Posted by: Harold Knight | 09/22/2009

Bye, Polar Bear – 2

This is not about Global Warming!  (see “Bye, Polar Bear 1 below)

OK. So the Bipolar thing has me stumped.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

What’s the use of trying to figure out something that may simply be a part of my personality and if everyone would leave me alone and stop judging everyone else about little indiscretions and the things they do that “normal” people wouldn’t do  —

Austin, TX, has this campaign about “keep Austin weird” as if those university students have any idea what “weird” means; all they know is anti-social rebellion, and if they’re talking about the Texas legislature, they aren’t “weird,” just mean-spirited and stupid; so the “un-weird” students at the socialite school of Texas, Southern Methodist University, are wearing T-shirts that say “keep Dallas normal” and if you’ve ever seen the “dirty movie” (dubbed that by Harvey Graff, professor at UTD) in which a black man ends up in jail while all the nice white folks go to church that was made by Mayor R.L. Thornton to show in all the white churches of Dallas in 1957, not to convince them that de-segregation was a good thing but that, since the courts had ordered it, Dallas white folks wouldn’t act un-civilized (not “normal”) like white folks in other cities, and they would accept it stoically without any VIOLENCE, and quietly move all their kids to suburban schools or “christian” schools like the monster one at the First Baptist Church in downtown Dallas  —

so one might well ask who’s Bipolar and who’s not in situations like that. The whole damned city was Bipolar. My favorite definition of Bipolar is —

Both phases of the disease are deleterious. Mania affects thinking, judgment, and social behavior in ways that may cause serious problems and embarrassment. For example, unwise business or financial decisions may be made when an individual is in a manic phase. Depression can also affect thinking, judgment, and social behavior in ways that may cause grave problems. For example, it elevates the risk of suicide [ya think?] —

so R.L. Thornton was exhibiting behavior that affected “thinking, judgment, and social behavior in ways that may cause grave problems,” but they didn’t put him on Lamictal, but they kept re-electing him Mayor and when he died, they named freeways after him.

The Church of Dirty Dominant Politics

The Church of Dirty Dominant Politics

I remember one time in high school my mom was waiting for me to get ready to go to school (I usually rode city buses, not cars—it was an unusual day) and I was hurrying to get ready. I was shaving (yes, bears start early). I cut myself and it pissed me off so I took the razor and cut myself royally across the chin (ouch?). I let it bleed. Then I finished dressing and stomped out to the car (I think it was snowing) talking a-mile-a-minute about how I was never going to shave again and these stupid people who think that you have to take this lethal weapon to yourself every morning and. . . . Normal teen-age adrenalin and anger and horomones? Maybe. Did you ever cut yourself with your razor on purpose when you were in high school? And then there’s the acoustical tile by the organ in the performance hall at the University of Redlands that was broken and they left it that way for years because there was no way to fix just one of the hard (asbestos, I’m sure) tiles. I broke it one day when I pounded my head against the wall because I couldn’t seem to memorize a passage of the Bach Prelude in E-flat. Just normal anger, you say. I’m making little things that normal people do into a big deal so I can be Bipolar? And if I think about it, there are hundreds [thousands] of such incidents spread over most of my life and no one, of course, thought I was Bipolar because in 1967 that meant you were crazy, and I functioned too well for anyone to think I was crazy (maybe).

“Throughout much of the 1960’s many with the disorder were institutionalized and given little help financially because of Congress’ refusal to recognize manic depression as legitimate illness. Only in the early 1970’s were laws enacted and standards established to help those afflicted, and in 1979 the National Association of Mental Health (NAMI) was founded.”

I’ve done my homework, folks. You wanna see the folder titled “BPD” on my computer desktop — full of copies of articles about BPD? (So you think I read the articles and then find things in my history to remember that resemble the symptoms so I can say I have them? Bullshit.) Mostly my BPD manifests itself in depression [all my life], but I’ve had the manics, too. Recitals planned (and frantic practicing) and never played. Well, I’m not going to tell you all the stuff of my life. I’ll write my autobiography tomorrow. I killed a dog once with my bare hands—in adulthood.

OK, so you couple Bipolar with TLE and hypergraphia and this is what you get. Oh, by the way, I pointed out “Bye, Polar Bear 1” to three of my colleages because they all use blogs in teaching writing and I thought they might find it interesting, and even when we met in the hallway, none of them mentioned it. See? it is too embarrassing to talk about in public. Or maybe I just don’t know how to distinguish between things like real friendship and passing professional relationships because  I exhibit “social behavior that may cause serious problems and embarrassment,” or they are afraid of me and think my blog is mistitled (sum non rabidus: Latin for “I’m not crazy”). My closest friends and advisors tell me I should not make judgmental statements about myself, and they want me to be “normal” (and they really do want me not to be fraught with self-doubt and let all this stuff control my life, and I do try, and they do help me, and I am a helluva lot better than I used to be, and I love them). So at least when I’m being hypergraphic, I should keep things to myself the way I always have, or write about the birds and the bees and how lovely the weather is or why the “birthers” are crazy but no one calls them Bipolar.

(One more thing: I realize I should use a fake name or something because I sure shouldn’t put this stuff out there for the world—all six of you—to see because it might cause me trouble, especially if my boss found out. So?)



  1. Oh, dear Hak-night, I think you need new colleagues! (Hah! at our age, zut alors!) Here’s my musings from last night:

    There are big doin’s afoot at the corner of Milam and Bell. The electricity went out, so traffic has picked up like a son-of-a-bitch. I called Oncor at 8:30, and they said it would be back on by 11. The old lady down the street on life support had the fire department out because she couldn’t breathe. My neighbor has been over to check on me, but not before I stupidly sat on the chair on the porch which soaked my backside, and that is not good since I had a biopsy today and I wasn’t supposed to get the bandage wet or me wet for 24 hours. I doubt, though, with the lovely pain to let me know I had the biopsy and am still alive, I will drop dead from a wet bandage any time soon. What is it about rain and no electricity that brings out the neighbors–ymbsittanden. The traffic has picked up speed though. Maybe they are headed toward home with the car stereos on different stations and the beats pounding so differently some rap, some Tejano, some just adding to the cacaphony.


  2. I appreciate your sharing your inside life with us, Polar Bear. I know it isn’t easy being you. If you didn’t have all of these problems, would you still be the you, dear friend? I’m sorry you have to deal with BPD and with the seizures, etc. But I’m selfish enough to be glad you are exactly the person that you are.
    There are signs all over Portland, OR that say “Keep Portland Weird” but Portland really is weird.


  3. From my readings, I surmised that mood swings associated with BPD progress over days/weeks/months, whereas mood swings associated with ADD progress/happen over seconds/minutes/hours. ADD is also associated with low frustration tolerance, poor impulse control, and difficulty assessing social situations. With that being said, my mini-outburst temper tantrums rarely cause my physical harm. Isn’t it rude that the same medications that help with ADD can exacerbate depression? And the meds that help non-BPD depressives can trigger manic episodes for those with BPD.

    I think I’ve forgotten where I was going with this except that we are your friends precisely because we are who we are, and you are who you are.


    • My normal mood swings last a day. My real mood swings last long enough to land me in the hospital. And the same meds that control seizures cause meds that help with mood swings cause to metabolize so fast you have to take more and more of them. The whole mess is rude. But I’m beginning to take it as it is. Besides, I’ve decided Neitszche wasn’t really a philosopher at all: he was bipolar and TLEpileptic and couldn’t stop writing no matter what. Only difference between him and me is that he had “important” things to say!



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