A seven year battle with the darkness the author is led by a voice to help him overcome an affliction. Inspirational and compelling true story.
Reasoning with the Darkness
There are pinnacle moments in time that change your life and make you grateful for the things you have. I have found that the measure of my being goes far beyond the things I create with my mind and build with my hands. My true masterpiece is the ability to love and be the father of two children who have been an inspiration to continue my journey. Although, the road can be long and filled with uncertainty, I eventually get to my destination. This book is dedicated to not only my children but all who struggle with afflictions of the mind and body.
This is my own personal story that takes place at a moment in life when I believed I was quickly moving to the best part of my life mentally, financially and spiritually. The time was back in April of 2004 and I had been married for a year and a half to my wife Susan and just had a beautiful baby daughter. We owned a service business in a small Midwestern community that had been operating since 1996. We had just gone through a major remodel and expansion of our retail location and we were currently trying to sell our house that we lived in for over 5 years. My wife and I had made an offer on another home closer to our business. We had 60 days to complete the purchase of the new house contingent on the sale of our old one. I was 31 years old and I had spent my life working my way up to having a secure future. Although, I was strong in my faith in God, I did not always attend church on a regular basis or work to spread the good word to others. My feelings about religion were that good people and good deeds make the person and have lived by that belief.
So there I was driving home on that hot summer day thinking about all the things I had yet to finish. My mind was racing thinking of all the unfinished work needed to be done. Tired and overwhelmed by spending the entire day in the sun I started to make the ten minute commute back to my house. I was having a cell phone conversation with Susan to let her know what was going on for the day. Not paying full attention I pulled away from a stop to head east on the highway and pulled out in front of another car going at least 55 mph. The other driver was able to swerve and avoid my truck and I was feeling stupid because in a split second my life and the other driver could have died. After a moment, I continued to drive east for a couple miles and everything seemed to get back to normal. Then it hit me like never before, an inner voice that overpowered my every thought. I felt the amazing presence from within me saying that I needed to pay attention.
Immediately, I began start crying tears of joy and sadness at the same time. I just felt so overwhelmed by the near accident that I remember looking in my rearview mirror and my eyes looked like they had changed from green to a deep blue. The tears rolled down my face as I have never cried this hard before and overcome with such emotion.
I thought I was losing my mind, but this inner voice quickly reassured me that everything was going to be just fine. The rest of the drive was a blur as I was in such a euphoric state that I was just anxious to get home. I pulled into my driveway and got out of my truck and proceeded to go into the house. Still feeling like a switch had been turned on; I jumped into the shower and started to pray. As I was in the shower I had the most amazing release of pain within my heart. I kept crying and was just so thankful to be alive. I started to wonder if I had truly died in the near miss of an automobile accident and was living as a spirit. I felt so free as if I was floating out of my body during that shower. That moment was truly an out of body experience.
After the shower, I called my mother on the phone to see how she was doing. She lived in Waterloo, IA and had been doing well since her Kidney transplant about a year earlier. She was very excited to hear from me and I have always enjoyed talking to my mother. Sadly, my mother seemed depressed a lot and I always seemed to pick her up off the ground with my calls. I was close to my mother as I ended up being the only one of 7 children to live with her when my parents divorced when I was 14.
The conversation with my mother lasted for about 20 minutes, because our call was interrupted by the doorbell. I answered the door to see our real estate agent Rhonda and a young couple standing on the porch. They had come to look at the house and I had forgotten from my earlier phone conversation from Susan that they were coming. Not having a place to go on such short notice, I waited in the dining room as they looked at the house. My wife Susan and baby daughter were not home at the time so I just went outside the house for a moment to clear my head.
When the couple finished looking at the house, I took a moment to talk to the young lady and her husband that was there. They seemed interesting and liked the house. Then suddenly without any hesitation, I asked the lady if she was going to have a baby. She looked at me with an angry surprise as she was not showing and I had just found out her secret. I believe that scared them off as I was not truly acting as myself. They quickly left and got in their car and pulled out of the driveway in a hurry. Despite what happened, they did end up buying the house and I am not sure if they had a baby or not. It was a stupid thing to say and thinking back I probably sounded crazy. At this time I was not really myself because I felt that I was still under the control of some bizarre force and many things did not make sense. I just felt so filled with wisdom that the words coming out of my mouth may have scared those who listened to me.
I now knew that I needed to control what I say or do because my confident gift of knowledge was not meant to scare or harm anyone. I sat in my recliner thinking about what had happened yet still feeling this overwhelming happiness. I was filled with so many questions floating around my head. I am not sure how long I sat in the recliner but I was in such a state of euphoria that I just let the time pass. I heard Susan pull into the garage and
as she walked up the steps from the garage, I remember clearly as she was carrying my daughter in her baby carrier. I was so wanted to tell Susan what had happened, but decided to show her instead.
When Susan got into the dining room I said watch this and put my right hand on the wall. Through my eyes I could see that I was leaving a red handprint on the wall as if I was giving the house my seal of approval. Susan could not see it and could not understand what I was trying to show her. I was so happy and excited yet disappointed that she could not understand what I was talking about. I put my hand on my daughter’s leg as she had a large red birthmark there and told Susan I could make it vanish. It did not happen instantly but went away after a couple weeks. At that very moment my wife was convinced I was crazy and demanded that I go get some sleep. I went upstairs, yet things still continued to happen beyond my control.
Laying there in bed I began to have waking visions of the past, present and future. It was like I could go anywhere in the world with just a thought and see other peoples lives or events. Again I started to feel that I was in a spirit world, not alive another day and worried about what was going to happen to me. I went downstairs at least three times to check on Susan and the baby but sensed her thoughts that she was afraid of me. I meant no harm and only wanted to express my love for both of them. Susan demanded I go to bed, so I gave in one last time. I lay in bed for what seemed like an eternity and waited for Susan to fall asleep downstairs.
Susan fearing for me doing anything out of the ordinary had taken my keys to my truck and hid them in the freezer. This is the first time she had ever hid them from me but I managed to walk right to the freezer and somehow knew exactly where they were. I decided to go for a drive and figure out what was going on. It was late at night, nobody was around and that is when I began to feel the inner voice again. This voice was giving me messages in various ways mostly through billboard signs. As I was driving out of town, I noticed the car wash sign that said “Your wife called she said wash the car”. So I did and that is when I began my journey into the unknown.
I washed my black Chevy truck and suddenly felt that others in the world were trying to control me. I was being directed to do some things and was afraid that I would vanish. I walked behind the carwash. I walked to the edge of a creek and took off my watch for at that moment it I did not need it anymore. I was leaving clues behind in case I went missing so I left my watch laying there in the grass. I got in my truck and started driving west on the main highway. I got about a mile out of town and I threw my shoes and keys to my business out the window. I kept driving for about another 4 miles and took a turn south to head towards my friends house.
The voice kept talking to me and was letting me know that I needed to stick to the plan. I was so conflicted and thoughts kept racing through my head. Somehow I felt inside that I needed to go back home. Strange things began to happen inside my truck. For instance, I kept seeing 11:11 on my dashboard clock and then it would change to 1:11 but this kept happening because then the trip odometer changed to 111 then the mileage odometer said 111111. I could not explain it at the time but the experience was very powerful. I am not a student of numerology or can explain this bizarre incident.
As I continued to drive, it all became clear and I knew I had seen and done this all before I even came to this earth. The voice was telling me that I was starting a plan that had been in effect for thousands of years and that I must continue. That is when I had the waking vision of what was to come. I learned in an instant that there is an on going war between good and evil and that I was preparing the way for others to find salvation. My life was reviewed and everyone and everything that had ever happened in my life was made crystal clear. I was no longer afraid or scared that anything would happen to me. I felt that I had the ability to manipulate things with just the matter of a thought. It was such an amazing feeling to believe I had this gift. I saw a yard light at a farm in the distance and pointed to it and said “off”. In an instant it turned off and I knew that I had this power to manipulate things. I practiced on some more lights with the same results in the course of a 10 mile drive. While doing this I was told that I need to stick to the plan so I decided to return home against my will.
I drove back home and Susan was waiting for me to return at the house. Susan was upset that I had left and she could not comprehend what was going on and purely thought I had lost my mind. She was going to take my baby daughter and herself to her parent’s house. I decided that it was best to leave and started running away because I was convinced I needed help. Susan followed me in her car and found me downtown in a bank parking lot. I got in the car for a moment but was afraid of her anger and the thoughts she had of me. I jumped out of the car and began running down the street. I saw a police squad car and yelled at him and started waving my arms for him to help me. I was not aware at the time that I was standing there in the street completely naked. When the office pulled up beside me he asked what was going on. I told him I needed help and that I was scared. I knew him from being a classmate in my high school. I asked Jim to help me and it was like he could not understand me so I reached in the squad car and started typing on the keys on his dashboard computer. Not feeling that he could do anything for me I became scared and ran about two blocks to my house.
When I got home I got upstairs to my bed and hid underneath the covers. Within a couple minutes I heard this loud knocking at the door and the repeated doorbell ringing. I came back downstairs and let in Jim the police officer, another police officer and some EMTS. One of them went into the bathroom and grabbed a robe for me to put on as I was standing there feeling like I was dead. They all seemed like angels to me and looked like they truly cared and wanted to help. Yet, I was afraid as they probably thought I was on some drugs or something which I was not.
They took me to the local hospital. At the time, I felt that this was all part of the plan the voice spoke of. I was put in the emergency room and laid in a bed for a while. I was handcuffed to the bed and police officer Jim was sitting there watching me. My sense of hearing was amazing as I could hear every conversation around me. I could hear the all the things that people were saying and thinking and I just wanted to close my eyes. After about a half hour, I begged Jim to remove the handcuffs, he did come and loosen them but he was just doing his job and trying to protect me from being a danger. I was not violent, did not swear and was at peace with the entire situation. I still felt under the influence of the voices control and that I was to go through this experience to gain some meaning and understanding about my life.
About an hour later, a psychiatrist from a local hospital showed up to start asking me questions. He needed to evaluate my condition and see if I was insane or something. I talked to him for about an hour while laying there in bed and assured him that I was fine. I told him that I just needed to get some sleep and in my mind I wanted to keep my recent spiritual experience to myself. Apparently, it worked because they gave me some injection and I fell asleep around 2 am. During this sleep, I had the most vivid dream as if I was going through some sort of major transformation. I dreamt what it was to be like as a woman giving birth and/or an old man on his dying breath. I am not sure what I said or did during that time I laid there but it made a difference on the people around me.
When I awoke various strangers were asking me to give them and their families blessings. In my heart, I knew that by saying their name that they were being saved. Many people came and went for the next hour or two as I talked to them and gave them all a message of hope. That morning my dad showed up to pick me up from the hospital as I was to be released without question. We got in his car and my dad started making conversation with me. I felt completely back to normal and felt I had a deeper understanding of the world or so I thought.
My dad was going to take me to his house so we began the 30 minute ride from the hospital to there. My dad did not say hardly anything for a long time but then said something odd to me. He said how throughout my life people have come up to him and said some things about me. What was he talking about? I was confused and just sat back and said nothing more. What did my Dad know? I was kind of scared of him because I thought he might hurt me for making my wife upset. I looked out the passenger window and noticed people staring at me from their cars that passed by. I could sense that they felt they had won and that they would keep me from finishing my plan. They were not good people by the looks on their faces and I got this overwhelming sense of evil in my heart.
We arrived at Dads house and my stepmother Diane started asking me questions. She wanted to know what happened. I knew I had nothing to lose by telling her how I feel even though I did not trust her. This was one week after Easter Sunday and I told her plainly that “I had died”. She wanted to know what I was talking about so I told her again that “I had died and been reborn.” At that moment, my dad said I needed to get some sleep but I was not tired. I sat on the couch and started to watch TV. At the time, Good Morning America was on and they all looked really sad. It was like the people on TV were crying. They had a rolling crawl across the screen of names of people some famous and some I had never heard of. It was not your typical informational news just names of famous people. I felt that if I looked at these names they were receiving a blessing through my eyes. I remember many of the names that I saw at the time. I will not go into detail as I do not want to seal the fate of them for good or evil because I was unsure what was happening.
Then something changed a commercial came on by a well known fast food chain. The lady in the commercial could eat any of this food and live forever. I knew what I was seeing was not from God. This was an evil attempt to show me how man would rule the world and be able to do anything they wanted even if the food they ate was made out of poison. I became very frightened for my safety. I did not feel like I was being helped by my family. My dad became very angry with me and demanded that I lay on the couch. I felt like he was going to kill me so I started to make my way to the front door. He tried to stop me and gave me a look in which I could see the evil in his soul. Suddenly, I felt like I was given amazing strength and put my hand on top of his head to hold him back. Seeing the evil in his eyes and knowing it was not him but some kind of demon trying to stop me I said “In the name of Jesus, I deny you everlasting life.” I then ran out the front door hearing my step mom say “call the police.”
I ran a few blocks and my dad kept yelling for me to come back. I just wanted to find a church or somewhere where I felt that evil was not going to harm me. I remember my dad riding in some stranger’s car and pulling up to me and pleading for me to get in the car. I was so scared and felt all alone in the world. I kept running and my dad started to catch up with me. He jumped out of the unknown car and chased me to the door to a house. I tried knocking for them to let me in but could not get in. I ran around back while being followed and managed to go to the back door but they refused to let me in. As most people probably would anyway, I was a stranger in a strange town. I ran down the street and saw a van and jumped in front of it for them to stop. They refused to help me. I did not know what to do, I had nowhere to go. I was so upset at God for giving me a gift and afraid for my life that I took off my wedding ring and through it in the street. I never saw that ring ever again and I regret losing it but at that moment I think I had lost my mind.
Eventually, I was chased down to a grassy field by several police officers. They threw me to the ground with such force that I bruised a rib. I remember my dad yelling “Don’t hurt him.” I begged to be saved and one nice police officer was able to calm me down and put me in his squad car. I distinctly remember him as a person that I could trust because he took me into his car removed his sunglasses and I looked into his eyes. I could tell that he was there to protect me from being harmed. For the first time, I felt safe and secure. I told him to call my wife and let her know that I was o.k. He did not say a word just gave me a look to be quiet and I did. We drove back to Clinton and that is when I noticed more things going on in the world around me.
We drove past a gas station and I saw the price of gas at over $15 a gallon. It was like I was looking into the future but in real time. As we drove on I saw a teenage boy who had hate in his heart. I felt that the earth was about to go through a major upheaval. That the end would bring such economic pain and that man was trying to inherit the earth. I was seeing visions of the future, but seeing things change before my eyes as if it was already happening. God was showing me the potential tribulation we will suffer if we don’t change. I now knew that I had a message but that the world was not ready to hear it yet. This all happened before we had high gas prices and the current state of the economy in 2009. .
I arrived at the hospital and was escorted into a room. A doctor started asking me questions and I did not want to talk. I was scared and afraid that my thoughts were too powerful and could harm others in the world. I began tearing down the posters on the wall of various diseases and medical problems to prevent those thoughts from entering my head. I was clearly not in a normal state of mind but was fully aware of all things going around me. The doctor injected me with some kind of drug and I went blank. I do briefly remember them doing a CAT scan on my brain and was told later that they were concerned that I might have a tumor. However, I passed and the remainder of the next 48 hours is very unclear. I had been involuntarily admitted to the psychtriatic ward in the Mercy hospital. This was very difficult because I did not think I was crazy, just misunderstood. I tried to reason with the doctors and nurses; I tried to let them know that I was fine and just needed to sleep some. I will spare you as a reader some of the details but getting strapped to a bed for injections was not my idea as summer vacation.
I had been diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder. I did not know what that meant when they told me. I was taking so many pills each day that I was so sleepy and dazed. I just wanted to go home and see my wife Susan and daughter. The way they explained Bi-Polar to me is they invited my Dad to watch a video with me. I laughed the whole way through it because that was not me. How could I go 31 years in my life before and never exhibit one symptom of this imbalance of the brain. It is not like they give you a blood test and voila you have this incurable disorder. I did everything in my power to be normal while in that place.
I remember the day I was released from the hospital. I was finally free! Fortunately, I even sold the house on the market. This surprising thing is that it sold to the couple I had so easily scared off after the near miss to my auto accident. I was never to go back and live at my old house because my release day was our move in day to our beautiful new house. I was so amazed at how much my family had done; they had packed everything and moved everything for us. That was such a blessing and I am forever thankful to them for eliminating the huge stress of moving. I was advised by my doctors to take things easy so we took almost two months settling into the new house and stayed at Susan’s parents for the time being.
I began going to daily treatment classes at the hospital to develop coping skills with my bi polar. I tried not to think about the moment that the voice came into my life because I was a little confused and scared that I would end up in the hospital all over again. I gradually became more involved with my business and started to regain my life back. Moment by moment I grew stronger and began to accept that I would have to take medication and therapy for my entire life. But the journey was just beginning; I had so many questions and setbacks in the last 5 years that it has only led me to seek more wisdom and truth.
I battled depression on an off after my first spiritual manic episode and suffered at least three total setbacks since being diagnosed. The first setback occurred 5 years ago and spent over 30 days on two separate occasions in Singer mental hospital in Rockford. This was an entirely different experience as I had become more aware of what was happening to me. I would like to share this experience with you as I felt again that the voice was again in control of my actions and thoughts. It was during this time that I gained so much inner perspective and learned to grasp the mysteries of the mind that I feel it is relevant to this story. You have to believe me that these setbacks would set the stage for opening a spiritual side in me I have never felt before.
It began right around the time that my grandmother Gertrude died. This was almost two years after my first Bi-Polar manic experience that I still feel was in control by the voice. I had just been invited to attend the 2006 Presidential Dinner with George W. Bush. What an amazing offer to be chosen as I was contacted by a Senator and was a member of the Business Advisory Council. I was so excited by this life event that I could hardly contain my enthusiasm at grandma’s funeral. Obviously, it was not the time or the place to share such information with your family, especially when they are all Democrats.
I went to grandmas visitation looking forward to seeing my all my family I had not seen in such a long time. Though it was a sad moment, I felt at peace for her because I knew she no longer suffered any pain and that she was in a better place. She was finally with her true love, my grandpa, Larry in heaven. The service was nice and as we were having snacks in a room set up for the family. After a moment of socializing, I unveiled to them that I was going to Washington D.C. in a couple weeks. I was surprised at the lack of encouragement and later that evening talked to my oldest sister about it. She said that she hated George W. Bush and proceeded to tell me about a time she got to ride in Bill Clinton’s motorcade. We spent much of the evening talking about grandma and remembering some special moments in her life.
I was feeling very sad after this conversation and tired because it was very late. I needed to get up early the next morning to attend the funeral as a pallbearer. I began to worry that I might have a manic episode or something so I called the number for my psychiatrist. I was only able to leave a message, mostly showing my concern that they did not have a 24 hour emergency contact number for their patients. However, I pulled it together and I attended the funeral and said my final goodbyes to my grandmother. I went home with my wife, daughter and now new son. Things continued to be normal but I found myself doing much soul searching. I would have long conversations with my mother on the phone or go for a drive in my F-250 truck to think about things.
It was during one of these drives I became interested in the farm that I grew up on until age 14. There were many happy memories that far outweighed the bad. I sought the permission of the owner to take a tour. I told him at the time I was writing a book which took me 3 years later to start and was doing some research. Many things had changed in the time that I had lived there 20 years ago. Some of the barns were run down or gone and the house looked like it was in a terrible need of new paint or siding. I walked to the area where we had a pond while I was growing up. This pond was fed by a nearby spring from the limestone hills above. I was surprised to see that the pond had dried up and became a collection of weeds and small trees. It had always been a place for me to spend time fishing or playing when I was younger. I stood there for along time thinking about how I could rebuild this pond into a small lake. I had the knowledge and the help of a good excavator that could help me rebuild this. I began to imagine just how I would build this as the entire area nearby sat in a valley and could become a beautiful manmade lake fed by the nearby spring and a nearby creek.
I walked up the valley to the top of the hill overlooking the old pond and imagined the house I would build there. I began to get ideas about what I would do with the entire 22 acre farm that the owner was thinking about selling. It had so many natural hills, wooded areas and privacy that it could become something so much bigger. The only animals on the farm were horses and the fields had all become pasture. I even tried to find the location of a two room cave I found on the farm at the age of 12. As I walked around the farm I began to have a vision of what I could do with it. I began to visualize a dream that I had hoped I could someday make come true.
I dreamt that I would turn this farm into a church camp for youth and began to design plans for it in my mind. The old house would be converted to be a church; the horses would provide kids with an activity as there were many trails. The new converted pond to a lake would become a gathering area for swimming and fun water activities. The natural spring would become a place for people to become baptized. I had all kinds of ideas including the use of the cave for exploration, planting an orchard and garden, and using wind power to generate electricity. I even found the perfect tree along one of the trails to turn into a totem pole. I figured as I brought other people in to help that this would continue to grow and become an amazing camp.
At the time, I thought I was in for a large inheritance from my grandma and that I might be able to convince my other 6 brothers and sisters to help out financially. However, due to circumstances in the last few years this dream never materialized. I still believe that someday I will have the means to create such a beautiful place no matter where the location. At least God was giving me something to dream about it was just that the timing was not right as the owner was not ready to sell. I also was not able to convince my wife that this was a good investment and I did not inherit enough money or have the financial means to make this dream happen. The time spent visiting this farm did help me to find peace with myself and gave me the ability to envision a brighter future.
While visiting the area, I drove into town one day and stopped at a tire store in Preston. I had just bought a nice used F-250 and wanted to see if I had a good tread on my tires. I was told by a customer there that they were fine and he introduced himself to me. His name was James Simpson and he gave me his business card. He was an insurance agent for Knights of Columbus and I had a brief conversation with him. I found him interesting and very friendly. Over the next couple weeks we talked on the phone and he opened my eyes to the Knights of Columbus organization. I had grown up Catholic but was no longer a practicing one. I belonged to the Second Reformed Church in Fulton that was a Christian church similar to the Catholic doctrine. I loved my Church but thought it would be nice to go to a service at my old church. I attended a service at the Catholic Church as James’s guest. He had convinced me to join the Knights of Columbus so I did. I remember meeting a young man who was leaving for the Air Force in the next week. He was joining as a Knight but seemed a little scared. It was not like he was going to become a Mason and he had some hesitation. I talked to him about his plans for the Air Force and he did join with me in the induction. I remember going into the room and standing there with about 10 other men. We were inducted in as Knights and went through a ceremony that was memorable. I can not go into great detail as I pledged to keep the induction ceremony secret. It was an uplifting moment that I am still proud of being a part of to this day.
I even started to wonder if I should get back into selling life insurance. At one time, I had my insurance license though AIG but never really pursued it much because I was so involved with my business. Susan and my daughter got to come out to James’s house and meet his family. My daughter who was about three still remembers his daughter and the horses and rabbits they had. During that visit, I saw the most amazing rainbow that you could see the end to about 50 feet away. I was so moved by this rainbow that I got on my knees and prayed. I became so overcome by emotion as everything hit me as I was still mourning the loss of my Grandma a few weeks earlier. We had a nice visit and James was definitely a man of God that always knew the right things to say. I spent much time talking to him about some of my deep questions about life. He encouraged me to pray and believe in the greater good that God brings into my life.
Then it happened one day after meeting James that things changed. I was not feeling myself and went home after work. I remember Susan giving me a blue shirt from the softball team I sponsored that said 01 on the back of it. I was feeling distraught but could not understand why. I think I was on the verge of having another manic episode. I remember walking away from the house with a heavy heart and feeling like I could just cry. I walked to our church in Fulton and sat in the front pew. The praise team was just getting ready to practice that evening, so I thought I would just sit there and pray. My pastor George came down and sat next to me. I could tell he seemed worried about me and he started to ask some questions. I remember him asking me if I thought I was having another episode. I was not sure and thought that I was just being emotional.
We went back to his study and my wife Susan came there to join us. We talked and I began to reveal my thoughts going back to 2 years prior about the battle between good and evil. I was saying things that seemed prophetic and remember that I was very emotional. I tried to assure all of them that I was fine but Pastor George felt I should go to the hospital with him. Eventually, I gave in and he drove me there in his van. My wife, my sister Angie and Pastor George all sat waiting in a room for me to be admitted. I tried to reason with all of them that I did not want to go back to the psych ward. In fact, I was begging them to reconsider and give me a chance to just go back home. My attempts to convince them failed and again I found myself back in the hospital 2 years later.
While there the first evening, I had a roommate. I am not sure what exactly he was admitted for but he really missed his son. I felt so bad for him and tried to assure him that he would get to reunite with him soon. It is so hard to see a grown man cry and it made me miss my daughter and newborn son. I lay in bed for hours wide awake as thoughts of my family raced through my head. I got up in the middle of the night, walked out of the room and went to the nurse’s desk. I begged them to release me and let me go home back to my family. I was not feeling like I was having any Bi-Polar experience at the time. They refused to let me out so I did a really stupid thing. I got really pissed off and walked down the hall and pulled the fire alarm. Let me tell you, they should not put those things where patients can access them. The police and fire department showed up to the hospital. People were evacuated from the hospital and I caused a major ruckus.
I tried to walk out the main door of the ward and was stopped by the police officers. My doctor was standing there and I just gave him an upset look and said to him that I was being held against my will. I even told him that this incident would be the end of his career. Well, unfortunately it could have been the end of my freedom and I could have permanently been put away for such an incident. I was so bitter towards my doctor that the police carried me to a room. This is the most painful experience I can ever remember.
I was taken into a room and strapped down to a bed. I was so scared, yet I understand that they were just all following protocol. I was given some injections and passed out. The next day, they released me from the room and I took a shower. From that point on, I decided that I would no longer do anything to cause trouble. I just followed the daily routines of eating, doing puzzles and reading. I knew I was constantly being watched so I had to keep in good graces with the entire staff. I was released within a week and really don’t remember much about my return. My son was only a couple months old and I was getting used to being around him while at home. One of the nurses said to me that I may have had these episodes because I was a new dad each time. I don’t know and did not really feel a spiritual experience to it.
It did not take long until I did have another experience that sent me to Rockford. I went for another one of my drives one afternoon and apparently went missing. Since I had just been in the hospital my whole family was concerned. I drove around that night all over parts of Iowa. I was doing some thinking and should have let Susan know that I was fine. While driving through Dewitt, IA I picked up a hitchhiker. I cannot remember his name but he seemed harmless and hungry. We drove to Dubuque, IA and I remember buying him some fast food and getting him a hotel room. He told me how he was a veteran and was homeless. He had wandered across the country from down south just trying to find some work. He thought he would have good luck in Dubuque so I felt it good to do my part and help.
I do remember at the hotel where I paid for the homeless guy to stay that I called and left a message for Susan to tell her I was fine. She claims she never got the message; that I will never know. The next day I took this homeless guy to Preston, IA because I thought he would get some help from the Church. James my friend I mentioned before, ended up helping out but said that the guy wanted to go back to Dubuque. I guess James drove him up there and I only hope that this homeless guy found a home and work. My heart was in the right place and all I wanted to do was help this poor homeless guy who so honorably served our country. I then decided that I should get back home as I needed to pack for my trip to Washington DC. I was set to fly out the next morning from Moline to attend the Presidential Dinner that I had so looked forward to going to.
As I drove into my hometown, I was pulled over for no apparent reason by a police officer. He said that I needed to come down to the station with him. I said that I was not doing anything wrong and that I was not a danger to myself or anyone. I even showed him the medication I had with me and assured him that I was taking it. Well, I did not win that argument and I followed him to the police station. While there, I was questioned and evaluated by another police officer about my sanity. I know in my heart of hearts that I was fine, I was not acting crazy and just took a night off from my wife to do some thinking. At the time, Kim and I were not exactly getting along because she felt that she would have to be burdened with my Bi-Polar for the rest of her life. I was so mad that they held me there against my will. I remember my Mom and James coming there and pleading with them to let me go. I even used my one phone call to call the states attorney and have him clarify why I was being held without cause. It just seems that no matter what, whenever people know you have been afflicted with a mental illness you just cannot reason with them.
After about a 6 hour wait I lost the battle and was taken to Singer Mental Hospital in Rockford. There went my opportunity to go to the 2006 Presidential Dinner. I felt betrayed by my brother John who had come to the police station to see that I seek treatment. I know my family felt this was best for me, but bridges were burned between my Mom and others in my family. I was taken to the hospital by van and admitted to the hospital. It was late at night and when admitted I answered a series of questions about my health history. I was put in a room where at least two other patients were in there and felt alone and scared. I remember laying there in bed wondering if this was how my life was going to be. I could not imagine spending the remainder of my life in and out of mental hospitals. I was so distraught and scared of spending my life in this place that I cried myself to sleep that night.
It is one thing to battle the manic episodes but with medication management and careful supervision you can adjust. I did not know at the time that I signed off on an involuntary admission which meant I could be there indefinitely. The first few days there were spent sleeping and I do not remember much as I was under such heavy medication. After about three days, I began to become more active and more vocal about my stay at Singer Mental Hospital. At the same time, I felt challenged to maintain a sense of normalcy as everything I did or said was being watched by the staff. To keep myself from looking like a crazy person I spent much of my time writing a journal. We did not have books to read but magazines so I would read them and envision having some of the cool guy gadgets someday if I got out.
My first major challenge was having communication with my wife Susan. I was only allowed to make one outgoing phone call a day at certain times. Most of the time, nobody would answer and I would become discouraged. I did periodically receive calls from my dad, and major ass chewing from my father-in-law and a few other family members. It was an adjustment to spend so much time in a place and have limited freedom to go anywhere. I can understand why as they fear I or others are a danger to society. However, I feel medication therapy is limiting and most coincide with behavioral therapy to be successful. It is not for me to judge the practices of this institution as I chose to go there.
Some of my concerns were sharing rooms with people who screamed and seemed violent at times. However, I was not threatening to anyone and merely feared for my own safety. Like a well written book, I met a unique cast of characters in this hospital filled with people with personality disorders. I will mention a few that come to mind but this story is about my struggle and I cannot relate fully to the battles these patients were facing. There were at least 20 of us at the time in that portion of the hospital who would share meals together, do our own laundry and swap personal stories. Most of the time, I sat around and played board games or would socialize.
I decided the only chance for making the best of my situation was to get to know some of the more sane people around me. I spent most of the time exercising by walking up and down the halls and saying hello to fellow patients. As long as I did not make any attempts to leave the premises then there should not be any issues like before. With determination, I wanted to be a model patient so I could get my freedom back and be with my wife and children. However, the walking could not stop my feeling of being confined so I sought comfort at meal times by eating as much food as I could. This would include making trades with other patients so that I could fulfill a void in myself of being alone.
During one of my meal times, I got to meet another patient named Ryan but later found out he preferred to be called “Sunny.” From this point I will refer to him as Sunny as his name was a true reflection of his character. You see, Sunny had been in this hospital for at least six months for depression but did not seem to exhibit many signs of feeling that way. He did express his sadness for not being able to be at home playing his guitar. We had many conversations during my nearly one month stay in the hospital. I documented my conversations about Sunny in my journal I kept and one day graciously gave it to a staff member to read. The staff member gave the journal and references to Sunny to his doctor. I am not sure what happened as maybe he had been there so long he was off the radar for treatment or going home. However, the best part of this story and my experience meeting Sunny is that he was released within a couple days of sharing my journal. No matter where he ended up, I pray he is home safe and enjoying playing the guitar.
I remember one day getting to go outside in a common area at the hospital. I remember it being a hot summer day and seeing hundreds of planes flying overhead. Later, I found out that there was an air show being held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and planes were flying out of Rockford, IL to attend the event. It was quite the sight to see and one that will burn in my memory for a lifetime. Somehow, I felt that I too someday would be free from this place and be able to be in a plane looking down amongst the world below.
However, my hopes of finding happiness in my solitude were dashed on the day they admitted Antonio to the ward. He was very manipulative and challenged me for about a week. Antonio always acted as if he had an agenda by first becoming your friend and then taking things from you. I was not having manic moments in the hospital but this guy seemed like the exact opposite of my good nature. I did not like playing card games or chess with him because he would make up his own rules and change them all the time. I felt at times that he was my nemesis whose only goal was to make me do something irrational and get be put away even longer. However, one day I did challenge him to a game of chess and beat him for the first time. To the amazement of Antonio he felt defeated and started to stay out of my way after that. He was transferred out of the ward a few days later and a peace seem to come back to the place. That is if you can accept a mental hospital as a place of peace. Actually, it is more like controlled chaos. The staff keeps control whiles the chaos of our brains cause’s people typically looked at as normal to have fully fledged mental breakdowns.
No longer had feeling challenged with Antonio being gone, I began to focus on my own personal well being. I got to plead my case to my doctor and counselor through a conference call. I let them know that I felt I was making great strides after being there over two weeks that I was ready to go home. However, my wife must have felt otherwise as I continued to linger in that place for another two weeks. I let the doctor and therapist know that I felt normal and the medicine I was taking seemed to have a positive effect. Well, needless to say I did not get an immediate discharge. I ended up becoming another Sunny, kind of like a fixture in this place with no thoughts or feelings.
One very special moment, was when my wife brought my daughter to come visit me at the hospital. My son was still a baby and was staying with his grandma. I was emotionally moved at the time. I got to ask about my son and he was fine too. It was a bitter sweet moment because I got to see the ones I love but could not have a good conversation because I felt I was under a microscope.
Upon my eventual release one of my roommates said that if I ever come back to visit make sure I bring him some “squares” or cigarettes. Although, not allowed on the grounds he had a way of sneaking places to smoke. I later developed the habit of smoking that to this day I am battling to quit. So Susan picks me up from the hospital and we go and have lunch at a restaurant that makes hotdogs pretty much anyway you want them. These were some of the best Chicago style hotdogs I have ever had in my life. It was finally great to taste freedom again. We went back home and I became focused to rebuild my business that I had been so absent from. I wanted to make things right with my family but this merely was a beginning to a downward slide.
I slipped into a nearly 8 month long depression and could not physically or emotionally function. My marriage suffered and my business income suffered. I had lost something that I had spent 12 years building only to watch my business crash and burn. I was in terrible debt to my vendors, creditors were calling day and night and my employees quit. I couldn’t blame them. When you have eleven people depending on you for a paycheck and there is not any work to be found, it makes life difficult. Because my business was seasonal and thrived from April to September, I had seen the peak come and go by being in the hospital.
So instead of going to the business, I would just lie in bed all day and tell people including my wife that I was sick. I won’t lie but when you come off manic episodes it is usually followed by longer battles of depression. I needed to find balance in my life so I sought comfort in eating food just like while I was in the hospital. I quickly began to gain weight and added an additional 50 lbs to my weight. Most of it seems to have gone to my mid-section and I became very self conscience of my looks. I also took up smoking as a vice to help cope with my depression.
Sad to say, this once highly successful business failed and I sold it for a fraction of its true worth. I sold everything; including a newly remodeled building, trucks, tools and remaining inventory to one of my employees. They got a fire sale price on something that I had created and had thousands of customers with an excellent reputation. Needless to say, the money made off the sale did not get me out of debt with my vendors. I owed major amounts of money to Federal and State payroll taxes so I paid that off. Being a tad bit paranoid with my condition I choose to eliminate those debts. That however was not enough so eventually I filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Eventually, by March of 2007 I had pulled out of my depression and interviewed for a sales position with a local cable television company. I did get the job and actually did very well with it. Within seven months, I was promoted to a management position and was earning a decent wage again. This job was much less stressful than running a business. During that time of happiness, my wife and I were getting along, bankruptcy cleared my debts, my kids were healthy and so was I. I worked for the company for about 3 years and got to a point where I felt a sense of being normal again. Unfortunately, my mother did pass away in December of 2007 and she is greatly missed but I managed to keep things together emotionally.
However, I think my Bi-Polar took a toll on my marriage. I separated from Susan in April 2009. I found out she had cheated on me and there just was not any reconciliation for such a terrible act. I gave up everything I had worked so hard over the years for. She got the house, the kids, the furniture and most of my assets. I ended up in a small apartment overlooking the Mississippi river with limited visitation to see my two children. This was a painful time in my life and I have chosen not to write in much detail about it. I think the saddest thing that happened immediately after the divorce was spending Easter all alone that day. Rather than dwell on matters of the heart I began to just focus on my health and career.
I enjoyed working for the cable television company and spent most of the time sitting at my desk doing reports and surfing the internet. Very low stress because I found out that Bi-Polar can be triggered by stress or other major life events. I had a lot of responsibility with this position. I had to manage around 15 sales representatives and keep them trained, motivated and be the coach and mentor. I did this job diligently for almost three years but the inner voice inside of me kept saying to find something new, so I decided to apply for another job. Not knowing at the time that the entire sales department would be eliminated shortly after I left the company, I felt that my departure was nothing short of a miracle. Reasoning not only did I spare myself from unemployment, but many other representatives took a cue from my playbook and left the company before the cutbacks.
So in November of 2009, I took an opportunity to work with an International Tool supply. It was a good job and they even flew me down to my former city I lived in after college to interview at St. Louis. I met the Regional Manager at a restraint near one of the terminals in the airport. Always one to impress in an interview, I was offered the job on the spot. I flew back home that day and then would spend the next three months doing online training for this career. I got scheduled to go to three week training in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the beginning, things went great but I was feeling sleep deprived. I would go in very early to sit through all day training. Then we would come home and go to a local bar to unwind. Not to mention being away from my comfortable bed at home made it difficult to sleep.
I was doing fine after the first week of training but things began to change during the weekend. Friday night a bunch of us got together and watched the movie “The Hangover” and I may have had a little too much to drink. The next day we had a Saturday morning technical class and I just was so tired I could not function. After the class, a group of us and the instructor went for lunch at an Olive Garden. Well, one of the other students kept making smart ass jokes about me and I became offended and went off on him during dinner. Needless to say, when this lunch was over I went back to the apartment to catch up on my sleep.
There was a problem though, my roommate left to go home that day to take care of a personal family matter. I had not talked much to my roommate the entire time I was there and felt bad and went on a van ride to the airport to drop him off that Saturday. At the apartment, I tried everything I could to take nap as I was feeling that I was battling anxiety. I became very paranoid because I started to think that I was being watched by other students, staff and from cameras hidden within these apartments. I called my manager to let him know that I was having issues and sought the help of some other guys going to training. I ended up going with two of them to a hospital and got evaluated. I knew I was becoming manic again and let the doctor in the emergency room know of my condition. He ended up prescribing me some Ambien for sleep. The pills did help and I slept. Needless to say, I felt that my condition was worsening and the medication I was taking was not helping. I was at the time taking Zoloft for depression, Deprakote for mood and Risperdone for keeping the paranoid thoughts away.
The next day after finally getting a good night’s sleep and going through an emotional weekend I went back to training. I took a test and failed right on the spot. I was pulled out of class by one of the trainers to explain what had happened over the weekend. I said I just needed a personal day to take off from training. Well, that was not acceptable to them so I was taken back to my apartment and was told to wait there until I heard from the training department manager.
The training manager showed up a couple hours later with another person and had me pack my bags. They took me to another hospital and had me evaluated to see if I should be admitted there for treatment. I spent most of my day talking to the doctor and was asked many questions. After a very long afternoon sitting in that glass room I got to get released and flew back home with the escort of the training manager. I remember that day very clearly because it was the day after the Haiti earthquake. I arrived at the airport and my girlfriend at the time asked if I needed to go to a hospital. I said I just needed sleep so we stayed at a hotel in Peoria, IL that evening. The next day, I felt much better and went back home to pick up the pieces of my life.
The company I worked for called a couple days later and put me on some paid leave. They asked if I felt I could continue in the job. Well to make a long story short, I was able to go back to Tulsa and finish my training. I ended up passing all tests and presentations with exceptional marks. I was a completely different person and graduated at the end of two weeks. It was a pinnacle of triumph over the misery I had suffered a month earlier in training. I learned an important lesson that first I should sleep more and second to avoid alcohol. Not a healthy combination when you are taking medication and find yourself in a strange environment.
I worked diligently for this company for about six months but was forced to leave the company due to layoffs. Apparently, due to the economy and slow down in the construction industry that me and several others were asked to leave and take a severance. This was difficult because it came unexpected so I was not prepared to search for another job. I lived on unemployment but struggled to make ends meet for a period of four months. I sought solace in reading books and did the best I could. Although, I did struggle financially I managed to make ends meet with the limited unemployment benefits I had. Since then my health was doing great and I had not had any manic or depressive episodes in the last two years. One change was that my doctor put me on doses of Abilify and eliminated my use of Risperdone. I have felt fine ever since.
In August of 2010, I ended up taking another sales job with a company that supports the automotive industry. I have worked there for almost two years and feel that I have done my best to meet the challenges I face in that job. I have a great relationship with my children and see them every other weekend. My son will be celebrating his sixth birthday next week and my daughter is a vibrant at the age of eight year. In fact, I could write an entire book about my children and how wonderful they are. They have inspired me to make more positive changes with my health. I feel if it was not for having those two wonderful people in my life that this battle with Bi-Polar would have been lost long ago. I love my children with all my heart and have done my best to provide for their needs. I love being a positive role model and guiding force in their development. My children are my solace and comfort from which I gain strength from within.
Currently, I am in a healthy relationship with someone who understands and accepts my condition. She has had her share of lifelong physical afflictions, but together we work to make each other stronger. Although, our relationship in still somewhat new, I can feel in my heart that she is the person I could easily spend the rest of my life with. I pray for strength between us and hope we continue to grow closer. So my dear if you are reading this book I have dedicated it to you and appreciate you being so true and deserving of my love.
Recently, I was able to make healthy changes to my diet and ended up losing about 50 lbs. in the last year. Although at the writing of this book I have gained a little of it back. I still struggle with smoking and I am working with my new girlfriend to make an effort to quit. I am turning 40 in one month and I am determined to make some extreme lifestyle changes to help keep this Bi-Polar under control. Writing this book is good therapy for me and I only hope it makes a difference to those who read this and understand my plight.
I have started my own sales consulting business on the side and continue to pursue my passion for writing with the publishing of six books under my real name. It is my intentions someday to write a best-selling fiction novel. I have several ideas and plenty of free time to work on that project. I just find that writing about real people and events can be more interesting. I have always been a study of history and the struggles of mankind. There are so many stories to be told about people with their life story. I intend in the future to document some very unique people who in their own realm have created a lasting legacy. It is my hope that my legacy will live through my writings and if I am able to make a difference in just one life than I have accomplished my goal for this book.
I have learned much in this journey with Bi-Polar and feel that for some people is goes untreated and unrecognized. It is a sad fact that I lived over 30 years of my life with Bi-Polar. Looking back I can see that I was a sad child growing up. So left untreated, I feel some of my childhood was stolen from me. I myself denied for at least a year of being diagnosed that this was truly my condition. I felt I was just going through a nervous breakdown with the stress of running a business and raising some babies. As a reader, if you see someone who shows signs of mania or serious depression than do the right thing and get them help. It is nothing to be ashamed of by having Bi-Polar. It is no different than having any other major illness. However, if left untreated there are consequences including the result of death due to a high suicide rate among those diagnosed with this affliction.
So here are some of the things I do to cope and maintain a healthy balance.
- Always take your medicine everyday and do not skip doses.
- Maintain a healthy diet eating more fish for Omega 3 will promote overall health for your brain and heart.
- Avoid or moderate your intake of caffeine and alcohol.
- Make an effort to exercise each week. By simply walking and eating properly I was able to lose weight.
- Maintain contact with your doctor and attend all scheduled appointments.
- Set up a list of emergency contacts on your phone and make sure you notify them of your condition.
- I have found that finding a hobby to keep your mind occupied and focused helps. Of course, my hobby is writing.
- Do not be afraid to share your affliction with others. People are so worried about the stigma of mental illness that they hide from others who may be able to offer them the most support.
So this concludes my book and journey of my struggles with Bi-Polar. Although the road has not been easy I can clearly say that I feel that just being aware I have it makes all the difference. I am now able to catch myself as I feel my mind wander into the darkness. I then will call my doctor and notify my friends to be aware if I start acting differently. Because of this I have prevented myself from having to go to a hospital or emergency room on at least two occasions. Although, there is not a cure for the affliction, I feel that I am humbled to share my experience with you the reader.
May God Bless you on your journey through life and bring you all the happiness you deserve. As a protection to my loved ones I have changed the names of the characters involved in this story to not risk any confidential agreements. I have created my pen name my real name if ever comes the day to prove I wrote this book. However, this book is based on my true story of my journey that will last a lifetime as I struggle to cope with Bi-Polar. Because it is a genetic disorder, I pray that it does not get passed on to my children or any other generation hereafter. May you find inspiration from this book knowing that in my heart I have not let this illness defeat me. I believe that through the experiences you just read that I have become more at peace with my illness. I am determined to continue making the necessary lifestyle changes to help heal my mind and body. Please if you know of someone who suffers from Bi-Polar or would like more information about the illness than I am providing a list of Bi-Polar resources.
My personal quote I created and would like to share with you:
“A human can envision anything with their mind but a true measure of such a person is creating it with their own hands.”
David J. Capen
Bipolar Resources and Links
Online Bipolar Websites and Resources
National Institutes of Mental Health
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill/ Friends and Advocates of the Mentally Ill
Mental Health Net
National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association
The Depressive and Related Affective Disorders Association
National Mental Health Association
Manic Law Newsletter
National Foundation for Depressive Illness
The Internet Society for Manic Depressive Individuals