I’ve always been ridiculous. Whether it’s in my hopeless addiction to Vans slip-on shoes (you know, the kind with the checkerboards or basically anything loud or obnoxious), hideous Hawaiian shirts (most which coordinate to my shoes so sue me I’m flamboyant), to all things Marvel.
Most of all though I’m ridiculous when it comes to the basic behaviors and finding limits on those behaviors. I’ve always had the dial on the life vibe set on 11 especially when it comes to my work or the holidays (Halloween anyone?) or pretty much any kind of control of my impulses when it comes to being balls to the wall at all times. This is what is called mania, folks, or to be precise: bipolar mood disorder.
I’ve come to embrace it though. It’s my superpower. I can at times have the wisdom of Solomon, the stamina of Atlas, etc, etc ad Infinitum ad Nauseam. My mind on most days races at a million miles a minute and my body skips alongside with it. I have creative urges and ideas that keep me running around and driving people insane while I spin like a dervish to manifest them into reality. When it come to work, I never tap the brakes. There are a ton of reasons for this but they all revolve around the fact I feel deeply that I don’t measure up and when those flaws come to the surface, I’ll lose the job or the wife or the family or myself–so I keep pushing and pushing and pushing until my “vision” of what my work environment should be as well as trying to attract as much attention to myself as possible. It’s also called an inferiority complex folks and it is my super-villain superpower.
When I crash down to earth, which is an immediate reaction to anything in the way of criticism or being told to slow down (or not getting the reaction I feel I should get from what I have created), the circuit breaker blows and into the ground I go. Head first.
When I’m in this state, I will go for days without smiling, laughing, sleeping or eating. Then it starts all over again. Something will happen or be said to me that makes me grit my teeth and turn on the hyperdrive and off we go again.
It’s a blessing and a curse.
I am writing this because it finally caught up with me three weeks go and, for several hours, I wasn’t me. I was an out of control lunatic who had to be removed from my workplace on a gurney and pumped with 5 full doses of sedative just to stop fighting and hallucinating.
I don’t remember much about that morning except hitting the floor, lots of feet and faces and my poor wife and kids trying to help me in the ER and also fight back the fear and worry that I wouldn’t make it. I had a complete emotional breakdown because of insomnia, malnourishment and exhaustion that was completely self inflicted; all in the name of “I WILL NOT FAIL!!!”
This event also led to some harsh words and behaviors from my children and my wife to each other and, after I came out of it, to me for not taking care of myself and knowing my limits. It’s damage that I’m not sure will be able to be repaired and the guilt and shame I feel because of that is like an anvil around my soul.
For a month now I’ve sat on the sidelines and unable to work by doctors order. My family still doesn’t know how to understand really what happened and also support me but remind me how close I came to an abyss that would have sucked all of them in.
I’ve done a lot of thinking in between seeing numerous doctors and specialists and getting on meds (which don’t work unless I take them I say to the hardhead within me) and actually eating and sleeping like a regular person should.
The support and love I have been given from my wife (through a lot of tears and justly deserved anger) and from the unbelievable people I am blessed each day to work with and stand beside has opened my eyes that I don’t need to be the center of attention or the “hardest workin dude in the room”) to be loved and accepted. I’ve discovered how to accept the way my mind works and that, just like an overloaded engine it can melt down, I have to find a balance and maintain it. I do see myself again as one of the superheroes I dearly love but know my kryptonite as well. It’s called emotional and physical overdrive and I’ve learned how each day I have to monitor the gas. This isn’t easy and never will be but the same as kryptonite in that if it gets too close to me it can do irreparable harm. I was lucky to have gotten to the other side (so far) and be able to get back to family and what it means to be a father and husband and man while also being the best I can be for the people I love at my workplace. I can’t be all things to all people but I can be myself and know I’ve done my best to find the right mixture of work and home and start baby stepping into it day by day.
So, why am I going on about this? It’s dirt simple, pilgrim. There are a lot of us out there. We are all a tribe. The tribe of “hypervibe” as it were. We all build our manic shells and run like the wind and crack up like the Titanic and then floor it and fly to the sun before our wings melt away.
If you are reading this I hope you will learn from my words and accept who you are and that you are awesome but you must realize and commit to doing what is right for yourself, your family whoever they may be and the friends you have who love you. See a doctor. Get meds and TAKE THEM. Eat better (or the best you can), take a walk, pet your dog, hold your kids or your significant other close and see your life as magical but know your limits and hold to them.
I go back to work Monday. I cannot wait to see the family I have where I work each day. I love them and am a better man for their love. I know I’m good at what I do and have come to be proud of that where as before I would never say the words or think them and work at a lunatic pace to prove myself. I’ve been given a second chance to grow and make changes that the people I love so dearly deserve. And I deserve those too.
So, instead of “Look! Up in the Sky! It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! it’s Manic Man!”, or “Flash! AHH AHH–Savior of the Universe!” It’ll be “Look! It’s Every Joe! He’s made some changes and still has his Vans on and a huge heart for his tribe!”
Although somewhere inside there will always be a lightning bolt for the Shazam part of me and the Lone Ranger theme playing in my soul.
Excelsior to all of you. May your flaws become blessings and your capes always fly straight.