Wednesday, June 27, 2012

When Life Throws You Curves, Keep Swinging by David Vince

The road to success is not straight. There is a curb called Failure, a loop called Confusion; speed bumps called Friends; red lights called Enemies; caution lights called Family. You will have flats called Jobs, but if you have a spare called Determination, an engine called Perseverance; insurance called Faith, and a driver called Jesus, you will make it to a place called Success!
[caption id="attachment_88" align="alignright" width="200" caption="When Life Throws You Curves, Keep Swinging"]Cover image of David Vince book titled When Life Throws You Curves, Keep Swinging[/caption]
In my journey of life and coaching career I chose the road less traveled. It is certainly unusual for a double above-knee amputee since birth, one who never physically played the game of baseball, to pursue a career in athletic coaching. As the passage above indicates, it has not been a path without challenges, obstacles, or setbacks, but is has been a path of opportunity, great accomplishment and reward.

There have been many supportive individuals along my road less traveled journey that offered encouragement, assistance, guidance and direction to enable me to achieve my dream of becoming a successful baseball coach. From principals and athletic directors who took a chance by hiring a handicapped coach to assistant coaches and players who bought in to my vision and accepted me to pastors and youth ministers who taught me at an early age to have faith and trust God, and loving and supportive parents and grandparents that never allowed me to say cant but always said you never know till you try.

At an early age I discovered two Bible verses that I adopted as my life verses. Romans 8:28, which said to me God can bring good out of a bad situation. This verse eliminated any self pity early on in my life. The second was Philipians 4:13, which says: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” These verses gave me a strong belief in my own capabilities and the courage to try things others may deem impossible.

The purpose of this book is to encourage others who may be facing difficult or trying times in their lives so that they too can overcome adversity with proper attitude, perspective and determination.

In this book I will share some of the challenges I’ve faced throughout my life and how overcoming these hardships have strengthened my faith and made me the man I am today. I hope my message inspires, motivates, encourages and uplifts all who read it – just as people before inspired me.

If you take away one thing from this book, let it be this: You don’t have to be perfect to achieve success but you do have to be committed.

Chapter I
It was August of 1986 in Campbellsville, Kentucky, a small town in central Kentucky about 75 miles south of Louisville. I was 26 and doing what I loved the most: coaching baseball. It was the biggest game of my life up to that point. My team, a small and scrappy group at Campbellsville College , was competing for the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship. Needing a single win to clinch the title, we found ourselves down 2 to 1 in the bottom-half of the final inning. Right fielder Brad Baber was at the plate. Two men were on base. I gave Brad the bunt sign.

It was an improbable position for me to be in. I had just completed my master’s degree and a graduate assistantship year at Henderson State in Arkansas, and I was fortunate enough to land the job as the head baseball coach and a physical education instructor at Campbellsville, a small private Southern Baptist NAIA college. After only five years of experience in the coaching ranks (mostly high school) I was a college head coach – only a few years older than some of my players.

[caption id="attachment_89" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="David Vince and Johnny Bench"]David Vince[/caption]My age, though certainly unusual for a college coach, wasn’t the most remarkable circumstance of my new vocation. I was I was born with Tibial Hemomelia, a congenital bone disease that results in the shortening or a lack of leg bones. Both of my legs were amputated above the knee when I was an infant and I was fitted with artificial limbs at a very young age. Although I could never play the game, I followed in my father’s coaching footsteps and learned to love the game of baseball by watching my younger brother on the field.

I was so grateful that the Athletic Director took a chance on me, the 26-year-old, shaggy-haired double amputee who had never played a single inning of baseball. I was pleasantly surprised how quickly the players accepted me as their coach. Once they realized I knew and loved the game and that I had a vision for the team, they bought in. It was soon full-speed ahead.

Still, it wasn’t the smoothest start for a college coaching career. I was hired only a week before the fall semester began after the previous coach, Dr. Danny Davis, left over the summer to take another head-coaching gig in North Carolina. I inherited a team of only 21 players, which, most notably, had only six pitchers on the roster. Very little baseball recruiting had taken place at Campbellsville over the summer because of the coaching vacancy. However, the team wasn’t without talent. Campbellsville had finished second in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference four years in a row before my arrival. But with only six pitchers on the roster, I was forced to get creative.

One of my first decisions as coach proved to be an extremely valuable move. In an effort to make my pitching go further, I chopped the regular season schedule by 10 games. Our conference games were 7-inning doubleheaders, so I always made sure I had my best four pitchers ready for each conference doubleheader. My other two pitchers would pitch the mid-week games. Predictably, as the season progressed, we found we were winning the conference double -headers but losing our mid week games. But overall, the approach worked. As we approached the final conference double header of the regular season our overall record was 26-24 with a very good 13-3 conference record. We needed to sweep the last conference double header to take the regular season conference championship. I wanted to win badly. I wanted to reward the administration for taking a chance on me and I wanted my players, who had worked so hard the entire season, to get those conference championship rings.

Our bats came alive in the first game of the doubleheader and we cruised to a 13 to 1 victory. As is usually the case in baseball, when you experience an offensive flurry in one game, runs are often hard to come by the next time out. That is how we found ourselves down 2-1 in the bottom of the 7th inning. We had three outs to stage a comeback and clinch the title.

Our first batter up got a base hit, and the next hitter walked, putting runners on first and second with nobody out. Brad Baber stepped to the plate. Brad was a very mature 21-year-old senior who was married, had a baby, was majoring in pre-law, and still playing college baseball at a high level. Brad was a hard-nosed player who put his heart and soul into everything he endeavored.

With our bats cold I decided we needed to manufacture runs any way I could. I gave Brad the bunt sign to move both our runners into scoring position. Brad squared to bunt and fouled the first pitch off. I gave him another bunt sign. Again, he bunted foul. With two strikes, I took the bunt sign off and told Brad to swing away, and he didn’t disappoint. Brad caught the very next pitch into the gap for a game winning two-run triple, clinching the first baseball conference championship in Campbellsvlle College history.

After the game, Brad explained to the local paper: “After screwing up the two bunt attempts I knew I didn’t want to face an upset Coach Vince in the dugout, so I made up my mind to make up for it and I was able to hit the triple in the gap to win the game.” Brad Baber was named an Academic All-American after that season and is now a successful lawyer in Indiana.

Our momentum from that come-behind walk off win carried us ahead to the final of the regional tournament. We were undefeated, which meant the only way we wouldn’t advance to the sectional was if we were beaten twice in a row. But postseason contests were a full 9 innings instead of the 7 we were accustomed to played during our conference doubleheaders. Having only six pitchers on our roster finally caught up with us, and we were defeated twice to end our season.

A few days later, I was named KIAC conference coach of the year, which at age 26, was an incredible honor and thrill. I was filled with such a sense of satisfaction that I had proven I was capable of being a successful baseball coach despite being a double amputee. It was one of the highlights of my career.

That success didn’t come easy.
Eighteen years earlier, as a fourth-grader at Northside Elementary in Bogalusa, Louisiana, coaching baseball seemed completely impossible. Surviving the trials and tribulations of grade school as a double amputee was my primary goal. It was September of 1968, early in the school year, and I, like many kids with physical disabilities during that era, was the subject of intense bullying.

I was seven years old and still using wrist crutches to help me walk at the time. There was a small faction of boys who decided they would have some fun at my expense by seeing how many times they could knock me down during recess. Every time the duty teacher turned her back, the boys ran full speed at me, gave me a hard shove, watched me fall and laughed repeatedly. I would pick myself up, dust myself off; and a few minutes later they would come again. I told the duty teacher what was going on but her response was that unless she actually caught them in the act there was nothing she could do. The bullies knew this, so harassing me became an ongoing game for their entertainment.

I endured this daily for about two weeks before I finally got fed up and realized the teacher wasn’t going to stop it. I came to the realization that if it were to end, I was the one who was going to have to stop it. On one particular Wednesday lunch recess I decided to stand up for myself. That day I kept looking over my shoulder anticipating the bully charging me, and like clockwork, one boy started approaching at high speed. As the bully closed, I swung my right arm, fully extending my wrist crutch and delivering a direct blow to the bully’s stomach so hard it knocked his breath completely out. The young man, unable to breathe, collapsed like a house of cards and gasped for air. He probably thought he was dying. By the time he finally recovered and started breathing normally again, things had already changed. Because I stood up for myself, the bullies finally left me alone and the recess harassment stopped. The duty teacher never knew what happened.

It wasn’t the last time I would be teased. Schoolchildren can often be immature and cruel, particularly when faced with something or someone different from them that they do not understand. Later, my classmates blamed me when we couldn’t move to a second-floor classroom (which, believe it or not, in the insulated world of the elementary school student was a big deal) because I couldn’t navigate the stairs very efficiently. Although that move made it easier on me physically, it was emotionally difficult because my classmates blamed me for them not getting the upstairs classroom and saw fit to constantly remind me of this. The bullying came and went, but subsided during middle school as the students matured grew more used to my disability and also began to mature.

That experience, and the support of my parents, helped develop a resolve and toughness that I otherwise might not have cultivated. To deal with the stress of harassment and bullying, I developed a mantra of “Vince’s are Tough” to help me cope with the bullying. That toughness is something I carried throughout my childhood and into my baseball coaching career. It has served me well in good times and bad. I complimented that toughness with a strong desire to defy expectations.


A few months after my incident with my schoolyard bullies, I would put down my wrist crutches for good. Later that same school year, I was misbehaving at home, as 8-year-olds will do. My mom had had her fill of my bad behavior that day and decided to punish me by taking my crutches away and making me stand in the corner for half an hour. My mom left the room and went about her daily business maintaining our home. When she returned, I had moved from the corner to the far side of the room. Confused, she quizzed me on how I managed to make it to the other side of the room without my crutches. My response was simple.

“I walked,” I said.

Of course, she couldn’t believe that I walked across the room without my crutches so she demanded I demonstrate it for her. When I promptly repeated my feat, she took the crutches from me permanently. I walked with my prosthesis without a cane or crutches the rest of my life.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Looking Through Blind Eyes by Reyna Hawk

[caption id="attachment_84" align="alignright" width="187" caption="Looking Through Blind Eyes"]cover image for Looking Through Blind Eyes by Reyna Hawk[/caption]CHAPTER ONE

Janie's heart felt as though it would explode out of her chest as she forced her legs to keep moving as fast as they would carry her tiny 5’3” thin body. Her chest heaving as she gasped for air, knowing she couldn't stop, her life would end if she stopped. She could hear the footsteps pounding on the rain soaked muddy mountain grass behind her. She knew they were still very close behind her. Thunder and lightning crackled all around her, making it impossible at times for her to hear their exact footsteps. She was terrified to look back, terrified to see just how close the enemy was to her. Janie knew if she could just get far enough ahead, she may be able to jump into the thickets of the North Carolina mountain forest and they’d charge right past her. At least that’s what she was hoping would happen. Finding the right spot and at just the right time was the key to her escape. Janie spotted a pathway to her right and did a quick glance over her shoulder as she leaped into what she mistook as a path. “Bad move” Janie thought to herself as she realized it was nothing more than an opening overlooking a cliff side. She tried her best not to scream as she held tightly to the thin frazzled rotting tree root that was her life line. “If I could just hold on til they pass.” Janie thought as she struggled to keep her footing on the slippery crumbling rocky mountain side. The rain was pounding against her entire body as the urge to look down won out. Janie looked some fifty feet below to a swollen river that was sure to be her demise. The sudden onset of two days of heavy thunderstorms had turned the usual calm creek bed into a raging river that had come out of its’ bank. Janie looked up and seen the first man peer down at her and laugh,

“Well, well, looks like you're in a fix.” The heavy set man chuckled in his thick New York accent.

“Fuck you asshole!!” Janie screamed back.

“You seem to be the one that's fucked” he mocked. Janie stared through her drenched long tangled dark hair as the second tall, muscular, and handsome man came to the edge gasping to catch his breath; he looked down at her with such sorrow and pity. Janie could still see the love in his eyes. She loved this man now he was going to end that love and her life. Janie knew deep in her heart he’d never listen to her, he would only follow orders. But she had to give it a try in hopes of buying some time until she could figure a possible way out of this mess.

“Rico don't!! You don't have to do this.” She sobbed, trying to see through the pouring rain that was blinding her. She knew seeing her cry always broke him. Instead he just muttered something she didn't understand and backed away from the edge.

“Shut the fuck up! You brought this on yourself. Say good bye to Rico, Janie!” Anthony chortled. It was as if he was going to gain great pleasure out of cutting that tree root. Janie's mind went back to the first time she had met the men. It seemed like ions ago, but in reality it had only been just over four and half years. Her life had dramatically changed when she met them and once again it was about to change, if not end. Janie thought of all the things and people that had brought her to this point. The things that had her hanging on for dear life to a tree root above a swollen river bank deep in the mountains of North Carolina.

Just over 4 years ago, Janie and her older brother Daniel were stepping off a plane in Los Angeles from small town Louisiana. Daniel had got hooked up with a great job, keeping the details of the job and who he was working for to himself. All he would tell Janie was that the “people” he’d be working for would really help them out financially. The deal had been made for Janie to join him. Daniel couldn’t bring himself to leave his baby sister behind. Janie was just hoping for a better chance at life. The one they’d been living was oppressive. They had nothing and no hopes of ever getting anything. They lived in a small town of maybe 1000 people in a small duplex apartment. Janie worked odd jobs just to pass time, while Daniel seemed to be away at work most of the time. Despite all his working, they still never had much. Janie said it was because of the small town, “it was a suck hole that drained everyone”. Janie was thankful to be able to make friends with others that knew nothing of her life before or the conditions in which she had been living. Their parents had died suddenly and mysteriously. Locals had blamed Janie, saying she was a witch and had caused the terrible fire. However, the police viewed it as careless meth addicts in the adjacent house. Since their parent’s death, Janie and Daniel had been itching to get away from the small town gossip and make better lives for themselves. Daniel said this was the chance of a lifetime that they had to take it.

[caption id="attachment_85" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Reyna Hawk"]image of author Reyna Hawk[/caption]The “people” Daniel was going to be working for had advanced him enough money so he could get Janie and himself a descent place to live. It was no luxury OC mansion; however, the house was great for them. It was in a nice quaint neighborhood. The two story, three bedroom, two bath house was a newer modern home; one Janie knew she would be happy living in. The hardwood floors throughout made it look even more expensive than it was; Janie loved the warm colors of the d├ęcor. Janie had laid claim to the loft/attic space. She felt she could have more privacy there. She knew exactly how she was going to decorate her new space. The best part of the room to Janie was the huge walk in dormer closet that ran adjacent to the attic; it was nearly completely hidden unless someone knew it was there. Janie and Daniel laughed and called it the “rabbit hole”, like in the child’s fairy tale Alice in Wonderland. Once they were moved in Daniel fixed the small door to the dormer space so it couldn’t be seen. Daniel redid the walls and flooring to make it less like a storage area and more like a small sitting room. He put a bed, small bathroom, and small refrigerator in the space. Whenever Daniel was out of town for long periods of time, Janie found herself spending a lot of time in the “rabbit hole”; she sometimes felt very uneasy in the house alone. Daniel had told Janie should anything happen and she needed to hide; to go there and not come out until she felt safe. Janie knew better to ask why; he’d never those types of answer her questions. Because despite Janie's constant questions Daniel never gave her details of his job or the people he worked for. All he ever said was, “The less you know the better you’ll be.”


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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Feel Only You by Cadence Donovan

book cover image for I Feel Only You by Cadence Donovan.Prologue
Human beings are born with methods of perception. Among them are sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. From these methods come judgments, assumptions, likes, dislikes, rights, and wrongs. Perceptiveness is an important ingredient in the success of two-person interactions. Understanding, patience, consideration, and altruism are necessary attributes if a relationship is to remain lasting and healthy.

Shared senses become blended. You can see without looking, hear without spoken words, and feel without touching. When individuals are unable to see the pain they’ve inflicted on others, hear requests for change, feel love that keeps the connection warm, read between the lines of fake and real, taste bitterness and resentment, or sense distress and frustration, relationships become weak, susceptible to contamination from outside forces, and destined to wither and die. Senses can be used as tools to build upon the foundation of love and commitment, and couples should embrace the power realized with a higher degree by using their senses to push the boundaries of relationships to new heights—each unique and rare—just as God created each person as a distinct being.

Humans do not always use senses to their greatest advantage. Until they do, commitments and marriages will continue to falter because individuals refuse to take the first step, stretch themselves, or run the extra mile to attain greater heights and receive and share simply by sharing senses.

Chapter 1: Family Reunion
“In family life, love is the oil that eases friction,
the cement that binds closer together, and the music that brings harmony.”
Eva Burrows

On a warm evening at the end of October 1997, Chalice Crawford stood at her kitchen sink rinsing vegetables and fruit while her best friend, Brenda, sat at the kitchen table playing with Chalice’s ten-month-old daughter, Claire. The kitchen was bright and modern. A black granite counter with four bar stools in black and ivory leather separated the kitchen from the great room. Black and ivory ceramic tiles diagonally covered the kitchen floor and the exposed walls were yellow. Sunflowers of different shapes and sizes were placed on the kitchen counters in black and yellow vases, and the cabinets were painted ivory with glass doors. In the center of the kitchen was a huge, two-level island complete with a vegetable sink, disposal, and small stovetop, as well as four chairs where people could enjoy a meal or snack. She had a gourmet kitchen made for a chef that included top-of-the-line appliances such as two sub-zero refrigerators, a six-burner stove, and a warming drawer. The microwave oven was installed under the cabinet and the kitchen was complete with a double convection oven, dishwasher, trash compactor, and wine cooler in the same stainless steel finish as the other appliances. The double sink looked out onto the patio and was stainless steel, as well. A dining table for six was placed in front of the French doors leading to the lanai. Chalice took pride in maintaining a home for her family and Brenda often visited after her shift at the hospital while Chalice cooked.

Pretty as a picture, Claire was well on her way to becoming a beauty queen in Brenda’s mind. “I don’t understand why you won’t put her in commercials—she’s the prettiest baby I’ve ever seen, and being a nurse, I’ve seen more than my share of babies. She could be a millionaire before she turns five.”

“As usual, Brenda, you’re exaggerating,” Chalice chided. “Besides, I don’t want my baby handled by a lot of strangers, let alone being exposed to germs unnecessarily. I want her to have a normal life as long as possible. God knows she’s already doomed to be in the spotlight with Jackson as her father.”

Brenda threw her hand in the air and flicked her wrist. “Fame and fortune haven’t ruined Jackson one bit, and I’m sure they won’t affect Claire. She’s got you to keep her grounded.”

“Just the same, she’s my baby and I want to protect her from that world as long as possible. It’s the reason we’re here alone and Jackson’s thousands of miles away working. I can’t wrap my mind around his way of living and I intend on delaying any knowledge of being in his life (outside of my family and close friends) as long as possible, so you’ll have to be content with seeing Claire in person and not on screen.”
“You’re torturing that man,” Brenda insisted. He’s only human and I’m sure women throw themselves at him all the time. If he were mine, I wouldn’t be content to remain thousands of miles away from him for six months out of the year.”

Chalice turned to her friend and smiled, knowing she only had the best intentions for her. “Thank goodness he’s mine and not yours—you’d smother him to death. Quite honestly, you sound like president of the Jackson Crawford fan club instead of my best friend.” She walked over to Brenda and wrapped her arms around her. “Everyone should have a friend like you. I just wish you would see my point of view for once. My husband doesn’t need a chaperone—he’s working, and when he’s not working—he’s home.”

After returning Chalice’s hug, Brenda stood up. “I’ve got to go—hot date.” She leaned over and kissed Claire on the forehead, “Aunt Brenda will see you soon.”

Turning to her best friend, she said, “So I’m jealous. Sue me.”

“I wouldn’t call being widowed at twenty-one and celibate for fifteen years good luck. But I will agree that I’ve been blessed with a wonderful family and life, in spite of hard times.” Waving good-bye, she said, “See you soon!”

Chalice continued preparing dinner and Claire sat in her high chair playing with the new toy Brenda had just given her—a large ball on the end of a stick with colored objects rattling inside. Claire was a precious gift from God to her parents. She had her mother’s dark brown hair, light complexion, and hazel eyes. Brenda always made her laugh and showered her with toys and clothes since she had no children of her own. Gospel music was playing in the background and Chalice sang along with the melody

Out of nowhere, Claire began saying, “Da-dee, Da-dee,” and Chalice told her she would get the picture of Jackson and place it on the table, as she did many nights to remind her that she was always in Daddy’s heart. Claire was dissatisfied with her mommy’s response and repeated, “Da-dee, Da-dee.” When she heard the man’s voice with the soothing Australian/British accent state, “I think she wants me to pick her up,” she smiled with the reassurance that everything was right with the world. She turned slowly to see the vision of her nightly dreams: Jackson in the flesh, looking fine, like wine in the summertime, as her grandmother would say. Just looking at him gave her goose bumps. Tall and lean with light brown hair and green eyes, it was easy to see why he was a successful actor, if looks were the determining factor. Charisma was evident in his stride, voice, and demeanor. When they first met, she asked him where he was from since his accent was different and he chuckled, “I was born in England and moved to Australia with my family when I was eight years old. My acting roles have me performing as an American, Spaniard, Frenchmen, and Englishman … so many different accents, I sometimes mix the lot of them together. What country are we in now?” he laughed heartily. “It can be confusing, but I generally speak the Queen’s English with an Australian twist.” Chalice never quite understood why he was drawn to her, but was thankful he was. After marrying him, her life felt complete for the first time in fifteen years, and she questioned whether it had been complete before that. As he walked toward Claire, he turned to Chalice asking, “May I?”

Struggling to keep from grinning, Chalice responded, “She won’t be satisfied until you do.” Jackson moved with great speed to hold his little angel in his arms, almost gliding across the kitchen floor as if he were carried by a cloud. Claire stretched her arms to the sky while Jackson pulled out the highchair tray. He picked her up, held her over his shoulder, and hugged her. She pulled up and looked into his eyes, kissing him on his left cheek, his forehead, his right cheek, and finally on the lips. In the tune she had heard everyday on Barney, she sang, “I Luv You.” This was definitely a Kodak moment and Chalice hated that she didn’t have the camera rolling. The look on Jackson’s face was beyond astonishment as he held his little girl tightly in his arms, and at that moment, never wanted to let go. Hearing his daughter say “Daddy” for the first time was overwhelming and he fought back the tears. “Not only does she recognize me, she calls me Daddy and kisses me like she’s been doing this every day. Daddy loves you too, my little Chick,” he told her. Her full name was Claire Isabella Crawford, but he fondly called her Chick.

She knows a good thing when she sees it,” Chalice told him as she walked over to him. “What about me? Don’t I get a turn?” He wrapped one arm around her and planted a lingering, gentle kiss on her sweet lips—a kiss he had longed for incessantly for the past five months.

Chalice resumed the task of cooking dinner and Jackson stood next to her in the kitchen watching her every move as he held Claire and kissed her repeatedly. He took turns gazing upon Chalice’s beauty, then Claire’s charm, and felt blessed they were in his life. Chalice was petite, but built like a ‘brick house’, as the Commodores sang. Claire was vying for his attention and proving to be quite an actress as she played peek-a-boo with her daddy making different facial expressions and noises of delight. The two ladies in the room need only ask to receive from him. They sat down at the kitchen table and Jackson offered to feed Claire. Before leaving for California, he’d taken pride in learning as much as possible about caring for her and was at ease bathing, feeding, and dressing her. He had dearly missed those precious moments during their separation. He could have taken Chalice and Claire with him, but Chalice refused to live out of a suitcase in a hotel room and without any family while Jackson worked all hours of the day and night. She persuaded him it was better for them to remain in Austin while Claire was young. Being an insecure person, Jackson wasn’t pleased with her decision, but neither could he deny her anything, unless it would bring her harm. Most of his insecurities diminished when he was with Chalice. They were so connected and she understood him to such a degree his insecurities couldn’t flourish.

After dinner, Chalice suggested that Jackson play with Claire in the family room while she cleaned up the kitchen. He sat on the plush, fur rug lying by the window that looked out on the lanai and Claire showed him how to put the triangles, squares, circles, and rectangles into the correct slots on her red ball. Jackson was in awe as his ten-month-old baby placed the toys correctly, and when Chalice joined them he said, “I can’t believe I’ve missed all of this. She’s so smart.”

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bipolar Journals by An Anonymous Sufferer

[caption id="attachment_78" align="alignright" width="187" caption="Bipolar Journals"]Cover image for Bipolar Journals by an Anonymous Sufferer[/caption]]My name is a mystery to you and it will remain so. This book has not been edited and it will remain so. The purpose is to thrust into your life an unedited snapshot of what Bipolar is really like. I am diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder Type II (Depressive). If you take nothing else from this literary work, I really want you to understand this: I am an individual suffering Bipolar Disorder, I am not Bipolar. It does not define me, but it is an affliction.

I could give you the clinical definition of Bipolar Disorder and other mental illnesses here, but I’d rather not. Instead I’m going to share with you a few months of my journal. The purpose is simply to give you a glimpse into the disorder.




January 11, 2012

Why Doesn't the World Stop with Me?

Sometimes it feels like I’m swimming in my own head. And I’m so concentrated on how I feel and protecting myself from things that bring too much emotion that I don’t take the time to consider others. On good days, when I can loosen the reigns, it is easy for me to be helpful. But because of my preoccupation with my inner battle, I have failed at mastering the technique of being intuitive when it comes to other’s needs.

I want to be a beautiful flower, hidden by lots of weeds; to shine and be a star without being ripped apart. I don’t like impending conflict. My insides tense up, and the emotions wrap themselves up in each other and become a big nasty ball in my stomach and the poison it creates leaves my body weak until exhaustion comes along. When I’m able, I am very able. When I am not, it is too much.

I used to ask, “why can’t the world stop long enough for me to sleep for three days?” Sometimes I just have to recuperate. Unfortunately the world doesn’t wait. And absences are what school and work hate. But why should it matter when I can do in two days what takes another a week? Why can’t I play to my strengths? I want to tell the world, “When I’m going, get out of the way or get on my side. But when I’m not going, leave me to my thoughts and don’t hold it against me.”

January 11, 2012

I Don't Hold Onto Emotions, They Stick to Me

I don’t hold onto emotions, they stick to me. Irritibility; turning me into someone I don’t want to be. It turns me into something that can’t accept the slightest things, like an interruption when I’m concentrating. It’s so aggravating. But it shouldn’t be. It isn’t that way for others, why only me?

Why does everything wrap itself around itself? Its a tangled up knot, tight as anything. I see others and they have their own pains and scars. But when they see me, I am the taken care of, the lucky one.

My pain is the invisible kind. The kind no one sees because it can hide. I've always hidden. Always been driven to do and be the best and never accept 'good enough'. It's never good enough. And that attaches itself to me, ensnares me and doesn't let go. It creates a lump in my throat. The familiar hurts-so-good lump. The driver of creativity that oozes that black despairity. But no one ever sees it. And I hide. I stay away from people as much as possible, less they discover my eccentricities. I believe I fail miserably at that because I'm always the one made fun of, the easiest target because no one knows me. I guess they think I don't have feelings because they can't see them. I guess they think I don't hear them. But I do. Every word. And then these sad unaccepted notions wrap themselves up into spiraling emotions and down I go. And all because no one asked if I wanted to go to lunch with that group. All because I felt left out.

But I can't say anything because I have to stay hidden. Hidden from all of them. I dream of having girlfriends to talk to, to go to lunch with. But the drama that comes along with that normalcy is too much. I feel too much. That's why I stay behind unless I'm certain there is no one there to bring on all the emotions. Most times solitary is what is needed, but sometimes I need to be around people. I need to be around them, but not completely connected. Otherwise they'll see how different I am, and the real unacceptance begins and that is one beast I wouldn't survive.

Sometimes my ideas are flighty. When I think it, I need to write it. Perhaps that is why I get aggravated when interrupted.

I look back on the way I've treated my mother. If I were someone else I'd beat the shit out of me for it. The truth is I can't stand me. And sometimes I get the sense that there are two of me. One is a shy, weak, small creature and the other is the one that faces the world; the one who takes care of things. But honestly she's not very good at it. It is almost like there are pieces of me and one moment I am happy and some small thing changes and I become aggravated.

January 25, 2012


They ask me why I feel proud
When I see the tight white line
On my peachy-white skin.
It's because I'm still here
To describe it.
I'm still here to show it.
I won that battle that day
So long ago.
It may be an ugly scar to most
But to me it is so beautiful
It reminds me that I won.
I won.

February 2, 2012

Capturing the Journey

I was smart once, when I was younger. Everything came very easily to me; I learned faster than anyone in my class at school and finished tests & assignments first. I never made less than 100% on anything. Then bipolar came along. It crept in with puberty. And over time most of my A’s became B’s and I never had perfect attendance. In fact, by the time I was in high school I was being threatened with a truancy officer.

Somehow I managed to graduate high school with a 3.14 GPA and, with the gracious sporadic hypomania states, had served two semesters as Editor in Chief of the school newspaper. I didn’t realize it back then, but every single little thing was so hard. Sometimes I would wake up in the morning and just couldn’t do anything. Those were the days when I would stay home. Many would think I was feigning sick, but the truth was that I really was sick. I just wasn’t sick in the traditional way what with throwing up and running a fever. No, I was sick in a different way. I was experiencing the severe depression that is the ugly monster of Bipolar Disorder. But no one else understood. Fortunately I have been given to a mother who has an endless aptitude for sympathy. And she would get frustrated with me and even thought I might be taking drugs. She could see I was suffering, even if I didn’t know how to tell her how or why. I didn’t understand it myself, but I knew no one else seemed to have the same problem coping as I did.

Right after high school I went to college. During this transition I had my first real romantic relationship. It was also the point in time where I became 100% certain that there was definitely something different about me. I thought I had depression. I knew what I was feeling was not sadness like other people experience sadness. It was to a greater degree. What I was feeling was depression and depression is considerably different from sadness. However, this new and fun relationship kept me from the depths of it.

The summer after my sophomore year in college that relationship came to an abrupt end and I spiraled downward fast. For the next two years I would experience lows that would leave me so debilitated that I wouldn’t come out of my room for four days straight. Not even for class. Not even for work. Not even for food. I had a friend who came over and we went out a couple of nights, but nothing really helped. I had another serious relationship, but that didn’t help either.

Finally I went to the doctor and she prescribed me an Anti-depressant that was a Selective Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). I hated this medication with a passion. It literally felt like a vice grip was pinning my brain down and I was very nauseous and dizzy every second of the day. And next to that I would get these episodes of feeling out of control and wild with laughter and hyper senses. And just after I’d get really sick again and not go to work. This caused me to get fired from not one, but two jobs post graduation. Me; the smart girl, I got fired…twice.

“Why didn’t you just go to work?” I couldn’t go because I just couldn’t. And there’s no way for me to describe to you why I couldn’t just go. I just couldn’t.

So obviously these anti-depressants were not working out for me. I was getting more and more physically sick with the increase of doses so I stopped taking them.

For the past few years before this time in my life I had thought what I needed was to see a psychiatrist or a psychologist or even a therapist. In fact, before I lost my job at the land services company I had made an appointment to see a therapist. But I was afraid and didn’t go. I was completely alone.

About three months later I met a new person and ended up moving over 1,000 miles from home. And it was a good thing that I did. Where I had come from, you have to get referred to see a psychiatrist and getting a referral was not an easy thing. But in this new place, all you have to do is call and make an appointment with one. I didn’t know this.

Fortunately, one day at work I became so overwhelmed I couldn’t even breathe and all I could do was cry and the amount of fear was horrible. It felt like I was living in a horror film, but there were no practical reasons for what I was feeling. But reasons or not, the feelings were there and I was terrified so I told my supervisor I had to leave and rushed straight to the ER because I knew this was the breaking point. I wanted it to end. I wanted this to be the point where I was sick enough to warrant giving a referral to. There I saw what I imagine to be a screener who gave me the referral to see a psychiatrist. I had to wait a whole week, but I was fine with that. One more week and then maybe I’d have someone who could tell me how to make it all stop. The ER prescribed me another SSRI and sent me home.

I went home instead of back to work, took the SSRI and threw up for the rest of the evening. Apparently SSRIs and my stomach do not get along well at all.

I saw a psychiatrist for the first time during the winter of 2009. We talked for only a few minutes before he told me I had Bipolar Disorder II. He prescribed me Wellbutrin and some other medications that I do not recall.

For the Christmas season I flew in alone to spend the holidays with my family. While there, my family convinced me that I should not be taking medication like that and insisted that I stop. So I did. And I stopped seeing the psychiatrist

Over the next six months I’d have to come to terms with a number of things including not being able to have children. And even if I could, would I want to? Why would I want another human being to suffer what I have? I don’t think people understand the real pain of bipolar. It is like having the biggest heartache of your life every day of your life. It’s like being pushed down stairs by a monster that strips you of everything and leaves you nothing but a pile of goo on the floor. And sometimes you can’t put every single piece of your puzzle back together. Sometimes pieces are gone forever. And the pain can be physical too. Sometimes you wake up in the morning and feel like you’ve been ran over by a Mack truck. Every bone and muscle in your body aches.

In these next few months I’d also have to deal with money problems. I was not making as much money as I had been back home and everything was much more expensive so my savings that I had brought along with me was depleted. I also would have to know my best friend was having her second baby and I wasn’t even going to be there for it because I lived so far away. And even though I had my boyfriend and loved him very much, I still felt alone because I was not with my family.

In August of 2010 I hit a stage I had not been in before. In fact, I do not remember the period of my life dating August 2010 to October 2010. It is a blank.

I remember at the end of July I got very sick again, except this time there was a difference. This time, it became difficult to distinguish being asleep and being awake. Sometimes I could not tell if I was awake or if I was dreaming. I remember walking down the hallway at work and trying to make things make sense so I could determine if I were awake or not. I couldn’t remember waking up that morning, I couldn’t remember what I had been doing just before walking down the hallway and I couldn’t determine where I was going so I decided I was asleep only to discover just a few moments later in a moment of clarity that I was actually awake.

This scared me and sent me right to that place of shear terror again so I went to the ER. Here they gave me another SSRI even though I told them it only makes me sick. I took it anyway and for the next four days I was throwing up and crying. I cried and threw up so hard that every blood vessel in both of my eyes burst. I looked like a demon because every part of white in my eyes was red. I tried to go to work anyway but was sent home.

After this I do not remember much of anything. I can remember waking up in a hospital room and having bruises all over my arms and chest. I thought I had been in a car wreck or something. Later my boyfriend told me the bruising was from where they had tried to stick me with an IV and couldn’t get it to go in. They had stuck me eight times. The bruises on my chest were from where the EMTs were pressing on it with their fingers to get me to respond to something, anything.

The next thing I remember my mother was around and it was starting to get cold outside again. I remember driving her out to see the mountains that are about an hour and a half from where I lived and then decided to drive all the way to the beach. I remember having medication on this trip, so I must have been prescribed them before my mom came up.

After our trip to the beach, my mom went back home and I went back to work. I continued to take the medication, but I was never quite OK. I still had bad days. I would always use up my sick days and even some vacation days on days when I felt like I couldn’t go anymore.

Then one day my psychiatrist gave me samples of Seroquel XR to add to my plethora of other medications. And to tell you the truth it is a difficult thing to tell if a medication helps you or not. It is not like having a urinary tract infection, getting prescribed antibiotics and poof it is gone. It’s such a slippery thing. This is where you have to depend on those around you who love and care about you and are able to spot mood changes and irritability and such things. As time went on I noticed I could focus more and go more days without having to take a day off. When I went two months without a sick day I wanted to cry I was so happy about it.

Then came the big insurance change at my company. Now that Seroquel XR pill would be costing me $319/mo.! I’ve never met someone who would have enough money to be able to afford it. I know they exist, but I have never met any of them. So I had to switch to a medication that was on the $4 Walmart Pharmacy list. I used Lithium. Within 1.5 weeks I was a horrible train wreck. I was on Lithium for about a month and a half before I found away around my insurance to get Seroquel XR for free. But during that time I received a Discplinary Action filing due to “Professional Appearance & Attentiveness in Meetings.” I didn’t realize I had gotten that sick and that’s the thing…sometimes you aren’t able to notice it until someone tells you.

Fortunately, as I mentioned, I was able to get Seroquel XR back and have been fine since. And now I can look back and see how hard things were for me when they could have been easier if I’d had this pill earlier. Now I get to experience things normally. When I wake up in the morning there’s the nag, ‘oh I don’t want to go to work,’ but it’s a normal ‘oh I don’t want to go to work.’ It is not debilitating, daunting or hopeless. I don’t think individuals without mental illness understand how lucky they are to be able to think clearly, react normally to situations and be able to process emotions. I don’t think someone without mental illness will ever be able to understand why sometimes things are so extremely difficult. And it’s the smallest of things…going to the grocery store, going to class, going to work…anything and everything is just so monumental and hard.

With the risk of sounding like a Seroquel XR advertisement, I have to say that this pill gave me what I never thought I’d have: Normalcy. I can think, react and do things like normal people.

The road for those with Bipolar Disorder is a difficult one and, most of the time, an unseen one.

“I’m not crazy. I’m just a little unwell. I know right now you can’t tell, but wait a while and then you’ll see a different side of me.” Matchbox 20 ~ Unwell

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