Episode

I happen to be bipolar, but that’s not how I identify myself. For most of my life, I’ve identified simply as a working family man. I have a loving family and I’ve worked more than one profession.

I’m retired now so it’s time to relax, smell the roses, and share.

Because both the mentally ill and most everyone else are fearful of what they don’t understand, the mentally ill usually try to hide their condition. 

No two people are exactly alike. And that holds true of the mentally ill.

I work at controlling my triggers and symptoms. I want everyone to know that it’s possible to function near “normal” with a mental illness. I want everyone to realize, as an example, that I’m under control with help from my nurse, doctor, family, and friends. And most importantly, God and my medications. I’m surrounded by helpers.

It’s possible to have a relatively normal life and I work to demonstrate that. I’m adept at hiding my condition, which simply means I’m not out of control.

Daring old man

Sunday, September 10, 2023 – I think and feel that God is always helping me. Even as I write this. He helps me sort my disordered thoughts. The “Devil” throws me curve balls, especially when I’m vulnerable. I’m in a mild manic state as I’m writing this. But I (we) have it under control. I’m currently in the waning stages.

Love is God’s key to stability. Love is His key to everything.

I recently visited a known personal trigger point against my wife’s and nurse’s orders. Starship Asterisk is a web astronomy forum where people discuss mainly astronomy. There are other discussion topics where they get to know each other a bit. Love is shared there. It’s very beautiful. But they don’t allow religious discussion for obvious reasons. People tend to fight over their own personal beliefs and doctrines. Which is counter to what most religions teach. We don’t get it because as humans, we tend to focus mainly on ourselves. We’re only at our best when we focus outside ourselves helping others.

The reason I visited Starship Asterisk originally (in 2007) was that I love the “out there” of astronomy and needed mental therapy after my 2003 second major mental breakdown. I decided smart people at a free NASA backed astronomy forum would be helpful. My thinking was that we tend to blend socially. I knew it would be fun. I had a good web relationship with several of the people there.

The therapy I received at the astronomy forum was mixed with stress from their no religion discussion rule. I feel a very close tie with God Spirit for helping me with my mental health. Especially after my 2003 breakdown and during my subsequent recovery.

But as it turned out, this website (Ed’s ArtSite also started in 2007) became my best therapist along with my supervising nurse. She actually understands my disordered brain.

Composing and editing my website actually helps me order my disordered thoughts.

The reason I violated orders is because I was compelled to. I have my own mind. I trust God. And I wanted to visit with my APOD Asterisk web friends. I was feeling mentally strong and wanted to “test the waters”.

I’m afraid it didn’t go that well. There were moments of fun and laughter but some friends were gone. One web friend had passed. And I ultimately ran into the manic episodic trigger source… My bipolar disordered delusional desire to unite the planet. Of course I fail. I’m on a wacky doodle internet quest to conquer evil… 

That’s delusional from any human vantage point.

I’m okay now

I’m pretty much over my recent manic episode. They don’t abruptly stop, it’s more of a taper off. Then back to stable.

Trigger Events

Sunday, August 27 – I logged in to my mostly idle since 2013 Starship Asterisk user account. Except for one other similarly brief visit causing another mild manic episode in April 2021. That episode was triggered by a encounter from in the forum through a private email conversation. I was able to recover from that mild episode without a hospital, doctor or nurse visit also.

Anyway, I just wanted to visit my internet web friends at Starship Asterisk. I wanted to have fun with their internet interactive forum posting web tools just like before the astronomy forum manic triggering developed.

I should have known better but I’d been feeling much stronger mentally for some time. So I thought it would be okay. Turns out I was right, but not totally right… again!

The Trigger

Tuesday, September 5 – I started a new APOD Starship Asterisk thread to engage a new web friend about the featured blue moon picture. I was teasing them because (1) the picture wasn’t exciting (2) they love the color blue (3) the moon isn’t blue (4) they’re sort of meh about the moon (5) I love the moon. 

They replied and others began posting too. Eventually someone posted a picture of the Death Star (Star Wars). I saw that particular Death Star post as a life threat to me from a fanatical religious group… a manic trigger… (long story). It was a psychotic paranoiac manic thought. At that point, I started disengaging from the forum. Which I did. Unfortunately, it didn’t prevent the mild episode from continuing.

I write about my spiritual thoughts in my website. Some of my thoughts are outside mainstream Christian thinking. I feel threatened by barbaric fanatics same as everyone else. My bipolar brain begins to spiral away from control when there’s a perceived threat. I’m not good soldier material. I don’t do well taking orders and stress feeds mental illness triggers. Stress is the enemy of stable.

What happens during a manic episode inside my thought processing disordered head is that the devil seizes the weak moment and begins to tell me how bad I am for my past sins. How bad I am for disobeying my wife and nurse. He tries to lower my self worth. He also tries to shorten my patience with others.

The mild episode reduces my tolerance threshold for stress. Thoughts are racing. Control is difficult. But not impossible like it would be without my allies. God and meds. God is spiritually available and helping, so I’m busy asking Him to calm my brain. My meds are working because I’m remaining outwardly calm. I’m able to buffer my thoughts and actions. I also know that I could contact my nurse for helpful advice and I have a supportive family. I have a mental security blanket around me.

God and I work internally to buffer and replace bad thoughts with good thoughts. God also helps me through my friends and surroundings. At this point, I’m leaning heavily on my medications and God for help. The devil speaks. I hear. Then I ask for God’s help and I calm down with better replacement thoughts.

Here’s another trigger example: During this mild episode, I experienced a driver ahead of me driving way below the speed limit. I’m irritated and want to ride their bumper because the devil tells me that I’m more important than they are. I pray and replace that thought with a better one. Perhaps the slow driver is mentally ill and experiencing an episodic difficulty as well. They need help instead of aggressive behavior from me. So I help by giving them space. It’s an internal mental battle until the slow driver turns off from the road I’m on.

I’ve had a lot of practice with this inner cranial bad thought / good thought processing. I was able to overcome the mild manic episode with God’s help in relatively short order. Without changing my dosages. Yes, now I’m bragging. 😎

Sunday, September 10 – I’m okay just five days later without a hospital visit.

MANY are not so fortunate as me.

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By Ed Caldwell

I was once tired, now I’m REtired… Except for some unavoidable honey-dos, I pretty much goof off for a living now. My last career job was designing internet operating circuit boards along with a distinguished team of engineers, managers and support personnel. Prior to that I was an electronics technician evolving into circuit board design in the defense industry working with tactical missile systems. My first career job was a professional artist. During my younger years I worked many odd jobs beginning at age nine with a newspaper delivery route.

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