… This was the turning point in my psychiatristʼs strategy. Perhaps this new kind of medication would be the answer to my prayers, but I didnʼt like the tag that went with its success—the embarrassment of needing a psychiatrist, the monthly medications purchased at the local pharmacy where everybody knew your name, the stigma of the diagnosis that others would eventually come to know. I wanted to be a winner, but I didnʼt want to be considered a loser as a result. For a chance at hopefulness, I listened and I learned and I decided to try it anyway. Once begun, I had to promise to take my medication as prescribed and be diligent to prevail. This was not an antidepressant drug per se but a mood-stabilizing medication designed to be effective enough to provide an antidepressant and anti-manic result as well. My doctor was hopeful this new medication would adjust the severity of my mood swings so they would decrease in frequency and harshness and all that looked like episodes resembling an illness would be reduced.

Manic. Manic. I did not understand manic, or hypomanic, or anti-manic.

I did not understand any of it for a very long time. I have now spent several hundred hours learning about recurrences and brain function and stress management, and while I have hung on to every word, I have waited, if not a cure, then for symptomatic elimination.

Dr. Emil Kraepelin, a German psychiatrist who lived from 1856-1926,stated this: “Manic patients may transitorily appear not only sad and despairing, but also quiet and inhibited. A patient goes to be moody and inhibited, suddenly wakes up with a feeling as if a veil had been drawn away from his brain, passes the day in manic (excited) delight in work, and the next morning, exhausted and with a heavy head, he again finds in himself the whole misery of his state. Or the hypomanic exultant (jubilant) patient quite unexpectedly [makes] a serious attempt at suicide.” Though it all made sense, I drew a line in the sand. I decided a manic-depressive illness was too much and that my ill was more of a nervous breakdown. In spite of being poles apart from my doctor, I promised to follow her lead. Privately, I was convinced the patient was saner than the doctor, though I could not deny that every word from her lips made perfect sense.

An illness? Illness? Excuse me? You think what? You’ve got to be kidding. Hypo… Hypomania… Manic-depressive illness? M A N I C manic? Me? Are you sure…?

I drove home in the Corvette with the top down and the radio blasting, moving in and out of traffic and once I neared on hundred miles per hour, manic-depression didn’t matter anymore. My spirits lifted when I was flying.

Desire and my automobile, an illusive combination. Later that day, in the comfort of my own garage, I watched as the door closed behind me. My silent obsessions began to take me. Tormented by my own self-determination, it was time, and while I waited for the fumes, I analyzed and I became confused and I changed my mind.