October 5: “All around me I see the young in spirit, the young in heart, with ten times myconfidence, twice my youth, ten times my fervor, twice my education. I see themall, a whole army of them, battering at the same doors I’m battering, trying in thesame field I’m trying.”November 8: “Yes, on a Sunday morning in early November, my hope and my life streamare both running desperately low, so low, so stagnant, that I hold my breath infear, believing that the dark, blank curtain is about to descend. My hope and mylife stream are both running desperately low, so low, so stagnant, that I hold mybreath in fear, believing that the dark, blank curtain is about to descend."Although his journals told a story of a man who was sad and depressed abouthis inability to find work in the creative field he loved, at home he was oftenangry, judgmental, and withdrawn. He would yell at my mother, then disappear for days.Five days after his last journal entry, he took an overdose of sleeping pills.Although he didn’t die, our lives were never the same. He was sent to a mentalhospital. I was sent to school to learn my ABCs. Neither one of us adapted wellto our surroundings. He ultimately escaped from the mental hospital after beingincarcerated for 9 years.I tried to be a good boy. I tried not to rock the boat. I tried to be smart andlogical about my life. I was terrified of my emotions and secretly sure I would turnout like my father. I thought if I became a doctor I could magically protect myself against his fate and save him, and men like him, from mental illness. I went intomedical school, but felt stifled. One day I walked out. Or at least I tried to walkout. I had to see a psychiatrist before they would allow me to leave. Anyonewho wanted to
of medical school, when most people would kill to
,must be crazy.When I left medical school, the lid came off of my emotions. I let myself feelagain. Once I let go of control of my feelings, I found that I was happier and alsomore depressed. My emotions went up and down. When I was diagnosed asbeing bipolar (manic-depressive) I felt the stigma of being labeled “mentally ill.”But I also was able to get help, support, and good treatment. I could better dealwith the ups and downs of my life and I didn’t have to attempt suicide as myfather had done.