Why Do I Call This Blog What I Call It? Because Bullsh*t Nearly Killed Me, That’s Why!

Devout atheist that I am, I consider myself “born again’. I have seen with my own eyes the havoc bullshit can cause in both my daily life and over the whole length of it. I bear witness to bullshit’s remarkable power to convince us that it is truth and truth is bullshit. Actually, bullshit’s much more clever than that. Bullshit convinces us that our feelings are more valid than facts. That empirical truth does not exist outside our own heads, making it as fluid as our thoughts. If we think something’s so, it is so, no receipts required. . Bullshit tells us that Life is how it is and people are how they are and there’s nothing we can do to change it — that the cynicism tugging at us is correct. Paired with an angry, confused, judgmental deity, that cynicism can turn deadly. Happiness, we become convinced (by bullshit) is a matter of how we navigate our way around our bullshit and everyone else’s. In bullshit’s defense, bullshit has that half-right. The trick to living life with even a modicum of success or happiness is to focus on your own bullshit FIRST before worrying about anyone else’s. If your experience is anything like mine, dealing with your own bullshit will be a full-time job; you will literally NEVER have time to even think of anyone else’s.

My own personal bullshit had me convinced I could disappear from Life without causing my family excessive harm — that money would eventually assuage the “bad feelings”. Talk about bullshit. But, bullshit won the argument. Three days before Christmas 2016, I came within literal inches of killing myself. A decade-long depression got triggered by Trump’s seizing the presidency (he did not “win” it legitimately) into full-on self-destruction. The thing about depression is, it robs you of perspective. The deeper the depression, the less perspective you have; I had come to believe that the world was the narrow, future-less tunnel I saw it as. It wasn’t, of course. It never was. And, as my personal darkness drove me toward increasingly irrational action, I did it having denied for 45 years that at age fourteen, I was sexually molested twice by the religious director at the synagogue where my family belonged.

I had gotten it into my head that me getting sexually molested was MY FAULT. It wasn’t, of course. That was bullshit!

Long story short, being molested put me on an island because only my molester and I knew that secret about us. Anyone else? Nope! That meant (in the irrational reasoning of my young mind) that if you didn’t know this about me, you didn’t know “me”. Since I wasn’t sharing my secret (and my molester definitely wasn’t), no one was ever going to really know me. No one. And, as you sit there, on that island, you slowly begin to blame yourself for being there. And every terrible thing that happens to you? Well, hell — that’s YOUR fault, stupid! I can only speak for and from my own experience. Once you’ve opened the door to self-loathing, it’s a hard, HARD door to shut. What makes it so hard? It’s bullshit that’s fighting you every time you try to close it.

When I first realized how close I had come to hurting myself because bullshit told me to, I literally laughed out loud. “Ya dumb sonofabitch,” I said to myself, “You came within inches of bullshitting yourself to death!” Could anything possibly be stupider?

Yeah — bullshit can kill. It kills. I still think a lot about Anthony Bourdain. The guy was at the top of his game but his darkness got him anyway. Anthony Bourdain’s bullshit won out over Anthony Bourdain. That’s no knock on Anthony Bourdain. That, in essence, is a respectful tribute to the strength of Mr. Bourdain’s bullshit — it convinced him he didn’t need to be here anymore while literally everyone else on the planet saw it differently.

We just lived through four years where bullshit ran amok. Hell, bullshit convinced us that a president who bullshitted us every damned day was “how it was”. Talk about bullshit!

I knew my darkness had me in its thrall but I feared medication. My dad was a surgeon; I grew up in the medical culture; I don’t see doctors demagogically. My dad saw what he did as equal parts science and guess work. He saw the insurance companies as greedy gate keepers with hospitals as their equally greedy collaborators. The Hypocritic Oath doesn’t mention profit incentive anywhere. While I had a GP I liked and trusted, I knew however that they had little to no background in mood stabilizers and how to prescribe them correctly. Probably the only mood stabilizer they even knew about was the one a pharmaceutical rep left behind on her last customer service visit to the office. “Hey,” the Pharmaceutical Rep said as she set the samples down on the counter, “If you have any patients complaining of depression, try these!”

The problem with this class of drug is it takes time to reveal whether or not it’s working. Since everyone’s brain chemistry is different, it’s hard to accurately predict what any one mood stabilizer will do to or for any one person contemplating it. Normally, it takes six to eight weeks to get an inkling of whether it’s working or not. It’s entirely possible that the mood stabilizer could take a bad situation and make it worse. As Screenwriting God William Goldman said of the film business, “No one knows anything”. FFS, we do not even know how we’re all doing this — writing blogs, reading blogs, having conversations — having thoughts themselves. We don’t know where our memories come from — yeah, sure — we know what part of the brain they seem to emanate from. But we don’t know how they convert from lived experience to remembered experience.

And we have to consider THAT in the context of teenage boys who seem to walk around with zero remembered experience. But, I digress…

After seeing quite clearly that in a moment of sheer irrationality I now had it in me to commit to that irrationality completely, I drove straight to my GP’s office and told them what had just happened. I immediately got great service. Just like that, I was sitting with not just my GP but the head honcho doctor too! I told them everything. Told them my fear of medication — and why I felt as I did. But, I also told them of the research I’d been doing on my own. I’d looked into every mood stabilizer there was, looking for the one that might hold my depression at bay while leaving my hypomanic side mostly alone. I’m bipolar, ya see. I worried that if the mood stabilizer I chose dealt with the depression but made writing impossible, I’d be right back in the darkness’ thrall. I’d read anecdotal evidence (the only evidence there is) suggesting lamotrigine could be my answer.

Immediately, my GP and his boss whipped out their smart phones and looked up lamotrigine. Yes, they agreed, that could definitely work for me; they agreed to write the prescription. I took it, picked up the meds from my local pharmacy, went home and told my family what I was going to do. Swallowing that first .25 milligram little white pill, I expected a long period of wondering to begin. Instead, I got lucky. Within thirty-six hours, I leveled. I felt it. I experienced my first evidence not only that the lamotrigine would definitely work for me but HOW it would work.

My anger back then was volcanic. Once triggered, it was usually a matter of seconds before the rage in my gut exploded out my mouth in a profanity-laced screed. Anything could set me off: a stupid political argument I heard on the radio, other drivers, me if I dropped something (and bigger still if it broke). I don’t remember specifically what sparked the rage in my gut, only that it sparked — and, once sparked, it flowed back on itself like a blocked toilet. I felt the rage rising in me like it always did, picking up speed as it blew past my stomach, racing upward toward my mouth. And just as I fully expected that metastasizing anger to metamorphose into a lava spew — “Paf!” — the rage dissipated like a soap bubble popping.

I knew I had just felt the rage — felt its hold on me — and just like that — I knew I had felt the rage in the abstract but I did not feel it in any practical way that I could point at. It really was kind of like the anger “never was”.

Realizing that my darkness could no longer dominate me liberated me. In time — a few months — it even gave me the confidence (that’s the biggest, best benefit of perspective — it builds your confidence) to go at it head on. Now, able to confront my demon without that demon destroying me, I confessed my own truth to myself. Yeah, the night I spent weeping quietly on the bathroom floor (because I didn’t want to wake my wife and have to explain) was long, lonely and hard. But it destroyed the bullshit chains forever.

That’s the night I was “born again” — as a person. That was the day I started living my life unencumbered by the giant piece of bullshit that, unbeknownst to me, had dominated my life.

And it felt AWESOME!

Seeing everything in context also was awesome. “Hey,” I said to myself, suddenly feeling good about things, “bullshit nearly killed you. Are there any other ways bullshit’s making your life harder than it should be?”

I bet you can guess the answer to that question. Bullshit, it turned out, was dominating virtually every aspect of my life. For starters, I hadn’t slept well in years. Financial difficulties and sleep aren’t pals. I had been using (abusing really) OTC products like Simply Sleep. They’re anti-histamines. They don’t so much produce “sleep” as “unconsciousness for a while”. You wake up in the morning — if you sleep — feeling groggy and unprepared for the day. I wanted no part of anything stronger. I was terrified of what my brain would do with Ambien in it. Bullshit had convinced me that this problem was forever. It wasn’t. I live in California. I got myself a medical marijuana prescription and from the first day I started using cannabis as a sleep aid, I’ve slept wonderfully.

With bullshit negating my sleep, I’d start each day by putting on my bullshit colored lenses while breathing deeply from bullshit scented air. Lie in for another ten minutes, I’d bullshit myself, it won’t matter (bullshit — it did!). Never mind missing this deadline — they’ll be cool with it (they weren’t!). Ignore the warning signs that your marriage is struggling; those problems can wait till later (no, they can’t). Everything bad happening to me is my fault. No, it isn’t — but, then, it isn’t everyone else’s fault either. The world is more complicated than that: take off the bullshit-colored lenses and SEE IT.

That’s why I started this blog. I’m learning as I go and sharing my notes. Is living bullshit free for everyone? I have no idea — that’s someone else’s bullshit to worry about. That’s not to say that if another person’s bullshit gets them in trouble that I have zero obligation to them. That’s bullshit too. If I have to put my own bullshit aside to help them because of their bullshit — that’s what I must do. In the aftermath, I can only hope that, with this newfound perspective, that person, too, will have discovered bullshit’s hold on them and, like me, will want to break that hold.

We live in a new cycle where the Biggest Story There Is (after the worldwide Covid pandemic) is “The Big Lie”. To call it what it really is, it’s bullshit. One of our two political parties (and its mob boss leader) is trying to shove bullshit down our collective throats.

I guess if I wanted to be a hundred percent accurate I’d call this blog “Learning How To Live Bullshit Free” since that’s what I’m really doing everyday — and writing about it here. I gotta keep reminding myself: the second I get it into my head that I “know” how to live bullshit free? The bullshit will be winning again.

Suicide Is Just ‘Bullshit’ Claiming Another Victim

Tough week if you’re in the Suicide Prevention Business.

Kate Spade… Anthony Bourdain — and those are just the famous suicides.  I bet there are ‘a few more’ suicides out there — you’ve just never heard the names before.

After Donald Trump was ‘elected’ (he was not elected — you don’t get to literally STEAL an election and call yourself ‘elected’ but — another conversation), the Therapy Business boomed.  So did the Suicide Prevention Business.

My own Therapist told me that.

Three days before Christmas 2016, I knew sat in a exam room at my doctor’s office facing TWO doctors — mine and the office’s ‘Head Doctor’.  The Boss Doctor.

They had already asked me TWICE if I thought I should be hospitalized because I so desperately wanted to harm myself.

By the third time, I think they really meant it.  I guess that’s why they asked a THIRD TIME…

I swore to my increasingly alarmed GPs that I wasn’t going to hurt myself three days before Christmas (my plan was to harm ME, not Christmas for my family forever).

I was there, I said, because I wanted to take a ‘stab’ at medication (I did make that very bad joke on the day; I may have been miserable but I could still make a bad joke).  The depression that was consuming me was ten years in the making (longer actually, much longer – built on events and episodes from the past that I thought were unrelated to my present and future.  Like Rick going to Casablanca for the waters – ‘I was misinformed’.

Medication was my ‘Niagara Falls’ (if you know that old Three Stooges sketch).  It was The Thing I feared almost as much as the depression itself (now that I knew enough to fear it).  As much as I wanted to lift the darkness that was consuming me, I was even more worried what would happen if whatever medication I took impacted my manic side – my creativity.

My therapist and a County Psychiatrist had diagnosed me as Manic Depressive – Bi-Polar with strong episodes of hyper-mania; as depressed as I was, I still sat down to work, every day, regardless of whether I actually had work to do.

Deep, dark mental health issues were not me.  That was what I absolutely believed about myself.

Sure, I was unhappy about things.  We were losing our house.  I hadn’t really worked in 8 years (of course I WORKED – I just didn’t get paid for most of my work or wasn’t paid what had been promised and agreed to) – the result of a variety of factors, some in my control (and therefore my fault), some not.  Financial problems – with interludes of thinking we were ‘saved’ because the ‘bank’ had let us refinance the house yet again… Saved?  Doomed even more completely than before was more like it.

And doomed was exactly how I had been feeling.  And it made me angry – at the world but much, much more at myself.  Financial ruin sucked.  But it wasn’t the lack of money, really, that was causing me to rage.

It wasn’t ‘lack of money’ that made me explode because I dropped something or missed a freeway exit.  Or throw my tennis racket like a petulant 10-year-old.  My immediate circumstances weren’t the real cause of my self-loathing – rather, my self-loathing had taken me to a place where I was completely at the mercy of my immediate circumstances.

I had stopped acting on things and had spent nearly a decade reacting instead.

Worst of all – I had come to believe that I had run out of stories to tell.   My own story was uninteresting and my capacity to tell other peoples’ stories seemed (to me) to have run its course.

My family, I had convinced myself, would really be better off without me.  There was insurance money.  A lot.  In time, I told myself, money would smooth over everything.  In time, I told myself, they might even forgive me enough to actually enjoy the money…

I began thinking of how I might do it.  I needed to be sensitive to my family (imagine!)  I didn’t want to leave a bloody mess in the house.  I didn’t want to be found anywhere really.  I wanted to disappear.  Get in my car maybe and drive into the desert until I ran out of gas.  Then walk until I couldn’t walk any more… then sit… then wait for what was coming to me… what I deserved…

And, I told myself, I could do this – vanish from the lives of my wife, kids, family, community – and do it with a bare minimum of disruption.  Why, it’d be a ‘piffle’.  A wrinkle easily ironed.  A cinch.

It was bullshit of course.  Absolute bullshit.  Not an iota of Truth to it.

To kill yourself is to LITERALLY ‘Bullshit Yourself To Death’.

Not pretty.  But True.

We have a collective disease.  We have allowed BULLSHIT to become like oxygen to us. Like Food & Drink.

And Bullshit CAN be fatal.

But YOU cannot cure someone else of THEIR bullshit.  You can only cure yourself.  And that’s where it has to start.  We all are responsible for recognizing and dealing with our own Bullshit first (before dealing with other peoples’ bullshit).

It’s a hard addiction to break.  The evilest monkey you’ll ever get off your back.  But doing it is essential — and NOT just for those whose bullshit has them on the brink of self destruction.