to my lungs is not exactly my idea of a good time; it’s funny how most people love to yearn and pine for the fantasy, craving the taboo, then spook the hell out when someone introduces them to the virtues of submission and domination, realizing they  have no self-confidence or sense of trust. Just a thought. 

Machines blooped and beeped rhythmically; the smells of obsessive cleanliness and sterility permeated my nostrils. I’ve walked into meat lockers with more warmth and inviting ambiance than the ICU where I was situated.

I couldn’t speak nor move; I would later learn that I had been restrained for my own well-being, strapped to the bed so tightly that my hands looked like Barney’s, and I was hooked to an artificial respirator due to the collapse of my lungs.

The shift nurse was checking my vitals and noticed my open eyes, blank, confused, scared. She greeted me back to the land of the living.

“That was quite the scare you gave everyone. We’re just glad you pulled through.”

My family was immediately notified of my woken state; they had never left the hospital.

Three days of seeing their child and nephew unconsciously trying to stay alive.

I put them through Hell.








That used to be the standard Seba modus operandi; sometimes, sadly enough, it still is. Old habits die hard, especially for mental illness patients; we are set in our ways, our routines define us, and most times we believe those routines are our best friends, except when we don’t realize that those rituals, those actions you think are helping you survive are making those around you suffer, because they care, they love, they feel, and feel helpless seeing someone they love suffering and not being able to do anything about it.


It was supposed to be a simple procedure. Three days.


I convalesced in that hospital for a month.


The pneumologist arrived to remove the oxygen tube from my lungs; my blood oxygenation levels were stable, so the decision was made to remove the intubation, that my body was strong enough to breathe on its own, lest the accumulation of bacteria surrounding the tube would cause further damage, a possible infection, or worse. There was a catch, though; if after removing the tube I were unable to breath on my own, I would have to be re-intubated. While fully awake. No anesthesia.


I leaned my head back as staff cut the tape from my mouth; the tension was thick, I trembled, and tears began to stream down my cheeks.

My father held my hand tightly.

The doctor yanked that sucker right out; objects always seem so innocuously small until they come within sight. There was a freakin’ proverbial Go’auld-albino-mandingo-phallic torture device shoved down my throat, now being thrust out of my body by spastic heaving and violent coughing. I felt violated.

Suddenly, someone smacked my back. It was a thunder-clap to my lungs. For a few seconds, I struggled to breath; I thrashed around for a bit, desperately clutching whatever I could get my hands on, my body anxiously battling to take in the smallest bit of air.

A few seconds later, I heard the sound of gasping, felt the comfort of a simple breath, the burning sensation in my lungs as blood rushed with oxygen and life.


I was reborn.


I endured poking, prodding, constant vigilance; I wallowed in waste when my bowels were trying to adjust to my new physiological changes, so sometimes I would lie on my own filth for hours, until staff would come along and clean up the mess. Bath time was always a treat; I would lay still on the bed while the medical staff would fit me unto a padded sling, like transporting a whale into captivity.* My bloated living carcass would be hoisted up, and spray washed like a caged animal, wiped down, and sterilized; my wounds ached horribly, my tubes would tangle and pull, causing massive amounts of pain.


*Actual picture from the ICU. At least the whale gets some swimming space. Silver linings.


It was a horribly humiliating, yet necessary; naked, exposed, blob-esque.


Most importantly of all, humbling.


I was allowed a second chance to make things right; my role in this world, no matter how minute and insignificant it may seem to me at times, was not over – it had just begun.



(Taken one month after being released from the hospital, 2005)


It took me a year to recover physically from that experience, but every day I wake is a blessing, a constant reminder that things could always be worse.


Dying has a way of putting things into perspective. I remember all the times I attempted to end my life because I could no longer cope with the war raging inside my mind and body. After I literally lost my life, I realized that it was my ILLNESS that fantasized with death, it was the impulse, that never-ending push of the mind betraying itself, taunting, laughing, crying, screaming. The child, the king, the emperor, the pawn, the wise man, the warrior, the outcast, the hedonist, the harlequin, the monsters, demons and beasts, they all keep clashing for control, wanting to be the head honcho of SebaLand.



I died, I slept, and I woke up so I could learn to live again.



I died, I slept, and I woke up so I could live, so I could share my tales with all of you.



A Warped Wish Granted or: That Time I Was In A Coma Pt. II

Be careful how you wish, for wishes can come true
Be sure that every wish you make is one that’s right for you
So many people find their happiness in dreaming
But dreams can fool you, and they very often do
Be careful how you wish, remember when you start
To only wish for things you really want with all your heart
And don’t go chasing every rainbow in the blue
What more is there to wish than to know that the one that you love loves you
— Be Careful How You Wish, The Incredible Mr. Limpet


Voices over loudspeakers. Cold. Everything reeking of sterility and isopropyl alcohol. My blurry vision was blinded by intense incandesence.

I felt weak; I could barely move….








And then, what can only be described as the agony of a heavyset Sicilian lady stomping grapes on your abdomen while a Xenomorph is trying to dodge her gruff dance of joy to burst from your body kicked in.*


Unfortunately, the morphine had not.



*Actual post-op picture; no, really, I’m serious. 


I kept moaning something along the lines of “man, this fucking hurts” over and over, a mantra of relief and regret, a plea to the gods of synthetic drugs to make the pain go away.

“Of course it hurts, you just got out of surgery”, said my father, gently smiling, serene, stroking my hair as I stiffened with pain as the general anesthesia kept sticking its tongue out mockingly, bidding farewell to another sucessful act of corporal mutilation.

Dad immediately paid $200 to the staff for them to integrate the morphine drip into my IV to alleviate my suffering.*

*Surgery is a complete package deal; post surgery amenities always cost extra, just like a cheap motel


Post surgery recovery went surprisingly well; though I had more tubes sticking out of my body than Geppetto’s dungeon dolls (don’t ask how I know this), everything seemed on the up and up. According to my surgeon, the procedure required a total of three days to complete – one day for surgery, the next for observation, and the third for early morning discharge.


Everything was going great.


And then I stopped peeing.


My body temperature went supernova; I went delirious.


You see, doctors had warned me that there was a 1% chance (if I remember correctly) that my body would perceive my sutures as a foreign object, invade the intruder with impunity, therefore unraveling the work done on my digestive system.

As luck would have it, I would not be part of the Wall Street 1%; I was now a member of the Profusely Hemorraghing Organs Club, leaking bodily fluids all over my insides, becoming a caustic human water balloon.

After an emergency X-ray, I was immediately wheeled in to the operating room in a frantic bid to avoid my body going into sepsis.


Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.


I was put under, and doctors immediately got to work on repairing the damage to my fresh wounds, hurriedly stopping the spread of bile, chemicals, pus, and other delicious cocktail of fluids swirling around wreaking havoc on my immune system.


And then, a funny thing happened.


I woke up.


In the middle of surgery.


I’ve always said the Universe is not without a sense of humor; it’s just very dark, bleak, ironic, and precise.


And so, I felt an itching at my nose that I needed to scratch very badly. That’s the moment I mindlessly decided in my feverish, anesthesia-induced delirium to start pulling out the nasogastric tube (NG tube from now on, for the sake of brevity and laziness) and rip it straight out of my nose, in the process tearing through my esophagus and causing further damage to what was already a delicate, fragile body undergoing extreme duress.


*A handy creative commons picture of an NG tube; definitely not for the squeamish.


Did I mention I used to smoke menthols like a chimney?


Here comes the plot twist.


Everything was dark, yet audibly clear; I could vividly hear the voices of doctors and medical profesionals losing their shit, barking orders, desperately praying to the gods of malpractice to spare them from the wrath of a lawsuit.  I felt the equivalent tonnage of the Titanic pressing against my chest; I couldn’t breath, yet I was strangely calm, dreaming.*

*Later I would learn that’s how it feels to go into respiratory arrest.


You see, my lungs were weak from years of smoking, and the stress of pulling out my NG tube, doctors restraining me, and two straight days of anesthesia was the perfect condition for my body to stop fighting.



And so, ladies and gentlemen, I died.



Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it….



PS. No worries, the coma is just right around the corner.





Shots Fired!!!

“Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast.” – Ron Burgundy, Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy


We’ve all been there; we’re sitting around with friends, shooting the breeze, debating over who would win in a fight, either Superman or Batman (hands down, Batman; his only weakness is being exposed to all those guano-related infections), and then out of the blue, a real argument breaks out, voice-raising leads to yelling, yelling leads to screaming, screaming leads to insulting, the Germans invade Poland, and -boom- a pleasant evening just became a real bad time for everyone involved.




Someone got triggered.


*insert typical condescending trigger meme here*


Please allow me to elaborate.


The following clip is an example of how people view escalation from someone getting triggered.*

*It also happens to be one of my favorite movies of all time, capiche? Fuggedaboutit!

*Goodfellas, directed by Martin Scorsese (1990)

Notice that horrible tension? That terrifying sense of dread that Tommy’s gonna jump at any second and stab Henry in the neck twenty times with a butter knife? Notice how Henry diffuses the situation by minimizing the event by joking?


It’s a movie. It does not work that way in real life.


Once again, it’s a great example of how people tend to view those with bipolar disorder quickly disengage from reality, swinging from one mood to another in quick succession, while those around them have no clue what just happened and what to do about it.

Let’s take a look at a more accurate depiction of the same situation:

*Silver Linings Playbook, directed by David O. Russell (2012)

Now THIS is a more accurate representation of a manic episode (the technical, medical term for a mood state characterized by elevated, expansive, or unusual irritability) triggered by an emotional stressor. This scene shows it all; the point of origin, the trigger that instigates the episode, the narrow-minded focus, the sudden escalation of emotions, the surge, the desperation; logic, reality, all sense of emotional maturity and thought, gone. Not only does it show the pain and suffering, the agony of confusion, it also shows how loved ones are adversely affected by something they cannot understand.

It’s absolutely heartbreaking; it takes an enormous emotional toll on everyone involved.


Here’s a metaphorical scenario, just to put things into perspective:

Imagine giving a child desperately craving love and attention a metaphorical loaded gun.*


*Please never give a child a loaded gun, for realsies; don’t try this at home, or better yet never, unless you’re at a firing range, and you’re a fairly sane, trained adult (a contradiction in terms) or some NRA nutjob. Muhrica! 


Now imagine said child imagining he is suddenly surrounded by monsters who are out to kill him, and the world doesn’t care.


He’s/she’s scared…. 


He’s/She’s alone….


Fight or flight just blew the transmission….


And so he/she does the only thing he/she can do to feel safe; he/she starts firing off rounds a la John Wick.


Except instead of John Wick’s wicked finesse, focus, and expertise, you end up with Jamie Lee Curtis in True Lies trying to fire off an Uzi, but instead of killing bad guys, you metaphorically shoot into a crowd of innocents.


Innocents who were trying to help you snap out of it. 


Innocents who either love you, or care enough to stand by your side in a moment of need out of compassion, kindness, or circumstance.


And so you’re blindly shooting, screaming, hoping that the monsters will go away, or, if they manage to catch you, they make your death swift and painless. 


Sadly, those monsters aren’t real. 


To this day, I still struggle on a daily basis with triggers, and how media and society in general joke about them. Sadly, it is a crucial part of our disease, a symptom that needs to be constantly checked up on. It is a difficult task to learn your triggers, but that is only the first step. I have learned to live with the symptoms, and I have found these few tips helpful in dealing with triggers when they are set off:

1) Try as hard as you can to identify the trigger – What caused it? Is it real? Is it a distortion of thought? If so, purge it with all of your might; breath, use mantras or positive repetition to remind yourself that it is not real.

2) Once the trigger is identified – Assertively diffuse the situation;  if someone’s words were the trigger, be honest, never disrespectful. Be mindful that if a loved one is the source of the trigger, remind yourself that they do not mean you harm. Communicate your anxiety, let them know what you are feeling. Do not be afraid to confront, as long as it is done in a respectful manner. If that is not possible, and you feel an escalation incoming…..

3) Walk away – It is not a sign of weakness to walk away from a situation, especially if it means avoiding a confrontation that could become physically or emotionally violent. Do make sure, though, that when you walk away, be very specific as to WHY you are making the choice. NEVER leave ambiguously; ambiguity is the enemy of clarity, it will lead to further breakdown of communication, and it will end up in further confrontation.


The most important part is to always be mindful of your emotions and physical reactions; if you feel tension, if you feel your hands curling up into fists, your breathing becoming rapid, your heart feeling like it’s in a hyper DDR session, odds are you are triggered and going into full blown Chernobyl-mode.


*Actual image of my head once while playing Werewolf The Apocalypse and having an argument with the Storyteller.


Take it from me kids; sticks and stones may break bones, but metaphorical gun fire will leave you with a very empty, lonely life.