In 1966 I spent six months in a hospital in Wauwautosa, after having spent a total of five times in hospitals for anywhere from 20 – 30 days. During those six months in Wauwautosa it took a long time for the fruition of the illness to manifest itself so that they could try and figure out what it was.
In 1988 I was going with a beautiful young lady named Joyce. I met a woman in a bar or restaurant, and I courted her. Within three days we were married. About the seventh or eighth day, I was living in her house in Superior, Wisconsin. I wanted to be out of the jurisdiction of Minnesota, because there was a warrant issued for me, and I knew what it was to be picked up, slammed around, and pushed. So, I was hiding out with her and staying in touch with a few people. I woke up in the middle of the night at around 3 o’clock. I had bought a house for a couple hundred thousand that I couldn’t afford. I bought an Isuzu Trooper, I didn’t need and couldn’t afford. That’s the mind of a manic working overtime. I saw the only thing I recognized: a Hudson Bay Blanket. I looked at that and I looked at the woman but recognized only the blanket. I was going to leave, and I started to pull the blanket because I wanted the blanket, but I didn’t want her, and she started to wake up. So I dropped the blanket, ran downstairs, jumped in my car and went back to lock myself up for about a week.
That was the last time.
Joyce took me back, on the condition that I got help. I started a support group, Mental Health Association of Minnesota group in Duluth.
Whether you’re clinically depressed and unipolar, or manically depressed and bipolar, in that moment of your life, there is a window of opportunity. That window gives you the ability to make a decision about what you want to do with your life. The buck starts and stops with you. You’re not an alcoholic – if you were an alcoholic, you could put the drink down. In this illness, you can’t put anything down because it’s your brain. I have to be treated externally by therapies. If you take steps toward your own recovery in this illness, you have the chance to be a survivor. If you don’t, you don’t.